Is McDonald's healthier than Chipotle?

Is McDonald’s Healthier Than Chipotle?

Chipotle and McDonald's Logos
Fast food meals from restaurants like McDonald’s often have fewer calories than Chipotle, but are they really healthier?
Is McDonald’s healthier than Chipotle? What about Burger King versus Panera? In the battle between fast food and fast casual, which is the best option? It’s really a double edged sword.

A study shows Big Mac or Whopper with fries actually has fewer calories than many popular bowls, wraps and even some salads from fast casual restaurants. But that doesn’t mean a burger is the way to go.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina scrutinized menus at 34 fast food and 28 fast casual restaurants. They found the average fast food entree has about 561 calories while fast casual meals have an average of 760 calories.

“A burger on a white bun may have fewer calories, but when you’re talking about cancer prevention or other chronic diseases, you have to look beyond calories,” study co-author Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy said. “We don’t want the message to be, ‘Go eat hamburgers and don’t eat guacamole and beans and brown rice.’ ”

Generally speaking, fast casual restaurants also tend to have more high-calorie options on the menu than fast food places. So again… is McDonald’s healthier than Chipotle?

I’m not a nutritionist, but as a guy who lost 265 pounds I can tell you that you’re better off going to Chipotle and Panera than Burger King or the home of the golden arches. It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

However, what I have learned is that your best option is always going to be to bring your own lunch. Not only will you save a ton of money, but you can also control the fat and calories you’re consuming. Almost anything you make yourself and bring from home will have hundreds of calories less than what you’d buy at a restaurant.

But more important than that is the fact you’re removing yourself from temptation city. If you’ve just started to try to lose weight — or even if you’ve been eating healthier for a while — those old favorites on the menu can really call your name. You go in there with every intention of ordering a salad but wind up with a burger, fries and milk shake instead. The struggle is real.

Be that as it may… here’s a comparison of some top-sellers and healthier options from seven popular fast food and fast casual restaurants. Remember, this is only half of the answer to the question is McDonald’s healthier than Chipotle.

These figures do not include a drink.

McDonald’s

Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken

  • Salad: 490 calories / 29 grams fat
  • Dressing: 200 calories / 16 grams fat
  • Total: 690 calories / 45 grams fat

Big Mac and medium fries

  • Burger: 540 calories / 28 grams fat
  • Fries: 340 calories / 16 grams fat
  • Total: 880 calories / 44 grams fat

Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich and medium fries

  • Sandwich: 360 calories / 4 grams fat
  • Fries: 340 calories / 16 grams fat
  • Total: 700 calories / 20 grams fat

Burger King

Whopper and medium fries

  • Burger: 630 calories / 38 grams fat
  • Fries: 380 calories / 17 grams fat
  • Total: 1020 calories / 55 grams fat

Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich and medium fries

  • Sandwich: 420 calories / 18 grams fat
  • Fries: 380 calories / 17 grams fat
  • Total: 800 calories / 35 grams fat

Garden Grilled Chicken Salad

Total: 320 calories / 14 grams fat

Chick-fil-A

Classic Chicken Sandwich and medium fries

  • Sandwich: 440 calories / 18 grams fat
  • Fries: 400 calories / 21 grams fat
  • Total: 840 calories / 39 grams fat

Grilled Chicken Sandwich and medium fries

  • Sandwich: 320 calories / 5 grams fat
  • Fries: 400 calories / 21 grams fat
  • Total: 720 calories / 26 grams fat

Grilled Market Salad

  • Total: 320 calories / 14 grams fat

KFC

3pc Fried Chicken Meal

  • Breast, 2 drumsticks: 950 calories / 56 grams fat
  • Mashed potatoes: 120 calories / 4 grams fat
  • Cole slaw: 170 calories / 12 grams fat
  • Biscuit: 180 calories / 9 grams fat
  • Total: 1420 calories / 81 grams fat

3pc Grilled Chicken Meal

  • Breast, 2 drumsticks: 310 calories / 12 grams fat
  • Mashed potatoes: 120 calories / 4 grams fat
  • Cole slaw: 170 calories / 12 grams fat
  • Biscuit: 180 calories / 9 grams fat
  • Total: 780 calories / 37 grams fat

Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad

  • Total: 610 calories / 45 grams fat

Chipotle

The company won’t reveal exactly what most popular menu item is, but did reveal the best sellers from the service line. When you put them together you get…

Burrito Bowl

Chicken, white rice, black beans, cheese, mild salsa, lettuce and chips and salsa

  • Bowl: 640 calories / 19 grams fat
  • Chips: 595 calories / 27 grams fat
  • Total: 1235 calories / 46 grams fat

Taking that out of a bowl and putting it in an actual burrito…

  • Burrito: 940 calories / 29 grams fat
  • Chips: 595 calories / 27 grams fat
  • Total: 1535 calories / 56 grams fat

Panera

Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich with chips

  • Sandwich: 780 calories / 26 grams fat
  • Chips: 150 calories / 8 grams fat
  • Total: 930 calories / 34 grams fat

Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken with baguette

  • Salad: 570 calories / 34 grams fat
  • Baguette: 180 calories / 1 gram fat
  • Total: 750 calories / 35 grams fat

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Bread Bowl

  • Total: 880 calories / 17 grams fat

Corner Bakery

Uptown Turkey sandwich with chips

  • Sandwich: 720 calories / 37 grams fat
  • Chips: 150 calories / 8 grams fat
  • Total: 870 calories / 45 grams fat

Chopped Salad with Focaccia Roll

  • Salad: 840 calories / 60 grams fat
  • Roll: 100 calories / 1 gram fat
  • Total: 940 calories / 61 grams fat