Before You Bite: Here’s The Best And Worst From McDonald’s

McDonald’s has made a significant amount of menu changes in recent years. They’ve stopped using chickens treated with antibiotics, they now use cage-free eggs and they source milk without rGBH (growth hormone). The company has also reduced artificial ingredients in certain menu items and added healthier side choices. We still don’t recommend eating at McDonald’s, but if you must, here’s what to eat and what to stay far, far away from:


Best: Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait

At just 150 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving, this is the lowest calorie option available for McDonald’s breakfast, apart from just a cup of coffee. It includes oats, strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon and crushed oranges, which helps pull it in the direction of natural. Watch that sugar, though! The recipe contains regular sugar, brown sugar and fructose, along with 15 other preservatives and “natural flavors.”

Mid: Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

At 310 calories, 4 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein, this is not a bad choice. There’s rolled oats, apple slices, cranberries and raisins with milk, which can make for a healthy start to your day. However, this breakfast contains 33 grams of sugar (much of it added), which is more than the entire daily recommended intake (25 grams) for a woman.

Worst: Big Breakfast

Closing it a whopping 750 calories in one sitting, this menu item certainly lives up to its name, and not in a good way. With the scrambled eggs, biscuit, hashbrowns and sausage patty, you’re looking at 50 grams of fat, which is half of the daily recommended intake in one day. There’s also scores of health-damaging additives and preservatives, including artery-clogging canola oil.

Lunch or dinner

Best: Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad

This light dinner option contains 100 percent grilled chicken breast without any preservatives, flavors or colors, so that’s a start. It also has romaine, baby spinach and baby kale so you can get your greens in. At 320 calories and 42 grams of protein, this is the clear winner. You can reduce the fat and sugar in this meal by using only half of the ranch dressing.

Mid: Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

With plenty of lean meat and a zesty vinaigrette dressing, this chicken sandwich might just satisfy your burger craving. At 380 calories, 37 grams of protein and only 7 grams of fat, you could do a lot worse than this meal. To reduce calories and fat, skip the cheese. For fewer carbohydrates, skip the bun.

Worst: Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese

Burgers at McDonald's contain high calories and fat.
Burgers at McDonald’s contain high calories and fat.

The Big Mac gets a bad rep, but it’s this monster of a sandwich that truly rakes in the most calories and fat. At 770 calories, 45 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbs, we don’t care how good it is — stay away! With 1290 milligrams of sodium in one burger, you’re looking at more than your daily recommended of salt for the entire day. If you really must eat a burger, go for a McDouble instead. At 390 calories, it’s much more reasonable.

Happy Meals

Best: Chicken McNuggets, Apple Slices, 1% Low Fat Milk

Chicken McNuggets at McDonald's are less calories than burgers.
Chicken McNuggets at McDonald’s are less calories than burgers.

This meal is an easy 300 calories, plus it’s lower in sugar (15 grams) compared to the other options. Make sure to skip the fries, which adds an extra 110 calories and tons of sodium.

Mid: Hamburger, Yoplait Go-GURT Low-Fat Strawberry Yogurt, Minute Maid® Apple Juice Box

At 380 calories, this is another relatively light option that includes lots of protein (15 grams). There is a lot of sugar in the yogurt (32 grams), which is way too much for a kid — let alone an adult. If your little one wants fries instead of yogurt, ask McDonald’s staff to hold the bun to save on some carbs.

Worst: Cheeseburger, Kids Fries, Fat-Free Chocolate Milk Jug

Cheese on a burger and fries on the side add a surprising amount of calories and fat, bringing this to 540 calories. With the chocolate milk, this menu option contains 28 grams of sugar. This meal is a whole lot of meat, dairy and carbs without any fruits or vegetables.


Best: Side Salad

At 15 calories and real produce involved, how can you beat that? The side salad contains a healthy assortment of lettuces, kale, spinach, carrots and grape tomatoes. Use half the dressing to save off some calories.

Mid: Chicken Nuggets

If you want that fried taste on the side but a salad is too light, perhaps Chicken McNuggets are the way to go. A four-piece serving only contains 180 calories and 11 grams of protein. This menu item also has zero added sugar, best paired with a sugar-free spicy buffalo sauce.

Worst: World Famous Fries

French fries from McDonald's are soaked in vegetable oil

French fries are not hard to make. All you need is potatoes, salt and some form of fat. McDonald’s, on the other hand, makes sure the fries are plenty addictive. The company makes them with all these ingredients: potatoes, super unhealthy vegetable oils (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil), “natural” beef flavor (wheat and milk derivatives), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate and salt. If you must indulge, go for a small serving, which only contains 230 calories and 11 grams of fat.


Best: Ice Tea

This is way better than soda, because it contains actual black tea, zero calories and zero grams of sugar. Plus, it has zero added ingredients. The simpler, the better. If you need a bit more flavor, add a lemon wedge.

Mid: Strawberry Banana Smoothie

This fruit smoothie is lighter than a shake, but still satisfying and full of sweetness. A 12-ounce has 190 calories, plus calcium and vitamin C, though the 39 grams of sugar makes our palms sweat. Make sure to stick to the smallest size, otherwise you’re looking at triple the amount of daily recommended sugar, and that’s going to be one heck of crash later.

Worst: McCafe Chocolate Shake

In just a small, this shake contains enough calories for a whole other meal and a half. In a large, you’re looking a colossal 840 calories, 23 grams of fat and 109 grams of carbs. There’s all sorts of nasty ingredients in this drink as well, like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, artificial flavors and damaging food colorings like red 40.

At the end of the day, McDonald’s is still fast food. If you really need a burger and fries, try grass-fed beef or this homemade veggie burger and sweet potato fries recipe. Trust us, it’s worth it.

— The Alternative Daily

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