The Lo-Co Burger-Off
Combine my inability to plan nightly low-cholesterol dinners (all right, any dinner) and the need to feed a teenaged boy who plays sports, and the all-too-frequent result is dinner at a burger joint.
So not lo-co, I know. But it happens.
Worse, it’s happening more regularly because the famous ‘Shake Shack’ (chef Danny Meyer’s take on fast food) just opened in our town. We’ve been there a few (ahem) times.
I decided it was time to think about this…not just pretend it wasn’t happening. So I tabulated the nutritional info of what I usually eat at the three burger places we like: Wendy’s, Five Guys and Shake Shack. And though I knew a burger and fries was not a good meal choice, I was appalled at what I found.
First – they are all pretty bad. All three chains. None is far worse than any other.
Second – even my choice of the smallest hamburger option with a small/regular-sized fries has nearly HALF of the daily recommended calories and cholesterol, and nearly ALL of the total fat & saturated fat I should be consuming in 1 day, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines.
And that doesn’t even include the small Frostee I always order at Wendy’s (for calcium, right?). Nor the not-so-small beer offered at Shake Shack.
|No-Cook, Single Serve||Half Whole Wheat Bagel with||Oatmeal vs Bagel w/ Lox|
|Refrigerator Oatmeal||1 Tbsp Whipped Cream Cheese, 1/2 oz lox|
|Nutrition Facts||Nutrition Facts|
|Servings 1.0||Servings 1.0|
|Amount Per Serving||Amount Per Serving|
|calories 231||calories 181||50||calories|
|% Daily Value *||% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 6 g||9 %||Total Fat 14 g||22 %||-8||Total Fat|
|Saturated Fat 1 g||4 %||Saturated Fat 2 g||9 %||-1||Saturated Fat|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0 g||Monounsaturated Fat 1 g||-1||Monosaturated Fat|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g||Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g||3||Polyunsaturated Fat|
|Trans Fat 0 g||Trans Fat 0 g||0||Trans Fat|
|Cholesterol 3 mg||1 %||Cholesterol 8 mg||3 %||-5||Cholesterol|
|Sodium 199 mg||8 %||Sodium 325 mg||14 %||-126||Sodium|
|Potassium 438 mg||13 %||Potassium 0 mg||0 %||438||Potassium|
|Total Carbohydrate 39 g||13 %||Total Carbohydrate 32 g||11 %||7||Total Carbohydrates|
|Dietary Fiber 15 g||59 %||Dietary Fiber 4 g||14 %||11||Dietary Fiber|
|Sugars 8 g||Sugars 5 g||3||Sugars|
|Protein 10 g||20 %||Protein 10 g||20 %||0||Protein|
|Vitamin A||5 %||Vitamin A||2 %|
|Vitamin C||2 %||Vitamin C||0 %|
|Calcium||35 %||Calcium||3 %|
|Iron||16 %||Iron||10 %|
Burger comparison, INCLUDING Fries. All have lettuce, tomato, mayo & ketchup. ShackBurger has cheese. Five Guys fries are approximately half of an order of regular fries. Wendy’s is a small fry order, Shake Shack is 1 order of regular fries.
Even without fries, it’s a bleak picture. I’ll write a separate post that compares the burger & fries with a just-burger order, so you can see the difference.
But what’s immediately important is finding a healthier fast-food option for me (as it’s clear we will still be dining at fast food places.) So here’s what I’ve decided:
- Five Guys has basically NO lo-co alternative – their ‘veggie burger’ is just their toppings on a bun. I literally LOL at that. So I guess I’ll be skipping Five Guys trips and let that turn into a father/son dinner option. Sad, but no choice – just looking at that 52 grams of fat has my head spinning.
- Wendy’s has healthy choices like salads, but I just have trouble ordering them. They’re actually pretty good (annoyingly, my husband often orders them) but I just usually don’t choose them with the burger lure right there. But I will now.
- Shake Shack has a ‘Shroom Burger as a vegetarian option, but it is STUFFED with cheese, so totally not lo-co. In fact, it has nearly double the fat of a ShackBurger!
- I did find ONE GREAT CHOICE that’s not a salad, is tasty and a much healthier/ lower cholesterol fast food choice than a burger and fries. The Shake Shack Bird Dog is a healthy option – it’s a chicken sage sausage on a bun. It is HALF the calories and cholesterol, and 1/3 of the fat of their ShackBurger:
So, I’ll be bird-doggin’ it from now on.
That should leave enough calories for a beer with my dinner, don’t you think?