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Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

Better Burger: Char Grilled or Flat Top?


Is it better to have a burger patty only cooked on the char grill instead of a flat top when trying to lose weight? The inside scoop from Healthy Dining’s dietitians.
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Q: Is it better to have a burger patty only cooked on the char grill instead of a flat top when trying to lose weight?

Hamburgers... America’s all-time favorite food is now getting a face lift with the rise of gourmet burger restaurants and gastro pubs. With intriguing names like Burger Lounge and Umami Burger, how could your taste buds not be titillated? Some burger joints use the old-fashioned method of char-grilling, which is a lighter way to prepare your burger because it allows for the fat to drip off instead of being cooked into the burger. Meanwhile, a lot of restaurants are moving towards preparing burgers on flap tops for space-saving versatility. You may be aware that when grilling on a flat top, restaurants typically use an oil or liquid butter to prevent food from sticking and to give it a rich, buttery flavor. Unfortunately, for those of us trying to maintain or lose weight, this may be counterproductive. Don’t stress! There are ways to enjoy your burger prepared on a flat top and still stay on track! Try these simple tricks to keep your burger light and healthy:
  • Ask your server to have the chef use less oil or butter. By simply requesting half the amount of oil or butter used to prepare your burger, you can cut anywhere from 50-100 calories.
  • Ditch the bun. The bun alone can contribute upwards of 200 calories to your burger. Often times, restaurants will butter the bun as well. Or – eat your burger patty on a bed of veggies to instantly lighten your meal!
  • Swap the patty. If you are specifically trying to reduce your saturated fat intake, one easy way is to swap out your beef patty for something leaner like a turkey patty, chicken breast, or even a veggie burger!
  • Limit the toppings. Choose toppings like fresh veggies, mustard, and pickles to offset the calories and fat from the bun and meat patty. Limit higher fat and calorie toppings like bacon and mayonnaise.
  • Check out the nutrition information. Nutrition information for burgers can vary widely depending on the products used and different preparation methods. Choices you think are weight-friendly may be calorie-bombs in disguise.
Find dietitian-recommended burger choices like these at restaurants nationwide to help take the guess work out of your meals:
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Registered Dietitians Answer Your Questions about Restaurant Nutrition

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