It is no secret that fast food has a bad reputation in the weight-loss community. After bariatric surgery, it’s important to approach fast food with a healthy mindset in order to avoid stalls or dreaded weight gain.

Many fast-food meals contain carbohydrates, sugar, salt, saturated fat, and trans fat. They are also high in calories and low in anti-oxidants and fiber with no nutritional value.

While fast food has an unhealthy reputation, many health-conscious fast food options are on a bariatric diet. We created this fast food guide for bariatric patients so eating out won’t jeopardize post-op goals.

Recommended List of Fast Food Options After Bariatric Surgery

Eating on the run is sometimes unavoidable and can quickly become a problem for bariatric patients. Fast food offers us a world of food that is cheap, quick, and often tasty.

However, fast food chains have adapted to build healthier food alternatives as weight loss and health become more widespread and popular. So, the secret pleasure of fast food after weight loss surgery may not be a lost option for all bariatric patients.

  • For an easy low-carb, keto-friendly option, you can ask for no bread/bun/croutons on a sandwich/burger/salad or try a lettuce wrap instead.
  • Remember to adjust your order to your health concerns and always exclude items with high-fat content.
  • Many fast-food joints allow you to go “carb-less” by getting all the goods you would enjoy on a burger – wrapped in lettuce instead.

Top fast-food chains with low calories menus

Our ten favorite bariatric-friendly take-out restaurants:

1. McDonald’s

McDonald's Food Pyramid Fast Food Guide After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

  • Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken – 190 calories
  • Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad, no dressing – 250 calories
  • Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 430 calories
  • Quarter Pounder® with no Cheese – 420 calories
  • Egg White Delight McMuffin® – 260 calories
  • Egg McMuffin – 288 calories

Use McDonald’s calculator for nutritional facts.

2. Wendy’s

Wendy's Food Pyramid Fast Food Guide After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

  • Ultimate Chicken Grill – 370 Calories
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich – 350 Calories
  • Caesar side salad with lemon garlic caesar dressing – 170 calories

You can learn more here!

3. Subway

Subway Food Pyramid Bariatric Friendly Subway Menu Mexico Bariatric Center

  • 6” Oven Roasted Chicken Sub (310 calories)
  • Black Forest Ham Salad (120 Cal)
  • Oven Roasted Turkey & Ham Salad (110 Cal)
  • Grilled Chicken Protein Bowl (200 Cal)
  • Rotisserie-Style Chicken Protein Bowl (220 Cal)

For more meal ideas and a meal planner, check out Bariatric Friendly Subway Menu Blog!

4. Jack in the Box

  • 4 Piece grilled chicken strips – 250 calories

5. El Pollo Loco

  • Double chicken avocado salad – 380 calories

6. Taco Bell

Taco Bell Food Pyramid Fast Food Guide After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

  • Soft Taco Beef (180 Cal)
  • Soft Taco Supreme- Chicken (190 Cal)
  • Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme (190 Cal)
  • Crunchy Taco Supreme (190 Cal)

Complete Guide to Taco Bell After Weight Loss Surgery

7. In n Out

  • Protein-style cheeseburger with onion (no bun, wrapped in lettuce) – 330 calories
  • Protein-style hamburger with onion (no bun, wrapped in lettuce) – 240 calories

8. Chipotle

Food Pyramid What Can I Order at Chipotle After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

  • Burrito bowl with chicken, black beans, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, and lettuce – 360 calories
  • Burrito bowl with steak, pinto beans, romaine lettuce, fresh tomato salsa, and tomatillo-green chilli salsa – 325 calories

Check out our Chipotle blog for a nutrition calculator!

9. Chick-fil-a

Chick fil A Food Pyramid Fast Food Guide After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich (380 Cal)
  • Chick-fil-A Nuggets (250 Cal)
  • Grilled Nuggets (130 Cal)
  • Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips (310 Cal)
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup (340 Cal)
  • Chicken Noodle Soup (170 Cal)

Complete Guide to Chick-fil-A After Bariatric Surgery

10. Panda Express

Panda Express Food Pyramid Fast Food Guide After Bariatric Surgery Mexico Bariatric Center

  • Black Pepper Angus Steak (180 Cal)
  • String Bean Chicken Breast (190 Cal)
  • Kung Pao Chicken (290 Cal)
  • Mushroom Chicken (170 Cal)
  • Black Pepper Chicken (280 Cal)

Check out more bariatric-friendly Panda Express here!

Post-Bariatric Fast Food Guidelines

It has happened to everyone. You are with your friends or family, and somebody wants to stop at a fast-food chain to fill their appetite. Everyone agrees and you pull into the drive-thru. Now you are in a big predicament that can make or break your weight loss plans.

Here are some tips for choosing healthy fast food options after weight loss surgery:

Fast Food After Weight Loss Surgery_Understand Nutritional Data_Mexico Bariatric Center

1.    Understand Nutritional Data

Your best friend, in this case, is the ‘nutritional fact’ menus. These will break down not just the calories these restaurants offer but also the amount of sodium, fat, carbs, sugar, etc., in each meal.

As a bariatric patient, there is a nutritional blueprint you need to follow in order to maintain an effective weight-loss strategy. It is called the post-op diet. AVOID meals high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Plan your fast food meal around protein to fulfill your bariatric dietary requirements.

The best options while eating out are typically protein-rich meals that are low in fat.

Fast Food After Weight Loss Surgery_Basic Rules to a Bariatric Diet_Mexico Bariatric Center

2.    Remember the Basic Rules of a Bariatric Diet

Always follow the doctor’s orders first and foremost. After weight loss surgery, it is essential to maintain a healthy bariatric diet while following a meal plan. Following a consistent eating routine that fulfills nutritional requirements is very important.

Remember to focus on eating slowly by taking small bites and chewing your food thoroughly.

Fast Food After Weight Loss Surgery_Stay Focused on Your Weight-Loss Goals_Mexico Bariatric Center

3.    Stay Focused on Your Weight-Loss Goals

Fast food after bariatric surgery is something that can be avoided. This guide is not an excuse to eat fast food regularly, even with your nutrition plan. Do not lose focus on your weight loss goals and stay committed to your bariatric diet.

Fast Food After Weight Loss Surgery_Fast Food to Avoid_Mexico Bariatric Center 1200px

4.    Fast Food to Avoid

It is important to keep away from foods that are soft or liquids like milkshakes or ice cream. These fill you up slower, which can cause bariatric patients to eat more.

Solid foods will fill you up faster and keep you feeling full longer. Any drinks that contain calories like soda or sweetened beverages should also be avoided.

On a bariatric diet, you should not eat fried food such as french fries, fried chicken/fish strips, and fried wonton strips. Don’t use high sugar/calorie salad dressings. Stay away from high-fat and high-sugar condiments such as ketchup, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, mayo, or special sauces.

Does Fast Food Cause Obesity?

We are constantly told about the health risks of fast food, but does it cause obesity? Is it fact or fiction? Most scientific studies and experts seem to think so.

One 15-Year Study found that individuals who ate at fast-food restaurants three or more times per week were 9 to 11 pounds heavier than those who did not eat fast food. It seems very subjective, as obesity has countless variables that can cause weight gain.

Fast-food consumption has been linked to obesity because of several factors, including larger portions and high energy content.

Fast Food Contains Larger Portions

Fast food restaurants thrive on their inexpensive, quick delivery system that passes out meals at a moment’s notice. No shopping, no planning, and no mess. Fast food allows individuals to buy more food at a lower price.

A healthy meal containing 2,000 calories versus a fast food meal containing the same 2,000 calories will be nearly 10 times the cost.

Fast Food High Energy Content

Typically fast food contains high amounts of sugar, carbohydrates, and fats. These “high-energy” foods have fewer essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are an integral part of digestion and health. Less essential vitamins and minerals mean the body has less energy to thrive.

Fast Food After Weight Loss Surgery_What is the #1 Food that Causes Obesity_Mexico Bariatric Center

What is the #1 Food that Causes Obesity?

Sugar. Foods high in high-fructose corn syrup (sugar) have been correlated with obesity. Recently several documentaries and experts in obesity have suggested that the rise in obesity is due to increased sugar consumption – and not fat.

 Robert Lustig, MD, a UCSF pediatric neuroendocrinologist, says that, “High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are exactly the same, They’re equally bad. They’re both poisons in high doses. Over the past century, Americans have increased their fructose consumption from 15 grams per day to 75 grams per day or more. The trend accelerated beginning about three decades ago when cheap, easy-to-transport high-fructose corn syrup became widely available. Much of processed food labeled “reduced-fat” instead has sugar added to make it more palatable, Lustig says. [Source]

Food for Thought

Armed with knowledge and tips on what to look for and what not to look for, you can navigate any menu like a weight-loss pro without losing all your hard-earned work. Happy ordering!

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