A Guide to Fast Food Calories and the Best Way to Burn Them

More and more people now put a premium on their health. New diets crop up one after the other. Most of these diet programs advise us to count the calories. They make it seem that calories should be avoided like the plague — just like fast food.

However, it can be quite difficult to avoid these in our fast-paced world. Although they’re high in calories, they often are the most convenient food to eat.

We’re often caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily life. A quick bite from fast food restaurants can be unavoidable in some cases. Nowadays, we just don’t have time to count calories anymore.

Counting the Calories

Let’s get one thing straight — calories are not enemies. You’d wither away if you have absolutely no calorie intake! Calories are units of energy. In nutrition, they refer to the amount of energy we get from the food we consume. They also refer to the energy we use for body processes and physical activities.

The USDA has guidelines for the recommended daily calorie intake. This depends on your age, level of activity, height, sex, and other factors. Women typically need around 2,200 kcal per day, while men need 2,700 kcal per day. Consuming too little or too much would pose some health problems.

So, do reward yourself with a pizza or two once in a while. As long as you stay within the recommended amount, there should be no cause for worry.

Now the question is, which fast food products can you eat without going over your recommended daily calorie intake?

A Quick Peek on Fast Food Calories

Most fast food chains provide the nutrition information of their products on their websites. To save you the trouble of going over their sites one by one, we went through their sites and the USDA Nutrient Database. Here are the calorie counts of the most common fast food we consume:

Pizza (per one slice of a 14” pizza):

Domino’s Cheese Pizza, Classic Hand-Tossed Crust (108g) – 278 kcal

Papa John’s Cheese Pizza, Original Crust (117g) – 304 kcal

Pizza Hut Cheese Pizza, Pan Crust (112g) – 309 kcal


McDonald’s Cheeseburger (119g) – 313 kcal

Burger King Cheeseburger (133g) – 380 kcal

McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese (199g) – 513 kcal

Shake Shack Single Cheeseburger – 470 kcal

In-N-Out Cheeseburger (268g) – 480 kcal

Wendy’s Classic Hamburger with Cheese (236g) – 522kcal

Burger King Whopper with Cheese (316g) – 790 kcal

French Fries:

KFC French Fries, small (70g) – 179 kcal

Burger King French Fries, small (74g) – 207 kcal

McDonald’s French Fries, small (71g) – 229 kcal

Wendy’s French Fries, small (113g) – 340 kcal

McDonald’s French Fries, medium (117g) – 378 kcal

In-N-Out French Fries (125g) – 395 kcal

Shake Shack Regular Fries – 470 kcal


McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets, 4 pieces – 193 kcal

Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets, 5 pieces – 222 kcal

McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets, 6 pieces – 287 kcal

Shake Shack Chick’n Bites, 6 pieces – 300 kcal

KFC Chicken Breast, 1 piece – 320 kcal

Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Strips, 4 pieces – 458 kcal

Burger King Chicken Strips, 5 pieces – 505 kcal

Soft Serve Ice Cream and Milk Shakes:

KFC Caramel Shake (per 100g) – 171 kcal

Shake Shack Vanilla Cup – 280 kcal

Wendy’s Frosty, small (227g) – 300 kcal

McDonald’s Hot Fudge Sundae (179g) – 333 kcal

Burger King Vanilla Shake, small (298g) – 501 kcal

In-N-Out Vanilla Shake (15oz) – 580 kcal

Shake Shack Vanilla Shake – 680 kcal

The Best Way to Burn Fast Food Calories

Now you have an idea on how many calories you consume whenever you grab your favorite fast food. Next thing you need to know is how to burn them.

Let’s say the average calories you get from one fast food item is 300 calories. Here are some easy and convenient ways to burn those calories fast:

If you have 30 minutes,

  • Do biking, kickboxing, or other intense workouts. Nothing burns calories faster than intense physical exercises.
  • Dive into the pool, and do some vigorous swimming. The key word here is ‘vigorous.’ Floating on your back for 30 minutes just won’t do the trick.
  • Climb the stairs repeatedly for half an hour if you can’t go outdoors. If you work in a high-rise building, consider ditching the elevator going up. Take the stairs instead.
  • Mow your lawn. Hit two birds with one stone—use your power mower, and have your yard groomed as you burn calories.

If you have 40-50 minutes,

  • Go dancing. We’re not talking about slow dance here because it won’t burn much at all. We’re talking about fast-paced dancing that’ll have you sweating. What’s more, dancing won’t just burn calories. It’ll also beat stress.
  • Play golf, but don’t get a caddy. Carry your own clubs, and burn those calories in just about 40 minutes.
  • Do some house cleaning. It’s another way of burning calories while doing something very productive. Cleaning your house and re-arranging furniture can burn over 300 calories in less than an hour.

If you have more than one hour,

  • Go walking. After grabbing that double cheeseburger, burn the calories by walking around the mall for one to two hours. If you had that pizza slice during your work break, consider walking home briskly after work.
  • Walk your dog. It’s definitely a good way to get some exercise for both you and your fur baby.

As you can see, there are many activities to burn fast food calories. You don’t even have to go to the gym or go outdoors. Even daily household activities help burn them off. The key here is to do more intense aerobic exercises if you have limited time to spare.

Of course, binging on fast food then vigorously exercising to burn them isn’t good for your health. The best way to stay in shape is to eat healthy and to exercise regularly.

Quick Recap

You don’t have to shun fast food for the rest of your life. It’s fine to indulge from time to time. Just stay within the recommended calorie intake. Make informed choices, and know which kinds of food provide better nutrition. Ultimately, your health relies not just on counting calories but in leading a healthy lifestyle.