Calories for Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box, Inc. is the name of the company that operates over 2,000 restaurants/fast food franchises under the same name. Jack in the Box® does not have locations nationwide but is concentrated in the southwestern United States, especially California and Texas. This fast food restaurant offers a variety of sandwiches (chicken, burgers and others), salads, tacos, snack items, breakfast foods, desserts and beverages. Their large menu features 11 different types of burgers alone. Fast food restaurants continue to be popular in the U.S. where Americans are always ‘on-the-go.’
Unlike many other restaurants of this type, Jack in the Box devotes a section of their menu to ‘Healthy Dining’ options for those watching their caloric intake. Three of these options are large smoothies which are not so healthy. High on calories, carbohydrates and sugars and low on protein and dietary fiber, don’t be fooled that every item under the ‘Healthy Dining’ umbrella is a good choice. Most of the food offerings at Jack in the Box® are high in sodium, like most restaurant fare. On their website nutrition facts brochure, common allergens are identified. On the second page, menu suggestions are provided for individuals that wish to consume either fewer calories, less fat or less sodium along with healthy suggestions such as ‘order a sandwich without cheese.’
Burgers & More
The ‘and more’ part of the burger menu refers to the Jack in the Box® signature sirloin sandwiches. Like most sandwiches, the larger the size, and the more ingredients it contains, the higher in calories the item tends to be. It makes sense, then, that the most modest and smallest option, the plain hamburger, is the lowest in calories, offering about 290 (the same as McDonald’s plain hamburger), 12 g fat and 4.5 g saturated fat. The most damaging of the bunch (to your diet) is the Swiss Cheeseburger with Bacon® at over three times the size of the plain hamburger. The Swiss Cheeseburger (with bacon) offers 990 calories and a heart-stopping 66 g fat and 21 g saturated fat (more total and saturated fat than you should ingest in a whole day if you are on a 2,000-calorie diet).
Chicken & More
The Chicken & More section of the Jack in the Box menu covers everything from chicken sandwiches to fajitas to chicken strips to fish and chips. The grilled 4-piece chicken strips option is best, offering 250 calories, 7 g fat and 1.5 g saturated fat. Another reasonable choice is the chicken fajita pita (salsa adds 10 calories) which provides 320 calories, 11 g fat and 5 g saturated fat. The worst choice in this menu section is the fish and large-sized chips (French fries) entrée. One meal will set you back 990 calories, 50 g fat and 4.5 g saturated fat.
Salads, Snacks and Sides and More
Jack in the Box® offers only six salads, one of which is the low-calorie plain side salad for 20 calories and 0 g fat. The salad dressings, croutons and ‘Spicy Corn Sticks®’ come separately. On its own, after the side salad, the next best choice is the Grilled Chicken Salad® which offers 250 calories, 10 g fat and 4 g saturated fat. Be careful, even if you choose a light salad dressing! A packet of the light Ranch dressing provides 150 calories, 15 g fat and 2.5 g saturated fat – making your healthy salad choice a fat-laden disaster! Steer clear of the Southwest Chicken Salad with Crispy Chicken Strips® as it provides (without dressing) 500 calories, 23 g fat and 7 g saturated fat.
The snacks and size may not be large (in portions) but are surprisingly high in calories especially the Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges® which offer 680 calories, 42 g fat and 10 g saturated fat!! This is a worse choice than many burgers. If you must indulge, stick with the apple bites with caramel for 70 calories, 7 g fat and 1.5 g saturated fat (fats come from caramel). Avoid the huge fruit drinks, milkshakes and desserts unless you wish to gain weight. Their largest size is 44 fluid ounces! That is the equivalent of more than 7 cups of fluid. If you fill that with a regular soda or Fanta®, you are looking at gulping down 1,247 calories and over 100 g sugar. That is more calories than some women require in a whole day and 25 to 30 teaspoons of sugar; enough to make your teeth ache at the thought.
Calories for Jack in the Box Tacos
You do not have to travel outside of the Jack in the Box® establishment to try a crunchy taco – a surprisingly popular item found on the ‘sides’ and ‘value meals’ sections of the menu. Jack in the Box® offers only one variety of taco, beef. You can choose an order of one as a side item. One beef taco provides 190 calories, 11 g fat and 3 g saturated fat. While not too high in calories, unfortunately over ½ of the calories in the taco come from fat, making it a less than ideal choice. Two beef tacos may also be purchased from the ‘value menu.’ An order of two beef tacos provides 390 calories (still reasonable) but 22 g total fat and 6 g saturated fat.
Some of the healthier options mentioned above also appear on the ‘Healthy Dining’ section of the Jack in the Box® menu. Avoid the 16-oz. fruit smoothies, which offer mainly sugar. Instead, stick with the Chicken Fajita Pita® or grilled chicken strips. While the chicken teriyaki bowl is a low-fat choice at 580 calories per serving and only 5 g total fat, the sauce is very high in sodium, increasing the total sodium in the dish to a staggering 1,400 mg. If you choose this item, be sure to balance it out with low-sodium meal options and snacks for the remainder of the day.