11 Healthiest Fast Food Burgers, According to Nutritionists

When you go to your favorite fast food restaurant, you often forget to eat something healthy. In fact, satisfying your junk food cravings with a burger and fries — maybe even a milkshake — is sometimes the most filling experience, and occasionally there’s absolutely no harm. However, there are times when you need to grab a fast food meal because it’s the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient. In these cases, you might be itching for something that doesn’t completely defeat your current health goals. That’s why we wanted to learn about some of the healthiest fast food burgers available today.

To that end, we spoke to a handful of expert nutritionists to guide their selection of burger options that might be better suited to you. “You’ll notice an unsurprising trend on the list – individual burgers without all the sides, cheese, extra meat, etc., because these are the best when it comes to keeping calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium in check,” say Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFTAnd Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFTalso known as The Nutrition Twins.

Read on to learn which burgers made the list of healthier fast food options. For more tips on dining out while meeting your health goals, check out 8 Healthiest Meals to Order from Olive Garden.

1. Wendy’s Jr. Cheeseburger

Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger

Wendy’s Jr. Cheeseburger

Per burger: 290 calories, 14g fat (6g saturated fat), 610mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 6g sugars), 14g protein

Wendy’s has many fancy burger options like their Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger or their infamous Dave’s Triple. However, you can also find some healthier options at this fast food joint.

“At under 300 calories (290 to be exact), the Wendy’s Jr. Cheeseburger has less than half the calories of most burgers, so there’s still room to boost a few nutrients by ordering a side salad,” say the Nutrition Twins. “Although the sodium and saturated fat levels in this cheeseburger are not low, they are lower than many other burgers. If you omit the pickles and use ketchup and mustard sparingly, you can significantly lower the sodium.”

RELATED: Wendy’s breakfast menu — sorted by diet!

2. Burger King Whopper Jr.

Burger King Whopper Jr.

Burger King Whopper Jr.

Per burger: 334 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated fat), 601mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate (2.5g fiber, 8g sugars), 17g protein

Another healthy hamburger option to try when you’re in a hurry and need something quick is Burger King’s Whopper Jr.

“Pretty close in terms of nutritional stats compared to Wendy’s Jr. Cheeseburger, this burger has 334 calories, so it’s not breaking the calorie bank,” say the Nutrition Twins. “While the calories are slightly higher than Wendy’s Burger, the sodium is slightly lower, as is the saturated fat.”

They also add that this burger has “17 grams of filling protein,” which may help keep you fuller for longer.

3. Jack-in-the-Box Hamburgers

Jack-in-the-box hamburger

Jack-in-the-box hamburger

Per burger: 280 calories, 11g fat (4g saturated fat), 680mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 5g sugars), 4g protein

“The Jack in the Box hamburger made the list because of its total calories and protein, which are nutritionally comparable to the other options,” he says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Medical Expert Board.

Another reason this burger made the list of the healthiest fast food burgers is that it’s relatively low in saturated fat compared to other options. When you look at the recommended daily intake of saturated fat of around 13 grams, having only 4 via a fast food meal isn’t too shabby.

4. In-N-Out Hamburger with Onions

In-N-Out Hamburgers

In-N-Out Hamburgers

Per burger: 390 calories, 19g fat (5g saturated fat), 650mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate (3g fiber, 10g sugars), 16g protein

“It might not be the most decadent choice on the menu, but the single-patty no-cheese hamburger is a fast-food burger with a solid nutritional profile,” he says Sydney GreeneMS, RDN. “I typically recommend someone have at least 15 grams of protein in their meal and somewhere between 10 and 20 grams of fat, so this burger hits the spot.”

According to Greene, you can also substitute lettuce for the hamburger bun to further enhance the nutritional value.

5. McDonalds hamburgers

McDonalds hamburger

McDonalds hamburger

Per burger: 250 calories, 9g fat (3.5g saturated fat), 510mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 6g sugars), 12g protein

“This hamburger tops the list when it comes to calories, saturated fat and sodium,” say the Nutrition Twins. “Add apple slices or a healthy side from your own home for a boost of fiber, antioxidants and nutrients.”

However, they add that “this burger’s biggest flaw is that it only has 12 grams of protein, and you should aim for at least 20 grams of protein per meal.”

6. Shake Shack hamburger

Shake Shack Burger

Shake Shack Burger

Per burger: 370 calories, 18g fat (8g saturated fat), 850mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (0g fiber, 5g sugars)

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to a burger with cheese fries and a famous malt shake at Shake Shack. However, if you’re looking for a lighter option, try a regular Shake Shack hamburger – and pass the shake on.

“Shake Shack uses fresh ingredients and 100% homemade all-beef patties with a variety of vegetable toppings and a salad roll alternative,” says Goodson. One downside that Goodson points out is that this burger is still on the high end for calories and total fat.

7. Shake the Shack Shroom Burger

Shake Shack mushroom burger

Shake Shack mushroom burger

Per burger: 510 calories, 27g fat (10g saturated fat), 670mg sodium, 49g carbohydrate (0g fiber, 7g sugars)

Speaking of fresh ingredients from Shake Shack, if you like fast-food burgers without the meat, you’ll love the restaurant’s Shroom Burger option.

“With all the fake meats that are popping up on fast food menus, a portobello mushroom burger is a breath of fresh air,” says Greene. “This ‘burger’ is also significantly lower in sodium than some of the other Shack burgers.”

8. Burger King hamburgers

burger king hamburger

burger king hamburger

Per burger: 251 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 560mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 7g sugars), 13g protein

You’ll certainly find your share of unhealthy options at Burger King, but aside from the Whopper Jr., you can also enjoy a traditional hamburger without overdoing it on your calories and fat.

“This hamburger from Burger King beats its Whopper Jr. with fewer calories, total fat, and artery-clogging when saturated,” says Nutrition Twins. “Plus, it’s lower than most other fast-food burgers at 560 milligrams of sodium, which is 1/3 the maximum that many people should eat in their entire day.”

9. Five Guys little hamburger

Five Guys little hamburger

Five Guys little hamburger

Per burger: 540 calories, 26g fat, 380mg sodium, 39g carbohydrates

“The Little Hamburger offers one patty versus the usual two and is made with fresh homemade patties with no additives,” says Goodson. “You have the bonus of adding any toppings you like, and I recommend lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled onions to add a little color and nutrition.”

You can also replace the bun with lettuce, which adds even more nutritional value and saves some of your carbs.

10. Culver’s Original Butter Burger

butter burger

butter burger

Per burger: 390 calories, 17g fat (7g saturated fat), 480mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (1g fiber, 6g sugars), 20g protein

Culver’s is arguably best known for its frozen pudding, but its ButterBurger is delicious and not too shoddy when it comes to nutritional facts. Compared to many other fast food burgers, this burger has fewer calories and lower total and saturated fat. It’s particularly low in sodium and second lowest on our list, right behind the Five Guys Little Hamburger. Another benefit of this order is the 20 grams of protein per sandwich.

11. Steak ‘n Shake single steak burger

Steak n' Shake steak burgers

Steak n’ Shake steak burgers

Per burger: 320 calories, 14g fat (5g saturated fat), 820mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (3g fiber, 6g sugars), 15g protein

The Steak ‘n Shake Steakburger is one of the lower-calorie options on the list, and it’s also fairly mild in saturated fat compared to most fast-food burgers. The famous fries at Steak ‘n Shake are obviously what they’re best known for (for that and their shakes, of course), but to keep this meal relatively “healthy,” you might want to forego those and just stick with the burger.

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