Drive-thru restaurants offer conveniences and meals that children and adults enjoy, but often this comes at the expense of quality food. McDonald’s is known for its burgers, fries, crispy chicken McNuggets and more. While these foods may taste delicious and satisfy your need for a quick meal, these McDonald’s menu items are high in calories, sodium, fat, sugar, and saturated fat. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that some of the chain’s popular menu items can contain nearly a full day’s worth of sodium.
Fast food restaurants aren’t known for their huge selection of nutrient-dense, calorie-conscious offerings. So, if you find yourself driving through drive-thrus frequently and have a particular soft spot for the charm of the Golden Arches, you may want to think twice about the items you select when placing an order at McDonald’s. Highly processed foods, such as those offered in most fast food restaurants, have been scientifically linked to weight gain and potentially increase the risk of other serious diseases and health conditions.
The good news is that there are still many items on the McDonald’s menu that can work as part of a balanced diet. To reduce the potential negative impact of your next McDonald’s order, here are some tips:
- Choose individual items rather than meals. This will help keep your calories and fat grams more reasonable.
- Avoid sugary drinks. These add significant calories and grams of added sugar to your meals.
- Limit the sauces you use to avoid empty calories and keep your order simple. For example, choose the classic hamburger or cheeseburger instead of the Big Mac.
To make sure your next drive-thru ride results in a (somewhat) nutritious and healthy meal, you should also know which ones are best to avoid. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the unhealthiest McDonald’s orders you could make. Read on to find out what are the 10 worst McDonald’s orders you could ever make, and for healthier eating tips to help make better choices for you when you visit Mickey D’s, be sure to check out McDonald’s 8 Orders healthier, according to Dietitian.
For burgers: 590 calories, 34 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,050 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrates (3 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 25 g protein
While 600 calories isn’t unreasonable for a meal, this burger contains 34 grams of fat, providing 44 percent of the Daily Value. Additionally, more than 30 percent of fat grams come from saturated fat, a nutrient that can negatively impact heart health. To save a few calories and fat grams, skip the cheese and ask for less sauce.
By order: 1,340 calories, 63 g fat (24 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,070 mg sodium, 158 g carbohydrates (5 g fiber, 48 g sugar), 36 g protein
If you thought the fat content of the Big Mac was alarming, this breakfast option has almost double the fat content! And, at over 1,300 calories, this single meal provides a full day’s worth of energy for some people. Unless this meal is being split among several people, it might be best to offer to drop the order altogether. Instead, go with the big breakfast and skip the butter for nearly half the calories.
For medium size order: 490 calories, 20 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 90 mg sodium, 70 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber, 62 g sugar), 8 g protein
At nearly 500 calories, this medium-sized coffee drink could be a meal on its own. However, this beverage is more likely to be enjoyed alongside food, making for a particularly high-calorie meal.
While this drink is high in fat and carbohydrates, the sugar content might be the most shocking aspect of this drink. To put things into perspective, cutting down all 62 grams of sugar in this drink will put you over the recommended daily limit for sugar intake by about 24 percent. Added sugar can also increase your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers.
While it’s best to limit your sugar intake as much as possible, if you’re looking for a sugary coffee drink, opt for the small Iced French Vanilla Latte for 180 calories and 15 grams of added sugar.
For medium size order: 650 calories, 17 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 310 mg sodium, 107 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber, 85 g sugar), 15 g protein
Another drink that is sure to exceed your sugar needs for the day is the medium Chocolate Shake. Not only is this equivalent to 170 percent of the recommended daily sugar intake, but this smoothie also has more calories than a meal. Sure, it provides 15 grams of protein that might be enough for some meals, but with over 100 grams of carbs, you’re better off skipping them.
For a more reasonable dessert option, go for a plain vanilla cone for just 200 calories.
For muffins: 440 calories, 20 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 330 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 34 g sugar), 5 g protein
Don’t let the blueberries in this pasta fool you; it contains similar calories, fat and sugar to a donut. With just 5 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, even this muffin won’t keep you very full. You’d be better off skipping the pastries at McDonald’s and choosing a more filling breakfast, like the Egg McMuffin.
For sandwich: 550 calories, 33 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,290 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates (3 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 19 g protein
Known for their mild sweet maple flavor, McGriddles it also contains a high amount of sodium. This nutrient is essential, although high amounts can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Current sodium recommendations suggest that adults consume less than 2,300 mg per day. At more than half that amount, this order eats into your daily intake. To cut down on sodium and calories at breakfast, opt for the Sausage McMuffin Instead.
For burgers: 740 calories, 42 g fat (20 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 1,360 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 48 g protein
Remember when I suggested keeping your order simple? This is the perfect example of that. Going from a regular quarter-pounder with cheese to a double adds more than 200 calories and 16 grams of fat to the meal. Next time you’re craving a meaty burger, stick with the Quarter Pounder and skip the cheese for a 400-calorie meal.
For sandwich: 530 calories, 26 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,050 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 27 g protein
You might think chicken is automatically a better option than a burger, and in some cases, that might be true. However, when it comes to this fried chicken sandwich, it provides more than double the calories of a single McDonald’s classic burger. If you want to stick with the chicken, choose the regular McCrispy over its Deluxe counterpart. While this step will only save you about 60 calories, the lower fat content and nearly identical protein count make for a slightly healthier meal.
For large order: 480 calories, 23 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 400 mg sodium, 65 g carbohydrates (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 7 g protein
This may not come as a huge surprise, but a large side of McDonald’s fries packs enough calories for an entire meal. However, the sodium content of the fries isn’t as high as many of the burger and sandwich options on the McDonald’s menu.
If you want to satisfy your craving for fries, opt for a kids’ order, which will only set you back 110 calories and 5 grams of fat. This serving can even complement a classic McDonald’s burger for a reasonable number of calories.
For sandwich: 530 calories, 35 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 38 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 17 g protein
Another meal option that provides nearly half the Daily Value of fat grams in a single food is the sausage and egg biscuit breakfast sandwich. Unfortunately, skipping the butter on this won’t improve your calories and fat grams much. Instead, opt for the sausage burrito for just 310 calories and 17 grams of fat.
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