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

Have you ever sunken 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 and calories. Well, we have good news and bad news for you, courtesy of Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition.

The good news, Shapiro told Mashed, is that a burger from Five Guys is not the unhealthiest thing on the restaurant's menu. "The burger itself is the best thing on the menu, besides the lettuce and tomato!" she said. The badge for unhealthiest would have to go to a Five Guys hot dog, Shapiro added. "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!" she said. But you're here for the burgers, so what's Shapiro's bad news? Well, let's just say a burger from Five Guys is hardly a celery stick.

Nutritionist explains why Five Guys burgers are not healthy

One reason why a burger from Five Guys is so tasty 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," 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 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 sauteed 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."

And let's not forget that many people like cheese on their burgers, adding eight grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated fat, Shapiro said. "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 just really want to eat at Five Guys? Shapiro 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 "sticking 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, in particular, of the mayo, and even relish, which contains artificial colors.

Another key move: not eating the whole bun. According to Shapiro, you can still get the mouth-feel of a burger with fewer calories if you eat the burger 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."