McDonald's Nutrition Guide

McDonald's Nutrition Guide and Nutrition Facts

smiling hamburger cartoon

Doesn't "McDonald's Nutrition Guide" sound like an oxymoron? It's hard to look at "McDonald's" and "nutrition" in the same sentence, much less recommend the two together at lunchtime.

  250-350 calorie option 400-500 calorie option 600-700 calorie option
Beef Plain hamburger Plain hamburger + Fruit and Yogurt Parfait OR Cheeseburger + Apple Dippers with Lowfat Caramel Dip Cheeseburger + Southwest or Asian Salad (without chicken) + Lowfat dressing) + a Kiddie Cone for dessert!
Chicken Chipotle BBQ, Honey Mustard, or Ranch Snack Wrap with Grilled Chicken Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich + Snack Size Fruit and Walnut Salad
Vegetarian Snack Size Fruit and Walnut Salad Snack Size Fruit and Walnut Salad + Southwest or Asian Salad (without the chicken)+ Reduced Fat Dressing Large Fruit and Walnut Salad + Southwest or Asian Salad (without the chicken) + Reduced Fat Dressing + Kiddie Cone for dessert!

Good news!

In this day and age, the convenience of fast food CAN co-exist with your goal of keeping calories (why calories matter) and fat grams in check. That is...

...if you make the right choices. I'm a dietitian (meet me) and I'm here to help you do just that!

I have bumper sticker I'd like to print up. The slogan would read...

...Fast Food Happens.

As a nutrition expert I recognize this fact. I therefore feel compelled to provide a McDonald's Nutrition Guide in order to advise you of the best choices available. (See the criteria I used.)

Most of my clients just want to know "What can I eat there?"

See this blue chart and the green chart below for my suggestions.

Q: Which calorie level is most appropriate for me? (Establish your personal calorie count.)

A: Use the following rough guidelines:

250-350 calorie menu suggestions could be considered a "mini meal" for a larger or more active person, or a full meal for a smaller person or someone in need of a lower calorie intake.

400-500 calorie menu suggestions would be appropriate for an average size person or an active smaller person.

600-700 calorie menu suggestions would be appropriate for a very active or larger person.

Good fiber Lower Carb (20-30 grams) Kids Menu
Fruit and Walnut Salad or Southwest Salad with grilled chicken Southwest or Asian Salad with grilled chicken or Snack Wraps with grilled chicken Snack wrap with grilled chicken or snack size Fruit and Walnut Salad

McDonald's Nutrition Guide to Fish

Fish is the "healthiest" meat, right? Not when it's deep-fried. So don't order the fish just to think you ate "healthy" at McDonald's, because you'll only be fooling yourself!

Still, if you really want to eat fish at McDonald's and feel good about your choice, here's how to do so:

  1. Keep a poptop can or vacuum sealed pouch of light tuna in your purse or briefcase
  2. Order the Southwest or Asian salad (maybe even the apple slices and add them to the salad too)
  3. Top your salad with the tuna you brought and top with lowfat dressing or Tangy Honey Mustard Sauce

Too weird?! Don't decide until you've tried it!

McDonald's Nutrition Guide to Salads

The 4 entree salads offered are:

  • Southwest Salad
  • Asian Salad
  • Caesar Salad
  • Bacon Ranch Salad

You can order any of them without chicken...or with chicken that's either "grilled" or "crispy."

McDonald's Nutrition Fact: crispy = fried!

I recommend including the chicken to assure you have adequate protein, but be sure to choose the grilled option; it will save you 80-90 calories. (That's a 4 pound weight loss/year if you eat one of these salads a few times/week!)

Even if you do get the grilled chicken, I wouldn't recommend the Caesar or the Bacon Ranch salads. With those salad dressings, you're in Double Cheeseburger and Quarter Pounder territory in terms of calories and fat, with even more sodium!

And speaking of salad dressing...

...if you're up for something a little unusual...

...ask for the Tangy Honey Mustard Sauce (usually served with the Chicken McNuggets). Use it on your salad instead of dressing. It's in the same ballpark for calories as the Low Cal Italian and Lowfat Sesame Ginger, with 75% less sodium!

McDonald's Nutrition Guide: General Tips

  • Crispy and/or crunchy (ex.: breaded chicken and fish, french fries) = fried = high calorie/artery clogging
  • Fried foods are also a source of unhealthy "trans fat"
  • Calories and fat add up quickly with "special sauces" and mayo. Order them on the side and use sparingly. 1 Tbsp. of mayo costs you 100 calories!
  • Calories, fat, and sodium add up quickly with salad dressings
  • Chicken is generally lower in calories than beef
  • Cheese drives calories and sodium numbers up quickly. Ask for no cheese, less cheese, or cheese on the side when possible (as in salads) and use sparingly

Less healthy than you'd think Sodium nightmare Avoid like the plague
Plain Large Iced Coffee Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich 10 piece Chicken Selects Breast Strips

Personal Nutrition Guide call to action: Tell McDonald's to lose the trans fat.

Stuff to stay away from

Plain large iced coffee

At 270 calories and 11g fat (7 saturated), it's like drinking 3 pats of butter! I myself was surprised to learn that the "plain" has even more calories than flavored (hazelnut or caramel) iced coffee. It's a small, non-nutritious meal in and of itself!

Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich

cartoon cherries

With 1860 mg, it packs more sodium than you'd get from eating a cheeseburger with large fries...and adding 2 salt packets!

Can you say...water retention?! You might have to turn sideways to get out the door!

10 piece Chicken Selects Breast Strips

1270 calories, 66g fat, 12g saturated fat, 9g trans fat, 3100mg sodium.

That's enough calories for an entire day for a smaller or sedentary person, enough fat for a person eating 2000 calories/day, and more sodium than 1 tsp from the salt shaker!

McDonald's Nutrition Guide To Trans Fat Free Options

  • Southwest Salad or Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken
  • All of the Newman's Own Salad Dressings
  • Egg McMuffin
  • Snack Wraps with Grilled Chicken
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich

McDonald's Nutrition Guide To Breakfast: Best Picks (300-350 calories)

  • Egg McMuffin
  • Scrambled Eggs(2)+ English Muffin

What I'd choose if I actually went to McDonald's

The Fruit and Walnut Salad


The Creamy Southwest Dressing is comparable in calories to the Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing, but 400mg lower in sodium.

Want more numbers? Get the McDonald's nutrition facts for any menu item with this official McDonalds Nutrition Guide.

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** Note: McDonald's Nutrition Guide information current as of July, 2007 **