Nutritionist Picks Apart McDonald's Unhealthiest Menu Item

If you're in the pinch for something fast and easy, McDonald's is it. The chain with its golden arches — a warm welcome if we ever saw one — offers a variety of eating options from chicken nuggets to breakfast sandwiches and hamburgers to its signature Filet-O-Fish sandwich (a popular item among Catholics during Lent). They also have a wide range of items under their McCafé menu, including an impressive selection of coffee beverages.

McDonald's is great. However, unless you want to develop an endless hankering for fast food, or worse, a fatal health issue (i.e. heart attack), it might be best to brush up on Mickey D's menu nutrition information. As the saying goes, everything is okay in moderation. But, what should be at the top of your must-watch list? We spoke with registered dietitian and creator of Healthier Taste Emily Wunder, MSCN, RD, LDN to break down everything you need to know about the unhealthiest menu item you can order at McDonald's.

Ordering a double quarter pounder meal can max out your calorie count for the day

The worst — meaning the least nutritious — meal at McDonald's is the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal, according to Wunder. Alongside the burger, the deal includes a medium Coke and french fries. "A healthy diet goes way beyond calorie levels, but with this meal weighing in at 1,270 calories, this could be close to the limit for someone's whole day!" she said. 

To get a better picture, guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that women need about 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day while men need on average 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. It's important to note that exercise, weight, age, height, and other health factors can contribute to an individual's recommended daily calorie intake.

In addition to the calories, Wunder explains the amount of saturated and trans fat is very concerning, as both can lead to heart disease. "The saturated fat amount of this meal is more than the average adult should have in an entire day," she said, adding, the average person shouldn't consume more than 22 grams. Sugar and sodium aren't doing this meal any favors either. Sugar clocks in at 66 grams and sodium at 1,675 milligrams (middle-aged and older adults shouldn't be consuming more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, Wunder noted).

If you're really craving a quarter pounder, Wunder advises swapping out the soda for water to help cut back.