Breakfast at McDonald's: Making Lower Calorie Choices

Sitting down at your kitchen table every morning for a healthy, low-calorie breakfast may be your goal, but there could be times where you find yourself pulling into McDonald's on your way to work or after dropping your children off at school. Making good breakfast choices can help you stay within your calorie allotment whether you are trying to lose a few pounds or maintain your weight.

Calorie Considerations

If you are trying to lose weight, keep your breakfast calories in the 250 to 350 calorie range to give yourself plenty of calories for the rest of your meals and snacks. Before you go to McDonald's for breakfast, familiarize yourself with the menu by checking the Internet for the calories in all of their offerings. If you cannot check before you arrive at the restaurant, ask the cashier for a printed list of foods with their nutritional information prior to placing your order.

Whole Grains Reign

Whole grains help you feel satisfied and full, so choose breakfast foods that have a high fiber content and a reasonable number of calories to meet your dieting goals. Good choices at McDonald's include oatmeal, which has 340 calories and 5 g of fiber. Save 40 calories by asking for the oatmeal without brown sugar. A sausage burrito also has 5 g of dietary fiber and only 300 calories.

Better Biscuit and English Muffin Choices

Biscuits and English muffins at McDonald's tend to contain high calorie cheese or high fat sausage making them a less than desirable choice. For example, a large sausage biscuit with egg has 570 calories. The best choice for an English muffin or biscuit breakfast sandwich is the plain Egg McMuffin, which has 300 calories and 18 g of protein.

Acceptable Pancake Choices

Sweet breakfast foods help satisfy your desire for an early morning treat, but can have an alarming number of calories. Avoid any breakfast item at McDonald's that has the word "big" in the title. The big breakfast with hotcakes and a large biscuit has 1,150 calories and the big breakfast biscuit alone has 800 calories. If you want pancakes, choose the plain hotcake option as it has 350 calories, 8 g of protein, and 3 g of fiber.

Extras to Avoid

Hash browns and cinnamon melts offer little in the way of nutrition. A small serving of hash browns has 150 calories, 1 g of fiber, and over 300 mg of sodium, while cinnamon melts have 460 calories. Do not add butter to your pancakes and go easy on the syrup to save calories. When choosing your beverage, select a small orange juice over a large one and drink your coffee black or with a bit of skim milk.

Eating breakfast at home gives you the most control over how your food is prepared, but it is possible to find some relatively healthy choices at McDonald's. If you are trying to keep your calories at a weight loss level, you may find you have to eat fewer calories at lunch or dinner in order to make up for your higher calorie breakfast meal.

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