We're Professional Nutritionists – Here's What We Order From McDonald's

Good news – they're lovin' it.

Okay, let’s all just be honest with ourselves right now – no matter how ‘healthily’ we’re eating, nothing quite hits like a Maccers.

We’ve always been taught that ‘junk food’ is ‘bad’, but when it comes to the world’s most popular fast food chain, is that actually the case? Will the occasional McDonald’s actually derail your ‘health plan’ that much?

To answer our burning burger questions, HuffPostUK reached out to several professional nutritionists to find out what we should be ordering at McDonald’s if we want to opt for ‘better’ options – and the products the pros would absolutely go nowhere near.

First things first – having a takeaway is not actually a bad thing (advice we can immediately get onboard with).

As David Wiener, Training and Nutrition Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics explains, ”It’s important to remember if you’re looking to stay healthy and on track with your fitness regime, fast foods restaurants like McDonalds should be avoided.

“However, that’s not to say you should restrict yourself completely. With any healthy fitness regime, you need to allow room for cheat meals, otherwise you are destined to give up quicker.”

And it’s not just psychological relief you’ll gain from the occasional treat. Research shows that after an indulgent meal, your body increases its metabolism, meaning you to burn calories a whole lot faster.

And as Zara Hiridjee, registered nutritionist and founder of Flourish with Zara puts it: “Life’s too short to deprive yourself of small pleasures So if you’re craving that McFlurry, go ahead and have it guilt-free. The key lies in moderation and balance.”

However, Hiridjee adds, when you do find yourself at McDonald’s for other reasons – be it convenience or good times with friends – and are looking to stay ‘on track’, there are ways to keep your meal health-friendly and satisfying, ensuring you remain full, energised, and avoid crashing a few hours later.

So what do the experts suggest we order?

Chicken Selects and a Cheeseburger – but skip the sauces

According to Ashley Reece, head coach at www.FuseFit.co.uk:

Now, I know it’s not what we’re wanting to hear when we are in McDonald’s but the Crispy Chicken Salad is only 275kcals with 21g of protein and I’ve heard you can add an extra beef patty to that to really bulk up your protein.

“If you really need your cheeseburger fix, I would just go to the saver menu and go for a Double Cheeseburger (438kcals, 26g protein) or a single for 298kcals and 16g of protein.

“Now to make sure you aren’t wasting your calories, try and stay away from the likes of sauces, fries and non-diet drinks.

Sauces can come in as high as 90kcals with 17g of sugar and zero protein - add a medium fries to that and it’s an extra 337kcals and only 3.3g of protein.

My personal go to would be 3 chicken selects and a plain cheeseburger. Less than 650 kcals with 40g of protein, I’m still not skimping but I’m not throwing my full diet out the window.”

The Quarter Pounder™ with Cheese

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that giving the Quarter Pounder™ with Cheese offers a more balanced macronutrient profile than you might have initially assumed.

Zara Hiridjee, registered nutritionist and founder of Flourish with Zara, shares the news we’ve been waiting to hear.

“The quarter-pound patty of 100% beef provides a significant amount of protein.

“With a generous 32 grams of protein, this menu item is a true winner for those seeking a meal that can keep you feeling full and satisfied.

“While carbs are often associated with blood sugar spikes and crashes, it’s important to note that the Quarter Pounder™ with Cheese offers a balanced combination of macronutrients.

“The sesame seed bun and ketchup contribute to the overall carb count. But the combination of protein, fats and fibre can actually help slow down the digestion and absorption of these carbs, preventing sharp spikes in blood sugar levels and keeping you satiated for longer.

“Pair it with a side salad to increase your fibre and micronutrients intake.”


When it comes to ordering a burger, David Wiener, Training and Nutrition Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics suggests skipping beef altogether.

This is one of the items on the menu that contains much less sodium compared to the rest, and if you consume too much sodium, it can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

“To make this an even better choice, opting for no tar tar sauce will bring the sodium levels down further. The Fillet-O-Fish also contains 14 grams of protein, which is a fair amount of protein to get from one meal and contains essential minerals such as potassium.”

Sweet Chilli Chicken Tortilla Wrap – grilled, not crispy

No surprises here – opting for a breaded version of anything isn’t going to up health benefits anytime soon. When it comes to ordering at the chain, Caroline Peyton of Peyton Principles suggests going for the above wrap over a burger.

This has a respectable 24g protein (average daily intake required is 50-60g) to help create fullness, energy and stabilise blood sugar levels,” she explains.

“Saturated fat content is only 1.1g. Sugar levels are 7.1g (daily maximum 30g). Fibre could be higher at just 3.8g (just 10% of the daily required intake) and salt could be lower at 1.6g (27% of the maximum daily intake).

“It contains a chicken breast, lettuce and cucumber and a wrap that contains various grains including wheat.”

What should we stay away from?

Sorry everyone, but according to the pros, the extra calories, fats and sodium that we want to avoid are lurking in all of our favourite sides.

As Hiridjee explains, a large portion of fries may be delicious but they pack a whopping 444 kcal, which can quickly add up and contribute to an excessive calorie intake.

“They also lack in protein,” she adds, “and as mentioned earlier, protein is essential for muscle repair, satiety, and overall nutrition. Without sufficient protein in your meal, you may find yourself feeling hungry shortly after eating, which can lead to overeating or choosing less smart options later on.”

And if you were hoping to wash down your meal with a milkshake, we’d hold off from ordering one.

“This should never be an ‘add on’ to a meal,” says Peyton.

“The calories in this alone are 364. And it has a whopping 50G of sugar! 150% of the acceptable daily intake.”

But most importantly, as Hiridjee stresses, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. Instead, listen to your body’s needs and make choices that resonate with your personal preferences and goals.

Opting to enjoy ourselves without diet-shaming while still thinking about our wellbeing? We’re lovin’ it.