When you’re hankering for crisp, salty fried chicken, there’s honestly no denying it. And there’s no better place to get your fix for a breaded drumstick and flaky buttermilk biscuit than KFC. But if you’re not careful, you might be getting more than you bargained for ( sodium overload!). To help you make “healthier” decisions at the drive-thru, stick to our top picks—and avoid these red flags on the menu—for a fast and delicious meal that won’t totally ruin your
FIRST, THE BEST CHICKEN
Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast
210 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 710 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 38 g protein
It comes as no surprise that the grilled option is leagues better for your meal than its crispy fried counterpart, even when doused in finger-lickin’ Smoky Mountain barbecue or the chain’s Georgia Gold sauces. Frying adds all those extra unnecessary things we don’t need. It’s one thing if the chicken was fried naked. But the breading adds not only extra calories but excess sodium and fat. Choose this for your next $5 Fill-Up.
Spicy Crispy Chicken Breast
350 calories, 20 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 1,100 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0g sugar), 30 g protein
If you absolutely must order the fried stuff, opt for a breast over any other cut and stick to the spicy version, which clocks in with 40 fewer calories and 90 milligrams less sodium than the brand’s original recipe. Drumsticks and wings are tempting because they’re juicier and taste better, but that’s all because of fat. Breasts are all meat and virtually no fat, especially once when you remove the skin.
THE BEST SANDWICH
Honey BBQ Sandwich
340 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 1,350 mg sodium, 53g carbs (3 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 24 g protein
This salty-sweet number is not a bad option. Its high-sodium content should be taken seriously. In terms of calories and fat, this looks like a pretty good option. The problem is that it contains more than half the sodium you should consume in a single day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, so you’ll need to pair it with a tall glass of water and closely watch your salt intake for the rest of the day.
THE BEST CLASSICS
KFC Famous Bowl Snack Size
270 calories, 13 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 820 mg sodium, 27g carbs (2g fiber, 1g sugar), 11 g protein
Whatever you do, steer clear of full-size Famous Bowl. Loaded with more sodium than you should consume in an entire day, the uber indulgent meal is best consumed in snack size. That way you can get a taste for your favorite cheesy dish without spiking your sodium and fat intake. If you can, cherry-pick the chicken and don’t polish off all of the gravy-drizzled potatoes.
THE BEST SIDES
25 calories, 0 g fat, 260 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (2 g fiber), 1 g protein
Totally underrated at the fried chicken chain, veggies like green beans are available as sides instead of macaroni and cheese or mayo-doused potato salad. Though slightly heavy on the sodium front, these garlicky greens are your best bet for a healthy complement to your meal.
Corn on the Cob
70 calories, 0.5 g fat, 17 g carbs (2g fiber, 3 g sugar), 2 g protein
Who doesn’t love an ear of corn with their fried chicken? The classic Southern combo is actually a much smarter choice than heavy mashed potatoes or even coleslaw. Just be sure not to double down on your grains by ordering corn and another carb: This veggie does double duty and you’ll be fully satiated with just that.
THE BEST SALAD
House Side Salad
15 calories, 0g fat, 10mg sodium, 3g carbs (2g fiber, 1g sugar), 1g protein
A light mix of romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes makes this the obvious choice over a crouton- and cheese-showered Caesar salad. Adding a grilled chicken breast would add extra protein and make for one of the healthiest possible meals on the menu. Just be sure to choose your dressing wisely.
THE BEST DRESSING AT KFC
Heinz Buttermilk Dressing
160 calories, 17 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (1g sugar)
Surprisingly, the heavy cream-based buttermilk dressing is a much smarter option than any of the fat-free dressings, which are packed with tons of sodium and sugar to compensate for their lack of fatty flavor. Did you know that the fourth ingredient in each of the fat-free dressings is salt, listed well before other seasonings like garlic and onion? By using just half of the packet of buttermilk dressing. You’re just looking for a little bit of the taste. You don’t need to drown your salad in dressing.
THE BEST SAUCES AT KFC
Sweet N Tangy
45 calories, 0 g fat, 105 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (10 g sugar)
If you can’t go without dunking, this is the sauce for you. It’s got nearly the same amount of calories as ketchup with less than half the sodium. Though 105 milligrams for a dipping sauce is still alarming. That’s about the amount you want in a snack, not as a simple condiment to a sodium-rich meal. The key takeaway? Use any and all sauces sparingly.
THE BEST DESSERTS
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
150 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 2 g protein
Not necessarily the darling of KFC’s sweets docket, this oat-packed cookie contains the least amount of calories and fat than any other option. My advice is if you crave something, go for it. But there has to be a trade-off… That means if you want dessert, don’t get a combo to add on top of it. Swap out your carb-heavy side for a cookie instead.
Chocolate Chip Cookie
160 calories, 8g fat (4g saturated), 85mg sodium, 22g carbs (1 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 1 g protein
Oatmeal Raisin remind you too much of your grandparents? Luckily classic chocolate chip is nearly the same nutritionally but with melty chocolate morsels studded throughout. Sure, it’s not as decadent as a slice of cake, but you’ll thank yourself later for that.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post? With the best and worst of something series, I always aim to bring you items that maybe you thought were healthy and it ended up being unhealthy and vice versa. If you have any questions about today’s post, any past post, or questions, in general, please don’t hesitate in reaching out and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. You can always reach out. You can find my email listed in the section “Thank You” and you can find all of my social media links listed in the section “Where You Can Follow Me”.
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