100 lb. Club - Big Macs vs. McDonald's Salads?




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Elladorine
06-18-2013, 07:30 PM
I'm taking a centering class as a part of my prenatal care, and one of the very first issues we discussed was nutrition. But since we're obviously not trying to lose weight, I was sort of surprised on the emphasis of calorie restriction, which seemed to overpower all other aspects of the discussion.

Among the questions we were asked was: "What are you better off ordering when at McDonald's, a salad or a Big Mac?" And of course everyone was saying salad, but I knew what answer they were really looking for. My husband beat me to it though and said, "a Big Mac!" And to everyone's surprise he was told he was right!

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the implication that the Big Mac really was the healthier choice, so I felt the need to add my two cents. I brought up the fact that it really depends on what kind of salad you order, whether you choose crispy or grilled chicken as an option, and what kind of dressing you get in addition to how much you use. Off the top of my head I knew that a Big Mac is 550 calories, and that the salad I normally order is only 270, which includes a full packet of dressing.

So once I got home, I looked up the most caloric salad McDonald's currently has to offer and found it's the Premium Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken. When Newman's OwnŽ Creamy Southwest Dressing is added (the default dressing) it comes up to . . . 550 calories.

Heh. The exact same as a Big Mac. :dizzy:

Now there are obviously other factors to consider of course including sodium, sugar, fiber, vitamins, satiety, trans fats, etc.; but once again I was thrown for a loop by being told that a Big Mac is automatically the better choice. Most people that order Big Macs do so through a value meal, and the default side is a medium or large fries. And I'm not even considering the drink that goes with it . . .

No big deal, but I'm a little perplexed how it was implied that we all had the greenlight to run off to McDonald's and order Big Macs. :mcd: And in all honestly I don't even have problems with Big Macs, I'll actually order one and work it into the rest of my day if I'm craving it, but that's happened maybe once in the past year? I'd much rather enjoy a salad or one of the new grilled chicken wraps (360 calories for the one I order) whenever my husband and I hit the drive-thru. :p

I understand the moral of their story was to never assume that a salad is automatically the best choice when it comes to calories and nutrition, but all I'm saying is that you should always look things up and make sure to be well-informed so you can make the choices that best suit your own needs. :)


PreciousMissy
06-18-2013, 07:44 PM
I'm about to do a lot of assuming here, so hang onto your hats.

I can only guess that they're talking to people who have an average starting out weight, so they don't focus on macro nutrients.

There is a salad at an Italian restaurant that I absolutely adore! It's 800 calories for the salad!!! I'm sure there are people who think they're doing well by ordering it, but 800 calories???

Elladorine
06-18-2013, 07:53 PM
I can only guess that they're talking to people who have an average starting out weight, so they don't focus on macro nutrients.
Not that I'm great at judging these things, but to me it looks like all but two of us in the class are starting out from a normal BMI range (I'm one of the two that's noticeably overweight/obese).

It was kind of an odd experience; I was the only one in the entire class that knew how many more calories we should be eating every day, which fats are considered healthy, what kinds of food to avoid, and why we should do most of our grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store. But to be fair I was probably the oldest person there, as the rest of them looked like kids to me. :o

ETA: And the 800 calorie salad makes me think of this:

http://catalog.fborfw.com/strips/90/FB050290.GIF


Garnet2727
06-18-2013, 08:33 PM
I love that cartoon! That is precisely what I used to do. :o

I was really shocked when I started paying attention to calories in food. Once of my favorite salads, a chicken Caesar, was close to 1000 just because of the dressing! I've also been pleasantly surprised by a few things. I really like fast food breakfast sandwiches. An egg McMuffin is 300 calories. A Burger King Ham Croissanwhich is 310 calories. I treat myself once or twice a week to one of those.

Elladorine
06-18-2013, 09:04 PM
I love that cartoon! That is precisely what I used to do. :o

I was really shocked when I started paying attention to calories in food. Once of my favorite salads, a chicken Caesar, was close to 1000 just because of the dressing! I've also been pleasantly surprised by a few things. I really like fast food breakfast sandwiches. An egg McMuffin is 300 calories. A Burger King Ham Croissanwhich is 310 calories. I treat myself once or twice a week to one of those.
I think my biggest problem all along was portion sizes . . . I just didn't know when to quit and had no inkling of how much of a difference it makes. I'd totally pile on at the salad bar as well . . . it's "healthy," right? :dizzy: I mean, I know I can basically go unlimited on certain greens and veggies, but you can't say the same for dressings, cheese, croutons, and macaroni salad. ;)

One of my favorite salads is close to 1000 calories, but I do occasionally splurge on it for dinner but be sure to eat very light in the earlier part of the day. I'll never mistake it for a low calorie meal, that's for sure. ;)

And I love Egg McMuffins! I get one on the weekend sometimes, or something from the light menu at Einstein Bros. I love how some of the fast food places now post their calories right on the menu boards, something I have to salute McDonald's for (Einstein only does it for their light menu items, but hey, it's a start). I probably eat way more fast food than I should in general, but having access to calorie counts makes things much easier and workable for me. :)

Garnet2727
06-18-2013, 09:19 PM
Oh yeah, I used to eat huge portions of everything with a heavy emphasis on food loaded with fat and salt. Nachos were my downfall. I could eat a big 'ol platter of loaded nachos and then eat a full dinner! I can't do that any more.

I do eat really big portions of veggies, though. It's so satisfying to eat a big arse portion and for less than 100 calories. I will polish off an entire bag of Steamfresh Broccoli, Carrots and Cauliflower on most days.

I eat fast food a few times a week, and not just for breakfast. I just make sure I have the calorie budget for it and try to keep an eye on the sodium. I like to get a Taco Bell Burrito Supreme from time to time. (420 calories) I also eat quite a few of the Applebee's Weight Watchers or Under 550 Calories menu items. Just last week, I discovered that Fazoli's has a low calorie menu too. I tried the Chicken Mushroom Alfredo bake for 390 calories. I really liked it. I stayed away from the garlic bread there, though. My husband got it all. :)

Elladorine
06-19-2013, 12:35 PM
I make a huge salad every week and try to feast on some at the beginning of every meal, which has been a huge help to me. Then I can have smaller portions of whatever else and still be satisfied. :) I like to occasionally pick up a plain old taco from Taco Bell at the drive-thru, then take it home to eat with my own sides, like the salad. Heh heh, hubby hates Taco Bell, so on those nights he'll get a few "real" tacos from a stand and we're both happy. :D

I haven't had Fazoli's in ages; it's good to know they have a lighter menu now, I"ll have to check it out! I remember back in the day they used to have someone bringing out those free breadsticks to the tables, but they eventually stopped and you had to go up to ask for more (but maybe it's different at each restaurant?). I'm glad they changed it regardless, it'll make things a little easier. :lol:

I'm glad they have that 550 menu at Applebee's, but for me it's a little disappointing because most of it is seafood and I'm allergic. :dizzy: However, I really like their Zesty Roma Chicken & Shrimp, I just ask them to pull the shrimp and substitute a little extra chicken. :) Denny's has a great light menu as well. They have something similar going on at Chili's if I remember right, but I usually just end up splitting a combo meal with my husband (it comes with two entrees so we each get one) and ordering an extra side to go with it.

I've found that knowing how to order at restaurants has become an amazing tool for my weight loss, and also keeps me from feeling deprived. :)

Wannabehealthy
06-19-2013, 01:13 PM
I would still choose the salad at McDonald's because I'm not into hamburgers unless they are made with Angus Beef on a George Foreman grill, and even after the fat is drained off, I still blot it with a paper towel. I would get the grilled chicken on the salad, and I don't use much dressing, anyway.

thnknthin1
06-19-2013, 01:34 PM
As much as I LOVE Big Macs....I would still choose the salad, which I love the Southwestern Salad, one of my faves there, regardless if the calories are the same. In my opinion the calories from the salad would be coming from healthier sources. But, is this one of those circumstances where a calorie is still a calorie?

Now I'm craving a Big Mac :)

pnkrckpixikat
06-19-2013, 02:00 PM
The Southwest chicken salad really isnt bad at all if you get it grilled instead of fried, with the dressing it comes to 390 cals with the whole dressing package, I think I usually only use half so it is 340.

I read a news article a couple weeks ago that said they are doing away with the salads though :( that made me sad as they are the only thing I actually like a Mcdonalds so I will have no options on the rare occasion I get dragged there by someone

Pink Hurricane
06-19-2013, 03:20 PM
Haha I agree Ella! I think that so many people focus only on the calorie part especially if dieting is not something they had to worry about before. And like you said just the sandwich was 550, that doesn't include side and drink.

I love discussions like this to see what perspective are of others, pretty cool stuff. Love the cartoon too!