We’re in the midst of summer, and some of our diets are long gone. Our beach bods aren’t lookin’ so hot, our green smoothies are starting to taste like death, and my favorite saying ‘health is wealth’ has gone down the drain. But one thing remains the same — my immense craving for Chick-fil-A. I decided to do some digging and found eight healthy Chick-fil-A menu items you need to try.
Chick-fil-A is hands down my favorite fast-food joint, and their delicious chicken never gets old. To keep a healthy relationship with Chick-Fil-A (AKA Chick-fil-Bae), my Chick-n-Strips and I are going to have to break up and be replaced with one of the following.
All nutritional information is pulled from their website.
- Egg White Grill
- 12-Count Grilled Nuggets
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich Without the Bun
- Spicy Southwest Salad With Chili Lime Vinaigrette
- Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Superfood Side
- Ice Dream Cone
- The Best and Worst Foods at Chick-fil-A
- The Best Foods on the Chick-Fil-A Menu
- The Best Breakfast Items at Chick-fil-A
- Hash Brown Scramble Bowl
- Greek Yogurt Parfait
- The Best Mains at Chick-fil-A
- Grilled Market Salad
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Grilled Nuggets
- Nuggets Kid’s Meal
- The Best Sides at Chick-fil-A
- Side Salad
- Fruit Cup
- The Best Dressings at Chick-fil-A
- Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Chili Lime Vinaigrette
- Light Italian Dressing
- The Best Desserts at Chick-fil-A
- Icedream Cone
- Vanilla Milkshake
- The Best Drinks at Chick-fil-A
- Freshly-Brewed Iced Tea Sweetened
- The Worst Foods on the Chick-Fil-A Menu
- The Worst Breakfast Items at Chick-fil-A
- Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
- Hash Brown Scramble Burrito
- Chicken Biscuit
- The Worst Mains at Chick-fil-A
- Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
- Cobb Salad
- Spicy Deluxe Sandwich
- Chick-n-Strips Kid’s Meal
- The Worst Side at Chick-fil-A
- Waffle Potato Fries
- The Worst Dressings at Chick-fil-A
- Garlic & Herb Ranch Dressing
- Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing
- Creamy Salsa
- The Worst Desserts at Chick-fil-A
- Chocolate Chunk Cookie
- Cookies & Cream Milkshake
- Chocolate Milkshake
- Strawberry Milkshake
- The Worst Drinks at Chick-fil-A
- Frosted Lemonade
- Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade
- Healthy Picks
- Egg White Grill and Orange Juice, 460 calories
- Hashbrowns and a Fruit Cup, 300 calories
- Bacon, Egg & Cheese Muffin and Iced Coffee, 450 calories
- Chick-n-Minis and Coffee, 355 calories
- Grilled Nuggets and Waffle Potato Fries, 500 calories
- Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap and Iced Tea, 470 calories
- Market Salad with Light Italian Dressing, 355 calories
- Spicy Southwest Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette, 500 calories
- Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich with Honey Mustard Sauce, 485 calories
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chick-fil-A Sauce, 450 calories
- Visit to Chick-fil-A turns into heartwarming military reunion
- How to Eat Healthy at Chick-fil-A
- 6 Healthy meal options to eat at Chick-fil-A:
- BONUS TIPS:
- More Stories For You
- Every Item at Chick-fil-A—Ranked
- Sandwiches… First, the Worst
- Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe
- Chick-fil-A Chicken Deluxe Sandwich
- Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich
- Chick-fil-A Chicken Salad Sandwich
- And now…the Best Sandwiches
- Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
- Nuggets and Strips
- Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips
- Chick-fil-A Nuggets
- Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets
- Side Items… First, the worst
- Chicken Salad Cup
- Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Breakfast… They’re All Pretty Bad
- The Breakfast Platters
- Sausage Breakfast Burrito
- Cinnamon Cluster
- Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
- Spicy Chicken Biscuit
- Chicken, Egg & Cheese Bagel
- Chicken Breakfast Burrito
- Multigrain Oatmeal
- And a Note About the Hash Browns
- Wraps and Salads
- Asian Salad
- Join our free Weekly Newsletter!
- Unfortunately it may be a while before you see me running around in a cow costume cheering for Chick-fil-A…
- What’s still in a Chick-fil-A sandwich, and should you be eating it or feeding it to your kids? Let’s take a look, it’s eye-opening…
- And, how about Chick-fil-A’s new Mac & Cheese that everyone’s talking about?
- Chick-fil-A gets kids hooked with MSG…
- Does Chick-fil-A have healthier choices?
- And then there’s the healthy-sounding Superfood Side…
- If I absolutely HAD to eat at Chick-fil-A… What would I eat?
- If I totally just ruined the Chick-fil-A Sandwich for you, I have great news…
- Get my “Open on Sunday” Chicken Sandwich recipe here
- Sign up here for my free email newsletter to get more breaking investigations like this sent straight to your inbox.
- Eating Healthy at Chick-fil-A
- The Healthiest Things to Order at Chick-fil-A, According to Dietitians
- How to avoid the ‘Chick-fil-a’ effect and other healthy diet tips
Egg White Grill
Chicken for breakfast? We can all agree that Chick-fil-A has completely revolutionized breakfast food. We still love our Chick-n-Minis, but the Egg White Grill is a much healthier option. It’s packed with flavor and won’t break your summer diet.
Fat: 7 grams
Carbs: 31 grams
Protein: 25 grams
#SpoonTip: Breakfast is only served until 10:30 — rise and shine.
12-Count Grilled Nuggets
Melt-in-your-mouth grilled chicken is hard to come by, but Chick-fil-A has mastered it. Once you try their grilled nuggets, you might not switch back. There’s a 200-calorie difference between their regular chicken nuggets and their grilled chicken nuggets, but you won’t notice any lack in flavor.
Fat: 5 grams
Carbs: 3 grams
Protein: 38 grams
#SpoonTip: Zesty Buffalo, Barbecue, Honey Mustard, and Sweet and Spicy Sriracha sauces are all under 50 calories. Sorry Chick-fil-A sauce lovers, I was let down too.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich Without the Bun
With the bun, this sandwich is 440 calories. If you replace the bun with lettuce, you’ve got yourself a delicious grilled chicken sandwich that’s less than 200 calories. Since this meal is pretty low in calories, try adding a side salad or fruit.
Fat: 3 grams
Carbs: 14 grams
Protein: 30 grams
Spicy Southwest Salad With Chili Lime Vinaigrette
This salad is to die for and has a kick all spicy food advocates will love. It’s packed with fresh corn, black beans, tomatoes, poblano chiles, bell peppers and is topped off with their famous spicy grilled chicken — you’ll be dreaming of this salad for weeks.
Fat: 11 grams
Carbs: 36 grams
Protein: 29 grams
Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap
Three words: avocado lime dressing — this is what makes this wrap so damn delicious. This protein-packed wrap with a blend of fresh veggies will send you into wrap heaven.
Fat: 14 grams
Carbs: 29 grams
Protein: 37 grams
Chicken Noodle Soup
No need to have a cold to eat this chicken noodle soup. A traditional favorite, but Chick-fil-A does it best. Tender and juicy chicken swimming in perfectly seasoned broth — 10/10.
Fat: 2.5 grams
Carbs: 18 grams
Protein: 12 grams
#SpoonTip: Add a side salad or grilled nuggets for some extra fuel.
Kale yeah, this side dish is packed with kale, broccolini, dried cherries, and a nut blend — YUM. Pair this superfood side with any of their meals to add some healthy greens.
Fat: 9 grams
Carbs: 18 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Ice Dream Cone
I saved the best for last — I know what you’re thinking…ice cream? Healthy? Yes, Chick-fil-A did the unthinkable. Their Ice Dream is fairly low in calories but still has that homemade vanilla ice cream flavor everyone loves.
Fat: 6 grams
Carbs: 45 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Chick-fil-A makes it easy to swap out your fried chicken meal for a healthier option without losing any of the flavor. It’s important to keep in mind that sauces add up, though. Just two Chick-fil-A sauces adds up to 280 calories. That’s an Ice Dream cone you could be enjoying instead! Next time you’re in the drive-thru, try one of these eight healthy Chick-fil-A menu items, and give Spoon TTU a shoutout when you do.
The Best and Worst Foods at Chick-fil-A
When the chicken cravings hit, there’s no better way to satiate your hankerings than with a visit to your local Chick-fil-A. Chicken sandwich, anyone? While we love the poultry joint for its concise menu and low-calorie options, there are also a few meals, treats, drinks, and dressings that you should absolutely skip. Find out what the best—and worst—picks are below to make better choices during your next fast food run.
The Best Foods on the Chick-Fil-A Menu
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A is proof that fast food restaurants can serve options that fit in a healthy, balanced diet.
The Best Breakfast Items at Chick-fil-A
1 300 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 970 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (N/A fiber, 1 g sugar), 25 g protein
This chicken twist on the traditional breakfast sandwich is a great morning go-to. The chicken provides essential protein to get your body started for the day. Not only that, but it also comes with egg whites stuffed between a multigrain English muffin.
Hash Brown Scramble Bowl
460 calories, 28 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,200 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 30 g protein
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? You don’t have to decide while eating this scramble, which has chicken and eggs for a high-protein breakfast for any go-getter. Just don’t go scrambling your diet by ordering the burrito version (see our worst Chick-fil-A menu items below).
Greek Yogurt Parfait
230 calories, 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (2 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 12 g protein
If you’re not craving a breakfast sandwich and need a morning meal on-the-go, this Greek Yogurt Parfait is a decent choice (although we’d typically prefer to see more fiber relative to the sugar). Crunchy granola and fresh strawberries top protein-rich Greek yogurt for a sweet start to your day. Since this parfait tops off at 21 grams of sugar, you can cut back on the sweet stuff by omitting the granola and sticking to just the fruit instead.
The Best Mains at Chick-fil-A
Grilled Market Salad
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A330 calories, 15 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 690 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (6 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 27 g protein
Packed with fiber-rich Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, and grilled chicken, the Grilled Market Salad is one of the best meals on the Chick-fil-A menu. The blueberries, strawberries, and green apples infuse the salad with a natural sweetness while the blue cheese lends some creaminess to the crunchy greens and roasted nuts. If you’re watching your sodium intake, be sure to pair it with the light balsamic vinaigrette below.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
310 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 820 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 29 g protein
For a warm multi-grain chicken bun, this sandwich choice clocks in at 310 calories and 29 grams of muscle-building protein and three grams of belly-flattening fiber. But beware of its high sodium count. If you decide to go with this Chick-fil-A menu choice, pair it with a tall glass of water.
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A140 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 25 g protein
These nugs pack a protein-punch with 25 grams for only 140 calories! The grilled nuggets—as opposed to the traditional fried ones—also have less saturated fat. Plus, they don’t have refined carbs from the breading, so they’ll keep you fuller longer to help you get through your day. Who said healthy can’t be tasty?
Nuggets Kid’s Meal
270 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 750 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (3 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 21 g protein
Even though the grilled nuggets are our go-to pick, you’re not too far off with the classic breaded nuggets. Order them on their own for you or paired with the fruit salad and juice for your little one. Although lower in sugar than soda, we recommend you enjoy a glass of water with your meal instead to cut down on sugar.
The Best Sides at Chick-fil-A
160 calories, 11 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 6 g protein
Pair your grilled chicken salad with the side salad to get a hearty dose of fiber-rich greens. Filled with Romaine lettuce, crispy red bell peppers, shredded carrots, and Monterey Jack cheese, this fiber-rich side has all the components to make your meal balanced and complete.
9 150 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 4 g protein
This superfood side salad packs broccolini, kale, dried cherries, and heart-loving omega-3-rich walnuts into one delicious bowl. At 11 grams of sugar, this Chick-fil-A menu side is on the high end of the sweet spectrum, so we suggest swapping the maple vinaigrette dressing for a healthier choice, such as a balsamic vinaigrette.
50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 0 g protein
Looking for a post-meal treat? The chicken joint’s fruit cup is a better choice than indulging in one of their sugar- and fat-laden milkshakes. Red and green apples, mandarin oranges, blueberries, and strawberries fill each cup for only 50 calories. The downside is that the mandarin oranges are laced with a syrup, racking up the sugar quite a bit.
The Best Dressings at Chick-fil-A
Light Balsamic Vinaigrette
80 calories, 4 g fat (N/A saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (N/A g fiber, 16 g sugar)
While this salad dressing is low in calories, it’s not low in sugar or sodium. Like many low-fat or “light” salad dressings, this balsamic vinaigrette makes up for lost fat with sugar. But since it’s one of the better options on the Chick-fil-A menu, use it sparingly on your salads.
Chili Lime Vinaigrette
60 calories, 3 g fat (N/A saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (N/A g fiber, 7 g sugar), N/A protein
If you want to add some zest to your salads, the chili lime vinaigrette is the way to go for just 60 calories. It infuses a little heat to your greens with some tanginess, too, thanks to the apple cider vinegar.
Light Italian Dressing
25 calories, 1.5 g fat (N/A saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (N/A g fiber, 2 g sugar), N/A protein
The light Italian dressing is the lowest calorie salad topper on the list, but it packs a hefty 470 mg of sodium to make up for it. So if you want to dress it with your greens, use a light hand. Better yet, take the salad home with you and prepare your own with a healthy salad dressing.
The Best Desserts at Chick-fil-A
170 calories, 3.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 100 mg sodium 30 g carbs (2g fiber, 17 g sugar), 4 g protein
Whether it’s warmer out or you’re craving a sweet ending to your meal, treat yourself every once in a while to this low-cal, low-fat ice cream. If you want to cut out some carbs, try ordering the ice cream in a bowl instead of a cone!
500 calories, 21 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 67 g carbs (1 g fiber, 66 g sugar), 11 g protein
As you’re about to see, all of Chick-fil-A menu’s milkshakes are crazy-high in sugar. That being said, if you simply must order one, you should go for the vanilla, which has the least amount of calories and sugar of the milkshake bunch.
The Best Drinks at Chick-fil-A
5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 5 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein
Amongst the milkshakes, sweetened teas, and fruit juices that the chicken joint offers, coffee (not the iced, sweetened variety) is one of the best beverage options next to water. So be sure to pick up a cup of joe with your Greek yogurt parfait when you’re on your way out. Just be sure to avoid loading it with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and cream.
Freshly-Brewed Iced Tea Sweetened
120 calories, 0 g fat, 10 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (0 g fiber, 31 g sugar), 0 g protein
If you need a little mid-day pick-me-up, try Chick-fil-A’s freshly-brewed sweetened iced tea over their milkshakes, iced coffees, lemonade, or sodas. Because it’s still fairly high in sugar (despite being the lowest sugar option out of the sweetened picks on the Chick-fil-A menu), consider cutting back on the sugar by ordering the unsweetened option or by watering it down and splitting it with a friend.
The Worst Foods on the Chick-Fil-A Menu
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A
Although we know nearly everything on the Chick-fil-A menu is absolutely delicious, not every item is best for your belly. The following items are amongst the fattiest, saltiest, and sugary options you can order at the chicken chain.
The Worst Breakfast Items at Chick-fil-A
Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
420 calories, 21 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,250 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 16 g protein
Whether you stack the fatty toppings on a roll or a bagel or, in this case, a biscuit—waking up to a BEC will derail your diet more often than not. If you’re looking to improve your heart health, take note that this breakfast ‘wich contains half your entire day’s worth of saturated fat in addition to inching close to the AHA’s ideal daily sodium limit of just 1,500 milligrams.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
600 calories, 40 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 1,510 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 20 g protein
This breakfast no-go steals the highest-calorie-sandwich spot on the Chick-fil-A menu, clocking in at a walloping 600 calories along with boasting an absurd amount of saturated fat and sodium. We’re noticing a trend here: Avoid ordering the biscuit sandwiches at this chicken joint.
Hash Brown Scramble Burrito
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A680 calories, 38 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1680 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 35 g protein
This breakfast—which has enough sodium for two meals—is also high in calories and high in fat. If you want to start your day feeling sluggish and tired, this is the way to go, but otherwise stay far, far away for your body’s sake.
450 calories, 21 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,310 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 17 g protein
The trademarked Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit may be a poultry lover’s go-to pick, but this lunch option should definitely be avoided given its exorbitant fat, carb, and sodium contents.
The Worst Mains at Chick-fil-A
Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
440 calories, 16 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 1,140 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (3 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 38 g protein
This sandwich proves that not every Chick-fil-A menu item that stars grilled chicken is, in fact, better for your body. Aside from the solid protein content, this bacon-spiked sandwich packs in a belly-ballooning amount of sodium and artery-clogging saturated fat.
510 calories, 28 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 1,360 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (5 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 40 g protein
Another seemingly slimming option, this bowl of low-carb veggies is tainted with fatty fried chicken nuggets, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese. For 510 calories and almost 1,400 milligrams of sodium, you’re better off satiating your cravings with a sandwich.
Spicy Deluxe Sandwich
540 calories, 25 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,770 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 34 g protein
When eating out, we usually opt for the spicy menu items, given they’re full of metabolism-boosting capsaicin. But Chick-fil-A’s zesty sandwich contains over three-quarters your daily recommended intake of sodium in addition to appetite-spiking MSG.
Chick-n-Strips Kid’s Meal
320 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 640 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (3 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 19 g protein
Remember our pick on the best list? By ordering the poultry chain’s kid’s meal instead of these strips, you’ll provide your little one with two extra grams of protein for 50 fewer calories and three fewer grams of fat. Seems like a no-brainer to us.
The Worst Side at Chick-fil-A
Waffle Potato Fries
360 calories, 18 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 280 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (5 g fiber, 280 mg sodium), 5 g protein
We know Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries are one of their most popular menu items, but for this many calories, you might as well order another main. Stick to some of the healthier sides to keep your total calorie and fat count lower.
The Worst Dressings at Chick-fil-A
Garlic & Herb Ranch Dressing
280 calories, 29 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (N/A g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein
The first and therefore most abundant ingredient in this salad dressings list is inflammatory soybean oil, and if you keep skimming the list, you’ll also spot unnatural preservatives.
Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing
310 calories, 32 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 520 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (N/A g fiber, 2 g sugar), 1 g protein
Avocado and lime are both Eat This!-approved ingredients, but their health benefits are nearly negligent in this condiment that has more fat than Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Club sandwich!
290 calories, 31 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 640 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (N/A g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein
If you’re ordering a slimming salad off the Chick-fil-A menu, why adulterate it with this sodium-stuffed dressing?
The Worst Desserts at Chick-fil-A
Chocolate Chunk Cookie
350 calories, 16 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (2 g fiber, 30 g sugar), 4 g protein
This chunky chocolate cookie’s calorie count matches up to a small meal. If you must round out your lunch with something sweet, go for splitting this cookie with a friend, order the nutrient-filled fruit cup instead, or whip up one of these desserts that actually help you lose weight.
Cookies & Cream Milkshake
590 calories, 25 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 81 g carbs (1 g fiber, 74 g sugar), 12 g protein
Chick-fil-A’s Oreo-inspired shake boasts about three times more sugar than the AHA recommends women consume per day!
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A560 calories, 22 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 82 g carbs (1 g fiber, 79 g sugar), 12 g protein
Craving cocoa? Satisfy your sweet tooth with this Dark Chocolate Banana Nut Smoothie recipe rather than this artificially-flavored milkshake off the Chick-fil-A menu.
570 calories, 21 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 85 g carbs (1 g fiber, 77 g sugar), 12 g protein
Real strawberries are only the third ingredient listed—preceded by Icedream and a milkshake base, which both contain a laundry list of Not That! additives.
The Worst Drinks at Chick-fil-A
320 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (3 g fiber, 51 g sugar), 6 g protein
You may be wondering how a cup of lemonade manages to pack in 320 calories and six grams of fat. One glance at the ingredient list explains it all: Chick-fil-A sneaks iced cream into its citrusy beverage, increasing the fat and sugar count by leaps and bounds.
220 calories, 0 g fat, 10 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (0 g fiber, 55 g sugar), 0 g protein
This might seem like a good alternative to its frosted brother, but it actually has even MORE sugar. If you’re hankering for something sweet, go for one of the best desserts. Better yet, have some fruit!
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When you think of Chick-fil-A, things like “frothy milkshake,” “crispy fried,” and “damn, I want that,” may come to mind. The last word you’d likely associate with the fast-food chain is “healthy.” But it turns out, the Atlanta-based restaurant does have diet-friendly fare if that’s what you happen to be on the hunt for. With the help of a few registered dietitians, we’ve broken down the options, as well as an easy way to hack the menu if you’re really feeling that Spicy Deluxe Sandwich—just not the carbs.
What to Order for Breakfast
For a morning pit stop at Chick-fil-A, “The Lifestyle Dietitian” Jerlyn Jones, MS, MPA, RDN, recommends pairing the Egg White Grill with the Greek Yogurt Parfait. However, if you’re just ordering the yogurt, you can splurge on the grilled nuggets.
According to Jones, the average calorie count to maintain a healthy weight for adult females is between 500 to 600 calories per meal, and for males it’s between 700 to 850 calories. Of course, the suggested range varies depending on how active you are.
“The Egg White Grill is lower than the average 500 calories,” says Jones. “Skip the American cheese, and the calories are reduced by 100 along with 9 grams of fat.”
Egg White Grill Greek Yogurt Parfait Grilled Nuggets
“The Greek Yogurt Parfait is served with fresh strawberries and blueberries, and it’s a fulfilling way to start your morning,” Jones adds. “Greek yogurt typically contains 17 grams of protein—double the protein of regular yogurt—which leads to even greater satiety throughout the day. Berries are a good source of fiber, too. The parfait is 250 calories, so go ahead and add that four-count grilled chicken nuggets at 140 calories to your order, she says. “You’ll still be well below the average 500-600 calories per meal for weight maintenance.”
As far as skimping on the cheese, the company’s app allows you to add or remove toppings from most entrées to create healthier choices on the go. The chain was also one of the first quick-serve restaurants to offer gluten-sensitive menu options, including a new bun.
What to Order for Lunch and Dinner
Hands down, the nutritionists agree that the Grilled Chicken Sandwich is the healthiest of the poultry lot, with salads, surprisingly, coming in second.
“The grilled chicken sandwich comes with a fiber-rich multi-grain bun, lettuce, and tomato,” says Jones.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap Market Salad
CEO of TelaDietitian Jackie Arnett Elnahar, RD, adds that the Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap is also a solid choice because it comes with a serving of veggies, including carrots, red cabbage, and lettuce, which add up to 15 grams of fiber.
“Calories are one aspect, but it’s important for me to see what I’m getting for those calories,” explains Elnahar.
And, if you’re jonesing for greens, go for the Market Salad.
“Sometimes salads are not the most nutritious items on a menu because of the high sodium and fat content,” says Jones. “The grilled Market Salad provides a mixture of fruit, vegetables, and protein below 350 calories . Though the sodium is high at 28 percent of total daily values but lower than other salads on the menu.”
Although Chick-fil-A’s Fruit Cup is a healthy go-to side, Smartee Plate creator Jennifer Glockner, RD, says diners should know that the Mandarin oranges in the cup have added sugar.
What to Skip
Resist the urge to make it a combo and select the Superfood Side instead, Jones says, which includes a vegetable medley of kale and broccolini, drenched in a maple vinaigrette dressing and topped with dried sour cherries and nuts.
And, if you are being particularly mindful of what you eat, “Try to avoid the fried chicken sandwich,” advises Glockner. “It contains double the amount of saturated fat than the grilled chicken sandwich and 19 grams of total fat. The sodium content is extremely high at 1350 milligrams.”
And, if we’re being honest, beyond the potato fries, the milkshakes are the draw at Chick-fil-A. But it’s basically like sipping dessert in a cup.
“The milkshakes and frosted drinks are loaded with sugar and fat and should be treated as a beverage you drink occasionally,” suggests Jones.
How to Enjoy Your Favorites
Founder of Nutrition Now Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, offers two simple hacks: ask for an unbuttered bun and add water to the Diet Lemonade.
“The restaurant automatically adds butter to the sandwich buns, and by skipping that step you save some calories,” says Manaker. “Although the lemonade is sweetened with Splenda, it’s still not sugar-free since lemons naturally contain sugar. Request a glass of half Diet Lemonade and water.”
Now, What About Those Sauces?
“The condiments are what I see as an issue,” Manaker explains. “If a person is monitoring their carbohydrate intake, due to diabetes or another health condition, certain condiments are loaded with sugar. As delicious as the Polynesian sauce is, it’s with sugar and corn syrup. Additionally, it contains 13 grams of carbohydrates, which is almost an entire carbohydrate serving.”
At just 50 calories, Glockner recommends the Honey Mustard and Barbeque sauces for dipping because they have less preservatives. But be mindful of what you’re drizzling over your salad.
“The dressings have varying fat, sodium, and added sugar content,” says Glockner. “Avoid the creamy ones. The Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing may seem healthy, however, it contains more oil and buttermilk than avocado. The best choices are the Barbeque and Honey mustard for sauces, but they still have added sugar of about 9 to 10 grams.”
“Your best bet is to use the Light Italian Dressing or Chili Lime Vinaigrette as a sauce since it’s low in calories, fat, and sugar but not in flavor,” adds Elnahar.
A delicious and nutritious way to end your day
Dinner can be the most complicated meal of the day. After hours of working or running errands, preparing a meal for the family (or even just for yourself!) can feel like a daunting task. And if you’re trying to eat on the lighter side, your decision becomes even more complex.
So, are you dreading dinner now? Don’t – it’s time to relax! When making your own meal just isn’t on the menu, we’ve got you covered with our five favorite Chick-fil-A dinner orders for 500 calories or less.
Chick-fil-A® Nuggets, Buddy Fruits Apple Sauce and Sweet Tea
Classic Chick-fil-A® Nuggets and Sweetened Iced Tea for less than 500 calories? You got it! Enjoy eight bite-sized pieces of all breast meat chicken, seasoned, hand-breaded and pressure cooked in 100 percent refined peanut oil. Are you a dipper? Good news — we spared enough calories for you to try our Barbeque Sauce! You can even finish it off with an all-natural sweet side of Buddy Fruits® Apple Sauce.
Chick-fil-A® Nuggets (8-count): 260 calories
Barbeque Sauce: 45 calories
Buddy Fruits Apple Sauce: 60 calories
Medium Sweetened Iced Tea: 120 calories
Total meal: 485 calories
Grilled Cool Wrap® and Kale Crunch Side
In a hurry? Refresh your taste buds with a Grilled Cool Wrap®. With sliced grilled chicken, green leaf and a blend of shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, this flaxseed flour flatbread wrap packs a powerful punch as a convenient on-the-go entrée. If you’re hungry for more (and have time for a fork), round out the meal with our Kale Crunch Side— a blend of curly kale and green cabbage tossed with an apple cider and Dijon mustard vinaigrette and topped with salted, crunchy roasted almonds.
Grilled Cool Wrap®: 350 calories
Kale Crunch Side: 120 calories
Water: 0 calories
Total meal: 470 calories
Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Side Salad
Grilled chicken is a protein-packed staple, and our Grilled Chicken Sandwich certainly doesn’t disappoint. Anchored by a boneless breast of chicken, marinated with a blend of seasonings and grilled for a tender, backyard-grilled taste, this entrée is served on a toasted multigrain bun with green leaf lettuce and tomato. Add some extra veggies with our Side Salad and quench your thirst with our hand-squeezed Diet Lemonade.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich: 330 calories
Side Salad: 160 calories
Water: 0 calories
Total meal: 490 calories
Grilled Cobb Salad and Large Fruit Cup
A salad that’s equally as filling as it is nutritious? It does exist – the Cobb Salad is a salad lover’s dream! Made fresh daily, this salad features a bed of mixed greens and is topped with roasted corn kernels, a blend of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, crumbled bacon, diced eggs and grape tomatoes. Just ask for it with Grilled Nuggets to keep the calories down. Top it off with our light Italian dressing for extra flavor, and add even more nutrients to your meal with a fresh Fruit Cup of mandarin orange segments, strawberry slices, red and green apple pieces and blueberries.
Grilled Cobb Salad: 400 calories
Light Italian Dressing: 25 calories
Medium Fruit Cup: 60 calories
Water: 0 calories
Total meal: 485 calories
Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Medium Fruit Cup
Spice up dinnertime with our Spicy Chicken Sandwich! Curb your cravings with our classic hand-breaded boneless breast of chicken seasoned with a spicy blend of peppers and served on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips. Gluten-free and multigrain buns are also available! Cool it back down with a Fruit Cup to complete your delicious dinner.
Spicy Chicken Sandwich: 450 calories
Small Fruit Cup: 45 calories
Water: 0 calories
Total meal: 495 calories
You don’t have to sweat dinnertime after a long day. When you’re in need of an easy, delicious and nutritious meal (or are just in the mood for a special treat!), enjoy the evening at your closest Chick-fil-A restaurant with a fresh and tasty meal — made just for you by one of us!
Tagged In: Apple Sauce Cobb Salad Dinner Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap Grilled Chicken Sandwich Low Calorie Meal Nuggets Nutritious Sauce Spicy Chicken Sandwich Superfood Side Sweet Tea
Chick-fil-A can thank its classic fried chicken sandwich and waffle fries for its cult-like following. But eating at America’s favorite fast food chain doesn’t have to get in the way of any healthy-eating resolutions.
“When ordering at Chick-fil-A, I would choose entrees that are no more than 400 calories and less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium,” Keri Gans, a New York City-based registered dietician, told TODAY Food. The author of “The Small Change Diet” also recommended sticking with sauces and salad dressings that have less than 80 calories per serving. From “naked” nuggets (i.e. grilled chicken bites) and waffle fries, to mini chicken breakfast sandwiches and a fruit cup (or one of Gans’ favorites like the chain’s Superfood Side), here are 10 combos that all come in at under 500 calories.
Egg White Grill and Orange Juice, 460 calories
With 25 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat, Chick-fil-A’s answer to McDonald’s’ Egg White Delight has 7 more grams of protein and 3 fewer grams of fat. Instead of Canadian bacon, this multigrain English muffin sandwich features a skinless chicken breast filet. With 300 calories and 980 milligrams of sodium, it also falls within Gans’ recommendations. Add a 100-percent orange juice for 160 calories to meet your Vitamin C needs for the day. It is important to note that the orange juice has 35 grams of sugar so, if you can, eating an orange is a great way to get both vitamin C and filling fiber.
Hashbrowns and a Fruit Cup, 300 calories
This combination is perfect if you’re not a big breakfast eater but you need something salty and sweet. One serving of hashbrowns, made from American-grown potatoes cooked in canola oil, has 250 calories, 17 grams of fat and 380 milligrams of sodium. Pair it with a fruit cup (50 calories) and get your sugar fix from fresh apples, strawberries, blueberries and mandarin oranges.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Muffin and Iced Coffee, 450 calories
When egg whites won’t cut it and you’re craving bacon, order this 310-calorie sandwich featuring scrambled eggs, American cheese and bacon on a multigrain English muffin. It has 13 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein and 720 milligrams of sodium. Wash it down with an iced coffee for an additional 140 calories. (Keep in mind that the chain’s standard iced coffee is pre-sweetened and has 24 grams of sugar.)
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Chick-n-Minis and Coffee, 355 calories
This drive-thru breakfast is easy to eat with your fingers. It’s a play on Chick-fil-A’s signature sandwich. But instead of one big one, you get four little bites flavored with a honey butter spread. They come in at 350 calories with 14 grams of fat, 19 grams of protein and 860 milligrams of sodium. Add in one hot black coffee for 5 calories to get your caffeine fix, too.
Grilled Nuggets and Waffle Potato Fries, 500 calories
One order of naked nuggets has just 140 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein and 440 milligrams of sodium. Chick-fil-A’s dipping sauces add between 45-140 more calories to any meal. Add an order of Chick-fil-A’s most popular menu item, for 360 calories and 18 grams of fat. For even fewer calories and fat, swap the fries for a bag of waffle potato chips which have 220 calories and 13 grams of fat. (Of course, the healthiest option, which is also Gans’ pick, would be the broccolini and kale side dish coming in at 140 calories, 8 grams of fat.)
Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap and Iced Tea, 470 calories
This 350-calorie flaxseed flatbread is packed with grilled chicken, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, lettuce, cabbage and carrots. It has 14 grams of fat, 960 milligrams of sodium and 37 grams of protein. Add a freshly-brewed sweet tea for 120 calories. Or better yet, advises Gans, add the unsweetened version and save on the calories and 31 grams of sugar.
Market Salad with Light Italian Dressing, 355 calories
Yes, it’s OK to come to Chick-fil-A for a salad. This colorful 330-calorie salad with 28 grams of protein features grilled chicken, shredded carrots, red cabbage and fresh fruit served on fresh greens. Still, it’s not as innocent as it sounds. Between the crumbled blue cheese and granola and nut blend toppings, it has 14 grams of fat and 700 milligrams of sodium. Dress it with Chick-fil-A’s Light Italian Dressing which adds just 25 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.
Spicy Southwest Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette, 500 calories
Chick-fil-A goes TexMex with this grilled chicken salad topped with Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, poblano chiles, seasoned tortilla strips, chili lime pepitas and roasted corn and black bean salsa. Even though its base is romaine lettuce and baby greens, it has more calories (440), fat (19 grams) and sodium (1,070 milligrams) than some sandwiches on the menu. Pair it with the Chili Lime Vinaigrette dressing (60 calories and 3 grams of fat) for an even 500-calorie lunch.
Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich with Honey Mustard Sauce, 485 calories
With 440 calories, 19 grams of fat and 1350 milligrams of sodium, the sandwich that helped Chick-fil-A earn its title as America’s favorite chicken chain isn’t exactly healthy. But, it does have 28 grams of protein and there is the option to order it on a multigrain bun for no additional cost. To stay under the 500 calorie total, top it with Honey Mustard Sauce (45 calories), Barbecue Sauce, Zesty Buffalo or Sweet and Spicy Sriracha, which all have 60 calories or less.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chick-fil-A Sauce, 450 calories
If you must have Chick-fil-A’s signature sauce, consider compromising and getting the grilled chicken sandwich. It has 310 calories, 6 grams of fat, 820 milligrams of sodium and 29 grams of protein. It also automatically comes on a multigrain bun and even includes some fresh veggies (like green leaf lettuce and tomato). The barbecue-and-honey mustard hybrid sauce — with 140 calories and 13 grams of fat per serving — is the real kicker. (When it comes to sauces and dressings, Gans recommends trying to stick with just one packet.)
Visit to Chick-fil-A turns into heartwarming military reunion
Jan. 30, 201800:39
How to Eat Healthy at Chick-fil-A
Is Chick-fil-A healthy?
You’ll hear mixed thoughts on this for sure. Some claim “Nothing good EVER came out of a drive-thru window!”
And as great as that sounds in theory, we WILL find ourselves in a tight spot.
We’ll wake up 20 minutes late for work and miss breakfast. Or we’ll have a total of 15 minutes to get our kids from school to baseball practice – and we simply won’t have time for our regular meals.
For those situations, it is absolutely critical to plan ahead. I can tell you as a Tutor with a 12 year old (that plays three sports) and a busy wife that works night shift in the emergency room, I do a lot of business with them!
So today, we’re going to talk about making spot-on, healthy meal choices at Chick-fil-A.
And I’m going to share 6 pro-level healthy meal options that will help us stick to our eating plan. (Be sure to read the Bonus Tips section too.)
Let’s jump right in!
6 Healthy meal options to eat at Chick-fil-A:
1. Egg White Grill
Hit the alarm clock one too many times? When you’re on the run, it’s hard to go wrong with the Egg White Grill at 300 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 25 grams of protein.
But with a few slight tweaks, we can make this meal a breakfast go-to!
- Let’s hold the cheese to save 50 calories.
- Order extra egg whites on the side to get a shot of filling protein that’ll hold you over nicely.
- The Egg White Grill pairs nicely with a small Thrive Farmers coffee. Go black or add a couple Chick-fil-A coffee creamers at 15 calories each.
2. 8-Count Grilled Nuggets (or 12!)
At 140 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 25 sweet grams of protein, an 8-count grilled nuggets entree is the perfect bite-sized snack on the run!
Feeling extra hungry? Grab 12 for just 210 calories and 38 grams of protein.
- Holding the sauce will really pay off. The Chick-fil-A Sauce will add 140 extra calories. Instead, let’s opt for the 0 calorie Hot Sauce or stick with Ketchup at 25 calories each.
- We can also add a Superfood Side Salad and a Medium Unsweetened Iced Tea.
- There’s also a 4-count Grilled Nuggets on the menu with only 70 calories and 13 grams of protein. What a great, quick boost between meals!
3. Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Rule number 1: When we have the option, always go grilled! Let’s look at how Chick-fil-A’s Original Chicken Sandwich stacks up to their Grilled Chicken Sandwich.
Original Chicken Sandwich:
- 440 calories
- 19 grams of fat
- 28 grams of protein
Grilled Chicken Sandwich:
- 310 calories
- 6 grams of fat
- 29 grams of protein
Compared to the Original, going grilled will save us 120 calories and 13 grams of fat.
- Ordering the sandwich without the butter is a quick way to drop 30 calories.
- Or just drop the bun altogether to save about 180 calories and 35 total carbs. That puts Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich without the bun at about 130 calories! Pretty sweet, right?
4. Superfood Side
The Superfood Side is a delicious broccolini and kale blend, tossed in maple vinaigrette dressing, and topped with dried sour cherries with roasted nut blend – making it the perfect companion for any entree or on its own.
With the Superfood Side, we’re looking at 150 calories and 3 grams of protein.
- Feel free to pair this side with nearly any entree!
5. Grilled Market Salad
Salads don’t always = healthy. But Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Market Salad really hits the spot! We’re talking Romain lettuce and baby greens, with blueberries thrown in the mix. All of that topped with sliced grilled chicken breast!
Here are the details:
- 330 calories
- 14 grams of fat
- 27 grams of protein
- This is a great time to talk about dressing. The Market Salad comes with a Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette that comes in at 230 calories. So if we go with the Chili Lime Vinaigrette instead, we save a whopping 170 calories! Plus, we are not sacrificing on taste!
- The dressings we’ll want to avoid are the Avocado Lime Ranch that will add 310 calories and the creamy salsa at 290 calories.
6. Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap
Typically, I would pass on the Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap’s 360 calories, 30 grams of carbs, especially when it is served with the 310 extra calories in the Avocado Lime Ranch dressing.
So let’s jump straight to the Pro-Tips on this meal…
- Swap out the Avocado Lime Ranch dressing for either the Chili Lime Vinaigrette or Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- Let’s make a mess! At the window, ask for a bowl and a fork! Why? Because we’re about to unroll one of the two wraps and eat that one from the bowl like a mini grilled chicken salad!
We don’t want to reach a point of hunger where we’re not in the best mindset to make good decisions, but sometimes we can’t avoid it! And this is why we need to make rational decisions when we’re thinking rationally. And that time is right now!
Download the Chick-fil-A mobile app to your phone. We’ll want that handy before we get ravenous! The goal is to plan ahead and avoid making hasty game-time decisions!
Plus, you will be able to easily customize your meals exactly the way you want them, review the total number of calories while you are ordering, and save your favorite meals for later.
???? Do you want more practical, real-life tips from coaches that will help you make great decisions when life gets in the way?
Just read our success stories from people just like you that we’ve help get into the shape of their lives! We get the results we do by finding ways that work for you and your life.
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Every Item at Chick-fil-A—Ranked
Order wrong, and you’re playing chicken with your health. Here’s the best and worst of the Chick-fil-A menu. And if you love our rankings, don’t miss these restaurant foods with crazy-high amounts of sugar!
Sandwiches… First, the Worst
Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe
570 calories, 27 g fat (8 g saturated), 1,750 mg sodium, 7 g sugar, 35 g protein
Meet the worst sandwich on the Chick-fil-A menu. The sodium count alone is clucking ridiculous—it has more than a day’s worth, and as much as 65 Rold Gold Tiny Twist pretzels! But we’re even more grossed out by the list of 84—yes, 84—ingredients, only a few of which are natural foods. The chicken’s seasoning includes MSG, a chemical salt used to make foods more savory (the FDA receives complaints each year that it makes people feel weak or headachey); there’s more of that in the “spicy” seasoning, which also includes artificial colors; and the list goes on to include multiple types of added sugars, fattening oils and Dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foam agent. There’s even chemicals in the pickles!
Chick-fil-A Chicken Deluxe Sandwich
500 calories, 23 g fat (7 g saturated), 1,640 mg sodium, 7 g sugar, 32 g protein
Slightly less devious than its spicy cousin, thanks to a lower calorie count, this sandwich still contains more than a day’s worth of sodium, artificial colors normally found in candy, and fatty oils. That’s just the nature fast food, you say? Well, somehow McDonald’s manages to make their Big Mac with healthier ingredients than it takes to make this Deluxe nightmare.
Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich
490 calories, 21 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 1,600 mg sodium, 5 g sugar, 30 g protein
Another sandwich with more than a day’s worth of sodium—and fortunately, the last. Where do they pack in all that sodium? There’s salt in the chicken seasoning, the spicy seasoning, the spicy seasoned coater, the bun and the pickles—basically, in every ingredient except the box it comes in.
Chick-fil-A Chicken Salad Sandwich
500 calories, 20 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 1,120 mg sodium, 12 g sugar, 28 g protein
Don’t let the rolled oats on top of the bread fool you: They’re the second-to-last and therefore least prominent ingredient in this “healthy” imposter, coming right before the tiny leaf of green lettuce. Taking a starring role instead are chicken tenderloins smothered in four kinds of sugar, and a mayo made with made with high fructose corn syrup. Just what you don’t want in your “salad.”
And now…the Best Sandwiches
Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
440 calories, 18 g fat (4 g saturated), 1,390 mg sodium, 5 g sugar, 28 g protein
This could have just as easily been the best of the worst, but it made it into the official “best” category because the calories aren’t too crazy. You’ll rarely find anything deep-fried designated an “Eat This” at Eat This, Not That! but Chick-fil-A’s classic sandwich is a surprisingly modest indulgence. You can go even lighter by ordering it grilled, but if you hanker for fried chicken, there are much worse ways you could get your fix, even if we’re not thrilled by the MSG, artificial colors, sodium count, and—how could we forget?—Dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone-based antifoaming agent also found in Silly Putty and shampoo. But that’s not unique to this sole item, so if it freaks you out, perhaps steer clear of Chick-fil-A in general.
440 calories, 14 g fat (7 g saturated), 1,090 mg sodium, 8 g sugar, 38 g protein
At Eat This, Not That!, we believe there’s a direct line between ingredients you can pronounce and a healthy foods, and the Grilled Chicken Club is proof of that: Unlike the sandwiches you’ve just read about, it has no anti-foaming agents, no artificial colors and no MSG. Instead, you’ll find chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, buckwheat flour, tomatoes, lemon peel and other ingredients, tallying up to a low calorie count, and a grab-and-go lunch option you can feel good about eating. Finally, a sandwich we can recommend.
And the # 1 Best Sandwich at Chick-fil-A is…
320 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 saturated), 800 mg sodium, 7 g sugar, 30 g protein
Simply put: Order this. Every time. Made with many natural ingredients we can get behind—such as whole spelt flour, red bell peppers, and fruit juices for sweetness—this is the very best sandwich at Chick-Fil-A, and one of the best fast food sandwiches anywhere.
Nuggets and Strips
4 count: 470 calories, 24 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 1,320 mg sodium, 2 g sugar, 43 g protein
Chick-fil-A calls these “generously portioned” which is fast-food code for they’re cheap to make and bad for you. The Chick-n-Strips have the fat and sodium equivalents of 3 servings of mac-and-cheese at Denny’s, as well as MSG, an anti-foam agent and various salts! Strip down your chicken; don’t order chicken strips.
8 count: 270 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 1,060 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 28 g protein
Eat This, Not That! recently ranked every fast food chicken nugget, and Chick-fil-A’s came in 9th on the worst list—and nowhere near the best list. That’s because we can’t pronounce half the ingredients.
And the # 1 nuggets or strips are the….
Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets
8 count: 140 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 530 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 23 g protein
Perfect after a workout or as a bite-sized lunch, these protein-bombs are better than any nutrition bar. The sugar count’s super low, the sodium’s kept in check (relatively), and they’re low in fat and calories. Plus: They’re made from whole breast fillets. Order these guilt-free. They ranked #1 in our list of every chicken nugget—ranked!
Side Items… First, the worst
400 calories, 21 g fat (3 g saturated), 180 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 5 g protein
It might just be our imagination, but waffle fries just seem to taste better, don’t they? Chick-Fil-A gets major points for having the least amount of salt in their fries than any other fast food restaurant, but the high calorie count keeps this dish on the Not That! side of the equation. They ranked #7 worst in our list of every fast food French Fry—ranked!
Chicken Salad Cup
360 calories, 24 g fat (4.5 saturated), 1,120 mg sodium, 5 g sugar, 28 g protein
Remember that time Elmer Fudd high-dove into a glass of water? We thought of that reading the ingredients list of the Chicken Salad Cup. How did Chick-fil-A manage to squeeze ⅔ a day’s worth of salt, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and multiple sugars into one small container? Sneaky wabbits.
Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup
140 calories, 2.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 1,040 mg sodium, 2 g sugar, 12 g protein
As any bubbie can tell you, good chicken soup is made by putting ingredients in a pot and cooking ’em up. So without further ado, we present the ingredients list in this hearty—not healthy—soup. Do a shot every time you see the word maltodextrin—it’s a caloric sweetener and flavor enhancer made from rice, potatoes or, more commonly, cornstarch that has the potential to raise blood glucose and insulin levels.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
260 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 960 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 22 g protein
Although this bowl features some of the same chemical ingredients found in the Chicken Soup, at least it contains half as many ingredients overall, and the most prominent are ones we love: water, navy beans, onions, black beans, corn…..green chile peppers. In other words, soup!
50 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 10 g sugar, 0 g protein
Can’t go wrong with red and green apples, Mandarin oranges, blueberries and strawberries. Pair it with a protein, like the grilled chicken nuggets.
80 calories, 4.5 g sodium (3 g saturated), 110 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 5 g protein
With lettuce, cheese, cabbage and carrots, the side salad is the perfect way to boost fiber and protein.
And the # 1 side dish is….
Per 5 oz portion: 140 calories, 7 g fat (N/A saturated)
We’ll have exact nutritionals on the new Superfood Side, with kale and broccolini, when it’s launched January 18th, but we can already tell you it’s the best side dish here because it’s got to be less salty than the soups and more flavorful than the salad. Look for an update here next week.
Breakfast… They’re All Pretty Bad
Despite making healthy strides at lunchtime, Chick-fil-A continues to offer high-sodium calorie-bombs for the most important meal of the day. We can’t fully recommend any of these, but here they are ranked from worst to best.
The Breakfast Platters
Chicken: 680 calories, 37 g fat (13 g saturated), 1,920 sodium, 7 g sugar, 30 g protein
Bacon: 610 calories, 34 g fat (13 g saturated), 1,660 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 24 g protein
Sausage: 810 calories, 54 g fat (20 g saturated), 1,850 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 28 g protein
The sun rises. The rooster crows. And you’re hungry for some freshly-cracked eggs, served alongside Dimethylpolysiloxane, Yellow # 5, artificial flavor, “natural butter type flavor” and more sodium than almost every menu item at Taco Bell. That’s what you get if you order the Chicken, Bacon or Sausage breakfast platters. So don’t! They’re the worst breakfast at this place.
670 calories, 44 g fat (19 g saturated), 1,470 mg sodium, 5 g sugar, 23 g protein
Sausage is far worse than bacon, because it ups the sodium count—the slice here has three kinds of salt in one patty: sodium phosphates, MSG and old-school salt! The Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit is also the most caloric sandwich on Chick-fil-A’s entire offerings, and has more calories than even the bacon platter. Avoid.
Sausage Breakfast Burrito
500 calories, 28 g fat (11 g saturated), 910 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 22 g protein
Sausage again—this time mashed up with “natural butter type flavor,” starches, cheeses and mold inhibitors in a carb-laden wrap. Burri-don’t.
430 calories, 17 g fat (7 g saturated), 240 mg sodium, 29 g sugar, 7 g protein
If it’s before noon and you’re eating something with icing on it, you better be five years old and at a child’s birthday party. Because otherwise, you’re putting, in this case, seven kinds of sugar into your body with very little protein to provide long-lasting energy. They should rename this a cluster headache.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
460 calories, 23 g fat (12 g saturated), 1,210 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 18 g protein
Every chicken joint needs a biscuit, but that doesn’t mean you have to order it. Chick-fil-A’s is made with vegetable oil shortening and butter oil. Add bacon and cheese into it, and you’ve got a sandwich with more fat than a Bacon Double Cheeseburger at Burger King!
Spicy Chicken Biscuit
450 calories, 21 g fat (8 g saturated), 1,260 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 16 g protein
You’ve heard us rail against the Spicy Chicken patty, in the sandwich section. It fares do better wedged into a biscuit.
Chicken, Egg & Cheese Bagel
480 calories, 20 g fat (6 g saturated), 1,040 mg sodium, 8 g sugar, 27 g protein
Even at a place like Dunkin’ Donuts, the bagels are one of the unhealthiest things on the menu—worse than the glazed! Remember that whenever you see a bagel at a fast food joint, including this one, which is a big ol’ oily, doughy white flour ball ruining the decent protein in between.
440 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated), 1,210 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 16 g protein
Pro tip: Order this same chicken later in the day, on a regular sandwich, and save yourself 4 grams of saturated fat and get an extra 12 grams of protein.
370 calories, 14 g fat (4 g saturated), 900 mg sodium, 8 g sugar, 20 g protein
To save money and space, fast food restaurants repurpose lunch items in the morning. That’s why you’ll find Chick-fil-A Nuggets wedged into yeast rolls, and dubbed “Minis.” Compared to everything else you’ve seen so far, they’re OK, with 6 grams less fat than a Chicken Biscuit.
Chicken Breakfast Burrito
460 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated), 1,030 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 26 g protein
Grab-and-go breakfast burritos only seem like they’re convenient. Start your day with ⅔ of your recommended sodium intake and you’ll be more tired leaving Chick-fil-A than when you walked in.
Without granola or cookie crumbs: 100 calories, 3.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 35 mg sodium, 11 g sugar, 6 g protein
It’s Greek yogurt, plain and simple, with sugar, strawberries and blueberries. Just skip the granola (aka sugar-coated nuts and fruit) and Oreo cookie crumbs (duh).
And the # 1 Breakfast is…
290 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 60 mg sodium, 20 g sugar, 2 g protein
In the time it takes to go to Chick-fil-A and order the oatmeal, you could microwave 20 bowls of Quaker Oats—and save yourself a few bucks. But this is still the best breakfast option here, especially if you scrape off the sugary toppings and pair it with an apple from home. Every fast food chain should offer it.
And a Note About the Hash Browns
240 calories, 15 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 400 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
For a measly 2 grams of protein, the Chick-fil-A hash browns aren’t worth the whopping 15 grams of fat (which comes from canola oil, palm oil and fully refined high oleic canola oil.
Wraps and Salads
430 calories, 22 g fat (7 g saturated), 1,370 mg sodium, 6 g sugar, 39 g protein
How does this salad have nearly a day’s worth of sodium? Because it’s got Chick-fil-A Nuggets cut up and tossed over it. A pig wearing a fancy dress is still a pig.
330 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 calories), 1,090 mg sodium, 11 g sugar, 29 g protein
Mandarin oranges pair nicely with the protein—if only the chicken wasn’t breaded: you’d kick down the sodium count.
340 calories, 13 g fat (4.5 saturated), 900 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 36 g protein
Unlike the breakfast burrito, this is one grab-and-go item we love: The handy package is made mostly with Eat This, Not That!-approved ingredients, starting with the wrap, a flatbread crafted from flax flour and oat fiber, two belly-filling starches that’ll keep you regular on the regular.
And the # 1 salad or wrap is…
200 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 570 mg sodium, 8 g sugar, 23 g protein
As we’ve learned, “grilled” means good at Chick-fil-A. This salad has grilled chicken, juice for sweetening and baby field greens, blueberries and Blue cheese, some of our favorite superfoods.
Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!
Last week, Business Insider reported that a man lost 140 pounds eating only Chick-Fil-A. Yes, Chick-Fil-A. Yes, 140 pounds.
When he was 18, Alton Ward, now 25, reportedly decided to start exercising and eat a diet that only consisted of Chick-Fil-A. He ate the fast food, though he notes he opted for healthier choices (oatmeal, salad, grilled chicken wrap), for several meals per week. According to him, he lost 140 pounds in 11 and a half months.
Ward isn’t the first person to attribute his weight loss to fast food. Jared Fogle, aka the “Subway guy,” supposedly lost 200 pounds by eating Subway sandwiches. That was, of course, before all the child rape and sex crimes. There’s also Dan Janssen, who survived only on pizza for 25 years. According to him, his diet was perfectly fine. “I must say, even though I sound like a horribly unhealthy and fat person, I’m not,” he told VICE. “I’m thin. I have tons of energy, and I feel great every day, so there might be something to the exclusive diet pizza.”
But, is it really possible to lose weight—let alone 140 pounds—eating only Chick-Fil-A? We spoke to Jessica Pearl, a registered dietician, to get answers. She also listed some of the healthier options—other than salads—at Chick-Fil-A in case you’re about that life.
A man reportedly lost 140 pounds eating only Chick-Fil-A. Is this possible? Can you lose weight by eating only Chick-Fil-A?
I’m looking at now and there are a few ways this could be true. First of all, he said when he went to college he started exercising. So the increased physical activity contributed to weight loss. And when he went to Chick-Fil-A, he was making healthier choices. He said he didn’t grow up eating well, but we don’t know exactly what he was eating before. If someone is eating poorly and mostly fast food then starts making smarter choices, they can definitely lose weight. As long as eating behaviors have improved you will likely have beneficial results. Even though we don’t think of fast food as healthy, for him the changes were positive in comparison. It’s really about small changes. He started eating salad, oatmeal, and grilled chicken wraps. So it is possible to make healthy choices at fast food restaurants. And he’s a big guy, so he does need a certain number of calories to maintain body function.
He said he tried several diets—juice diet, no carb diet, etc.—but none of those worked. Why?
Those won’t work because they’re restrictive. You’re only drinking juice when you do juice diets. For low carb diets, you’re eating less carbs. He didn’t restrict himself. He didn’t say, “I can’t have this. I can’t have that.” The most important thing about losing weight is having a balanced diet that provides enough nutrients. The best diets are the ones you can maintain. You can’t maintain a juice diet. You can’t maintain a low carb diet.
Is there more of a chance to lose weight if the change in diet is more drastic?
No. Drastic changes are not better because they are not sustainable and it’s a lot to take on. Making small, gradual changes is a better method to lose weight. It gives you more time to get used to these new eating habits instead of taking on everything at once.
So, there are ways to eat healthy at fast food restaurants?
Yes. For example: Instead of fried chicken, have grilled chicken. Instead of fries, have a baked potato.
According to Pearl, while it is possible to lose weight without giving up fast food, Chick-Fil-A’s menu is loaded with preservatives and additives—even the fruit. She says she doesn’t recommend consumimg a diet composed primarily of Chick-Fil-A. But, here are some of the “healthier” options at the chain:
She definitely doesn’t recommend relying on Chick-Fil-A for most of your diet, but if you do, some healthier options include the grilled nuggets, grilled chicken sandwich, Greek yogurt parfait, fruit cup, chicken breast soup, side salad, and superfood side.
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- Chick-fil-A’s famous chicken sandwich has 55 ingredients, including MSG, artificial colors Yellow 5 and Blue 1, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Potassium Iodate, and Dimethylpolysiloxane.
- These additives are linked to several health risks, and some are banned or heavily restricted in other countries.
- Chick-fil-A has made some good progress in eliminating antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, and TBHQ from their supply chain, but they still have a long way to go.
- Chick-fil-A’s new Mac & Cheese is made primarily with “Pasteurized Processed Cheese Spread” – which is like that cheese in a can – and “Margarine”.
- Food Babe investigates food brands and restaurants, revealing the truth about what is in their food. She has influenced how major food giants create their products, steering them towards more healthful policies.
Read More Investigations Exposing The Food Industry Here
I had an early love affair with Chick-fil-A. While in college, I’d eat there at least 3 to 4 times a week, sometimes more. I’d pick up one of their sandwiches on my way back from the gym and thought they were healthy because they were only around 400 calories. If only I knew then what I do now.
One of my first restaurant investigations was into Chick-fil-A (about 7 years ago!) That’s when I posted the ingredients in their chicken sandwich on my personal Facebook page and got an intense reaction from my friends and family – everything from horrified to “no one is going to stop me from eating those 100 ingredients of deliciousness….”
Ha ha, yeah, I once thought those sandwiches were delicious too. But I finally came to a point in my life where I realized that eating “food” full of artificial additives was making me feel and look horrible. It was not worth it.
I went on to write several blog posts about Chick-fil-A during the summer of 2012, exposing the unholy ingredients in the company’s sandwiches from antibiotics, to MSG, to artificial food dyes, to GMOs and TBHQ (1). This eventually got the attention of the executives at Chick-fil-A, and to my surprise they invited me to their headquarters to consult with them on how they could change their ingredients. I came to them prepared with a laundry list of what it would take to improve their food. I tried my hardest to convince them that they’d be surprised by how many people would choose clean, organic chicken sandwiches, if offered. And if Chick-fil-A did make their menu items additive-free, I promised them that I’d rent a cow costume or whatever they wanted and run up and down the street on live TV. That promise still stands!
They did some outstanding work in implementing a No Antibiotics Ever policy for their chicken – the #1 suggestion I made to them (2). They also dropped the TBHQ and high fructose corn syrup – another suggestion I made (3). And then they made a big announcement about dropping artificial dyes from their sauces a few years back (4). Well…
Those same artificial dyes are still in the pickles found on nearly every Chick-fil-A sandwich. And there are dozens more health-wrecking additives still in their food.
This is the complete list of ingredients in the Chick-fil-A Sandwich – some items appear more than once because they are used in multiple items, like in the chicken, and again in the bun.
1. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Filet – Not organic or pasture-raised, Chick-fil-A’s chicken is raised in large barns where the chickens likely spend little to no time outdoors (5).
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – What is it that makes Chick-fil-A sandwiches so addicting? This ingredient is the main culprit! MSG is a flavor-enhancer and excitotoxin that excites brain cells to death, increases food cravings, and makes you eat more than you should (6).
4. Sugar – Refined likely from GMO sugar beets.
5. Spices – We asked Chick-fil-A what exactly is in their “spices” in the Chick-fil-A sandwich and they said the spices are: “black pepper, paprika, and mustard” and confirmed that this is the complete list in this sandwich.
7. Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour – Heavily processed flour treated with bleach to quickly make it white. It has no nutritional value and is essentially dead food, so they “enrich” it with synthetic vitamins that are not from nature (6).
8. Sugar – Again, likely from GMO sugar beets.
10. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – There wasn’t enough MSG added to the chicken itself, so they add it to the coating too.
11. Nonfat Milk
12. Baking Soda
13. Sodium Aluminum Phosphate – Stabilizer additive that contains aluminum, linked to neurological problems, and on EWG’s Dirty Dozen Additive Watch List (9).
14. Monocalcium Phosphate – Rising agent found in baking powder
15. Spice – This ingredient is listed twice in this sandwich.
16. Soybean Oil – One of the most unhealthy vegetable oils, known to increase the risk of obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases (6). It’s most likely made from GMO soybeans, which have been shown to contain high levels of residues from the herbicide glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) compared to non-GMO soybeans. Glyphosate was deemed a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO). To extract the oil, the soybeans are typically subjected to intensive chemical refining with toxic hexane, bleach, and deodorizers (6).
17. Color (Paprika)
19. Nonfat Milk
21. Fully Refined Peanut Oil – A heavily processed oil that is treated with bleach and deodorizing chemicals. All of the heat and processing that it goes through creates free radicals (10) – which are renegade molecules that damage cells in the body, triggering a host of diseases from liver damage (11) to cancer (12). Peanut oil is also very high in omega-6 fatty acids which promote harmful inflammation in the body.
22. Dimethylpolysiloxane – The main ingredient in Silly Putty is used as an anti-foaming agent in their cooking oil. This substance was also commonly used as a filler fluid in breast implants, which is being phased out due to safety concerns, but supposedly it’s “safe” to eat (6). It also can be preserved by formaldehyde according to the FDA.
23. Enriched Wheat Flour – Refined wheat flour in which the healthy part of the wheat is removed. The refining process removes most of the fiber, vitamin E, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins from the wheat. Some synthetic vitamins (not from nature) are added back in to “enrich” it (6).
25. Sugar – This is the 3rd time refined sugar is added, this time in the bun. There are 5 grams of sugar in the entire sandwich – equivalent to eating about one heaping teaspoon of sugar.
27. Soybean Oil – The 2nd time this unhealthy oil is found in this sandwich, and it will show up again.
28. Wheat Gluten – This additive is an isolated form of gluten, which is already present in the wheat flour used in the buns. It’s added to improve texture.
30. Cultured Wheat Flour
31. Vinegar – Likely made from GMO corn like most white vinegar in the U.S.
32. Calcium Sulfate – Also known as “plaster of paris”, this ingredient is used in some breads for many reasons, commonly as a dough conditioner/strengthener (13).
33. Monoglycerides – An emulsifier made from oil byproducts including partially hydrogenated canola and soybean oils – which contain artificial trans fat, making this additive a potential source of trans fat. Even trace amounts of trans fat are considered harmful to the heart (6).
34. DATEM – Another potential source of trans-fat, this dough conditioner is usually derived from soybean or canola oil (GMO crops) (6).
35. Calcium Propionate – Considered a safer preservative, but research published in the Journal of Pediatric Child Health links it to “irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance in some children” and long term consumption has been shown to damage the stomach lining and induce ulcers (6).
36. Ascorbic/Citric Acid – Although citric acid is naturally found in lemon and other fruits, the additive form is typically derived from mold made with GMO corn. Ascorbic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin C typically derived from corn too.
38. Soy Lecithin – Another super processed additive that comes from GMOs. Just like the soybean oil, it’s extracted from GMO soybeans with the neurotoxin hexane (14).
39. Potassium Iodate – This additive is banned from flour in Europe and several more countries as it can negatively affect thyroid function (15) but in the U.S. it can be used as a maturing agent in dough.
40. Soybean Oil – That buttery-looking substance on their buns is not butter at all. Instead of real butter, Chick-Fil-A uses oils that are colored and flavored to taste and look like butter. Unhealthy soybean oil is the main ingredient.
41. Palm Kernel Oil – This semi-solid oil is used by the industry as a trans-fat-free replacement for partially hydrogenated oils (which were recently banned). Unfortunately, not only is it unhealthy for the body, but the cultivation of it is killing orangutans and destroying rainforests (16). This ingredient should be banned.
42. Soy Lecithin – The 2nd time this processed emulsifier is found in this sandwich.
43. Natural Flavor – The only difference between natural and artificial flavors, is that natural flavors are derived from things found in nature. Natural flavors are a proprietary mixture of chemicals and each flavor may contain up to 100 ingredients, including sodium benzoate, glycerin, potassium sorbate, and propylene glycol (none of which are labeled) (17).
44. Beta Carotene – A yellow color additive derived either from vegetables or synthesized in a lab from chemicals (18). This makes their “buttery” spread look yellow.
49. Alum – This ingredient used to make the pickles more firm is comprised of aluminum (a neurotoxin) which can build up in your body over time (19).
50. Calcium Chloride – Another additive used to make pickles more firm.
51. Potassium Sorbate –This preservative has been shown to be genotoxic to white blood cells, which could lead to cancer (20).
52. Natural Flavor – The 2nd time this proprietary ingredient is added to this sandwich.
53. Polysorbate 80 – An emulsifier linked to weight gain, inflammation and digestive problems (21).
54. Yellow 5 – Artificial dye derived from petroleum that is linked to allergies and hyperactivity in children. Artificial dyes have been found to be contaminated with carcinogens, such as benzidine (6). This is used to brighten up the color of the pickles, but simple turmeric could be used instead.
55. Blue 1 – One of the worst artificial dyes because it has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. This dye is also linked to hyperactivity and an increased risk of kidney tumors. Some research suggests it is a potential neurotoxin (6).
Does Chick-fil-A really need all these risky and artificial ingredients to make one delicious tasting sandwich??? Of course not. Most of these ingredients cut costs and make their food addicting so we keep coming back for more. This all means more money in their pocket, which comes at a great expense of our health if we continue to eat there.
And, how about Chick-fil-A’s new Mac & Cheese that everyone’s talking about?
When I heard Chick-fil-A say their Mac & Cheese is a “classic” blend of cheddar, Parmesan and Romano… I didn’t believe it for one second.
It’s mostly made out of “Pasteurized Processed Cheese Spread” – which is like that cheese in a can.
This is NOT real cheese. It’s made by mixing and heating cheese together with colors, emulsifiers, whey, salt and preservatives. This makes a “cheese food” like product that doesn’t separate when heated or get moldy as fast as real cheese.
Then they blend this FAKE cheese with FAKE butter… “Margarine”.
Margarine is made by heavily processing vegetable oils so that they’re solid at room temperature. Since partially hydrogenated oils were banned by the FDA (due to trans fats that are horrible for the heart) the food industry has found out how to skirt by this issue by blending unhealthy refined oils with “mono- and diglycerides” and palm oil.
I can only imagine how many kids are going to be eating this Mac & Cheese along with chicken nuggets.
Chick-fil-A gets kids hooked with MSG…
Does Chick-fil-A have healthier choices?
When I examined the ingredients in the Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Grilled Cool Wrap, I still found soybean oil, yeast extract (alternative form of MSG), and natural flavors.
The chicken on their salads is spiked with MSG, unhealthy refined oils, flavors, and more preservatives. Those colorful chips on top are artificially colored with Red 40 and Blue 1. Why can’t they just use uncolored chips?
The cheese comes with a side order of “powdered cellulose” (i.e. wood), which keeps the shredded cheese from sticking together but is also linked to weight gain and digestive problems (22).
And then there’s the healthy-sounding Superfood Side…
What COULD be a super healthy menu item – kale and broccoli – is ruined with the addition of yeast extract (a form of MSG), natural flavors, synthetic preservatives, and unhealthy oils (soybean and canola). It even rings in with over 30 ingredients – many of them completely unnecessary. Chick-fil-A really missed the mark here.
If I absolutely HAD to eat at Chick-fil-A… What would I eat?
I’d order their Market Salad without the chicken, nuts, granola, or dressing, as that is where most of the unhealthy ingredients are in this item. Or maybe the Superfood Side without the unhealthy dressing and toppings, which just leaves me with kale and broccoli. But… we both know that’s not going to happen – it’s just as easy for me to just make a salad at home and no one is forcing me to eat there. And, who really wants to go to Chick-fil-A and not have their chicken?!?
If I totally just ruined the Chick-fil-A Sandwich for you, I have great news…
I figured out how to make a “Chick-fil-A sandwich” at home that tastes exactly the same (even better, seriously!) with none of the nasty preservatives, dyes, and MSG. Ok, yes, it takes a bit more effort than standing in line at Chick-fil-A, but it’s actually pretty simple to make and you can even enjoy it on Sunday!
Get my “Open on Sunday” Chicken Sandwich recipe here
If you know anyone in a serious love affair with Chick-fil-A, please share this blog post with them. Who knows, maybe they’ll surprise you with a deliciously organic homemade “Chick-fil-A” sandwich next time you see them!
P.S. There’s a newer fast food chain that I love, The Organic Coup (in California) that makes certified organic chicken sandwiches that are out of this world. The founders are friends of mine, but no, they didn’t pay me to mention them. I just love what they are doing to bring organic fast food to more people!
Eating Healthy at Chick-fil-A
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If you want a burger, Chick-fil-A is not for you. But if you prefer chicken, you’ve come to the right place. Sandwiches, wraps, soup and even salads are full of fowl. While chicken is usually a better choice than beef, make sure the preparation doesn’t add excess fat and calories. (Everything here in fried in peanut oil, so be forewarned if you’re allergic.)
- Wraps can be a trap. They hide larger portion sizes, fat and calories. At Chick-fil-A, they are not bad if the wrap alone is your meal. Most tend to be around 400 calories, with 2-16 g of fat and more than 1,200 mg of sodium.
- At first glance, the Carrot & Raisin Salad looks like a good side item because it contains fruit and a vegetable. However, the 200-plus calories and 12 g of fat per serving makes it less than ideal.
- Coleslaw (600 calories, 51 g fat) is another high-fat vegetable side worth skipping! Even half of that is a bad choice.
- Salads such as the Chargrilled and Fruit Salad (210 calories, 6 g fat, 860 mg sodium), Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad (170 calories, 6 g fat, 860 mg sodium) or Southwest Chargrilled Salad (240 calories, 9 g fat, 750 mg sodium) with low-fat or fat-free dressing make good choices. Add a Fruit Cup (100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium) as a side. These are your best lower-sodium options as well.
- On a chilly day, the Hearty Chicken Soup (240 calories, 7 g fat) is a tasty way to warm up, but not if you are watching your sodium intake–it has 1,670 mg.
- If you’re watching your sodium intake, choose carefully. Most of the menu items here are high in sodium.
- Chick-fil-A provides nutrition info on its website.
The Healthiest Things to Order at Chick-fil-A, According to Dietitians
When DC’s first standalone Chick-fil-A opened in Columbia Heights in 2015, it caused quite a tizzy amongst fans of the fast-food joint, who camped out for a chance at receiving a year’s worth of free meals (one woman said she’d been “waiting for this moment forever”). Others were less enthused at the chain’s arrival inside the District; former mayor Vincent Gray was vocal about not welcoming the controversial chain, citing the company’s financial support of organizations that oppose same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights.
Since then, the numbers have shown that many Washingtonians do love their Chick-fil-A: In a 2016 ranking by the chain, DC came in fifth for consumption of the original chicken sandwich (it did not, however, place in the top ten for nugget consumption). Here, dietitians Lisa Muras and Nadine Jakim Young of Virginia Hospital Center break down what to order, what to skip, and what “healthy” foods not to fall for.
Best Option: Grilled Chicken Sandwich
“At 320 calories, this hefty sandwich is a filling yet reasonable option for lunch or dinner,” say Muras and Young. But they add that, like most fast-food items, it’s high in sodium, at 800 milligrams. The grilled sandwich is low in fat (6 grams) and provides 30 grams of mostly lean protein. Diners can reduce calories by asking for a plain bun (no butter) and pair the sandwich with a side salad (80 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 5 grams protein) with fat-free Honey Mustard Dressing (90 calories and 330 milligrams of sodium) or Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (80 calories and 360 milligrams of sodium) for a total of 480 to 500 total calories.
Skip It: Spicy Deluxe Sandwich
Muras and Young note that, compared to the grilled chicken sandwich, this whopper has far more calories (540), more fat (25 grams), and way more sodium (1,770 milligrams, almost 78 percent of the recommended daily value) “for a measly 4 grams more of protein.”
Food Masquerading as Healthy: Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
“Don’t be fooled by the ‘multigrain’ bun.” At 440 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 1,140 milligrams of sodium, this sandwich option adds 120 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 340 milligrams sodium to the regular grilled chicken sandwich (thanks, bacon).
Best Option: Honey Mustard
The Honey Mustard Sauce has just 45 calories. “Along with the Barbeque Sauce, this is a lower-calorie option. Remember, however, the nutritional information is per serving. Have more than one container, and it adds up.”
Skip It: Chick-fil-A Sauce
“The sauce alone has just as many calories as the grilled nuggets—140. Add it to the breaded nuggets and you’ve got a 400-calorie meal without any sides or drink yet.”
Food Masquerading as Healthy: Polynesian Sauce
Muras and Young note that the second-most popular sauce at the chain is also the second-highest in calories, 110, with 6 grams of fat and 210 milligrams of sodium.
Best Option: Market Salad
“Patrons can skip the granola topping and roasted nut blend—both of which have added sugar—to reduce calories,” say Muras and Young. The Market Salad slides in at 330 calories, 15 grams of fat, 27 grams of protein, and 690 milligrams of sodium. Of the two recommended dressing options, the Light Balsamic Vinaigrette is the lower-calorie, lower-sodium choice for dressings, versus the Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
Skip It: Cobb Salad
“Not all salads are a healthy choice. This one has breaded chicken pieces, bacon, and a Monterey Jack/Cheddar Cheese combination that add on calories, fat and salt. It also comes with the highest calorie option in dressings: Avocado Ranch, with 320 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 520 milligrams of sodium, although you can substitute a different dressing. Try Chili Lime instead for a fraction of the calories and fat.”
Food Masquerading as Healthy: Superfood Side Salad
“With the trendy nomenclature, this side dish might seem like a better option than the original Side Salad, but it contains added sugar from the dried cherries, syrupy dressing, and roasted nut blend.”
Best Option: Greek Yogurt Parfait
Even with sweetened vanilla yogurt, this is a low-calorie, low-sodium option to start your day, at 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein, and 90 milligrams of sodium. However, say Muras and Young, “If you really need that chick fix, the Egg White Grill is a decent choice at 300 calories, 7 grams of fat, 25 g of protein, and 980 milligrams of sodium. Leave off the American cheese to reduce calories, fat, and sodium.”
Skip It: Hash Brown Scramble Burrito
“One of the few menu items with trans fats listed, this combination of fried nuggets, fried potatoes, and salt, salt, salt, will leave you feeling scrambled yourself.” It’s got 690 calories, 38 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of trans-fat, and 1,600 milligrams sodium.
Food Masquerading as Healthy: Chicken, Egg & Cheese Bagel
“Despite the description of ‘multigrain’ bread, this entrée contains enriched (read: white) flour, fried chicken and more than half of your daily recommended sodium.” This breakfast sando comes in at 460 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 1,240 milligrams of sodium.
Best Option: Icedream Cone
According to Muras and Young, this dessert “lets you indulge without sabotaging your health goals.” It’s got 170 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 30 grams of carbs.
Skip It: “Pretty much all of the milkshakes, but especially Strawberry.”
“There might be a trace amount of actual fruit in there, hiding behind corn syrup, cream, and FD&C Red #40, but you’d better off getting the fruit cup.” This shake comes in at 610 calories, 22 grams of fat, 95 grams of carbs, and 420 milligrams sodium.
Food Masquerading as Healthy: Frosted Coffee
“Admittedly, this is a better option than the Strawberry or Cookies & Cream milkshake, but it is really just a coffee milkshake. Have a cup of the plain Thrive Farmers coffee for your caffeine fix instead.”
The Healthiest and Worst Things to Order at Shake Shack
Health, Nutrition, Healthy Eating, Lunch Break | Mar 14, 2018 Join the conversation! Share Tweet
Kim Olsen () is a freelance writer in Alexandria.
How to avoid the ‘Chick-fil-a’ effect and other healthy diet tips
Registered dietitian Caroline Susie, who is a Lake Highlands High School alumna, works for a global healthcare company, advising clients of all sizes on how to improve their diets. She’s also shared health tips on episodes of Fox 4’s “Good Day.” “The best tip I can give: Don’t take nutrition advice from Dr. Google or an influencer on social media. Work with a registered, licensed dietitian. Dietitians have degrees in nutrition, have completed a 1,200-hour supervised internship, passed national boards and complete ongoing continuing education. Look for RD or RDN in title, or when in doubt, ask” Susie says.
Load up on H20
Hydration is so important, especially as we age, as water contributes to almost every function in our bodies. Research shows that having a glass of water before each meal can result in consuming fewer calories at the meal. To increase your water consumption, use a water tracker, get a cool water bottle, and vary your water flavors by making “spa water,” adding citrus or cucumbers.
Focus on adding foods, not eliminating
When you eliminate a specific food or food group from your diet, you can’t help but think about it 24/7. I call this, “the Chick-fil-A effect.” What is the day of the week you always want Chick-fil-A? Sunday . So instead of restricting yourself, focus on adding foods to your diet. This positive mindset will help you make healthier choices and feel good about them.
Don’t fear carbs
Yes, it’s true, not all carbs are created equal, but to simply demonize the entire food category is not fair. We have decades of research associating complex carbs with decreased risk of developing heart disease, stroke and chronic conditions. Some great choices of complex carbs include whole-grain bread and beans, brown rice and fresh fruit.
Naturally occurring sugar is just fine
Remember back in the ’90s, when we were so terrified of fat? Well sugar is the new fat. But here is the secret: Sugar is not the bad guy. In fact, naturally occurring sugar occurs in two forms: fruit and milk . In addition to natural energy, fruit and milk provide a host of other nutrition benefits like vitamin A, C, D and calcium. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, watch your portion sizes.
Lean protein is not only an essential nutrient imperative to many bodily processes, but research shows that consuming lean protein contributes to satiety, that feeling of staying fuller longer. Reach for fish, lean beef, Greek yogurt, chicken, pork, cottage cheese, eggs, peanut butter, tofu and shrimp.
The perfect pair
I tell all my clients to always pair complex carbohydrates with lean protein at every meal and snack. The complex carbs provide energy, while protein provides that feeling of fullness. Pair them to balance out blood sugar levels. This will prevent you from being “hangry” later.
Your freezer is your best friend. Stock up on healthy foods such as frozen veggies, fruits, grilled chicken and fish. These can save you in a time pinch.
Eat more veggies
Sneak veggies in everywhere. Add veggies to your eggs. Top your sandwich with spinach and a slice of tomato. Puree veggies into your marinara sauce. Incorporate a small salad with lunch and dinner, or try adding more veggies into soups and chilis. Try the crudite approach: finger friendly veggies such as mini peppers, carrots and cucumbers, served with a low-fat dip.
Make exercise a habit
Every step counts. Even if you only have 10 minutes, get moving. Your exercise goal is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Yes, brisk walking counts and yes, you can break this up into 10-minute segments. Schedule exercise into your day. Invest in a wearable device like a Fitbit for motivation. Find a group of friends who can hold you accountable. Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Follow @CarolineSusieRD on Twitter and Instagram or check out her website for more tips.