Most people who go to fast food restaurants are fully aware that they are going to eat fairly unhealthy food that is high in calories, fat, and salt. While few items on fast-food menus exceed the daily recommended intake of calories, a surprisingly large number contain more than half of the calories a person should consume in a day.
The estimated daily calorie need for sedentary men between 18 and 50 years old is between 2,200 and 2,400 calories; for women it is between 1,800 and 2,000, according to dietary guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. Of course, these recommendations change by age, gender, and lifestyle.
24/7 Tempo reviewed the nutritional content of every fast-food menu item of over a dozen fast food chains to compile a list of 40 single items with at least 1,000 calories. Only food items intended for individuals were considered. Meals that contain more than one item were not included.
Some popular fast-food items such as burgers and desserts probably contain more calories than most people think. They are often consumed with a side order or a drink, both of which are often high in calories as well because of high fat and sugar content. As a result, just one meal can end up containing more than all the calories a person needs in a day. And no doubt, it won’t be the only meal one has in a day.
All of the major fast food chains have lower-calorie options, particularly in their chicken sandwiches and salad offerings. You can also trim caloric intake by avoiding certain toppings and cheese – here are the fast-food items with the fewest calories.