Burger chains are not known for being diet friendly — in fact, according to Help Guide, the average adult consumes 836 calories per fast food meal. But if you make the right nutritional choices when ordering, you’ll be surprised at how many calories you’ll save without having to put down your favorite fast food burgers.
One of the best ways to control your intake is to simply opt for a smaller serving. Burger patties are packed with protein, so a little goes a long way in satisfying your appetite for indulgence. And while it’s tempting to pile on the toppings, try limiting yourself to low-calorie add-ons — especially steering clear of mayonnaise-based sauces. Sticking to zero-calorie drinks, water being the best choice, will also keep your fast food forays at a respectably healthy level.
Try these custom burger orders at your five favorite fast food joints to keep your diet on track without sacrificing your favorite flavors in the process.
1. BK Whopper Jr. or Veggie Burger (Burger King)
Stephanie Quirantes, the nutrition and health manager for Burger King, tells Prevention, “I typically order the BK Veggie Burger, but I hold the mayo.” This is the best way to get a well-balanced and satisfying meal at the fast food joint, and it is best accompanied with the Fresh Apple Fries and skim milk or water.
If you can’t say no to your carnivorous cravings, you’re best off ordering a Whopper Jr. — but hold the mayo, of course! This sandwich is just 240 calories and packs in 13 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of saturated fat.
2. Original Hamburger or Cheeseburger (McDonald’s)
Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one. Although McDonald’s offers tons of options for burger customization, it’s best to stay away from the crazy condiments and toppings for the sake of your diet. A standard McDonald’s hamburger will satisfy your savory cravings.
It’s a simple seasoned beef patty with salt, pepper, pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard, and contains 250 calories plus 12 grams of protein. If you’re feeling more indulgent, throw a slice of cheese on top (50 added calories, 3 added grams of protein).
3. Bunless Little Hamburger (Five Guys)
Your first task in ordering a somewhat healthy meal at Five Guys is to opt for the “Little” size — which, in actuality, is not very little at all. It’s approximately the size of a standard fast food burger and is a much more manageable and diet-friendly alternative to the restaurant’s double-pattied brethren. Opting for a little hamburger is your best bet at Five Guys, but adding some toppings will give it the added flavor it needs. One great option for dieters is the hidden “Bunless” section of the menu: Ordering from this portion will cut your 480-calorie Little Hamburger down to just 220 calories, and it still contains 16 satisfying grams of protein.
Try sticking with low-calorie toppings like pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peppers, and do your best to skip out on the bacon this time around.
4. In-N-Out Hamburger (In-N-Out)
A standard In-N-Out hamburger weighs in at 390 calories, but a few quick customizations can shave off the excess energy. In-N-Out makes health-conscious ordering a snap with its “Protein Style” options, which allows customers to replace the standard burger bun with a lettuce wrap. Doing this will cut your Hamburger down to 240 calories. If you’re not ready to part with the bun, at least substitute ketchup and mustard for In-N-Out’s beloved — and hugely calorific — mayonnaise-based spread. Doing so will keep your burger at a tolerable 310 calories with 16 grams of protein.
5. Junior Cheeseburger (Wendy’s)
Here’s another case in which your best bet is to stick with the simplest and most straightforward menu option. Try ordering a generously sized Jr. Cheeseburger which consists of a beef patty, American cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onion on a burger bun. It tops out at 280 calories and packs in 16 grams of protein. Cutting out the cheese will save you an additional 30 calories.