Which items are Taco Bell are the healthiest? Let’s find out.
Well, before we dive in, I want to hit you with a few overall notes regarding Taco Bell in general.
First and foremost, I fully understand that there are many people out there who find Taco Bell to be gross. That’s totally fine.
I can remember learning way back (probably 20 years ago now) that Taco Bell used the lowest quality meat that was deemed acceptable. I’m pretty sure the rumor was that they used all the animal scraps that didn’t make it into grocery stores. That’s not true at all, but I think the “low quality meat” rumors left a bad taste in people’s mouths about Taco Bell.
In doing research for this guide, it’s clear to me that Taco Bell actually has some quality options. If ground meat isn’t your thing, they now have grilled chicken or steak options, which are great alternatives.
And, for all the plant-based eaters out there, they have plenty of vegetarian options as well!
The other thing that I would like to note here is that this guide is reflective of the menu as of December, 2020. Due to the global pandemic this year, Taco Bell has simplified their menu, and this guide reflects that. Who knows, by the time you’re seeing this, Taco Bell may have Nacho Fries or Mexican Pizzas back on the menu. But for now, we’re rolling with the menu in front of us.
Obviously it’s called Taco Bell for a reason.
Tacos are the bread & butter here, but what you see here is not all you are limited to.
The tacos listed here are if you order them exactly as-is, but there are plenty of substitutions you can make to save some calories or up the protein. Let’s take the Soft Taco Supreme and make some changes to see how it affects the final nutrition.
As is, the Soft Taco Supreme is 210 Calories, 10g Fat, 20g Carbs, and 10g Protein.
If you want to save some calories and bump up the protein a bit, you can swap the beef for grilled chicken. That will change it to 180 Calories and 13g Protein.
Another option you have is to order the taco (or any menu item) “fresco.” Fresco simply means swapping out the dairy and mayo-based sauces for tomatoes. In this case, ordering the Soft Taco Supreme fresco style changes the nutrition to 160 Calories, 7g Fat, 18g Carbs, and 8g Protein.
Finally, you can make any of the tacos vegetarian as well, by swapping the meat option out for black beans. For the ultimate calorie saver, you can order the taco vegetarian AND fresco. In this case, the taco would end up being 140 calories!
Quesadillas & Burritos
After tacos, the burritos/quesdillas are the most popualr items at Taco Bell.
By looking over the items here, you can see that the calories are all over the place.
A Quesarito comes in at 650 calories, while a bean burrito is only 350 calories!
When it comes to deciding what to order here, aside from calories, protein may be the largest differentiator. If you’re looking to maximize your protein intake (personally, that would be my goal), a quesadilla would be the way to go. At 510 calories and 27g of protein, the chicken quesadilla is actually quite a solid option!
If I were ordering, I’d also go for extra chicken. When you do that, the chicken quesadilla ends up being 560 calories and a whopping 35 grams of protein! Not bad at all.
Sides & More
On the topic of protein, the “power menu bowl” is a great choice if you’re looking for high-protein. Think of it as a burrito bowl you’d get at Chipotle.
If I were ordering the bowl, I’d go with the “fresco” style we talked about earlier, as well as getting extra chicken. When you do that, the entire bowl is only 410 calories, but packs 30g of protein! Now, that leaves out the sauce and cheese, but for me, those aren’t super important. I’d much rather use salsa & some hot sauce, which is a very minimal caloric impact and tastes even better to me!
Oh, and we obviously can’t let this post end without mentioning the Cinnamon Twists. Are they the best snack ever invented? Probably.
I have nothing to add about the nutrition of ’em, I just want to be sure to call out how delicious they are.
Last, but certainly not least, we have breakfast.
I’ve never had breakfast from Taco Bell, but looking at their options, I’m very tempted to give it a try!
With breakfast options, you have less room for substitutions or calorie savers. There isn’t a “fresco” option, and since all the items are eggs &b meat (aside from the hash browns) there is not a vegetarian option, either.
That being said, you can always take the cheese out of the any of the options! It may not seem like much, but if you were to order the grande breakfast burrito without cheese, it knocks the calories down from 560 to 470- nearly 100 calories worth!
If you’re going to eat Taco Bell, you certainly do not need to worry about the nutrition! If you want to just enjoy some tacos without the thought of calories or macros, you absolutely should.
That being said, I always find it helpful to be educated about the nutrition of the food I’m eating. Whether or not I’m actively tracking my macros or counting my calories, I find it incredibly helpful to have a general idea of the calories/macros I’m consuming.
I hope you find it helpful, too!
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