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Fast-Food Shakedown: Chick-Fil-A

There's healthy food to be discovered at this Southern fast-food joint.

Southern fried chicken sandwich joint Chick-fil-A has bucked the burger trend and recently transcended its cultlike status to become a franchise behemoth. Chick-fil-A hung around the South for years until busting out big time in the mid ’90s after its “Eat Mor Chikin” ad campaign became popular. It now has more than 2,000 locations in 46 states and grabbed the top spot for average sales per restaurant in 2010.

All this success was built on its classic Chick-fil-A sandwich, which is made almost the exact same way as the day it was conceived in 1964—a pressure-fried chicken breast with two pickles on a buttered, toasted bun. It’s an undeniably great chicken sandwich, but at 440 calories and almost 20 grams of fat, it’s best to save it (and the fries, with 400 calories and 24 grams of fat) for your cheat day.

Instead, check out the chain’s newer and healthier fare like the tasty (and ubiquitous) Grilled Chicken Sandwich or its Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap, which uses heart-healthy flaxseed flat bread and boasts only 350 calories, with a muscle-happy 37 grams of protein. For Paleo or low-carb adherents, Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Nuggets are a great choice, with 25 grams of protein and only 2 carbs per eight nuggets, and a quick healthy meal can be had by ordering the 6 Count Grilled Nuggets Kid’s Meal, which includes a fruit salad and box of apple juice. To get your greens, go for the array of hearty salads that feature antioxidant-rich ingredients like strawberries and blueberries, along with fiber-heavy food like red cabbage and black beans, all topping at least 25 grams of protein.

 PRE-WORKOUT PICK 

Look for foods with protein for sustained energy and some carbohydrates to fuel muscle. Stay away from fatty and calorie-heavy foods. 

Grilled Chicken Nuggets and Greek Yogurt Parfait: 12 boneless grilled chicken breast nuggets and seasonings (no sauce) with Greek yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and granola.

Calories: 370 | Protein: 37g | Carbs: 30g | Fat:13g

 POST-WORKOUT 

After an intense workout you need to build your glycogen stores back up with carbs and lean protein to jump-start muscle-tissue repair and the building of new proteins.

Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap and Superfood Side: Sliced grilled chicken breast, lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, avocado lime ranch dressing, and axseed at bread, with broccolini, kale, sour cherries, nut blend, and maple vinaigrette dressing.

Calories: 550 | Protein: 41g Carbs: 54g | Fat: 23g 

 FAST-FOOD FATTENERS 

Sometimes items that appear harmless can be stealthy fat and calorie bombs, like this:

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich and Medium Waffle Potato Fries: Fried boneless chicken breast, dill pickle chips, buttered bun with potato fries. 

Calories: 840 | Protein: 33g Carbs: 83g | Fat: 43g

 FLEX   

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