When you're eating at a fast-food establishment like McDonald's, calorie information isn't always the first thing on your mind. But researching the nutritional information of your meal, be that a Quarter Pounder with Cheese or a Big Mac, can help you meet your calorie and macronutrient goals.
A McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese weighs in at 540 calories. The Big Mac calorie count is also 540 calories. Both options contain 28 grams of fat and over 40 grams of carbohydrates.
Quarter Pounder Calories
According to the McDonald's website, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is a ground beef patty on a sesame seed bun that contains 540 calories. This includes 13 grams of protein, 28 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbohydrates with 10 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber.
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The website also states that 250 calories of the 540 calories in a Quarter Pounder with Cheese come from fat. The meal includes 13 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fats and 100 milligrams of cholesterol.
It also contains 1,120 milligrams of sodium, 1,090 international units of vitamin A, 2 milligrams of vitamin C, 190 milligrams of calcium and 4.5 milligrams of iron.
The Quarter Pounder calorie count of 540 makes it a meal option that fits within the calorie guidelines of many adults — Harvard Health recommends a minimum intake of 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,500 calories per day for men. Your ideal caloric intake for weight loss depends on your age, sex and activity level.
However, keep in mind that it's not just about how many calories you consume. Because a Quarter Pounder is low in fiber, it's probably not filling enough to make up an entire meal – and if you're ordering sides like french fries, you could end up eating 1,000 calories in a sitting or more.
If you are worried about your calorie intake, you can reduce the Quarter Pounder calorie count by asking for a burger without the bun or without cheese. Instead of a bun, you could wrap the patty in iceberg lettuce, collard greens or two portobello mushrooms at home.
Read more: 10 Worst Fast-Food Burgers for Your Waistline
Big Mac Calories
There are 540 calories in a Big Mac, which contains two beef patties and three layers of sesame seed bun. The burger contains 28 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein and 46 grams of carbohydrates, including 9 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber.
As with the Quarter Pounder, 250 of the calories in a Big Mac come from fat: There are 10 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fats and 80 milligrams of cholesterol. The burger also provides 940 milligrams of sodium, 530 international units of vitamin A, 1 milligram of vitamin C, 120 milligrams of calcium and 4.5 milligrams of iron.
Read more: McDonald's Big Mac Meal Calories
If you want to eat a Quarter Pounder or a Big Mac, calorie count to ensure the meal works with your nutrition goals. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on your sodium and saturated fat intake for the rest of the day.
The American Heart Association says that adults should aim to get no more than 5 to 6 percent of their daily calories from saturated fats. And, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should aim to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.