The temptations of our favorite fast foods and cafe treats often pose challenges for those of us trying to stick to limited-calorie diets. However, it may surprise you to learn just how many of your favorite goodies at these eateries are fewer than 300 calories. To help you out, we’ve scoured the nutritional pages at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Starbucks, and Panera Bread to find you options that will satisfy all your on-the-go cravings without going calorie crazy.
Need a quick bite to eat before work or school? Try stopping over at McDonald’s for a Fruit and Maple Oatmeal (290 calories). If you’re in the mood for something savory, try the Egg White Delight sandwich (250 calories). Even lighter options include the 150-calorie Parfait and the 150-calorie hash brown (you can even combine these sweet and savory treats for a 300 calorie total).
Burger King has a few offerings to fuel your morning, including the Fruit and Nut oatmeal (170 calories), French Toast Sticks (230 calories per 3 pieces), or even a Bacon Egg Cheese Muffin for 300 calories (cut out the bacon to save 40 additional calories). Additionally, the Wendy’s menu offers a Sausage and Egg Burrito (280 calories) and a nutty oatmeal bar for just 290 calories.
Find yourself at a cafe? Treat yourself to one of Starbucks‘ 260-calorie croissants, a Tomato and Cheese Savory Square (280 calories), or an assortment of granola bars (these vary by store but are typically between 250 and 300 calories). There are few 300-calorie breakfast options at Panera, but the 300-calorie Everything Bagel is likely your safest bet.
Lunch and dinner
Even for those of us trying to conserve calories, McDonald’s has a few options up its sleeve: A classic hamburger is just 240 calories, while the traditional cheeseburger is 290. Try either of these along with a 110-calorie Kids’ Fries and you’ll still be in the clear. McDonald’s also offers a 230-calorie Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad (without dressing; order with a Low-Fat Balsamic for an added 40 calories) and a four-piece Chicken McNugget meal for just 190 calories.
If you’re making a pit stop at Burger King, you’d be wise to stick with a 300-calorie Whopper Jr., the restaurant’s signature item. Traditionalists may prefer to stick with a classic hamburger (230), cheeseburger (270), or 290-calorie bacon cheeseburger. A six-piece Nugget Meal is only 280 calories, while a lighter dish such as the side garden salad with avocado ranch dressing is just 240 calories.
Fans of Wendy’s can satiate their hunger with a six-piece nugget meal (270 calories), a Jr. Cheeseburger (290 calories), or a Grilled Chicken Go Wrap (270 calories). Wendy’s also has the full-sized Asian Cashew Chicken Salad (210 calories), which can be enjoyed guilt-free along with a side of Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette.
Many Starbucks locations sell a Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box: 20 grams of protein packed into just 280 calories. Panera, meanwhile, offers half-size portions of the Turkey Avocado BLT (250 calories) and smoked turkey breast sandwiches (220 calories) for an afternoon or evening pick-me-up. Sandwich lovers can also spring for a Mediterranean Flatbread (290 calories) or Turkey Cranberry Flatbread (280 calories). Your best nutritional bet is — you guessed it — a salad: Try a half-Thai Chicken Salad with Low Fat Thai Chili Vinaigrette (290 calories).
Dessert is a tricky meal to navigate when you’re out and about, but these chain restaurants surprisingly come through in the clutch, to the appreciation of dieters everywhere. You can never go wrong with a simple Vanilla Cone from McDonald’s (170 calories), and you can even spring for a Strawberry Sundae (280 calories) without entirely breaking your calorie limit. If you’re feeling as American as a McDonald’s Apple Pie, then you’re in luck: The famous fruity treat is just 250 calories.
Burger King offers its own vanilla ice cream cone for 160 calories, while its Caramel and Chocolate Fudge Sundaes weigh in at 280 calories. BK’s individual cookies also fall safely within the 300-calorie bracket. The classic Wendy’s Jr. Chocolate Frosty is also a safe bet at just 200 calories.
Starbucks desserts are a little trickier, but you’re in the clear so long as you stick with the Flourless Chewy Chocolate Cookie (170 calories) or the Oatmeal Cookie (290 calories).
The McDonald’s menu has several blended drinks available, such as the Blueberry-Pomegranate, Strawberry-Banana, and Mango-Pineapple options, all containing about 250 calories in a size medium (16 ounces). You can also delight in a medium-sized Strawberry-Banana Smoothie from Burger King (280 calories), or opt for a small-sized Tropical Mango flavor for 220 calories.
Starbucks offers Chocolate, Orange Mango, and Strawberry Smoothies, all of which have fewer than 300 calories per 16 ounces. Panera customers can indulge in a Low-Fat Mango or Strawberry-Ginseng smoothie, both for about 280 calories in a medium-sized cup. Panera also offers “Power Smoothies” such as the Low-Fat B-Green (190 calories per 12 ounces), the Fat-Free Superfruit with Ginseng (210 calories per 16 ounces), and the Chocolate Almond Banana (300 calories per 12 ounces).