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The #1 Worst Fast-Food Menu Item Ever, According to a Dietitian

Stay away from this meal option when you're heading to the drive-thru.
Burgers

Sometimes, fast food is all you can grab when you're rushing between meetings or in the car, and on the go. And hey, there are instances when you just really want a burger and fries. We get it. While fast food isn't typically the healthiest choice, there are some menu items that happen to be far worse than others.

So, if you're going to stop by a Burger King or other popular fast food joint, you'll want to make sure you're ordering the item with the greatest nutrition profile to keep your weight and health in check. And of course, you always want to try and make fast food meals more of an occasion, rather than a day-to-day habit. Going with salads (dressing on the side and without fried or sugary toppings!) and grilled meats and fish, as well as items from the kids' menu, is a smart start, but there's one menu item you should definitely avoid eating the next time you're picking up a fast food meal. (And while you're making better choices, be sure to try out the 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time!)

The worst fast-food menu item is…

burger king triple whopper with cheese
Courtesy of Burger King

Burger King's Triple Whopper with Cheese

1,220 calories, 82 g fat (32 g saturated fat, 4.5 g trans fat), 1,470 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (2 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 71 g protein

"We all associate Whoppers with Burger King, [but] the Triple Whopper with Cheese is definitely on the worst choice list," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.

What makes it so bad for you? Well, just keep in mind that this fast-food burger is made up of three quarter-pound beef patties are topped with mayo, ketchup, and cheese, so it's easy to see at first glance why this is a gut-busting menu option.

"It's loaded with 1,220 calories, 82 grams of fat, and 32 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends about 13 grams of saturated fat per day so you are in for about two and a half days worth with one burger, and that's before adding fries," Harris-Pincus says. Yikes.

There are also more than 1,400 milligrams of sodium in this burger, which will have you well on your to quickly blowing through your recommended daily value of sodium. This can further contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, as well as cause some uncomfortable bloating, too. Plus, that high sodium can also make you thirsty, which may lead to overeating later on, as many people often confuse thirst for hunger.

This burger is heavy in carbs as well, coming in at 50 grams total and yet just a mere 2 grams of fiber. This means it's mostly refined and void of any wholesome complex carbs that would contain fiber to improve your gut health and keep you fuller longer, Harris-Pincus points out. While, yes, this Whopper does have 71 grams of protein, that's not necessarily a good thing. It's actually more than your body can absorb in one sitting, so you really do not need this hefty of a dose in just one meal.

So what should you order instead?

No need to say goodbye to the beloved Whopper completely!

"If you love a Whopper, stick with the Whopper Jr., where you get all the flavor in a reasonable portion size with 75% fewer calories and 85% less saturated fat than the Triple Whopper with cheese," Harris-Pincus. The Whopper Jr. has 310 calories, 18 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 390 milligrams of sodium (what a huge difference!), 27 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of fiber, and a decent amount of protein with 13 grams per burger.

You'll still want to be sure to choose your sides wisely, too.

"Round it out with a side salad for extra veggies and then enjoy a small order of fries if that's what you desire," she adds.

To add in more protein to your meal, you can always pair it with some nut butter on a few whole-grain crackers and even a quarter of an avocado. These would be options that are low in carbs and yet pack that additional protein. See, there are some solid options to make that Whopper Jr. even more satisfying!

Looking for more helpful tips? Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

Isadora Baum
Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy. Read more
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