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Use Smaller Hamburger Buns

Illustration for article titled Use Smaller Hamburger Buns
Photo: Pablo Merchán Montes (Unsplash)

Most diets don’t prominently feature cheeseburgers, but there is a simple way to save a few calories at your summer cook outs that you’ll barely even notice: using smaller hamburger buns.

One less inch, 140 less calories.
One less inch, 140 less calories.
Screenshot: Shep McAllister

I realized how potent this could be after ordering Whataburger through the the Whataburger app, and noticing the option to replace the regular bun with a small bun, which I assume is normally used for kid’s meals. The caloric savings: a whopping 140 calories! Shaving a single inch from the diameter of the bun nearly cut the calories in half!


And you know what? That smaller bun had zero effect on my experience of eating the hamburger. It still nearly reached the edges of my patty, so I got some bun in every bite, just a little less than usual. It still held all my condiments and toppings, and I didn’t have to eat my meal with a fork and knife like someone going full-Atkins.

This isn’t like replacing your bun with a lettuce wrap, or forgoing condiments, or switching to a tofu patty, or skipping the cheese, or any number of other things you can do to make a burger healthier that remove some significant part of the joy of eating a hamburger! A hamburger with a smaller bun is still basically the same hamburger you’d otherwise get, but with a minor tweak that you’ll never notice and that doesn’t cost you anything, either in terms of money or in enjoyment. It’s free calorie and carb savings, and you don’t have to do a damn thing.

I had a similar revelation several years ago when I realized how many calories were in Chipotle’s tortillas (300, holy shit!), and I reluctantly made the full-time switch to burrito bowls. That tortilla isn’t worth 300 calories, but I still miss it every time. You know what I don’t miss? Hamburger buns that are bigger than they need to be.

A quick perusal of various fast food ordering apps revealed that small buns are, unfortunately, not widely available if you live outside of Whataburger land. Wendy’s offers two styles of buns, Shake Shack has a gluten free option, McDonalds lets you skip the bun, and Chick-Fil-A will let you hold the butter, but none seem to offer physically-smaller-but-otherwise-identical buns (though you may have more luck ordering in person). Outrageous as this is, you can at least control your bun size at home by buying regular sized buns instead of jumbo ones. The former tend to run about 15 ounces for a standard 8-pack, while the latter are generally closer to 20 oz. If you’re buttering them and toasting them yourself, the caloric gulf will only grow.

It’s not going to radically transform your body, but then neither will it radically transform your burger, and that’s a good enough reason to switch.

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