What’s wrong with ‘healthy’ fast food options?

fastfoodIf you have been following my blog for awhile now, you will know I don’t really care much for nutrition labels. More often than not, these tables printed on the side of the packet of most processed foods are used by food scientists to disguise artificial concoctions as perfect calorie meals that will help you reach your skinny jean goals. When picking food to eat out and about, I will always skip the food label and look at the list of ingredients instead. This is a MUCH better way to understand exactly what you are eating.

The best way to illustrate this, is to look at some examples. Below I have taken what is perceived to be the “healthy” options from a popular fast food restaurant.

To kick things off, let’s take a look at the GRILLED CHICKEN SNACK WRAP:


If we simply crunched the numbers, this snack has a small serve of protein and low in saturated fat (which many people think is the devil… it isn’t, but more on that another time). It is extremely low in sugar and although high in salt, it doesn’t look like the devil does it? Now before we order up, let’s take a look at the ingredients list… all 43 ingredients and 19 additives included:

Chicken, Water, Maltodextrin, Flavouring (contains Sesame), Salt, Thickener (1442), Rice Flour, Mineral Salts (451, 450, 508), Yeast Extract, Herbs, Garlic Powder. Wheat Flour (Thiamin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Shortening (Antioxidant 320), Mineral Salts (450,500,341), Sugar, Preservative (282), Food Acid (297). Iceberg Lettuce. Water, Soybean Oil (Antioxidant (330)), Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch (1401,1442), Corn Syrup Solids, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, Mustard Flour, Thickener (415), Acidity Regulator (270), Preservative (202). Canola Oil, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin), Flavour, Colour (160a), Acidity Regulator (330).
Contains gluten, egg, soy & sesame.

Another example of a GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD at the same fast food outlet reveals a similar story:


Again, high in protein, low in saturated fat, low in sugars… sounds good? How bad can a grilled chicken salad be? Let’s look at the ingredients (all 52 of them):

Iceberg Lettuce, Cos Lettuce. Chicken, Wheat Flour, Water, Vegetable Oils (Canola, Palm and Sunflower), Breadcrumb [Wheat Flour, Water, Vegetable Oil (Canola), Yeast, Salt, Improver {Wheat Flour, Ascorbic Acid (300), Food Acid (263)}, Enzyme (Amylase)], Modified Starch (1422), Mineral Salts (450, 500, 451, 452), Salt, Flavours, Rice Starch, Yeast Extract, Spices, Wheat Gluten, Egg Powder, Anti-Caking Agent (551), Whey Protein, Soy Protein, Spice Extracts (160c, 100), Maltodextrin, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Soy), Vegetable Powder. Grape Tomatoes.? Sliced Cucumber. Milk, Salt, Cultures, Enzymes (Rennet, Lipase) Anticaking Agent (460), Preservative (200)

The latest campaign by fast food giants was to sell their 100% HIGH QUALITY BEEF PATTIES. What they forget to mention is that it is “seasoned” with the following:

Maltodextrin, Salt, Dextrose, Dehydrated Vegetables (Onion, Garlic), Flavour ( Milk, Soy ), Spices (Pepper), Yeast Extract, Colours (150d, 150a), Canola Oil, Free Flow Agent (551).

This doesn’t include the bun, cheese and salad as listed below:

Wheat Flour, Water, Sugar, Yeast, Canola Oil, Sesame Seed, Gluten, Iodised Salt, Soy Flour, Preservative (282), Emulsifiers (481, 472e), Mineral Salts (170, 516), Malt Flour, Dough Conditioner (300), Enzyme (1100), Vitamins (Thiamin, Folate). Cheese (Milk, Salt, Culture, Enzyme (rennet)), Water, Milk Solids, Butter, Emulsifiers (340, 452, 331), Salt, Acidity Regulators (260, 330, 339), Colours (160b, 160c), Preservative (200), Soy Lecithin.Water, Tomato [Tomato Paste, Crushed Tomato (Acidity Regulator (330), Firming Agent (509)], Red Bell Pepper Puree, Sugar, Vinegar, Thickener (1422), Dehydrated Vegetables, Salt, Spices, Pork, Water, Salt, Sugar, Mineral Salts (450, 451), Dextrose, Antioxidant (316), Acidity Regulator(330), Sodium Nitrite (250), Spice Extract,  Red Onion, Water, Soybean Oil (Antioxidant (330)), Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch (1401,1442), Corn Syrup Solids, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, Mustard Flour, Thickener (415), Acidity Regulator (270), Preservative (202).

I could do this to the entire menu. Unfortunately, fast food will always be fast food.

As you can imagine, this is MUCH more than you bargained for and not exactly the healthy option you thought you were consuming.

If you would like to check out a full list of ingredients used at any popular fast food restaurant, they are listed on their website. Be educated and make smarter food choices.

To check out what’s in your smoothie check out my post on Boost Juice. If you think your salad sub is your best bet, check out my post on Subway. Good luck!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Schedule your nutrition consultation here

Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.