Food & Eating / August 16, 2012

Fast-Food Breakfast Choices

By Charles Platkin, PhD

Can you eat a healthful fast-food ? It’s not exactly simple, but there are some choices that are the lesser of several evils. For starters, you’ll need to know your budget … your caloric budget, that is. The number of calories you should be eating for breakfast really depends on your daily caloric budget. For men, that is roughly 11 calories per pound, and for women it’s about 10 calories per pound (depending on such factors as age, height and activity level). For a more accurate daily caloric budget go to: www.dietdetective.com/weightloss/caloriebudget/. Breakfast should be about 25 percent of your daily calories. That means if your total caloric budget is 1,600 calories, your breakfast should be no more than 400 calories. So let’s compare some fast-food options for “the most important meal of the day.”

(www.mcdonalds.com/app_controller.nutrition.index1.html)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Deluxe Breakfast (biscuit, eggs, sausage and hash browns) without syrup or margarine; 1,070 calories, 55g fat, 18g saturated fat, 2.5g trans fat, 575 mg cholesterol, 2,090 mg sodium, 109g carbs, 6g fiber, 36g protein.
  • Hotcakes and Sausage (with two pats margarine and syrup): 780 calories, 33g fat, 9g saturated fat, 4g trans fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 1,020 mg sodium, 106g carbs, 3g fiber, 15g protein.
  • Medium Hazelnut Iced Coffee: 190 calories, 8g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 60 mg sodium, 29g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g protein.

Picks:

  • English Muffin (with liquid margarine): 140 calories, 1.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 27g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g protein.
  • Egg McMuffin: 300 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 260 mg cholesterol, 820 mg sodium, 30g carbs, 2g fiber, 18g protein.
  • Sausage Burrito: 300 calories, 16g fat, 7g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 130 mg cholesterol, 830 mg sodium, 26g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g protein.
  • Scrambled Eggs (two): 170 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 520 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 1g carbs, 0g fiber, 15g protein.

Fit Tip: Avoid the biscuits; they start at 250 calories and go up to 570. If you’re going to go for something high in calories, you’re better off from a hunger standpoint (not a saturated fat point of view) having an Egg McMuffin. At least it has protein rather than just heavy carbs, which could leave you feeling hungry a few hours after you eat. Watch out for the flavored coffees, they’re not like those at Dunkin’ Donuts, where the actual coffee beans are flavored (at no caloric cost). McDonald’s adds syrup to their coffee beverages, so the calories are up there. If you happen to be watching your sodium intake, skip all the fast-food breakfasts.

(www.bk.com/Nutrition/PDFs/brochure.pdf)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Double Croissan’wich with Sausage, Egg & Cheese: 680 calories, 51g fat, 11g saturated fat, 2.5g trans fat, 180 mg cholesterol, 1,060 mg sodium, 26g carbs, 1g fiber, 19g protein.
  • Enormous Omelet Sandwich: 730 calories, 45g fat, 16g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 330 mg cholesterol, 1,940 mg sodium, 44g carbs, 2g fiber, 37g protein.
  • Large Hash Browns: 620 calories, 40g fat, 11g saturated fat, 13g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1,200 mg sodium, 60g carbs, 6g fiber, 5g protein.
  • Cini-minis with Vanilla Icing: 500 calories, 21g fat, 5.5g saturated fat, 4.5g trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 72g carbs, 2g fiber, 7g protein.

Picks:

  • Croissan’wich Egg & Cheese: 300 calories, 17g fat, 6g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 145 mg cholesterol, 740 mg sodium, 26g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g protein.
  • Ham Omelet Sandwich: 330 calories, 14g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 90 mg cholesterol, 1,130 mg sodium, 35g carbs, 1g fiber, 16g protein.

Fit Tip: If you have a choice of sausage, ham or bacon, skip the sausage — it can be 130 calories more. If you’re really hungry, and you have a high daily caloric budget, the Double Croissan’wich with Ham, Egg & Cheese may not be a horrible choice at 420 calories — the “double” meat, eggs and cheese will surely keep you filled up. Also, if you’re a parent, avoid getting the French Toast Kid’s Meal (with syrup) — it’s a whopping 680 calories — a bit much for either a child or a parent.

Dunkin’ Donuts (www.dunkindonuts.com/aboutus/nutrition/)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Bacon Lover’s Supreme Breakfast Sandwich: 640 calories, 43g fat, 19g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 280 mg cholesterol, 1,120 mg sodium, 36g carbs, 2g fiber, 26g protein.
  • Sausage Egg Cheese Croissant Sandwich: 690 calories, 51g fat, 17g saturated fat, 7g trans fat, 230 mg cholesterol, 1,080 mg sodium, 40g carbs, 0g fiber, 22g protein.
  • Sausage Egg Cheese Bagel Sandwich: 660 calories, 35g fat, 13g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 225 mg cholesterol, 1,450 mg sodium, 63g carbs, 3g fiber, 28g protein.
  • Maple Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich: 690 calories, 45g fat, 15g saturated fat, 7g trans fat, 180 mg cholesterol, 630 mg sodium, 45g carbs, 0g fiber, 25g protein.
  • Bagel with Cream Cheese: 510 calories, 19.5g fat, 13.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 840 mg sodium, 66g carbs, 2g fiber, 16g protein.

Picks:

  • Bacon Egg Cheese English Muffin Sandwich: 360 calories, 16g fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 200 mg cholesterol, 1,300 mg sodium, 36g carbs, 1g fiber, 17g protein.
  • Egg Cheese English Muffin Sandwich: 280 calories, 9g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 140 mg cholesterol, 1,010 mg sodium, 34g carbs, 1g fiber, 15g protein.
  • Flavored Hot and Iced Coffee: 20 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 4g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g protein.

Fit Tip: What about a doughnut, you say? Believe it or not, having a doughnut for breakfast just might be your lowest calorie choice (about 250–350), although it will probably be unsatisfying from a hunger standpoint. The flavored coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts is great.

(www.subway.com/subwayroot/MenuNutrition/Nutrition/pdf/NutritionValues.pdf)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Breakfast Omelet Sandwich 6″ Chipotle Steak & Cheese: 580 calories, 31g fat, 11g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 200 mg cholesterol, 1,400 mg sodium, 48g carbs, 5g fiber, 30g protein.
  • Breakfast Omelet Sandwich 6″ Double Bacon & Cheese: 500 calories, 25g fat,11g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 180 mg cholesterol, 1,310 mg sodium, 44g carbs, 4g fiber, 25g protein.

Picks:

  • Breakfast Omelet Sandwich 6″ Cheese: 400 calories, 17g fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 940 mg sodium, 43g carbs, 4g fiber, 20g protein.
  • Breakfast Omelet Sandwich “Wrap” Cheese: 390 calories, 19g fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 1,050 mg sodium, 37g carbs, 2g fiber, 20g protein.

Fit Tip: Surprisingly (since Subway is the unofficial “healthy” fast-food restaurant), the breakfast sandwiches here are not amazing bargains, but they’re still very good. Calorie-wise, the items range from 390 to 570 for the omelet sandwiches and the wraps. I was hoping for some sort of egg-white sandwich on 100 percent whole-grain bread, but no such luck. Oh, and if you think you’re saving “big” by going with a breakfast wrap — think again — you only save 10 calories. (Note: Not every Subway offers breakfast)

Chick-fil-A (www.chickfila.com/MenuTable.asp)

Calorie Rip-Off:

  • Chick-fil-A Sausage Platter: 710 calories, 46g fat, 14g saturated fat, 3.5g trans fat, 530 mg cholesterol, 1,470 mg sodium, 44g carbs, 2g fiber, 27g protein.

Picks:

  • Breakfast Burrito (chicken): 410 calories, 16g fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 940 mg sodium, 42g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 22g protein.
  • Fruit Cup (medium): 70 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 16g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein.

Fit Tip: All the platters are high in calories. Except for the fruit cup, I’m not really loving the breakfast options here — lots of biscuits, and they’re all pretty high in calories. Your basic biscuit with butter is 270 calories.

Jack in the Box (www.jackinthebox.com/ourfood/dynamic/nutrition.php?cat=5)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich: 710 calories, 36g fat, 10g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 440 mg cholesterol, 1,730 mg sodium, 63g carbs, 3g fiber, 36g protein.
  • Extreme Sausage Sandwich: 670 calories, 48g fat, 17g saturated fat, 1.5g trans fat, 290 mg cholesterol, 1,300 mg sodium, 31g carbs, 2g fiber, 29g protein.
  • Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit: 740 calories, 55g fat, 17g saturated fat, 6g trans fat, 280 mg cholesterol, 1,430 mg sodium, 35g carbs, 2g fiber, 27g protein.
  • Sirloin Steak & Egg Burrito (no salsa): 790 calories, 48g fat, 15g saturated fat, 3.5g trans fat, 450 mg cholesterol, 1,320 mg sodium, 52g carbs, 6g fiber, 37g protein.

Picks:

  • Bacon Breakfast Jack: 300 calories, 14g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 215 mg cholesterol, 730 mg sodium, 29g carbs, 1g fiber, 16g protein.
  • Breakfast Jack: 290 calories, 12g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 220 mg cholesterol, 760 mg sodium, 29g carbs, 1g fiber, 17g protein.

Fit Tip: Again, avoid the sausage. You can order the Meaty Breakfast Burrito without the Sausage Crumbles for 381 calories, which is OK if you’re on a 1,500-plus calories-per-day diet.

Arby’s (www.arbys.com/nutrition/printable.php?type=nutrition)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Sausage Gravy Biscuit: 961 calories, 68g fat, 14g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 12 mg cholesterol, 3,755 mg sodium, 107g carbs, 1g fiber, 7g protein.
  • Sausage, Egg & Cheese Wrap: 689 calories, 45g fat, 15g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 202 mg cholesterol, 1,849 mg sodium, 50g carbs, 2g fiber, 21g protein.
  • Pecan Sticky Bun: 688 calories, 22g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium, 91g carbs, 5g fiber, 12g protein.

Picks:

  • Bacon & Egg Croissant: 337 calories, 22g fat, 10g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 187 mg cholesterol, 651 mg sodium, 23g carbs, 1g fiber, 11g protein.
  • Ham & Cheese Croissant: 274 calories, 12g fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 842 mg sodium, 22g carbs, 1g fiber, 13g protein.

Fit Tip: Avoid all the T.J. Cinnamons goodies — especially the Pecan Sticky Buns. At almost 700 calories and very little nutritional value, they’re not a good way to start off your morning.

. (www.carlsjr.com/content_svn/downloads/nutrition.pdf)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Breakfast Burger: 830 calories, 47g fat, 15g saturated fat, 275 mg cholesterol, 1,580 mg sodium, 65g carbs, 3g fiber, 37g protein.
  • Loaded Breakfast Burrito: 820 calories, 51g fat, 16g saturated fat, 595 mg cholesterol, 1,530 mg sodium, 52g carbs, 2g fiber, 38g protein.
  • Steak & Egg Burrito: 660 calories, 36g fat, 13g saturated fat, 545 mg cholesterol, 1,690 mg sodium, 44g carbs, 2g fiber, 40g protein.

Picks:

  • Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich: 460 calories, 21g fat, 9g saturated fat, 280 mg cholesterol, 1,050 mg sodium, 39g carbs, 2g fiber, 28g protein.
  • Sunrise Croissant Sandwich: 560 calories, 41g fat, 15g saturated fat, 290 mg cholesterol, 970 mg sodium, 27g carbs, 1g fiber, 20g protein.

Fit Tip: Not too many great choices here, but in a crunch you can go with the Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich or the Sunrise Croissant Sandwich as the least of the evils.

(www.hardees.com/content/downloads/nutrition.pdf)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Big Country Breakfast Platter — Breaded Pork Chop: 1,220 calories, 68g fat, 13g saturated fat, 465 mg cholesterol, 2,230 mg sodium, 102g carbs, 4g fiber, 48g protein.
  • Loaded Breakfast Burrito: 780 calories, 51g fat, 20g saturated fat, 495 mg cholesterol, 1,620 mg sodium, 38g carbs, 2g fiber, 40g protein.
  • Monster Biscuit: 710 calories, 51g fat, 17g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 2,250 mg sodium, 37g carbs, 0g fiber, 24g protein.
  • Country Steak and Egg Biscuit: 690 calories, 47g fat, 11g saturated fat, 235 mg cholesterol, 1,800 mg sodium, 44g carbs, 0g fiber, 22g protein.

Picks:

  • Loaded Omelet: 270 calories, 21g fat, 9g saturated fat, 245 mg cholesterol, 620 mg sodium, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 16g protein.
  • Frisco Breakfast Sandwich: 420 calories, 20g fat, 7g saturated fat, 240 mg cholesterol, 1,340 mg sodium, 37g carbs, 2g fiber, 24g protein.
  • Egg Biscuit: 450 calories, 29g fat, 6g saturated fat, 205 mg cholesterol, 940 mg sodium, 35g carbs, 0g fiber, 11g protein.

Fit Tip: Avoid the “Big Country Breakfast Platters”— they’re all super-high in calories, ranging from 970 to1,220, not to mention more than 2,000 mg of sodium, and they’re all very high in saturated fat. Hardee’s is not very “health” friendly, but if you’re stuck, you can go for a mix of carbs and protein. Your best bet is probably the Loaded Omelet.

(www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_info.asp)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Blueberry Scone: 480 calories, 22g fat, 0.5g trans fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 64g carbs, 2g fiber, 7g protein.
  • Cinnamon Chip Scone: 490 calories, 25g fat, 13g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 62g carbs, 2g fiber, 7g protein.

Picks:

  • Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheddar Sandwich: 380 calories, 16g fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 170 mg cholesterol, 930 mg sodium, 37g carbs, 1g fiber, 21g protein.
  • Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon, Cholesterol-Free Egg, Reduced-Fat White Cheddar Sandwich: 350 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 820 mg sodium, 41g carbs, 4g fiber, 20g protein.

Fit Tip: Almost all the baked goods (muffins, coffee cakes, Danishes, etc.) are high in calories. Think of it this way: Even if you have a Coffee Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee and a Lowfat Blueberry Muffin, you’re looking at 560 calories – and to top it off, it’s nutritionally void (although it doesn’t have saturated fat). If you’re going to eat, your best bet is a real meal. Not all Starbucks carry breakfast sandwiches (and calorie counts vary depending on region), but if they do, go for the Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon, Cholesterol-Free Egg, Reduced-Fat White Cheddar sandwich. Even a plain bagel with butter will be more than 350 calories. Oh, and in case you didn’t already know, almost all the Frappuccinos and other fancy drinks are not healthful choices. Starbucks makes good plain coffee; get that with skim milk.

(www.steaknshake.com/nutritional_info/nutricalc/index.asp)

Calorie Rip-Offs:

  • Biscuits, Gravy ‘n Hash Browns: 1,584 calories, 99g fat, 28g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 2,596 mg sodium, 154g carbs, 3g fiber, 27g protein.
  • Just Biscuits ‘n Gravy: 1,212 calories, 74g fat, 23g saturated fat, 42 mg cholesterol, 1,931 mg sodium, 119g carbs, 0g fiber, 22g protein.
  • Cheddar Scrambler: 1,283 calories, 89.5g fat, 23.5g saturated fat, 706 mg cholesterol, 2,519 mg sodium, 80g carbs, 5g fiber, 41g protein.
  • Country Scrambler: 1,029 calories, 78g fat, 21g saturated fat, 698 mg cholesterol, 2,208 mg sodium, 51g carbs, 3g fiber, 34g protein.

Picks:

  • Healthy Morning Cholesterol-Free Egg Product, prepared with melted margarine: 197 calories, 15g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 165 mg sodium, 2g carbs, 0g fiber, 12g protein.
  • Raisin Bran with 2% Reduced Fat Milk (one bowl): 200 calories, 4g fat, 2g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 312 mg sodium, 37g carbs, 5g fiber, 8g protein.
  • English Muffin (with margarine): 265 calories, 16g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 25g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g protein. Without margarine it’s only 130 calories.
  • Egg & Cheese Sandwich: 366 calories, 20g fat, 7g saturated fat, 228 mg cholesterol, 894 mg sodium, 30g carbs, 0g fiber, 15g protein.

Fit Tip: The bad news is if you pick wrong — this can be a calorie catastrophe. The good news is that there are a few Calorie Bargains to pick from.


Tags:  Breakfast Burger King Carl's Jr Dunkin Donuts Fast Food Food & Eating Hardee's Mcdonald's Starbucks Steak n Shake Subway




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