It’s an unavoidable truth: holidays are ground zero for going H.A.M. then feeling terrible about it for weeks afterward.
There’s no doubt you feel an overwhelming sense of guilt right now from mainlining artichoke dip, faceplanting in the mashed potatoes, and chasing all that family awkwardness away with an entire gallon of white Russians. But now, the holidays are over, and it’s time to hit the gym…hard.
It’s also time to do responsible things involving your diet: like eating out less and eating less junk. But we all lead busy lives, and what if you find yourself turning to fast food, but still want to maintain some semblance of fitness? Actually, it’s easier than you think if you know a few ordering tips and tricks. This list of hacks doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a good start to get your head (and mouth) in the game.
The Starbucks Blendicano
Where to get it: Starbucks
What it is: Frappuccinos taste great, but we all know they’re loaded with calories, carbs, and fat. But personal trainer Mshellfitness set Instagram on fire with the magic secret of the #Blendicano. If you take a look at #blendicano on Twitter, you’d believe this is the best discovery since the polio vaccine. Since it’s an off-menu item, you can’t find nutritional info for it on the Starbucks website as easily as you can for, say, a legit Frapp. But their site lists a Caffè Americano as having anywhere from 5 to 25 calories, depending on what size you get.
Even the 25 calorie one doesn’t look bad next to any Frapp you can name, since they range from 190 to 450 calories, depending on size and type. If you order one, just be aware that you may make some baristas hate you. Just take a look at this r/starbucks thread which started with Redditor geraldineblank writing:
Make Your Own McMeal
Where to get it: McDonald’s
What it is: Whatever you want it to be, within reason. Licensed dietitian Caryn Honig has a few recommendations for dining under the golden arches without completely wrecking your fitness goals. The first one includes the regular hamburger above, which you can see only has 240 calories. A Big Mac may taste like a Big Mac, but that also means it tastes like 530 calories, 27 grams of fat, and 960 mg of sodium. But Honig doesn’t suggest you stop with that regular burger. Instead, she suggests that you pair it with a fruit yogurt parfait, which has 380 calories. You could also swap out the burger for a grilled chicken salad (120 calories) and still enjoy that parfait.
If you absolutely need those fries, Honig says that a premium grilled chicken classic sandwich minus the mayo is 300 calories, a small fry is 210, and a low-fat vanilla ice cream cone is 150. 27. Your total meal here comes in at 660 calories and 20 grams of fat, which is doable if you’re in a splurgy mood, hit the gym, and budget the rest of your day’s nutrition accordingly. (Photo: McDonald’s)
Start Your Day Right
Where to get it: Starbucks, Panera
What it is: Your oh-so-necessary breakfast and caffeine fix. Who doesn’t love a good breakfast sandwich? Registered dietitian Julie Upton spoke with Popsugar about some healthy fast-food breakfast options that will both fill and caffeinate you. Love Starbucks? Upton suggests pairing a spinach and feta breakfast wrap with either a tall nonfat latte or a tall soy latte for a calorie total of 390 to 420. If you’re hitting Panera instead, Upton says there are two 460-calorie breakfast options: steel-cut oatmeal with strawberries and pecans with a cappuccino or latte, or a ham, egg and cheese sandwich on whole grain with a cappuccino or latte. Those whole grains and protein will make you feel full while that caffeine will give you energy to bench press. (Photo: Panera)
Think Outside the Bun
Where to get it: Taco Bell, Chipotle
What it is: Flavorful, lean protein and veggies make your mouth and stomach feel happy, not deprived. Isn’t that why we all love to eat? As registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot writes for Men’s Fitness, the items on Taco Bell’s Fresco menu are actually much healthier than their salads, which mostly have around 700 calories and 35 grams of fat each. Zuckerbrot suggests two Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Tacos with a side of black beans for a delicious 380 calories that has 9.5g of fat and a nice 22g of protein. That fiber in the beans will help you feel fuller longer, too. Meanwhile, if you put a Chipotle salad together with romaine lettuce, chicken, black beans, fresh tomato salsa, and roasted chili-corn salsa, you get a flavorful and nutritious 410 calorie salad with only 9.5 grams of fat and a whopping 44g of protein. If you’re watching your sodium intake, beware—this bowl of flavorful goodness packs 1115mg.
Eat Whatever You Want
Photo: Flickr/Camille King
Personal trainer Von Blanco believes you can eat anything you want and not pack on fat, as long as you follow some simple rules. Before we get to those, you also need to do a little homework:
- Know some basic nutrition, and have your personal nutritional goals in mind
- Track your food. There are tons of great apps to help you, like MyFitnessPal. If you’re using a Fitbit, that has a food tracking option as well.
Assuming you’re doing those two things, Blanco says a three-step process is all you need to eat what you want.
- Look up nutrition facts for your chosen fast food items and log them with your food tracker before you eat them. It might ruin the joy of spontaneous choice, but let’s be honest: you’ve probably been dreaming about that Bacon McDouble for hours anyway, and you already know what you’re ordering.
- Budget the rest of your day’s calories accordingly while prioritizing protein. It’s just simple math, and eating protein and lots of nice, fiber-rich veggies will help you feel full with the reduced calories you’re allowing yourself for everything that isn’t the Bacon McDouble of your dreams.
- Eat your Bacon McDouble (or whatever it is you wanted), and do not give a fuck about anything else because all is good and right with the world. Blanco goes into much more elaborate detail, if you’re interested, but that’s the gist of his really sensible way to not take the fun out of life just because you want to stay fit.