Fast Food Facts

by Maria Karalis, RD, CSR, LD

Fast Food Facts

Quick-service restaurants provide us with a quick, easy, inexpensive bite when we’re pressed for time. Americans love fast food and there are so many items to choose from! A lot of chains are now offering lower-fat options and if chosen wisely, fast foods can be healthy AND fit into your renal diet.

If you are a regular through the drive-up window or frequently dine in at fast food restaurants, keep these tips in mind:

Some ordering tips:

  •     Burgers and sandwiches are high in sodium because they are pre-salted. This may be difficult for the quick-service restaurant to omit the salt. Be sure to ask before you order.
  •     Remember that fries and baked potatoes are rich in potassium. But if you can’t imagine a burger without the fries, order a small serving and ask for unsalted, if possible.
  •      Keep in mind that catsup, mustard and pickles are all high in sodium. Keep condiments, special sauces and dressings to a minimum. Request these toppings to be served “on the side” so you can control the amount.
  •     Beverage sizes typically are large or “super-size” and can contribute to fluid overload if the entire beverage is consumed. Order a small beverage and be sure to count it as part of your fluid allowance.
  •     Balance fast food items with other food choices. As you order, consider the other foods you have eaten or will eat during the day.
  •     Choose broiled, steamed or grilled items over deep fat fried foods. To trim the fat from fried items, order the regular variety instead of the “extra crispy” and remove the skin before eating. Removing the skin also lowers the sodium content since most batters and coatings usually include seasonings rich in sodium.


Sensible Salad Bar Choices

The huge variety of vegetables and fruits can provide you with vitamins A and C, folic acid and fiber. Be careful though, a trip to the salad bar can provide you with more fat and calories than a burger and fries! There are many salad bar items that can easily fit into your renal diet. Below is a list of items to assist you in choosing sensibly from any salad bar.

Salad Bar

Choose Limit
Alfalfa sprouts Avocado
Beets Bacon Bits
Cauliflower Chickpeas
Celery sticks Chow Mein noodles
Chinese noodles Fried bread croutons
Cole slaw Kidney Beans
Cucumbers Nuts
Eggs, chopped Olives
Gelatin salads Pickles
Green beans Potato Salad
Green peas Raisins
Green peppers Relishes
Lettuce, escarole, endive Sunflower Seeds
Parmesan cheese Shredded cheddar cheese
Radishes Thick Salad Dressings
Tuna in spring water Three-Bean Salads
Zucchini Tomatoes
Italian, low calorie dressing
Vinaigrette
Low fat dressing

 

Do you know what you are eating?

Get a breakdown of fat, calories and other nutrition information (potassium, phosphorus or sodium) from the store manager. You can also check out the restaurant’s web site for a complete nutritional analysis of all their menu items. Please note that obtaining information on potassium and phosphorus can be difficult. Since these values are not required by the US Department of Agriculture on food labels. The following table provides you with the nutritional analysis of some fast food menu items to help you make educated choices.

Note the serving size and work with your renal dietitian to safely add these menu items into your eating plan. 

Generally speaking, choose meals under 500 calories with less than 30% of the calories from fat. Many items are loaded with sodium so limit your sodium intake for the rest of the day. Watch your fluid intake because these foods will make you more thirsty than usual. Some items may require that you increase your dose of phosphate binders.

My recommendations:

  •     McDonald’s: plain hamburger on a bun
  •     Burger King: plain hamburger on a bun or BK Broiler, plain
  •     Taco Bell: taco, limit the tomatoes
  •     Wendy’s: single hamburger or grilled chicken sandwich, plain

 

 

Menu Item/serving size

 

Calories

 

Potassium 

(mg)

 

Phos.

(mg)

 

Sodium

(mg)

 

Protein

(g)

 

Fat

(g)

 

Arby’s Roast beef deluxe, light, 1 sandwich

 

296

 

NA

 

NA

 

826

 

18

 

10

 

Roast chicken salad, 1 salad

 

149

 

NA

 

NA

 

418

 

20

 

2

 

Boston Market, Chicken Rotisserie, white meat, no skin, no wing, ¼ chicken

 

160

 

270

 

240

 

350

 

31

 

4

 

Boston Market, Turkey sandwich, no sauce, no cheese, 1 sandwich

 

400

 

520

 

300

 

1070

 

32

 

3.5

 

Boston Market, old fashioned chicken soup,

 

80

 

370

 

55

 

470

 

9

 

3

¾ cup
 

Boston Market, cinnamon apples, ¾ cup

 

250

 

150

 

15

 

45

 

0

 

5

 

Boston Market, coleslaw, ¾ cup

 

280

 

330

 

40

 

520

 

2

 

16

 

Boston market, double fudge brownies, 1 brownie

 

450

 

170

 

125

 

190

 

6

 

27

 

Burger King, 1 hamburger, 1 sandwich

 

272

 

235

 

124

 

505

 

15

 

11

 

Burger King, 1 Whopper sandwich

 

614

 

547

 

237

 

865

 

27

 

36

 

Burger King Broiler Chicken Sandwich, 1 sandwich

 

540

 

NA

 

NA

 

480

 

30

 

29

 

Kentucky Fried Chicken, Rotisserie Gold Chicken, breast, no skin, no wing,

 

199

 

NA

 

NA

 

667

 

37

 

6

1 quarter
 

Long John Silver’s, flavorbaked fish, 1 piece, 3.1 ounces

 

120

 

NA

 

NA

 

430

 

20

 

3.5

 

McDonald’s french fries, small

 

220

 

NA

 

NA

 

110

 

3

 

12

 

McDonald’s hamburger, plain, 1 hamburger

 

260

 

NA

 

NA

 

500

 

12

 

9.5

 

McDonald’s McGrilled Sandwich, 1 sandwich

 

260

 

440

 

333

 

500

 

24

 

4

 

McDonald’s Chef Salad, no dressing, 1 salad

 

210

 

610

 

334

 

730

 

19

 

11

 

McDonald’s lowfat shake, 1 chocolate shake

 

320

 

NA

 

NA

 

240

 

11.6

 

1.7

 

Taco Bell, light taco,

 

140

 

NA

 

NA

 

280

 

11

 

5

1 taco
 

Taco Bell, light soft taco,

 

180

 

NA

 

NA

 

550

 

13

 

5

1 taco
 

Wendy’s hamburger, plain 1 hamburger

 

340

 

275

 

NA

 

475

 

24

 

15

 

Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, 1 sandwich

 

290

 

NA

 

NA

 

720

 

24

 

7

 

Wendy’s Deluxe Garden Salad, no dressing, 1 salad

 

110

 

NA

 

NA

 

320

 

7

 

6

References:
1. Journal of Renal Nutrition Vol 6, No 4 October 1996, Product Update section
2. The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide by Roberta
Larson Duyff, MS, RD, CFCS,
3. Exchanges for all Occasions by Marion J. Franz, MS, RD, CDE
4. Bowes and Church Food Values of Portions Commonly Used Sixteenth Edition revised by
Jean A. T. Pennington, PhD, RD

fast food facts - Maria Karalis RD CSR LDAbout the Author
Maria Karalis, RD, CSR, LD, is a Nutrition Consultant and Writer and has worked in the nephrology field for over 17 years. She enjoys writing for healthcare professionals and people with CKD with one goal in mind: helping CKD patients live their life to the fullest.

Uploaded: 1-4-2008

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