The Lo-Co Burger-Off

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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.

Huge sigh.

No-Cook, Single ServeHalf Whole Wheat Bagel withOatmeal vs Bagel w/ Lox
Refrigerator Oatmeal1 Tbsp Whipped Cream Cheese, 1/2 oz lox
Nutrition FactsNutrition Facts
Servings   1.0Servings   1.0
Amount Per ServingAmount Per Serving
calories  231calories  18150calories
% Daily Value *% Daily Value *
Total Fat  6   g9   %Total Fat  14   g22   %-8Total Fat
Saturated Fat 1   g4   %Saturated Fat 2   g9   %-1Saturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat 0   gMonounsaturated Fat 1   g-1Monosaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat 3   gPolyunsaturated Fat 0   g3Polyunsaturated Fat
Trans Fat 0   gTrans Fat 0   g0Trans Fat
Cholesterol  3   mg1   %Cholesterol  8   mg3   %-5Cholesterol
Sodium  199   mg8   %Sodium  325   mg14   %-126Sodium
Potassium  438   mg13   %Potassium  0   mg0   %438Potassium
Total Carbohydrate  39   g13   %Total Carbohydrate  32   g11   %7Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber  15   g59   %Dietary Fiber  4   g14   %11Dietary Fiber
Sugars  8   gSugars  5   g3Sugars
Protein  10   g20   %Protein  10   g20   %0Protein
Vitamin A5   %Vitamin A2   %
Vitamin C2   %Vitamin C0   %
Calcium35   %Calcium3   %
Iron16   %Iron10   %
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:
[table “4” not found /]

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?


4 thoughts on “The Lo-Co Burger-Off

  1. Super helpful. I too have high cholesterol and I too am trying to prolong being on cholesterol meds. It’s hereditary on my end, so at some point I’m sure I’ll need meds. I’m heading to Shake Shack for lunch today and this info is what I needed. I’m bird-doggin it too. Thanks and best of luck with your journey!

  2. Your comment made my day – gave me willpower, actually, to drive right past Wendy’s even though I was in that parking lot (at a store) during lunchtime! I went home and made a healthy lunch! So thanks!

  3. Hi – sorry for late reply, have been traveling. I was so so happy to hear this post was helpful – and hope you liked the Bird Dog! High cholesterol is hereditary on my end too, but hoping to stay off medication! Thanks for your feedback !!

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