10 'healthy' fast-food orders that can be worse than having a burger

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesMcDonald’s fries might be worse than a burger.

Navigating away from triple-stacked cheeseburgers seems like the obvious choice for those in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. Consumers, however, may want to double-check the menu before ordering.

Often times, ordering a beef patty topped in condiments and covered in cheese may be a lower calorie pick than some of the seemingly health-conscious options below.

What tops your fast-food salad could be calorie-heavy.

Hollis JohnsonA Chicken Club Salad from Burger King contains 610 calories.

Salads, for many people, are the picture of health. But the lettuce and veggies aren’t the cause of the issue – it’s what’s going on top of it all. Although additions and dressings make salads a more appealing option to many, they tend to pack in additional “hidden” calories that few people anticipate.

At Burger King, for example, a Chicken Club Salad contains 610 calories – nearly twice as many calories as are in a single Bacon Cheeseburger.

And that’s not the only case, here are 12 salads that are worse for you than a Big Mac.

Smoothies can pack in the sugar.

Planet Smoothie/FacebookSmoothies aren’t always healthy.

Often marketed as “meal replacements” because of their high protein content, smoothies from popular spots like Planet Smoothie can contain up to 1,230 calories and nearly 200 grams of sugar.

The fact that smoothies are a liquid may also leave customers feeling as if they haven’t had a “real” meal, leading them to consume an additional meal soon after finishing their high-calorie, high-sugar drink.

Parfait has surprising calories.

StarbucksStarbuck’s parfait is high in calories and sugar.

Although more commonly enjoyed during breakfast, parfaits may seem like a better choice than a burger for a mid-afternoon treat. But parfaits regularly come topped in granola – a ‘health food’ that people are often surprised to discover is not so healthy at all.

Compare a Lemon Crunch Yogurt Parfait from Starbucks with a hamburger from McDonald’s: the parfait contains nearly 100 more calories and five times as much sugar as the burger.

Wraps can have more calories than a burger.

Suresh D/YelpThe Spicy Chicken Wrap from Wendy’s has more calories than a burger.

Wraps also seem like a fresh and healthy option for those navigating away from meat-and-cheese-packed fast food burgers – however, their caloric content may take users by surprise.

A simple Spicy Chicken Wrap from Wendy’s has nearly 100 calories and 7 grams of fat more than a Junior-Sized Cheeseburger.

Veggie burgers aren’t always as healthy as they sound.

Joy P/ YelpThe Morning Star veggie burger is high in sodium.

Many people who convert to vegetarianism do so for health purposes, but even those who don’t eat meat crave fast food from time to time. Restaurants like Burger King sell veggie sliders in an effort to reach their meat-free audiences – but vegetarianism does not always equate to healthy living.

Burger King’s Morning Star Veggie Burger contains 390 calories and 980 mg of sodium, compared to their 240-calorie Hamburger with 380 mg of sodium.

Sides can be carb and calorie-heavy.

Joanna FantozziA large fries has 510 calories.

Since they are considered the smaller, secondary part of a meal, people may assume ordering a side instead of an entree guarantees a healthier choice. The replacement, however, often involves replacing a cheeseburger with something equally as unhealthy – for example, a large order of fries at McDonald’s, which contains 510 calories and about twice as many carbs as the 430-calorie Bacon McDouble.

Adding toppings to sandwiches can make them worse than a burger.

Crisco 1492/Wikimedia CommonsEven a six-inch sandwich can have more calories than a burger.

The beauty of the sandwich lies in its customizability; when consumers feel that they have more control over what goes into their food, it may also feel as if they are making a healthier choice. Unaware customers’ combinations of bread, meat, cheese, veggies, and toppings can quickly add up in calories, however.

Take a simple Tuna Sandwich from Subway: one 6-inch sandwich contains 470 calories, but that’s before adding cheese or sauces.

Baked Potatoes can run you many calories.

cobraphotography/ShutterstockWendy’s baked potato is almost 500 calories.

Although equally as high in carbohydrates, baked potatoes may seem like a healthier alternative to burgers. Similar to salads, though, whether or not a baked potato is actually better for you really depends on its toppings.

Take, for example, the menu at Wendy’s: while one Double Stack cheeseburger will run customers 390 calories, a Chilli and Cheese Baked Potato contains about 460 calories.

Grilled chicken sandwiches aren’t always a better option.

McDonald’sA burger might be the better choice at McDonald’s.

For those in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, experts regularly recommend opting for dishes that are baked or grilled instead of fried. Restaurants often replace red meat burgers with grilled chicken options, but even the new sandwiches can pack an equal or greater number of calories into a single plate.

For example, an Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich from McDonald’s contains more calories, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol than a single classic hamburger.

Chipotle bowls can pack the calories.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesChipotle bowls can be over 500 calories.

Even amidst occasional controversy, the ever-growing popularity of restaurants like Chipotle has ushered in an increased interest in bowls – combinations of proteins and rice topped with options like beans, veggies, queso, salsa, guacamole, and more. But similar to sandwiches, bowl combos quickly add up.

A bowl from Chipotle containing only five ingredients – steak, brown rice, fajita vegetables, salsa, and sour cream – already hits a total of 515 calories. It can really add up fast.

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