Fast Food Burgers and Sandwiches Uncovered

Just because you're trying to eat healthier doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite fast food chain forever. (Sometimes a girl just needs a burger.) Here's how to order smarter. From her book Eat Out, Eat Right, nutrition expert Hope Warshaw gives you the lowdown on fast food hamburgers and sandwiches.

Hamburgers

Unfortunately, the trend in fast-food hamburgers is bigger is better. Most fast-food burger chains offer double, triple, quad (4 patties), biggie, or monster burgers. Most of these are also loaded with high-fat toppings, such as cheese, bacon, and special sauce. Vegetables are scarce. Avoid these giant burgers and order small ones instead.

The frequent additions of cheese, special sauces (usually mayonnaise-based), and bacon add fat and calories, but pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, and ketchup increase flavor without the fat. Compare the difference between a plain hamburger at Burger King, with about 300 calories and 12 grams of fat (40 percent of calories), to their Double Whopper with Cheese, with about 600 calories and 35 grams of fat (50 percent of calories).

Roast Beef Sandwiches

Arby’s is famous for its roast beef sandwiches, and several other chains have added beef sandwiches to their growing list of menu items. Arby’s regular or junior roast beef sandwich without cheese is in the vicinity of the 30 percent fat goal and could be a better choice than a hamburger. As with the burgers, avoid the high-fat extras—cheese, melted cheese, creamy dressings and sauces (for example, Arby’s Horsey Sauce contains 5 grams of fat and about 60 calories per tablespoon). Feel free to use spicy barbecue sauce, honey mustard, mustard, or unadulterated horseradish for extra punch.

Fried Fish Sandwiches

Fish is healthy, of course, but not when it’s drowned in batter, oil, tartar sauce, and cheese. Fast-food fried fish sandwiches are probably one of the least healthy choices on the menu. These sandwiches average nearly 500 calories and 50 percent fat. Unfortunately, fast-food outlets just don’t offer grilled fish. Skip the fish when you’re eating fast food; instead, make it at home or order it grilled or broiled in a sit-down restaurant.

Excerpted from Eat Out, Eat Right by Hope S. Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE. Copyright © 2008 by Hope S. Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE. Excerpted by permission of Surrey Books, a division of Agate Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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