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15 Fast Food Hacks for Weight Loss

August 27, 2021
15 Fast Food Hacks for Weight Loss - Lark Health

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In this article: 

  • People who eat fast food are more likely to be overweight. But there are tricks for losing weight while eating fast food.
  • Goals are to eat fewer calories and get more nutrients. Most fast food restaurants have options that can fit into a weight loss plan.
  • Watch portion size, get more vegetables, and limit creamy sauces and fried and starchy foods.
  • Lark can help you keep track of what you eat and give tips for better choices for weight loss.

Fast food consumption can be dangerous. It raises the risk of obesity and health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. A 15-year study in The Lancet found that people who ate fast food more than twice weekly gained 10 lb more than those who ate fast food less than once weekly!

Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that 36.6% of adults eat fast food each day. Are you often one of them? 

There is good news if you love fast food. You can fit it into a healthy diet. These are 15 fast food hacks for weight loss.

1. Plan Ahead

Most fast food restaurants have their menus online. Most chains also post nutritional information. Look at it before entering the joint. That way, you can select healthy options without pressure.

2. The Customer Is Alway Right

And you are the customer. Fast food joints may be fast, but they are usually ready to handle special orders. American Heart Association says it's okay to make special requests. That might mean asking for a burger without cheese or getting double tomatoes but no bacon.

3. Watch the Dressing.

Good choice with that salad! Now, what about the dressing? A packet of dressing can have over 200 calories. Instead, mustard, salsa, or salt and pepper (really!) are low-calorie ways to dress your salad. Or, choose a low-fat vinaigrette option and use half of it. 

4. Skip "Add-Ons"

Many additions are high in calories. Salad add-ons may include croutons, chow mein or crispy noodles, cheese, or dried fruit. Sandwiches may have bacon or options for double meat or cheese. Usually, the answer should be, "no, thanks."

5. Steer Clear of "Crispy" and "Fried"

"Crispy" and "fried" signal fried, breaded choices. They are high in calories, fat, and starch. Fried chicken, fish, and shrimp are common. Chicken nuggets are another breaded disaster. Grilled or roasted choices are lower in calories and healthier. Veggie burger patties are another alternative.

6. Go "Naked" or "Protein-Style"

Skipping the bread can save hundreds of calories. Or ask for bread scooped out of sub or bagel sandwich. A burrito-sized tortilla or a sub roll can have 5 servings of starch! If you cannot order a "naked" burrito or a "protein-style" sandwich or burger, make your own. Just eat the filling from the burrito, burger, or sandwich. Watch out for sneaky starches like a bread bowl or a tostada shell for a salad. They can have 300 to 500 calories!

7. Order Extra Vegetables

This may mean having extra vegetables on a Subway or other sandwich or burger. On pizza, green pepper, onion, tomatoes, and mushrooms, along with extra sauce, are common choices. Many fast food joints have baby carrots or side salads to try.

8. Drink Water

Soft drinks, smoothies, and milkshakes can add hundreds of calories and several days' worth of added sugar. Instead, choose calorie-free or low-calorie drinks. Ice water is a great one. So is unsweetened tea or black coffee. In fact, a review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that coffee drinkers lose more weight! For another weight loss benefit, try drinking water before a meal. That is what participants in the higher weight loss group did in a study published in Obesity (Silver Spring).

9. Skip Butter and Other Sauces and Spreads

Many burgers and sandwiches come with high-calorie spreads. Butter, special sauce, mayo, and creamy dressings can add unneeded calories. Ask for your order without the spread to save those calories. Yellow, deli, or dijon mustard is a good swap.

10. Skip the Combo

Having a side and a drink for only a few cents more makes sense for your wallet. But is that the point here? Better yet, order a main course, save a few cents, and save your waistline. There is no need to let the restaurant foist off sodas, French fries, cookies, or other junk on you.

11. Watch the Sides

Most of the sides are bound to be high in calories, fat, and starch. They may include French fries, onion rings, breadsticks, and chips. If a side salad or some baby carrots or apple slices are not available, your best bet is to skip the side. 

12. Be a Kid

Kid's-sized or junior burgers and other choices tend to be smaller and more reasonable for your weight. Just beware of cookies or sugary juice drinks that can come with kids' meals. Water and apple slices are good alternatives.

13. Search for Fiber

Dietary fiber can be a sign of a less-processed, healthier food. You may find it in vegetables and fruit at fast food restaurants. Black beans are a high-fiber choice at Mexican restaurants, while whole grains are available at some fast food joints. Look for whole-grain breads for sandwiches, brown rice at Asian and Mexican restaurants, and plain oatmeal for breakfast.

14. Beware of "Snacks"

A fast food joint's idea of a "snack" may be your idea of a large meal. Before snacking on a menu item labeled, "snack," you may want to cut it in half.

15. Portion Size

Healthy or not, too much is too much. Mayo Clinic suggests watching portion sizes at fast food restaurants. If you cannot get a small enough order, just cut it in half and save half for later. 

Losing weight can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and that's not all. When you lose a few extra pounds, energy levels can increase, cholesterol and blood pressure can improve, and clothes fit better. Best of all is that Lark makes weight loss simple!

Lark doesn't just know which choices can lead to weight loss. Lark coaches you on how to make good choices that can become habits. With small changes that fit right into your lifestyle, you can drop pounds and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Your personal coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

About Lark

Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.

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