The Most Concerning Thing About Five Guys' Burger Isn't What You Think

Have you ever sunk your teeth into a Five Guys' burger and thought, "How could anything that tastes so good actually be bad for you?" You certainly wouldn't be the only one who decided to shrug off health concerns and enjoy that juicy piece of heaven, anyway. But maybe, in the back of your mind, you do worry that you're biting off more than you should chew when it comes to fat, sodium, sugar, and calories. Well, we have good news and bad news for all you Five Guys fans, courtesy of Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition.

The good news, Shapiro told Mashed, is that a burger from Five Guys is not the most unhealthy thing on the fast food chain's simple menu. "The burger itself is the best thing on the menu, besides the lettuce and tomato!" she shared. The badge for least healthy menu option? That would have to go to Five Guys hot dogs, Shapiro stated. "The hot dog on the other hand has 28 grams of fat. Twelve grams of saturated fat and contains added ingredients like sodium nitrite and even soy protein isolates. It contains 800 grams of sodium, and that is without the bun or any toppings!" the registered dietician said. (For reference, that is almost a third of an adult's daily recommended sodium intake, according to the FDA.) But you're at Five Guys for the burgers anyway, right? So what's the bad news? Well, let's just say a burger from Five Guys is hardly a celery stick or other light snack.

Nutritionist explains why Five Guys burgers are not healthy

One reason why a burger from Five Guys is so tasty compared to other fast food offerings is that it is pure, unadulterated beef, with no fillers involved. "The burger is made out of just 80/20 USDA ground beef. That is it," nutritionist Amy Shapiro said. "It comes in at about 300 calories and 17 grams of fat. All from the beef. No added sodium, etc." So if you wanted to cut your losses and just eat that burger plain, you won't be ingesting the calorie and sodium bomb that you'd be getting from their hot dog. The issue, Shapiro noted, is that basically no one eats a Five Guys burger plain! And it's those add-ons that make the burgers so unhealthy. "Almost every topping, from BBQ sauce to ketchup, relish, and the sautéed mushrooms, contain high fructose corn syrup, which has been shown to increase the risk for obesity," she added. "The BBQ sauce in itself contains 10 grams of sugar per serving. That is greater than two teaspoons of sugar, yet many people would assume it's nothing." (We hope you weren't planning to pair that burger with a Coke. Livestrong shares that a 12 ounce serving of the soda contains over 9 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than the American Heart Association recommends adults consume in a day.)

And let's not forget that many people like cheese to their burgers, which Shapiro said adds eight grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated fat, to your meal. "Remember, saturated fat is the type of fat that clogs our arteries and increases cholesterol," she added. And the bun adds a heap of calories as well, approximately 240, by Shapiro's estimation.

Here's the healthiest way to eat a burger at Five Guys

But what if you are just really, really craving a Five Guys burger? Registered dietician Amy Shapiro of course won't stand in your way, but she did offer some suggestions for keeping the calorie count under control. Let's start with those high-sugar toppings. To keep things healthy-ish, Shapiro recommends you ditch the sautéed mushrooms and stick to "straight-up veggies like onion, lettuce, and tomato. Add mustard if you want, but the other toppings can get a bit ugly." She advised you'll want to steer clear of the mayo in particular, and maybe even the relish, which contains artificial colors, as well as the sugary BBQ sauce mentioned above.

Another key move: not eating the whole bun. According to Shapiro, you can still get the mouth-feel and satisfaction of having a burger, but with fewer calories, if you eat it with only half of the bun. "For the healthiest burger, I recommend an open-faced burger patty, topped with mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion," she added. "This should bring you in under 500 calories, with a nice dose of protein, iron, fiber from the veggies."