When we found out that Wendy’s has launched three new sandwiches we were stoked. It’s winter, it’s freezing, things are (still) hellish—let chicken be thy salve.
What kind of hot chicken delights are in store? Here’s the lineup: the Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit, the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich, and the Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken.
But before you sink your teeth into Wendy’s latest menu additions, you want to know how they stack up nutritionally. That’s why we reached out to Kim Yawitz, RD, a registered dietitian and gym owner in St. Louis, MO.
A little spicy, a little sweet, and all packed with flavor, we simply can’t resist giving each sandwich a try at least once. Understanding that the occasional chicken sandwich won’t hurt, Yawitz broke down the nutritional value of each sandwich, how the crispy versions differ from grilled, just how much protein you can get out of each, and how to fit one of these sandwiches into a fairly healthy diet.
The Wendy’s Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit
This sandwich contains 460 calories, 14 grams (g) protein, and 51 g carbohydrates (including 16 g of sugar and 2 g of fiber).
From a nutritional standpoint, this menu addition doesn’t exactly butter Yawitz’s biscuit. “For starters, this bad boy has a lot of sugar. The breading on the chicken patty has sugar. The biscuit has sugar. The hot honey sauce has honey, obviously, but also two different kinds of sugar (plus some puréed fruits, because apparently all that sugar isn’t sweet enough),” says Yawitz.
Moreover, Yawitz isn’t a fan of this sandwich’s “measly” protein content, clocking in at only 14 grams. “[This amount of protein at] breakfast certainly won’t help you pack on the muscle and probably won’t hold you over until lunch either.”
As Yawitz says, protein helps keep you off the blood sugar roller coaster by slowing down the absorption of glucose into the blood. “In the long term, better blood sugar control typically equates to a lower risk of diabetes. But in the short term, it may help fend off food cravings.”
To that point, Yawitz highlights one small study, in which men who ate a high-carb, high-protein breakfast had better post-meal blood sugar control and insulin levels than men who didn’t have as much protein.
“Interestingly, the breakfast in this study included 50 grams of carbohydrate from white bread and sugar,” she says, pointing out the similarities between that and the chicken sandwich at hand. “Assuming the same calorie content, Wendy’s would need more than double the protein to achieve the same blood sugar-stabilizing effects.”
Wendy’s Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich
This sandwich contains 700 calories, 37 grams (g) protein, and 70 g carbohydrate (including 2 grams of fiber and 18 grams of total sugar).
Like the sandwich above, Yawitz doesn’t think it’s worth incorporating this sandwich into your diet, especially regularly. “The only thing it has going for it is a hefty protein content,” she says, noting that “hot honey” is essentially a code for “sugar bomb.” In fact, as Yawitz shared, this chicken sandwich has more sugar than a pudding snack pack.
“There’s no way to get around the high-sugar content in this sandwich, but there is a slightly healthier alternative on the menu,” she says. That option is the Grilled Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich, which will save you 16 grams of total carb, mostly in the form of breading, says Yawitz.
“The grilled version is also slightly higher in protein and slightly lower in sodium than its deep-fried cousin,” she says. “Ordering the grilled version won’t give you six-pack abs, but it’s certainly an upgrade compared to the classic.”
Wendy’s Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken
This sandwich contains 810 calories, 42 grams (g) protein, and 60 g carbohydrates (including 3 g of fiber and 5 g of sugar).
The Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich has a fried chicken patty on a cheddar bun, with cheddar cheese dip, fried onions, bacon jam, bacon slices, and an American cheese slice. “On the upside, 42 grams of protein is a pretty big flex for a fast food chicken sandwich. While not the most wholesome source of protein, this monstrosity could help you hit your daily protein quota when you’re on the go,” says Yawitz. But then there’s the overload of calories and not a single vegetable in sight that isn’t fried.
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