Every fast food restaurant has their own qualities that they’re known for. If you want salty fries, a Big Mac, and Coke that is actually proven to taste better, you know to go straight to McDonald’s. If you want the best chicken sandwich, delicious sauce options, and polite service, you know to head to Chick-fil-A. And of course, when you’re craving a Frosty (and maybe fries to dip in it), everyone knows to run to Wendy’s. But Frosty aside, Wendy’s also has an extensive breakfast menu full of sandwiches, biscuits, croissants, and more. And while all of these breakfast items are deliciously satisfying, some are healthier than others.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to find fast food that is actually healthy. This cuisine is known for being high in saturated fat, calories, sodium, and added sugar, while also being notoriously low in helpful nutrients like fiber. In fact, some researchers have found that fast food consumption can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and heart complications. However, even though we are certainly not claiming that fast food is healthy, we understand that sometimes, it’s the only option. Life can be chaotic and expensive, and the convenience and affordability of fast food is helpful sometimes—especially on busy mornings when you need to grab a quick breakfast on-the-go. When this is the case, it’s nice to know what some of your “healthier” options are out there.
To learn more about your options at Wendy’s, in particular, we spoke with two dietitians who are also members of our Expert Medical Board: Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, registered sports dietitian and author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook; Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Family Immunity Cookbook; and Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. Based on their expert insight, we’ve ranked every item on the Wendy’s breakfast menu from least healthy to most nutritious. Even if these items are not considered “healthy” in the conventional sense, having this information will empower you to make well-informed dietary decisions, putting you at ease the next time you’re in a bind and need a quick morning meal on the go.
Coming in at No. 12, this sandwich may please your tastebuds, but it packs a punch of negative qualities.
“As the most unhealthy option, the Breakfast Baconator boasts 710 calories and 48 grams of fat,” says Goodson. “It does have the highest protein content of any item, but its high calorie and fat make it the most unhealthy Wendy’s breakfast menu item.”
“At 590 calories, this sandwich is another menu item with no fiber and a high saturated fat content of 16 grams,” says Goodson. Based on the American Heart Association’s recommendation of only 13 grams of saturated fat per day, this sandwich exceeds that in just one sitting.
A classic biscuit breakfast sandwich will certainly satisfy those savory, greasy cravings, but “this sandwich comes in toward the top, due to its high calorie and fat content from the biscuit and sausage,” says Goodson. She also suggests omitting the sausage if you want to make this one a bit of a healthier choice.
It might seem like this is a decently healthy option at first because it doesn’t have any cheese or other toppings on the sandwich, but it still contains some not-so-great levels of fat, sodium, and calories.
“With 13 grams of saturated fat, the Sausage Biscuit ranks toward the top with higher total fat, saturated fat, and lower protein compared to other sandwiches like the Maple Bacon Chicken Croissant,” says Goodson.
The words maple, croissant, and bacon don’t make for the healthiest connotation, and we definitely aren’t claiming that this is a healthful choice. However, it’s fairly middle-of-the-road in relation to other items on The Wendy’s breakfast menu.
“While this sandwich uses chicken for protein versus pork, which is lower in fat, the chicken is still fried, giving it a moderate fat level,” says Goodson. Unfortunately, this sandwich still has a “higher sugar content at 13 grams from the maple bacon.”
“While the Sausage Biscuit is 100 calories less than some of its counterparts, like the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, it ranks lower due to its higher saturated fat content, and less than half the protein,” says Goodson.
It’s also important to note the sodium level in this sandwich, as well as all fast food items. The FDA recommends that the average person sticks to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and this breakfast item provides over half of that in just one meal.