I have to hand it to them, Chick-fil-A has managed to do fast food differently. That’s caused many to conclude that it’s healthy – or at least a lot healthier than other fast food options. But what’s the truth? Is Chick-Fil-A healthy? Does the Chick-Fil-A menu hold any promise? Let’s take a look…

Americans are funny sometimes. I think we inherently know that the majority of fast food is garbage, but we still hang on to our favorite brands and defend them at times.

I’ve heard something like, “Burger King is better quality meat than McDonalds — you should go there instead” many, many times.

And the same holds true for Chick-fil-A. People are under the impression that Chick-fil-A is a notch above the rest. They believed the same about Subway until they found out they use yoga mat chemicals in their bread to make it more stretchy.

Oh shit! Don’t look now, but that same chemical is in Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches too!

It’s in the bread of a lot of places, actually. This is one reason why I jumped all over Vani Hari for her fruitless attack on Subway to get them to remove the chemical. Not only do people see Subway as a “do-gooder” now (minus the whole Jared thing), they’re distracted from the fact that a lot of the other chains are guilty of the same shenanigans.

Hey Vani, that shit is everywhere! And besides, bread is an ANTI food anyway (an acronym that I’m known for – explained in detail in my guide on how to start eating healthy). Why are we wasting time trying to make ANTI foods .01% less ANTI?

Just so you know, Vani ignores me completely because her poop apparently doesn’t stink. It must be all that azodicarbonamide-less bread she eats. If she wasn’t just out to make herself more popular she’d see the big picture and embrace my criticism.

Anyway, let’s not get sidetracked.

From the Menu: The Famous Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwhich

Let’s start with Chick-Fil-A’s famous chicken sandwich — you know, the one they “invented.”

Well boy did they. This concoction had to take a lot of time and money in a distant laboratory somewhere.

They try to hide all the details by doing a masterful job oversimplifying things on the sandwich page…

chick-fil-a menu: chicken sandwich ingredients

Oh look, it must just be three ingredients! <facepalm>

Here’s the reality…

Chicken (whole breast filet, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], seasoned coater [enriched bleached wheat flour {with malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, nonfat milk, leavening {baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate}, spice, soybean oil, color {paprika}], milk wash [water, nonfat milk, egg], peanut oil [fully refined peanut oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and dimethylpolysiloxane as an anti-foaming agent]), bun (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: liquid yeast, soybean oil, nonfat milk, salt, wheat gluten, soy flour, dough conditioners [may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides, calcium and sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide], soy flour, amylase, yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate], calcium propionate added to retard spoilage, soy lecithin, cornstarch, butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color]), pickles (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate [preservative], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).

Why does a chicken sandwich have food coloring? Why does a chicken breast have sugar in it? In fact, why is sugar an ingredient in multiple instances? These are just a couple of the unexplainable aspects of the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich.

But let’s be honest – you’ve never had a chicken sandwich that tasted quite like this chicken sandwich now have you? There’s a reason for that.

A lot of the ingredients are simple ANTI foods. There’s a few others that are worth highlighting though. And keep in mind that when determining the health impact of food, the sheer number of ingredients in such a simple meal should cause alarm bells to rock your skull.

Monosodium glutamate is an excitotoxin that affects brain function. While I’m not ready to claim that MSG and ADHD are strongly linked, I have no doubt that screwing with children’s neurotransmitters isn’t a good thing. And for all of the pregnant women out there who send their husbands out to grab Chick-Fil-A at 9pm to fufill those cravings, MSG crosses the placental barrier.

Sodium Aluminum Phosphate is a preservative and chemical leaving agent. It’s carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic. Again, I’m not saying you’ll die after the 5th sandwich, I just want you to be aware of what you’re putting in your body at this “healthier fast food option” we call Chick-fil-A.

TBHQ is another preservative. They call it TBHQ because tert-Butylhydroquinone isn’t nearly as sexy. While it’s technically an antioxidant, there’s a little more to the story. Stuff like stomach tumors and DNA damage come to mind. In all fairness, there’s a lot of contradicting studies. But my health is too important to play science games. It’s a completely unnecessary food additive — why take chances with my or my child’s health?

Potassium Sorbate is yet another preservative. And the science on this one is less controversial in my estimation. It’s a known skin, eye, and respiratory irritant. And studies (in vitro) have shown that potassium sorbate is genotoxic and mutagenic to human blood cells, specifically to DNA in blood lymphocytes.

I’m not going to go on. I think the point has been made. Even simpler things at Chick-fil-A are future death traps. Take their glorious waffle fries, for example…

From the Chick-Fil-A Menu: Waffle Fries

chick-fil-a menu: waffle fries ingredients

Potatoes and high quality oil right? Not quite…

Potatoes (vegetable oil [canola oil, palm oil], disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate [to promote color retention], dextrose), fully refined high oleic canola oil (TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness and Dimethylopolysiloxane added as an anti-foaming agent).

Seriously? Can’t we just cut up some potatoes and fry them in coconut oil or lard or something, sprinkle with sea salt and call it a day? Why the need for all these nasty, rancid, high-inflammation vegetable oils?

The reason this should upset you is because waffle fries can be a real food! They can be perfectly healthy on occasion if they’re real and cooked in a high quality fat. Unfortunately, restaurants like Chick-Fil-A continuously drop the ball by cooking these foods in low quality seed oils that are a main cause of heart disease and diabetes.

From the Menu: The Chick-Fil-A Milkshake

chick-fil-a menu: milkshakes

Yes, I know, nobody considers a milkshake to be healthy.

But here’s the thing (and this is important): having a healthy relationship with food means enjoy “fun foods” from time to time. And when you decide that you’re going to “eat for a treat” instead for actual health, it’s nice to satisfy yourself in that regard with treats that aren’t overly unhealthy.

A milkshake is a perfect example of this. What can be made with simple ingredients is often taken to the extreme of unhealthiness very easily.

There’s a huge difference between these two milkshakes…

Milkshake #1: The Rebooted Vanilla Milkshake

  • High-quality vanilla ice cream (like Haagen Dazs – “CREAM, SKIM MILK, CANE SUGAR, EGG YOLKS, GROUND VANILLA BEANS, VANILLA EXTRACT”).
  • Whole milk (preferably organic, pasture-raised – surprisingly easy to find)
  • Blend it up and enjoy.

Milkshake #2: The Chick-Fil-A Vanilla Milkshake

Icedream (whole milk, sugar, nonfat dry milk, artificial flavor, corn starch, mono & diglycerides, microcrystalline cellulose, carrageenan, guar gum, Yellow 5 & 6), milkshake base (whole milk, sugar, cream, whey powder milk, nonfat dry milk, artificial flavor, disodium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, guar gum, cellulose gum, carrageenan), whipped cream (cream, milk, sugar, sorbitol, nonfat milk solids, artificial flavor, mono and diglycerides, carrageenan, polysorbate 80, mixed tocopherols [vitamin E] to protect flavor, propellant: nitrous oxide), cherries, (high fructose corn syrup, water, potassium sorbate [a preservative], sodium benzoate [a preservative], citric acid, artificial flavor, FD&C Red #40, sulfur dioxide [a preservative]).

Son. of. a. ****! WHY?

Why is there corn starch in my milkshake? Why would that ever be necessary?

I know what you’re thinking: “I’m slicker than that, bro. I know what’s up. I do it right at Chick-fil-A by ordering two grilled chicken sandwiches with no bun. It’s a way to get quick, clean protein when I’m out and about!”

I see you. I know you. I used to be you. And you’re wrong.

From The Menu: The Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich (Minus the Bun Because We’re Getting Desperate)

Surely if we just eat chicken, by itself, we can escape unharmed!?!?

Chargrilled chicken (whole breast filet, water, seasoning [sugar, salt, dextrose, garlic powder, onion powder, maltodextrin, autolyzed yeast extract, spice, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, natural flavors, paprika {color}], flavoring [yeast extract, modified food starch, sea salt], oil blend [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, TBHQ and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color], seasoning [sugar, spice, paprika, and soybean oil], potassium phosphate).

That’s not the ingredients in the whole sandwich, that’s just the ingredients in the chicken. IN THE CHICKEN, PEOPLE!

Here’s the real secret: Chicken at Chick-fil-A isn’t just chicken. Got it?

Okay, I get it, but if I have to eat there what should I choose?

Alright, let’s say the family handcuffs you and drives you Chick-Fil-A and forces you to eat there. You want to be able to look at the Chick-Fil-A menu and have some go-tos, right?

Here’s what I would spring for in that situation…

Chick-Fil-A BreakFast Menu Choices

If the fam abducts you before 10:30a, try these…

The Egg White Grill

“A breakfast portion of grilled chicken with a hint of citrus flavor, stacked with freshly cooked egg whites and American cheese, served on a toasted multigrain English muffin.”

Pro Tip: Eat it open-faced. Unless you’re an athlete, there’s no reason to eat all those starchy grain carbs.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Muffin

chick fil a bacon egg cheese muffin breakfast

“Delicious bacon and a folded egg, served on an english muffin.”

Pro Tip: Eat it open-faced. Unless you’re an athlete, there’s no reason to eat all those starchy grain carbs.

Chick-Fil-A: Other Entree Choices

Grilled Nuggets

chick fil a menu: chargrilled chicken nuggets

We already determined it’s not really just chicken, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Note: The sauces have a lot of sugar, so go easy on them.

Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich and Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich Club

chick fil a menu: chargrilled chicken sandwich

As with the breakfast items, I recommend eating it open-faced.

You can also do a salad. The Spicy Southwest Chicken Salad and the Market Chicken Salad are decent options.

Chick-Fil-A Secret Menu?

Chick-Fil-A apparently has a hidden or secret menu but at quick glance there aren’t any great options on it. If your goal is to make the healthiest choice then no worries, you haven’t been missing out.

Final Verdict: Is Chick-Fil-A Healthy?

Sadly (only for my tastebuds), my relationship with Chick-fil-A came to an end a few years ago. And I felt the need to publish this because I still hear people mumble, “Chick-Fil-A is healthier than McDonalds.” But it’s not. It’s really not. That nonsense needs to stop.

If you’re new here, I want you to notice how I got through this entire article without mentioning things like calories or fat grams. We do things differently around here — it’s about quality, not quantity because that’s where the truth lives.

We have a free guide called our Real Food Playbook if you’re interested in what true healthy eating looks like and here’s an article how to start eating healthy if you’re a little confused.

Are you a Chick-fil-A regular? Congrats on still being alive to tell about it — let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. Kevin helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.

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