Popular Fast Food Items to Never Order, Say Dietitians
While it is possible to find a low-calorie meal at a fast food restaurant, it likely comes as little surprise that most of what you get at the drive-thru isn't doing your health any favors.
However, even among the myriad fried foods, burgers, and oversized desserts at your local fast food eateries, there are some items that stand out as particularly deleterious to your wellbeing—especially considering they're some of the most popular orders. Read on to discover which popular fast food items dietitians say you should never order. And for some news on your favorite casual eateries, check out these 7 New Fast-Food Chicken Sandwiches Everyone Is Talking About.
"A Big Mac has 550 calories, and with 3 buns, has 45 grams of carbs and only 25 grams of protein for that amount of calories. The cheese is full of processed ingredients and so is the bun, so the Big Mac is bad for gut health and your arteries," explains Heidi Moretti, RD, resident nutritional advisor to Sovereign Laboratories.
For more convenience meals you're better off avoiding, check out the 101 Unhealthiest Fast Foods on the Planet.
McDonald's Chocolate Shake
It's not exactly a shock that milkshakes don't qualify as health food, but the chocolate shake at McDonald's earns particularly low marks from dietitians.
"It has 520 calories and 67 grams of highly processed sugar and ingredients" in a small shake, says Moretti.
If you increase your serving size to a large, that shake packs 830 calories and a whopping 110 grams of sugar. "It's best just to avoid this altogether," Moretti says.
McDonald's Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if you're eating the McDonald's Big Breakfast with Hotcakes, it may be your least healthy one, too.
"The Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes from McDonald's includes hotcakes, a biscuit, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and a sausage patty. It is also served with a side of butter and syrup. This platter provides 1,340 calories [and] it provides over 100% daily value of saturated fat and 90% daily value for sodium just in this one meal," explains Holly Klamer, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with My Crohn's and Colitis Team.
Taco Bell Quesarito
Taco Bell may seem like a safer bet, calorie-wise, than some fast food joints known for their burgers and fries, but certain items on their menu get a failing grade from dietitians.
"Their food can seem healthy and health promoting, but the amount of saturated fat that sneaks into even seemingly healthy meals is alarming," explains Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements.
Best says that the chain's Quesarito is a particularly bad choice. "This menu item is loaded with calorie dense ingredients only, void of any vegetables. It has a large amount of hidden fat, like most of Taco Bell's menu items," she explains.
In fact, just one Quesarito packs 650 calories, 33 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 0.5 grams of harmful trans fat, as well as a whopping 1,390 milligrams of sodium—or 58% of your RDA.
For some other foods that aren't what they seem, check out these "Healthy" Fast Food Menu Items That Are Secretly Terrible For You.
Shake Shack Loaded Cookies & Cream Shake
It's not just the shakes at McDonald's dietitians say you're better off avoiding. The
Shake Shack Loaded Cookies & Cream Shake earns particularly low marks, as well.
"Forget the burger if you're having this shake!" says Megan Wong, RD, of AlgaeCal. "This shake has 1,160 calories, with half of the calories coming from fat. It also has 108 grams of sugar—more than three times the amount you'd find in a can of Coke. And for something sweet, it's loaded with sodium—450 milligrams—which is as much as three slices of bacon," Wong adds.
Shake Shack 'Shroom Burger
Just because it's vegetarian doesn't mean Shake Shack's 'Shroom Burger is a healthy option.
"The portobello mushroom is stuffed with muenster cheese, breaded, and then deep fried," says Tina Marinaccio, MS, RD, CPT, an integrative culinary registered dietitian nutritionist with Health Dynamics, LLC. "The deep-fried mushroom alone is 550 calories, with more than half of the calories coming from fat. The bun adds an additional 210 calories, so you're in for 760 calories before any sides or drinks," Marinaccio adds.
If you want to make smarter choices at your favorite fast food restaurant, check out these 11 Surprisingly Healthy Fast-Food Orders, According to Experts, and for the latest food and health news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!