Fast food generally isn't considered healthy, but sometimes stopping at one of these quick eateries is inevitable. If there's a Whataburger near by, you might be tempted to pay a visit.
The original Whataburger — a single beef patty on a five-inch toasted bun and topped with mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and diced onions — contains 640 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,520 milligrams of sodium.
But if you're looking for a healthier option, there are a variety of choices, whether you're cutting back on calories, fat, sodium or carbohydrates.
Best and Worst Foods to Order at Whataburger
In 2012, Whataburger debuted its under-550 calories menu, full of items that, as the name suggests, are fewer than 550 calories. While some menu items are still high in sugar or sodium, these lower-calorie dishes are a solid place to start when picking a meal.
But when your eyes wander onto the general portion of the menu, expect high calories counts along with other undesirable nutritional qualities, such as high fat, high sugar and high sodium. These are three of the worst things on the Whataburger menu:
You might not head to Whataburger because of its nutritious offerings, but now that you're there, you can make healthier choices based on your dietary preferences.
Whether you want a meal that's low in calories, fat, carbs or sodium, there are options — though you might need to make some modifications.
Read more: 10 Ways to Make Fast Food Healthier
Low-Calorie Whataburger Options
If you're trying to cut down on overall caloric intake, pick a meal from the "under-550 calories" portion of the Whataburger menu.
On the Whataburger breakfast menu, this includes:
- Breakfast on a Bun With Bacon: 370 calories (Skip the version made with pork sausage, which increases the calorie count significantly.)
- Breakfast Taquitos Without Cheese: 330 calories
For lunch, you might consider:
- Whataburger Jr.: 330 calories (add bacon and cheese for an extra 90 calories)
- Chicken Fajita Taco: 400 calories
- Kids Justaburger: 310 calories
Overall, always opt for the smaller meal rather than upsizing your portions, and skip the fries. Whataburger offers a 90-calorie side salad for an extra charge.
Additionally, consider what you're drinking with your meal. It defeats the purpose when you order a low-calorie meal and then add several hundred calories by drinking a large regular cola.
Low-Fat Whataburger Options
Many of the options lowest in calories on the Whataburger menu are also the lowest-fat options. For example, the Whataburger Jr. has 16 grams of fat, making it one of the less-problematic items on the menu. A grilled chicken sandwich has more calories, but about the same amount of fat.
On the Whataburger breakfast menu, the pancakes are low in fat (seven grams), but high in calories (700).
Again, skip the fries. A medium order adds 20 grams of fat to your meal. Whataburger offers a side of apple slices in place of fries at no charge. Plus, they have no fat and are only 30 calories.
In general, decrease the fat in your fast-food meals by opting out of using salad dressing, mayo, cheese and sour cream. Choosing a grilled protein rather than a fried option will also decrease the amount of fat in your total meal.
Low-Carb Whataburger Options
Because many of Whataburger's meals are served on buns, one of the easiest things you can do to decrease unhealthy refined carbohydrates in your meal is order it without the bun.
If that's not an option, the Whataburger Jr. and Double Meat Whataburger Jr. both provide 32 grams of carbohydrates, while the Chicken Fajita Taco has 31 grams.
The Apple & Cranberry Chicken Salad might seem like a low-carb option, but it has 36 grams of carbohydrates from the fruit. The garden salad has just nine grams of carbohydrates and could be a smart option when paired with a bunless sandwich.
Low-Sodium Whataburger Options
Generally speaking, fast food is high in sodium. But some options on the Whataburger menu are better than others. The Whatachick'n Sandwich contains 860 milligrams of sodium. Compare that to the grilled chicken sandwich, which has 1,140 milligrams.
On the Whataburger breakfast menu, the Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit has 700 milligrams of sodium. Skip the Bacon & Cheese Whataburger, a sodium whopper at 2,260 milligrams, and Monterey Melt, which has an astounding 4,220 milligrams. Both the Garden Salad and the Apple Cranberry Salad are low in sodium as well as low in calories and fat.
Pay attention to the pictures and the descriptors on the menu. Choose an item that's grilled rather than fried to avoid the breading that's involved in frying. If you go for the salad, be aware that commercial dressings are often hidden sources of sugar.
Tips for Other Eating Plans
Folks choose to eat a certain way for a variety of reasons, and fast-food restaurants try to cater to them all. However, certain people might have a harder time than others trying to find food that fits their dietary plan.
The only items that are gluten-free in their traditional state on the Whataburger menu are the Garden Salad and packaged apple slices. The chicken in the Cranberry & Apple Chicken Salad is dusted with wheat flour.
However, the beef patties are gluten-free, as are the grilled chicken patties. Therefore, those avoiding gluten can order these items and eat them without the bun. Whataburger notes that all items that are deep-fried, including french fries, run the risk of coming into contact with gluten.
Vegan and Vegetarian Options
None of the items on the Whataburger menu are vegan, and just the Garden Salad is vegetarian. Even the french fries and onion rings, though they may seem free from animal products, are deep-fried in liquid shortening. Therefore, the company doesn't guarantee that it hasn't come in contact with animal products.
All of the carbohydrates in Whataburger's Garden Salad come from fiber, making it a smart choice for someone on the keto diet. However, order it without cheddar cheese, as it contains potato starch.
Whataburger doesn't offer nutritional information for just the bun, making it hard to know the carb count for just the burger or chicken patty, but removing the bread and making sure the chicken is grilled and not fried is the safest bet.
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever eaten at Whataburger? What did you order? Were you trying to eat healthy or in line with some other eating plan? What advice would you give to someone who is trying to make the best choices while ordering off the Whataburger menu? Share your thoughts below!