Burger King: The Good, The Bad, And The Healthy

“Have it your way.” So goes the well-known slogan for chain restaurant Burger King, but it’s fairly common knowledge that, like Taco Bell, McDonald’s, or any other fast-food business, Burger King’s menu is not exactly the friendliest when one’s “way” is trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. How can diners expect to remain nutritiously sound while eating at Burger King? As they have with Olive Garden’s menu, some health experts have cleared up for Burger King customers what their best bets are when it comes to fast food with the King.

First and foremost, Burger King offers a spreadsheet version of their menu with full nutritional information for each item listed. Also available is a list of possible meal combinations that add up to 650 calories or less. However, the spreadsheet is not the easiest to navigate for the average reader, and while a Diet Coke may contain 0 calories, it is still filled with sugar, syrup, and other less-than-preferable ingredients.

LiveStrong provides a few tips for making the most out of an unideal dining situation at Burger King by trading beef for a chicken or vegetarian patty, opting for apple slices in lieu of other sides such as french fries and onion rings, and discarding Burger King’s sandwich buns, which they call “nothing but empty calories.” Spark People suggests that including cheese on your burger is not best, as it adds nine grams of fat, which may not be worth that one slice — but does recommend the Tendergrill Chicken Garden Salad, if paired with a low- or no-fat dressing.

According to Cooking Light, one of the best options from the Burger King menu is the Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich without mayonnaise. The sandwich weighs in at a filling 360 calories, and Cooking Light suggests a side salad with half a packet of “Ken’s Light Balsamic Dressing” for only an additional 100 calories more. Spark People notes that the Whopper Jr. and Hamburger, also without mayo, are good choices as well, in place of larger, less-healthy sandwiches such as the Whopper and Triple Whopper.

Health website Fit Day advises against certain items on the Burger King menu, naming the Triple Whopper with Cheese, BK Ultimate Breakfast Platter, Premium Crispy Chicken Sandwich, 20 Piece Nuggets, and Large Hash Browns as foods customers will want to avoid when ordering. The website also offers some less harmful possible substitutions for those meals.

If your experience with the nutritional value of Burger King’s food has been less than or more than exemplary, or if you have discovered your own ways to eat off fast food menus while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet, we’d love to hear about it.

[Image via James Repucci]