The sight of the infamous golden arches hardly sparks thoughts of health-conscious food options, but sometimes, fast food is an inevitable part of road trips, offering the only quick, cheap, and easy choice. In most categories, however, there are both good and bad food options, and ordering off the menu at McDonald’s is no different. When you’re short on time and limited to drive-through options, it’s helpful to know what foods you should avoid. Here are the worst choices at McDonald’s as well as their healthier counterparts.
1. Worst: Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
Back when most millennials were growing up, breakfast at McDonald’s was a real treat. The mere thought of classic hotcakes drizzled with syrup along with a savory hash brown crisped to perfection would bring delight to just about anyone’s taste buds. You can up the nostalgia even more by ordering this monster. The Big Breakfast with Hotcakes boasts a whopping 1,080 calories, 57 grams of total fat, and 109 grams of carbs. After a meal like that, they’ll be rolling you out of the ball pit.
2. Better: Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
At 150 calories and just 2 grams of fat, the Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait is a likely choice for anyone looking for one of the healthiest options on the menu. With low-fat yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and low-fat crunchy granola, this breakfast item is definitely a welcome addition that falls outside of McDonald’s typical high-cal offerings. It’s pretty high in sugar, though, so keep sweet stuff for the rest of the day to a minimum.
3. Worst: Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
While the Big Mac may be the most famous item on the menu, the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese is the worst of the burgers. Made with two beef patties, each weighing 4.25 ounces before cooking, this burger comes in at an impressive 770 calories and 45 grams of fat.
4. Better: Hamburger
At 250 calories and 8 grams of total fat, you could say the original Hamburger is the bite-size version of other beef choices on the menu, comparatively speaking. Just one patty makes this burger an obvious choice when you’re actually looking for a single serving size of food.
5. Worst: Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
While swapping a typical beef patty for a chicken alternative might seem like the lesser of two evils (which, in some cases, it is), steer clear of the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich if you’re after a healthier option. With 570 calories and 23 grams of fat, it’s just not a good option.
6. Better: Chicken McNuggets
If you’re looking for some protein on the go, grabbing a 4-piece Chicken McNugget order may be your best bet. A total of 180 calories and a more reasonable 11 grams of fat make these nuggets a better option. And McDonald’s guarantee of 100% white meat chicken ensures you won’t be grossed out by nasty fillers.
7. Worst: Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad
Just because it has “salad” in the title, doesn’t mean it’s a healthy menu item. The Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad packs more than just a flavor kick; at 520 calories and 25 grams of fat, it’s the worst salad on the menu.
8. Better: Side Salad
Sure, this probably isn’t going to serve as a full meal, but if you need a quick snack on the go, the Side Salad is the best choice. At only 15 calories and 0 grams of fat, this salad serves up baby spinach, baby kale, red leaf lettuce, carrots, and grape tomatoes. Bear in mind, dressing will take the calorie count higher, so use it sparingly.
9. Worst: McFlurry with M&M’s
Everyone needs a little something sweet now and again. Although many are familiar with McDonald’s delicious soft-serve ice cream, be careful you don’t go overboard. When combined with M&Ms candies to create a McFlurry, your ice cream will end up with 630 calories, 22 grams of fat, and a mind-blowing 86 grams of sugar. This dessert far more than just the icing on the cake.
10. Better: Vanilla Cone
If you’re craving a frosty treat, you’re much better off going with the classic Vanilla Cone. This cool and creamy dessert is just 200 calories and has a more reasonable 5 grams of fat. It’s certainly not going to win any health awards, but this dessert won’t totally undo your diet.