The Leon chain launched to answer one main question – why can’t fast food be good food? And, they answer it well, offering delicious burgers, wraps and meal boxes with a high plant factor and a lot of taste. But, if you’re interested in watching your calories as well as improving your health, what’s on offer for you? Our guide to Leon calories helps you choose the best options.
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Is Leon Healthy?
As we said, they make healthier versions of fast food – something they refer to as ‘naturally fast food’. The dishes have a strong emphasis on Mediterranean tastes (and as you may or may not know, the Med diet is the healthiest on the planet) and, despite the picture above, I like the fact that they offer more than just things in buns.
The Leon nutritional information is also the most thorough I’ve seen with some dishes even listing their GI rating (which is how fast the dish will covert to sugar in your body – the lower the better for your blood sugar, energy levels and appetite).
Now, like many companies in the healthy fast food space, Leon don’t just determine healthy by the number of calories something contains – and, because this is super-important to them, when I chatted to them while writing this piece, they asked me if they could say a few words.
Of course I said yes as they do make some very important points, and so, here’s what they want you to know…
“At LEON our mission is to make it easier for everyone to eat well and live well, which is why we serve Naturally Fast Food that tastes good, does you good and is kind to the planet.
A significant amount of our menu is vegan or vegetarian and the focus is on those dishes being as tasty as they can be. With meat, the emphasis is on serving less but better quality and using plants to fill the gap.
Throughout our menu we celebrate local and seasonal produce; we choose more plants, better meat, and we source responsibly.
The debate around calories can muddy the conversation and, in truth, it’s hard to judge the quality of food on calories alone, as not all calories are equal.
A lower calorie count might obscure the fact that some foods have a significant number of additives and preservatives or high saturated fats.
Calories are not the only yardstick. That’s why we champion transparency and the sharing of information about the food any business is serving and provide the full nutritional information of our meals online and in our restaurants allowing our guests to make informed decisions about what they are eating.”
With that said though, if you are on a calorie-controlled plan and want to stick to it, here’s our guide to Leon calories so you can get the best of both worlds – healthy, good quality foods within your calorie budget.
The Absolute Lowest Calorie Choice in Leon
The lowest calorie main meal in Leon is the Roast Summer Vegetables with Aubergine which is a super-low 266 calories.
While it might seem a good idea to always pick this, if you pick something too low you’re more likely to end up hungry a few hours later. You need to look at what you’ve already eaten that day, what you’re having later, if you’re planning to snack etc.
Chances are therefore you’d want to add something to that to bump things up a bit, so have a look at the Leon side dishes.
If you want to keep things vegetarian the Summer Slaw would take things up to a slightly more sustaining 397 calories – although you’d probably also want to find some veggie protein from somewhere (maybe grab a yogurt or your choice of vegan protein).
If you’re a meat eater, you’d probably be better ordering the Roasted Summer Vegetables with Chicken which has 376 calories – but the perfect amount of protein (23g) for a meal.
If you want to increase protein a bit further though, stick with the Aubergine dish and add a side of the Chicken Mezze to take you up to 407 calories and 32g of protein.
The Roasted Vegetable dishes above come served with something called Zhoug, which I have to admit was a new one on me. But it sounds yummy!
It’s basically a spicy herb sauce and, from the look of the Leon ingredients listing, theirs contains coriander, green chilli purée, lemon juice, garlic purée, salt, turmeric, ground cumin, cardamom, allspice, fenugreek, and cloves.
All those herbs are going to give an extra antioxidant kick to the meal – not to mention make it taste really good!
The Other Low-Calorie Choices in Leon
While, calories aren’t the focus of the Leon menu, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any lower-calorie options on it.
As normal in our calorie guides , we’re going to use the NHS recommendation for under 600 calories for dinner and lunch as our cut off for the upper calorie limit … and you might be surprised what works and what doesn’t.
Sadly, neither of these menu items come under our calorie cut-off point, which is a shame as I really want a fishfinger wrap now I’ve seen it.
The absolutely lowest-calorie one of these is the Brazilian Black Bean at 412 calories – and it’s also likely to be incredibly filling as it’s packed with fibre and protein-rich beans which will turn slowly to energy and so keep you fuller for longer and it’s served with rice.
A top choice.
Of the other little boxes, three are under our 600 calorie limit, the Chili Chicken just squeaks over.
Leon Calories – Burgers
Surprise – you can eat burgers at Leon for some of the lowest calories on the menu – woo hoo!
In fact, the only one that tips us over our 600 calorie limit is the Better Than Mex burger and that’s only by 3 calories – if you just jumped up and down a bit with excitement after ordering it, that’s that gone!
However, we’re here to talk about the lowest calorie options and in the Leon Burger calorie stakes, that is the Chargrilled Chicken Burger in a Gluten Free Bun which has just 383 calories – you could serve that with a side of Summer Slaw or Sweetcorn Ribs and still be under our 600 calorie limit.
If you would prefer not to go gluten-free with your bun, a plain bun adds 50 calories to the dish – taking it up to 432 calories.
Talking of gluten free lunches – if Greggs is the only option in town, can you eat there if you’re avoiding gluten? We took a deep dive into the menu and found in our in guide to gluten-free Greggs
Lowest Calorie Sides in Leon
If you have a bigger appetite or just want to add a little something extra to your meal, the dish to choose is the Summer Slaw which has just 131 calories. The second lowest calorie choice would be the Sweetcorn Ribs at 175 calories.
As you’ll see below, it’s also possible to combine some of the side dishes in Leon to make up a meal if you feel like it.
The Lowest Calorie Breakfast in Leon
If you’re looking for somewhere to start your day, Leon has a lot of options for you – from porridge and fruit, down to their full english breakfast box – but which of them is the lowest calorie choice?
The answer is the Saucy Beans at an extremely low 157 calories. Possibly a bit low to start your day with, but considering it’s a mix of beans and egg – ie protein and fibre – it is going to be fairly filling.
However it is a smaller portion size than some of the other breakfast pots – and so, depending on your morning appetite, it might be enough for you, or you might want to upgrade to the next pot option, the 305 calorie Shakshuka, or one of the porridges which are 300-400 calories (see list below).
If your heart is set on beans, you can also add a side of the Hashbrowns – which I admit is a phrase I never thought I’d say in one of these pieces, but, at 159 calories, they are half the calories than the portion of sourdough toast – even with butter the toast is lower in fat though.
So, there you have it, the absolutely lowest calorie choices on the Leon menu, but if your favourite is not listed, or you don’t feel like any of the top options what else can you order – well this is where our list comes in.
Need a coffee to go with your breakfast – then have a look at our guide to the lowest calorie offerings in Starbucks just so you don’t blow all your health gains from Leon in one cup!
The Full Leon Calories List
Here’s our guide to what you can order under, 400, 500 and 600 calories (including some combos)
Under 400 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Aubergine – 266 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Chicken – 376 calories
Chargrilled Chicken Burger (gluten-free bun) – 383 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Aubergine with Summer Slaw – 397 calories
Under 500 Calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Aubergine with Chicken Mezze – 407 calories
Crispy Korean Chicken Burger (gluten-free bun) – 411 calories
Brazilian Black Bean Little Box – 412 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Sweetcorn Ribs – 441 calories
Aioli Mac & Cheeze Bites (side) with Summer Slaw – 454 calories
Crispy Korean Chicken Burger – 471 calories
Aioli Mac & Cheeze Bites (side) with Chicken Mezze – 474 calories
LOVe Burger in a Gluten Free bun – 485 calories
Aioli Mac & Cheeze Bites (side) with Sweetcorn Ribs – 498 calories
Under 600 calories
GFC (side) with Summer Slaw – 502 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Chicken and Summer Slaw 507 calories
Chargrilled Chicken Burger (gluten-free bun) with Summer Slaw – 514 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Chicken and Chicken Mezze – 517 calories
Chargrilled Chicken Burger with Summer Slaw -535 calories
Crispy Korean Chicken Burger (gluten free bun) with Summer Slaw – 542 calories
Brazilian Black Bean Little Box and Summer Slaw – 545 calories
GFC (side) with Sweetcorn Ribs – 546 calories
LOVe Burger – 546 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Chicken and Sweetcorn Ribs – 551 calories
Brazilian Black Bean Little Box and Chicken Mezze -563 calories
Sri Lankan Curry Little Box – 567 calories
Satay Chicken Little Box – 582 calories
Crispy Korean Chicken Burger (gluten free bun) with Sweetcorn Ribs – 586 calories
Brazilian Black Bean Little Box and Sweetcorn Ribs – 587 calories
Roasted Summer Vegetables with Aubergine and Mac & Cheese – 589 calories
Aioli Chicken Little Box – 590 calories
The Breakfast List
According to the NHS, a healthy amount of breakfast calories is 400 and there’s a lot on the Leon breakfast menu that come in under this – so, you could also pick…
Saucy Beans – 157 calories
Ruby Red Porridge with Activated Almond Milk – 286 calories
Banana and Cinnamon Porridge with Activated Almond Milk – 299 calories
Shakshuka Egg Pot – 305 calories
Saucy Beans and Hashbrowns – 316 calories
Vegan Sausage Muffin – 322 calories
Ruby Red Porridge with dairy milk – 337 calories
Halloumi Egg Pot – 340 calories
Banana Cinnamon Porridge – 367 calories
Full English Egg Pot – 398 calories
If you have no idea what the heck activated almond milk is, you might want to check out this post on whether activated nuts are worth it.
So there you have it. Our guide to Leon Calories and the lowest-calorie choices to order there. So, which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments.
All images @Leon used with permission.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.