Headed to Wendy’s?
You might think mostly of double cheeseburgers and french fries, but it’s possible to eat smartly (and in moderation) when dining at this popular fast-food establishment.
Cooking at home, of course, where you can control the ingredients and how much salt and sugar you add, is likely going to be more nutritious than eating out.
“The key to choosing a healthy option at a fast food restaurant is to choose foods that are going to give you some protein, fat and fiber,” said Claire Rifkin, a NYC-based women’s health dietitian and founder of the telehealth private practice Claire Rifkin Nutrition.
“This combination of nutrients will keep you full and your blood sugar stable until you can eat your next meal,” she added.
Here’s what nutrition experts suggest you reach for when you choose Wendy’s.
Fox News Digital reached out to Wendy’s for comment.
Grilled chicken wrap
Lauren Mahesri, a Houston, Texas-based registered nutrition dietitian and owner of the-pediatric-dietitian.com, called this wrap a great low-calorie and high-protein option.
“It’s packed with 27 grams of lean protein and only 420 calories,” said Mahesri.
“That means you’ll stay fuller for longer for the rest of your work day. Also, it has some of the lowest saturated fat on the menu, making it a better option for those with high cholesterol.”
The Jr. Cheeseburger
If you’re looking for protein, it’s OK to order a cheeseburger from time to time.
“The Jr. Cheeseburger is a good, quick option for 16 grams of protein if you’re on the go,” said Jessi Holden, a Michigan-based registered dietitian nutritionist at The Kitchen Invitation.
Holden suggested asking for some extra pickles, onions and lettuce — and pairing the meal with some apples for added vitamins and fiber.
Classic Egg and Cheese Sandwich
Breakfast at Wendy’s?
The Classic Egg and Cheese Sandwich on an English muffin “is a good breakfast option if you are trying to make a healthy choice at Wendy’s,” said Rifkin.
“The sandwich contains 14 grams of protein, which will help keep you feeling full and only 4.5 grams of saturated fat (the type of dietary fat we want to limit in our diet) — which is actually pretty low for a fast food menu item,” added Rifkin, who said the sandwich also contains about five grams of fiber.
To increase the fiber content of this meal, Rifkin said it can be paired with Wendy’s “apple bites,” a side of sliced apples.
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
This menu selection from Wendy’s, said Holden, offers a whopping 29 grams of protein and six grams of fiber, “both of which help fill you up and keep you full for longer.”
Plus, per Holden, the combination of sweet, crunchy, creamy and salty covers all the tastes and flavors that you may love in a salad.
Rifkin is also a fan of this salad, calling it “the best option” compared to other salads on Wendy’s menu.
“It contains a variety of different plant foods like apples, cranberries and pecans — all of which contain fiber, vitamins and minerals,” she said.
“It also has a good amount of protein from the chicken, which, when combined with the fiber from the plant ingredients, will help keep you fuller for longer,” she continued.
A dressing packet comes on the side, she said, so try using half of it to reduce some of the saturated fat and calorie content on the salad.
Kids’ Hamburger with Apple Bites
Rifkin said it may feel weird to order from the kids’ menu, but stressed that kids’ menu portions are smaller, and the food usually has fewer ingredients, which translates to fewer calories and saturated fat.
“The kids’ hamburger is just a bun and patty, so it’s going to have less saturated fat than a regular burger option that includes cheese, mayo and other sources of saturated fat,” said Rifkin.
“If you pair it with a bag of apples instead of fries, you’re also getting some fiber and added nutrients.”
Chili Cheese Baked Potato and Apple Bites
Skip the sandwich menu in favor of Wendy’s sides, and you’ll be able to put together this nutrient-dense meal, according to Amy Reynolds, a Virginia-based registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Therapy & Wellness Co.
“The Chili Cheese Baked Potato alone provides a significant amount of fiber and protein,” said Reynolds.
“The apple bites add some extra fiber, micronutrients (like potassium and vitamin C) and contrasting taste, texture and temperature, which can enhance the emotional satisfaction of the meal,” she said.
Allowing yourself to indulge here and there, she said, is vital to reducing the likelihood of mindless snacking between meals.
“All together, this combination provides about 30% of your daily minimum fiber needs and, as a bonus, less saturated fat than the amount found in the avocado chicken salad,” she said.
There are several other baked potato options on offer, too, including a plain baked potato and a cheese baked potato.
Grilled or Classic Chicken Sandwich and Apple Bites (with or without fries)
Reynolds also advised this combination, as both the grilled and classic (fried) versions of this sandwich are surprisingly low in saturated fat.
“As long as your doctor hasn’t recommended that you consume less sodium, go with whichever you genuinely prefer,” she said.
“Apple bites add a bit more fiber and nutrients to round out the meal,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said that if you’re looking forward to fries, and enjoy them from time-to-time, tack on a small-sized order.
“Eat mindfully and allow yourself to notice when you are comfortably full,” she said — adding that you could save the rest for later.
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