At the Drive Through
10 Low-Calorie Lower-Sodium Fast Food Choices

Photo of Chicken Salad at El Pollo Loco

Generally speaking, fast food restaurants are a bad choice if you’re counting calories or watching your sodium intake. Says Candy Harrington, author of Eating Well on the Road; A Travel Writer’s Strategy for Weight Loss, Healthy Living and Lifestyle Changes, “It’s very easy to wolf down 1000 calories, and 2000 mg. of sodium at the drive through. Your best bet is to avoid fast food restaurants whenever possible; however sometimes they are a necessary evil when you’re on the road.”

With that in mind, here are Candy’s top 10 healthier fast food picks. They all contain less than 400 calories and under 600 mg. of sodium.

Noodles & Company

Generally speaking, if you opt for one of the small plates here you’ll do just fine. At the top of the list is the Bangkok Curry which contains broccoli, carrots, red peppers, onions, mushrooms and a light portion of rice noodles, which are coated with a sweet coconut curry sauce and served on a bed of cabbage. It clocks in at a very healthy 250 calories and 430 mg. sodium.

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill

The Chicken Street Taco is very yummy and quite filling. It features a warm corn tortilla filled with chicken, cilantro, onions and a dab of guacamole. And at just 90 calories and 180 mg. sodium, you can even have two!

El Pollo Loco

The “naked” Grilled Chicken Salad has 232 calories and 517 mg. of sodium; and it includes lettuce topped with chucks of grilled chicken breast, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, corn pablano mix, cilantro and cotja cheese. Skip the salad dressing and instead top it with a dab of salsa, or even some jalapenos from the salsa bar.

Taco Bell

Run for the boarder and get a Chicken Gordita Supreme. This flatbread taco is filled with grilled chicken, reduced-fat sour cream and shredded lettuce; then topped with a cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella cheese blend. Nutrition wise it stacks up pretty well, with 270 calories and 510 mg. sodium.


This fast food deli chain has a number of healthy choices, but the Veggie Delite Flatbread Sandwich tops the lists. It’s served on 9-grain wheat bread and contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cheese. And if you pass on the condiments, it’s only 230 calories and it has just 310 mg. sodium.


Although the fried chicken is a no-non here, a grilled chicken thigh with a large ear of corn is a manageable choice, at 310 calories and 535 mg. sodium.

Burger King

The flame broiled Hamburger is pretty tasty, and it has just 240 calories and 460 mg. sodium. Cut that down even more by ordering it without the bun, and have it as lettuce wrap.


Try the Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich and ditch the bun. Pick up a few extra napkins because it’s a little messy. On the plus side, it’s also very filling, yet has only 150 calories and 490 mg. sodium.


Choose the Sour Cream and Chive Potato, which has just 320 calories and 50 mg. sodium. Be sure you specify “no butter” though, as they tend to pile it on if not specified otherwise.

Manchu Wok

The best strategy is to stick to one entree here, instead of a two or three entree plate with sides. The Pineapple Chicken is very reasonable at just 170 calories and 260 mg. sodium. Whatever you do, steer clear of the Shanghai Noodles, which have a whopping 1620 mg. of sodium!

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