What 1,500 Calories Looks Like at 25 Fast Food Restaurants

You'll be surprised at the combinations that add up the fastest!

Written by Carly Hallman

Those attempting a 1,500-calories-a-day diet, be warned: The following infographic may be upsetting! We’ve scanned the most popular fast-food menus for 1,500-calories-per-day meals, and quite frequently, you can blow your entire calorie budget for the day in one sitting. What do 1,500 calories look like at fast-food restaurants? Here’s a hint of how fast you can cram calories meant for a full day into one meal.

Illustration of 1500 Calorie meal combinations at 25 different fast food restaurants

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Normally, eating 1,500 calories a day isn’t unrealistic given a diet of vegetables, little dairy, and lean meat. Here’s a sample of a 1,500-calorie diet that includes three meals and an afternoon snack. There are tons of examples of meal plans with three full, filling meals under that calorie threshold. With a little bit more prep, getting the energy you need from vegetables and protein is completely reasonable. But it is important to consider one question: Is a 1,500-calorie diet enough? Typically, an exercising person should get between 1,800 and 2,600 calories daily, and the limit of 1,500 is good for weight loss for an average person. Of course, individual needs may be different.

But here’s how not to eat 1,500 calories a day: cramming it all into one meal. This is an intensely unhealthy way to go about it, and it’s certainly not meant as a guide. But this just goes to show how unhealthy America’s fast-food items can be. We’ve already shown how much you’d have to run to work off some of these items. Here’s another way to look at how quickly burger calories stack up!

At most of these fast-food restaurants, you can sit down and consume one 1,500-calorie meal. That means you’ve already consumed what those trying to lose weight should eat in an entire day when you sit down at that restaurant (or in your car, of course). Fast-food calories can pile up ridiculously fast, with some single items, like one burrito at Chipotle or a small pizza at Papa John’s, completely filling that 1,500-calorie quota on their own.

What does a 1,500-calorie diet look like? This fast-food calorie counter can show you what 1,500 calories will get you at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, or Chick-Fil-A. At McDonald’s, all you’d need to reach 1,500 calories in one meal is a Big Mac, large fries, and a McFlurry. At Wendy’s, you only need two items: a Baconator and a chili-cheese baked potato. At Sonic, you’d just need one of their most caloric Master Blast drinks and a Jr. Double Cheeseburger.

What’s upsetting about this is that to reach 1,500 calories per day, you don’t necessarily need to pick out the highest-calorie fast food items at each restaurant. You also don’t need to pick out the unusual and rare seasonal items or experiments that can be horrifyingly high in calories. All you need is a few regular-menu fast-food items to reach your 1,500 calories a day! Menu items that are always available, like burgers and shakes, tend to be over 1,000 calories on their own, so if you’re hoping to lose weight, definitely watch out.

Maintaining a healthy diet with a limit of 1,500 calories is reasonable, but doing it with fast food in your diet may not be. Sticking to the least caloric items might help, but the sodium will still likely lead to bloating. If you want to lose weight, steer clear of blowing your whole budget on one 1,500-calorie meal.

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