The sausage egg and cheese McGriddle is one of McDonald’s most popular breakfast sandwich options. With its sweet maple flavored pancake buns, sizzling sausage patty, fluffy eggs, and gooey cheese, it’s easy to see why this sandwich is a fan favorite. However, with its high calorie, fat, and sodium content, the McGriddle has also been criticized as an extremely unhealthy way to start the day. In this 5000 word article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the nutrition facts of a sausage egg and cheese McGriddle to determine just how unhealthy this indulgent breakfast sandwich really is.
One of the biggest health concerns surrounding the McGriddle is its very high calorie content. According to the McDonald’s nutrition information, one sausage egg and cheese McGriddle contains:
|Total Fat: 28g
|Saturated Fat: 10g
|Trans Fat: 1.5g
|Total Carbohydrates: 58g
|Dietary Fiber: 2g
With 550 calories, the McGriddle packs more than 1/4 of the recommended 2000 daily calorie intake into one sandwich. The major sources of these calories come from fat, at 28g total, and carbohydrates, at 58g.
To put the calorie count into perspective, here are some other common breakfast foods and their calorie counts in comparison:
|Medium banana: 105 calories
|1 cup Cheerios: 100 calories
|2 scrambled eggs: 140 calories
|1 packet instant oatmeal: 100 calories
|2 slices whole wheat toast w/2 tbsp peanut butter: 390 calories
As you can see, the 550 calorie McGriddle far exceeds the calorie counts for most typical breakfast foods. Even a hearty breakfast of 2 eggs, toast, and peanut butter still comes in at 160 fewer calories than the McGriddle. For most people, consuming 550 calories in one single sandwich is excessive, even for breakfast.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a calorie intake within the following ranges:
– Women: 1,600–2,400 calories per day
– Men: 2,000–3,000 calories per day
So in one McGriddle, women are consuming nearly 1/3 of their recommended daily calorie intake, while men are consuming about 1/4. If adding sides like hash browns or a soda, that percentage increases even more. Consuming such a high number of calories in a single meal can lead to weight gain over time. It also doesn’t leave much room for calories the rest of the day without going over the recommended limits.
In addition to the calorie count, the McGriddle is very high in fat, with 28 grams accounting for 43% of the daily value. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat intake to between 25-35% of total calories. For a 2000 calorie diet, this equates to about 56-78 grams of fat per day. So the McGriddle alone provides nearly half the recommended daily value of fat in one sandwich.
The McGriddle also contains concerning levels of saturated and trans fats. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than 5-6% of daily calories and trans fats as low as possible, ideally to less than 1% of total calories.
For a 2,000 calorie diet:
|Saturated fat limit: 13g or less
|Trans fat limit: 2g or less
The McGriddle provides 10g of saturated fat and 1.5g of trans fat, exceeding the recommended limits for both. Frequent consumption of high levels of saturated and trans fats is associated with increased risk for heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. The high saturated fat count comes primarily from the sausage patty and cheese, while the trans fats are likely from partially hydrogenated oils used to cook the eggs, sausage, and pancake buns.
The McGriddle is extremely high in sodium, containing a whopping 1430mg, over half the daily recommended limit in just one sandwich. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300mg per day. An ideal limit for most adults is 1500mg daily. The American Heart Association recommends even less — no more than 1,500 mg per day for adults.
With 1430mg sodium, the McGriddle provides:
|61% of the daily value (based on 2,300mg limit)
|95% of the daily value (based on 1,500mg limit)
The high sodium content comes from the sausage patty, cheese, and pancake buns, which likely contain added salt and sodium-containing preservatives and leavening agents like monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda, and baking powder. Consuming such high levels of sodium regularly can increase risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, fluid retention, and stroke.
While high in sodium and fat, the McGriddle manages to cram in a hefty dose of sugar as well. Each McGriddle contains 15g of sugar, coming primarily from the sweet maple-flavored pancake buns.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than:
|Men: 36g or 9 teaspoons
|Women: 25g or 6 teaspoons
With 15g of sugar, the McGriddle supplies nearly half the recommended daily limit for women and over 40% for men. Frequent consumption of high amounts of added sugars is linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease and tooth decay.
Beyond the high levels of calories, fat, sodium and sugar, the McGriddle lacks beneficial micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Here is how its micronutrient contents stack up:
|Dietary Fiber: 2g (8% DV)
|Vitamin A: 15% DV
|Vitamin C: 0% DV
|Calcium: 25% DV
|Iron: 15% DV
|Potassium: 2% DV
With only 2 grams of fiber, the McGriddle provides just 8% of the recommended 25-30g daily. The American Heart Association recommends at least 25g of fiber for women and 38g for men daily from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Fiber promotes fullness and healthy digestion.
The McGriddle also contains virtually no Vitamin C, and poor amounts of potassium and iron. The only standout is calcium, provided by the cheese, at 25% DV. But there are much healthier food sources for calcium like low-fat dairy products and leafy greens. Overall, the McGriddle lacks nearly all beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients you would get from whole foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Analyzing the McGriddle’s lengthy ingredients list also provides insight into its extremely processed nature. Here are the main ingredients:
Pancakes: Bleached wheat flour, water, dextrose, soybean oil, brown sugar, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), natural and artificial flavors, modified wheat starch, soy lecithin, rice flour, salt, xanthan gum, colored with caramel color (contains sulfites)
Sausage Patty: Pork, water, salt, dextrose, preservatives (BHA, propyl gallate, citric acid), spices
American Cheese: Milk, cream, water, sodium citrate, calcium phosphate, milkfat, gelatin, salt, sodium phosphate, whey protein concentrate, whey, cheese culture, enzymes, annatto extract (color), vitamin D3, apocarotenal (color), vitamin A palmitate.
As you can see, the main ingredients are highly processed wheat flour, sugar, soybean oil, and a mix of chemical preservatives, stabilizers, colors, flavor enhancers, and modifiers like xanthan gum, sodium phosphate, caramel color, hydrogenated oils, and natural and artificial flavors.
There is very little real whole food – just highly refined grains, excessive sugar, oils, chemical additives, a small amount of pork, and processed cheese. This type of heavily processed food provides calories and fat, but lacks the essential nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to be healthy.
If you’re a McGriddle fan but concerned about its nutrition profile, there are ways to still enjoy its signature taste in a healthier way. Here are some ideas:
– Make your own maple sausage egg sandwich on whole wheat English muffins or sandwich thins. Use real maple syrup to sweeten.
– Switch the pork sausage patty for turkey or vegetarian sausage patties.
– Replace American cheese with cheddar cheese for less sodium.
– Add veggies like spinach, tomatoes or avocado for fiber and nutrients.
– Use just 1 pancake bun instead of 2. Or replace buns with a whole grain toast or bagel thin.
– Opt for egg whites instead of whole eggs to cut cholesterol.
– Pair your sandwich with fruit and yogurt instead of hash browns and sugary drinks.
Assessing its full nutrition profile, here is a scorecard breakdown for the sausage egg and cheese McGriddle:
|F – excessive at 550 calories
|D – high at 28g, 43% DV
|F – 10g exceeds recommended limits
|F – 1.5g exceeds recommended limits
|C – 235mg is moderate but still elevated
|F – 1430mg far exceeds recommended limits
|C – 58g is moderate but mostly refined carbs
|F – only 2g, far below recommended intake
|D – 15g added sugar is high
|B – 21g is a good amount
|F – lacks nearly all vitamins, minerals, antioxidants
As the scorecard illustrates, while the McGriddle provides adequate protein, it scores poorly in nearly every other nutritional category. With excessive calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar, combined with a lack of beneficial vitamins and minerals, it lands squarely in the unhealthy breakfast category.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the sausage egg and cheese McGriddle is an incredibly unhealthy way to start the day, packing over half your daily calories and fat into one sandwich along with concerning levels of sodium and sugar. While an occasional indulgence won’t do too much harm for most people, regular consumption of foods with this poor nutritional profile can increase risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.
Your best bet is to consider the McGriddle a sometimes food and aim for healthier breakfast options with whole foods like eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, fruits, nuts and seeds the majority of the time instead. But enjoying a McGriddle here and there likely won’t hurt — just be mindful of your overall diet quality and aim for balance, variety and moderation.