Last week we discussed the importance of staying physically active while on the road, and while that will always be a vital component to being healthy on the road, it is only one half of the coin.
Allow Us to Paint a Scenario for You
You have been on the road for your thirty, almost non-stop, your shift is just about up, all you want is your ten-hour rest, and you’ve been starving for the past three hours.
Right now, a poutine made of rusty nails and sewer water sounds good so long as it stops the hunger pains. You’re rolling up on your stop for the night and you begin passing all the big names.
- Burger King
- Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s (depending on what part of the country you’re in)
Each option sounds better the closer you get to it. Anything to make the hunger go away you’re willing to ingest it. The greasier and saltier the better, right?
It is at these times that you need to be smart about your food cravings and make the right choice.
Obviously, the right choice is to limit how often you eat fast food to never, however sometimes it is the only choice on the road. And other times it just sounds really really good!
Here are some fast food options that won’t absolutely destroy your health with Calories, Sugars, and Sodium which all contribute to weight gain and heart disease.
Before you make any drastic dietary changes, we suggest you speak with your doctor to work out what your best diet would consist of. This article will base recommendations off the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 2,400 Calorie a day diet, 25g of Sugar, and 1500mg of Sodium.
At the end of the day, no drink will be healthier for you than water. It pairs well with every meal and every fast food location allows you to order your food with a cup of water or water bottle.
But sometimes you crave something with a little more flavor than just some water.
Coke or Pepsi?
Bad news if you are a fan of soda (or pop, or soda pop, or fizzy water depending on what part of the country you come from), many carbonated soft drinks are a terrible idea.
If you are a fan of Pepsi a 33.8 ounce large soda (without ice) will run you approximately four hundred and fifty calories! Not only that, but you will also ingest 123 grams of sugar! That is already almost twenty percent of your daily calories and five times the recommended amount of sugar in one drink!
Coke is no better; at 36 fluid ounces Coca-Cola is four hundred and twenty calories and a whopping 117 grams of sugar! That is still seventeen percent of your daily caloric intake and still over four times the amount of sugar you should have in your diet!
But what about Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, you might think?
Well, the numbers on both of those options, at a glance, are better for you, but each contain a hefty amount of your daily sodium content.
Diet Coke and Coke Zero both contain 120mg of Sodium in a 36-ounce large drink.
Diet Pepsi fares a little better with 105mg of Sodium in a 33.8fl oz large drink.
While a Diet version of any of these soft drinks are significantly better option for you, all can add up over a long period of time and be detrimental to your health, so drink them in moderation.
Few things are as American as a juicy burger, especially if it comes stacked with plenty of bacon! But before you order that Wendy’s Baconator you should know you would be eating a hearty serving of 950 calories which is nearly 40% of your recommended calorie intake! Even worse, all that salty bacon helps prop this tasty tower of meat to 1630mg of sodium, which is more than 100% of the amount of sodium you should have in one day.
And do not even think of adding fries to this sandwich, even a medium fry will run you 420 calories and 420mg of sodium.
While the Baconator is an incredibly hearty sandwich that serves as an eerily perfect example of American decadence, you may feel more inclined to go smaller with your burger.
A Carl’s Jr. (or Hardee’s if you’re more east of the Rockies) Double Cheese Burger clocks in at much more reasonable 380 calories which translates to 16% of your calorie intake. However, it is loaded with sodium, with 810mg of the stuff placing this small cheeseburger at 33% of the sodium you should have in a given day.
If you limit how many Double Cheese Burgers you have in a day and skip the small side of fries that are just as impactful as the sandwich itself, you can have a hearty meal without having too many calories.
If Pizza is more your speed, you could potentially eat a meal that is not horrible for you.
If you choose a small ten-inch, thin crust pizza from Dominos, you will eat 230 calories and 530mg of sodium per each piece of the four-piece pie.
If spread out eating a pizza across a day of driving, you won’t see a bad impact on your health.
Everybody loves chicken nuggets. They are almost as much an American staple food as a cheeseburger or pie. Turns out they are not a terrible choice while on the road.
For ten chicken nuggets at McDonalds, you will eat 440 calories (not the worst item on this list) and 840mg of sodium (a little more than a small cheeseburger at Carl’s Jr.) making chicken nuggets a decent item to order on the road.
However, skip the sauces.
At 170 calories and 11% of our daily sodium intake for a single crunchy taco from Taco Bell, tacos have the potential to be a decent choice of food on the road.
If you remove the cheese from each taco, you can save up to thirty calories off each taco and a few milligrams of sodium.
Salads have the potential to be a great option on the road, but they must be ordered with caution.
For instance: McDonald’s Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad.
As is, the salad clocks in at a quarter of your daily calories (520 calories) and 40% of your sodium intake and 9 whole grams of sugar…on a salad!
But you can simply switch to the Grilled Chicken version of the Southwest Salad. This version, with all the trimmings, comes to 350 calories, but still retains 45% of your daily value of sodium and 9 grams of sugar.
Drop the cilantro lime glaze and cheese, and your salad becomes 240 calories, 34% of your daily value in sodium, with just 5 grams of sugar. A far healthier option.
Desserts are normally chocked full of sugar and calories, but it is even worse when you order from a fast food restaurant.
Even a small shake can take a toll on you. A perennial favorite, the chocolate shake from McDonalds, can clock in at a whopping 530 calories with 74 grams of sugar!
If you find yourself in the west with a chance to enjoy some food from In-N-Out, be extra cautious around their chocolate shake. At 590 calories and 65 grams of sugar, this shake is even worse for you than McDonald’s shake.
Not all desserts are off the table though.
An order of Cinnamon Twists from Taco Bell has as much nutritional impact as a single crunchy taco and Subway’s selection of cookies range from 200 to 230 calories per serving, making them a decent option when it comes to indulging your sweet tooth.
This is obviously not a full range of the options available to you while on the road
But, hopefully it encourages you to take more consideration when ordering fast food on a long haul. While never going to be the healthiest option, with some forethought and a bit of your own research, eating on the road can have a lesser impact on your body.