It’s not the cow’s fault.
For a ruminating herbavore, cows sure get blamed for a lot of things. They got blamed for the Great Chicago Fire. They get blamed for contributing to global warming. And now our poor cud-chewing friends are getting blamed for America’s obesity crisis, too.
Okay, it’s not the cows themselves, but their most popular end product—hamburgers—that get fingered as the perp in our ongoing weight struggles. But like I said, it’s not the cow’s fault. See, burgers used to be healthy!
Back before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the average restaurant burger weighed in at about 333 calories. But today’s typical version weighs in at almost twice that—600 calories on average. (Maybe we should have built a wall in Hamburg?)
So don’t blame the cow. Blame the food engineers in chain restaurant kitchens, who are tricking out the simple burger until it has more fleshy extras than Madonna’s stage show. In fact, burgers can be a healthy and satisfying dose of protein, if you know what to look for—and what to avoid.
In our continuing mission to create a more natural and healthier food supply, Eat This, Not That! uncovers America's 11 most offensive burgers. Beware of them—or it won’t just be the burgers that wind up with oversized buns.
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Burger King Whopper with Cheese
47 g fat (16 g saturated, 1 g trans)
1,410 mg sodium
With 200 more calories than a McDonald's Big Mac, the Whopper is the clear loser in the battle of the burger icons. Blame it on the jumbo patty and globs of mayo (160 calories worth to be exact). And get this: If you add medium fries and a medium coke—a likely scenario—you're looking at a 1,500-calorie meal. The best way to "have it your way" at BK? Order a standard cheeseburger and call it a day, or try Cook This, Not That! Easy 350-Calorie Meals and save calories, time, and cash.
Eat This Instead!
Burger King Cheeseburger
14 g fat (6 g saturated, 0 g trans)
710 mg sodium
SINISTER SALADS: The Whopper may be bad news for your gut, but some salads are even less healthy! Beware of the 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper.
McDonald’s McDouble Mighty Kids Meal with Fat-Free Chocolate Milk Jug
30 g fat (9.5 g saturated, 1 g trans)
1,215 mg sodium
I applaud McDonald's for its recent move to offset fries with fruit in all its kids' meals, but—apple slices or not—this "mighty" menu option remains the worst children's choice at the drive-thru. The chain created the Mighty Kids Meal for "in-be-tweens" (kids aged 8 to 12). Problem is, it packs more fat and calories than an adult's meal should. A standard Happy Meal is plenty of food for your kid—no matter their age—and chicken nuggets trump burgers any day. (Find hundreds of other tips to help your family eat better in Eat This, Not That! For Kids!)
Eat This Instead!
McDonald’s Chicken McNugget Happy Meal with 1% Low-Fat Milk Jug
19.5 g fat (4 g saturated)
555 mg sodium
Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger
62 g fat (29.5 g saturated)
1,310 mg sodium
This burger bomb landed on
the list for one reason: false advertising. At Five Guys, regular burgers are
doubles and "Little" burgers are singles. And the burgers aren't the
only serving size rip-off the chain serves up. The "regular" fries
have 620 calories—double that of most standard fry orders. The takeaway: Go
"Little" or go elsewhere. And for more perpetrators of serving-size
scams, check out the 9 Biggest Serving Size Rip-Offs.
Eat This Instead!
Five Guys Little Bacon Burger
33 g fat (14.5 g saturated)
640 mg sodium