A quintessential American favorite and staple of dates, family dinner outings and quick lunches, the hamburger, small fries and a Diet Coke is one of the top meals in this country. If you keep to the small size, a burger and fries calories won't bust your caloric daily intake.
A hamburger with a bun, 3 ounces of french fries and a Diet Coke contains 457 calories. The number will go up depending on the condiments you add, such as ketchup, mustard and vegetables.
Read more: 15 of the Best Lean Animal Proteins
Burger and Fries Calories
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a regular-sized, plain hamburger on a bun contains 327 calories. This includes 18.2 grams of protein, 13.2 grams of total lipid fats, 34.6 grams of carbohydrates and 1.87 grams of fiber.
The USDA says that a small, 3-ounce serving size of french fries contains 130 calories, 2 grams of protein, 4 total lipid fats, 21 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber. You'll also get trace amounts of calcium and iron and 6 percent of your recommended daily intake of potassium. However, you'll pick up 280 milligrams of sodium, which is 12 percent of your recommended daily value.
A Diet Coke contains no calories, according the ingredient label. But the USDA lists a diet cola, including Diet Coke, as containing 2 calories, 100 grams of water and trace amounts of total lipid fats, protein, carbohydrates and iron.
This makes 457 to 459 calories total for this fast-food meal, with the breakdown as follows:
- Regular hamburger: 327 calories
- Small fries: 130 calories
- Diet Coke: 2 calories (or zero, according to the label, which would make the total 457 calories)
If you prefer to add condiments, your total caloric intake increases. A plain cheeseburger and fries calories number 506 with a cheeseburger and a bun totaling 376 calories (and the fries adding 130 calories), per the USDA. With the bun, you'll get the following nutrition:
- 34.2 grams of carbs in cheeseburger
- 20.1 grams of protein
- 2.44 grams of fiber
For the wet condiments, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise adds 100 calories, 1 teaspoon of mustard adds 3 calories and 1 tablespoon of ketchup brings 20 calories.
Vegetables don't contain a high number of calories. A small leaf of lettuce has less than 1 calorie and 1 medium slice of tomato measuring one-quarter inch thick has 3.6 calories.
Read more: 5 Healthy Red Meat Recipes That Satisfy
Make a Healthier Hamburger
Although a regular-sized hamburger doesn't present many calories, this entree also doesn't offer much in the way of health benefits. Most of the time you eat a hamburger that was cooked on a griddle at a fast-food restaurant. However, you can make a hamburger healthier by doing the following:
Grilling the meat at home. In a December 2016 review analyzing cooking behaviors and published in Preventive Medicine Reports, researchers found that eating foods cooked at home was linked to a reduced BMI, improved general health and a likelihood of achieving nutrition guideline goals for fat, calcium and fruit and vegetable intake.
Monitor serving size. According to the American Heart Association, one portion of meat is 2 to 3 ounces, approximately the size of a deck of cards.
Look for grassfed meat. In a March 2019 article from Frontiers in Nutrition, grassfed beef has improved ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids compared to other animal tissues.
- Frontiers in Nutrition: “Is Grassfed Meat and Dairy Better for Human and Environmental Health?”
- American Heart Association: “Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Picking Healthy Proteins”
- Preventive Medicine Reports: “An Evidence-Based Conceptual Framework of Healthy Cooking”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “French Fries”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Soft Drink, Cola, Diet”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Mayonnaise”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Mustard”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Ketchup”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Lettuce, raw”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Tomatoes, raw”
- United States Department of Agriculture: "Hamburger, Plain, on Bun"
- United States Department of Agriculture: "Cheeseburger, Plain, On Bun"