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Articles Fitness Nutrition

Eat This, Not That: McDonald's Edition

In the fifth part of our series on eating at chain restaurants, we take a look at McDonald's. Check out part four, where we examine Applebee's.

My first job in high school was at McDonald's. The only thing I recall about it is that my car smelled like French fries for about six months after I quit, and that everyday I would come home and have to rid my body of a fine layer of grease that had accumulated throughout the shift. In recent years, McD's has stepped up their game regarding healthier menu options, but the drive-thru is still littered with bad choices. Here's what to avoid the next time you pull through the golden arches.

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DON'T EAT: Angus Bacon and Cheese

The trio of Angus third-pounders that McDonald's carries are by far the worst burgers on the menu for you. However, the Angus Bacon and Cheese is the main culprit. The 790 calories, 39 grams of fat and almost 2,000 milligrams of sodium is a no-go.

INSTEAD EAT: If you're craving that McDonald's burger, though, opt instead for one, or even two, regular hamburgers. Eat two and you will still have less calories, fat, sodium and carbs than one of these Angus bad boys.

DON'T EAT: McRib

Ah, the McRib. What can I say that hasn't already been said? This formulated, simulated grilled pork product is a seasonal sandwich, and the hype around it doesn't factor in the nutritional value (and for good reason). At 500 calories, and 26 grams of fat, you'll do well to just put your fingers in your ears and shout "la la la la" the next time you see a McRib commercial. That's just the sandwich, folks, not including the fries and a bucket of cola.

INSTEAD EAT: Stick with a grilled chicken snack wrap and a bottle of water instead.

DON'T EAT: 5 Piece Chicken Selects

McDonald's attempt to add another, more "gourmet" counterpart to the iconic Chicken McNugget ended in some of the worst-for-you chicken tenders at any fast food chain. Five pieces will buy you 640 calories, 340 of which are from fat. In addition, you'll get a side of 38 grams of fat and 36 grams of carbs.

INSTEAD EAT: Honestly, the McNuggets are way better for you. The six piece only has 280 calories, 18 grams of fat, and only 540 milligrams of sodium. Skip the fries, go for a garden side salad, and enjoy!

DON'T EAT: Big Breakfast with Hotcakes

The Big Breakfast with Hotcakes shouldn't be anywhere on your radar. At 1,090 calories, 56 grams of fat and 111 grams of carbs later, you'll understand why I'm telling you to stick with an Egg McMuffin every once in a while (see below). Also, avoid any of the biscuit-based breakfast sandwiches. You'll thank me later.

INSTEAD EAT: I will be the first to admit that one of the biggest treats I give myself is a Saturday a.m. run to McDonald's for the best breakfast sandwich on the planet, the Egg McMuffin. It's only 300 calories, and packs good protein and lower fat content.

DON'T EAT: McCafe Chocolate Shake 22oz

Last but not least on our list is the McCafe Chocolate Shake. The 22 ounce portion has 870 calories, and 25 grams of fat.

INSTEAD EAT:
If you have a hankering for some McDonald's dessert, try instead for a plain or caramel sundae, or better yet a small smoothie. Not only will you cut calories and fat, but the portion sizes are just right for you as well.

Take heed and don't slip up the next time you are at a McDonald's. Watch out for these items, and consult the menu which now lists calorie content for most items.

Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at rbbarnhart@gmail.com.




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