We analysed your favourite fast food and restaurant meals in the UK

Here's everything you should know...

We analysed the nation’s favourite takeaways, restaurants and fast-food chains to better understand the nutritional value you are getting when eating out.

Specifically, we looked at the number of calories in each meal and how long it would take to burn off those calories by running, walking and swimming.

With the help of the nutritional data provided by the restaurants and by using an energy-burning calculator provided by Bupa, we learned some of the best and worst restaurants to eat out at while dieting.

Let’s get into the data

Here’s a Quick Summary of Our Key Findings:

1) A typical Chinese takeaway consisting of Spring rolls, egg fried rice and sweet and sour chicken was the highest calorific meal and would take at least 5 hours and 26 minutes of swimming to burn off the calories consumed.

2) Burger King and Nandos were statistically the worst restaurants to eat at when being calorie-conscious. Out of the top 10 spots of high-calorie meals, Burger King took 5 spots and Nandos took 3.

3) When choosing dips to accompany your food, Franks Red Hot-dip from Dominos Pizza was a clear winner, containing only 21 calories per serving an equivalent to 2 minutes of running.

4) Dominos Herb and Garlic Dip contained 675 calories and would take 1 hour and 31 minutes to burn off walking.

5) KFC, Wagamama and Subway had the meals with the least amount of calories. KFC had 3 meals in the bottom 10 high calory meals whereas Wagamama and Subway both had 2.

6) Vegan and Vegetarian meals on average contained the same number of calories as their meat equivalents.

7) It would take 1 hour and 29 minutes of swimming to burn off a portion of prawn crackers.

8) Restaurants that are considered healthier such as Nandos on average had higher calorie meals than Mcdonald’s.

The nation’s favourite takeaway is the nation’s worst for calories.

A study carried out by Tombola revealed that the Chinese takeaway is the nation’s favourite takeaway. Our study however has shown that a small meal from a Chinese is by far the highest calorie meal in this study.

A typical Chinese takeaway meal consisting of Spring rolls, egg fried rice and sweet and sour chicken had 2184 calories and would take 5 hours and 26 minutes of Swimming to burn off the equivalent in calories.

The same meal would require 4 hours and 55 minutes of walking or 4 hours and 21 minutes of running at a steady pace.

Stay away from Burger King and Nandos if you are dieting

Both restaurants can be enjoyed as part of a well-balanced diet, however, if you are counting calories Burger King and Nandos were statistically the worst restaurants to eat at.

Burger King had 5 meals on our list:

  • Katsu Chilli Whopper Meal
  • Bacon Double XL Meal
  • Double Whopper Meal
  • Steakhouse Angus Meal
  • Plant based Katsu Chilli Whopper Meal

Nandos had 3 high-calorie meals on our list:

  • Whole Chicken
  • Boneless Chicken Thighs Meal
  • Sunset Burger

Burger King’s Katsu Chilli Whopper Meal has 1595 calories in it and would take an average person 3 hours and 10 minutes of running to burn them off.

Nandos whole chicken with 2 sides was one of their highest calorie meals coming in at 1856 calories, this would take 3 hours and 41 minutes of running to burn off.

If your going to dip your food make it a Frank’s Red Hot Dip

Frank’s Red Hot Dip from Dominos Pizza was the lowest calorie dip in our study. With only 21 calories per serving. If you want to keep your running, walking and swimming to a minimum this is the dip you should be used when dieting. Franks Red Hot Dip would only require 2 minutes of running or walking and only 3 minutes of swimming to burn off.

Dominos herb and garlic dip on the other hand is the worst dip to use when dieting. A full portion contains 675 calories and would require 1 hour and 20 minutes of running, 1 hour and 31 minutes of walking or 1 hour and 41 minutes of swimming to burn off.

The Dominos herb and garlic dip have more calories in them than some full meals. KFC, Wagamama, Chipotle and Subway all had meals with fewer calories than the Dominos herb and garlic dip.

Eat out at KFC, Wagamama or Subway to consume fewer calories.

The restaurants with meals with fewer calories were KFC, Wagamama and Subway.

KFC had 3 meals in our lowest calorie meals, Wagamama and Subway both had 2.

Low-calorie meals in KFC include:

  • Fillet Salad Meal
  • Zinger Burger Meal
  • Zinger Rice Box Meal

Low-calorie meals in Wagamama include:

  • No duck donburi
  • Teriyaki chicken hiyashi bowl

Low-calorie meals in Subway include:

  • Meatless Meatball Marinara Salad
  • Steak and Cheese Salad

Vegan and Vegetarian meals on average contained the same number of calories as their meat equivalents.

Burger King’s Plant based Katsu Chilli Whopper Meal contained 1385 calories, whereas their meat equivalent the Katsu Chicken Royale Meal contained 1326 calories.

Nandos Portobello Mushroom & Halloumi Pitta contains 1323 calories whereas their Grilled Chicken Wrap contains 1257 calories.

Nandos Spiced Chickpea Burger contains 1254 calories whereas Mcdonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal contains 1246.

Eating Vegetarian or Vegan may have other health and ethical benefits but from a fast-food perspective, there isn’t much difference in the calories they contain.

“Healthy restaurants” serve food with higher calories

Restaurants such as Nandos have a perception of being healthier than fast-food restaurants such as Mcdonald’s, from our study Mcdonald’s meals had fewer calories than Nandos across the board.

Restaurants on this list may have healthier macro or micronutrients but from a calorific point of view, Mcdonald’s meals on average weren’t in the top 10 worst meals. McDonald’s worst meal came in at position 18. The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal has 1246 calories and would take the average person 2 hours and 28 minutes of running to burn off.

The full dataset can be seen below:

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Restaurant Meal Calories Time to burn off Running (Hours:Minutes) Time to burn off Walking (Hours:Minutes) Time To burn off Swimming (Hours:Minutes)
KFC 4 Piece Colonels Meal 1060 02:06 02:23 02:38
KFC Mighty bucket for one 1150 02:17 02:35 02:52
KFC Trilogy Box Meal 1195 02:22 02:41 02:58
KFC 3 boneless dips 810 01:36 01:49 02:01
KFC Fillet Burger Meal 855 01:42 01:55 02:07
KFC Zinger Tower Meal 975 01:56 02:12 02:25
KFC 4 Piece Boneless Dips Meal 940 01:52 02:07 02:20
KFC Zinger Burger Meal 450 00:53 01:00 01:07
KFC Zinger Stacker Meal 1160 02:18 02:37 02:53
KFC Popcorn Chicken Meal 665 01:19 01:30 01:39
KFC Original Recipe Ricebox and Drink 620 01:14 01:23 01:32
KFC Zinger Ricebox and Drink 610 01:12 01:22 01:31
KFC Fillet Salad 370 00:44 00:50 00:55
Mcdonalds Big Mac 1000 01:59 02:15 02:29
Mcdonalds Grand Big Mac Meal 1200 02:23 02:42 02:59
Mcdonalds Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal 1246 02:28 02:48 03:06
Mcdonalds Quarter Pounder with cheese meal 1014 02:01 02:17 02:31
Mcdonalds McChicken Sandwich Meal 876 01:44 01:58 02:11
Mcdonalds Filet-o-fish meal 826 01:38 01:51 02:03
Mcdonalds McSpicy Meal 944 01:52 02:07 02:21
Mcdonalds 6 Chicken Nugget Meal 768 01:31 01:44 01:54
Mcdonalds McPlant Meal 936 01:51 02:06 02:20
Mcdonalds BBQ and Bacon Chicken one 1000 01:59 02:15 02:29
Mcdonalds Tripple Cheeseburger Meal 1085 02:09 02:26 02:42
Dominos Original Cheese and Tomato Pizza 795 01:35 01:47 01:58
Dominos The Cheese burger 859 01:42 01:56 02:08
Dominos Absolute Banger 910 01:48 02:03 02:16
Dominos Mighty Meaty 895 01:46 02:01 02:13
Dominos Pepperoni Passion 952 01:53 02:08 02:22
Dominos American Hot 848 01:41 01:54 02:06
Dominos Meateor 985 01:57 02:13 02:27
Dominos Vegan PepperoNAY 533 01:03 01:12 01:19
Dominos Twisted Dough Balls 678 01:21 01:31 01:41
Dominos Chicken Wings 451 00:53 01:01 01:07
Dominos Garlic and Herb Dip 675 01:20 01:31 01:41
Dominos Franks Red Hot Dip 21 00:02 00:02 00:03
Dominos Domino’s Cookies 694 01:22 01:34 01:43
Dominos Lotta-chocca Pizza 828 01:38 01:52 02:03
Chipotle Burrito 940 01:52 02:07 02:20
Chipotle Burrito Bowl 620 01:14 01:23 01:32
Chipotle Three Tacos 870 01:43 01:57 02:10
Chipotle Keto Salad Bowl 585 01:09 01:19 01:27
Chipotle Vegan Bowl 595 01:11 01:20 01:29
Chipotle Vegetarian Bowl 805 01:36 01:49 02:00
Chipotle Protein Bump Bowl 840 01:40 01:53 02:05
Nandos Boneless Chicken Thighs Meal 1426 02:50 03:13 03:33
Nandos 1/2 Chicken 1288 02:33 02:54 03:12
Nandos Whole Chicken 1856 03:41 04:11 04:37
Nandos Sunset Burger 1402 02:47 03:09 03:29
Nandos Grilled Chicken Wrap 1257 02:30 02:50 03:08
Nandos Grilled Chicken Pitta 1205 02:24 02:43 03:00
Nandos Spiced Chickpea Burger 1254 02:29 02:49 03:07
Nandos Portobello Mushroom & Halloumi Pitta 1323 02:38 02:59 03:17
Nandos Choc-A-Lot Cake 666 01:19 01:30 01:39
Nandos Gooey Caramel Cheesecake 462 00:55 01:02 01:09
Burger King Whopper Meal 1276 02:32 02:52 03:10
Burger King Double Whopper Meal 1515 03:01 03:25 03:46
Burger King Katsu Chilli Whopper Meal 1595 03:10 03:36 03:58
Burger King Bacon Double XL Meal 1552 03:05 03:30 03:52
Burger King Steakhouse Angus Meal 1452 02:53 03:16 03:37
Burger King Chicken Royale Meal 1242 02:28 02:48 03:05
Burger King Katsu Chicken Royale Meal 1326 02:38 02:59 03:18
Burger King Plant Based Whopper Meal 1197 02:23 02:42 02:59
Burger King Plant based Katsu Chilli Whopper Meal 1385 02:45 03:07 03:27
Burger King Double Cheeseburger Meal 1061 02:06 02:23 02:38
Subway Italian B.M.T 1095 02:10 02:28 02:43
Subway Steak and Cheese 1008 02:00 02:16 02:30
Subway Meatball Marinara 1193 02:22 02:41 02:58
Subway Meatless Meatball Marinara 1045 02:04 02:21 02:36
Subway Chicken Tikka 861 01:42 01:56 02:08
Subway Tuna 1025 02:02 02:18 02:33
Subway Chicken & Bacon 980 01:57 02:12 02:26
Subway Chicken Teriyaki 940 01:52 02:07 02:20
Subway Veggie Delite 767 01:31 01:43 01:54
Subway Steak and Cheese Salad 468 00:55 01:03 01:10
Subway Meatless Meatball Marinara Salad 499 00:59 01:07 01:14
Subway Mega Meat Salad 736 01:27 01:39 01:50
Generic Fish and Chips 1086 02:09 02:27 02:42
Generic Kebab, Pitta and Salad 2000 03:59 04:30 04:59
Generic Chicken Vindaloo Curry & Rice 960 01:54 02:10 02:23
Generic Spring rolls, egg fried rice, sweet and sour chicken 2184 04:21 04:55 05:26
Generic Prawn Crackers 600 01:11 01:21 01:29
Wagamama teriyaki vegan ‘chicken’ ramen 813 01:37 01:50 02:01
Wagamama spicy vegan short ‘rib’ ramen 728 01:27 01:38 01:48
Wagamama teriyaki beef donburi 842 01:40 01:54 02:05
Wagamama teriyaki chicken donburi 738 01:28 01:39 01:50
Wagamama grilled duck donburi 1282 02:33 02:53 03:11
Wagamamas no duck donburi 503 01:00 01:08 01:15
Wagamama yaki soba 819 01:37 01:50 02:02
Wagamama yasai yaki soba 785 01:33 01:46 01:57
Wagamama prawn raisukaree 1035 02:03 02:20 02:34
Wagamama firecracker prawn 1067 02:07 02:24 02:39
Wagamama firecracker tofu 1208 02:24 02:43 03:00
Wagamama vegatsu 1191 02:22 02:41 02:58
Wagamama chicken katsu curry 998 01:59 02:15 02:29
Wagamama hot chicken katsu curry 1089 02:10 02:27 02:42
Wagamama teriyaki chicken hiyashi bowl 530 01:03 01:11 01:19
Wagamama raisukaree tofu 1168 02:19 02:38 02:54

Methodology

We collected nutritional information from the UK’s favourite restaurants, takeaways and fast-food chains. Each full meal was accompanied by a full sugar drink to keep the results fair.  

Where a meal deal was applicable the values of the additional items were added to the calorie count. Dominios Pizza calories were based on 3 people sharing.

We then collected information from the ONS to get the average height and weight of a person in the UK (5ft 9 and 83.6kg).

We then used this data on Bupa’s energy-burning calculator to get the calories burned per hour for Running (502 calories), Walking (443 calories) and Swimming (401 calories). We then calculated and ranked the data.

Fair Use Statement: 

If you’re a journalist or blogger interested in covering this project, we encourage you to use any of the content included above. We just ask that you attribute TK-fitness.co.uk fairly in your coverage and provide a link to this page so that your audience can learn more about us.

TK-Fitness is run By Toby King, a Personal Trainer from Cardiff that provides his clients with workout routines, dietary advice and motivation to hit their personal goals.