Taco Bell Survival Guide (2015)

Oct 23 2015
You asked for it, so here it is -- our fully updated Taco Bell Survival Guide! It's chock-full of the smartest picks at the Bell, with special ordering strategies and great menu-item picks. Read up ahora, and save mucho calories...

Red Flags!

Made-up words. Quesarito, Stuft, Crunchwrap, Bellgrande... Nope. If it's so complicated that it needs it own language, it's probably a calorie-fest.

The boxes, the combos, and the multi-item meals. These things contain unnecessary amounts of food with little rhyme or reason: Do you really need a side of TACO with your nachos?! Create your own combo by mixing and matching the picks below. It's worth spending a few extra cents to save a lot of calories.
Junk-food collaborations. A Mountain Dew morning drink? Those Cap'n Crunch and Cinnabon Delights? Beefy Fritos Burrito? PASS. "But I'm dying for one of those Doritos Locos Tacos!" OK, we're not made of stone. Keep reading for specific ordering instructions on those items…

Green Light!

Fresco Style. These two words are like a magic wand at the Bell. Order anything Fresco style, and you'll be trading cheese, mayo-based sauces, sour cream, and/or guacamole for fresh pico de gallo. Major calorie saver!

Sauce Packets. Before you get too sad about kissing those creamy sauces goodbye, embrace the chain's 0- to 5-calorie sauce packets! The Border Sauce comes in Mild, Hot, Fire, and Salsa Verde. There's also Salsa Del Sol picante sauce. Hot stuff!
Vegetarian FYI: Have you heard? Taco Bell is the first fast-food chain to have items certified by the American Vegetarian Association! Of course, not every vegetarian option is a smart choice. For your best bets, see the foods marked with a (V) below.

Tacos, Burritos & More

Fresco Style Crunchy Taco
1 taco: 120 - 150 calories, 4 - 8g fat, 260 - 310mg sodium, 12 - 13g carbs, 1 - 3g fiber, 1g sugars, 6 - 10g protein

Fresco Style Soft Taco
1 taco: 140 - 160 calories, 3 - 7g fat, 440 - 490mg sodium, 16 - 18g carbs, 1 - 3g fiber, 1 - 2g sugars, 8 - 12g protein

Choose from grilled chicken, shredded chicken, grilled steak, and seasoned ground beef  -- the chicken picks have the lowest fat and calorie counts. Each of these includes lettuce and pico de gallo... Yum! If you want cheese instead of pico, skip the Fresco mention (and request no sauce, if you get the steak): Then each taco will clock in at 160 - 190 calories and 5 - 9g fat. 

Fresco Style Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco
1 taco: 120 - 150 calories, 4 - 8g fat, 320 - 370mg sodium, 11 - 13g carbs, 1 - 3g fiber, 1 - 2g sugars, 6 - 10g protein

We told you the words “Fresco Style” are magical! Have two tacos for 300 calories or less. Not much of a Cool Ranch fan? Try the Nacho Cheese or Fiery Doritos shell... Same calorie count!

Fresco Style Black Bean Burrito (V)
1 burrito: 340 calories, 8g fat, 950mg sodium, 57g carbs, 8g fiber, 3g sugars, 11g protein

Here we have a smart vegetarian option with a lot of protein and fiber! If you need a handheld all-in-one meal, this is a solid pick.

Shredded Chicken Burrito without sauce
1 burrito: 330 calories, 10g fat, 860mg sodium, 44g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g sugars, 16g protein 

Get this: You don't even need to abandon the cheese here; just ditch that Avocado Ranch! That saves you 70 calories and 8g fat. Wanna slim this down even more? Go Fresco Style, and it'll have 300 calories and 7g fat.

Fire Grilled Chicken Cantina Power Burrito without cheese, sour cream, or sauce
1 burrito: 350 calories, 10g fat, 1,030mg sodium, 40g carbs, 4g fiber, 3g sugars, 24g protein 

Before you complain that we took off the good stuff... You still get yummy grilled chicken, plus creamy guac, crunchy romaine, and zesty pico de gallo.

SPOTLIGHT! Cantina Power Bowl with Fire Grilled Chicken, customized as below
1 order: 280 calories, 11g fat, 870mg sodium, 20g carbs, 7g fiber, 2g sugars, 26g protein

Skip the sauce, sour cream, and rice, and opt for extra romaine lettuce to fill out your bowl. Score! Like the burrito, you get that yummy guac and pico de gallo. Plus, cheese! Wanna make this even more filling? Order extra chicken, for a total of 330 calories and 12g fat, plus 35g protein. Yaaassss...

Sides & Extras

Black Beans (V)
1 order: 80 calories, 1.5g fat, 200mg sodium, 12g carbs, 5g fiber, <1g sugars, 4g protein

SSS: Super smart side! And if you get the Black Beans & Rice, that's 180 calories and 4g fat -- also certified vegetarian.

Pintos 'n Cheese (V)
1 order: 190 calories, 7g fat, 670mg sodium, 21g carbs, 6g fiber, <1g sugars, 11g protein 

Without cheese, it'll have 140 calories and 3.5g fat; without red sauce, the cheesy beans will have 180 calories and 7g fat.

Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla without Creamy Chipotle Sauce
1 order: 150 calories, 5g fat, 490mg sodium, 15g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g sugars, 12g protein 

A full-sized chicken quesadilla ordered straight from the menu has 510 calories and 27g fat. If you want a smaller cheesy indulgence, this is the way to go...

Spicy Tostada without Creamy Chipotle Sauce
1 order: 180 calories, 7g fat, 400mg sodium, 22g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugars, 6g protein 

No meat here... just refried beans, cheese, veggies, and red sauce. Leave off the creamy topper, and this is a safe item.

What About Breakfast?

A.M. Grilled Taco
1 taco: 230 calories, 14g fat, 590mg sodium, 15g carbs, <1g fiber, 1g sugars, 12g protein 

Breakfast at T. Bell is tricky -- there are so many BAD choices. This thing's your best bet… Not too shabby for something packed with bacon, eggs, and cheese! Skip the bacon, and you're down to 170 calories and 9g fat.

How About Sweets?

Cinnamon Twists
1 order: 170 calories, 6g fat, 210mg sodium, 27g carbs, <1g fiber, 12g sugars, 1g protein 

Forget all the other crazy desserts on the menu. These cinnamon-y sweet crisps have been our go-to forever… They're amazingly delicious and have about the same caloric impact as a single-serving bag of chips. No, they don't really have nutritional value beyond being delicious, but if you need a sweet treat, this is your best bet.

Chew on this:

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