The Ultimate Fast Food Comparison

You know that really big fast food project that I mentioned I’ve been working on? Well, it’s done… and it’s F’ing awesome!

What it is, is a side-by-side comparison of the most popular foods from over 20 popular fast food restaurants to see how each restaurant’s version of the same food stacks up against all of the others.

I call it Fast Food Restaurants and Nutrition Facts Compared.

So, for example, you’ll see the nutrition facts of the French Fries from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, White Castle and a dozen more side-by-side to compare which has the most/least calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, carbs and sodium.

Like I said… it’s quite awesome. Go check it out.

Have any questions or feedback about it? Leave it in the comments here. Also, if you have suggestions for other fast food items you would like to see added to the comparison, feel free to leave them in the comments as well. I can’t make any promises, but if you know of a similar type of food that is sold at 2 or more fast food restaurants, I’ll do my best to put it all together and add it to the comparison.

Hope you guys like it. My eyeballs almost exploded while putting it all together. ๐Ÿ˜‰

78 thoughts on “The Ultimate Fast Food Comparison

  1. This is great! I’d love to see the much snickered at fish sandwich family of menu items included. Also, desserts would be great.

  2. I’d like to see another set of numbers showing calories/g, fat/g, etc.

    If a 100g item has half the fat of a 300g item it should not win the prize for best.

    Thanks

  3. When looking at the Trans Fat columns in these tables, everyone should keep in mind what is explained in the Trans Fat section of the article “Reading Food Labels – Nutrition Facts Explained”. In short: any 0 (zero) in the trans fats column could be (and, imho, most likely is) a lie, on the part of the fast food restaurants.

  4. Your article was great the only problem that I could think of is normal intake. Say I go to McDonalds and order a meal thats the sandwich fries and drink. When you compare that to White Castle or KFC things get hazy because you don’t eat just one slider or snacker. The comparisons would be a lot better and more accurate if you included an average on how many of the sandwiches it would normally take to become full. At Burger King it might be just the number 1 but at White Castle it might take a sack of 10, fries, and a drink.

  5. Just a quick response about your “Carb insanity” comment. It’s important to distinguish between healthy complex carbs (fruit, whole grains, etc.), which the body can efficiently into energy from “junk carbs” (high-fructose corn syrup, processed white flour, did I say high-fructose corn syrup?), which overwhelm the pancreas and lead to a fat-generating insulin response. It drives me nuts to see so many foods advertised as “fat-free” that are loaded with unhealthy sugar replacements.

    The ‘insanity’ you mention is typical of our culture in that everyone seems to want (or need) an overly simplified explanation to what ails them: “Fat = bad” or “carbs = bad”. What’s insane is that we are all fooling ourselves – or worse – letting ourselves be fooled by food marketers (not to mention politicians), who are only interested in playing to our weaknesses and making money. ‘Nuff said…

  6. Speaking as a representative of the oppressed east coast, we need to see how Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast sandwiches fall into the breakfast sandwich list.

  7. I would suggest Starbucks is added to your list. They are quickly becoming a fast food outlet for the yuppy set (to borrow a term from the 80’s). I quite sure their new breakfast sandwiches would be high on your list.

  8. I this mentioned but there is no way White Castle hamburger can win anything because no one – and I mean no one – eats just one White Castle burger. The whole point of the place and their advertising is to see how many you can eat. This includes a “crave case” of 15 burgers or a “sack of 10”.

    I know for a fact that their are people that eat this amount by themselves. I just find it so ironic that your award for most healthy burger is probably eaten in a way that would make it the worst burger by far!

  9. I second (third?) the Starbucks idea. Since I travel a lot for work, I find myself grabbing coffee and an inevitable croissant/scone/donut more than I’d like to. Love a comparison of what they offer… rather than “coffee”

  10. Thanks for the great site. My health teacher finds this to be really useful. How about the numbers for the fish sandwiches out there?

  11. Very interesting list. It pointed out some things I need to avoid that I have had frequently in the past. One suggestion I have is to do a comparison of the kids meals at these places. As a parent I’d be very interested in finding out what the best/worst choices are.
    Thanks,
    Paul

  12. What a wonderful thing you have done! Now my family does not have to listen to me berate the fast food staff for not having a listing of nutritional informationavailable. I am a diabetic who is controlled for 10 years with diet and exercise.

    I would love to see McDonald’s “chicken snack wrap” the grilled version (a favorite lunch of mine)
    AND the Hardy’s ham and cheese.

  13. I first want to say what a great job you did putting this together. I can’t imagine the amount of time it took to compile all the info and sort through it.

    I want to just put in my vote for the Mexican food info — Taco Bell and Chipotle are everywhere in my hometown, but I know that there are tons of other Mexican fast food places around.

    I also agree that we need info on all of the sandwich restaurants that have popped up — Subway, Blimpie, Quiznos, Jimmy Johns, Penn Station, Izzy’s, Potbelly, Schlotzky’s, etc. etc. etc. People tend to think they are doing better by getting a sandwich, but I’m sure some of these places are probably out of control too.

    The coffee idea would be great too — Starbucks, The Coffee Beanery, etc.

    THANKS again for putting this together! It’s very helpful!!!!

  14. Please do the fried chicken places, mainly KFC and Popeyes. Both have several variants on chicken and other things (like biscuits) that are a fast food staple. Thanks

  15. GREAT JOB!
    Please add comparisons of standard Beverages (soda, juice, milk etc) AND Deserts.

    FYI – Two new ones in competition are McDOnald’s new Cinamon Melts and Burger King’s Mini-Melts. I bet the data on those would wipe out any effort to eat their better breakfast snadwich by far!!!

  16. Hey, great calculator! Impressive amount of work, much better done than anything provided by Center for Science in the Public Interest, that’s for sure. It would be great to download to ta PDA or similar device for those people who eat a lot of fast food (not me) but do try to choose well.

    I would love to see data for Rubio’s (fish taco chain in So Cal, based in Carlsbad, CA) and Chipotle Grill.

    The other info I would like to see (if it’s there I missed it) is what frying fats are used. That is far more useful than the trans fats grams. For instance, I would love to know which restaurants are still using/have gone back to using traditional, stable, and healthier beef tallow for frying instead of unhealthy vegetable oil. Then trans fats would be a moot point.

    Also, it would be useful to know if the new trans fat-free techno oils are being used as some people might want to completely avoid these (me).

    Thanks for including the carb counts, though I know you did it defensively, not because you consider it relevent. But consider that just about all the carbs in typical fast food meals *are* the highly refined junk sugars and starches with no redeeming value at all (the pitiful amounts of anemic veggies excepted), and that is *very* significant.

    And majority of the calories of a fast food meal are from junk carbs not fat or protein It is glucose and fructose that run up triglycerides and skew the cholesterol levels in a less healthful manner (lower HDL and raise small, dense LDL), not dietary protein or naturally saturated fats. That is what did in the liver of the Supersize me guy, not the burger patties. All that fructose went right to his liver for processing and started to damage it.

    So when you think about it, and I can see you are a thinking person, a low carb burger option with tomato, onion, pickle, lettuce wraps instead of bun, minus catsup and mayo and the fake cheese, with water (or at least a non-sugar sweetened beverage) is a far better meal option, no matter what the fat grams and total calories are (and the calories will be far lower in this meal anyway. If you don’t believe me, spend less time on this calculator and more time on learning what happens to with high levels of sugars, especially fructose, in the body (fatty liver, elevated tryglicerides, inflammation, weight gain, AGEs (advanced glycosated endproducts), etc.

    Anyway, thanks again for your compilation of the data in a very user friendly format.

  17. Oh one more point, the carb counts are very useful for people with glucose metabolism issues (hypoglycemic, diabetic, etc.), whether they use medications and insulin to counter carb intake, or no meds/insulin but with carb restriction. it is much harder to keep tight glucose control when eating out because of all the hidden sugars. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of fructose in fast food items, which doesn’t measure on the glucose meter after the meal, but still causes a lot of cellular damage.

  18. Hello! I _loved_ your documentation on fast food items! I greatly appreciate your efforts in this endeavor!

    Rather than suggest _more_ fast food items for comparison, I was wondering if you would be able to implement a comparison of only select fast food restaurants. For example, in my general area, there is really only Burger King and McDonalds, with Arbys and Wendys on the outskirts. As far as Sonics and Hardees and the rest–they’re simply not anywhere near my area (I don’t even know if they’re in my state!).

    Because of this–it’d be great if your detailed information could be streamlined to only compare items like the “big ones” (MCD and BK, with Wendys and Arbys in close second (at least from my experience those are the big two and the big two runners-up)). Not to say “throw out the rest of your data”–of course not!!! But offer an option to view ALL data or select data.

    Obviously I could search through the other restaurants that are foreign to me, but since you’ve established such a wonderful resource–I think it’d be a great idea to allow visitors to view the entire fast food comparison chart–as well as a simplified version with only a few of the most popular and most frequented fast food joints.

    I applaud your efforts! Thank you!

  19. On the other hand, adding Subway, Blimpies, Jimmy John’s, etc–like other posters have suggested, might be nice.

    I would also be greatly interested in how Taco Bell compares to the burger-joints. It’s difficult to make a comparison, but if an item that fills me up at Taco Bell is incredibly more healthy than an item that fills me up at MCD, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one interested!

    As far as those requesting coffee–I think that’d be a lot of work (wouldn’t it?) since pretty much EVERY place serves coffee, and it all depends on how you make it (sugar, milk, creamer, etc)?

    Not to say that what you’ve done so far ISN’T hard, because of course, we all appreciate this work you’ve done! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I noticed that you have an unknown quantity listed for Sonic’s Mozzarella sticks. Well I just wanted to let you know, they come in a serving size of 5.

  21. Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. People will go to Arby’s for those sandwiches rather than to McD’s for a burger. It would be good to see the comparison there.

    Also, (this was mentioned earlier) some of your “healthiest” choices do not take into account serving size…do you really think people will stop at one mini-burger?

  22. I would like to see Whataburger’s information included on this list. Here in Texas it’s about the best burger you can find.

  23. Could you compare milkshakes? Or Flurries/ice cream etc?

    Or even ice cream chains like Haagendaz v. Ben and Jerry’s scoop shops, v. Coldstone Creamery v. Tasti D-lite and such?

  24. Just found your website and found it very useful. One thing I would like to see a comparison on is salad at fast food places. I know some people think they are eating healthy if they have a salad, but some are worse than the other menu items. I also like to eat salads and would like to know the “best” and the “worse”

  25. This is a really great list, thanks so much for compiling it. I agree with the many others who ask for taco bell and whataburger information. They’re everywhere here in Texas. I also wanted to say that your pizza comparison isn’t fair. The type of crust at Pizza hut that is comparable to the rest of these is hand-tossed not pan. Pan would have to be compared to the other restaurants’ deep dish/thick crust versions.

  26. How does Long Johns Silver’s compare? ie. fish, chicken, fries. I thought I heard that they used “0 trans fat” oil.

  27. Hi,
    Super article. May I suggest looking into calories etc for the convenience store industry? For instance, what about 7-11- they carry breakfast sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs, taquitos.. and more. I also would like to see a site which looks at calorie counts etc. for chinese foods.

    Thanks!!

    CK

  28. The chart was very helpful. It may be useful to mention that some of these restaraunts have started offering better options for those in the position of going to them. Many of them now offer salads that are decent. (I really like Chick-fil-a’s Santa fe Chicken, the spice of the black bean and corn salsa really cuts into the need for dressing!) Also, Wendy’s has their chili, with the addition of beans kicks up the health notch.

  29. This is a great site. I agree i would like to see the salads and dressings compared. I like the Iced coffees that they have @ a lot of the fast ffo chains. Some of them offer them sugar free,ect. I would just like to know, how they stack up. Thanks.

  30. wow, love this. it’s brilliant. tbh good job i don’t eat out at fast food places very often!

    how about adding on the crazy salads you can get? with all their ridiculous fatty dresssings, etc. it’s amazing how many times you go for a salad and it’s cooooooovered in crap!

    i’m from the UK so only BK, McDonalds and Subway are relevant to me, really. and tbh i bloody love subway but i always either get a salad, veggie delite or a veggie patty (rarely) and i skip on the cheese.

    but yes, this website is fantastic. keep up the good work :] and i love the dialect! it isn’t all like “oh la de da i’m awesome and this is what you shouldn’t be eating you fat wobbler”, it’s readable and friendly and a brilliant WARNING to those who love fast food. my boyfriend would hate this site ;D!

    keep up the great work x

  31. and, sorry to double post, but although BK, McD’s and Subway are the most relevant to me, i find it extremely interesting (and slightly cathartic) to see all the other rubbishy junk food there is out there – makes me feel like i can do no wrong, ’cause i don’t eat meat anyways and the veggie burgers you can get are mainly grossssss C:

    again, very well done :]

  32. Various entities have rated Wendy’s the best of the big 3 fast food chains. I strongly disagree. After working wt Windy’s for 3 mondths I was disgusted and appalled. The youth employed there never wasthed their hands more than once or twice a shift, I know as I did clean up. Dropped hamburgeer patties were frequently dropped to the flor and put back on the grill. It was all totally unsanitary. I am surprised they have not been banished by the food and drug administration.

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