The Average Calorie Count Of Fast Food Combos Will Shock You

If you're watching what you eat but occasionally grab a combo meal at your favorite fast food drive-thru, you're not just enjoying a "cheat" day — you're actually consuming far more than you probably thought you were. A brand-spankin' new study out of Harvard found that the average fast food combo meal is absolutely loaded with calories — a whopping 1,193 of them, to be exact (via New York Post). Also along for the ride in an average combo meal are 14 grams of saturated fat, 68 grams of sugar, and an astounding 2,110 milligrams of sodium (via Reuters).

By contrast, a typical adult meal should consist of 700 (or fewer) calories, with less than 10 percent of those calories coming from saturated fat, and less than 35 percent coming from sugars. Sodium content should be no greater than 770 milligrams.

Yikes. That's a huge difference when compared to these fast food combo meals.

The culprit for the massive uptick in calories and sugar was pegged to beverages, and entrees and sides helped contribute to the large amounts of saturated fats and sodium. While the study looked at the default combo meal (meaning they weren't upsized or modified), they noted that bumping up a combo meal to the max contributed another 500 calories and even more sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. 

The study author does note that if you strip down your fast food meal by removing toppings, foregoing dipping sauces, and subbing out zero-calorie drinks for sugar-laden ones you can actually shave off quite a bit of the extra calories, sodium, sugar, and fat. Though a dry burger doesn't sound nearly as appealing, does it?

The convenience of fast food often outweighs other factors for many people, such as time, ingredients on hand, and energy to put together a healthy meal at home, but for those who are out and about, it can be even trickier to eat healthy while on the go. 

To soften the blow, adjust your order by ignoring the combo meal and ordering a la carte. Sub out water for soda, which will make a huge difference in the amount of sugar and calories you take in. Opt for healthier options such as grilled chicken instead of fried nuggets, and look for sides that aren't laden with fat and sodium.