Can you eat a healthful fast-food #breakfast? It’s not exactly simple, but there are some choices that are the lesser of several evils. For starters, you’ll need to know your budget … your caloric budget, that is. The number of calories you should be eating for breakfast really depends on your daily caloric budget. For men, that is roughly 11 calories per pound, and for women it’s about 10 calories per pound (depending on such factors as age, height and activity level). For a more accurate daily caloric budget go to: www.dietdetective.com/weightloss/caloriebudget/. Breakfast should be about 25 percent of your daily calories. That means if your total caloric budget is 1,600 calories, your breakfast should be no more than 400 calories. So let’s compare some fast-food options for “the most important meal of the day.”
Fit Tip: Avoid the biscuits; they start at 250 calories and go up to 570. If you’re going to go for something high in calories, you’re better off from a hunger standpoint (not a saturated fat point of view) having an Egg McMuffin. At least it has protein rather than just heavy carbs, which could leave you feeling hungry a few hours after you eat. Watch out for the flavored coffees, they’re not like those at Dunkin’ Donuts, where the actual coffee beans are flavored (at no caloric cost). McDonald’s adds syrup to their coffee beverages, so the calories are up there. If you happen to be watching your sodium intake, skip all the fast-food breakfasts.
Fit Tip: If you have a choice of sausage, ham or bacon, skip the sausage — it can be 130 calories more. If you’re really hungry, and you have a high daily caloric budget, the Double Croissan’wich with Ham, Egg & Cheese may not be a horrible choice at 420 calories — the “double” meat, eggs and cheese will surely keep you filled up. Also, if you’re a parent, avoid getting the French Toast Kid’s Meal (with syrup) — it’s a whopping 680 calories — a bit much for either a child or a parent.
Flavored Hot and Iced Coffee: 20 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 4g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g protein.
Fit Tip: What about a doughnut, you say? Believe it or not, having a doughnut for breakfast just might be your lowest calorie choice (about 250–350), although it will probably be unsatisfying from a hunger standpoint. The flavored coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts is great.
Fit Tip: Surprisingly (since Subway is the unofficial “healthy” fast-food restaurant), the breakfast sandwiches here are not amazing bargains, but they’re still very good. Calorie-wise, the items range from 390 to 570 for the omelet sandwiches and the wraps. I was hoping for some sort of egg-white sandwich on 100 percent whole-grain bread, but no such luck. Oh, and if you think you’re saving “big” by going with a breakfast wrap — think again — you only save 10 calories. (Note: Not every Subway offers breakfast)
Fruit Cup (medium): 70 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 16g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein.
Fit Tip: All the platters are high in calories. Except for the fruit cup, I’m not really loving the breakfast options here — lots of biscuits, and they’re all pretty high in calories. Your basic biscuit with butter is 270 calories.
Jack in the Box (www.jackinthebox.com/ourfood/dynamic/nutrition.php?cat=5)
Fit Tip: Avoid the “Big Country Breakfast Platters”— they’re all super-high in calories, ranging from 970 to1,220, not to mention more than 2,000 mg of sodium, and they’re all very high in saturated fat. Hardee’s is not very “health” friendly, but if you’re stuck, you can go for a mix of carbs and protein. Your best bet is probably the Loaded Omelet.
Fit Tip: Almost all the baked goods (muffins, coffee cakes, Danishes, etc.) are high in calories. Think of it this way: Even if you have a Coffee Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee and a Lowfat Blueberry Muffin, you’re looking at 560 calories – and to top it off, it’s nutritionally void (although it doesn’t have saturated fat). If you’re going to eat, your best bet is a real meal. Not all Starbucks carry breakfast sandwiches (and calorie counts vary depending on region), but if they do, go for the Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon, Cholesterol-Free Egg, Reduced-Fat White Cheddar sandwich. Even a plain bagel with butter will be more than 350 calories. Oh, and in case you didn’t already know, almost all the Frappuccinos and other fancy drinks are not healthful choices. Starbucks makes good plain coffee; get that with skim milk.
#Steak n Shake (www.steaknshake.com/nutritional_info/nutricalc/index.asp)
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