A McDonald's Big Mac is OK to indulge in on occasion. But the calories in a Big Mac Meal are just that: Big. Knowing how many calories you're consuming in your Big Mac Meal may give you a better perspective on exactly how often you'll want to order it.
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Calories in a Big Mac Burger
Made up of two hamburger patties, the Big Mac is no small burger. One burger contains 540 calories, 25 grams of protein, 28 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs and 940 milligrams of sodium. If you eat 2,000 calories a day, the sandwich alone meets more than one-quarter of your daily calorie needs.
While this burger is not low in calories, you might be surprised that it's not the highest-calorie sandwich on the McDonald's menu. The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese comes in at 780 calories and 45 grams of fat while the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich contains a whopping 620 calories and 29 grams of fat, according to McDonald's.
Calories in a Big Mac Meal With Fries and a Drink
Eating the burger alone may not be too bad calorie-wise, but adding fries and a drink to your meal can push you toward eating a day's worth of calories in one sitting. For reference, the standard daily caloric intake ranges between 1,600 to 2,400 calories for women and 2,000 to 3,000 for men, according to the 2015-2020 USDA Guidelines.
The calories in McDonald's French fries range from 230 to 510 calories, depending on whether you're getting a small, medium or large order. This includes 3 to 7 grams of protein, 11 to 24 grams of fat, 29 to 67 grams of carbs and 160 to 350 milligrams of sodium.
Like most fast food chains, McDonald's offers a variety of drink options including sodas, sweet tea and, of course, milkshakes. The amount of calories in soda and tea depends on size and flavor, ranging from 90 calories and 21 grams of sugar for a small sweet tea to 150 calories and 39 grams of sugar for a small Cola to as much as 530 calories and 74 grams of sugar for a small chocolate milkshake.
The typical Big Mac Meal — which comes with a Big Mac burger, a medium order of fries and a medium soft drink — totals 1,100 calories, 44 grams of fat, 149 grams of carbs, 1,225 milligrams of sodium and 29 grams of protein. The meal meets more than half the total calories of an average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet!
Tips for Trimming Big Mac Meal Calories
Frequent fast-food consumption is linked to weight gain and obesity, according to a 2015 report from the USDA. While eating fast food once in a while won't cause you to gain too much weight, it's important to limit these meals and focus on healthy, whole foods.
When you do go for the Big Mac Meal, you can shave off some calories by making small tweaks. To trim the calories, trade your regular soda for a diet option. You can also substitute your fries with a side salad dressed with low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.
Healthier Options at McDonald's
While it's best to avoid fast food as much as possible, there are healthier, lower-calorie choices to consider next time you find yourself at the drive-thru. Instead of the Big Mac, try a regular hamburger (250 calories) with a side salad (15 calories). Also, swap your soda for a water or unsweetened iced tea (0 calories).
If you don't want to go the burger route, try the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad (330 calories) or the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad (350 calories). As far as dressing goes, opt for low-fat Italian dressing or low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.