A chicken breast may seem like a healthy fast food choice but not if you're digging into a KFC Extra Crispy Chicken breast, says HealthGuide.org. At 440 calories, 970mg of sodium and 27g of fat, this single piece of chicken supplies 22 percent of your calories for the day; 40 percent maximum sodium intake; and 41 percent of maximum fat intake, based on a 2,000 calorie adult diet, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fortunately, with a little planning and flexibility, you can enjoy a healthier meal at KFC.
Make Healthier Food Choices at KFC
Prepare a meal plan for the day. If you normally eat 2,000 calories per day, decide how many calories you can allow for the KFC meal. Make adjustments to the rest of the day's meals, if necessary, should you plan to eat a larger-than-normal meal at the restaurant.
Review the nutritional guides available on the KFC website before you leave home or ask for a copy at the restaurant. The charts provide detailed information about each menu item, including calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein per serving.
Select your meal items before you leave home, if possible. If you cannot plan ahead, make your choices before you approach the counter to avoid last-minute diet disasters. Use the KFC nutrition guidelines to determine which items will fit into your daily meal plan.
If you have no dietary restrictions, look for items under 400 calories and no more than 15g of fat, according to Dr. Gourmet. Individuals on fat-restricted or sodium-restricted diets should select food items that allow them to stay below their recommended maximum levels for the day.
Choose your entree carefully. If you must have a chicken breast, plan to remove the skin to bring it into the healthy range of 140 calories, 2g of fat, and 520mg of sodium, says Help Guide. Or try the grilled breast at 190 calories, 6g fat and 550mg of sodium, according to KFC. Surprisingly, the BBQ sandwich weighs in at only 300 calories, 6g fat and 1.5g fat, according to Dr. Gourmet. And don't forget the grilled thighs and legs that are fewer in calories and fat than the white meat, according to KFC. Wraps and grilled chicken salads, served without high fat dressings or sauces, are healthier choices as well.
Avoid side dishes such as french fries or potato wedges that add empty calories and fat to your diet. Instead, choose mashed potatoes without gravy at 90 calories, 3g fat and 320mg sodium; green beans at 20 calories, 0g fat and 320 mg sodium; or corn on the cob at 70 calories, 0.5g fat and no sodium per 3 inch piece, according to Dr. Gourmet. A single biscuit or a serving of coleslaw, potato salad or macaroni salad adds 180 to 200 calories and 8 to 11g of fat to your meal. Better choices include baked beans-- 00 calories and 1.5g of fat--or a side salad with fat-free dressing--under 50 calories and no fat.
Drink water or unsweetened iced tea for the healthiest beverage choices. A regular cola adds 400 calories for the 32 oz. size and 800 calories for the 64 oz. size, according to KFC. Calorie-free diet sodas may fit into your diet plan but check the sodium content of your favorite brand before deciding.
Skip dessert or bring a piece of fruit with you. If you must have dessert, check the nutritional guide for calories, fat and sugar content. A pecan pie slice provides 410 calories, 22g of fat and 22g of sugar per serving, according to KFC, making it the highest in calories among the dessert selections. The highest in sugar content, however, belongs to the lemon parfait cup at 390 calories, 14g of fat and a whopping 47g of sugar per serving. A single oatmeal raisin cookie-- 50 calories, 6g of fat and 15g of sugar--makes a reasonably healthy dessert.
If you are not sure what you should eat in terms of calories, fat, sodium, sugar, fiber and other nutrients, contact your health care provider for advice. If you prefer, check the information available at the websites of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association.
Follow your health care provider's nutritional guidelines if you are on a restricted diet. If you find that you cannot eat a meal at a particular restaurant without exceeding your maximum daily allowable calories, fat, sodium, sugar or other nutrients, choose another establishment.