Healthiest fast food: 16 low calorie fast food orders to go

This is the healthiest fast food a dietician would order – and you won’t be short of options

A collection of the healthiest fast food

If your regular takeaway order is sabotaging any weight loss goals, you definitely won’t be the first to hunt for the ‘healthiest fast food’ on the internet. 

And while it’s OK to have the occasional Rebel Whopper from KFC or enjoy some of the best vegan fast food options out there, eating foods high in saturated fat and calories on a regular basis won’t do your health much good.

In fact, a study published in the National Library of Medicine found that the consumption of fast food and takeaways is associated with an increased BMI (body mass index) and fat percentage. 

From Nando’s chicken wings to a Taco Bell beef taco, a dietician has whittled down the healthiest fast food options which are perfect to help you stay on track if you’re wondering how to eat fast food while losing weight. 

Can I eat fast food and lose weight? 

“Fast food options are usually not the healthiest as they are high in inflammatory fats such as saturated and trans fats as well as sodium [salt],” says Doctify Dietician, Nutritionist and Founder of The DNA Dietitian Rachel Clarkson.

“They are also high in calories and processed sugar, and low in healthy nutrients like high-quality protein, fibre and whole-grain carbohydrates.”

So how can fast food be enjoyed in a healthy way? Rachel says the best way to enjoy fast food is as a mindful indulgence instead of making it a habit.

“Enjoying fast food from time to time in a portion that is right for you while being mindful. You can also make some simple swaps and adjustments when ordering to make the meal more nutritious,” adds Rachel. 

“For example, order items labelled as grilled instead of fried, swap out a carbohydrate-rich side like fries for a salad option with dressing on the side, opt for water or sparkling water instead of a high sugar fizzy drinks or remove the top half of the bun from a burger and enjoy it as an open-faced sandwich,” she advises.

What is the healthiest fast food UK?

mcdonalds-The-Spicy-Veggie-One healthiest fast foods

A wrap is often the healthier option over a burger

1. McDonald's: Spicy Veggie Wrap

Calories: 365 | Saturated fat: 1.3g

You’ll often find that vegan and vegetarian options – particularly ones without cheese – are healthier and less calorific than items that include meat. This spicy veggie wrap contains veggie dippers, lettuce, tomato, and spicy relish instead of mayo. 

Skip the fizzy drink and go for a flat white coffee, which contains bone-building organic milk. This will add another 86 calories and 1.9g of saturated fat, making your McDonald’s lunch just 451 calories and 3.2g of saturated fat.


These bite-sized chicken pieces are lower in calories than a KFC burger

2. KFC: Regular popcorn chicken

Calories: 290 | Saturated fat: 1.7g

Is KFC the healthiest fast food, we hear you ask? Well, it depends on what you get. This option, for example, is made from 100 percent chicken breast, making KFC’s Popcorn Chicken a great lunch over a more calorific burger. 

Two large corn 'cobettes', rather than fries, will add another 165 calories and 0.4g saturated fat. That’s 450 calories and 2.1g saturated fat and a sizeable portion of veg towards your RDA (recommended daily allowance). 

Pizza Hut veggie sizzler

Low cal it ain't but a few slices are ok

3. Pizza Hut: Gluten-free Veggie Supreme x 3 slices

Calories: 363 | Saturated fat: 5.1g

As delicious as it is, pizza is notoriously calorific, so opt for just a few slices over a whole one. Gluten-free bases are often lower in calories so if you share a Gluten-free Veggie Supreme, three slices will come to 363 calories and just over 5g of saturated fat. This comes with a decent helping of vegetables, including green chillies, jalapeños, peppers and red onions.

Nandos grilled-chicken-burger is one of the healthiest fast foods

Opt for grilled over fried chicken every time

4. Nando's: Grilled Chicken Burger

Calories: 443 | Saturated fat: 2g

As Rachel mentioned, grilled meat is usually healthier than fried or deep-fried meat and Nando's has a range of grilled options. Its Grilled Chicken Burger contains PERI-PERI-infused chicken breast grilled with a spice of your choice plus lemon and herb mayo, lettuce, tomato and PERI ketchup, all in a Portuguese roll for under 450 calories. 

Eat alongside a large mixed salad of four types of leaves, baby plum tomatoes, cucumber, and dressing, and your protein-rich lunch will come to just 443 calories and 2g saturated fat.

mcdonalds under 400 cals 6 Nuggets Meal

McDonald's 400 cals and under meals are a great idea

5. McDonald's: Chicken McNuggets Meal

Calories: 279 | Saturated fat: 1.5g

McDonald's is now offering meal ideas under 400 or 600 calories and we're lovin' it. Its meal suggestion of Chicken McNuggets (six pieces) with a side salad and medium Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is just 279 calories and 1.5g saturated fat. 

Even the 600-calorie and under meals are free of French fries, thus proving that if you don't add chips, you’ll make a huge difference to your calorie intake.

Pizza Express: Leggera Pizza

Pizza is high in calories, but not if you choose a Leggera from Pizza Express

6. Pizza Express: Leggera Pizza

Calories: Under 600 | Saturated fat: 5.9g

As we know, pizzas aren’t a low calorie option but there are ways to treat yourself without over-consuming. The Pizza Express Leggera range, for example, offers pizzas under 600 calories. Calories are kept down by the hole in the middle which is filled with a fresh, dressed salad. 

Opt for the Leggera La Reine – a combo of ham, black olives, mushrooms, light mozzarella and tomato on a thin base – and you'll get some veg and salad with your meal, and a pizza for under 500 calories.

Costa egg mayo sandwich is one of the healthiest fast foods

A protein-filled sandwich will keep you full for longer

7. Costa Egg Mayo Sandwich & Cappuccino

Calories: 458 | Saturated fat: 2.8g

High street cafes have been a mainstay lunch option for those on the go but they often sell items that have a lot of processed ingredients in them. 

The toasties, while delicious, are too high in saturated fat to make it onto this list. But Costa's healthier choice (by the company’s own admission) is a protein-enriched Free Range Egg Mayo Sandwich on oatmeal bread. 

Containing 343 calories and 2.4g saturated fat, if you combine it with a medium cappuccino made with skimmed milk (a great source of calcium, by the way), you’ve got yourself a meal for 458 calories and just 2.8g saturated fat.

ZInger salad is a low calorie fast food from KFC

KFCs salad version of the burger fave is credible low cal alternative.

8. KFC: Zinger Salad

Calories: 330 | Saturated fat: 2.3g

For fans of the Zinger Burger, this is the healthier option. A sliced spiced chicken fillet over crisp lettuce, diced tomato and sweetcorn drizzled with a garlic dressing, the calorie content comes in at under 350 calories. By choosing this, you avoid the refined white bun and creamy dressing that comes in the burger of the same name.


Banana bread is one of the better bakery items you can eat

9. Starbucks: Banana Bread & Almond Latte

Calories: 448 | Saturated fat: 2.6g

If you’re partial to sweet treats, avoid highly refined products such as almond croissants and go for a slice of banana loaf bread with pecans and walnuts. The nuts provide protein and a slow release of energy, plus the loaf contains bananas rather than chocolate or a thick slather of butter. 

A portion is 374 calories and 2.3g saturated fat; combine this with a tall latte made from almond milk (low in saturated fat compared to other milk options) and you have a sweet breakfast that won’t send your blood sugar levels soaring.

Not a coffee fan? Try another healthier fast food option using our guide to low calorie Starbucks drinks.


Leon's delicious chicken burger comes with gut-friendly kimchi

10. Leon: Crispy Chicken Korean Burger

Calories: 399 | Saturated fat: 2.9g

There are more and more Leon branches popping up in services and train stations around the country, and while they offer fast food, the company is arguably better focused on health and the environment than other brands. 

The Korean burger is stuffed with chicken nuggets, good-for-your-gut raw kimchi slaw and Korean mayo. Not only that, it's a carbon-neutral product so you're doing your bit for the planet too. 

Burger-King-Childrens Meal-jr

Delicious it may be, but BK is not great for low cal fare

11. Burger King: Kids Hamburger Small Meal

Calories: 462 | Saturated fat: 7.6g

Burger lovers will be hard-pushed to find low calorie fast food at Burger King. The best we could find is the kid’s hamburger small meal containing a hamburger (no cheese), small fries and a bottle of water for 462 calories but 7.6g saturated fat. 

You could eat the kid's hamburger (245 cals and 3.7g saturated fat) with six onion rings (225 cals and 2.2g saturated fat), which is marginally better, but if you're really craving a burger and want to keep your calorie intake down perhaps avoid BK for now.

Taco Bell Crunchy-Taco

You can eat a couple of tacos and not go over the 500 cal mark

12. Taco Bell: Crunchy Beef Taco

Calories: 176 | Saturated fat: 3.4g

A favourite at Mexican chain Taco Bell, the crunchy corn tacos come with a choice of seasoned beef, grilled chicken or black beans, plus lettuce and cheddar cheese. One Crunchy Beef Taco will provide 159 cals and 3.5g saturated fat – and your saturated fat intake will increase to 7g.

So, if you’re hungry, opt for one chicken and one black bean taco. This duo contains 263 cals and 3.9g of saturated fat combined. Not only that but lean, white meat and protein-rich black beans are better for you than red meat. 

Greggs-ham-and-egg-salad-sandwich one of the healthiest fast food

Steer clear of the sausage rolls and pick a sarnie

13. Greggs: Honey Roast Ham & Egg Salad Roll

Calories: 331 | Saturated fat: 1.2g

As tempting as it is to munch on one of Greggs’ famous sausage rolls, you’d be eating 12g saturated fat instead of only 1.2g if you chose this white and wholemeal roll stuffed with honey roast ham, free range egg, tomato, cucumber, mixed salad leaves and a little mayonnaise. 

Add a small Fairtrade Orange Juice to your lunch and you’re still only consuming 398 cals, plus the juice will provide you with one of your five-a-day.

Pret A Manger: Tuna Nicoise Salad

This filling salad packs a protein punch

14. Pret A Manger: Tuna Nicoise Salad

Calories: 358 | Saturated fat: 3.4g

You can rely on Pret to serve fresh, filling salads full of lean protein such as salmon, tuna, chickpeas, hummus and edamame beans. This classic salad is a mouthwatering medley of pole & line caught tuna, free-range boiled egg, Kalamata olives, and red onion, as well as salad leaves, cucumber, baby plum tomatoes, and a pot of Pret's French dressing. 

It’s the healthiest fast food around, though we appreciate not everyone wants to opt for a salad.

Nando's chicken wings is some of the healthiest fast food

Ditch the carbs and stick to protein and veg

15. Nando's: 3 Chicken Wings and Coleslaw

Calories: 499 | Saturated fat: 4.5g

Garlic bread might be off the menu if you’re trying to eat a bit healthier, Nando’s flame-grilled chicken wings come with their own low calorie version – hoorah! With a side of coleslaw, this protein-and-veg-filled meal comes in under 500 calories 499 calories and 4.5g saturated fat. 

mcdonalds Egg McMuffin Meal

McDonald's offers low cal brekkies

16. McDonald's: Egg & Cheese McMuffin Meal

Calories: 347 | Saturated fat: 5g

A McDonald's breakfast is nothing short of iconic, so it’s always good to hear that you can get a healthier version. 

McDonald's currently offers two low calorie breakfast ideas, but we like the Egg & Cheese McMuffin with an Apple & Grape Fruit Bag and a regular black coffee option. 

This meal provides protein from the egg, a serving of fruit which equates to one of your five-a-day and a regular coffee to perk you up. Keep in mind that McDonald’s doesn’t serve breakfast all day though, so if you're wondering what time does McDonald's breakfast start and end, we've got the opening times here. 

Swap your Friday or Saturday night feast for some homemade takeaways instead – they’re cheap to make and good for you! ly. 

Debra Waters
Freelance Lifestyle Writer

Debra Waters is an experienced online editor and parenting writer. She also has a strong background on health, wellbeing, beauty, and food. She currently writes for Goodto and Woman&Home, and print publications Woman, Woman’s Own, and Woman’s Weekly. Debra has written for What to Expect, Everyday Health, and Time Out. In addition, she has had articles published in The Telegraph and The Big Issue.

With contributions from