High Fiber Fast Food: Meet Your Goals On The Go

Think You Need to Avoid Fast Food If You Have Fiber Goals?  

 

This may surprise you, but staying on track with your fiber goals isn’t impossible, even while eating a meal on the go. 

As I’m writing this, summer in the US is just around the corner.  Many of us take family vacations, attend concerts, or just need to grab a quick bite to go during a busy day.  

For many of us, life means eating at a popular fast-food restaurant occasionally.  Fast food often gets a bad rap, but we don’t need to fall into that all-or-nothing thinking, do we? As an Intuitive Eating registered dietitian, I firmly believe that the right options are flexible, nourishing, and fit into your schedule. 

The good news is that you can find high-fiber fast food options that will help you meet your fiber goals.

 

Why should I look for high-fiber fast food?

As an Intuitive Eating dietitian, I want to start by saying that you don’t NEED to choose high-fiber fast food options every time. You can choose whatever sounds good to you in the moment. One lower-fiber meal is not going to adversely affect your health.

However, some people may CHOOSE to get consistent fiber because they see benefits with their GI system (fiber helps with constipation!), cholesterol, and blood sugars. And over time, they realize they just feel better when they eat a consistent amount of fiber. 

Of course, you can always pair a lower fiber option found at a fast food restaurant with some fruit or a side salad to boost your fiber intake too.  As a dietitian, what I want you to take away from this article is you have options!

But I know personally, sometimes I’m at that rest stop on the NJ turnpike that doesn’t have fruit or a salad, and even I sometimes run out of time to throw some pieces of fruit in the car. I’m sure I’m not alone.

I think we have all been there!

 

How much fiber do I need?

How much fiber you should eat depends on several factors, like age and sex. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults should aim to consume 25-35 grams of fiber a day.

According to US Government research, only 5% of men and 9% of women are eating the recommended amount of fiber.  Are you surprised by that statistic?

For more information about fiber and some suggestions to meet your goals, check out my article Learn the Facts About Fiber to Improve Your Health.

Finding high fiber foods at popular fast food restaurants

Finding high fiber fast food options can be a challenge, but I’ve done lots of the legwork for you!  But overall, fiber comes from plant foods – so the higher fiber options have fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans in them. 

After poring through the menus of the most popular US fast food chains, it’s clear that some restaurants have more high fiber options than others.  In this regard, Subway, Taco Bell, and Panera all stand out for having multiple options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

But we might not always have these options, as I personally know from my trips up and down the NJ Turnpike! Some rest stops have a plethora of options, while others have few.

See below for the highest fiber options at the 10 most popular fast food restaurants.  When selecting your choices, remember that a big part of the satisfaction we get from food is from the taste, so I advise you to select foods you enjoy!

Note: all of the menu items here are available as of the date of publication, but I know that fast food menus often change.

 

The List of High Fiber Fast Food Options

You can also download this information in a handy PDF format here.

After consulting the websites of different fast food restaurants, I’ve picked the following that are available across the US.

McDonald’s

  • Oatmeal – 4g 

Burger King

  • Honey Mustard Royal Crispy Wrap – 4g

Wendy’s

  • Parmesan Caesar Salad – 4g
  • Cobb Salad – 3g
  • Apple Pecan Salad – 6g
  • Spicy Chicken Sandwich – 3g
  • Oatmeal Bar – 4g

Dunkin’ Donuts

  • Breakfast Empanada -3g
  • Chicken & Roasted Pepper Dunkin’ Wrap – 3g
  • Chorizo & Egg Dunkin’ Wrap – 3g
  • Everything Encore Breakfast sandwich – 5g
  • Stuffed Bagel Minis – Everything – 3g
  • Stuffed Bagel Minis – Plain – 2g

Chick-fil-A

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 3g
  • Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich – 3g
  • Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap – 13g
  • Market Salad – 5g
  • Cobb Salad – 4g
  • Side Salad – 3g
  • Spicy Southwest Salad – 7g
  • Kale Crunch Side – 4g
  • Waffle Potato Fries – 5g

Taco Bell

  • Cantina Chicken Bowl – 11g
  • Cantina Chicken Burrito – 6g
  • Black Bean Chalupa Supreme (V) – 6g
  • Chalupa Supreme Beef – 4g
  • Double Decker Taco (regular or supreme) – 7g
  • Bean Burrito (V) – 8g
  • Burrito Supreme – Beef 7g
  • Burrito Supreme – Chicken or Steak – 6g
  • Cheesy Rice & Bean Burrito (V) – 7g
  • Cheesy Double Beef Burrito – 7g
  • Loaded Beef Nachos – 9g
  • Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme (V) – 8g
  • Crunchwrap Supreme – 6g
  • Mexican Pizza – 7g
  • Veggie Mexican Pizza (V) – 6g
  • Black Beans & Rice – 5g
  • Black Beans – 4g
  • Pintos N Cheese (V) – 7g
  • Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito – Fiesta Potato (V) – 3g
  • Grande Breakfast Burrito – all flavors – 4g

Panera

  • Whole Grain Lahvash – 9g
  • Avocado, Egg White, Spinach & Cheese on Multigrain Bagel Flat – 6g
  • Chipotle Chicken, Egg & Avocado on Artisan Ciabatta – 4g
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Cinnamon Crunch Topping – with pecans 7g; without pecans 6g
  • Baja Bowl – 13g
  • Mediterranean Bowl (with or without chicken) – 8g
  • Kids – turkey or grilled cheese on white whole grain bread – 3g
  • Apple – 5g
  • Banana – 3g

The sandwiches and salads below can be made as a half serving. Divide the fiber by 2.

  • Asian Sesame Salad with chicken – 6g
  • Fuji Apple Salad with chicken – 6g
  • Green Goddess Cobb Salad with chicken – 7g
  • Southwest Caesar Salad – 8g
  • Avocado Sandwich – 7g
  • Deli Ham or Turkey on Country Rustic Sourdough – 5g
  • Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil – 7g

Popeyes

  • Regular Red Beans and Rice – 6g
  • 5-Piece Chicken Tenders – 5g
  • Regular Cajun Fries – 3g
  • Grits – 7g

Domino’s

  • Chicken Caesar Salad – 2g
  • Philly Cheesesteak or Buffalo Chicken Sandwich – ½ sandwich – 2g
  • Pasta Primavera  or Italian Sausage Marinara- ½ bread bowl or dish – 3g
  • Chicken Alfredo or Chicken Carbonara – ½ bread bowl – 3g; dish – 2g

Subway 

(for 6” sandwiches)

  • Sandwiches – the following contain 4g
    • Oven Roasted Turkey Melt, 
    • Oven Roasted Turkey,
    • Oven Roasted Turkey & Ham
    • Meatball Marinara
    • Roast Beef
    • Rotisserie-Style Chicken
    • Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki
    • Veggie Delite
  • Salads – all salads contain at least 4g
  • Veggie Patty Bowl – 19g
  • Meatball Marinara Bowl – 8g
  • Pizza Sub – 5g

 

What If I Don’t Like Any of the High Fiber Fast Food Items?

As you can see, some fast-food restaurants have more options than others. 

While fiber is important for all of us, there’s no reason to eat a meal you don’t like just to get your fiber in.  

My advice:  if you are craving that lower fiber option, aim to add on some fruit or veggies and/or focus on fiber for your other meals and snacks that day.

Read on for some ways you can do that.

 

Other options for boosting fiber on the go

Let’s say you choose a McDonald’s hamburger with one gram of fiber.  You could visit a nearby store – often there are convenience markets at rest stops – and buy some fruit, some veggies with hummus or ranch, or a side salad. You can also pack shelf-stable, high-fiber options, like dried fruit, nuts, or higher-fiber breakfast and snack bars.

I want you to remember that you have options but if you can’t add something to a low-fiber meal, don’t sweat it!  You’ll have plenty more meals when you can eat fiber!

 

Key takeaways 

Fast food is a regular or occasional part of our diets. Many of us find ourselves eating more fast food when we are traveling or attending concerts. If you have found the benefits of fiber, you still have high-fiber options when eating fast food.

If you’ve found this information helpful, download my PDF of high-fiber fast food options.  Save it to your phone as an on-the-go reference.  I hope this tool will help you feel empowered to make choices that align with your individual goals.

 

Resources:

https://www.panerabread.com/content/dam/panerabread/documents/nutrition/Panera-Nutrition.pdf

https://www.bk.com/nutrition-explorer

https://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/info

https://order.wendys.com/categories?site=menu&lang=en_US

https://swcms-w.subway.com/en-US/MenuNutrition/Nutrition/NutritionGrid

https://cache.dominos.com/olo/6_130_2/assets/build/market/US/_en/pdf/DominosNutritionGuide.pdf

https://www.chick-fil-a.com/nutrition-allergens

https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html

https://nutrition.org/most-americans-are-not-getting-enough-fiber-in-our-diets/