Ever since McDonald’s began offering breakfast all day long, its profits have been bubbling like the oil in a fry basket. In the last three months of 2015, we consumers spent nearly 6 percent more in our local Mickey D’s than we did a year ago. That’s good news for them and for us—not just because we love breakfast (especially when we don’t have to wake up early to get it), but because breakfast sandwiches like the McMuffin are among the healthiest options on the McDonald’s menu.
Is it just the lure of scrambled eggs at all hours, or are the folks serving breakfast through the window more pleasant as well? The chain’s overall profits grew by 10 percent, even though it raised wages for its workers last summer, guaranteeing at least $1 an hour above minimum wage. While both factors may have helped boost revenue, offering special deals to the penny-pinchers among us has also been part of the chain’s strategy, with the new $2 McPick Value Meal option.
To catch up on the very best (and worst) the chain has to offer for breakfast lovers, the team at Eat This, Not That! has ranked the absolute best and worst options on the McDonald’s all-day breakfast menu. For more intriguing insights about McDonald’s (like what is the McRib made out of exactly?), check out the 30 Things You Didn’t Know About McDonald’s!
Ranked from pretty-bad to really-bad…
TIE: Sausage Biscuit & Sausage McMuffin With Egg
Sausage Biscuit (Regular Size Biscuit) Nutrition:
430 calories, 27 g fat (12 g saturated), 1,080 mg sodium, 34 g carbs, 11 g protein
Sausage McMuffin with Egg Nutrition:
450 calories, 28 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 860 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 21 g protein
The “best of the worst” is a tie between these two. Imagine putting five Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Original Pork Sausage Links between a big ol’ slab of greasy bread, and holding the whole shebang. Because that’s the saturated fat equivalent you’re getting with this Biscuit. At least the McMuffin has 10 more grams of protein (yet is still a bit high in calories).
TIE: Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles & Biscuit
Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles Nutrition
460 calories, 21 g fat (9 g saturated), 1,250 mg sodium, 48 g carbs, 19 g protein
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit Nutrition
460 calories, 26 g fat (13 g saturated), 1,300 mg sodium, 38 g carbs, 19 g protein
Another tie! It doesn’t matter if it’s wrapped between a pancake or a biscuit, the ooey, gooey goodness of a bacon, egg and cheese ain’t good for you. The McGriddle features more than half a day’s sodium and nearly half a day’s saturated fat—that’s as much saturated fat as 117 Funyuns! Meanwhile, the Biscuit has 83 percent of the day’s cholesterol, or as much as you’d find in 28 slices of bacon—and also more than a half day’s of sodium.
Cinnamon Melts Nutrition:
460 calories, 19 g fat (9 g saturated), 370 mg sodium, 66 g carbs, 6 g protein
Mickey D’s calls this “the best part of a cinnamon roll” but it’s the worst thing for your waistline. You want to start each day with belly-filling protein, not a bowl full of cake topped with cream cheese icing. The Cinnamon Melts have 32 grams of sugar, far more than a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar. Try one of these healthy breakfast ideas instead!
Sausage Biscuit With Egg
Sausage Biscuit with Egg Nutrition:
510 calories, 33 g fat (14 g saturated), 1,170 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 18 g protein
Like the sandwiches above, these have way too much sodium (half a day’s) and almost three-quarters of your daily allowance of saturated fat. Unless you’re getting your McDonald’s sausage from a burrito, run.
Hotcakes and Sausage
Hotcakes and Sausage Nutrition:
520 calories, 24 g fat (7 g saturated), 930 mg sodium, 61 g carbs, 15 g protein
Sugary bread and salty meat? You probably thought this would be #1. And with as many carbs as four slices of white bread, it could be, especially if you add the whipped margarine and hotcake syrup. Then you’re looking at 740 calories and 106 g carbs, which is the carb equivalent of nearly seven slices of white bread. And yet there is one meal even worse coming up next.
The Worst Breakfast Is… Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel
Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel Nutrition:
670 calories, 35 g fat (13 g saturated, 1.5 trans fat) 1,510 mg sodium, 56 g carbs, 33 g protein
Like most of the sandwiches here, the Steak, Egg & Cheese Bagel has more than half a day’s fat—but more sodium than the rest. In fact, it has as much sodium as 16 Chicken McNuggets! Start your day instead with our top pick—the Egg McMuffin—and a cup of warm tea from The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse if you want to enjoy some McDonald’s breakfast without completely ruining your day.
AND NOW…THE BEST!
Ranked from better-for-you to best-for-you…
Fruit ’N Yogurt Parfait
Essentially the worst of the best, but still on the best list: Not really a full meal as much as a grab-and-go starter, this relatively new addition to McDonald’s menu does what it’s meant to do: offer a light and lively choice on a menu otherwise devoted to bacon and eggs. “With 4 grams of protein, it’s a good snack,” says Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, emphasis on snack. And if you’re looking to make your own at home, turbocharge your fat burn with one of these 9 Best Brand Name Yogurts for Weight Loss!
Fruit ’N Yogurt Parfait Nutrition:
150 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated), 80 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 4 g protein
Sausage Burrito Nutrition:
300 calories, 16 g fat (7 g saturated), 790 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 12 g protein
Unlike the foods you’ll find at Taco Bell—home of the “Biscuit Taco”—McDonald’s spin on the breakfast burrito won’t have you running for the border (or the bathroom). Theirs is made with peppers, onions, eggs, sausage and cheese all wrapped in a soft tortilla, and it contains 15% of your days’ calcium, which is about what you’ll find in a Greek yogurt (albeit with far more sodium).
Fruit and Maple Oatmeal
Fruit and Maple Oatmeal Nutrition:
290 calories, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 160 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 5 g protein
“If you feel that you’re low on energy and McDonald’s is your only bet, try getting the fruit and maple oatmeal—just skip the calorie-laden brown sugar, cream, raisins and Craisins,” advises Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios. “This will most likely curb your appetite until your next meal because the carbohydrates will take longer to digest than your typical high sugar donut or pastry.” We agree—but why not make one of these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes at home instead? Yum!
Egg White Delight McMuffin
Egg White Delight McMuffin Nutrition:
250 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 770 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 18 g protein
Made with grilled egg whites, white cheddar and extra lean Canadian bacon on a muffin made with eight grams of whole grain, this is McDonald’s living up to it its own marketing hype. It’s healthy, tastes fresh and only misses out on #1 because of a technicality. Order one.
The Best Breakfast Is… Egg McMuffin
Egg McMuffin Nutrition:
300 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated), 750 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 17 g protein
Yup, the classic. “Not only do I eat guilt-free at McDonald’s,” says Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a Chicago area registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant. “I think they get a bad rap all too often.” She recommends a staple Eat This, Not That! has approved for years—more so now that they’re being made with real butter, in some locations: “When I’m flying in the morning, I typically get an Egg McMuffin and a coffee,” she says. “The sandwich only has 300 calories and it offers 17 grams of satiety-providing protein.” And it beats the Egg White Delight because….? “I stick with the whole egg sandwich because the yolk contains carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals,” says Palumbo. Eggs also boast choline, a potent flab-fryer, which is why you should try one of these 25 Best Egg Recipes for Weight Loss!