Two pieces of bread. That's the bedrock of every hamburger on the planet. With these virginal slices in hand, the grill master is free to build as far as his imagination — or gastrointestinal tract — will allow.
Here's the caveat: With the power to create comes the power to inflate.
For this there's no greater evidence than the greasy bread-boats being served at your local burger stop. Sure, there are decent options out there, but more often than not the junk that comes stuffed between the buns is enough to turn Mona Lisa into Homer Simpson. Like these five burgers listed below. They're gut bombs in the worst way. Luckily, there are healthier alternatives for each of them.
Burger King NY Pizza Burger 2,530 calories
144 grams fat (59 grams saturated, 3.5 grams trans)
3,780 milligrams sodium
Calorie equivalent: Just over seven medium orders of McDonald’s French Fries
Burger King has recently opened what it's calling “Whopper Bars” in select cities around the world. The Whopper Bar lets you create your own Whoppers, and offers specialty Whoppers that aren’t served at regular BK locations. This astonishingly awful NY Pizza Burger is one of them. It's exactly what it sounds like — pizza with burger and bacon and bun on top.
If you eat the entire thing, you’ll consume more calories than you should eat in an entire day, and a day and a half’s worth of sodium — not to mention the amount of saturated fat you would find in 59 strips of bacon. To be fair, BK says it feeds six people. But how often do you swing by fast food restaurants with five of your closest friends?
Eat this instead! Whopper without mayo 510 calories
22 grams fat (9 grams saturated, 0.5 grams trans)
830 milligrams sodium
At a touch over 500 calories, it's not so bad.
Ruby Tuesday Smokehouse Burger 1,219 calories 73 grams fat 2,539 milligrams sodium
Sodium equivalent: Ninety-four Ritz Crackers
Here’s a general rule when picking burgers: The bacon cheddar cheeseburger is never going to be the healthy choice, especially when it’s a large and juicy patty like they serve at Ruby Tuesday. You’re just adding too many high-calorie toppings to an already high-calorie glob of beef.
Eat this instead! Cowboy Sirloin 569 calories
29 g fat
1,633 mg sodium
Choose the sirloin steak instead to cut more than half the calories, but none of the deliciousness.
Uno Chicago Grill Bring Home the Bacon Burger 1,040 calories
76 grams fat (30 grams saturated, 2 grams trans)
2,200 milligrams sodium
Saturated fat equivalent: Twelve White Castle Burgers
Uno Chicago Grill is known for deep dish pizza — an obvious nutritional minefield.
But the burgers are just as dangerous, as evidenced here by this bacon burger that comes with half a day’s worth of calories, a whole day’s worth of sodium, and the saturated fat equivalent of 12 White Castle Burgers.
Eat this instead! Brewmasters Grill NY Sirloin 520 calories
14 grams fat (5 grams saturated)
1,580 mg sodium
Once again, the sirloin is the best beefy choice.
Cheesecake Factory The Classic Burger
28 grams saturated fat
1,635 milligrams sodium
Calorie equivalent: Seven Original Glazed Doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts
It’s called the Classic, but it’s anything but. The Cheesecake Factory website describes this dish as “A Gigantic Chop House Hamburger.” That doesn’t sound particularly good for you, now does it? Cheesecake Factory’s menu is littered with some of the most gut-busting items out of all chain restaurants across America.
Eat This Instead! The Factory Burger 730 calories
15 grams saturated fat
1,016 milligrams sodium
The good news is that the Cheesecake Factory also serves the very best sit-down burger in America: The Factory Burger, which keeps a lid on the calories, fat and sodium.
T.G.I. Friday’s Jack Daniel’s Burger
Calorie equivalent: Thirty Oreo cookies
T.G.I. Friday’s is one of the last restaurants that still doesn’t reveal full nutritional information.
Based on the limited calorie data we’ve seen, we can only imagine that the rest of the dish — the fat, the sodium — must be astronomically bad for you. The Jack Daniel’s burger suffers from a heavy sauce and giant proportions.
Eat This Instead! Classic Sirloin 570 calories
Switch, once again, to the classic sirloin. It’s a healthier cut of meat, and it’ll cut nearly two-thirds of the calories from the dish.