Although people are getting a lot more health conscious, this doesn’t mean that fast food is on the downswing. In fact, it is actually the opposite.
Take in the US for example. Back in the '70s, the industry made $6 billion per year. That figure might seem like a lot, however, according to Franchise Help, it has now grown to $200 billion per year in the US alone!
In total, the industry makes $570 billion per year, so clearly, the industry is still alive and well today, satisfying consumers' needs whenever they arise.
But people often associate fast food with high calories. Truth be told, it really isn’t all bad. Below is a look at some passable menu items that can satisfy junk food urges while being pretty tame in terms of calories. With items from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and various other fast food favorites, people don't have to overdo it to satisfy their taste buds.
On the flip side, there are a few menu items that are not only bad, but even worse than anticipated. That’ll include anything from a double Baconator to even a McDonald’s salad. Can a salad really be more fattening than a Big Mac? Scroll down for a bit of a surprise on that front.
Here are passable fast food items and those that might be even worse than diners thought. Let’s get started.
20 Really Bad: Burger King – Large Onion Rings
This is a big difference between Burger King and other fast food giants: those yummy onion rings. They taste so great and some might be inclined to order a large size.
You might want to think twice, however, as that order comes with a whopping 500 calories.
According to Nutrition IX, it takes a 135-minute walk to burn off those calories. Or, a 48-minute run. For those that aren’t into those things, maybe skip the onion rings—or at the very least settle for the smaller portion.
19 Not That Bad: McDonald’s – Hash Browns
A hash brown taste so darn good but some might be led to believe that it has a high calorie content thanks to its greasier taste. However, Spoon University indicates that it only contains 147 calories–in truth, most would assume that it had at least more than 250 calories given its flavor profile.
Maybe instead of getting that Big Breakfast, a hash brown might suffice instead. It definitely isn’t the worst breakfast decision one can make at the fast food giant.
18 Really Bad: McDonald’s – Premium McWrap, Crispy Chicken, And Bacon
One can easily get confused by this one. Heck, the McWrap features lettuce on the box, leading consumers to think that this is a healthy option.
But what if we told you that not only is this not true, but this wrap actually contains more calories than a Big Mac?
The wrap comes with almost 700 calories, 670 to be exact. The elevated fat from the crispy chicken, bacon, and sauce sets the calorie content of this meal way too high. 33 grams of fat for a wrap–it might be best to go elsewhere for some greens.
17 Not That Bad: Shake Shack – Chicken Dog
Shake Shack isn’t meant for those trying to avoid hefty calories. However, they do have some interesting options with relatively tame calorie counts. Take the Chicken Dog. Although it does look heavy, it contains only 310 calories with 24 grams of protein.
27 grams of carbs is also very little–the only thing is the fat count of 13 grams, though compared to the other menu items, that is tame. Unlike McDonald’s, the Chicken Dog is as healthy as advertised and really not that bad.
16 Really Bad: McDonald’s – Large Fry
We all have that friend who goes to McDonald’s and orders the large fry instead of pounding down a burger. In truth, this person might be looking to save calories. Getting a large fry, however, is a big mistake.
Take a deep breath: a large fry has the equivalent of a Big Mac sandwich in terms of calories!
A large fry contains 560 calories with most of those coming from fat and carbs. At least with a Big Mac you get some added protein thanks to the meat patty. Maybe skip the large fry next time and settle for a small or medium.
15 Not That Bad: Wendy’s – Small Chilli
According to Very Well Fit, ordering a classic bowl of chili from Wendy’s wouldn’t be the worst idea. It contains little calories—the small cup has 170 calories in total—while the large only contains 250 calories.
The biggest plus here is where the calories come from. Wendy’s chili contains lots of fiber along with a sufficient amount of protein. The grilled Wendy’s wrap might be the ideal choice overall, but a small chilli is lower in total calories. Some might assume this contains more given the awesome taste, but that’s just not the case!
14 Really Bad: McDonald’s – Big Breakfast
Back in the day, we would handle the Big Breakfast with ease and just hours later we were able to consume another meal. Oh the days of a revving metabolic rate! Unfortunately for most of us, those days are a thing of the past.
Consuming a Big Breakfast isn’t as easy any longer, especially when assessing the fact that it contains nearly 800 calories!
Now that’s just insane—it might be better to stick to that Vector cereal. The real kicker is the 52 grams of fat from the egg, sausage, and pancakes–some diners don’t even eat that amount of fat in a single day, and they shouldn't!
13 Not That Bad: Burger King – 6 Piece Chicken Nuggets
This applies to not only Burger King but McDonald’s as well. The key here is moderation, though: six nuggets equals 290 calories, which really isn’t all that taxing and kind of okay... Even if 56% of those calories come from fat, according to Fast Food Nutrition.
Six is the key–don’t get carried away and order a box of 20 all for yourself. 20 nuggets equal almost 1,000 calories if you can believe (950 to be exact). Be smart and stick to six, and you won’t regret it afterward.
12 Really Bad: Starbucks – White Chocolate Mocha
Drinking calories might seem to be a lot less filling than eating them. Take Starbucks as an example. So many consumers love to have a quick cold coffee given the ease of consuming the product, not to mention that it is also quite filling without noshing on heavy food.
But there's a reason that a mocha seems so darn filling, and that’s because of the added calories from things like the whipped cream topping.
Take the White Chocolate Mocha, which contains nearly the same calories as a Big Mac— 530 calories for a venti size.
11 Not That Bad: McDonald’s – Filet-O-Fish
Again, we’re not saying this is healthy, but it's definitely not as bad as some might assume. Given that tartar sauce oozing from the sandwich, some might think that it is comparable to a Big Mac, though in truth, it is not even close. The Filet-O-Fish contains 379 calories total, making it one of the most calorie friendly sandwiches on the menu.
Millennials might be inclined to skip out on it regardless—just watch millennials trying the Filet-O-Fish for the first time over on YouTube and you’ll get what we’re saying!
10 Really Bad: White Castle – Four Small Cheeseburger Sliders
Oh, those yummy White Castle sliders. Who can forget Harold and Kumar’s long journey to get a bite of that delicious burger? We wouldn’t suggest getting a table filled of burgers like the duo, though.
This dish is best in moderation as a single slider is equal to 160 calories, a tame number if you only eat one.
However, some might have the urge to consume more; typically, many diners might opt for four sliders. That’s the equivalent of the same amount of calories as some of the heavier burgers. It even amounts to almost 100 calories more than a Big Mac!
9 Not That Bad: Burger King – Veggie Burger
Those opposed to meat might not be thinking about visiting a Burger King during the wee hours of the morning. However, that might be changing with the introduction of their all-new BK Veggie burger. Putting the calories aside, lots of customers praised BK for the taste of this burger.
It also helps that it contains 410 calories according to Fast Food Nutrition. That’s really tame in comparison to the other burgers on the menu. Burger King did a good job with this one, so believe the hype, folks.
8 Really Bad: Wendy’s – Double Baconator
According to Sun Sentinel, Wendy’s just started to offer free double Baconators, at least for this week as a promotional tactic. Before you sprint out the door, let’s take a second to calculate the number of calories in this burger. The single Baconator itself contains 610 calories.
So yea, take a deep breath, because the double format contains almost 1,000 calories!
Yup, for a single burger. It totals 980 calories, so maybe take your coat off and avoid the temptation, that’s way too much.
7 Not That Bad: Wendy’s – Junior Hamburger With Cheese
This might be the perfect midnight craving. Taking a look at the Wendy’s menu, this is by far the lowest calorie burger—a Junior Cheeseburger with barely 300 calories, 290 to be exact. That’s a dream for those that obsess over counting calories. Typically a burger includes double the calories.
It can be a satisfying treat without the hassle of feeling bad the next morning, it really isn’t all that bad. Just don’t get the large fry on the side as that’ll set you back real quickly.
6 Really Bad - McDonald’s – Southwest Crispy Chicken Salad
We know so many people that do this, they go to a fast food restaurant and try to order the healthiest thing on the menu. When at McDonald’s, this could seriously backfire.
An item like a chicken salad might seem like a no brainer to health nuts, however, it isn’t as healthy as advertised.
The salad contains 470 calories without the sauce! The sauce itself contains 100 calories. Do the math and together that’s more calories than a Big Mac—for a salad! It might be best to get a burger at that point.
5 Not That Bad: McDonald's — Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Finally, a healthy chicken burger we can actually trust. Unlike the previous chicken salad, this one definitely has the calories to back it up. The real kicker here is the protein count: it contains 32 grams of protein which is quite strong. Not to mention there are only six grams of fat, which is downright nothing for a McDonald’s meal.
In total, the chicken sandwich contains 360 calories–according to Grub Grade, this is one of those guilty pleasure sandwiches you shouldn’t feel guilty about–well said.
4 Really Bad: Burger King – Froot Loops Shake
Burger King needed a differentiator to match McDonald’s long list of sweet options. They succeeded in doing so with various shake flavors, which also include an Oreo option.
These shakes are truly delicious, however, take one taste and it becomes really obvious that these beverages are quite thick and darn filling.
Fast Food Nutrition suggests that the shake includes 720 calories! It might be better to consume a bowl of Froot Loops at home instead of going for this high calorie shake. Again, that’s more calories than a Big Mac.
3 Not That Bad: Pizza Hut – Apple Dessert Pizza
They say that just walking into a Pizza Hut immediately makes us gain an extra pound... Okay but seriously, in terms of low calorie related items, they really are few and far between. From deep dish pizzas to bread bowls with pasta in them, this fast food restaurant has some mega calorie items.
The tamest we can think of is some the dessert options. The apple pie dessert pizza not only looks great but it also has a modest 250 calories per slice. Once again, moderation is the key here. If one slice is enough for you, the calories won’t set you back all that much.
2 Really Bad: McDonald’s – Large McFlurry
This one might hurt. The famous McFlurry comes 803 calories for a large size!
Even those that settle for a regular size still get set back 556 calories, and that’s pretty much the equivalent of a Big Mac.
Of course, the calories vary depending on the flavors, and the most popular usually consists of Oreo and M&M. Although it is so darn tasty, it comes with a big hurdle: lots and lots of fat and carbohydrates. If the small is available, it might be your best bet, even if hunger pangs start to kick in.
1 Not That Bad: McDonald’s – Cheeseburger
We’re not saying a cheeseburger is a healthy option... However, in comparison with other menu items, the cheeseburger is by far the best way to go, especially for those looking to cut the calories while still enjoying a burger. This McDonald’s classic menu item contains 313 calories—that’s half the calorie content of others like the Big Mac.
14 grams of fat is an absolute steal compared to some amounts that the other burgers contain. Take the Quarter Pounder, for example, which contains 20 grams of fat—and let’s not even begin to discuss the double Quarter Pounder!