As regular readers of the OmegaZone know, Sherlock Zone enjoys dining around the world. He’s had elegant Zone dinners in Italy, Spain, Athens and Mexico and on a Caribbean cruise.
So where was he assigned this month? McDonald’s.
Sherlock, who has become quite a food snob, was horrified and thought searching for clues about Zone meals in a fast food restaurant was beneath his well-developed culinary sleuthing techniques.
“But McDonald’s has restaurants around the world. You’ve seen them everywhere on your travels, filled with people,” Sherlock was told.
And so he began his investigation, which turned out to be one of his most intensive as he conducted the search to help Zoners find a good meal when the menu leaves them clueless.
A visit to the McDonald’s Web site surprised him. Mcdonalds.com. proclaimed that the restaurant is all about health.
Heart doctor Dean Ornish and personal trainer Bob Greene are featured in columns on the site, which could lead one to believe that they have given the restaurant their seal of approval, at least that’s what Sherlock deducted.
Detailed nutritional information is provided on the McDonald’s Web site. “Choice is crucial: Different tastes, menu flexibility, and all the right sizes to fit every active lifestyle. McDonald’s range of high-quality foods can fit into a balanced diet. Get the straight facts on all your favorites.”
Sherlock decided to do just that.
There is a nutritionist on board to make some “healthy” suggestions: Premium Salads, Chicken McNuggets made with white meat and Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfaits.
Before we let Sherlock get started rattling off grams, here’s what you need to know when sleuthing for fast food: a typical woman needs 21 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of fat per meal; a typical male needs 28 grams of protein, 36 grams of carb and 12 grams of fat per meal.
Sherlock first looked at the nutritionist’s recommendation to try a “healthy parfait:” 2 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 31 grams of carbohydrate, 21 grams of which are sugar. It doesn’t take an established Zoner to figure out that isn’t a healthy choice.
Then there are the “Premium Salads.” What Sherlock discovered is that just about every one of them is too high in protein, ranging from 31 to 35 grams of protein per serving. On the other hand, the grams of carbs are low, meaning diners would have to leave some of the protein behind and bring a piece of fruit. The fat content is pretty much on target except for the California Cobb Salad with Chicken, which is high, and yet the Web site lists the fat content of the various salad dressings offered separately so choose a non-fat version.
The nutritionist also assures us that McDonald’s thinks about the little ones. New offerings “make healthy eating even more fun for kids.”
“Well, let’s see,” Sherlock said, examining some of the suggested healthy features for children.
Included in the Happy Meals are low-fat Apple Dippers. Low fat they are, but they contain 24 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of which are sugar. (Children should have 14 grams of protein, 18 grams of carb and 6 grams of fat per meal.)
Also touted are the low-fat Chocolate Milk Mugs, which contain 26 grams of carbs (a staggering 25 grams of sugar), and only 9 grams of protein. That’s even worse than the “healthy” apple juice boxes, which have 24 grams of carbs (15 grams of sugar).
In general, breakfasts at McDonalds are off the graph. Even two scrambled eggs (15 grams of protein) have 12 grams of fat.
Bob Greene, who by the way is Oprah Winfrey’s personal coach, begs to differ. Here are his words on the site: “Eat a nourishing breakfast. McDonald’s has wonderful choices that can be part of any balanced lifestyle, like a Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait, an Egg McMuffin sandwich without cheese and plain Hotcakes with syrup.”
Sherlock has already investigated the parfaits (see above) and found them not to be a nutritional hit. The Egg McMuffin sandwich without cheese? Not too bad: 12 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbohydrate and 17 grams of protein.
But do stay away from those hotcakes with syrup: 17 grams of fat and 102 grams of carbohydrate (45 grams of sugar). After eating a breakfast like that, anyone would need at a personal trainer.
Stick with Dr. Sears’ original McDonald’s advice, which he gave years ago. Buy a regular hamburger (9 grams fat, 33 grams carb and 14 grams of protein). Bring along some no-fat string cheese to boost the protein content of your meal.