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How to Enjoy the Taste of Taco Johns without Ruining Your Diet

written by: N Nayab • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 9/20/2011

Many of the items in the Taco John menu score high on calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium. A careful selection from the menu, combined with smart eating tips will allow you to eat tasty fast food and still remain healthy.

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    Taco Johns Nutrition Guide 

    An average male requires around 1800 calories a day, and an average female around 1200 calories a day. The American Heart Association pegs the optimal level of fat intake for adults at 30 to 35 grams per day, and the optimal level of Cholesterol intake at 300 mg per day. The United States Dietary Association (USDA) recommends the optimum quantity of sodium intake at 2400 mg a day. A study of Taco Johns nutrition facts reveals that consumption of most items in the menu would result the person in exceeding such limits.

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    Smart Eating

    A good way to dine at Taco Johns is to eat a side salad before the main dish. The salad fills up the stomach, reducing hunger and thereby discouraging consumption of the high calorie high fat fried main dish. A side salad at Taco Johns contains just 80 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbohydrates. This is without dressing. For a lower calorie option, try the salsa instead of a high fat salad dressing.

    Taco Johns has a good “10 g or Less of Fat" list in their menu, and this is a good place to select the main dish. The items in this list include most Taco items such as “Crispy Taco," “Soft Shell Taco," and “Chicken Soft shell Taco," as well as “Bean Burrito without Cheese," “Chili without Cheese," “Mexican Rice," and “Refried Beans without Cheese." The healthiest item in this list is the “Refried Beans without Cheese," containing 260 calories, just 1.5 grams of fat, zero cholesterol, 50 grams of carbohydrates and 940 mg of sodium per serving of 269 grams.

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    Tacos, Burritos and Snacks

    Tacos contain comparatively lesser calories and fat than other items in the Taco Johns menu.

    The “Crispy Taco," among most popular item on the menu, provides 180 calories, 10 grams of fat, 25 mg of cholesterol, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and 270 mg of sodium per 92 gram serving. The “Taco Burger without Cheese," provides 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 25 mg of cholesterol, 28 grams of carbohydrates, and 560 mg of sodium per 142 gram serving, and suits those on a low sodium diet.

    Most burritos score high on fat. The “Bean Burrito" is however an exception, with a serving of 187 grams providing just 9 grams of fat, 360 calories, 15 mg of cholesterol, 56 grams of carbohydrates and 790 mg of sodium. Avoid the “Beef Grilled Burrito" that provides 600 calories, 32 grams of fat, 75 mg of cholesterol, 52 grams of carbohydrates and 1230 mg of sodium per 233-gram serving. The "Bean Burrito without Cheese," providing 310 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, zero cholesterol, 56 gram of carbohydrates and 700 mg of sodium in a 187-gram serving is a good option for those looking to cut down on sodium and cholesterol.

    The healthiest snack items in the menu is the “Cini-Sopapilla Bites," providing 210 calories, 5 grams of fat, zero cholesterol, 37 grams of carbohydrates and 320 mg of sodium per 74-gram serving. The most popular snack, “Chips and Queso," provides 430 calories, 7 grams of fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 43 grams of carbohydrates, and 940 mg of sodium per 191-gram serving.
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    Specialties

    Taco Johns Nutrition Guide Most of the specialty dishes in the Taco John menu are high calorie, high fat, high cholesterol, high sodium fattening items. The "Super Potato Oles" is the most fattening dish, providing 1060 calories, 67 grams of fat, and 91 grams of carbohydrates per 478-gram serving.

    Avoid nachos. A small serving of Super Nachos (197 grams) provides 450 calories, 27 grams of fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 38 grams of carbohydrates and 650 mg of sodium.

    Opt for Cheesy Quesadilla Melt, or Fajita Chicken Quesadilla Melt instead. A 161-gram serving of Cheesy Quesadilla Met provides 440 calories, 22 grams of fat, 55 mg of cholesterol, 43 grams of carbohydrates and 1050 mg of sodium. A 246-gram of Fajita Chicken Quesadilla Melt provides 510 calories, 23 grams of fat, 75 mg of cholesterol, 47 grams of carbohydrates and 1360 mg of sodium.

    Since these dishes score very high on cholesterol and sodium, and are not too less on calories and fat either, it is better to share a single serving of these meals. Dividing these meals reduces the calorie intake to half, and thereby within reasonable limits.

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    Sides

    Like specialties, the Sides in the Taco Johns menu are high on calories and fat. A serving of "Large Potato Ole" (258 grams) for instance contains 770 calories, 46 grams of fat, 80 mg of carbohydrates, and 2200 mg of sodium, but zero cholesterol. A small serving of the same dish (144 grams) is still high in calories and fat, with 420 calories, 26 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbohydrates and 1220 mg of sodium.

    The healthiest side menu is "Chili without Crackers and Cheese," with a 213-gram serving providing 160 calories, 6 grams of fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 17 grams of carbohydrates and 1160 mg of sodium. Adding cheese to this dish increase the calorie count to 220 calories, fat to 11 grams, and cholesterol to 35 mg.

    Two other healthy side dish option are refried beans and Mexican rice. A single serving of "Refried Beans" (269 grams) provide 320 calories, 6 grams of fat, 15 mg of cholesterol, 47 grams of carbohydrates and 1020 mg of sodium. A serving of 170 grams Mexican rice provides 250 calories, 6 grams of fat, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 900 mg of sodium, and no cholesterol.

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    Desserts and Condiments

    Taco Johns Nutrition Guide A bag of Taco John's "Giant Goldfish Grahams," providing 70 calories, 2 grams of fat, zero cholesterol, and 11 grams of carbohydrates is a good option for sweet desert. The "Choco Taco" on the other hand is the most fattening dessert on the menu, providing 390 calories, 20 grams of fat, 15 grams of cholesterol and 38 grams of carbohydrates per serving of 113 grams.

    Avoid Sour Cream, Ranch Dressing, and Creamy Italian Dressing, for these items are high in calories and fat. Healthy alternatives include Mild or Hot Sauce, "Pico de Gallo" that provide just 10 calories and no fat, or "Salsa" that provides just 20 calories and no fat.

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    Breakfast

    A study of Taco Johns nutrition facts reveal that the breakfast menu at Taco Johns is a mixture of fattening and non-fattening items. The "Breakfast Bacon Taco" providing 272 calories, 13 grams of fat, zero cholesterol, 125 grams of carbohydrates and 810 mg of sodium per serving of 106 grams is the least fattening item, and the "Potato Oles Scrambled – Regular Sausage" providing 1140 calories, 79 grams of fat, 425 mg of cholesterol, 72 grams of carbohydrates and 2890 mg of sodium per serving of 475 grams the most fattening. The fat content in a single serving is in itself double the recommended daily intake!

    Make careful menu selections and adopt smart eating practices to enjoy the great taste of Taco Johns without worrying about your waistline.

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    Disclaimer

    The information contained in this article is only indicative. Please consult a professional dietician before acting upon the advice contained in this article.

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    References

    1. Taco Johns Nutritional Chart: http://www.tacojohns.com/pdf/Nutrition_Info_Chart.pdf
    2. The Food and Nutrition Information Center: http://fnicsearch.nal.usda.gov/
    3. American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200010

    Image Credit:

    1. flickr.com/Nick Nunns
    2. flickr.com/Thomas Beck
    3. flickr.com/Bradley Gordon