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 menu items.
Despite its bad rap, McDonald’s it is actually possible to eat healthy at McDonald’s. Unfortunately, a McFlurry with M&Ms and a Grand Mac 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. Check out Every Menu Item At McDonald's—Ranked
Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
570 calories, 23 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,050 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (4 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, it’s 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.
Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
Big Breakfast with hotcakes, biscuit, scrambled eggs, sausage & hash browns
1,350 calories, 65 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,100 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.
Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken
Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken 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!
McFlurry with M&M’s
630 calories, 22 g fat (14 g saturated, 0.5 trans fat), 200 mg sodium, 77 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.
860 calories, 52 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 1,470 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (5 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 41 g protein
As if the Big Mac weren’t bad enough, McDonald’s decided to supersize it creating a monstrosity of calories, fat, sodium, and carbs. If a burger with two patties is what you’re looking for, there are much better options on the menu.
510 calories, 24 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 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
600 calories, 16 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 610 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.
McCafe Chocolate Shake
Per small: 530 calories, 14 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 240 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (1 g fiber, 73 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. In comparison, a small chocolate Frosty at Wendy’s has just 340 calories.
Steak, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
530 calories, 30 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,490 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 25 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.
Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese
770 calories, 45 g fat (21 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 1,290 mg sodium, 42 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.
Read on for the 10 Best Orders from McDonald’s!
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 menu items.
380 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 840 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 23 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, making it the much smarter choice.
300 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 730 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 17 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!
Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
380 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,110 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 37 g protein
This sandwich delivers a whopping 37 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.
Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie
Per 1 cookie: 170 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (0 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 2 g protein
Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Per 1 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.
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
Southwest Grilled Chicken 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.”
Egg White Delight McMuffin
260 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 750 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 g fat.
Baked Apple Pie
230 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated), 32 g carbs, (4 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 160 mg sodium, 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.
460 calories, 27 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 830 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 21 g protein
McDonald’s came out with a new and improved (read: lighter) version of the Big Mac with its Mac Jr. It has the same taste of the classic Big Mac sandwich but packs 80 fewer calories, 120 fewer milligrams of sodium, 10 fewer carbs, and you only sacrifice 4 grams of protein. That’s a value meal if we’ve ever heard of one.