big mac

The big mac is a hamburger sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s. The burger was first served in Pittsburgh in 1967 and taken national in the United States the following year. The big mac contains two beef patties, a sauce, iceberg lettuce, American cheese, pickles, and onions served in a sesame seed bun. The special sauce is a variant of thousand’s island dressing made with mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, vinegar, yellow mustard, and spices. The big mac is one of McDonald’s flagship products with its popularity extending into its international markets. The big mac’s nutrition composition differs across the world. This is because different countries have different regulations on food ingredients. The difference in big mac nutrition may also be attributed to adjustments of the recipe to fit cultural preferences. This article focuses on the nutrition of the big mac sold in America.

A big mac with bacon, a variation of the Big Mac popular in the United Kingdom

Big Mac nutrition is as bad as you think

As you would expect, the Big Mac is not a nutritionally dense food. It features almost all the characteristics of an ‘unhealthy food’; low fiber, high calories, low micronutrients, high fat, high sodium, and simple carbohydrates. It is the same case for most of McDonald’s signature meals like the Egg McMuffin and the McChicken. When you put into consideration that one will most likely pair a Big Mac with equally unhealthy food, the case for big mac nutrition gets even worse. People will often pair a big mac with French fries, a sweetened drinks such as soda, and little to vegetables.

Do not be deceived by the low-calorie count of the big mac

One Big Mac has 550 calories. On its own, a Big Mac’s calorie content is fair at worst. However, in a real-life context, it is very likely that you will add a side dish to the burger. It is even more likely that that dish will be equally high in calories. One serving of medium size French fries at McDonald’s has about 380 calories. Together, a meal of a big mac and French fries will give you nearly 1000 calories and this is before adding sauces, extra dressings, and drinks.

The Carbs of the Big Mac

A Big Mac contains 45g of carbohydrates, 20% of which are sugars. The carbohydrates in the Big Mac come from the bun, iceberg lettuce, and added sugar. The burger barely contains any dietary fiber owing the little it has to the few shreds of lettuce in it.

Protein: The Big Mac’s only win

The Big Mac has an impressive 25g of protein because of its two beef patties. The protein contributes about 20% of the calorie content. However, a Big Mac can not be a reliable source of protein. This is because when paired with another food, the percentage contribution of the protein to calories can drop to less than 10%.

Is it McDonald’s if the Fat is low?

The Big Mac is a high fat food with over 30g of fat. Since the fat comes from animal sources, nearly half of it is saturated. A Big Mac also has 1g of trans fat which is actually very high by today’s standards. Hopefully, the trans fat will be gone out of the big mac soon. The Food and Drug Administration has a directive for food producers to eliminate trans fat from all foods by 2023. To add to its already poor fat profile, a Big Mac has a quarter of the daily limit of dietary cholesterol.

It should come as no surprise that a big mac is not suitable for a weight loss diet. In fact, it is not even suitable for a weight maintenance diet. You should treat the Big Mac as what it is, a treat but not a staple in a normal diet.

Should you expect any vitamins and minerals from a Big Mac?

It is safe to say that no one eats a Big Mac for its vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, even the most unhealthy foods tend to have a quite impressive vitamin and mineral content. However, this burger is not one of these foods. The Big Mac is strong in only two minerals; iron and calcium, contributing 10% and 25% respectively.

The micronutrient that should concern all Big Mac lovers is sodium. A single Big Mac has half of the daily limit of sodium.

NutrientsAmount in one big mac
Calories55o calories
Carbohydrates45g
Sugar9g
Dietary fiber3g
Protein25g
Fat30g
Sodium1010mg
Iron25% daily allowance
Calcium10% daily allowance
The Big Mac’s nutrition composition

Health concerns associated with regular consumption of foods like the Big Mac

  • A diet rich in Big Macs will almost certainly lead to weight gain. This is due to the high-calorie content. The burger is also high in simple carbohydrates and fat which are the two major factors of weight gain.
  • Heart disease; the Big Mac is the complete recipe for heart disease combining high cholesterol, high saturated fat content, and trans fats. Eating Big Macs regularly is a risk factor for different heart diseases such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and heart attacks among others.
  • The high sodium content is also a major factor in causing high blood pressure.
  • Junk food is also associated with a decline in mental health leading to depression in some people.
  • Overconsumption of big macs generally leads to a decline in health leading to a reduction in quality of skin and hair health, fatigue, and sleep apnea.
An example of a typical meal with a Big Mac

Allergens

According to the Macdonald’s website, the big mac contains wheat, soy, egg, and milk. Interestingly, the company has no mention of gluten even though it is implied in mentioning wheat. For such a large company, there should be more clear guidelines to cater to customers that may not be well educated on the topic. Take an example of a child who may have deadly allergies to gluten, they would probably pass over the wheat assuming it was safe for them to eat.

Common Questions

How many calories are in a big mac?

A big mac contains 550 calories. This calorie count does not include the side dish that comes with the burger.

What is the nutritional value of a big mac?

The Big Mac contains 30g of fat, 25g of protein, and 45g of carbohydrates. The burger is not rich in vitamins and minerals except for iron, calcium, and some potassium.

How much sodium is in a big mac?

A Big Mac contains 1010mg of sodium, half of the daily limit.

How much fat is in a big mac?

There are 30g of fat in a single Big Mac. Nearly half of the fat in a Mig Mac is saturated and the burger also has some trans fat.

Is a Big Mac healthy?

No, Big Macs are not healthy. They do not even com close to a fair nutrition. The downsides of eating a big mac greatly outweigh the positive effects.

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