3 April 12 Fast Food Breakfast – Limiting the Damage

I just stumbled upon WebMD's "Slide Show: Best and Worst Fast-Food Breakfast." Their list got me thinking – some breakfasts are better left uneaten. I know that folks are busy and sometimes run out the door hungry and empty handed yet want something hot to eat. Given that scenario, it is good to be aware of healthier choices from fast-food places.

Keep in mind the daily sodium limit range of 1500 mg – 2300 mg. If you take the midpoint and divide by three, you have an idea of what each meal's limit could be (e.g. about 650 mg). Also consider the American Heart Association's recommendation to avoid trans fat, and to limit saturated fat to less than 7% of total calories (e.g. ? 9 grams for a 1200 calories intake; ? 12 grams for 1500 kcal; ? 14 grams for 1800 calories; ? 16 grams for 2000 calories). MyNetDiary users, your default limit for saturated fat is set this way.

Pretty Good

The better selections are menu items that contain less than 7% total calories from saturated fat (< 0.8 grams/100 kcal), less than 650 mg of sodium, at least 7 grams of protein, and at least 3 grams of fiber.

Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal with Dried & Nuts (no brown sugar): 340 kcal, 1.5g saturated fat, 51g total carbs (20g sugar, 6g fiber), 7g protein, and 115mg sodium. 7g protein is a bit low for big appetites. Pair with a tall (12oz) nonfat milk latte without added sugar to get another 10 grams of protein. If you want to go lower in carbs, then skip the dried fruit to bring the total carbs down to 27g.

McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (no brown sugar): 260 kcal; 2g saturated fat, 48g total carbs (18g sugar, 5g fiber), 5g protein, and 115mg sodium. Pair with a small (12oz) nonfat milk latte to get another 9 grams of protein. McDonald's does not give the breakdown without the fruit and I suspect that there is more added sugar vs. fruit-based sugar in this breakfast.

Not So Bad

These selections come closest to meeting the "good" goals described above. However, they are all still quite high in sodium.

Starbucks has a hot breakfast sandwich assortment that stacks up pretty well for minimizing the damage while providing a satisfying meal. My favorite picks in this category are: Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap, Turkey Bacon & White Cheddar Classic Breakfast Sandwich, and Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap.

Other sandwiches in this class are higher in sodium and lower in fiber, but these sandwiches are not as bad as they can get: McDonald's Classic Egg McMuffin, Jack in the Box Breakfast Jack, Dunkin' Donuts Egg and Cheese, and Subway Egg White Breakfast Sandwiches.

Taco Bell FirstMeals: I cannot find nutrition information posted on the company's website for these new breakfast items. I will not recommend any menu item unless I see nutrition information published on the company's website. Taco Bell, my apologies if it is there and I missed it.

For those of you at-home breakfast eaters, you might find my post on lower sugar breakfast choices helpful: "Ditch the Sugar Bombs!"
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Dining Out/Fast Food Meal Planning & Diets/Breakfast

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