Special Report

37 of the Worst Fast Food Breakfast Items for Your Health

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For some, breakfast is the favorite meal of the day. It’s no wonder; going without food for 12+ hours can leave a person feeling a bit famished. But waking up to an incessant grumbling stomach and zero time to prepare a meal before work, many of us are tempted to opt for fast food to satisfy that morning appetite.

Fast food restaurants earned their reputation for serving unhealthy fare years ago, but that doesn’t stop people from rolling up to the drive-thru and ordering that processed, grease-ridden burger with fries. And breakfast items are no better.

Various breakfast items well exceed the daily recommended value of fat, sodium, and sugar, and some foods can have as much as two-thirds of a day’s worth of calories, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

To identify the least healthy fast food breakfast items, 24/7 Tempo analyzed the calorie, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar contents of breakfast items at 22 fast food restaurants with the highest sales in America.

The least healthy breakfast items at fast food restaurants come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. For example, several of the unhealthiest breakfast items are platters, which can include sausage or bacon, tater tots, and pancakes — all foods that hike up the calorie, fat, sodium, and sugar contents. Other breakfast items that made the top of the list were burritos, egg sandwiches, muffins, and wraps, just to name a few.

In the age of COVID-19, comfort foods are rising in favor, and fast foods are also becoming many consumers’ foods of choice. Here are 45 fast food single items with more than 1,000 calories.

Click here to see the least healthy fast food breakfast items.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

37. Sausage & Egg Biscuit
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 690 (34.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 18 g (81.0% of daily recommended intake/ max recommended amount)
> Sodium: 1,410 mg (61.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 3 g (5.8% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Mike Kalasnik / Flickr

36. Breakfast Burrito (bacon)
> Restaurant: Del Taco
> Calories: 640 (32.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 15 g (67.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,620 mg (70.4% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 2 g (3.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

35. Country Ham Biscuit
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 500 (25.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 12 g (54.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,790 mg (77.8% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 2 g (3.9% of daily recommended intake)

Source: whataburger.com

34. Biscuit Sandwich with Sausage
> Restaurant: Whataburger
> Calories: 630 (31.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 20 g (90.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,360 mg (59.1% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 2 g (3.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Hephaestos / Wikimedia Commons

33. Breakfast Platter with Sausage
> Restaurant: Whataburger
> Calories: 740 (37.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 21 g (94.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,270 mg (55.2% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 3 g (5.8% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Griffin5 / Wikimedia Commons

32. The Breakfast Burger (single)
> Restaurant: Carl’s Jr.
> Calories: 730 (36.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 16 g (72.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,290 mg (56.1% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 10 g (19.4% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: chick-fil-a.com

31. Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
> Restaurant: Chick-Fil-A
> Calories: 600 (30.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 18 g (81.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,520 mg (66.1% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 1 g (1.9% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

30. Biscuit ‘N’ Gravy
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 620 (31.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 14 g (63.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,670 mg (72.6% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 3 g (5.8% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Courtesy of McDonald's

29. Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddles
> Restaurant: McDonald’s
> Calories: 550 (27.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 13 g (58.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,280 mg (55.7% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 15 g (29.0% of daily recommended intake)

Source: mcdonalds.com

28. Big Breakfast
> Restaurant: McDonald’s
> Calories: 750 (37.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 18 g (81.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,490 mg (64.8% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 3 g (5.8% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: bk.com

27. Pancakes & Sausage Platter
> Restaurant: Burger King
> Calories: 610 (30.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 9 g (40.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,010 mg (43.9% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 30 g (58.1% of daily recommended intake)

Source: mcdonalds.com

26. Hotcakes
> Restaurant: McDonald’s
> Calories: 600 (30.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 7 g (31.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 610 mg (26.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 45 g (87.1% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: jackinthebox.com

25. Loaded Breakfast Sandwich
> Restaurant: Jack in the Box
> Calories: 707 (35.4% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 16 g (72.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,690 mg (73.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 4 g (7.7% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Anthony92931 / Wikimedia Commons

24. Coffee Cake Muffin
> Restaurant: Dunkin’ Donuts
> Calories: 590 (29.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 8 g (36.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 410 mg (17.8% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 51 g (98.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Courtesy of Bojangles

23. Country Ham Biscuit
> Restaurant: Bojangles
> Calories: 450 (22.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 9 g (40.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,222 mg (96.6% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 2 g (3.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Courtesy of Sonic

22. SuperSONIC Breakfast Burrito
> Restaurant: Sonic
> Calories: 600 (30.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 12 g (54.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,070 mg (90.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 3 g (5.8% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

21. Hardee Breakfast Platter (bacon)
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 900 (45.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 14 g (63.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,940 mg (84.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 4 g (7.7% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Jimmy Baikovicius / Wikimedia Commons

20. Chorizo Sunrise Signature Sandwich (two eggs)
> Restaurant: Einstein Bros. Bagels
> Calories: 870 (43.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 20 g (90.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,470 mg (63.9% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 8 g (15.5% of daily recommended intake)

Source: bojangles.com

19. Country Ham & Egg Biscuit
> Restaurant: Bojangles
> Calories: 500 (25.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 10 g (45.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,336 mg (101.6% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 2 g (3.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: whataburger.com

18. Pancakes
> Restaurant: Whataburger
> Calories: 630 (31.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 5 g (22.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,350 mg (58.7% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 36 g (69.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Courtesy of Jack in the Box

17. Meat Lovers Breakfast Burrito
> Restaurant: Jack in the Box
> Calories: 790 (39.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 21 g (94.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,706 mg (74.2% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 4 g (7.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

16. Farmhouse Signature Sandwich (egg white)
> Restaurant: Einstein Bros. Bagels
> Calories: 680 (34.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 14 g (63.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,010 mg (87.4% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 8 g (15.5% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: sonicdrivein.com

15. Ultimate Meat & Cheese Breakfast Burrito
> Restaurant: Sonic
> Calories: 800 (40.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 18 g (81.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,140 mg (93.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 1 g (1.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: bk.com

14. Egg-Normous Burrito
> Restaurant: Burger King
> Calories: 910 (45.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 16 g (72.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,020 mg (87.8% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 8 g (15.5% of daily recommended intake)

Source: mcdonalds.com

13. Hotcakes and Sausage
> Restaurant: McDonald’s
> Calories: 790 (39.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 13 g (58.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 890 mg (38.7% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 45 g (87.1% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

12. Hardee Breakfast Platter (ham)
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 880 (44.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 17 g (76.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,250 mg (97.8% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 5 g (9.7% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: jackinthebox.com

11. Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito
> Restaurant: Jack in the Box
> Calories: 1,044 (52.2% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 20 g (90.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,131 mg (92.7% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 5 g (9.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

10. Farmhouse Signature Sandwich (two eggs)
> Restaurant: Einstein Bros. Bagels
> Calories: 810 (40.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 18 g (81.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,130 mg (92.6% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 8 g (15.5% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Keithready / Wikimedia Commons

9. Epic Scrambler (bacon)
> Restaurant: Del Taco
> Calories: 1,040 (52.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 23 g (103.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,030 mg (88.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 5 g (9.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

8. Smoked Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 790 (39.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 24 g (108.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,040 mg (88.7% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 5 g (9.7% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Courtesy of Del Taco

7. Huevos Rancheros Epic Burrito
> Restaurant: Del Taco
> Calories: 1,120 (56.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 24 g (108.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,100 mg (91.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 7 g (13.5% of daily recommended intake)

Source: Minnaert / Wikimedia Commons

6. The Breakfast Burger (double)
> Restaurant: Carl’s Jr.
> Calories: 1,080 (54.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 26 g (117.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 1,870 mg (81.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 13 g (25.2% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: sonicdrivein.com

5. Cinnabon Cinnasnacks (5-piece)
> Restaurant: Sonic
> Calories: 870 (43.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 16 g (72.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 540 mg (23.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 63 g (121.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: Corey Coyle / Wikimedia Commons

4. Hardee Breakfast Platter (sausage)
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 1,070 (53.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 24 g (108.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,350 mg (102.2% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 4 g (7.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: CapCase / Wikimedia Commons

3. Monster Biscuit
> Restaurant: Hardee’s
> Calories: 880 (44.0% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 24 g (108.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,490 mg (108.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 4 g (7.7% of daily recommended intake)

Source: bk.com

2. BK Ultimate Breakfast Platter
> Restaurant: Burger King
> Calories: 1,190 (59.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 15 g (67.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,460 mg (107.0% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 32 g (61.9% of daily recommended intake)

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Source: mcdonalds.com

1. Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
> Restaurant: McDonald’s
> Calories: 1,350 (67.5% of 2,000-calorie daily diet)
> Saturated fat: 25 g (112.5% of daily recommended intake)
> Sodium: 2,100 mg (91.3% of daily recommended intake)
> Sugar: 48 g (92.9% of daily recommended intake)

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Of the 37 least healthy breakfast items, several contain more than 700 calories. For perspective, 700 calories is 35% of a day’s worth of calories if you follow the average recommended 2,000-calorie diet. Athletes or those who engage in rigorous activity on a daily basis may have higher caloric needs. Those trying to lose weight, on the other hand, may be consuming far fewer calories a day.

Several of the selections contain saturated fat, sodium, and sugar contents that come close to fulfilling the whole dietary recommendation for one day. The unhealthiest breakfast item you can order is the big breakfast with hotcakes at McDonald’s, which has 2,100 milligrams of sodium — the daily allowance of sodium is 2,300 milligrams. This breakfast also contains 1,350 calories, which is 67.5% of your day’s worth of calories.

Adults who have heart issues, high cholesterol, and diabetes — for example — need to consume even less saturated fat per day. The American Heart Association recommends only 5% to 6% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat, about 13 grams.

Sugar is also a concern with some of the least healthy breakfast items. The five-piece Cinnabon Cinnasnacks with frosting contains the most sugar, at 63 grams. Americans should dedicate 10% of their day’s worth of calories to added sugars. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this would be a maximum of 12 teaspoons or 48 grams of added sugar a day.

24/7 Tempo chose to analyze saturated fat, sodium, and sugar contents in addition to calories for each of these breakfast items because of the adverse health effects they can cause if eaten in excess over time.

Saturated fat is the kind of fat that raises low density lipoproteins (LDL), the bad kind of cholesterol, which sticks to the walls of your arteries. Excessive intake can lead to a blockage in the arteries, causing the blood to clot and — in the worst case scenario — a heart attack.

Excess sodium is known to raise blood pressure levels. According to the AHA, the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, about 1,100 milligrams above the daily allowance. The more sodium consumed, the more water is pulled into the blood vessels, which causes the total amount of blood inside the blood vessels to increase, raising blood pressure.

Finally, consuming too much added sugar can expand your waistline and cause insulin resistance, which is type 2 diabetes, if eaten in excess over time. When your body constantly digests foods with copious amounts of sugar, the beta cells in the pancreas become exhausted because they try to produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar at a normal, healthy level. As a result, the pancreas isn’t able to produce enough insulin to keep up with the extensive amount of sugar, leading to abnormally high blood sugar levels and, ultimately, Type 2 Diabetes.

To identify the least healthy fast food breakfast items, 24/7 Tempo analyzed the calorie, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar contents of breakfast items at 22 fast food restaurants with the highest sales in America. Only fast food restaurants that serve breakfast were taken into consideration. No combo meals were included. However, breakfast platters were assessed. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, we calculated the difference for saturated fat, sodium, and sugar in each menu item and the daily recommended calorie intake. From these differences we constructed an index that measures the degree to which each item exceeds or does not exceed the daily recommended intake.

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