Can You Eat A McValue Lunch And Stay Healthy?

McDonald's current promotion of McValue lunches is tempting for the cash-strapped meal hunter. But which ones will have the most damaging effect on your waistline? We ran the numbers to find out.

If you haven't already been bombarded with the advertising, the McValue Lunch works like this: between 12pm and 2pm, half-a-dozen meal combos are available from McDonald's at reduced prices (in some cases, $3 cheaper than that deal would usually cost). Most of the deals include a medium serve of fries and a medium soft drink; the Sweet Chilli Wrap option instead includes water and fruit. There's no prizes for guessing that last one will be the healthiest choice, but how do the others stack up?

In the table below, we've listed the total kilojoules in each of the available McValue Lunch combinations. We've made two calculations; one including Coke as the drink, and the other a zero-calorie soft drink (Diet Coke or Coke Zero). Coke isn't actually the sugariest option — that honour goes to Fanta — but it's the most common choice. (We haven't done that with the Sweet Chilli Wrap, which comes with water.) Click on the image for a larger version.

The advice we offered earlier in the year when we rounded up takeaway burger options continues to apply here: you're always better off ordering the diet drink. Obviously, your very best bet is to either choose the wrap option or to forego the fries. But if that was your thinking, you wouldn't be looking at these meals anyway.

While the figure varies depending on your height, 8700 kilojoules is a reasonable daily intake target. On that basis, each meal shouldn't comprise much more than 2900 kilojoules (less if you also want snacks). With that in mind, the most sensible choice is the cheeseburger or, at a stretch, the Chicken Deluxe. Everything else is likely to make you gain weight.

Of course, there are lots of ways to balance this out. You could have a much lighter dinner to balance out the totals; you might exercise frantically. But if you eat most of the McValue options on a regular basis without forethought and planning, chances are you'll gain weight in the long run. That doesn't mean you can't indulge occasionally, and doing that shouldn't wreck your life, but as a habit, it's potentially dangerous, no matter what the savings.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


    Easiest approach to take away food:

    If you’re concerned about calorie and kilojoules content of fast food, you’re probably best off not eating it in the first place.

      ^-- this... and stop using my name :-P

    $10 a week max at Aldi, heaps cheaper and better for you than macccas

      Plus the drive to my closest Audi... $200 in diesel. Doesn't seem to economical.

    Bread roll and ham, $3 a day at Woolies :)

    I've eaten pretty much nothing but junk food and had little exercise for the past half a year and I actually appear skinnier. Pretty wierd :S

      Nothing weird about it at all. There's more to malnutrition than the calorific content of what you eat.

    my biggest problem used to be terminology like "occasionally" and "in moderation"

    FYI, neither means "on sundays", but more like once every couple of months

    It's be nice to see energy next to protein next time.

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