With the words “fried chicken” in the name, Kentucky Fried Chicken isn’t your typical healthy option for grabbing a quick meal. Indeed, plenty of items on the menu such as the Fried Chicken Bowl (which contains 720 calories and 2,300mg sodium) can sabotage your weight-loss goals.
However, living a truly sustainable healthy lifestyle (and not feeling like you’re always on a diet) means learning how to enjoy your favorites in a more nutritious way. To give you an idea of what a smart order at KFC looks like, here are four orders that satisfy comfort-food cravings without creating a roadblock to healthy eating.
Why it made the cut: KFC is known for fried chicken meals that come with heavy side dishes like mashed potatoes and biscuits and gravy. This meal takes advantage of the lighter items on the menu such as grilled chicken and fiber-rich veggies, which add nutrients to a hearty meal that contains just 10 grams of fat and 240 calories.
RD tip: Most people assume chicken breast is a healthier option than the thigh, but opting for the grilled chicken thigh at KFC instead of the grilled breast saves 60 calories and about 300mg of sodium since it’s smaller. Plus, ordering your chicken grilled instead of fried cuts out 130 calories and almost 500mg of sodium.
Why it made the cut: When you’re in the mood for fried chicken, this meal satisfies your craving for just 300 calories, side included. Opting for coleslaw as a side adds 4 grams of filling fiber, rounding this meal out to 13 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
RD tip: Pairing a small serving of fried chicken with a lighter side keeps portion sizes in check. When ordering fried chicken, stick to smaller cuts of chicken like drumsticks — one order of fried chicken breast has triple the calories of a drumstick.
Why it made the cut: KFC’s kids menu includes healthier options like unsweetened applesauce, which isn’t available on the adult menu. Plus, ordering from the kids menu is a great way to enjoy smaller portions of your favorite items to keep the calorie count lower.
RD tip: If you opt for a drink with your kids meal, go with 1% milk for a protein boost instead of a sugary juice box.
Why it made the cut: This meal offers another option for satisfying your chicken sandwich cravings while keeping portion sizes in check, adding up to just more than 300 calories with 16 grams of filling protein.
RD tip: Leave off the mayo and pickles so you can add something more filling to your meal, like a side order of fiber-rich corn. Omitting the condiments on most sandwiches and menu items makes a huge difference in calories (and sodium), which gives you wiggle room for more satisfying items.