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Calories in French Fries | Which Fries are the Healthiest?

Calories in French Fries | Which Fries are the Healthiest?

Ah, French Fries. Who doesn’t love a perfectly crispy, salty, delicious fry?

It’s no secret that french fries aren’t exactly a health food, and most food that comes out of a deep fryer is typically associated with overall unhealthy diets.

But, in case you’re new around here, we don’t believe in labeling foods as “unhealthy.”

Some food may be better than others to eat on a regular basis, but that doesn’t make any one particular food bad.

 

Can french fries fit in a healthy diet?

In short: absolutely!

Fries (and fast food in general) are too often associated with unhealthy lifestyles, but that does not need to be the case at all.

As long as you practice moderation, you can absolutely eat fries as part of a healthy diet.

Fries are often considered “empty calories” because they do not offer a ton of nutrition benefits. Since french fries are just deep-fried potatoes, we’re getting mostly carbs & fat with not much else.

On top of that, the fryer oil that french fries are cooked in doesn’t exactly scream healthy (although fat is not automatically bad, so don’t be immediately scared if you see saturated fat).

But, all of that being said, french fries are a treat. As long as they are not a daily staple in your diet, there is nothing wrong with having some fries. Yes, even a large fry!

Sure, you’ll be consuming high amounts of fat & carbs. But remember: it is one meal.

One meal, even one day, is never going to de-rail your progress. It’s okay to eat food you enjoy sometimes!

 

Are sweet potato fries healthier than regular fries?

French fries vs sweet potato fries nutrition

I’ve seen a lot of people looking towards sweet potatoes in an effort to be healthier.

In fact, I was one of those people for a very long time. If I was buying frozen french fries, or ordering at a restaurant, I would opt for sweet potato only.

Problem is, a large majority of people have no idea what actually makes sweet potatoes healthier, they’ve just heard that they are “better.”

From a calorie and nutrition standpoint, both fries are very similar. Looking at the comparisons above, an equal serving size is going to give you virtually identical nutrition, with the obvious standout being the sugar content (I mean, they are SWEET potatoes after all).

The reason sweet potatoes are generally considered healthier is their micronutrient profiles (AKA vitamins and minerals)

You can see here that these sweet potato fries are loaded with Vitamin A, but a regular sweet potato will actually provide you with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B6, along with some other vitamins in smaller quantities.

From a weight-loss standpoint, sweet potatoes actually don’t hold much of an advantage.

If you’re like me, you just love sweet potato fries. If that’s the case, keep enjoying them! But you don’t need to blindly choose them in an effort to be healthier, because there truly is not much of a difference between the two.

 

How many calories are in french fries?

Calories in French Fries

If you’re eating french fries, you’re likely not too concerned with trying to eat as few calories as possible. But, like all of my guides that I put together, I find it very helpful to know what I’m consuming.

I’m a big fan of tracking my food intake, and as someone who follows a flexible dieting approach, I like to fit my takeout meals into my daily intake. For me, knowing the calories & nutrition of my food is very helpful!

Since each fast food restaurant has completely different ingredients, let’s compare the calories in french fries for 20 different popular fast food chains.

Note: We’re going to compare the calories & nutrition for medium-sized fries (or “regular” side if they do not offer size options). Exact sizes will vary, and you’ll need to adjust if you order a small or large, but this gives us the most accurate comparison.

We’ll go in order from lowest calories, to highest…

(Okay, elephant in the room: Popeyes and DQ should be switched in this graphic. I’m not sure how I let that slip, but it would drive me crazy if I didn’t acknowledge that!)

 

Popeyes

270 Calories | 14g Fat| 33g Carbs | 4g Protein

Dairy Queen

280 Calories | 13g Fat | 36g Carbs | 5g Protein

Sonic

290 Calories | 13g Fat | 38g Carbs  | 3g Protein

McDonald’s

320 Calories | 15g Fat | 43g Carb | 5g Protein

KFC

320 Calories | 15g Fat | 41g Carbs | 5g Protein

Taco Bell

320 Calories | 18g Fat | 35g Carbs | 4g Protein

Culver’s

360 Calories | 14g Fat | 53g Carbs | 6g Protein

Wendy’s

360 Calories | 17g Fat | 47g Carbs | 5g Protein

Smashburger

370 Calories | 14g Fat | 56g Carbs | 4g Protein

In-N-Out

370 Calories | 15g Fat | 52g Carbs | 6g Protein

Burger King

380 Calories | 17g Fat | 53g Carbs | 5g Protein

Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s

420 Calories | 21g Fat | 55g Carbs | 5g Protein

Chick-fil-A

420 Calories | 24g Fat | 45g Carbs | 5g Protein

Jack In The Box

430 Calories | 25g Fat | 46g Carbs | 5g Protein

Steak ‘n Shake

450 Calories | 24g Fat | 54g Carbs | 4g Protein

Shake Shack

470 Calories | 22g Fat | 63g Carbs | 6g Protein

Checkers

500 Calories | 24g Fat | 63g Carbs | 7g Protein

Arby’s

550 Calories | 29g Fat | 65g Carbs | 6g Protein

White Castle

600 Calories | 39g Fat | 57g Carbs | 6g Protein

Five Guys

953 Calories | 41g Fat | 131g Carbs | 15g Protein

*Five Guys is a bit of an outlier here because their servings are HUGE.

 

How much sodium is in french fries?

You may have noticed that I left sodium off this guide.

That was on purpose, because seeing high amounts of sodium tends to scare people, and it’s not totally warranted.

Sure, if you have certain health conditions, you’ll want to be careful with your sodium intake. And if you go way overboard, then it may become an issue.

But for healthy, active individuals, sodium is not a bad thing at all! In fact, we need it in our diets.

Here are a few examples of sodium in medium french fries, to give you an idea of what to expect when eating french fries:

  • Sodium in McDonald’s fries: 230mg
  • Sodium in Burger King fries: 570mg
  • Sodium in Wendy’s fries: 280mg
  • Sodium in Chick-fil-A fries: 240mg

As you can see, some are higher than others, but you can estimate 250-300mg of sodium for a medium order of french fries.

If you’re watching your sodium intake, you can ask for your fries to be unsalted! All of the sodium in french fries comes from the salt that is added after frying, so if you ask to leave it off, you can control your sodium intake however you’d like.

PS: Similar to sodium, I chose not to include saturated fat or trans fat in this comparison. Since every feels differently about their fat intake, it felt like it may be too misleading to include them. Check out my breakdown of the different dietary fats if you want to learn more about saturated fat or trans fat.

 

How many calories are in french fry condiments?

When it comes to french fries, you’re rarely eating them plain. Depending on what dipping sauce you choose, it can add a fair amount of additional calories.

Here’s a quick guide to break down the calories in most popular condiments:

Calories in condiments

These calories are for a standard side of each sauce (those little cups you get if you’re dining at a restaurant).

Certain fast food restaurants, like Chick-fil-A, have all their own dipping sauces, so calories will vary based on where you go.

My condiment tip: Whenever I order fast food, I don’t get any condiments at all. I enjoy ketchup, and I started buying “no sugar added” ketchup from Heinz, so it is always fully stocked in my fridge. WhenI bring my food home, that is what I use! At only 5 calories per serving, it keeps the caloric impact very minimal. If I’m on the go I will use the ketchup that comes with the meal, but I use it very sparingly, or I’ll mix it with hot sauce to add a little bit of volume without many extra calories.

 

Why do french fries calories and nutrition matter?

Smoothie vs fast food

I enjoy breaking down the nutrition of fast food because too many people view fast food as automatically terrible for you.

You don’t have to eat fast food, and I’m not advocating that you run out and order a burger and fries right now.

But you certainly can enjoy it if you want to, and that is why I like to do these breakdowns.

When you break food down into their nutrition, it helps you see it for what it truly is: just food!

French fries aren’t good or bad. They’re just french fries, and you can fit them into your diet no matter what your goals are.

That is why the calories and nutrition matter: not to scare you or turn you off to eating fries, but to show you that you can always enjoy the food you love.

I have a ton of fast food guides here on the blog for you to check out to help illustrate exactly that!

 

The takeaway here: You can have your fries and eat them, too. An extra few hunder calories is not going to ruin your progress, especially if it’s just an occasinoal treat. Enjoy your fries!

 

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