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Wendy’s is known for its burgers, many of which have 1,000 or more calories, and that’s just for the burger without any fries! Along with the high calories, you’ll find super high amounts of saturated fat and sodium. This trifecta of having too many calories, saturated fat, and sodium on a regular or daily basis can certainly put someone at a higher risk for a variety of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The good news is that Wendy’s has a wide variety of better-for-you burgers to choose from.
When you’re looking to order a healthy fast-food burger, the burger should have a reasonable amount of calories, and you can find several options in the 200 to 300 range on the Wendy’s menu. But that’s not the end of your plate. What sides you choose to pair with your burger makes a big difference. Although fast-food french fries are what you’re “supposed” to get with your burger, it’s important to remember that they are fried and will add even more calories and sodium to your plate. Instead, share a small fries and order the apple slices or a salad to split at the table so you can get those important fruits and veggies that 85%-90% of Americans are missing out on.
Below you’ll find a list of Wendy’s burgers that just go way overboard in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and even protein. You’ll also find a list of five better-for-you choices that are perfect for those days you’re craving a burger. Peruse the lists below so the next time you hit up a Wendy’s you’ll know the healthier options you can order. Read on, and for more healthy picks, don’t miss The Wendy’s Breakfast Menu—Ranked by Nutrition!
The 5 worst burgers at Wendy’s
Per burger: 1,110 calories, 67 g fat (26 g saturated fat), 5,800 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (1.7 g fiber, 8.4 g sugar), 63 g protein
“A Baconator burger has 1,010 calories and 66 grams of fat, which is significantly higher than the recommended daily intake for an average adult,” explains Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT owner of One Pot Wellness. “Consuming high amounts of calories and fat—especially saturated fat—can lead to health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
Per burger: 1,204 calories, 81 g fat (33 g saturated fat), 6,100 mg sodium, g carbs (1.7 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 77 g protein
According to Joanna Ayalloore, MD, RD, owner of Nutrition Kept Simple, “One burger contains a whopping 1,204 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 6,000 milligrams of sodium.” Ayalloore continues by explaining that the high saturated fat and sodium profile exceeds the limit for someone following a 2,000-calorie diet by 150-250%. If you’re eating this burger weekly, it can certainly increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Per burger: 1,280 calories, 87 g fat (36 g saturated fat), 1,930 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 75 g protein
“The Loaded Nacho Triple Cheeseburger at Wendy’s stands out as one of the unhealthiest burger choices due to its excessive saturated fat content from the triple cheese, bacon, and the additional saturated fats found in the nacho cheese sauce,” explains Sharon McCaskill, RDN, founder of The Helpful GF. “Combined with the high sodium content from the seasoned beef, crispy tortilla strips, and cheese sauce, this burger is a prime example of a fast-food item that lacks balance and nutritional quality.”
Per burger: 1,220 calories, 86 g fat (36 g saturated fat), 1,770 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (2 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 75 g protein
Anytime there is more than one burger, you’ll see both the artery-clogging saturated fat and sodium skyrocket. This is exactly what you see here—the saturated fat is 163% of the recommended daily max, while the sodium content is 77% of the recommended daily max. The protein also skyrockets, but it’s just too much! Your body efficiently uses about 20-30 grams of protein during one meal and the 75 grams of protein needs to be divided throughout the day (from better choices).
Per burger: 980 calories, 63 g fat (26 g saturated fat), 1,570 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (4 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 53 g protein
If you think any of the double burgers are healthy, think again. The worst is this Loaded Nacho Double Cheeseburger which provides 45% of your total daily calories (based on a 2,000-calorie diet), 118% of the recommended daily max of saturated fat, and 146% of the recommended daily max of sodium. For that many calories, you’re lacking fruits and veggies which 85-90% of the US population do not get enough of on a daily basis, respectively.
The 5 best burgers at Wendy’s
Per burger: 250 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 420 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 13 g protein
McCaskill calls out the Jr. Hamburger as one of the healthiest burger options due to its simplicity and lower calorie count. “With a single beef patty, lettuce, tomato, and a small bun, it offers a reasonable portion size, making it easier to manage caloric intake, while providing some protein and essential nutrients making it a better choice for those seeking a more balanced and calorie-conscious option,’ explains McCaskill.
Per burger: 240 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 12 g protein
Jessi Holden, MS, RDN culinary dietitian and owner of The Kitchen Invitation says the kiddos hamburger is your best choice because it provides 22 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. “The nutrient density will create longer-lasting satiety. I recommend customizing by adding onions, lettuce, and tomatoes for better nutritional value and pairing it with some vegetables or fruit,” Holden adds.
Per burger: 290 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 610 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 14 g protein
The Jr. Cheeseburger has a few more calories, saturated fat, and sodium compared to the Jr. Hamburger because of the added cheese. If you’re craving a cheeseburger this is certainly your healthier burger choice on the menu.
Per burger: 340 calories, 20 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 610 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 15 g protein
A bit higher on the calorie, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium—this smaller-sized deluxe burger is topped with beef, cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, and mayo. It certainly can be part of a healthy meal paired with fruit like apple bites or some salad (split a salad at the table).
Per burger: 370 calories, 23 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 650 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 18 g protein
If you need bacon on your cheeseburger, this junior-sized option is your best bet. It still has 8 grams of saturated fat (36% of your recommended daily max) and 650 milligrams of sodium (28% of your daily max). But as a once-in-a-while indulgence, this can certainly fit into your diet paired with the right foods—fruits and veggies!