Eat It to Beat It: Chain Restaurant Burger Options With Fewer Calories, Sodium

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Eat It to Beat It: Burger Options With Fewer Calories, Sodium

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Summer wouldn’t be summer without burgers, but some options are easier on your waistline than others.

David Zinczenko, ABC News’ nutrition and wellness editor and the author of “Eat It to Beat It!,” appeared on “GMA” to talk about smart swaps diners can make when they’re craving a big juicy burger -- whether it’s at a fast food chain or a casual-dining establishment.

About 20 years ago the average hamburger contained about 333 calories, Zinczenko said. Today, it’s hard to find a sit-down restaurant that serves a burger that has fewer than three times that number of calories, he noted.

Here are his suggestions for making burger swaps at three chain restaurants:

BEAT IT

The Triple Whopper from Burger King contains 1,160 calories and 1,050 mg sodium – or the equivalent of 29 fat-free Hebrew National hot dogs.

EAT IT

A better alternative is Burger King’s bacon double cheeseburger, which has 390 calories and 790 mg of sodium. That’s a savings of 770 calories and 260 mg of sodium over the Triple Whopper.

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BEAT IT

Steak and Shake’s Frito’s Chili Cheese Double Steakburger has 1,060 calories and 1,670 mg of sodium. That’s the calorie equivalent of 30 slices of Oscar Mayer bacon.

EAT IT

Consider opting for Steak and Shake’s Bacon 'n Cheese Double Steakburger, which has 480 calories and 740 mg of sodium. If you choose this option instead of the Chili Cheese Double Steakburger, you’ll save yourself 580 calories and 930 mg of sodium.

BEAT IT

The Cheesecake Factory’s Ranch House burger contains 1,890 calories and 2,830 mg of sodium. This burger provides the calorie equivalent of nearly 40 chicken nuggets from McDonald’s.

EAT IT

Consider choosing the Cheesecake Factory’s Factory Burger, with 740 calories and 1,020 mg of sodium. It’s a savings of 1,150 calories and 1,810 mg of sodium over the Ranch House burger.

Statements from the Chains

From Burger King:

“Burger King Corporation is committed to offering our guests a variety of menu items to enable them to make choices that fit their lifestyle and dietary needs. Our HAVE IT YOUR WAY® brand promise means that we support them with innovative products, meal customization options, and readily available nutrition information.“

From the Cheesecake Factory:

“With more than 250 menu items and more than 50 legendary desserts, The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices. Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate without being concerned about calories. Others want to share their meals and their desserts – and we love it when guests share – that’s a great sign that our portions are generous – and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers to enjoy the next day.

For our calorie conscious guests we have our award-winning SkinnyLicious® Menu featuring more than 50 delicious choices with 590 calories or less – which is actually larger than many restaurants entire menus. We believe there is truly something for everyone on our menu.”

Dave Zinczenko, ABC News Nutrition & Wellness Editor, is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His latest book, "Eat It to Beat It!" Is full of food swaps, meal plans and the latest food controversies - sign up for his free newsletter.

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