Fast food breakfast? Slow down before you pick up that sandwich!

Dr. Angela Seabright
Mike Miller

| 3 min read

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Conventional wisdom has long advocated a hearty breakfast in order to fuel up for the day. The idea being that loading up on calories early on would sustain us throughout our workday.
Whoever came up with this idea certainly didn’t live in the fast food era.
Inspired by Taco Bell’s jump into fast food breakfasts and the release of their now infamous Waffle Taco, we decided to take a look at the nutritional value of breakfast items from some of the biggest and most popular chains. Nutritional information was taken directly from the corporate websites.
The items we’ve gathered here are the worst offenders.
McDonalds seemingly invented the fast food breakfast sandwich. They offer well over a dozen iterations of this to-go breakfast staple. While the sandwiches aren’t always the best choice, they pale in comparison to McDonald’s Big Breakfast. The Big Breakfast with Hotcakes serves up 1090 calories with 56g of fat. 56g of fat is equivalent to 87% of your daily intake. If that’s not bad enough, it also comes with 2150mg of sodium, which accounts for 90% of your daily allowance.
Who doesn’t love a donut with that cup of coffee? An old-fashioned glazed donut at Starbucks will get you for 480 calories, 27 fat grams (13g of which equal 65% of your daily saturated fat intake) and 410mg of sodium. The Sausage & Cheddar breakfast sandwich isn’t much better at 500 calories, 28g of fat and a hefty 920mg of sodium, though it compares quite favorably when compared to Dunkin Donuts Sausage, Egg & Cheese biscuit’s 630 calories, 43 fat grams and whopping 1620mg of sodium.
Subway, who often promotes a healthy menu, serves up the Breakfast B.M.T. The leanest option of this bunch at 490 calories and 22g of fat, the B.M.T. makes our no-no list due to it’s volume of sodium, a shockingly high 1600mg that account for over 65% of one’s recommended daily intake.
Taco Bell, whose foray into fast food breakfast inspired this article, also brings some diet-wreckers to the table. The Waffle Taco, in all its gluttonous glory is not their worst offender. The A.M. Crunchwrap with Sausage is, dishing 46g of fat, 1150mg of sodium inside of its 710 calories. However, it’s the Cinnabon Delight 12pc that you have to watch out for. Crammed into its paltry 930 calories are 53 grams of fat: more than ¾ of the average person’s daily allotment.
Saving the best (worst) for last is Burger King. Their Double Croissan’wich with sausage, egg & cheese comes in at 790 calories and a gut-busting 57g of fat and 1630mg of sodium. Not content with those numbers, BK proudly delivers its BK Ultimate Breakfast platter: 1420 calories, 79 fat grams and 3020mg of sodium. To put these numbers into perspective, that’s roughly ½ of the average person’s daily, recommended caloric intake, over 100% of the recommended intake of fat for most adults and nearly twice the allowance for sodium for everybody. All of that, in one meal.
There are many other less-than-healthy options available at fast food restaurants, but there are healthier options available. We encourage you to explore the menus and nutritional information to make smart decisions for your health.
Photo credit: Hungju Lu

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