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Healthy Fast Food: The Best Burgers Under 300 Calories

The words "dentist" and "fun" are rarely—if ever—used in the same sentence. The same can be said about "diet" and "burgers."

But in reality, a hamburger done right isn't a terrible nutritional choice—even if you're trying to lose weight. Squeezed between a relatively small bun and topped with lettuce, onion, tomato and mustard, it's a high-protein treat that won't throw you off track. But when you're at a fast-food restaurant, it's not always obvious which burgers are safe bets for your waistline and health. And with some clocking in over 1,000 calories, you want to be sure you're picking a weight loss winner. Stick to one of the five tasty picks below; we've already vetted the best fast-food options on your behalf, so all you have to do is place your order and enjoy.


Eat This!

Hardee's Trim It 1/4 lb. Low Carb Little Thickburger

Calories 220
Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Sodium 590 mg
Carbs 6 g
Fiber 3 g
Sugar 4 g
Protein 15 g

When it comes to fast-food burgers, it doesn't get much healthier—or lighter in carbs—than this. To whip up this mouthwatering creation, Hardee's takes a Black Angus beef patty and wraps it inside iceberg lettuce leaves along with pickles, onion, tomato, ketchup and mustard. If you don't see this offering on the menu board at your local restaurant, fear not. Just ask your server for the "1/4 lb. Low-Carb Little Thickburger" from the "Trim It menu" and he'll be able to hook you up.


Eat This!

Burger King Hamburger

Calories 230
Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Sodium 460 mg
Carbs 26 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugar 6 g
Protein 9 g

When it comes to your waistline, simple and small is often better—no matter what the dish may be. The same holds true for burgers. It's not the bun, patty or the veggies that makes the American classic bad for your health; it's the three strips of bacon, special sauce and extra patties that are to blame. Coming in at 230 calories and 460 milligrams of sodium, BK's classic Hamburger is a stellar example of fast food done right. For 40 extra calories—and a hit of ooey-gooey flavor—add a slice cheese.


Eat This!

McDonald's Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger

Calories 300
Fat 13 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Sodium 640 mg
Carbs 32 g
Fiber 2 g
Sugar 6 g
Protein 16 g

What do you get when you pair a beef patty with grilled caramelized onions and melted white cheddar? This delicious, 300-calorie burger from Mickey D's. Of all the burgers on this list, this one is the highest in sodium, so be sure to say "no thanks" to the salt-laden fries. Besides, the apple slices are a much better side-dish pick.


Eat This!

Wendy's Jr. Hamburger

Calories 240
Fat 9 g
Saturated Fat 3.5 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Sodium 580 mg
Carbs 25 g
Fiber 1 g
Sugar 5 g
Protein 14 g

With her cute freckles and long, red braids, Wendy's girlish image might trick you into thinking that her food is only suitable for kids. But don't be mistaken, the chain offers a number of grown-up healthy picks, including this burger. Ordering this 240-calorie low-fat Jr. Hamburger instead of the chain's Baconator (which is packed with more than four times the calories and a whopping 57 grams of artery-clogging fat) is a no-brainer.


In-N-Out "Protein Style" Hamburger

Calories 240
Fat 17 g
Saturated Fat 4 g
Sodium 370 mg
Carbs 11 g
Fiber 3 g
Sugar 7 g
Protein 13 g

In-N-Out serves nothing more than burgers, fries, shakes and sodas. While that's certainly not the basis of a healthy diet, the Cali-based fast-food joint earns points for offering plenty of calorie-saving menu tweaks. We love the Protein-Style Burger, which replaces the bun with lettuce and saves you 150 calories.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh