Diet & Nutrition

are they really that much better for you?


Our dietitian shares what makes a truly healthy burger – and whether or not Grill’d makes the cut.

With a tag line of ‘guilt free, healthy burgers’, Grill’d makes you think you can have your cake – or in this case, your burger – and eat it, too.

Claiming to be ‘100 per cent natural’, you’d be forgiven for thinking everything on the menu is leaps and bounds better for you than something you’d pick up at McDonalds – but *news flash* that’s not entirely true…

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What makes for a balanced burger?

For a truly healthy burger, you’ve got three key criteria to meet:

Portion controlled

The average person consumes 8700 kilojoules per day. Spreading that evenly across the day and factoring in a few light snacks, you’re looking at no more than 2300 kilojoules per main meal.

If weight loss is on your radar, I’d suggest dropping that to 1500 kilojoules. In terms of burgers, that means a small bun, a lean patty and lots of veggies to keep the kilojoule content in check.

Low in saturated fat

Around 20 grams per day is the upper limit for saturated fat. I’d recommend aiming for less than five grams per main meal. In case you’re wondering, saturated fat is bad news for heart health – you’ll find it in foods like fatty and processed meats, butter, mayonnaise, coconut products and pastries.

Plant-based meat alternatives tend to be particularly high in saturated fat due to the use of coconut oil.

Low in sodium

Another one with heart health in mind, going overboard on sodium can send your blood pressure soaring. The recommended daily maximum intake of sodium is 2000 milligrams – but the less, the better.

Sodium is rife among fast foods, so it can be hard to find low sodium options. Nonetheless, do your best to find something with less than 700 milligrams per main meal.

Are Grill’d burgers really that much better for you?

As a benchmark, a truly healthy burger – something I’d whip up at home – goes a little like this: a wholemeal bread roll, a homemade patty made with 100 grams of extra lean beef mince, a handful of iceberg lettuce, a sliced tomato, a slice of reduced-fat cheese and a smidge of mustard for some extra flavour.

That provides about 1700 kilojoules, 37 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 36 grams of carbs and 665 milligrams of sodium.

By comparison, a McDonalds Big Mac contains 2430 kilojoules, 26.9 grams of protein, 31.4 grams of fat, 11.8 grams of saturated fat, 45.9 grams of carbs and 1040 milligrams of sodium.

When it comes to Grill’d, there whttps://www.instagram.com/p/B3iMW8njHyS/ere a stack of burgers on the menu that knocked my healthy burger criteria out of the park – in a bad way. Some of the worst offenders contained up to 34 per cent of an entire day’s kilojoule intake, almost 70 per cent of the recommended maximum daily sodium intake and almost 90 per cent of your daily maximum saturated fat. They included:

  • Wagu Wunder – 3000 kilojoules, 39.3 grams of protein, 44.6 grams of fat, 16.3 grams of saturated fat, 38.1 grams of carbs and 1160 milligrams of sodium per burger
  • Bonfire BBQ – 3210 kilojoules, 42.2 grams of protein, 46.7 grams of fat, 17.2 grams of saturated fat, 42.4 grams of carbs and 1320mg sodium per burger
  • Beyond vegan cheeseburger – 2530 kilojoules, 27.4 grams of protein, 33.7 grams of fat, 10.2 grams of saturated fat, 47 grams of carbs and 1340 milligrams of sodium per burger

On the other side of the spectrum, there were only two burgers on the whole menu that met my criteria. They were:

  • Sweet Chilli Chicken – 2130 kilojoules, 42.1 grams of protein, 15.8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 46 grams of carbs and 607mg sodium per burger
  • Zen Hen – 2110 kilojoules, 42.7 grams of protein, 17.7 grams of fat, 2.3 grams of saturated fat, 40.1 grams of carbs and 600mg sodium per burger

The verdict on Grill’d

If you want a truly healthier burger, I’d suggest a DIY job. Burgers that are actually nutritious are hard to come by on the takeaway scene, and more often than not, contain far too much saturated fat and sodium to be considered ‘healthy’… and that’s before you add in extras like a side of fries or a soft drink.

If you are going to Grill’d and want a better-for-you burger, I’d suggest sticking to the two chicken options mentioned above that meet my criteria. Otherwise, consider Grill’d a treat-yo’-self meal to be enjoyed only every once in a while – and pick whatever takes your fancy.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.