10 Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away from Right Now, According to RD’s Eat This Not That
The origins of the first hamburger are shrouded in an oil of lore and lies (many have claimed to be the first). But a newspaper story published in 1894 said that hamburgers “could even strengthen the devil himself.” Another equally old newspaper clipping referred to hamburgers as a food suitable for rascals who love the dark (for context, burgers were only served at night and were usually bought around 2 a.m.). used to go).
With copious amounts of calories, fat, and sodium in America’s most beloved staple, perhaps these early nefarious mentions of burgers are a cautionary tale for all of us. Because, let’s face it, more than 42% of U.S. adults are considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and that’s not even counting the number of overweight individuals), will there ever be a burger like this? Need that contains more saturated fat than is recommended for anyone in about a week?
“All of these high-fat, fiber-less burgers and other meat and cheese-filled fast-food meals are part of fueling America’s obesity and diabetes epidemic,” says Karen Smith, a registered dietitian with Barnard Medical Center in Washington DC, who is also a certified diabetes care and education specialist. “Considering more than one in three American adults are pre-diabetic, it’s time for consumers to demand healthier options.”
Until such time, we’ve partnered with Smith and two other registered dietitians to shed light on just how bad the burger landscape has become for your health. With their help, we’ve ranked the following 10 burgers from bad to absolute worst.
per burger: 930 calories, 65 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 165 mg cholesterol, 1960 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 55 g protein
People love bacon. Some even call it “meat candy”. Others hang signs in their kitchens that say, “Either you love bacon, or you’re wrong.” But do you really need three slices of bacon on a cheeseburger? Jack in the Box thinks so. “Whoever coined ‘Three is a Crowd’ clearly never had this burger,” the online description said. Smith is not impressed.
“If the fat, sodium, and cholesterol won’t deter you from ordering this burger, it probably will have cancer-causing effects,” she warns. According to the World Health Organization, processed meats [hello, bacon!] are group A carcinogens, and for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten daily, the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18%.”
per burger: 960 calories, 63 g fat (24 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 205 mg cholesterol, 2,240 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugars), 57 g protein
This white-cheddar cheeseburger is sliced with Maker’s Mark Bourbon-and-bacon-infused jam and shakesauce topped with crunchy shallots and served on a toasted potato bun. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, “this burger provides almost 100% of the daily recommended maximum sodium,” warns. Toby AmidorA Registered Dietitian, Award Winning Nutritionist and wall street journal best selling author of Diabetes Make Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook, “Too many calories, saturated fat, and sodium along with some added sugar (from the jam) make it a burger to really skip.”
Smith said, “Even the shallots—a redeeming ingredient of this burger—are fried!”
per burger: 980 calories, 55 g fat (26 g saturated fat), 165 mg cholesterol, 1,050 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 47 g protein
We included the Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger in a previous burger round-up, but it’s also worth noting. According to registered dietitian and nutrition educator Stephanie McBernet of the Physicians’ Committee, this is a suitable five-person burger… if it were split between five people. When divided, each portion comes in under 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 210 milligrams of sodium.
“With a side salad and cup of fruit, this would be considered a healthy lunch,” she says. “For one person, that’s five times as much as your lunch entree that you should be eating.”
per burger: 1,030 calories, 70 g fat (26 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 155 mg cholesterol, 1,700 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (0 g fiber, 8 g sugars), 55 g protein
Double Sourdough is a limited time offer from star Carl’s Jr. that will be available until October 25, 2022. It may not be a traditional hamburger (hence the sourdough bread), but it still makes the list. And, it has bacon in it too. more thing. Two slices of American, to be exact. And that can be a problem because, according to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 68% of people worldwide (mostly from minority groups) are lactose intolerant.
“It’s called the ‘double sourdough star’ because it will definitely ‘sour’ your stomach with the two servings of dairy in this burger,” says McBernett.
per burger: 1,090 calories, 75 g fat (30 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 230 mg cholesterol, 2,480 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (6 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 60 g protein
This burger has bacon (again!), double patties, and loads of calories and fat. Amidor says this “calorie and fat bomb” tops out at close to 50% of your daily recommended maximum of “artery-clogging saturated fat.”
McBernet is concerned about the amount of sodium “smash” in this burger. “The American Heart Association advises individuals that high sodium intake directly raises their blood pressure and damages their kidneys,” she warns.
per burger: 1,135.6 calories, 76.2 g fat (29.2 g saturated fat, 2.1 g trans fat), 215.6 mg cholesterol, 2,375.5 mg sodium, 55.4 g carbs (3.5 g fiber, 11.8 g sugar), 63.2 g protein
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but McBernett says your waistline will be even bigger if you regularly consume this -pound behemoth of burgers with American cheese, crunchy pickles, bacon, jalapeos and more. Huh. And that doesn’t even include fries and a drink!
per burger: 1,210 calories, 76 g fat (27 g saturated fat), 160 mg cholesterol, 2290 mg sodium 65 g carbs (13 g sugars), 64 g protein
Packed with more than half the daily recommended amount of calories (based on a 2,000-calorie diet), cheese, bacon, and beef, this Whataburger limited-time offering can sabotage your regular bathroom schedule.
“Thank god this burger is offered for a limited time because with 76 grams of fat from the beef patty, bacon and two different types of cheese, you won’t be going to the bathroom anytime soon,” warns McBernet . “High red and processed meat intake and low fiber intake are important drivers of constipation and may also increase the risk of colorectal cancer.”
per burger: 1,492.2 calories, 104.5 g fat (44.2 g saturated fat, 2.9 g trans fat), 283.4 mg cholesterol, 3,617.3 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (2.7 g fiber, 15.6 g sugar), 84.1 g protein
With a half pound of beef (two patties) with crunchy bacon and American cheese and loaded with mayo, ketchup and more, this Burger King offering has landed on several naughty lists.
According to Smith, “It’s a fat, cholesterol, and sodium bomb! It contains more sodium, fat, and cholesterol than is recommended to consume for an entire day.” He is also concerned about the high amount of protein in this menu item. “People often think that high-protein diets are healthy. However, research indicates a positive association of high protein intake—particularly protein from animal-based sources—and all-cause mortality,” she says.
per burger: 1,668 calories, 96.5 g fat (33.5 g saturated fat, 6.5 g trans fat), 430 mg cholesterol, 2,179 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 129.5 g protein
A beef patty can be considered a good portion and can be consumed as part of a healthy diet. But not three. Add to that the staggering amount of calories and fat, plus the fact that the carb load is equal to 4.6 slices of bread, makes this burger No. 2 on this bad burger list.
“Why someone needs 24 ounces of meat in one sitting is beyond me,” Amidor says. “This is an example of overindulgence. With more than 83% of your daily caloric needs (based on a 2,000-calorie diet), 51% of the daily recommended maximum artery-clogging saturated fat, and close to 100% of the daily recommended sodium It’s really over the top.”
Smith agreed, adding that even though the menu description says the burger is made from fresh, ground 100% pure lean beef patties, “there’s nothing ‘lean’ about a burger with 52% fat!”
per burger: 1,660 calories, 128 g fat (62 g saturated fat, 6 g trans fat), 355 mg cholesterol, 3,800 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 95 g protein
No joke, this burger features seven meat patties layered with cheese. Talk about lactose intolerance and a constipation starter! And that’s not even reaching the amount of sodium contained within, which is 158.33% for an average healthy adult to consume in a day.
“Does anyone really need a dietitian to tell them eating this burger is a bad idea?” Smith asks. “For someone sticking to the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit saturated fat to less than 5% of calories, that’s close to the amount of saturated fat a burger would aim for in any one week!”
Amidor flat-out says this type of burger shouldn’t even be on the menu.
So there you have it. 10 burgers to stay away from right now, straight from experts who are in the business of keeping Americans healthy from a nutritional standpoint. While these gimmicky menu items may sound tempting, we hope you consider the cost to your health and your waistline.
Smith, who began researching plant-based diets in 2014 and has since become a completely plant-based eater, suggests trying the veggie burger. “Black bean burgers, veggie burgers, and portobello mushroom burgers are far better options,” she says. “Chickpea burgers are delicious too, and I’ve found that vegetarian burger recipes that include some walnuts go together really well.”
In the meantime, Amidor offers these simple better tips when it comes to eating burgers:
- Choose smaller burgers. (However, keep in mind that smaller doesn’t always mean better—check the nutritional information before ordering.)
- Minimize modifications. If you want cheese, omit the bacon or vice versa.
- Use ketchup and/or mustard instead of mayo to shave off calories and saturated fat.
- Pile on more vegetables whenever possible.
- Skip the fries. Instead, opt for a side salad.