McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich is one of the seemingly healthier options on the fast food chain’s menu. With its grilled chicken breast, leaf lettuce, and tomato, it sounds like a better choice than many of McDonald’s burgers and fried foods. But is McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich actually good for you? Let’s take a closer look at its nutritional profile.
Calories and macronutrients
The McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich contains 310 calories, 37g of protein, 8g of fat, 31g of carbohydrates, and 600mg of sodium.
Compared to other McDonald’s sandwiches, the grilled chicken is lower in calories and fat. A Big Mac, for example, contains 550 calories and 30g of fat. The grilled chicken sandwich gets a significant amount of its calories from protein, which will help you feel fuller for longer.
The carbohydrates come mainly from the bun and condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise. Limiting these can help reduce the carb count. Overall, the calorie and macronutrient amounts are reasonable for a meal, though sodium is on the high side.
Here are the main ingredients in a McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich:
- Chicken breast filet
- Regular bun
- Leaf lettuce
- Ripe tomato slice
The chicken breast is the healthier standout ingredient. Chicken breast is a lean protein containing essential nutrients like niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and selenium.
The regular bun contributes a significant amount of refined carbohydrates with minimal nutrients. Leaf lettuce and tomato provide fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Potentially unhealthy ingredients are the mayonnaise, which adds saturated fat and calories, and ketchup, which increases sugar and sodium. Requesting no mayo or ketchup can reduce the unhealthy factors.
Here are some of the positives regarding the nutrition of the McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich:
- Fairly low in calories for a meal at 310 calories
- 37g of protein is substantial and promotes satiety
- Chicken breast is a lean, high-quality protein
- Contains some vitamins and minerals from produce like lettuce and tomato
- No trans fat
The reasonable calorie count, high protein, and produce make the nutrition profile far better than items like burgers, nuggets, and shakes.
Some of the nutritional downsides of the grilled chicken sandwich include:
- 8g of fat, mostly from mayonnaise
- 31g of carbs, mainly from the refined flour bun
- 600mg of sodium is 25% of daily value
- Minimal fiber at 2g
- High sodium ketchup and mayonnaise
While not extremely high, the fat, carbs, and sodium could be reduced by skipping condiments and choosing a whole grain bun when customizing your order. The plain sandwich itself lacks adequate fiber.
Healthiness as a McDonald’s meal
Compared to other McDonald’s entrees, the grilled chicken sandwich is likely one of the healthier options. Here’s how it stacks up:
|Grilled chicken sandwich||310||8g||31g||37g|
The grilled chicken sandwich has the lowest calorie, fat, and highest protein amounts compared to popular McDonald’s burgers and fried items. In the McDonald’s world, it’s a better pick.
While the McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich is one of the healthier options at the fast food chain, it may not be an optimally healthy meal according to general nutrition standards. Some points:
- 310 calories is reasonable for a meal, but on the edge of excessive when eating fast food regularly
- 8g of fat is acceptable, but could be lower without mayonnaise
- 31g of carbs from the bun is high compared to the average meal
- 600mg of sodium is roughly 25% of the daily recommended limit
- Minimal fiber at 2g is lower than the 25-30g per day recommendation
When comparing the grilled chicken sandwich to a homemade grilled chicken sandwich on whole grain bread with lots of veggies, the fast food version lacks some of that optimal nutrition. But overall, it’s one of the least offensive options for a fast food meal.
Healthier customization options
You can make the McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich a bit healthier by customizing your order:
- Skip mayonnaise – Eliminates 90 calories and 10g total fat
- Skip ketchup – Reduces sodium by 150mg
- Choose a whole grain bun – Adds 3g fiber and nutrients
- Add extra lettuce and tomato – Increases fiber, vitamins and antioxidants
- Order a side salad – Boosts nutrition instead of fries
Asking for a whole grain bun, extra produce, no mayo or ketchup, and pairing it with a salad makes the meal significantly more nutritious.
Healthier alternative fast food options
If looking to make a healthier choice at a fast food restaurant, here are some items typically lower in calories, fat, and sodium than McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich:
- Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich
- Panera Greek Salad with Chicken
- Chipotle Chicken Bowl with rice, beans, salsa, and veggies
- Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Taco Bell Chicken Soft Taco Fresco Style
These fast food options use lean grilled chicken breast, have produce, and avoid fatty sauces. They make for lighter, better-for-you meals.
Healthiest non-fast food options
Your healthiest choices are typically not at fast food chains but homemade meals or meals from grocery stores and restaurants emphasizing fresh, whole foods. Some healthy grilled chicken sandwich alternatives:
- Homemade sandwich on whole grain bread with lots of veggies
- Rotisserie chicken sandwich from a grocery store
- Grilled chicken pita sandwich from a Mediterranean restaurant
- Chicken salad sandwich with avocado from a cafe
Choosing whole food places, where you can see how the food is prepared, ensures higher quality ingredients and preparation methods.
Is McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich healthy: Conclusion
The McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich has fewer calories, fat, and carbs compared to most other McDonald’s menu items. But it still contains unnecessary ingredients like mayonnaise and ketchup that up the sodium, fat, and calories.
Customizing your order by removing sauces, choosing whole grain options, and adding produce can make it healthier. But ultimately, it is still fast food. Homemade or meals from restaurants focused on fresh foods are healthier options if you want optimal nutrition.
In a pinch, the McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich is an okay choice, especially if customized. But it should not be a daily go-to meal in an overall healthy diet.