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How to Eat Healthy at: Chick-Fil-A

Clare Lanaux

We know fast food isn’t the greatest but whether it’s convenience, price, or you’re just cravin’ some nuggets, sometimes we can’t avoid the golden arches (or insert-your-favorite-restaurant-here). Well, don’t fret because we’ve got you covered.

At Noom we’re here to help you learn to eat out in a variety of social situations: at restaurants, at dinner parties, on vacation, at special events, and more!

This week we’ll spotlight a fast food joint and tell you what to eat — and what to avoid when you’re on-the-go. This week’s choice? Chick-Fil-A.

Chick-Fil-A is known for their pretty delicious chicken tenders and not-too-shabby waffle fries. But you can skip these two menu favorites and still have a delicious meal. Or you can find a healthy way to fit them into your budget. What’s the easiest way to do this? Be aware of the caloric density of your food. If this sounds a bit scary, Noom Coach’s food tracker has made it easy for you! Green foods are the least calorie dense — they have the smallest amount of calories per gram of food. Yellow foods are “normal” foods like lean meats. They should make up a majority of your plate. Finally, red foods are the most calorie dense — they pack a major calorie bang for your buck (and not in a good way). Try to keep red foods to single servings and fill your plate with green foods to fill yourself up with fewer calories. Need some inspiration? Below we list our top 5 healthy Chick-Fil-A meals. And three you should definitely avoid.

1. Grilled Chicken Sandwich
When eating out at fast food restaurants, always opt for a grilled option over a fried one. Fried foods are full of hidden fats, have high-calorie counts, and usually contain trans-fat (the worst kind). Chick-Fil-A’s grilled chicken sandwich has only 320 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 30 grams of protein to keep you full long past lunch. Add a side of fruit for some extra filling and sip on or unsweetened tea.

2. Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap
If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, try this grilled chicken wrap. Grilled chicken breast is wrapped in a flaxseed flatbread with cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and Monterey Jack and Cheddars cheeses. This wrap has 340 calories, 13 grams of fat, 36 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fiber. Fiber and protein both keep you full but if you need a little extra, try their side salad which has 80 calories.

3. Grilled Market Salad
You don’t have to eat a salad to be healthy but if you’re craving greens, try the Grilled Market Salad. Grilled chicken is mixed with fruits, veggies, and a bit of cheese to create a healthy mix of carbs, protein, and fats. Choosing a salad at a restaurant can be difficult, as many are packed with hidden calories and fats. Beware of excessive fatty toppings (this salad features only one fat topping — the cheese), fried meats, or toppings that could serve as an extra meal (for example, quesadillas as a ‘topping’). This salad has only 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 23 grams of protein.

4. Grilled Chicken Nuggets
If you just can’t fight your cravings, you can still indulge and stay within your calorie budget. Go for the 8-count grilled Chick-Fil-A nuggets with a side of small waffle fries. The nuggets are only 140 calories with 3 grams of fat and 23 grams of protein. (If you really want to treat yourself, go for the 8-count of normal nuggets. But they do come with an extra 130 calories and 10 grams of fat.) A small portion of waffle fries contains 310 calories and 16 grams of fat. But beware — this meal won’t keep you as full, has less nutrients, and has more unhealthy fats than some of its counterparts.

What to Avoid:
1. Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich
This sandwich features fried chicken, Pepper Jack cheese, and a buttered white bun. Clocking in at 570 calories with 27 grams of fat (not to mention the 1640 mg of sodium), this choice is one of the worst on the menu. Get grilled instead which can have just as much flavor as fried without the guilty conscience afterwards.

2. Large Waffle Fries
We won’t try to argue that fries aren’t delicious. Fries are extremely tasty, but they pack a TON of calories into a tiny amount of food and have basically non nutritional quality. Instead of grabbing large waffles fries with 520 calories and 27 grams of fat, try to wait until you’re home and can create your own healthy alternative. Try this crispy baked potato fries, sweet potato fries, or baked zucchini fries as a healthy alternative.

3. Large chocolate milkshake
Who doesn’t love dessert? Unfortunately, dessert can come with a hefty calorie count. Chick-fil-A’s large chocolate milkshake has 710 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 103 (!!!) grams of sugar. That’s almost 4x the amount of daily recommended sugar! If you need a quick fix, try the Icedream small cone which has 170 calories (but still 25 grams of sugar). Your best bet would be to wait until you get home and make something tasty yourself, like this healthy chocolate milkshake or these healthy peanut butter oatmeal cookies.

When eating out at fast food restaurants, do your best to avoid fried foods, and stick to healthy options that will still leave you satisfied. If you’re having trouble, try tracking your meal before you order it to see how much of your calorie budget it will take up. And remember, one splurge is not the end of the world. Be kind to yourself and do your best — you’ve got this!

  • Nice article! Fast food is a fact of life for many super-busy people. Great to know that Chick-fil-a has several healthier options.

  • umbrellacorp

    There is a surprising amount of calories in their Cole slaw.

    • You are correct. Mayo is oil and egg yolk…. lots of calories, there are much better options.

  • Abby

    So many calories in their lemonade as Well. Go for the diet lemonade.

    • I often go with a more natural alternative saving both calories and money, plain ole’ water with a squeeze of lemon… I tend to try to save calories for something I really want. My favorite, Coconut Bliss ice cream!

  • Pipe Pistoleer

    If you get the chicken cool wrap, don’t get the avocado lime ranch dressing. That nearly triples the fat and doubles the calories.

    • Dyrus

      IKR? I just found this out recently. That’s insane. I’m literally eating a cool wrap right now and it’s pretty good even without the ranch. I feel stupid though because I got fries with it and a regular lemonade which is why I’m on here trying to get low calorie but high protein meals for lean muscle.

  • Joe Hammerdink

    There is NO HEALTHY VERSUS UNHEALTHY. All that matters is calories in versus calories out. Period. Want a chicken sandwich with mayo from Chick-fil-a? Go ahead, just track it against your macros and stay below your calorie goal for the day. Eat WHATEVER YOU WANT, just stay at a caloric deficit for the day.

    Stop complicating this. The industry wants you to keep thinking you must eat grilled chicken breast and broccoli for every meal and that is wrong. They KNOW you will fall off the diet and buy supplements to try to fix it. Just eat whatever the hell you want every single day at a caloric deficit and enjoy life. Throw in a high calorie day once a week for mental release and to refill your glycogen stores and move on. Work out 5-6 days a week. DONE.

    • ANonKneeMouse111

      wrong