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Eating Fa(s)t foods everyday?


I am a third year undergrad taking 20 units of classes. I have no time to cook anything so I forage in the fast food jungles on campus. Not only did I gain the freshman 15, I also gained another 15 pounds during my sophomore year. How can I slow or lose the weight gain? Please help!!  
                            A student who feels like a fast inflating balloon


There are many caloric bombs in fast food places, but we have screened these mines for you so you can get straight to the better choices. First, we got the skinny on the nutrition profile of different menu items from company websites and then we narrowed down to a few better choices for you to choose from.  If you can only subsist on fast foods, here are some of the better options to help you deflate: 


Jamba Juice

  • “Plain oatmeal with brown sugar”
    (as served: 220 calories, 3.5g fat, 12g sugar, 20mg sodium)
  • “Fresh banana oatmeal”
    (280 calories, 4g fat, 23g sugar, 20mg sodium)
    -good alternatives: apple cinnamon oatmeal or blueberry and blackberry oatmeal
  • “Spinach and cheese breakfast wrap”
    (240 calories, 8g fat, 530mg sodium)

Bruin Café

  • Assorted cold cereal  + fruit

Lunch or Dinner

Rubios – (features:  HealthMex: <30% of calories from fat and all items under 700 calories)

  • “One mango habanero ono taco, corn tortilla, no cheese, no sour cream, no white sauce + side salad without dressing but extra salsa fresca”
    (310 kcal, 7g fat, 2g saturated fat, 800mg sodium)
  • “Two grilled chile-lime wild salmon tacos, corn tortilla, no cheese, no sour cream, no white sauce, extra salsa”
    (460 kcal, 18g fat, 3g saturated fat, 380 mg sodium)
    Rubios interactive nutrition calculator:  http://www.rubios.com/nutrition/calculator/

Subway – (features: Fresh Fit 6g of fat or less)

  • “oven roasted chicken, no mayo, 6” 9-grain wheat, extra cucumbers, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, extra spinach, pepper, no oil, no salt” 
    (320 calories, 5g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 640mg sodium +swiss cheese 50 kcal/4.5g fat/30g sodium)
  • “Veggie Delite, no mayo, 6” wheat bread with omega-3, lettuce, extra spinach, green peppers, onions, olives, tomatoes, vinegar, no oil, no salt”
    (230 kcal, 2.5g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 310g sodium +swiss cheese 50 kcal/4.5g fat/30g sodium)

Taco Bell – (features: Fresco style = <9g of fat) 

  • “2 Fresco Crunchy Taco, extra lettuce + hot sauce (optional) + side of black beans”
    (360 calories, 17.5g fat, 4g saturated fat, 780mg sodium)   
  • “2 Fresco Chicken or Grilled Steak Soft Tacos, extra lettuce”
    (300 calories, 7-8g fat, 2-3g saturated fat, 920-1000mg sodium)

Carl’s Jr

  • “Charbroiled BBQ ChickenTM Sandwich”
    (390 calories, 7g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 990mg sodium, 30g protein)
  • “Original Grilled Chicken salad + Low fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing”
    (315 calories, 14.5g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 1330mg sodium,17g protein)

Panda Express - (features: WOK SMART – 250 calories or less per single serving)

  • “Panda bowl – mixed side of veggies and steamed rice +string bean chicken breast”
    (385 calories, 6g fat, 1g saturated fat, 1030mg sodium)
  • “2 entrée plate – mixed side of veggies and steamed rice + entrée of broccoli beef and mixed veggies”
    (380 calories, 4g fat, 1.5g saturated, 1180mg sodium)

Jamba Juice

  • “Smokehouse chicken flatbread”
    (390 calories, 10g fat, 4g sat fat, 690mg sodium)
  • “MediterraneanYum”
    (320 calories, 8g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 770mg sodium)



Jamba Juice- "Make-It-Light(TM)" - Features:  1/3 fewer calories, carbs, and sugar than a Jamba Juice Classic Smoothie


  • 1 medium apple, pear, banana:  100 calories
  • 1 cup of low fat vanilla yogurt: 250 kcal
  • 1 cup plain Greek nonfat yogurt 100 calories
  • 1 oz whole grain crackers or baked corn tortilla chips:  150 kcal
  • 1 oz of trail mix:  150 calories
  • 1oz mixed nuts no added salt -168 kcal, 14.6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 3mg sodium
  • Evergy bars – 100 – 350 calories – look for >3g fiber, 5 g protein, <10g sugar and no saturated fat
  • ½ cup baby carrots or other chopped vegetables - 25 calories

Source: www.calorieking.com

Sample Menu:

1400 calories, 45.6g fat, 10g saturated fat, 1550mg sodium

  • Jamba Juice “Fresh banana oatmeal”
    280 calories, 4g fat, 23g sugar, 20mg sodium
  • Subway’s Oven Roasted Chicken with Swiss cheese
    370 calories, 9.5g fat, 4g saturated fat, 670mg sodium 
  • Side/snack:
    • 1 cup plain Greek nonfat yogurt (6oz)
      100kcal, 0g fat. 0g saturated fat, 80mg sodium, 7g sugar
    • 1 medium banana
      105 kcal, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 15g sugar
  • Taco Bell’s 2 Fresco Crunchy Taco, extra lettuce + hot sauce + side of black beans
    (360 calories, 17.5g fat, 4g saturated fat, 780mg sodium) 
  • Side/snack
    • 1oz mixed nuts no added salt
      168 kcal, 14.6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 3mg sodium


Many of these items are not particularly high in calories, but they can be very high in sodium.  In general, foods with more than 300mg sodium per serving should be used with caution if you have elevated blood pressure. If you have hypertension, fast foods may not be a good choice for you. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults in general should limit sodium intake to 2300 mg per day.

How about fat? Limit total intake to 25%-35% of total calories. For example, 1400 kcal then total fat intake should be 40-55g. Limit saturated fat to less than 7% total calories. For a 1400 kcal daily intake level, <7% of saturated fat would translate to <10g of saturated fat. A good way to limit sodium and fat is to avoid most sauces, ask for no salt and ask for extra servings of fresh vegetables.   

Try adding a couple of your own items such as fruits and veggies to your meals. Not only will it help you meet your recommended intake of 5 fruits and vegetables a day, you will be getting more fiber, vitamins, minerals which are all great nutrients to help you achieve a healthy weight. Want more snacks? Have whole grain crackers or low-sugar whole grain cereal bars, baked corn tortilla chips, yogurts or trail mix on hand to avoid making poor choices the next time your hunger calls.