5 Healthy Takeaway Meals With Zero Guilt

Choosing healthy takeaway meals when you’re trying to lose weight can be nerve racking. While meal prepping is fantastic, sometimes you need food fast, or you just want to eat out with friends. This doesn’t have to come at the cost of your weight loss goals. Achieving a healthy balance is all about making better choices that support your personal goals.

Here are 5 healthy takeaway meals you can enjoy with zero guilt when you’re trying to lose weight:

1. McDonalds Grilled Chicken Caesar McWrap

Calories: 482

Protein: 32.6g

“Healthy takeaway” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of McDonalds, but that doesn’t mean you need to blacklist the chain. At just 482 calories and with 32.6g of protein, the Grilled Chicken Caesar McWrap is low calorie and high protein. The Grilled Aioli Chicken McWrap is another good option, at 447 calories and 27.8g protein. Be wary of McDonald’s crispy (fried chicken) versions of these wraps, as the additional batter and oil used will add on 95 calories.

The McDonalds cheeseburger only has 300 calories, but it is lacking in protein (16.1g). It will likely leave you feeling unsatisfied or reaching for a snack after not too long [1].

Sides

Ordering sides will quickly increase the calories of the meal. For example, if you added a large fries (366 calories) to your Grilled Chicken Caesar McWrap, your meal would be 848 calories.

If you have a sweet tooth and calories to spare, the soft serve cone is a reasonable 147 calories. However, beware of McDonald’s desserts with sauces. A large caramel sundae amounts to 546 calories, which when paired with a Grilled Chicken Caesar McWrap and large fries would bring your meal up to 1,394 calories.

2. Guzman y Gomez Mild Pulled Pork Burrito Bowl

Calories: 650

Protein: 37g

The burritos and bowls at Guzman y Gomez generally have a good mix of protein and micronutrients. Most feature a type of protein, rice, beans and salad, which are all healthy ingredients. It’s the portion sizes which can blow out your calorie limit. You can manage this by opting for a burrito bowl instead of a burrito, which will cut out around 100 calories from the meal.

Guzman y Gomez also has a good range of “mini” options. Don’t be fooled by the name, these are actually adequate portion sizes, but they do have less protein. For example, the Mild Pulled Pork Mini Burrito Bowl has 400 calories, but only 21g protein [2].

Sides

The sides at Guzman y Gomez are meals in themselves and best avoided. For example, the Chipotle Seasoning Fries amounts to 540 calories and a Regular Queso (Cheese) Fries is 840 calories.

3. Grill’d Sweet Chilli Chicken Burger On A Traditional Bun

Calories: 509

Protein: 42g

Grill’d has plenty of high protein burgers packed with micronutrients. Many of the Grill’d burgers are nutritionally balanced, but you can get caught out by the number of calories as some have a higher fat content.

We’d recommend the Sweet Chilli Chicken burger on a traditional bun, which has 509 calories and 42g protein. Alternatively, the Zen Hen has 504 calories and 43g protein. The grilled chicken burgers have the best balance of macronutrients with lower calories, but if you have more calories the lamb or wagyu burgers are also good options.

Grill’d has a number of bun options, but they come with a higher calorie count. Unless you are restricting your carbs and have extra calories to spare, don’t be fooled into thinking the Low Carb SuperBun is a better option. It will actually add 110 calories to your meal, compared with the traditional bun [3].

Sides

Adding a side of regular chips at Grill’d will more than double your calorie intake for your meal. At 581 calories (not including a dip), adding this to your meal would bring it to over 1,000 calories. That’s half (if not more) of your daily intake in just one meal.

4. Nando’s Superfuel Salad with Chicken

Calories: 440

Protein: 32g

Nando’s has a range of healthy salad and bowls, many of which are packed with protein and micronutrients. Select the Superfuel Salad with Chicken for a high protein, balanced meal. Nando’s has the option to swap out the chicken for its Great Pretender Protein, however this will lower the protein to 25g and increase your intake by 174 calories [4].

5. Subway 6-inch Chicken Schnitzel White Sub

Calories: 433

Protein: 29.2g

Most 6-inch sub options from Subway will provide a nutritious alternative to traditional fast food. They are generally lower in protein than the healthy takeaway options listed earlier, but they are also lower in calories. All of Subway’s 6-inch subs with white bread, lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, onion and capsicum will come in at under 460 calories. Look for the options which have at least 20g of protein and remember that choosing a foot-long over a 6-inch will blow out your calorie intake.

The Chicken Schnitzel is the highest protein option, with 29.2g protein and 433 calories. Next is the Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt, with 29g protein and 440 calories. Also, choose your sauce or dressing carefully, as they will add on between 12 and 92.9 calories. For salads, it’s generally best to choose a non-creamy dressing or sauce, such as lemon or balsamic.

Sides

Beware that as tempting as a cookie may be, just one White Choc Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie will add 232 calories to your meal [5].

Making healthy takeaway choices

There’s no need to be overly restrictive when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s all about balance. Meal prep when you can and when you can’t, make conscious choices about the foods you order. The healthiest takeaway choices for you will depend on your personal goals and activity, however you can look for:

  • Lower calorie meals, ideally under 600 calories.
  • High protein, of around 30g per meal.
  • Be wary of sides and factor in the extra calories they will add to your daily intake.
  • Drink water, or diet/zero sugar soft drink options. Soft drink, juices and other alternatives have calories which quickly add up.

If you’re wondering how to determine how many calories a menu item has, fast food chains will have the nutritional information up on their website. You can also look this information up on the diet tracking app, MyFitnessPal. For more tips on tracking nutrition, read Nutrition Essentials Pt 3: How to Track Calories and Macros. Or, to find out how to calculate your calories and ideal balance of macronutrients, read Nutrition Essentials Pt 2: How to Lose Fat and Build Muscle.

Remember, small changes to your diet add up to big results. The best way to lead a healthier lifestyle is by building healthier habits, not restricting yourself. Even if you do slip from time to time, what’s most important is that you are leading a balanced, sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle.

References

[1] https://mcdonalds.com.au/sites/mcdonalds.com.au/files/Main%20Food%20Menu%20-%20Allergen%2C%20Ingredients%20and%20Nutrition%20Information-Nov-21-v3.pdf

[2] https://www.guzmanygomez.com/the-food/nutritional-info/

[3] https://www.grilld.com.au/menu/sweet-chilli-chicken

[4] https://www.nandos.com.au/menu

[5] https://www.subway.com/en-AU/MenuNutrition/Nutrition