Fast Food Items with the Fewest Calories

July 15, 2019 by John Harrington

Source: Juanmonino / Getty Images
Fast food is as American as, well, apple pie. More than a third of Americans consume fast food on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some items on fast food menus, such as burgers, desserts, and sugary beverages, contain almost the entire daily recommended intake of calories, sodium, and sugar. Even so, patrons can still find items on fast food restaurants menus that aren’t as fattening or harmful. 

The estimated daily calorie need for moderately active adult men is 2,600; for women it is 2,000. The recommended daily limit for salt is 2,300 mg (ideally 1,500 mg), according to the American Heart Association. For sugar, it is 25 grams (six teaspoons) for women and 38 grams (nine teaspoons) for men per day. 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the fast food items with the fewest calories after reviewing the nutritional content of every food item on the menus of about 20 fast food restaurant chains in the United States. And for the opposite point of view, here are the fast food items with the most calories

While all of the major fast food chains — McDonald’s, Wendy’s Burger King, and Arby’s — are mostly full of burgers and fries options, all offer lower-caloric options, particularly in their chicken sandwiches and salad offerings. You can also trim caloric intake by avoiding toppings such as mayonnaise on chicken sandwiches or croutons in salad. And if you are going to get a burger, hold the cheese please.

The challenge for fast-foodies is to monitor portion sizes, avoid trans fats and gobs of saturated fat, and get a meal that provides enough protein, vitamins, and minerals, and fills you when you are done eating.

Click here to read about the fast food items with the fewest calories.

To identify the fast food items with the most calories, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the nutritional content of every food item on the menus of about 20 fast food restaurant chains in the United States. Only food items intended for single individuals were considered. Drinks and sides were also excluded. McDonald’s 40-piece Chicken McNuggets, for example, was excluded. Of food items that are the same but come in different sizes, we only considered the item with the lowest amount of calories. Of the fast food items that were almost identical but varied only slightly in flavor, the item with the lowest amount of calories was selected.

Source: Courtesy of Del Taco

20. Del Taco: Street Taco (Carne Asada)
> Calories: 180
> Serving: 113 g
> Sodium: 400 mg
> Sugar: 1 g

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Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

19. Taco Bell: Chips and Salsa
> Calories: 180
> Serving: 87.9 g
> Sodium: 320 mg
> Sugar: 3 g

Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

18. Taco Bell: Mini Skillet Bowl
> Calories: 180
> Serving: 112 g
> Sodium: 430 mg
> Sugar: <1 g

Source: Courtesy of Del Taco

17. Del Taco: Street Taco (Chicken)
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 113g
> Sodium: 280 mg
> Sugar: 1 g

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Source: Courtesy of Del Taco

16. Del Taco: Mini Bacon Quesadilla
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 49 g
> Sodium: 420 mg
> Sugar: 0 g

Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

15. Taco Bell: Breakfast Soft Taco – Egg & Cheese
> Calories: 170
> Serving: Taco
> Sodium: 330 mg
> Sugar: <1 g

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Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

14. Taco Bell: Crunchy Taco
> Calories: 170
> Serving: Taco
> Sodium: 310 mg
> Sugar: <1 g

Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

13. Taco Bell: Fiery Doritos Locos Taco
> Calories: 170
> Serving: Taco
> Sodium: 370 mg
> Sugar: <1 g

Source: yuthn / Getty Images

12. Hardees: Fried Chicken Leg
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 69 g
> Sodium: 570 mg
> Sugar: 0 g

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Source: Courtesy of Burger King

11. Burger King: Chicken Nuggets- 4Pc
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 58 g
> Sodium: 310 mg
> Sugar: 0 g

Source: Courtesy of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

10. Popeye’s: Handcrafted Tenders – Blackened
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 3 Pieces g
> Sodium: 550 mg
> Sugar: 0 g

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Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

9. Taco Bell: Chips and Pico De Gallo
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 73.7 g
> Sodium: 170 mg
> Sugar: <1 g

Source: Courtesy of Burger King

8. Burger King: Quaker Oatmeal Maple Flavor
> Calories: 170
> Serving: 172 g
> Sodium: 270 mg
> Sugar: 12 g

Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

7. Taco Bell: Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco
> Calories: 160
> Serving: Taco
> Sodium: 360 mg
> Sugar: 1 g

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Source: Courtesy of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

6. Popeye’s: Chicken Leg
> Calories: 160
> Serving: 67 g
> Sodium: 460 mg
> Sugar: 0 g

Source: Courtesy of Del Taco

5. Del Taco: Salsa Chicken Taco
> Calories: 150
> Serving: 99 g
> Sodium: 480 mg
> Sugar: 1 g

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Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

4. Taco Bell: Fresco Soft Taco – Shredded Chicken
> Calories: 150
> Serving: Taco
> Sodium: 430 mg
> Sugar: 1 g

Source: Courtesy of Taco Bell

3. Taco Bell: Fresco Crunchy Taco – Beef
> Calories: 140
> Serving: Taco
> Sodium: 300 mg
> Sugar: 1 g

Source: Courtesy of White Castle

2. White Castle: The Original Slider
> Calories: 140
> Serving: 55 g
> Sodium: 380 mg
> Sugar: 2 g

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Source: Courtesy of Krystal

1. Krystal: Original Krystal
> Calories: 130
> Serving: Sandwich
> Sodium: 300 mg
> Sugar: 1 g