The Healthiest Meals You Can Order at McDonald's, According to Nutritionists

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Mickey D's may not be your first pick for nourishing meals, but the fast-food chain does offer a handful of better-for-you dishes to keep on your radar. Here, nutritionists provide insight into the healthiest McDonald's meals on the menu.

01 of 08

Hamburger

Hamburger
McDonald's

No, you don't need to stick to salads. "Craving a burger? Go for it!" says Sharon Zarabi, R.D., C.D.N., C.P.T., the program director of bariatric surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. "The 3.5-ounce serving of meat in the classic hamburger contains a healthy dose of 12 grams of protein and is lowest in calories of all meat patties," offering 250 calories and 9 grams of fat, she says.

Not all burgers on the McDonald's menu are created equal, though. Zarabi says to skip the bigger burgers, which can sometimes triple your portion size. The healthiest option? "Skip the bun and throw that burger on a side salad with a light dressing," she says.

02 of 08

Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

Fruit and Maple Oatmeal
McDonald's

If you're in need a quick breakfast, consider the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal, which "has a good variety of fruits," says Jenna Hua, Ph.D., R.D., founder and CEO of Million Marker. "Avoid the raisins and brown sugar if you have issues with blood sugar or diabetes," she advises.

03 of 08

1 Percent Low-Fat Milk Jug

1% Low Fat Milk Jug
McDonald's

You'll need a drink to go with your meal, but "with a menu full of sugary sodas and drinks, choosing a beverage can be difficult," says Katrina Trisko, R.D., a registered dietitian based in NYC. "If you're not avoiding dairy, opt for a 1 Percent Low Fat Milk Jug. Appropriately sized, this serving of milk has 8 grams of protein and a significant amount of calcium and vitamin D." Translation: It's the perfect beverage to pair with your order.

04 of 08

4 Chicken McNuggets

4 Chicken McNuggets
McDonald's

Good news: Chicken McNuggets make the cut because "they will give you some protein," says Amanda Barnes, R.D.N., a registered dietitian. Specifically, you'll score 9 grams of protein for just 10 grams fat, 10 grams carbs, and 170 calories in a four-nugget serving."

05 of 08

Apple Slices

Apple Slices
McDonald's

Instead (or along with!) French fries, consider ordering a bag of apple slices, which are a nutritious, lower-calorie side dish, says Mia Syn, M.S., R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, South Carolina. "For only 15 calories, this side helps you meet your recommended 1.5 to 2.5 cup servings of fruit for the day," she says.

06 of 08

Sausage Burrito

McDonald's Sausage Burrito
McDonald's

If you struggle to eat enough veggies, start your day off with the Sausage Burrito, the only McDonald's breakfast option that incorporates vegetables while providing muscle-building protein, says Syn. "Although it is still high in saturated fat with 7 grams and sodium with 800 milligrams, it offers 13 grams of satisfying protein for only 310 calories, one of the lowest-calorie breakfast options," she adds. (

07 of 08

Hash Browns

McDonald's Hash Browns
McDonald's

Hash Browns aren't as bad for you as you might think. "This crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside side is not a bad option to accompany breakfast," says Syn. "With only 1 gram of saturated fat and 310 milligrams of sodium, this 140 calorie veggie-based side can help you meet your recommended two to 3.5 cups serving of vegetables for the day." Just be sure to eat your leafy greens, too!

08 of 08

Filet-O-Fish

McDonald's Filet-O-Fish
McDonald's

Yes, the Filet-O-Fish's perfectly rectangular patty may be a tad off-putting to some. But believe it or not, it boasts a hearty nutrition profile, making it one of the healthiest McDonald's meals. "Fish is a leaner protein than beef, making this menu item one of the lowest in saturated fat with 4 grams per serving," says Syn. It's also one of the lowest sodium options on the menu, offering 580 milligrams. If you want to reduce the fat and sodium content even more, nix the tartar sauce, suggests Syn. The result: "A satisfying 300-calorie meal that boasts 16 grams of protein and helps meet your recommended two servings of seafood per week."

Updated by
Megan Falk
megan falk

Megan Falk joined the Shape.com team in 2019 and serves as the assistant editor, primarily covering exercise tips, fitness modalities, workout trends, and more. Previously, she was Shape’s editorial assistant and covered food trends and nutrition, sustainability, health and wellness, and beauty topics, among others. Before joining the team, Megan worked as an editorial intern at DoctorOz.com. Megan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism and a minor in food studies from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Her writing has also appeared in HealthSAVEUR, her hometown’s magazine, Hour Detroit, and more. She’s currently preparing to earn her personal trainer certification through the American Council on Exercise.

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