How to Lose Weight Eating Fast Food

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It may not be ideal, but sometimes fast food is your only option. While it's nearly impossible to find healthy food choices at a fast-food restaurant given that most items are high in calories, fat, sodium and trans fats, you may be able to choose something that fits into your reduced-calorie diet with a little effort.

Hamburger in a container from a fast food restaurant.
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No matter what you eat when you're on a diet, it's all about creating a negative calorie balance. Try to keep your meal at 500 calories or less, suggests Helpguide.org. If the restaurant offers nutrition information, use that to help you make your selections. If not, look for items that include healthier low-calorie options, such as lean protein like chicken that isn't breaded or fried, whole grains and vegetables.

Grilled skinless chicken breast with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, herbs and spices.
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Whether it's a burger, sandwich, taco or pizza, order the smallest size available to keep calories low. For meat selections, look for words such as grilled or roasted. Watch your additions and keep your food as plain as possible. Toppings such as cheese or bacon and condiments such as special sauce or mayonnaise can really add up.

Don't be fooled by salad. Like your sandwiches, keep it plain Jane, select healthier proteins and ask for the low-cal dressing.

Good main meal options include a child's size hamburger or grilled chicken sandwich, a small whole-grain sub filled with lean proteins and veggies, Baja-style soft taco and plain or veggie pizza.

Baja style soft tacos with mango salsa.
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To limit calories, fat and sodium intake, skip the fries. Healthy fast-food side options include a side salad with low-cal dressing, a plain baked potato or cooked veggies. And instead of dessert, satisfy your sweet tooth with a fruit cup or fresh apple slices.

With only 500 calories to spend, you're better off with a calorie-free beverage such as water, plain seltzer or sugar-free iced tea. If you have the calories to spare, you can up the nutrition of your meal and order a container of nonfat milk to drink.

A sliced green apple.
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If not planned well, a fast-food breakfast can sabotage your diet just as much as lunch or dinner. For a healthier breakfast on your weight-loss diet, look for foods with fiber such as a bran muffin, oatmeal or fresh fruit. To keep a lid on calories, order whole-wheat toast or an English muffin with your eggs instead of a biscuit. Like lunch and dinner, keep your portion small and skip any add-ons such as cheese or bacon.

Bran muffin on a plate.
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