Order This, Not That: Burgers

Find out which burger you should be ordering and which to skip on your next visit to these popular burger joints.


©Jupiter Images

Jupiter Images

One of America’s favorite quick bites is a burger. There’s a difference, however, between a well-portioned burger and an oversize gut-buster topped with the works. Find out which burger you should be ordering and which to skip on your next visit to these popular burger joints.

Order This:

If you’re craving a McDonald’s burger, choose a plain hamburger (or a cheeseburger for a serving of dairy). Both have a reasonable amount of calories and fit within a healthy eating plan.

Per serving (cheeseburger): Calories 290; Fat 11 g (Saturated 5 g); Sodium 680 mg; Carbohydrate 33 g; Protein 15 g

Not This:

It’s nice to hear that the Bacon & Cheese Sirloin Third Pound Burger is 100 percent North American sourced, but that still doesn’t make it a healthy choice. Made with bacon, onions, pickles and cheddar, this burger has an overwhelming amount of saturated fat and sodium, providing 89 percent and 86 percent of your recommended daily value, respectively.

Per serving: Calories 810; Fat 41 g (Saturated 18 g); Sodium 2,060 mg; Carbohydrate 65 g; Protein 47 g

Order This:

Five Guys recently updated its menu to make it friendlier for your waistline. If you’re trying to decrease your intake of refined grains, like those served at many fast-food establishments, Five Guys offers a line of Bunless Little Burgers. The Little Bacon Burger is carb-free and has a reasonable amount of calories and sodium — and, yes, you can enjoy bacon on occasion.

Per serving: Calories 300; Fat 24 g (Saturated 11 g); Sodium 310 mg; Carbohydrate 0 g; Protein 20 g

Not This:

The Bacon Cheeseburger still has close to 50 percent of your calories, based on an average 2,000 calorie diet. With so many better options on the menu, this is one to skip.

Per serving: Calories 920; Fat 62 g (Saturated 29.5 g); Sodium 1,310 mg; Carbohydrate 40 g; Protein 51 g

Order This:

This popular burger “shack” is always packed. Many of the burgers here contain 500 calories or more, though — and that’s without the killer fries and ice cream treats. A better-for-you choice is the Single Hamburger, which comes with lettuce, tomato, pickle or onion, and cheese.

Per serving: Calories 360; Fat 17 g (Saturated 7 g); Sodium 460 mg; Carbohydrate 25 g; Protein 26 g

Not This:

Forgo the Shake Stack, which features a cheeseburger and a fried portobello mushroom burger that’s then topped with lettuce, tomato and Shack Sauce.

Per serving: Calories 770; Fat 50 g (Saturated 18 g); Sodium 1,480 mg; Carbohydrate 40 g; Protein 41 g

Order This:

The Whopper Jr. delivers the BK burger you crave for fewer calories and less fat than other choices on the menu.

Per serving: Calories 300; Fat 16 g (Saturated 4.5 g); Sodium 460 mg; Carbohydrate 27 g; Protein 9 g

Not This:

The A.1. Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger contains two quarter-pound beef patties, thick-cut smoked bacon, American cheese and A.1. Steak Sauce on a brioche bun. It’s no surprise that the nutrition numbers reflect all the artery-clogging ingredients.

Per serving: Calories 850; Fat 51 g (Saturated 22 g); Sodium 1,480 mg; Carbohydrate 43 g; Protein 41 g

Order This:

You can easily cut the calories on many of these burgers by ordering them "Protein Style," wrapped in a piece of lettuce instead of on a bun.

Per serving (Protein Style Hamburger): Calories 240; Fat 17 g (Saturated 4 g); Sodium 370 mg; Carbohydrate 11 g; Protein 13 g

Not This:

There’s no need to double down on the cheese and patties in the Double-Double Burger with Onion.

Per serving: Calories 670; Fat 41 g (Saturated 18 g); Sodium 1,440 mg; Carbohydrate 39 g; Protein 37 g

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

Next Up

Poll: Which Burger Would You Order?

If you could order up a burger from the Producers' Challenge, whose would you pick?

Order This, Not That: Burger King

Quick and cheap is appealing these days, and sometimes -- at the airport, the mall, with the kids -- you might have to hit up a fast-food joint. This new series will cover the popular nationwide chains to help you make smarter, healthier choices at the counter.