Despite the fact that many fast food menu items fall outside the accepted limits for healthy food, there are some low-fat fast food options. Many fast food chains have started to offer salads on their menu, which can be a good low-fat choice if the accompanying toppings are controlled. A large number of vegetarian alternatives to the standard beef or pork sandwiches often served also can help to reduce the amount of fat in a fast food meal. Low-fat fast food that is made with chicken or turkey and has not been fried is often available, even at restaurants that traditionally serve beef burgers. It also is important to limit both the size of the meal that is eaten and the side dishes ordered, because a large amount of fat can be found in seemingly innocent dishes like French fries and baked potatoes.
Salads have been on some low-fat fast food menus for a long time. The lettuce, tomato and other vegetables are low in fat and healthy, but the rest of the salad can sometimes negate this. Salad dressings that are not specifically low-fat should be avoided, along with processed meats or fried meats that are sometimes included with the vegetables. If having some dressing or protein is important, then items such as salad dressing and bacon can sometimes be served on the side by request, allowing the person eating to add the desired amount.
Fast food is frequently associated with hamburgers and French fries, which are both very heavy in fat. Ordering sandwiches that contain chicken, especially if it is not fried, can dramatically reduce the amount of fat consumed. For both chicken and other meat sandwiches, sauces and non-vegetable toppings such as cheese and bacon can account for nearly half the fat in a sandwich, so avoiding or removing the extras also can reduce the fat.
When available, soup can be an option for low-fat fast food. Common sense, however, needs to be employed, because some soups will clearly be high in fat. Soups that include healthy ingredients such as black beans, lentils or vegetables are a good choice, so long as the soup does not contain a large amount of processed meats, bacon or thick cream sauces that are usually very high in fat.
In some cases, low-fat fast food can be made from existing popular dishes that are on the menu if they are just modified a little bit. By asking for the different sauces to be excluded, removing the skin from chicken or replacing fatty side dishes and drinks with healthier options such as vegetables, orange juice or milk, an otherwise high-fat meal can be made into low-fat fast food. It should be noted, however, that low-fat fast food is a relative term; when compared to the types of low-fat food that can be prepared at home with more control over ingredients, most low-fat fast food is still relatively high in fat.