Why McDonald's Grilled Chicken Isn't As Healthy As You Think

Fast food isn't healthy. It's an easy rule to remember when we're faced with double bacon cheeseburgers or mega-stuffed burritos. But it's a little harder to keep in mind when it comes to something like McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich. And it's easy to see why. It's hard to make grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, a little mayo, and some bread unhealthy.

McDonald's almost pulls it off though. A Redditor spilled the truth, which Health Digest picked up back in February.

"To keep it from sticking to the grill, we use three squirts of liquid margarine on the bottom of it. To keep it juicy, once we've lain the frozen blocks of chicken, three more squirts of liquid margarine are applied to the tops."

Cooking methods are standard across McDonald's franchises. So it doesn't matter where you order your chicken sandwich, you're getting a helping of margarine along with it. It's a large part of why the grilled chicken sandwich has 7 grams of fat. And it means you can't just cut out the bun to make the meal healthier, either.

How does it compare?

The sandwich's fat content isn't even the most shocking part. Fast Food Nutrition has the full nutrition breakdowns for most of McDonald's menu, even for things that aren't on the company's website, like the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich. They get their information directly from the company and the site's comparison tools make it easy to see how the grilled chicken stacks up.

If you compare it to something like the Big Mac, the grilled chicken comes out on top. But if you compare it to something like the traditional hamburger, the results will surprise you. The grilled chicken sandwich has 380 calories compared to the hamburger's 240. And while the grilled chicken has more protein (37 grams compared to 13 grams from the hamburger) it also has more carbs (44 grams compared to 31).

The grilled chicken sandwich has more fat in it, too, with 8 grams compared to the burger's 7. Worst of all is the sodium count. A McDonald's hamburger has 48 milligrams of sodium. The chicken sandwich, on the other hand, has 1,110 milligrams, almost half the recommended daily value.

Why you won't find it on the menu anymore

In addition, Fast Food Nutrition reports that there is also sugar to be found in McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich. With 11 grams of sugar per serving, a grilled chicken sandwich from McDonald's makes up almost one-third of the recommended daily intake of sugar for men, which stands at 36 grams, and nearly half of the recommended daily sugar intake for women (25 grams), via American Heart Association. For comparison, a traditional McDonald's hamburger contains 6 grams of sugar (per Fast Food Nutrition). 

Now, however, one couldn't order a McDonald's artisan grilled chicken sandwich even if they tried. The item disappeared from their menu in 2020 during the first year of the pandemic as the company adapted to new health and safety protocols, zeroing in on their most popular menu items, reports Business Insider. "We will certainly add things back to the menu," said CEO Chris Kempczinski during a virtual conference in 2020, as per CNBC. "Whether it goes all the way back to where we were pre-COVID, I think that's probably unlikely." As of yet, the grilled chicken sandwich has not been among these returning items.

If you want healthy food, you're better off skipping fast food completely. Life doesn't always make that easy, unfortunately. On those days, skip the grilled chicken and try one of these surprisingly healthy options. They're delicious and you'll know exactly what you're in for.