Fast food is as American as, well, apple pie. More than a third of Americans consume fast food on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some items on fast food menus, such as burgers, desserts, and sugary beverages, contain almost the entire daily recommended intake of calories, sodium, and sugar. Even so, patrons can still find items on fast food restaurants menus that aren’t as fattening or harmful.
The estimated daily calorie need for moderately active adult men is 2,600; for women it is 2,000. The recommended daily limit for salt is 2,300 mg (ideally 1,500 mg), according to the American Heart Association. For sugar, it is 25 grams (six teaspoons) for women and 38 grams (nine teaspoons) for men per day. 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the fast food items with the fewest calories after reviewing the nutritional content of every food item on the menus of about 20 fast food restaurant chains in the United States. And for the opposite point of view, here are the fast food items with the most calories.
While all of the major fast food chains — McDonald’s, Wendy’s Burger King, and Arby’s — are mostly full of burgers and fries options, all offer lower-caloric options, particularly in their chicken sandwiches and salad offerings. You can also trim caloric intake by avoiding toppings such as mayonnaise on chicken sandwiches or croutons in salad. And if you are going to get a burger, hold the cheese please.
The challenge for fast-foodies is to monitor portion sizes, avoid trans fats and gobs of saturated fat, and get a meal that provides enough protein, vitamins, and minerals, and fills you when you are done eating.
To identify the fast food items with the most calories, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the nutritional content of every food item on the menus of about 20 fast food restaurant chains in the United States. Only food items intended for single individuals were considered. Drinks and sides were also excluded. McDonald’s 40-piece Chicken McNuggets, for example, was excluded. Of food items that are the same but come in different sizes, we only considered the item with the lowest amount of calories. Of the fast food items that were almost identical but varied only slightly in flavor, the item with the lowest amount of calories was selected.