I’ll have a double cheeseburger, fries, and a large Diet Coke

and every eye rolls…

I was standing in line, and up ahead, an overweight woman ordered a combo meal, plus with a Diet Coke. The lean woman in front of me rolled her eyes and whispered to her guy friend “…and a Diet Coke?”

I’m getting a little tired of this attitude. I know what the eye rollers are thinking, because as a [now] lean guy, they think I’m on their team, and no longer hide their snarkiness from me. I also see them post their comments on blogs and facebook, which tend to be something like “yeah, that’s going to help!”



What if they ordered a double cheeseburger, fries, and iced tea? Would they roll their eyes, then?

What if they ordered water? Is that, also, not going to help?



I love a good burger just like the next guy. I kinda like fries. I LOVE Diet Coke!

Yes, I, Roland, love Diet Coke. I’m not saying diet sodas can’t come with baggage, but cutting back on one thing to allow another is a perfectly sane way to maintain or lose weight without going crazy or feeling deprived.

I don’t think anyone would blink if the same person cut back on treats at breakfast and lunch so they could have a favorite meal at dinner, but when someone picks and chooses at a one meal, it’s all sneers and snarky glances.


Calories count, even when you don’t count calories

I know, that’s clean eating blasphemy, right? I run the risk of being excommunicated from the Real Food Religion or painfully re-indoctrinated at the next paleo cult meeting for acknowledging that calories exist.  …but they do, and even though I don’t count calories, I do know that calories count.

Calories from different foods do react differently in your body, so I try to maximize my nutrition by making smart choices, at least for a good 80%. I’m also not looking to get the perfect meal or great nutrition from a burger joint, anyway; it’s one of my 20% meals.

Still, because calories count, I know that a meal that’s too big can undermine the progress that I’ve made all week. Knowing that calories exist and that math and physics actually works (the math does work, we just don’t know all the variables) allows me to make smarter choices, keep myself motivated, and continue to successfully maintain my weight, or even lose weight! Remember, I lost seventy five pounds counting those stupid calories.


In-N-Out Burger


I’ll use my favorite burger joint, In-N-Out Burger in my example, but similar principles apply anywhere. Identify the calories of the foods and ingredients in question, and see where you can make the trades that keep you happy and keep the calories (and damage) low! Here’s the full nutrition info, in case you want to do your own math: In-N-Out Burger® Nutritional Facts


In-N-Out Double-Double (670 calories)

fries (395 calories)

large Coke (380 calories)

1445 calories


1445 calories? Ouch!

What if you go for a single cheeseburger instead of a Double-Double?

Single cheeseburger (480) , fries (380), large coke (380) = 1255

You just saved 190 calories. Congratulations!


No fries

Not too shabby, but we can do better by dropping the fries.

Double cheeseburger (670), large coke (380) = 1050


But I love fries

Love fries? Have them, but swap out the sugary soda for diet, water, or iced tea and save 400 calories over the original meal!

Double cheeseburger (670), fries (395), large diet coke (0) = 1045

A single cheeseburger would cut an additional 190 calories off of that by dropping one cheese covered burger patty, bringing you down to 855.



Who cut the cheese?

I love cheese, but ditch it and save about 70 calories per slice. A single cheeseburger has one slice, a Double-Double has two (that’s double meat, double cheese, in case you don’t follow). A double hamburger is 140 calories less, just because it doesn’t have the two slices of cheese.

Do you need cheese?

Do you need two slices?


Protein style

I don’t know where it started, but In-N-Out made it popular; the protein-style burger means it’s wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun, saving 150 empty calories per burger. Also, note that In-N-Out’s buns are pretty small as burgers go. Other restaurant buns are 200-300 calories of huge bready bun!

Here’s an example of what the bunless burger can do to your math.

Two bunless Double-Doubles (1040)  and diet coke (0) = 1040


Spread ’em!

Mayo and secret sauce add up quickly when it comes to calories, and saying ‘ketchup and mustard instead of spread’ saves you 80 calories per burger.

Two bunless Double-Doubles, ketchup and mustard instead of spread (880), and a diet coke = 880


Mix and match

Between the buns, patties, cheese, spread, fries, and sodas, you’re likely to find a combination that fits your burger desires and still minimizes damage. Here’s my goto at In-N-Out.

Two bunless Double-Singles (two meat, one cheese), ketchup and mustard instead of spread (720), and a diet coke = 720 calories

Again, this is just an example using In-N-Out Burger, but you can download the menu of most burger joints and know that this is a principal that works with more than just burgers. It works with burritos, tacos, and chicken joints, too. Yes, anywhere they have food with calories, you can mix and match, make substitutions, and make good choices!


I, Roland

…reserve the right to pick and choose, mix and match, and make choices to create a meal that I love, but also limit the damage to my diet; even if it means I can feel the disdain from that naturally lean girl or smugly paleo guy behind me whenever I order my burger, fries, and diet Coke.





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