There’s no doubt McDonald’s is the biggest player in the fast food game. With 68 million customers served each day and more than 35,000 restaurants worldwide, you’re bound to be within at least a few miles of the golden arches at any one time. With so many convenient locations (and tasty fries to boot), there’s no shame in hitting up the drive-through for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — unless you’re planning on ordering one of these 10 McDonald’s menu items.
Despite its bad rap, McDonald’s it is actually possible to eat healthy at McDonald’s with the help of Eat This, Not That! as your guide. Unfortunately, a McFlurry with M&Ms and a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese don’t make the cut. If you find yourself at a Mickey D’s, be sure to stay away from these fattening, sugary, and high-sodium monstrosities. And keep reading to find our Eat This!-approved orders!
1.Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
620 calories, 29 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,030 mg sodium, 63 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 28 g protein
At fast food chains, “crispy” is just code for “breaded with sugar and fried in fat.” Not only does this sandwich deep fry this chicken patty, but it’s also made with fattening buttermilk and topped with a heaping scoop of mayo dressing. This gives it more fat than three slices of Domino’s cheese pizza — and somehow more sugar than a glazed Krispy Kreme donut.
2.Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
Big Breakfast with hotcakes, biscuit, scrambled eggs, sausage & hash browns
1,340 calories, 64 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,090 mg sodium, 155 g carbs (6 g fiber, 48 g sugar), 35 g protein
If you’re looking to eat your entire day’s worth of fat, sodium, and sugar just at breakfast, then order the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes. With 5 grams over your recommended daily saturated fat allowance and enough calories to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this meal will start your day off on the wrong foot.
3.Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken
Per salad and 1 packet of Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing: 690 calories, 45 g fat (10.5 g saturated fat), 1,650 mg sodium, 39 g carbs, (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 34 g protein
If you think you’re making a healthier choice by ordering a salad, think again. This one comes with two of the most fattening items on the menu: the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Filet and Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing. Plus, it racks up more sodium than 7 small orders of fries — yikes!
4.McFlurry with M&M’s
Regular size: 630 calories, 22 g fat (14 g saturated, 0.5 trans fat), 200 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (2 g fiber, 86 g sugar), 13 g protein
The McFlurry may be an iconic dessert offering at McDonald’s, but with a sweet ice cream base and even more sugar mixed in, this clocks in at a whopping 86 grams of sugar — almost as much as seven McDonald’s Apple Pies! Since the FDA recommends no more than 50 grams of added sugar per day, this is a hard pass.
5.Quarter Pounder With Cheese Bacon
640 calories, 34 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 1,480 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 39 g protein
The Big Mac has nothing on this single patty item. McDonald’s adds bacon and two slices of American cheese to their quarter pounder, but they did so in classic supersize fashion: by creating a monstrosity of calories, fat, sodium, and carbs. If an indulgent burger is what you’re looking for, stick to the classic Big Mac to save 100 calories, 6 grams of both fat and saturated fat, and 540 milligrams of sodium.
510 calories, 24 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 350 mg sodium, 66 g carbs (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 7 g protein
McDonald’s is known for its world-famous fries, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. One large order will set you back more than 500 calories — more than a double cheeseburger! That’s not to say you have to give up these tasty French fries for good. Stick to a small order for just 230 calories, 11 grams of fat (1.5 grams saturated), 29 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), and 3 grams of protein.
Per 3 hotcakes, syrup, and butter: 590 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 600 mg sodium, 102 g carbs (2 g fiber, 45 g sugar), 9 g protein
This meal seems simple enough, but it packs almost your entire day’s worth of sugar and more than 100 grams of carbs. Eating something with so many simple carbohydrates so early in the morning sets your body up for an extreme blood sugar spike, leading to an even worse crash. Cue the feelings of tiredness and cravings for more unhealthy sweets.
8.McCafe Chocolate Shake
Per small: 530 calories, 15 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 260 mg sodium, 87 g carbs (1 g fiber, 74 g sugar), 12 g protein
Even if you order the small, you’re still getting more calories than a double cheeseburger and as much sugar as seven glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. (Nab a large, and you’ll gulp down a staggering 840 calories and 122 grams of sugar.) In comparison, a small chocolate Frosty at Wendy’s has just 340 calories.
9.Steak, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
550 calories, 31 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,470 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 27 g protein
Not only does this sandwich pack half a day’s worth of fat, but it’s also a sodium bomb. With 1,490 milligrams, it ties for the highest amount of sodium of any main menu item, second only to the Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken.
10.Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese
780 calories, 45 g fat (21 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 1,310 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 51 g protein
A quarter pounder with cheese is caloric enough; doubling that sandwich gives you a half pound of beef and more saturated fat than you need in a day. There’s no reason to eat that much beef just at lunchtime.
Not everything from McDonald’s is bad for your waistline. In fact, there are quite a few better-for-you options that can fit nicely into your weight-loss plan, from breakfast to dessert. Check out these 10 healthier McDonald’s menu items that are Eat This, Not That! approved.
390 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 850 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 22 g protein
You can still enjoy two patties of beef without going overboard on the calories and fat. Ranked as our #1 best McDonald’s Main, the McDouble has 23 grams of protein for just 380 calories and 18 grams of fat. Although there isn’t as much fiber as we’d like (the only toppings are some pickles and onions), it does have 290 fewer calories than a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese and 50 fewer calories than the Double Cheeseburger, making it the much smarter choice.
300 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 760 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 17 g protein
The Egg McMuffin consistently ranks as one of our favorite menu items at McDonald’s. “The sandwich only has 300 calories and it offers 18 grams of satiety-providing protein,” says Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a Chicago-area registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant. She likes it even better than the Egg White Delight. “I stick with the whole egg sandwich because the yolk contains carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals,” says Palumbo. It’s a classic breakfast sandwich that can’t be beat!
3.Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
380 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,120 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (2 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 36 g protein
This sandwich delivers a whopping 36 grams of protein for less than 400 calories — quite the steal, especially as fast food restaurants are concerned. Although it’s packed with more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium, the sandwich is served with a healthier herb vinaigrette dressing instead of mayo.
1 Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie: 160 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (0 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein
1 Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: 140 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 2 g protein
Who says you can’t have dessert? The chocolate chip cookie and the oatmeal raisin cookie are each under 170 calories and pack less than 15 grams of sugar. A pretty good steal for dessert, considering the small chocolate shake packs five times that amount.
5.Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
Salad with 1 packet Newman’s Own Southwest dressing: 470 calories, 20 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,370 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (6 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 38 g protein
This salad is surprisingly chock-full of a variety of healthy leafy greens: romaine lettuce, baby spinach, red leaf lettuce, and kale. Topped with even more veggies like oven-roasted tomatoes and poblano peppers, this salad clocks in at a filling 6 grams of fiber. To make it healthier, substitute the corn-syrup-solid-sour-cream-powder-based Southwest Dressing the salad comes with for a lighter option: Newman’s Own Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette. Doing so saves you 85 calories and 6.5 grams of fat.
250 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 480 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 13 g protein
The McDonald’s classic is still a good option, especially for less than 300 calories. “Every so often, when I have a long drive and can’t pack food or snacks, McDonald’s is where I go,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD. She stands behind the original burger. “l order a kid’s meal comprised of a hamburger, small order of fries, a bottle of water and a Cuties clementine. Then you have a meal with a decent 390 calories and 13 grams of fat.”
7.Egg White Delight McMuffin
260 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 780 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 16 g protein
Even though we love the McMuffin, the Egg White Delight is still a solid choice. At less than 300 calories and 16 grams of filling protein (including 8 grams of whole grain), this breakfast sandwich is definitely one of the healthiest options.
6-piece Chicken McNuggets With Honey Mustard
330 calories, 20 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 620 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 15 g protein
Probably didn’t expect to see this menu favorite on the “best” list, did you? These little guys aren’t terrible for you if eaten plain. In fact, they’re one of our best ranked fast food chicken nuggets. We just wish the fat count were a little lower, so be careful when choosing dipping sauces: BBQ or honey mustard are the better choices. Opting for ranch will set you back 110 calories and 12 grams of fat.
9.Baked Apple Pie
240 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated), 95 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, (4 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 2 g protein
This apple pie dessert seems indulgent, but it has less than 15 grams of sugar and comes in at less than 250 calories. It’s also topped with an all-natural sugar and cinnamon blend.
10.McCafe Iced Latte
Per medium: 120 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 6 g protein
When it comes to something to drink at McDonald’s, the obviously healthy choice is water. But we all know that’s not always going to cut it. At that point, your next best choice on the McCafe menu for a drink that’s under 30 grams of sugar per serving is going to be an unsweetened iced latte. You’ll get a touch of sweetness, creaminess, and a hit of caffeine.