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What 11 Nutrition Experts Would Order at McDonald's

Believe it or not, sometimes even diet experts eat at the Golden Arches.

What do Ronald McDonald and dietitians have in common? They're "lovin' it"—the Golden Arches menu, that is. Before you call our bluff, hear us out: Not only is this true, but we got the proof by asking 11 nutrition experts for their healthy McDonald's orders.

Bear in mind that most of our experts said that dining at the fast food joint was only an occasional treat, but either way, these picks are sure to come in handy next time you can't kick a fast food craving or find yourself with nowhere else to eat. Although these orders don't exactly qualify as the best weight loss foods in the world, none of the meals below will drown your hard-earned results in a pile of fry grease.

If You're Looking for a Satiating Breakfast

McDonalds egg mcmuffin
Courtesy of McDonald's

"Not only do I eat guilt-free at McDonald's, I think they get a bad rap all too often. When I'm flying in the morning, I typically get an Egg McMuffin and a coffee. The sandwich only has 300 calories, and it offers 18 grams of satiety-providing protein. Instead of the egg white version, I stick with the whole egg sandwich because the yolk contains carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals." — Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant based in Chicago

"The Fruit and Maple Oatmeal is a good choice for a healthy morning start. Oats offer whole-grain nutrition and provide soluble fiber, which is important for heart health and weight management. Oats also provide antioxidants for good health. To reduce the sugar in this menu option, skip the cranberry-raisin blend, which will save 15 grams of sugar, and go with just the diced apples (only 3 grams of sugar). In comparison, the hotcakes are loaded with sugar (45 grams to be exact) and don't provide much fiber for staying power." — Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, nationally known nutritionist and healthy cooking expert

"The Egg White Delight is a good choice because it is high in protein and is served on an English muffin instead of a fried biscuit. Request that they use the whole egg since the yolk is where all the nutrition lies and will promote longer satiety. If this doesn't trip your trigger, consider a grilled chicken wrap and try to avoid anything with 'crispy' or 'fried' in the title to avoid excess saturated and trans fats that make an individual prone to cardiovascular risk." — Caroline Weeks, Pediatric GI Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

If You're Looking for a Protein-Packed Lunch

Mcdonalds hamburger
Courtesy of McDonald's

"Every so often when I have a long drive and can't pack food or snacks, McDonald's is where I go. I order a kids' meal comprised of a hamburger, kids' order of fries, a bottle of water, and a Cuties clementine. This meal has 390 calories and 13 grams of fat." — Toby Amidor, MS, RD, and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

If You're Looking for the Leanest Protein

McDonald's chicken sandwich
Courtesy of McDonald's

"I turn to the indulgent-sounding, but not overly heavy Grilled Chicken BLT Sandwich. As long as you avoid the crispy version—which adds an unnecessary 180 calories and 14.5 grams of fat—the super-low calorie count of the chicken breast lets you enjoy some splurge-worthy toppings like bacon." — Dave Zinczenko, Creator of the Zero Belly Diet

"If I had to get a full meal from McDonald's, I'd order a grilled chicken sandwich, sans artisan bun and dressing. Removing the bun and dressing reduces the total fat by 6 grams and cuts 380 milligrams of sodium. To help keep me full and add some vitamins to the meal, I'd also get a side salad and top it with a fresh mandarin orange." — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios

If You Want to Stick With a Salad

McDonald's salad
Courtesy of McDonald's

"It's no surprise that a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist might order a side salad with grilled chicken from McDonald's, but the dish is a good source of protein and iron, which will help you feel fuller, longer. Topping the greens with Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette or Family Recipe Italian Dressing makes for a delicious meal that comes in between 290 and 460 calories." — Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

"I'd skip the soft drinks and opt for Dasani water, and then I'd have the Southwest Salad with grilled—not crispy—chicken. I like that the beans and corn in the salad offer up some fiber. To lighten it up a bit, I'd have them hold the cheese and tortilla strips and use only half of the dressing. Then, I might have a Vanilla Reduced-Fat Kids cone, just enough to tame the craving for something sweet!" — Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC

"The Premium Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad is a good source of fiber, which can boost satiety and aid digestion. Add a bit of vinaigrette dressing for some flavor and wash it down with some water." — Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City

If You're Looking for an Energizing Snack

Mcdonalds oatmeal
Courtesy of McDonald's

"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 cranberry-raisin blend and cream. This snack 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." — Jim White, RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios

"I always ask if I can add on the apple slices used in the Happy Meals for a sweet snack. If I need a pick-me-up, I'll grab an unsweetened iced coffee in place of water and add the milk or creamer myself. By simply making a few customizations, even a meal at McDonald's can fit into anyone's nutrient and energy needs." — Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, creator of Nutrition Nuptials

If You're Craving Something Sweet

McDonald's parfait
Courtesy of McDonald's

"The Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait has 150 calories and 4 grams of protein, making it a good snack." — Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, Pennsylvania-based owner of Eat Well With Gina

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh