Sometimes life leads you to a desolate coffee shop or a picked-over hotel breakfast buffet, and you're forced to choose between two of the unhealthiest pastries out there: muffins and doughnuts. But you've gotta eat something, so which should you choose? It's time for a food face-off.
When it comes to calories, carbs, and sugar, there's a clear winner: doughnuts. The fried rings have 155 fewer calories, half the carbs, and 21 fewer grams of sugar than muffins. Muffins don't lose out completely, though: They have 1 gram more protein than doughnuts—and half the saturated fat. Both treats max out at a measly 1 gram of fiber and 1 percent daily value of vitamin C, so we'll call that a tie. In fact, the pastries are a pitiful source of almost every other vitamin and mineral, except for vitamin K: Muffins pack a full 49 percent of your daily value, whereas doughnuts only have 8 percent. But doughnuts come surging back into the lead, with slightly less cholesterol and sodium.
"I would choose the doughnut over the muffin," said Gina Consalvo, RD, a Pennsylvania-based nutritionist. "Muffins can be deceiving, since you often find ones made with healthy ingredients like bran, raisins, carrots or blueberries. But the portion sizes you find at coffee shops and restaurants are extreme."
So go for the doughnut—but avoid the ones with filling and frosting, which can be so sugary they overtake those giant muffins. Stick with plain glazed.