What Diet Experts Eat at McDonald's

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Yes, it’s true: Sometimes even diet experts eat at the Golden Arches.

We may imagine top nutritionists spending all their time foraging at the farmers’ market for the perfect stalk of kohlrabi, but the truth is, they’re just like us. They have the same intense time crunches driving them to the nearest drive-thru when they’re in a pinch. They have the same irresistible hankerings for something quick, greasy, and salty. And they have kids who won’t stop whining in the back seat until they get their Minion-toy Happy Meal.


But while diet experts are just like us, they’re also smarter. See, when nutrition experts rolls into Mickey D’s, they knows that there are certain foods that won’t undermine all the good stuff they’ve been eating. So the next time you’re in a staredown contest with a redheaded clown, go ahead and order with confidence: These dietitian-approved choices (including burgers, bacon, and even ice cream) will satisfy your cravings without sending you backsliding in a puddle of fry grease. And keep your waistline toned and tight—in record time—thanks to Eat This, Not That!’s expert diet advice, like these essential 10 Best Foods for Rapid Weight Loss!

(Photo: McDonald’s)

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A PROTEIN-PACKED BREAKFAST

“Not only do I eat guilt-free at McDonald’s, I think they get a bad rap. When I’m flying in the morning, I typically get an Egg McMuffin and a coffee. The sandwich only has 300 calories and it offers 17 grams of satiety-providing protein. Instead of the egg white version, I stick with the whole egg sandwich because the yolk contains carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.” - Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a Chicago area registered dietitian. And start your day off with tea. Researchers say the unique catechins trigger the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly)—and our test panelists lost up to 10 pounds on The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse!

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A BURGER

“Every so often when I have a long drive and can’t pack food or snacks, McDonald’s is where I go. l order a kid’s meal comprised of a hamburger, small order of fries, a bottle of water and a Cuties clementine. This meal has 390 calories and 13 grams of fat.” - Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. Eat This, Not That! also recommends the McDouble, coming in at just 380 calories—and for what to eat at Burger King, Hardee’s and more, see our new Special Report: The Best and Worst Burgers for Weight Loss 2015.

(Photo: McDonald’s)

IF YOU WANT TO STICK WITH A SALAD

“It’s no surprise that a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist might order a side salad with grilled chicken from McDonald’s, but the dish is a good source of protein and iron, which will help you feel fuller, longer. Topping the greens with Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette or Family Recipe Italian Dressing makes for a delicious meal that comes in between 290 and 460 calories.” - Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

“I’d skip the soft drinks and opt for Dasani water and then I’d have the Premium Southwest Salad with grilled—not crispy—chicken. I like that the beans and corn in the salad offer up some fiber. To lighten it up a bit, I’d have them hold the cheese and tortilla strips and use only half of the dressing. Then I might have a Vanilla Reduced Fat Kids cone, just enough to tame the craving for something sweet! You can have all that for 335 calories.” - Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC.

“The Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken, at just 300 calories, is a good source of fiber, which can boost satiety and aid digestion. Add a bit of vinaigrette dressing for some flavor and wash it down with some water.” - Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City. For belly-slimming salad picks at Chipotle, Panera, Cosi and other lunchtime favorites, check out these 8 Best Fast-Food Salads That Blast Fat!

(Photo: Eat This, Not That!)

IF YOU’RE HANKERING FOR CHICKEN

“If I had to get a full meal from McDonald’s, I’d order a grilled chicken filet, sans bun and mayonnaise dressing. Removing the bun and dressing reduces the total fat by 7.5 grams and cuts about 450 mg of sodium. To help keep me full and add some vitamins to the meal, I’d also get a side salad and top it with a fresh mandarin orange. So you get in and out for 165 calories.” - Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios

“I turn to the indulgent-sounding, but not overly heavy, Premium Grilled Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich, which clocks in at 450 calories. As long as you avoid the Crispy version–which adds an unnecessary 160 calories and 13 grams of fat–the super-low calorie count of the chicken breast lets you enjoy some splurge-worthy toppings like belly-filling bacon.” - Dave Zinczenko, creator of Eat This, Not That! And speaking of unnecessary calories, discover which chain restaurant sandwich has the calorie equivalent of 13 KFC drumsticks (!!!) in our exclusive new list—with videos of each: The Most Disgusting Sandwiches in America 2015.

(Photo: McDonald’s)

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR AN ENERGIZING SNACK

“If you feel that you’re low on energy and McDonald’s is your only bet, try getting the fruit and maple oatmeal—just skip the calorie-laden brown sugar, cream, raisins and Craisins. This snack, which they offer all day, and has about 150 calories, will most likely curb your appetite until your next meal because the carbohydrates will take longer to digest than your typical high sugar donut or pastry.” - Jim White, RD

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A LIGHT DINNER

“If I’m in need of a quick light dinner, I might order a premium McWrap Southwest Grilled Chicken. After a quick dietitian’s makeover of removing the tortilla strips, cheese and ranch sauce, this wrap only contains 380 calories while serving up a whopping 27 grams of muscle-building protein and 4 grams of appetite-suppressing fiber. Finish it off with a side of apple slices to make for a well-balanced meal that will make you sing ‘I’m lovin’ it!’” - Lisa Moskovitz, RD, founder of The NY Nutrition Group. You can also indulge something more high-calorie—if you do it smartly. Read up on How 6 Fitness Pros Do Cheat Days!

(Photo: McDonald’s)

IF YOU’RE CRAVING SOMETHING SWEET

“The Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait has 150 calories and 4 grams of protein, making it a good snack.” - Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, Pennsylvania-based owner of Eat Well with Gina

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