The Golden Arches have become synonymous with fatty, guilt-filled deliciousness. McDonald's is the American icon that trotted the globe to become the smiling red-nosed face of gluttony. After watching Super Size Me and learning about the film's role in exposing health concerns to an uninformed American public and the infinite finger-pointing for the obesity epidemic, I decided to do a little nutritional research of my own.

I'll say a lot has changed since the documentary's 2004 release. Truth is, you can actually eat healthy at McDonald's. *Mic drop.* I'm talking full on high-protein, low-calorie, low-fat type of diet food. Eureka? I'd say so. If you stick to the following menu items, you'll kiss the flab goodbye without cracking open the piggy bank... just in time for spraaaang break

Egg McMuffin

The Egg McMuffin will always be the ultimate bae. Not only is it arguably the best tasting menu item, it's also packed with protein essentials. This bad boy has got a whole 18 grams of protein with only 300 calories. The nutritional upside of the McMuffin's oozing yumminess makes it perfect for a protein breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Catch me eating it for all three.

I say indulge with the traditional Egg McMuffin over the Egg White Delight McMuffin. Although the latter only has 260 calories, it's missing 2 grams of protein as well as lacking carotenoids and healthy fatty acids from the yolk of the whole egg. 

Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait


rovingI on Flickr

Yogurt is the perfect little something sweet to curb your cravings. Four grams of protein with only 150 calories and 2 grams of fat in this item make it the perfect replacement for McDonald's typical sweets. Peace out Hot Caramel Sundae. The parfait is sugary enough to be a dessert but also light enough for a snack, so you can pick your poison on this one. Skip your usual post-burger McFlurry and get this fruity delight to trim down while still getting your sugar fix, I know I will. 

Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

McDonald's Hot 'n Spicy McChicken Innards

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The Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich is the perfect protein-based lunch or dinner for when you're holding onto your wallet just a little bit tighter. In just 380 calories and 7 grams of fat, you get a whopping 37 grams of protein. Bulking season anyone? Also, if you lose the buns you'll save yourself a substantial chunk of the 44 carbs listed in the nutritional information. 

If you feel like nutritionally splurging a little further than a grilled chicken sandwich but not yet enough to head for the burger, the McChicken is a good, slightly more attractive alternative.

Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad

Sorta' guacamole chicken salad 1

Kimtaro on Flickr

Although there are more salads on the menu, stick to the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad to avoid the fried chicken and bacon on the other options. The greens and chicken breast in this salad come together to offer a total of 37 grams of protein for only 350 calories. This item is the perfect balance between nutritional value and being just filling enough to be categorized as an actual meal. If you go easy on the dressing, you'll also save yourself some unnecessary sodium and fats. 

Additional health tips to maneuver your way around the light up fast food menu include opting out of a fountain drink and sticking to Dasani water along with swapping the iconic side of fries for apple slices or a Cutie clementine. Even though fruit smoothies seem to be a healthy alternative to soda, they have just as much sugar if not more, aka steer clear. If you stick to these menu items, you can keep on lovin' it through all the diet fads, drunchies, and cheat meals.