Best and Worst Health Choices at KFC
Most healthy eaters consider chicken to be a diet-friendly food. But the menu at Kentucky Fried Chicken can challenge even the most dedicated dieter. If you check KFC nutrition facts, you’ll see that many menu items are loaded with fat and calories—including the chicken. But it is possible to eat at KFC when you’re trying to lose weight and even to make healthy choices on the menu.
Analyzing the KFC Menu
The KFC menu is built around items that are fried.
So even though chicken is usually a good source of lean protein, most of the chicken items on this menu are going to less healthy. In addition, the side dishes—primarily comfort foods like mashed potatoes, corn bread and macaroni and cheese—will increase your fat and calorie intake while providing very little nutritional value.
However, there are a few grilled selections on the Kentucky Fried Chicken menu that are better for your health. For example the Grilled Chicken Breast provides just 180 calories and 6 grams of total fat. You’ll also get 31 grams of metabolism-boosting protein when you choose this food.
Most Popular KFC Food
Original Recipe and Extra Crispy Chicken are very popular choices at KFC. But the Original Recipe Chicken Breast is loaded with fat and sodium (see label). If you select the Extra Crispy Chicken Breast, you’ll consume 390 calories, 23 grams of fat and 870 milligrams of sodium.
Extra Crispy Tenders are also a menu favorite at KFC.
A single order provides 140 calories, 7 grams of fat 10 grams of protein and 310 milligrams of sodium. And wings are another popular food. An order of KFC Chicken Hot Wings provides 70 calories, 4 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 160 milligrams of sodium. But a serving size is just 22 grams, which is very small. You are likely to consume several servings of this food.
Sandwiches and wraps are also popular at KFC. The Crispy Twister, for example, includes a tortilla, extra crispy tenders, mayo, tomatoes, shredded cheese and lettuce. There are 630 calories in the KFC twister wrap, and 34 grams of fat.
Healthiest Options on the Kentucky Fried Chicken Menu
Grilled items will be best for your diet at KFC, but if you love the taste of fried chicken, you still have options. Choose one of these meals to keep your fat and calorie intake in control.
Traditional KFC Meal: 480 calories
Original Recipe Chicken Breast: 320 calories
Corn on the Cob: 70 calories
Mashed Potatoes: 90 calories
Grilled Chicken Meal: 385 calories
Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast: 180 calories
Green Beans: 25 calories
Biscuit: 180 calories
Crispy Chicken Salad Meal: 450 calories
Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad: 330 calories
Marzetti Light Italian Dressing: 15 calories
Cornbread Muffin (half muffin): 105 calories
Least Healthy Choices on the KFC Menu
One of the reasons that a Kentucky Fried Chicken meal is challenging for dieters is that many menu items are served family-style. This can make portion control very difficult. In addition, many of the most popular foods at KFC are fried. So even though they provide a dose of healthy protein, it comes bundled with fat and calories.
To stick to your diet when you eat at KFC, follow these three rules to avoid common mistakes that can send your daily fat and calorie intake through the roof.
Order only single-serve items. Skip the family-style buckets and platters – even if you are eating with a group. That way you know you are consuming only the calories that are posted on the menu board. You may also want to avoid KFC’s popular Go Cups if you are trying to slim down. You don’t get enough food to justify the 500 (or more) calories you’ll consume when you eat one.
Be smart with salad choices. Salads are usually healthy, but there aren’t any grilled salad choices at KFC. Each of the entree salads at Kentucky Fried Chicken comes with fried chicken on top. And the calorie counts listed do not include dressing. You can include these in your diet (see the meal listed above) if you crave crispy chicken, but a healthier choice is to order the side salad and add a piece of grilled chicken on top.
Be selective about sides. The KFC sides you choose can make or break your entire meal. So check the nutrition facts for your favorite dish before you order. The healthiest side dish is Green Beans with only 25 calories and zero grams of fat. Potato wedges are the worst with 290 calories and 15 grams of fat. You might also want to skip the BBQ Baked Beans. Even though beans sound healthy, this recipe will add 210 calories to your total intake.
Lastly, remember to drink water instead of soda when you visit KFC or any fast food restaurant. It’s a better choice for your body when you consume the high sodium levels that you find in many fried foods. And try to make your food choices before you go. That way you’re not distracted by the pictures on the menu board and you’ll be more likely to stick to your diet.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr P Carrothers