Despite the fact that McDonald’s is one of the most frequently visited restaurants by business travelers, the McDonald’s menu is one thing I hope you don’t find yourself reading during your next business trip.
We recently revealed the most expensed restaurants for business travelers and yes, McDonald’s was one of them. For those of you working towards a goal of fit travel and staying healthy while on the road, McDonald’s probably isn’t the place to choose for a meal. With that being said, it is understandable that sometimes meals have to be prepared fast and eaten on the go during business travel. For some, it may be hard to resist the golden arch beacon that is basically on every other block. Regardless, it pains me to have to write about what to order at McDonald’s.
Just in case you couldn’t read between the line above, McDonald’s is a McDon’t for healthy travel.
There are few things on the menu that would fit into the category of “healthy foods”. A lot of the things that sound healthy on the menu still require some modifications (removal of cheese, dressings, etc.). Also, portion control is a big factor when eating at McDonalds. Whatever you order, do not McDouble or Supersize your order (I’m not sure what they’re calling those unnecessarily large portions these days). If you order fries, opt for a small size! Regardless, here is what you should order at McDonalds if you absolutely must eat there. Disclaimer: the foods that are listed in The Do’s are purely there because they have a lesser amount of calories. Keep in mind that there are additives and chemicals that are used at McDonalds to preserve the food that should be avoided.
The Do’s (if you must)
The Fruit and Yogurt Parfait has 150 calories, however, contains 23g of sugar, which is more sugar than a Snickers bar. So, while this is a low-fat option, it is still extremely high in sugar.
The smoothies are another option. As with the fruit and yogurt parfait, the smoothies are really high in sugar, however, they are a low-fat option. If you do order a smoothie, order a small size to keep your sugar intake lower than it would be with a large.
The Egg White Delight is 250 calories with 18g of protein. For a more filling breakfast, order this with a carton of milk which has 100 calories, 2g of fat, and 8g of protein. The two together would be a well-rounded breakfast with plenty of protein. The total macros for the meal would be 350 calories, 10g of fat, 38g of carbs, and 26 g of protein. Another option for this breakfast would be to order 2 sandwiches, throw out the bread, and double up on the egg patties to increase the protein.
The Fruit and Maple Oatmeal is 290 calories, which is a bit high for breakfast, but still better than most of the other options. Again, you could add a carton of milk to your meal for an extra 100 calories but it will help to keep you full until lunch time. Also, skip the brown sugar, cream, and raisins.
The Premium Southwest Salad is the best option at 330 calories. The grilled chicken it comes with provides 24g of protein and is only 120 calories extra. If you are on a high protein diet and your macros allow, then you could even double the chicken. Alternatively, the dressing that this salad comes with contains 120 calories and 8g of fat, so maybe skip that dressing and choose one of the dressings that are lower in fat (for example, the low-fat balsamic vinegarette which has 1.5g of fat). Don’t ever add crispy chicken to anything!
The Sweet Chili Chicken Wrap with grilled chicken is 400 calories. Removing cheese and dressing from any of these items can knock off some calories. Side note: not every McDonald’s chain offer wraps so keep that in mind when deciding what you are going to order.
The 4-piece chicken nuggets are 190 calories; I would order these as a last resort after reading this.
Here is where portion control really comes into play. For dinner, you could order a kids meal with hamburger, small fries, water, and a clementine (390 calories).
Premium grilled chicken ranch BLT. The sandwich has 450 calories, 36 g of protein, 15 g of fat, and 43 g of carbs. No need to order this with fries! Also, nix the bun and mayo to save yourself 7.5 g of fat and 450 mg of sodium.
You could also have a DIY grilled chicken salad at McDonald’s. Simply order a side salad and 1-2 grilled chicken sandwiches. Take the chicken off the sandwich and chop it up to add to the salad.
- The Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes (1150 calories)
- The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (740 calories)
- Large French Fries (510 calories)
- McCafe Shakes – any flavor or size (530-830 calories)
- Frappes – any flavor or size (440-810 calories)
The items listed above are serious things to avoid but other than that, basically everything else should also be avoided. Seriously, if you are aiming to be a health conscious traveler, then try to stay away from McDonalds. It isn’t even all about the calories; it’s about the additives and chemicals used in their food to preserve it. A couple chemicals used in their food are TBHQ (a synthetic compound derived from petroleum), BHA, propyl gallate, sodium phosphate, and azodicarbonamide. The ingredients you put into your body shouldn’t be that hard to pronounce. The sad part is, the U.S. is probably the worst place to eat McDonald’s. Some countries have made efforts to cut back on the chemicals and additives that are used in other parts of the world. For example, New Zealand McDonald’s chains use sustainable, grass-fed beef in their burgers. At the end of the day, it is understandable that business travelers need an easy and convenient meal. There are many other places that fall into those categories, like Panera Bread, but the difference is in the ingredients (or lack thereof) in their food.
*All of the nutritional facts in this article were gathered from Nutrition.Mcdonalds.com.
Business Travel Life
Business Travel Life is an online resource supporting the road warrior lifestyle. We give business travelers the tools they need to maintain their wellness and productivity when traveling. The topics we cover include business travel tips, travel workouts, healthy travel hacks, travel products, general travel tips, and industry trends. Our goal is to make business travel a healthier experience – and to make healthy travel practices more accessible to all road warriors.