We get it. Fast food value meals are quick, yummy and sometimes inexpensive. What you save at the drive-thru, however, might cost you more in health care bills if you indulge in too many of them.
Recently, Eat This, Not That analyzed these meals and found that these combos will put you over the limit for calories, sodium, fat and sugar “before you’ve even finished your meal.”
“If you are eating these occasionally and you feel good, there’s nothing to worry about,” holistic nutritionist Kristen Ciccolini told the website. “The main thing I’d be concerned with if consuming these meals regularly is the sodium content.”
For context, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day; Cleveland Clinic recommends about 44-77 grams of fat per day if you eat 2,000 calories; and the Mayo Clinic says between 900 and 1,300 calories of a 2,000 calorie diet — or 225-325 grams — should be from carbohydrates.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, these are seven meals you’ll likely want to avoid.
McDonald’s Big Mac Combo Meal
Per meal: 1,080 calories, 45 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 1,325 mg sodium, 144 g carbs (7 g fiber, 65 g sugar), 30 g protein
“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion on a sesame seed bun” made for a good commercial, but not for a healthy meal. “This meal contains artery-clogging fat coming from the meat and cheese, along with added sugar from the soda to make you want to skip it,” Lisa Young, RDN, told Eat This, Not That.
Arby’s Chicken Club Wrap Meal
Per meal: 1,220 calories, 57 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 2,310 mg sodium, 140 g carbs (9 g fiber, 56 g sugar), 46 g protein
Wraps are healthy, right? On their own, they can be. But when you pair them with curly fries and a soft drink, it negates any benefits. “With 1,220 calories, this meal contains more than half of your calories for the day, so I suggest skipping it,” Young said. “And both the fries and soda provide virtually no health value; the fries are high in fat and the soda high in added sugar.”
McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal
Per meal: 1,260 calories, 57 g fat (22 g saturated fat), 1,685 mg sodium, 140 g carbs (7 g fiber, 63 g sugar), 53 g protein
According to Young, this meal has too much sodium. “This meal contains over 70 percent of the daily value for saturated fat and more than 60 percent of the daily value for sodium, making you want to skip it,” she said.
Arby’s Roast Turkey Ranch & Bacon Sandwich Meal
Per meal: 1,380 calories, 57 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 3,360 mg sodium, 172 g carbs (10 g fiber, 60 g sugar), 51 g protein
It’s got turkey, lettuce and tomato, so it should be healthier than a burger. The key words in that sentence are “should be.” This meal has 1,000 milligrams more sodium than you should consume all day. “People with high blood pressure may want to avoid these foods,” Ciccolini said.
Arby’s Half Pound Beef ‘n’ Cheddar Meal
Per meal: 1,310 calories, 61 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 3,370 mg sodium, 141 g carbs, 54 g protein
Ciccolini urges caution for anyone craving melted cheese over a half-pound of beef. This one meal has more sodium than one should consume in a day, and more than enough fat and carbs. It also has one of the higher saturated fat contents of the value meals.
Burger King BLT Chicken Jr. Meal
Per meal: 1,310 calories, 61 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 3,370 mg sodium, 141g carbs (7 g fiber, 53 g sugar), 54 g protein
The sandwich by itself is nearly 500 calories, with regular-size sides bringing it to more than 1,300. If you want to blow your calorie budget completely, upsize to a large. That will top your meal out at 1,790 calories.
Taco Bell Classic Combo
Per meal: 1,240 calories, 34 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,780 mg sodium, 212 g carbs (13 g fiber, 125 g sugar), 27 g protein
This combo of a beefy five-layer burrito, crunchy taco, cinnamon twists and large soda packs more carbs than some other value meals on the list. “Also, the smattering of lettuce on the taco doesn’t count as a veggie,” Eat This, Not That wrote.