6 Worst Fast-Food Burgers (and What You Should Eat Instead!)

A hamburger isn't, by itself, a terrible nutritional choice. Topped with some lettuce and tomato, ketchup, and mustard—and placed in a relatively small bun—a burger is a high-protein treat that shouldn't pack too much fat or too many calories. But just as country music went from skinny little Hank Williams playing honky-tonks to Garth Brooks touring stadiums—and just as baseball went from wiry Jackie Robinson stealing home to muscle-bound Barry Bonds stealing homers—so have our burgers evolved from lean and simple to very fat and complicated.

How hard has it become to decode the once-simple hamburger? Get a load of these. With Eat This, Not That! 2010 we've unearthed the biggest fast-food burger bombs in America, and offer reasonable and delicious alternatives.


Worst Cheeseburger with Everything
Wendy’s Double with Everything and Cheese
700 calories
40 g fat (17 g saturated, 2 g trans)
1,440 mg sodium

In the pantheon of fast-food burgers, this cannot compete with the atrocities wrought by the Double Whoppers and Six Dollar Burgers of the world. But there are too many burgers at Wendy’s to end up with this mistake. Take the Double Stack below—with small chili—for example. With 37 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, it might be the most satisfying $2 meal in America. 

Bonus tip: Find out which Wendy’s burger meal made our list of the 39 Healthiest Foods in America

Eat This Instead!
Double Stack with Small Chili
550 calories
24 g fat (10.5 g saturated, 1 g trans)
1,640 mg sodium


Worst Burger and Fries
In-N-Out Burger Hamburger and French Fries
790 calories
37 g fat (10 g saturated)
895 mg sodium

You’re heading into dangerous territory whenever you add fries to your order at In-N-Out. Sure, they’re trans-fat-free, but that won’t protect you from the 400 greasy, gut-bloating calories they carry. Instead, skip the fries and get serious about your burger. In-N-Out was offering up the low-carb treat long before other restaurants started making money off the Atkins craze. Take advantage of their prescience—and the 150-calorie savings—by simply tacking the phrase “protein style” onto your order. 
Bonus tip: Another way to shed pounds quickly? Download Eat This, Not That! to your iPhone. It's like having your own personal nutritionist (and details on 30,000 foods) at your fingertips!

Eat This Instead!
Protein Style Double-Double with grilled onion, ketchup, and mustard
440 calories
30 g fat (16 g saturated)
1,080 mg sodium


Worst Plain Cheeseburger
Five Guys Cheeseburger (plain)
840 calories
55 g fat (22.5 g saturated)
1,050 mg sodium

Even if you get the regular (i.e., bi-pattied) cheeseburger naked, you’ll still be taking in more than 250 calories and 20 grams of fat extra over the seemingly decadent bacon and sauteed mushroom burger. That’s because what Five Guys calls a “Little Burger,” healthy people call a “normal burger.” Plus, if you limit yourself to a single beef patty, you can get away with a couple of indulgent toppings like cheese or bacon. 

Eat This Instead!
Little Bacon Burger with Sauteed Mushrooms and A1 Steak Sauce
575 calories
33 g fat (14.5 g saturated)
920 mg sodium


Worst Burger Brand
Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Burger
890 calories
54 g fat (20 g saturated, 2 g trans)
2,040 mg sodium

What’s scary about the basic Six Dollar Burger is that with the exception of the bunless version, this is the leanest of the Six Dollar Burgers. That’s not a compliment—the rest of the line is just trashed beyond repair with egregious piles of bacon, guacamole, and teriyaki sauce. When at Carl’s, choose a Big Hamburger instead. Sure it’s big, but it’s not so big that you’re going to have to spend the next 3 days recovering. In fact, kids’ burgers aside, this is the only hamburger offered that won’t cost you in excess of 500 calories. 

Eat This Instead!
Big Hamburger
460 calories
17 g fat (8 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)
1,090 mg sodium


Worst “Original” Burger
Hardee’s Original Thickburger (1/3 lb)
910 calories
64 g fat (21 g saturated)
1,560 mg sodium

Shockingly, this is one of the least offensive of the Thickburgers. If you really need 1/3 pound of meat for lunch, make it the low-carb version and save yourself 490 calories. Or, choose a Double Cheeseburger, instead. It’s far from a model of sound nutrition, but the same could be said of Hardee’s itself. So if you want a burger with substance, you need to settle for the lesser of many evils. 

Bonus tip: Find out which burgers and other fast-food favorites we picked on our must-see list of Top Swaps for Weight Loss.

Eat This Instead!
Double Cheeseburger
510 calories
26 g fat (5 g saturated)
1,120 mg sodium


Worst Fast-Food Cheeseburger in America
Burger King Triple Whopper Sandwich with Cheese and Mayo
1,250 calories
84 g fat (32 g saturated, 3.5 g trans)
1,600 mg sodium

This Triple Whopper is triple trouble. You could remove two patties and still be looking at more calories than you should tussle with in one sitting. And the fact that it’s got more trans fat than you should eat in a day only adds insult to injury. The problem with BK burgers is that not a single one comes without the heart-harming trans-fatty acids, despite their long-standing promise to (someday) make their menu trans-fat-free. Your best bet when dealing with the King is to choose a chicken sandwich instead.

Eat This Instead!
Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich with Mayo
490 calories
21 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans)
1,220 mg sodium


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