You’re on a road trip, 20 miles from any big town, and you’re starving—but your only options are fast-food restaurants as far as the eye can see. You want to be healthy, but you just can’t make it. What do you do?
Or, being human and all, you have that rare but all-powerful Big Mac craving. You’re trying to do better, but you just can’t keep yourself from that drive-thru.
If you’ve experienced any such situation, then let this be your guide. We’ve done the hard work for you, having studied the menus of eight fast-food joints to find the worst culprits and best compromises. No, every alternative is not just “salad” or “water”; we’ve scoured all the nutrition info to find the healthiest fast-food choices that will still hit the spot.
The big stuff that you’re looking for here is fat, sodium and carbohydrates (carbs). Carbs are mostly sugar, and too much sugar is unhealthy. Fat is found mostly in dairy and some of the meats on this list. Sodium raises blood pressure and can clog up your arteries. Calories can sometimes be a good indicator of the general healthfulness of a dish, but be warned: Calories can be reduced without actually making something healthy. (Coke Zero has zero calories yet is chockfull of chemicals and sugar that are never good for you).
Now that you’re in the know, click through to see the most satisfying lesser-of-many-evils from McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Jamba Juice.