Is McDonald’s Healthier Than Burger King? A Nutrition Coach’s Recommendation

If you’re torn between choosing McDonald’s or Burger King for a healthier fast food option, I’ve got you covered. As a nutrition coach, I’ve extensively researched both menus to give you my recommendation. So, is McDonald’s or Burger King healthier? Let’s find out!

McDonald’s vs. Burger King: An Overview

McDonald’s

McDonald’s offers a wide variety of menu items, including breakfast options like sandwiches, bagels, muffins, and donuts. They also have a range of burgers made with beef, chicken, fish, and even plant-based patties. And of course, we can’t forget their iconic nuggets and fries. McDonald’s also boasts eleven salads and side options like apple slices, which add fiber and micronutrients to your meal.

After reviewing McDonald’s 22 main burger and sandwich options, I found that the average nutritional information is as follows: 498 calories, 44g of carbs (2.9g fiber), 23.5g fat (7.5g saturated), 27.5g protein, and 1057mg of sodium.

Pros of McDonald’s

  • Offers lower calorie options
  • Lower in fat
  • Lower in sodium
  • Provides more nutrient-dense options

Cons of McDonald’s

  • Lower in protein compared to Burger King

Burger King

Burger King is famous for its flame-broiled burgers, especially the Whopper. They also have chicken sandwich options, a fish burger, a plant-based Whopper, and a few breakfast items. While Burger King does offer salads, they only have three compared to McDonald’s eleven. Additionally, Burger King salads have almost as much fat as a McDonald’s burger, even without the dressing.

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After reviewing Burger King’s 30 main burgers and sandwiches, I found that the average nutritional information is as follows: 684 calories, 44g of carbs (1.8g fiber), 42.2g fat (14.2g saturated), 33.2g protein, and 1152mg of sodium.

Pros of Burger King

  • Higher in protein compared to McDonald’s

Cons of Burger King

  • Higher calorie menu items
  • Higher in saturated fat
  • Higher in sodium
  • Fewer nutrient-dense options

McDonald’s vs. Burger King: Which is Healthier?

To determine which is healthier, let’s compare McDonald’s and Burger King across different nutritional categories:

Low-Calorie Options

On average, McDonald’s main menu items have 400 calories, while Burger King’s main menu items have 653 calories. Therefore, McDonald’s has more low-calorie options on its menu compared to Burger King. This is mainly because McDonald’s burgers and salads are lower in calories than Burger King’s offerings.

Carbohydrate Content

Both McDonald’s and Burger King have similar carbohydrate content across their main menu items. The average carbs are 36g at McDonald’s and 42g at Burger King. So, it’s a tie in this category.

Fat Content

When it comes to fat content, McDonald’s burgers have an average of 23.5g of fat, while Burger King’s burgers have an average of 42.2g. This means that Burger King’s burgers have almost double the amount of fat compared to McDonald’s. Additionally, Burger King burgers have more saturated fat content, with an average of 14.2g compared to McDonald’s 7.5g. Therefore, McDonald’s wins in terms of lower fat and saturated fat content.

Protein Content

While the highest protein menu items at both McDonald’s and Burger King are burgers, Burger King’s burgers provide more protein on average (33.2g) compared to McDonald’s burgers (27.5g). Burger King also offers higher protein options, even with their plant-based Whopper having more protein (25g) compared to McDonald’s McPlant burger (19g). Therefore, Burger King takes the lead in terms of protein content.

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Sodium Content

The burgers at both McDonald’s and Burger King have high sodium content. However, McDonald’s burgers have slightly lower sodium compared to Burger King’s. McDonald’s salads also have lower sodium content than Burger King’s salads. So, in terms of lower sodium content for main menu items, McDonald’s comes out on top.

Ease of Customization

While both McDonald’s and Burger King offer some customization options, McDonald’s provides more choices when it comes to grilled or crispy chicken for sandwiches and salads. Therefore, McDonald’s wins in terms of customization options.

Similar Meals: Head to Head Comparison

Let’s compare similar menu items from McDonald’s and Burger King to determine which version is the healthiest.

  • Egg McMuffin vs. CROISSAN’WICH Ham, Egg & Cheese: The Egg McMuffin is lower in calories, fat, and sodium, and higher in protein. Therefore, the overall winner is McDonald’s.

  • Premium Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken (no dressing) vs. Garden Salad with Crispy Chicken (no dressing): The Premium Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken from McDonald’s is lower in calories, carbs, fat, and sodium, and offers 1g more protein. Hence, McDonald’s wins.

  • Chicken McNuggets (4 piece) vs. Chicken Nuggets (4 piece): The four-piece chicken nuggets at Burger King are lower in calories, carbs, fat, and sodium, but McDonald’s nuggets offer 1g more protein. Therefore, the winner is Burger King.

  • Big Mac vs. Whopper: The Big Mac from McDonald’s is lower in calories, carbs, and fat. However, the Whopper has lower sodium and higher protein content. Overall, for most people, the Big Mac is a healthier option due to its lower fat content. However, for those with high blood pressure or advised to reduce sodium intake, the Whopper may be a better option.

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Healthy Meal Options At McDonald’s and Burger King

Both McDonald’s and Burger King offer some healthier meal options if you know what to order. Here are my top three recommendations for each:

Healthy Meal Options from McDonald’s

  1. Egg McMuffin + Fruit’n Yogurt Parfait: This balanced option provides 300 calories and 22g of protein, making it a satisfying and nutritious choice.
  2. Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken: Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, this salad offers 320 calories and 30g of protein.
  3. Hamburger + Small Fry + Side Salad with Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing: This combination provides a satisfying amount of food volume while staying under 540 calories.

Healthy Meal Options from Burger King

  1. CROISSAN’WICH Egg & Cheese + Fat-free Milk + Applesauce: This meal offers a good balance of nutrients, with 480 calories and 21g of protein.
  2. Chicken Nuggets + Fat-free Milk + Side Salad: Pairing chicken nuggets with milk and a side salad creates a balanced meal with 320 calories and 21g of protein.
  3. Double Hamburger + Side Salad with Lite Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette: This combination delivers 530 calories and 25g of protein, making it a satisfying and nutritious choice.

Final Thoughts

Overall, McDonald’s is considered a healthier fast food option compared to Burger King. McDonald’s offers lower calorie options with less fat and sodium. However, Burger King takes the lead in terms of higher protein content. It’s essential to make informed choices based on your specific nutritional needs and goals.

So, next time you’re on the go, you can refer back to this guide to make a healthier choice between McDonald’s and Burger King. Remember, moderation is key, and always prioritize nutrient-dense options for a balanced diet.

Check out Hook’d Up Bar and Grill for more delicious and nutritious options!