When you’re on a diet and you find yourself at McDonald’s with your friends, you can either be that person who doesn’t get anything, or you can peek at the menu and see what fits within your dietary guidelines.
Earlier this year, I reached out to a personal trainer who put together a meal plan for me, as I was looking to lose a little weight. He would absolutely kill me if I told him I incorporated some fast food here and there, but full disclosure, I carefully added some fast food here and there. Trying to stay within my trainer’s instructions of no fried food, no beef or pork, and very little, if any carbohydrates, I dropped 17 pounds in about six weeks, by eating high protein amounts, and low carbohydrates.
McDonald’s has a pretty large and intimidating menu, but if you look closely, you’ll find some items that aren’t deep fried, or loaded with fat.
Yes, even a fast food giant like McDonald’s, that dishes out burgers, french fries, and ice cream, has menu items that can get you by when in a diet pinch.
Everyone’s diet is different, and this list has not been medically approved, but if you’ve ever looked for diet advice, anywhere, it’s always generally the same thing. The human body hasn’t changed that much over the years, and we still need to watch our calorie-intake, macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates), and workout regularly.
Keep in mind, McDonald’s still isn’t the model of healthy food, but these are just suggestions from a food writer who knows what it’s like to be on a diet, and stare at a menu, hoping to find an opportunity to “cheat clean.”
Egg White Delight
The Egg White Delight was meant to be a low-calorie breakfast option that’s packed with protein, and if you’re really trying to watch your carb intake, just remove the muffins and it’ll drop the carb total to 3g. I know, that sucks, but sometimes you have to sacrifice.
Calories: 260 (120 w/o muffin)
Fat: 8g (7g w/o muffin)
Carbs: 29g (3g w/o muffin)
Protein: 16g (11g w/o muffin)
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
McDonald’s uses yogurt with low fat milk, strawberries, blueberries, and low fat granola. There is quite a lot of carbohydrates (30g) with not a lot of fiber to show for it, but it’s low-calorie, low fat, and has 10% of your daily recommended calcium intake.
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
Unless you’re reducing your carb intake, oatmeal is always a safe bet for breakfast. The oatmeal comes with diced apples, cranberry raisin blend, and light cream. The carbs are a little high in their oatmeal, but if you want, you can eliminate the cranberry and raisin blend, and reduce that carb count from 62g, to 46g.
Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
McDonald’s has done a good job of getting rid of artificial preservatives from their chicken, and the simplest of their sandwiches would be the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich. It carries a hell of a protein punch, even if you decide to go bunless. It’s still packed with sodium at 1,110mg, but again, this list about just getting something when you’re in a pinch, and fast food is in your line of vision.
Calories: 380 (160 w/o bun)
Fat: 7g (4g w/o bun)
Carbs: 44g (2g w/o bun)
Protein: 37g (29g w/o bun)
Pico Guacamole with Artisan Grilled Chicken
Again, their grilled chicken sandwiches aren’t the worst. Ideally, you’d want a whole grain bread when you decide to get one, but at least their artisan rolls have 4 grams of fiber, which is a decent amount. You’d probably want to ask for it without ranch to cut down the total fat content, and if you’re carb-conscious, go bun-less. Or you can just order a regular Artisan Grilled Chicken and ask for guac on the side.
Calories: 520 (470 w/o ranch) (250 w/o bun or ranch)
Fat: 18g (12g w/o ranch)(10g w/o bun or ranch)
Carbs: 50g (48 w/o ranch)(7g w/o bun or ranch)
Protein: 40g (40 w/o ranch)(32g w/o bun or ranch)
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
Not all salads are created equal, and you should probably stay away from McDonald’s buttermilk, or ranch-heavy salads, as the fat content is comparable to their burgers. The Southwest Grilled Chicken salad, however, isn’t quite as bad. If you want to reduce the fat and carbs a bit more, you can ask for it without tortilla strips, but overall, the macro-nutrients aren’t too bad.
Calories: 350 (320 w/o tortilla strips)
Fat: 12g (10g w/o tortilla strips)
Carbs: 27g (22g w/o tortilla strips)
Protein: 37g (36g w/o tortilla strips)
Water, Coffee, and Milk
Don’t mess around too much here. Just get water with your meal. If it’s breakfast, stick with coffee, or maybe milk if you’re not a coffee person. The 1 percent milk stands in at 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 8 grams of protein. Water and black coffee don’t have much nutritional value, aside from the coffee’s 1 gram of carbs, and 2 grams of protein.