Hamburger Nutrition and Health Information

Hamburger annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Do you love a juicy burger? Even though hamburgers are a staple on the menu of most fast food restaurants, an occasional single patty burger can be part of a reasonable, nutritious diet. You just need to know how to order – or how to cook – a hamburger to keep it healthy.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one hamburger with a single patty and no condiments (90g).

  • Calories: 266
  • Fat: 10.1g
  • Sodium: 396mg
  • Carbohydrates: 30.3g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Sugars: 5.2g
  • Protein: 13.3g

Eating a hamburger will boost your saturated fat intake. Ground beef, the primary ingredient in a burger, is high in saturated fat. And some people even prepare their burgers using additional fat like butter or oil.

Saturated fat is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The nutrition experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend that you limit your saturated fat intake to 10 percent of your total daily calorie consumption.​

But the news is not all bad if you love a good burger. A hamburger does provide some nutritional value. It is a good source of protein, iron, phosphorus, and several other nutrients. If you choose to eat your hamburger on whole grain bun, it may also provide healthy, filling fiber.

Calorie Comparison

The number of hamburger calories you consume may depend on where you buy or order your burger. Making it at home is usually your best bet for good health because you can use a lower fat preparation method. If you eat out, here's how a few popular burgers compare:

  • McDonalds Hamburger: 240 calories, 8 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat
  • Burger King Hamburger: 220 calories, 8 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat
  • In-N-Out Burger Hamburger with Onion: 390 calories, 19 grams fat, 5 grams of saturated fat
  • McDonalds Big Mac: 530 calories, 27 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat
  • Red Robin Keep It Simple Burger: 624 calories, 33 grams fat
  • Burger King Whopper: 630 calories, 38 grams fat, 11 grams saturated fat
  • Applebees Classic Burger: 780 calories, 50 grams fat, 18 grams saturated fat
  • TGIFridays All-American Stacked Burger: 1480 calories, 93 grams fat, 34 grams of saturated fat

Note that some of these popular hamburgers are made with more than one beef patty.

How to Make Your Hamburger Healthier

A single patty hamburger probably isn't the healthiest choice at mealtime, but it's also not the worst. And there are a few things you can do to make your burger more healthy.

  • Make your hamburger at home. When you cook at home, you can control the portion size. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended serving size for beef is just three cooked ounces. You can also change the preparation method to boost your burger nutrition. Some people make burgers with breadcrumbs to help bind the meat. But breadcrumbs will also add bulk without adding too many calories. You can also add lean turkey to your hamburger meat to cut back on calories.
  • Go grilled. Whether you eat out or cook at home, a grilled burger will be better than a burger that is fried. Why? Because when you grill meat, the fat drains away from the meat. When you cook your patty in a frying pan, the meat sits in fat and absorbs much of it.
  • Try it topless. Most hamburger buns can add calories, fat and refined carbohydrates to your meal. So cut your count in half by going without the top. Your hamburger will be messier to eat, but a little bit healthier. And you can always use a fork and knife if necessary. Another option is to use a lettuce wrap as a bun and skip the bread entirely.
  • Scale back on salt. Many restaurant hamburgers are very salty. If you are trying to cut back on sodium in your diet, scale back on the added salt when you cook a burger at home. Use other seasonings like fresh onion or jalapeno for a boost of flavor.
  • Be cautious with condiments. The burger patty is high in calories, but toppings and condiments can send your fat and calorie count over the edge. Skip bacon, mayo, barbecue sauce and even ketchup if you want a better burger.
  • Select your side dish with care. What pairs perfectly with a juicy burger? If you are eating out, it's likely that your meal will come with fries and maybe even a milkshake. Your total calorie count for that meal will be in the thousands. If you want to cut fat and calories, enjoy your burger with veggie sticks or a small healthy salad. And drink water to quench your thirst.

Are Hamburger Alternatives Any Better?

You might be tempted to try a burger alternative to make your meal more healthy. A turkey burger or a meat alternative (like soy burgers) are sometimes lower in calories. A Boca Veggie Burger, for example, provides about 124 calories. But calorie counts aren't always lower. For example, if a turkey burger is made with the fattiest parts of the bird (dark meat and skin) then the calorie count may not be much lower than a beef burger.

If you absolutely love a juicy burger and want to cut back on calories, make a fresh mushroom burger instead. Roast a portobello mushroom cap (conveniently shaped like a burger) then place it on whole wheat bun. Add a single slice of cheese if you'd like, tomato, lettuce, and pickles and you've got a healthier burger that is delicious and satisfying.

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Article Sources
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  • Heart Health for Women. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.