Diet & Nutrition Tips,  Healthy Foods,  PFOODIE

CALORIE ALERT: Burger Dos & Don’ts

So you’re on a diet and you are craving a burger. It would be so easy to say “I deserve it” or “I’ll burn it off”, but the fact of the matter is giving in and splurging on that burger can set you back in a big way. For every 100 calories you cheat, is how many miles you’ll need to walk or jog to erase it so you better think long and hard before you let your tummy talk you into hitting the drive through!


I researched calories for a basic full size cheeseburger and medium fry (no kiddie or super-sized meals) from the most popular fast food joints and this is what I found.

1/4lb GrillBurger with Cheese: 540 calories
Medium Fries: 310 calories
Burger with 1 piece of bread, no cheese & no mayo: 340 calories.

#2 MCDONALD’S: 890 CALORIES (No Drink)
Quarter Pounder with Cheese: 510 calories (they don’t list topping calories
Medium Fries:  380 calories
Get their 6 piece nuggets for 280 calories or the Grilled Chicken BLT Ranch loaded for only 380 calories.

#3 WENDY’S: 1,000 CALORIES (No Drink)
Wendy’s Single with Cheese: 580 calories, 33gms of fat, 220 calories just from the bread
Medium Fries: 420 calories
Wendy’s Single without mayo & 1 piece of bread: 420 calories 

Big Cheeseburger: 570 calories
Medium Fries: 450 calories
Get a Chicken Fajita Pita for 320 calories instead.

#4 SONIC: 1,130 CALORIES  (No Drink)
Cheese Burger with Mayo: 800 calories
Medium Fries: 330 calories
Get the Grilled Chicken sandwich instead for 430 calories

#5 BURGER KING: 1,170 CALORIES  (No Drink)
Whopper with Cheese: 760 calories, 40gms of fat, 240 calories from the bread, 140 calories in mayo
Medium Fries: 410 calories
Whopper with no mayo & one piece of bread: 500 calories

#6 FIVE GUYS: $1,460 CALORIES  (No Drink)
Cheese Burger: 840 calories (not including toppings!)
Regular Fries: 620 calories
Heavy Hitting Toppings: Mayo (100 cal), Cheese (70 cal), Bacon (80 cal), BBQ Sauce (60 cal)
Add Jalapeno peppers for TONS of flavor and only 3 calories!

Dine Out Instead of Drive Thru? Don’t think so fast!

Maybe after reading this, you just convinced yourself to go to a nice restaurant to have a better burger. Think again! A burger at Ruby Tuesday’s averaged over 1,000 calories JUST for the burger alone – not including sides! Even the Turkey burger was 801 calories, not including french fries! OK, so you decide to get the “Ruby Minis” – wrong!! Once again, the deceivingly named food maybe mini in size, but it’s maxi in calories, raking in 915 calories not including sides!

Have a Burger YOUR Way!

Who says you have to go to Five Guys to get a good tasting burger? And who says you have to blow 1,000 calories to satisfy your craving? No One!

I’m here to tell you, you can make a delicious healthy low-calorie burger and fries that tastes just like the real thing! The trick is not just fresh ingredients, but layering your burger just the way they put it together in the restaurants.

How Does Your Burger Stack Up?
There’s a reason why those fast food burgers are good – and it’s not just the grease it’s dripping in. It’s a strict policy set for every employee to follow to make sure every single burger is exactly like the company intended it to be. So what’s the “Right Way?”. Well, since Steve worked for Burger King during high school and college, he quickly rang off the order they were to stack their burgers. You have a cold side, and a hot side.

Cold Side: Bread, Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato.
Hot Side: Bread, Meat, Cheese, Pickles, Onion, Ketchup, Mustard. Then you smack it all together and serve it up while the hot is still hot and the cold is still cold.

Of course all restaurants may do it a little differently, but there is no reason you can’t make your own healthy burger at home and it taste just as good (or even better) than any restaurant pumping out high calorie burgers all day. I proved that last week when I was craving a burger myself! Instead of cheating on my diet, I decided to get my burger fix at home and stick to my diet. Here is what I threw together to satisfy my craving.

Turkey Burger: (approximately 200 calories)

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup egg beaters
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used whole grain sandwich thins)
Grill the burgers in a pan first to firm, and finish on the grill.

TOPPINGS – From Top to Bottom:

  • Sandwich thins (100 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon Low Fat Hellman’s Mayo (only 15 calories)
  • 2 Lettuce leafs
  • 2 Sliced Tomato
  • 1 tablespoon Ketchup  (15 calories)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard
  • Onion
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Pickles
  • Goat Cheese (38 calories, 1/2 oz.) or 1 slice low-fat cheese
  • Meat
  • Bread

Serve with 2 cups baked French Fries sprayed with Pam and sprinkled with Season Salt for 153 calories (vs 400 calorie fast food fries!).

TIP: Who says you have to have bread? Or pickles? Or other popular toppings. Put your hot burger on a plate, top with your favorite cheese and sauces next to your favorite fresh sides and eat like a regular meal or salad. Other fun hot toppings: grilled pineapple, sauteed mushroom, green pepper or onions.

Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


  • Tina

    Great suggestions! I treated myself to a burger on Saturday for my splurge meal. It wasn’t quite as virtuous as the one you’ve posted here but I made it myself, knew exactly what went into it and tracked it in my food diary.

  • Malita Jones (@curlsz)

    I called it quits on fast food in December and haven’t missed it, the key was getting all those missing nutrients back into my body with juicing and real food! So now I make my own burgers and love them!! But I have it say, taste wise grass fed all natural beef trumps turkey any day and I was always disappointed in my burger when I used turkey. Good thing is there are loads of good nutrients in grass fed beef, I just make sure it’s an every once in a while thing and not a daily staple.

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