Fast food restaurants may not seem like the go-to place for healthy meals — but if you order wisely, you can find healthier fast food options. And Taco Bell has its share of nutritious treats. We’ve rounded up six tasty-yet-healthy options to try the next time you have a craving for Taco Bell.
Can Fast Food Be Healthy?
Fast food is usually loaded with calories, sodium and unhealthy types of fat. And it’s often lacking in healthy ingredients like fruits, vegetables and fiber. That’s why nutrition experts often recommend cutting back on fast food.
But all fast food meals aren’t created equal. You can find ways to eat fast and healthy. For example, try limiting portion sizes and keeping your whole meal to 500 calories or less. And check out the nutrition info — look for choices higher in fiber, protein and unsaturated fat, and lower in sodium, added sugars and saturated fat.
How To Eat Healthy at Taco Bell
The Taco Bell menu includes a variety of nutrient-dense ingredients — and this chain provides some great tools to help you improve your order. Try these tips:
- Add it up. Use the Taco Bell Nutrition Calculator to find the total amount of calories, fiber, protein, saturated fat, added sugars and sodium in every menu item. This is a great tool to help you figure out which items fit your nutritional needs.
- Make it fresco. If you’re trying to limit calories at Taco Bell, consider ordering your meal “fresco style.” This customized style replaces ingredients typically high in calories and fat (mayonnaise-based sauces, cheeses and sour cream) with freshly prepared diced tomatoes.
- Go for guac. For a healthier dose of richness, add guacamole to your taco or burrito instead of sour cream or other sauces. The avocados in guacamole provide healthier unsaturated fat in place of the saturated fat in many sauces.
It’s also super easy to customize your order at Taco Bell. That means you can build healthy meals that work with lots of different eating styles, including low-calorie, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb and high-protein diets. Read on to hear about six specific menu items that measure up for both deliciousness and nutrition.
Power Menu Bowl with Chicken
The Power Menu Bowl can be a time-saver when you need a complete meal on a busy schedule. The bowl includes grilled chicken, seasoned rice, black beans, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, avocado ranch sauce and guacamole.
Coming in at less than 500 calories, this meal packs in seven grams of fiber and 26 grams of protein. So if you love chicken and want to try a non-taco meal at Taco Bell, this nutrient-dense bowl may be right up your alley. Just be aware that, like most fast-food meals, this choice is high in sodium.
Veggie Power Menu Bowl
The Power Menu Bowl isn’t just for meat eaters — vegetarian Taco Bell lovers can opt for the Veggie Power Menu Bowl. This bowl contains mostly the same ingredients as the Power Menu Bowl, minus the grilled chicken. Here, the seasoned rice and black beans are the star of the show. To give your bowl a healthier fat balance, skip the sour cream and add more guacamole.
At just 430 calories, this meal packs in more fiber than the chicken version (coming in at ten grams) and still gives you 12 grams of protein. It’s also slightly lower than the chicken bowl in sodium and saturated fat. So if you’re looking for a healthy meatless meal on the go, this might be the choice for you.
High in protein and fiber, beans are a key part of a healthy diet. And if you like beans, Taco Bell has lots of options for you — including this healthy Bean Burrito. The burrito contains warm refried beans, cheddar cheese, diced onions and red sauce.
With only 350 calories, the bean burrito is one of the lighter options on Taco Bell’s menu. It has 11 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein and under four grams of saturated fat. To make your burrito even healthier, try replacing the red sauce with pico de gallo to cut down on sodium.
Crunchy Taco (Fresco Style)
No Taco Bell menu roundup would be complete without some tacos — and there are healthier ways to enjoy this classic order, too. Here we’re looking at the fresco-style Crunchy Taco with lettuce, tomatoes and seasoned beef.
At just 150 calories, you’ll probably need more than one of these tacos to feel satisfied. Even with the fresco customization, two tacos comes in at around nine grams of saturated fat — but the lettuce and tomatoes add some healthy fresh veggies, and skipping the cheese makes this a better option if you’re trying to limit calories or avoid dairy.
Black Bean Chalupa (Fresco Style)
If you’re more into black beans than refried beans, the Black Bean Chalupa is the right choice for you. With a pillowy shell, this chalupa typically has black beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes — and spicy ranch is a popular add-on. But for a healthy twist, go fresco style and add guacamole for extra flavor.
With 320 calories, the fresco-style Black Bean Chalupa with guacamole has under two grams of saturated fat, six grams of fiber and eight grams of protein — making it a good choice for health-conscious fast food lovers.
Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito (Fresco Style)
You can make a healthier choice first thing in the morning with the Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito. Ordering this item “fresco style” removes the nacho cheese sauce and leaves you with eggs, sausage crumbles and diced tomatoes.
This customization brings your breakfast burrito down to only 280 calories, but still packs in 11 grams of protein. All in all, not a bad way to start your day.
So next time you find yourself at Taco Bell, remember to read the nutrition info and customize your order to meet your nutrition goals. With the right ordering strategy, you can make the occasional Taco Bell meal part of a healthy diet.