Jack in the Box Healthy Options for Athletes
With busy practice, strength training, and competition schedules, athletes frequently stop at fast-food restaurants to enjoy a quick meal on-the-go. It can be helpful for athletes to know what healthy options are available at popular fast-food chains such as Jack in the Box.
Let’s take a look at some general ideas for making healthy choices at fast-food restaurants. Then we will explore 10 items at Jack in the Box that are healthy options for athletes.
Tips for Making Healthy Fast-Food Choices
Here are some tips that can support athletes with making healthy choices at fast-food restaurants.
- Limit Fried Foods: Choose entrees and side items that are grilled, baked, steamed, or roasted over fried items.
- Be Mindful of Portion Sizes: Avoid the temptation to super-size your meal. It is best to enjoy your meal in moderation and then have a healthy snack later in the day when you get hungry.
- Choose a Healthy Side Item: Many fast-food restaurants now offer side salads, apple slices, fruit cups, steamed veggies, and yogurt parfaits, which are all great choices.
- Order the Sauce on the Side: Dressings for salads as well as many sandwich spreads tend to be high in fat. It is best to order the sauce on the side so that you can control the amount added to your meal.
- Select a Nutritious Beverage – Choose water, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice, or unsweet tea, over sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Healthy Fast-Food Choices for Athletes
Athletes looking for healthy options at fast-food restaurants should focus on meals that provide a good source of carbohydrates and a moderate amount of lean protein. In addition, they should select items that are low in saturated fat.
Carbohydrates provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best. Protein is important for supporting athletes with building and maintaining lean muscle mass.
Jack in the Box Healthy Options for Athletes
Now that you have some general ideas for making healthy choices at fast food restaurants, let’s look at 10 healthy options for athletes to order at Jack in the Box.
All the nutrition information included in this article comes from the Jack in the Box® website. Menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. For the most current nutrition information, refer to the Jack in the Box website.
A Note on Sodium
It is important to note that many of the Jack in the Box menu items discussed below are high in sodium. In general, consuming sodium in the diet can help athletes with replacing the sodium lost in sweat.
However, athletes who have been advised to restrict sodium in their diet should work with a sports dietitian nutritionist to develop an individualized plan for meeting their sports nutrition needs.
Jack in the Box Healthy Breakfast Options
#1 Breakfast Jack
When it comes to breakfast, the Breakfast Jack at Jack in the Box is a healthy option for athletes. The breakfast sandwich includes grilled ham, a freshly cooked egg, and American cheese which is served on a toasted bakery bun.
The egg sandwich provides both carbohydrates (30 grams) and protein (16 grams), making it a good breakfast option for athletes.
Since the sandwich is prepared on a bun, it contains less saturated fat than similar breakfast sandwiches made on a biscuit or croissant. In addition, ham is a leaner protein choice than either sausage or bacon.
To decrease the saturated fat content of the breakfast sandwich, athletes can request the bun be toasted without added butter.
#2 Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich
Another breakfast sandwich choice athletes can enjoy at Jack in the Box is the sourdough breakfast sandwich. The sourdough breakfast sandwich includes grilled ham, a freshly cooked egg, American and Swiss cheese, and is served on grilled sourdough bread.
The sandwich provides 20 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbs making it a good breakfast option for athletes. Similar to the Breakfast Jack, athletes can order the bread without added butter. This will help to decrease the saturated fat content of the breakfast sandwich.
Jack in the Box Healthy Burger and Chicken Options
#3 Jumbo Jack
The original Jumbo Jack single patty burger at Jack in the Box is an easy way for athletes to get in both carbohydrates and protein with their meal. Each burger is made with 100% beef and provides 23 grams of protein and 32 grams of carbohydrates.
When ordering, athletes should request extra vegetable toppings be added to the burger. In addition, to help decrease the saturated fat content of the burger, athletes can request the bun be toasted without butter and the mayo be served on the side.
Jr. Jumbo Jack
If an athlete is not as hungry, the Jr. Jumbo Jack is a good option. With a smaller beef patty, the Jr. Jumbo Jack provides 14 grams of protein and 31 grams of carbs.
Similar to the Jumbo Jack, I encourage athletes to order extra vegetable toppings to boost the nutrient content of the meal.
#4 Grilled Chicken Sandwich
The grilled chicken sandwich at Jack in the Box is a good choice for athletes. The grilled chicken patty comes on toasted sourdough bread and is topped with lettuce and tomatoes. The sandwich provides 33 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs.
I would suggest athletes order the sourdough bread to be toasted without butter. The sandwich also comes with Good Good sauce. Athletes should consider ordering the sauce on the side so they can control the amount added to the sandwich. These changes will both help decrease the fat content of the sandwich.
#5 Chicken Teriyaki Bowl
The chicken teriyaki bowl is a great option for athletes, as it provides both lean protein (34 grams) and carbohydrates (109 grams) with their meal. The bowl includes white rice topped with grilled chicken strips, veggies, and teriyaki sauce.
If an athlete wants an egg roll with the meal, I would suggest limiting it to one egg roll. Each egg roll provides 7 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of fat.
#6 Chicken Fajita Pita
The Jack in the Box chicken fajita pita is a healthy sandwich choice for athletes. The sandwich is made on whole grain pita flat bread, which is filled with grilled chicken strips, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, and grilled onion.
The chicken fajita pita provides 27 grams of protein as well as 34 grams of carbohydrates. For added spice and flavor, enjoy the pita topped with salsa.
Jack in the Box Healthy Salad Options
#7 Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken
Jack in the Box offers a variety of fresh salads that athletes can enjoy as a nutritious addition to their meals. The garden salad topped with grilled chicken is a healthy option, providing 23 grams of protein.
Athletes should consider choosing the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing for their salad. This dressing is lower in saturated fat than the other dressing options, and thus a healthier choice.
#8 Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken
The southwest salad with grilled chicken is also a healthy salad option for athletes at Jack in the Box. This salad includes mixed greens topped with grilled chicken, tomatoes, carrots, black beans, corn, shredded cheese, and tortilla strips.
The salad provides 29 grams of protein as well as 7 grams of dietary fiber. Similar to the garden salad, I would recommend ordering the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette. If an athlete wants to use the southwest dressing, I would suggest using a limited amount.
Jack in the Box Healthy Side Options
#9 Side Salad
Athletes looking for a healthy side item to enjoy with their meal should consider ordering a side salad. It includes mixed greens topped with grape tomatoes and carrots.
Similar to the salads above, athletes should order the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette to top their salad with.
#10 Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouch
Jack in the Box also has Tree Top® applesauce pouches as a side item option. Each applesauce pouch provides 10 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, as well as Vitamin C.
I frequently recommend athletes enjoy applesauce as a high-carb snack prior to a workout or competition. Thus, ordering applesauce with a breakfast sandwich, burger, or chicken sandwich can be a great addition to an athlete’s meal.
Jack in the Box Healthy Options for Athletes
You are now set with 10 healthy options that athletes can order when dining at Jack in the Box. When eating out, athletes should remember to focus on selecting menu items that provide a good source of carbohydrates, lean protein, and to be mindful of portion sizes.
For additional dining out tips for athletes, check out my blog: Jason’s Deli Nutrition – Top Choices for Athletes.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.