Fast Food Cheeseburgers: Which One Should You Eat?

According to a recent consumer trend report, about 55% of consumers eat hamburgers once a week or more. This percentage is surprisingly high considering the rising concern for health issues related to fast food consumption. But that also shows how burgers have become a ubiquitous part of the American diet.

The widespread appeal of burgers is credited to three factors: customizability, portability, and affordability.

There’s no argument here; burgers can be customized to suit individual tastes. Patties can be made from beef, chicken, veggies, and even mushrooms or beans. You can add a variety of vegetables, condiments, and other meats to it. You can actually add whatever you want to it!

Next is portability. Burgers were designed to be eaten on the go. And in today’s fast-paced world, everyone seems to be just grabbing the easiest and fastest food to eat.

Then, there’s affordability. Burgers are most popular among teens and young adults because of how their prices are right within the budgeted food allowance.

Burgers are here to stay. Fast food outlets popping up one after the other in every city show the ever-increasing demand for these juicy cravings.

Which Fast Food Cheeseburger is the Best Diet Choice?

Now, the question is, which fast food chain offers cheeseburgers with the most nutritional value?

We’re not going to talk about taste here. That’s very subjective as we all have different taste buds. What we’d like to show you is what actually goes inside your body when you grab a burger.

To help you decide which fast food to head off to when you’re craving for some juicy cheeseburgers, we’ve checked out five of the most popular fast food chains today—McDonald’s, Burger King, In-N-Out, Shake Shack, and Wendy’s.

What’s in That Cheeseburger?

To make the comparison more thorough, we’ll be comparing both the ingredients and the nutritional information of cheeseburgers from the five fast food chains. We need to know first what goes in each cheeseburger before we delve into the nutrients they provide.

Here are the components of each cheeseburger based on information we gathered from their websites:

Burger Components McDonald’s Cheeseburger Burger King Cheeseburger IN-n-OUT Cheeseburger Shake Shack Cheeseburger Wendy’s Cheeseburger
patty 100% pure beef patty flame-grilled beef patty 100% pure beef patty 100% all-natural Angus beef fresh ground beef
condiments ketchup mustard ketchup mustard proprietary sauce proprietary sauce ketchup mustard
cheese American cheese American cheese American cheese American cheese cheese
veggies pickle onions crinkle cut pickles lettuce tomato onions lettuce tomato pickle onions pickles onions
bun plain bun sesame seed bun freshly baked bun potato bun toasted bun

It’s important to note that their caloric value and nutritional value depends on what their components are. Some burgers are served with more vegetables or in special buns. These translate to added nutrients.

Nutritional Information of Fast Food Cheeseburgers

It’s time to go a bit molecular and see what really goes into our bodies when we consume these cheeseburgers.

The cheeseburgers in this comparison are single patty burgers with one slice of cheese and varied condiments and toppings. Spaces marked with a dash (-) means that no information was available from their websites and from the USDA Food Data Central.

Nutritional Information McDonald’s Cheeseburger Burger King Cheeseburger Shake Shack Cheeseburger In-N-Out Cheeseburger Wendy’s Classic Cheeseburger
grams per serving 119 g 133 g 268 g 236 g
energy 313 kcal 380 kcal 470 kcal 480 kcal 522 kcal
protein 15.4 g 19.4 g 29 g 22 g 35.1 g
total lipid (fat) 14 g 19.7 g 28 g 27 g 27.4 g
carbohydrate 33.1 g 31.5 g 25 g 39 g 33.5 g
dietary fiber 1.31 g 1.33 g 3 g 3.3 g
sugars 7.4 g 5.97 g 5 g 10 g
calcium 199 mg 124 mg 177 mg
iron 2.8 mg 3.32 mg 5.52 mg
potassium 238 mg 237 mg 441 mg
sodium 745 mg 801 mg 1200 mg 1000 mg 1120 mg
zinc 2.27 mg 3.19 mg 6.09 mg
vitamin C 0.714 mg 0.266 mg 1.18 mg
thiamin 0.265 mg 0.403 mg 0.614 mg
riboflavin 0.309 mg 0.319 mg 0.604 mg
niacin 4.79 mg 4.52 mg 7.53 mg
fatty acids, saturated 5.28 g 9.1 g 14 g 10 g 12.3 g
polyunsaturated fats 0.422 g 2.02 g 3.32 g
cholesterol 41.6 mg 59.8 mg 105 mg 60 mg 89.7 mg

Source: USDA Food Data Central

Why These Numbers Matter

Fast food really tends to be high in calories, fats, sugar, salt, and preservatives. But some fast food chains do provide healthful options for us.

When you’re trying to eat healthy, you don’t just look at the number of calories you’re consuming. You also need to be mindful of the vitamins and nutrients that you need to get every day. Moreover, you must pay attention to the sugars, fats, and carbs you’re putting in your body.

For instance, the chart shows that one Shake Shack Cheeseburger has a moderate amount of calories at 470 kcal. But looking at its other contents, you’d see that it has the highest saturated fat content compared with the other cheeseburgers. So, if you’re watching your fat intake, it might not be the best option for you.

Knowing these facts can help you identify which fast food item contains the least amount of the substances you should be taking in moderation. It would also stop you from overindulging in unhealthy food and help you make better food choices.

Say Cheese!

Despite rising health concerns regarding consumption of fast food, our modern lifestyle makes it difficult to avoid them entirely. Nonetheless, there’s no reason why we should stop ourselves from giving into these fast food cravings. We just need to do our homework and make informed decisions. Make your own healthy versions at home. Be familiar with the nutrition value of menu items from popular fast food chains.

Make better choices, and live healthier.