How Many Calories? Big Mac’s Calories Visualized

by Michael Brown on July 31, 2019

The Big Mac is one of the most famous burgers in the world.

This burger was first introduced by McDonalds in 1967 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By 1968, it had been released nationwide, quickly earning a name for itself as one of the most delicious burgers in the history of fast food.

In this article, we discuss how many calories are in this legendary burger, using vivid descriptions to convey the Big Mac’s various components. Towards the end of the article, we offer some tips for how make the Big Mac healthy, including a vegan recipe that will have your mouth watering.

The Big Mac Calories ​And Ingredients

The Big Mac has 540 calories.

About 260 of these calories are from fat, as there is about 28 grams of total fat in the burger.

The Big Mac is composed of three sesame seed buns, two beef patties, shredded lettuce, Big Mac sauce, American cheese, pickles, and onions.

The sesame seed buns are primarily made from wheat flour, barley flour, water, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, salt, wheat gluten, sesame seeds, potato flour and vinegar.

The two beef patties are made from 100% pure USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) inspected beef. This beef does not have fillers or extenders. There is also some salt and black pepper on the beef.

The Big Mac sauce was a secret for a while, but McDonalds recently released the ingredients. In particular, the sauce is composed primarily of soybean oil, sweet relish, egg yolks, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, various corn syrups, turmeric, paprika, and water.

It’s important to note that these are not all the ingredients, as there are several other substances that are used in the bun and sauce. These include things like xanthan gum, various vitamins and minerals, various colorings, enzymes, and dough conditioners. Many of these ingredients are preservatives intended to extend the lifespan of the food.

While these ingredients have very minimal calories, this doesn’t mean that they are healthy in any way.

More Information ​On ​The Big Mac’s Nutritional Profile

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If you are trying to analyze the nutritional profile of the Big Mac, it’s also important to understand its various micronutrients and macronutrients.

In terms of micronutrients, the Big Mac has 950mg of sodium, which is a whopping 40% of the daily value recommended by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).  

The Big Mac also has 530IU of Vitamin A, which is about 10% of your daily value. It also has 120mg of calcium, which is about 10% of your daily value. Lastly, it has 4.5mg of iron, which is about 25% of your daily value.

In terms of macronutrients, the Big Mac has 3 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 45 grams of total carbs. It also has 25 grams of protein.

Analyzing the Health of the Big Mac

When considered in abstraction, the Big Mac doesn’t seem that unhealthy.

However, the Big Mac’s calories stem mainly from beef, cheese, flour, soybean oil, and refined sugars. While the beef, cheese and flour might be considered healthy by some, the soybean oil and refined sugars are certainly not healthy.

Refined sugars are often considered empty calories since they provide minimal micronutrients. These sugars are usually extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets. This means that they lack the fiber, vitamins and minerals of these foods, which are absolutely critical for digestion.

Soybean oil is a very fatty food that is considered one of the more affordable oils. This is likely why McDonald’s utilizes the oil, as it allows them to maximize their profit. McDonald’s doesn’t provide information about the exact quantity of the oil used or the particular nature of it.

Yet, one of the reasons that McDonald’s uses three buns is to soak up some of the Big Mac sauce. Thus, the amount of soybean oil used on this burger is certainly not a negligible amount.

It’s also well known that the more unrefined an oil is, the healthier it is. Cold-pressed has become the gold standard for oils, yet this is an expensive process that makes the resultant oil quite expensive. Thus, it’s very likely that this soybean oil has been heated under high temperatures, which denatures many of its various nutrients.

Ultimately, all of this means that the Big Mac is quite an unhealthy burger despite its relatively low number of calories.

The main redeeming factor of the burger is the shredded lettuce, onions, cheese, and beef. Very little preservatives are used in these ingredients, making them relatively healthy.

It should be noted that the pickles also contain salt, natural flavors, extractives, and preservatives. Thus, they are not as pure or healthy as you might expect.

Tips ​For Making ​The Big Mac Healthy

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Eating a Big Mac doesn’t have to be an unhealthy indulgence, as its components can be modified to the customers liking.

We recommend asking only for the burger, cheese, lettuce, onions, and pickles. If you must have the bread, then we recommend making your own.

While it might be socially awkward to make your own bread for a fast food meal, remember that it’s your health that’s at stake. A slight bit of awkwardness is a fair exchange for more optimal health.

Alternatively, you can ask for extra lettuce, onions and pickles and turn this Big Mac into a salad. Then, you can just cut up the beef patty into bite sized pieces. If you are craving a dressing, you can also make one at home utilizing only healthy ingredients.  

A Vegan Alternative ​To ​The Big Mac

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Some people scoff at the Big Mac’s calories because they come partially from animal products like beef and cheese.

For these people, it wouldn’t matter if the burger only had 100 calories and no preservatives. These customers consider their digestion to also be a function of their vegan ethics, which means that beef and cheese are off limits.

Yet, if you follow a vegan lifestyle, then there is need to worry, as the textures and tastes of the classic Big Mac can be replicated using only plant-based ingredients.

In particular, if you want to keep it simple, you can just use three steamed portabella mushrooms for the buns. Or, you could make your own buns from scratch using buckwheat flour, coconut flour, yeast, water and salt. This kind of bun would avoid the usage of various oils, preservatives, and unhealthy flours. Buckwheat has also been lauded in recent years for its many health benefits, and these benefits extend into the flour.

To replace the beef patty, you can use pureed beets and beans as your base. As a binder, you can use flaxseed powder or chia seed powder.

To replace the cheese, you can make your own cashew cheese. There are many recipes online that walk you through how to do this.

Lastly, the Big Mac sauce that is typically used usually has egg yolks in it, which are not considered vegan. This is likely used as a binder and can be replaced with any kind of plant-based powder, like flax seed powder, chia seed powder or even hemp seed powder.

A Raw, Vegan Alternative ​To ​The Big Mac

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On another level, you could use mainly raw foods in order to assemble a vegan version of the Big Mac. In order to do this, we recommend using coconut meat as your buns. Then, we recommend using a combination of avocado, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and your favorite fresh herbs to form the sauce.

You could also use raw onions and cucumbers on this raw vegan Big Mac. To replace the cheese, you could just make a raw cashew-based cheese that is adapted from an online recipe.

Our Final Thoughts ​On ​The Big Mac’s Calories

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We think the Big Mac is a legendary sandwich that is quickly going out of style.

We think the world is moving towards a vegan lifestyle which excludes the use of animal products. Yet, this doesn’t mean that the textures and flavors of the classic Big Mac will be lost. Rather, it means that the bulk of the Big Mac’s calories will come from nuts, seeds, roots, and legumes in the future.

These are some of the most digestible foods in the world, which means that McDonald’s might actually be considered a healthy establishment in the future.

When you think about it, plants and fruits are some of the fastest foods on the planet. We think McDonald’s might feature more meals in the future that are simpler than the classic Big Mac burger.

For example, this might entail a romaine lettuce wrap filled with mangoes, sprouts, avocado, and bell peppers. As long as these ingredients are of high quality, they should be able to be eaten and enjoyed on their own, without concocting some complex patty, bread, or sauce.

At the end of the day, as long as you stay aware of what you are eating, your health will be optimized and you will experience new levels of health and happiness.

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