But I Just Want A Cheeseburger!?

by in Dining Out, Healthy Tips, March 19, 2009

I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but when the craving strikes, I won’t deprive myself. Here are a few ideas for ordering a dreamy burger while avoiding a calorie nightmare.

Nutrition Lowdown
Many of your favorite restaurant cheeseburgers tip the scales at 1,100 calories and 75 grams of fat (that’s more than a days worth!). You can shave off calories and fat immediately just by making your own burgers with 3 to 4 ounces of lean ground beef — or cutting down the restaurant burger to that size. Beef is a great source of protein and iron; lean varieties have all these nutrients and less artery-clogging saturated fat.

Resist the Temptation to “Supersize”
No need to order the 5-pound burger — the smaller, the better (kid’s menu, anyone?). Be smart and pass on the mound of fries and gallon of soda (classic companions to a juicy burger). So your burger isn’t lonely, order up a side salad or some steamed veggies. If your burger just isn’t the same without the fries (I hear ya!), make sure you split the order with a buddy or two.

Lighter Burger Options
Lighter alternatives to beef include ground turkey, chicken or bison. Sometimes cheeseburgers come on 300-calorie buns; see if you can have your burger on an English muffin or sliced bread instead. Ask if there is low-fat cheese (every little bit helps), skip the bacon and steer clear of mayo and “special sauce” (which might be a sodium, sugar and fat nightmare) — go for low-fat condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish or pickles.

[Photo by Tom Censani]

TELL US: What’s your favorite low-cal way to prep a burger?

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Comments (47)

  1. Megan says:

    Grass-fed, organic beef burgers are the way to go! Grass-fed meat actually has lower saturated fat than industrial produced beef (and don’t be fooled–cows are NOT meant to eat “grain.” Even though swanky restaurants try to make it sound sophisticated, “grain-fed” is feed-lot fed and full of antibiotics. Careful, though, grass-fed beef, because of the lower fat content, cooks quicker than regular beef.

    I top my grass-fed burger with sauteed onions, feta cheese (naturally low-cal and goat-milk feta is even lighter), some spicy mustard and Annie’s organic BBQ sauce. Put it all between an Ezekiel sprouted grain bun (low cal + high fiber = good for you), and you may never go back to the typical American burger!

  2. Michelle Reger says:

    Top a lean burger with Lite Sour Cream and Chopped Green Olives. Ohhh my god! Good!

  3. Michelle says:

    No way! I am a burger connoisseur. I don't skimp in any way. But I do eat healthy and run every morning in addition to taking care of my kids and taking them on walks. I appreciate the tips on keeping it healthy, but if you cheat every once in a while, it's totally worth all the extra calories!

  4. Jimmye says:

    I make burgers for our family of 7 and have leftovers. I use 3 pounds of 90% or leaner beef, 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey, 1/2 cup of Frank's Red Hot and 1/4 cup of Tones Garlic Rosemary blend. My kids (from 21-6) brag about my burgers to all their friends and they frequently show up on "burger nite". Any leftovers get gobbled up by my teenage son.
    This burger is good on the Foreman or the charcoal grill outside. I prefer a slice of lowfat colby jack, onion and dill pickle on mine.

  5. Stephanie says:

    To make this an even healthier burger, skip the buns. Use whole leaves of iceberg lettuce to wrap your cheeseburger in. Its just as good, if not better! I love eating my burgers like this.

  6. Sandie says:

    Since I’m gluten-intolerant, I can’t have wheat buns. Finally, something that works in my favor! I wrap my burger in romaine or green-leaf lettuce, and add cheese, red onion, dijon and tomato. Yummy.

  7. Kim says:

    I’ll admit these aren’t the same as a big, juicy beef burger, but as a super light alternative to meat I LOVE grilled portabellos or black bean burgers. Both can get topped just as you would any other burger. They are filling, satisfying and super healthy!

  8. Kim says:

    I’ll admit these aren’t the same as big, juicy beef burgers, but I love grilled portobellas or black bean burgers as light alternatives. They can be dressed as regular burgers and are super healthy and satisfying.

  9. jean says:

    I agree that if you eat a healthy diet and exercise, splurging on a good burger is OK! When I was growing up in Ohio my parents would sometimes take us to a drive in restaurant that was famous for peanut burgers. Just before you lay on that slice of cheese, place a small amount of peanut butter on the burger and let it melt into the meat. It may sound strange, but it is delicious! That was over 40 years ago and this restaurant is still serving their unusual specialty.

  10. Kristine Brabson says:

    I must say that’s a curiously interesting idea about adding a dollop of peanut butter to your burger. I have heard of people combining peanut butter and bacon before.

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