Drive Thru at Burger King -
Without Driving Up The Fat
Written by Elizabeth Daeninck, MS, RD
Published in May 2007
Imagine you're on your way home after a long day at the office. You're famished because you didn't have time to eat lunch (too many meetings) and all you had to eat this morning was a muffin and vanilla latte from Starbucks on the way in to work. You drive past a number of fast food restaurants, including McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, and Taco Bell, but you wait until you spot your favorite Burger King. This is where you usually stop for a meal on your way home from work. So what can you do to make healthier choices at the drive thru window?
- Whopping Whoppers. Avoid the Whoppers, especially the double and triple sandwiches. They can pack over 1200 calories (more than half of an average day's worth of calories) and more than the recommended amount of fat for a whole day! Likewise, the Stacker sandwiches contain many more calories and fat than you need for dinner (never mind if you add on any extras like fries or a drink).
- Steer away from the Tendercrisp Chicken items. The Tendergrill Chicken is just as satisfying and has 25-50% less fat and calories than Tendercrisp.
- Shake the shake habit. Burger King offers five different sizes of shakes and the largest size (King) contains over 1200 calories and 35g fat! This is more than half of the typically recommended 2000 calories and 65g fat per day for most Americans, and you haven't even got to the burger or fries yet. So if you do decide to have a shake, choose the kid's or small sizes they cut your calories and fat intake by up to one third.
- A taste of fries: There are four different sizes of fries at Burger King and the King size has 600 calories and 33 grams of fat. Try cutting your intake at the drive thru window by simply ordering a smaller size a small has almost 30% less calories and fat!
- Avoid drinking your calories: Sugary beverages pack in many extra calories that offer you no nutritive value. If you feel that you really want a soda, try to downsize by selecting the smallest size a kid's or small size. Or, try a diet drink as a reasonable alternative that won't add any calories to your meal.
Burger King: Food for Thought
Suppose you arrived at the drive thru window and ordered a Triple Whopper with cheese, a King size fries with a King size chocolate milkshake. This meal packs in 3090 calories and 153 grams of fat, which is over 1.5 times more calories and fat than the typical American needs in a whole day! Even if you chose a King Coke instead of a milkshake, which would cut your calories down to 2220 and fat down to 115g, you'd still get more than required for a whole day.
Here is a more reasonable option that would fit into a healthy meal plan on occasion when you are rushing home from work: Try a cheeseburger or eight pieces of Chicken Tenders with a small fries with or without a small diet Coke (or water). A meal such as this would provide you about 570 calories and 33 grams of fat. If you were to order a regular small-sized soda, the calories increase to 700.
The Bottom Line
The best way to avoid bad drive thru choices is to avoid being so hungry on your way home from work. Try the following strategies:
- Consider eating regular meals throughout the day this will stop you from becoming too hungry, which will make those fat- and calorie-filled drive thru items seem less tempting.
- If you are not able to eat breakfast and lunch (or very little of either), think about having a snack before heading home from work. Some of my favorite snack foods to have on hand in my desk drawer (or in the car) include nuts & fruit, string cheese with fruits or vegetables, or energy bars and drinks (containing some protein) such as Power Bars, Clif Bars, Solo bars, Slimfast, etc. A simple snack can help curb your appetite at the drive thru window, and may even convince you not to stop at the window at all.