Not feeling like a fast-food hamburger? You can always go for a chicken sandwich – but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re necessarily making a healthier choice. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by registered dietitian Sarah Coulson of NOSH Nutrition. They take a look at five popular fast-food chicken burgers and reveal which is the worst for you.
“Chicken sandwiches can be pretty bad, but not all of them,” says Sarah. “Some things that you want to consider when you’re buying a chicken sandwich is how are they prepared? What kind of condiments are on them? Even just the addition of bacon and mayonnaise can add a lot of calories and a lot of unhealthy fat.”
“Not all calories are created equally,” she continues. “So take a look at calories – how many calories per serving does a chicken sandwich contain? Think about how much protein is in there, because when we eat one of these sandwiches, we want to feel full and we want to feel satiated. And sometimes, that’s something that we don’t consider. Also, taking a look at how much fat. So, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat.”
Sarah says that wraps can be a healthier option – but not always.
“When you think about that satiety factor, we want to feel full – so the question is, is one wrap really going to do it? Or are we going to have two and then scooch those calories right back up.”
McDonald’s McChicken Sandwich (470 calories, 27 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 790 mg sodium, 17 g protein)
“Predominantly mayo,” Sarah says after taking a bite. “And dry.”
“That was the strongest taste, even over the chicken,” Andrea agrees. “
Burger King Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich (Least healthy option: 640 calories, 36 g fat (6 g saturated), 1420 mg sodium, 27 g protein)
Both Andrea and Sarah are impressed by the fluffy bun of this sandwich, but again, they agree that the taste of the chicken is masked.
“The bread and the mayo is one of the most predominant tastes to me, more than anything,” Andrea says.
This option came away as the least healthy of the bunch.
“The Burger King chicken sandwich weighs in at almost 650 calories and has seven teaspoons of total fat, which would be the equivalent of the fat found in four doughnuts,” Sarah reveals. “
Harvey’s Crispy Chicken (Healthiest option and Andrea and Sarah’s favourite: 470 calories, 16 g fat (2 g saturated), 1320 mg sodium, 29 g protein)
“I taste spice,” says Sarah. “It’s not as dry either – better texture, I think.”
“This one just feels like a chicken sandwich,” Andrea comments.
This option unanimously won over both our taste-testers.
“It had a really non-substantial bun, and it tasted like chicken, which is what you want in a chicken sandwich.
“The chicken had a taste to it,” Andrea says. “It had a seasoning.”
This tasty option also comes away as the healthiest of the bunch, which two grams of saturated fat – less than half that of the Burger King sandwich.
A&W Chubby Chicken Burger (490 calories, 27 g fat (3 g saturated), 1190 mg sodium, 21 g protein)
“A lot of bread, and a lot of chicken,” says Andrea. “But overall, it’s bland.”
“The texture’s not great, and it’s really dry still,” Sarah comments.
Wendy’s Homestyle Chicken Breast Sandwich (500 calories, 21 g fat (5 g saturated), 1180 mg sodium, 25 g protein)
“I don’t feel like there’s as much mayonnaise coming across,” says Sarah. “I feel there’s more chicken. But still, really bland.”
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to a chicken sandwich at a fast-food restaurant, Sarah recommends going with a grilled chicken sandwich instead of crispy, which means that it’s likely battered and then deep-fried.
“Beyond that, if you’re looking for a fast-food fix and you really want a burger, go for a classic beef burger,” she suggests. “Plain burger or maybe even a junior burger if you’re really motivated.”
What's your go-to chicken sandwich? Or do you prefer to make your own at home? Let us know in the comments.