Low Calorie Fast Food in Australia - For When You Are Desperate!
I've compiled a list of some of the best options for low calorie fast food in Australia for when you're truly in a pinch!
If you're on a weight loss journey, one thing that we know sits at the top of the success pyramid is PREP. Being prepared is everything! However, sometimes shit just happens. If you're really desperate, I would rather you NOT starve yourself and grab something that, at the very least, is calorie friendly.
I want to reiterate that I do NOT promote you eating fast or processed food on a daily basis. Even if you are in a calorie deficit whilst doing so, you will experience side effects in the long term, such as:
- altered taste perceptions
- craving increase for more palatable food (aka high fat, high sugar)
- water retention from preservatives, salt, and artificial ingredients
- mineral imbalance
- negative and extreme changes in gut microbiota
- gut microbiota changes can lead to leaky gut walls and a compromised immune system
- just a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed food in the diet is associated with significantly higher rates of overall cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease
I have to remain unbiased here because after working with extremely busy people for so long, I totally empathise how eating 100% clean and unprocessed is extremely difficult. I even run into this myself, on occasion, where I need to slip into a service station to get a protein bar.
With all of that in mind, I thought I would create a comprehensive list of the best low calorie fast food options in Australia for when you are totally desperate. However, they are not JUST low calorie, they are also macro balanced. I'll explain that further in a second.
First, I want to offer you a few tips:
- Always think ahead. For example, if you are in the McDonald's drive thru and you know it's going to be several hours before you're going to get a proper meal in, scour the menu for a potential snack. This will save you from ANOTHER panic where you are even hungrier the next time around, with a higher chance of giving in to something that will blow your calorie limit out of the water.
- Don't say yes to a meal. You'll notice there's no fries on this list, for very good reason.
- If you're going to get a drink, get water. This type of food dehydrates you!
- You can opt for a diet drink, but again, I want to encourage you to stick to water. I'm not a fan of diet drinks, especially on top of an already unhealthy meal. The verdict is still out on how artificial sweeteners effect the gut, but based on the outcomes of this study, I have personally chosen to limit my consumption of artificial sweeteners. The author wrote "Analyses in mice and humans indicate that non-caloric artificial sweeteners may promote obesity-associated metabolic changes by changing the function of the bacteria that colonize the gut".
- Always pick grilled over fried, wherever possible
- Just because it has vegetables or rice, it doesn't mean it's low calorie. In fact, most of the food that seemed like it would be calorie friendly were some of the worst choices. Namely, salads, rice bowls and sautéed vegetables were among some of the most calorie dense options.
How did these items make the cut?
The items I've listed have a fairly balanced protein/fat/carb ratio. This is something I am pretty strict with when I coach my clients. I scrutinise their macros every week. A certain burger that I have listed may have the same calories as a blueberry muffin, but a blueberry muffin is going to be about 50% carbohydrate, 40% fat and 10% protein. This is going to spike your blood sugar, lead you to a terrible crash and also, not going to fill you up at all. In fact, it's going to make you even more hungry.
I strive for around 40% carb, 30% protein and 30% fat to ensure that you stay nice and full, without any major crashes or cravings. It's impossible for this to be perfect, but I've tried my best! I also tried to keep the fat content under 15g per serve. As far as finding the right low calorie fast food in Australia that meets these requirements, I must say that it wasn't easy!
In the snack section, you may find that some of the options are low in protein and unbalanced. In that case, I would ask you to try and pair it with something else in the list that is more dominant in the macronutrient that you are missing. For example, pair an apple (high carb, low protein, low fat) with a yogurt (low carb, high protein, moderate fat).
Don't see your favourite restaurant?
I'll start by telling you some of the menu's I looked at that had no low calorie or macro friendly options. This includes:
- Red Rooster (too high in fat)
- Grill'd (too high in fat)
- Guzman Y Gomez Salads (too high in fat)
- Nando's salads (too high in fat)
If there's something I missed, please let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to add it in!
Alright guys, here it is: The best options for low calorie fast food in Australia for when you are totally desperate, organised by meal type.
(CAL indicates total calories // PRO indicates protein // CARB indicates carbohydrate // FAT indicates fat)
McCafe Ham, Cheese and Tomato Toastie: CAL 363 // PRO 20.9 // CARB 42.1 // FAT 11.5
Bacon & Egg McMuffin®: CAL 294 // PRO 18.9 // CARB 24.6 // FAT 12.8
Ham and Cheese Bagel: CAL 293 // PRO 11.6 // CARB // FAT 7.6
Bacon and Egg Roll: CAL 248 // PRO 10.1 // CARB 29.4 // FAT 10
Chicken and Pesto Turkish: CAL 213 // PRO 14.8 // CARB 25 // FAT 5.3
Ham, Cheese, Tomato Chutney Turkish: CAL 202 // PRO 8.8 // CARB 30.5 // FAT 4.2
Bacon and Egg Muffin: CAL 313 // PRO 18.9 // CARB 28.5 // FAT 12.8
Ham, Cheese and Tomato Toastie: CAL 339 // PRO 16.8 // CARB 32.9 // FAT 14.1
Ham, Egg and Cheese Sandwich: CAL 383 // PRO 24.9 // CARB 39.4 // FAT 13.9
Ham, Tomato and Cheese Sandwich: CAL 318 // PRO 19.2 // CARB 38.6 // FAT 9.4
Egg and Cheese Sandwich: CAL 340 // PRO 17.8 // CARB 38.1 // FAT 12.4
LUNCH (or Dinner):
Wholemeal Snack Wrap - Grilled Chicken: CAL 217 // PRO 13.8 // CARB 20 // FAT 8.8
Chicken Caesar McWrap® - Grilled: CAL 343 // PRO 24 // CARB 40.6 // FAT 8.1
6 Pack Chicken Nuggets: CAL 260 // PRO 15.4 // CARB 14.5 // FAT 15.5
Cheeseburger: CAL 300 // PRO 16.1 // CARB 28.5 // FAT 13.1
Classic Chicken Salad - Grilled: CAL 294 // PRO 25.9 // CARB 12 // FAT 14.4
Original Recipe Burger: CAL 408 // PRO 27 // CARB 41.5 // FAT 14.9
Original BBQ Slider: CAL 246 // PRO 12.6 // CARB 28.5 // FAT 8.7
4 Peri Peri Tenders in Lemon & Herb: CAL 248 // PRO 48.8 // CARB 0 // FAT 5.6
Wouldn't recommend much else - their food is way too high in fat.
Grilled Chicken Classic: CAL 344 // PRO 22.5 // CARB 28.6 // FAT 15.4
6 pack Chicken Nuggets: CAL 256 // PRO 14 // CARB 20.4 // FAT 13.2
Cheeseburger: CAL 315 // PRO 16.3 // CARB 30.4 // FAT 14.4
(note: values include white bread, lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, onion and capsicum. No sauce.)
6 Inch Buffalo Chicken Sub: CAL 296 // PRO 23.1 // CARB 41.4 // FAT 4.1
6 Inch Chicken Classic Sub: CAL 350 // PRO 18 // CARB 43.1 // FAT 11
6 Inch Ham Sub: CAL 256 // PRO 15.5 // CARB 39.2 // FAT 3.8
6 Inch Teriyaki Chicken Sub: CAL 310 // PRO 22.8 // CARB 45.5 // FAT 4.1
6 Inch Roast Beef Sub: CAL 267 // PRO 16.6 // CARB 39.2 // FAT 3.8
6 Inch Steak Melt with Mozza Cheese: CAL 364 // PRO 24.1 // CARB 40.4 // FAT 10.4
6 Inch Tuna and Mayo Sub: CAL 325 // PRO 18.6 // CARB 39.1 // FAT 3.3
6 Inch Turkey Sub: CAL 263 // PRO 17.2 // CARB 38.9.1 // FAT 9.9
Best sauce choices at Subway: Mustard, Sweet Onion Sauce, BBQ, Low fat mayo, Marinara Sauce, Honey Mustard
Two's a Party (this doesn't include sides): CAL 674 // PRO 104 // CARB 0 // FAT 28.6
Chicken Supreme with Thin 'N Crispy Crust (per 47g slice): CAL 92 // PRO 5 // CARB 9.4 // FAT 3.6
Ham and Cheese with Thin 'N Crispy Crust (per 34g slice): CAL 101 // PRO 4.9 // CARB 11.7 // FAT 3.8
The following I would suggest adding extra grilled chicken to crank up the protein:
Margherita with Thin 'N Crispy Crust (per 34g slice): CAL 101 // PRO 4.9 // CARB 11.7 // FAT 3.8
Spicy Veg Trio with Thin 'N Crisp Crust (per 36g slice): CAL 93 // PRO 3.8 // CARB 11.5 // FAT 3.3
Guzman Y Gomez
All of the hard taco, soft taco and quesadilla options fit the bill for low calorie and macro friendly options. However, I want you to keep in mind that these numbers are only for 1 taco or quesadilla, and they are fairly small. If you can control your portions, this is a good option to bring home for dinner, especially if you have a family. The list is fairly long, so you can click here to see your options, starting on page 9.
You may notice that I've left the salads out - that's because they are too high in fat and the macro balance is way off. We're looking for satiation here! What you COULD do is get a salad and wrap them up with your own tortilla shells at home. This will add some healthy and filling carbohydrate so that you stay full for the rest of the night.
SNACKS & SIDES:
Apple Slices: CAL 40 // PRO 0.1 // CARB 10 // FAT 0
Garden Salad with Balsamic Dressing: CAL 77 // PRO 1.7 // CARB // FAT
Regular Coleslaw: CAL 97 // PRO 1.3 // CARB 15.7 // FAT 3
Regular Potato and Gravy: CAL 71 // PRO 1.4 // CARB 14.1 // FAT 0.9
Shredded Beef Foccacia: CAL 203 // PRO 9.6 // CARB 33.3 // FAT 2.6
4 Peri Peri Tenders in Lemon & Herb: CAL 248 // PRO 48.8 // CARB 0 // FAT 5.6
Broccolini: CAL 52 // PRO 3 // CARB 2.1 // FAT 3.2
Regular Spicy Rice: CAL 262 // PRO 5.7 // CARB 53.7 // FAT 2.1
Large Garden Salad: CAL 25 // PRO 1.4 // CARB 3.5 // FAT 0.2
Links to all Nutrition Information
Below I have included links to the full nutritional guides from each restaurant mentioned above. It might be interesting to have a look and see how many calories are in your favourite fast food item!
KFC - all information available when you click on a product
Nando's - all information available when you click on a product