While on a journey toward better health, many people often restrict their diet, almost always cutting out fast food. However, according to dietitians, sometimes cutting out your cravings can end up harming your weight loss journey. So, we researched what to order from everyone’s favorite fast food restaurant—McDonald’s—that will satisfy your fast food craving but also keep you on track with your health goals.
Maddie Macdonald, MS, RD, LDN, recently posted a TikTok answering one of her most-asked questions: What to order at a fast food restaurant? This time, she went over the McDonald’s menu and picked her go-to options for a balanced and nutritious meal. Her order? A McChicken, apple slices, and an unsweetened iced tea.
McDonald’s healthiest menu options
According to Macdonald, it’s important to look for menu items that have protein, carbs, healthy fats, and fiber. This ensures that you’re getting all aspects of a balanced meal, proper nutrients, and enough energy to keep you full for longer to avoid snacking, which can increase your calorie intake.
The first item that Macdonald recommends is the McChicken. “It’s lightly breaded, and it’s got some greens on it for a little extra micro-nutrition. And it’s got over 20 grams of protein, which is going to help keep you full,” she explained. “The carbohydrates in the bun are going to give you great energy.”
Her secret tip: “Maybe see if you can add some tomato for a little added nutrition.”
Next on her list is the apple slices. “Apples are a great, quick source of energy,” she explained,” because they have quick digesting carbohydrates.” Another perk is their sweetness— “If you’re anything like me,” Macdonald says, “you need to end every single meal with something sweet, and this is the perfect addition. And they’ve got lots of vitamins and minerals!”
Her final selection is a drink: An unsweetened iced tea. “Something fun, but also something not too high in added sugars,” she says. She also offered the hot option for those in colder climates.
The bottom line
While McDonald's is typically associated with high-calorie, processed foods, it’s worth noting that healthier alternatives can be found at fast food chains like McDonald's. Maddie Macdonald's recommendations emphasize the importance of balanced meals that contain protein and nutrients.
Her insights show that even fast food menus can have nutritious selections if you order the right items, and also prove that you don’t have to completely restrict your diet for a healthier body.
Another option is to recreate your favorite McDonald's meals at home, with organic, whole foods. So if your favorite item to order is a Big Mac with fries, try making it from scratch: buying lean ground beef and creating the patties yourself, mixing with your favorite seasonings and maybe even some veggies like onion. For fries, try cutting up a whole potato into wedges and baking or airfrying them to achieve that crispy crunch, rather than deep frying them.