I’m a big believer that a diet shouldn’t take over your life.
Don’t get me wrong, a successful diet will require some degree of lifestyle alterations, but that doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your social life or eating out.
I talk about this extensively in my guide to eating out without ruining your diet, so check that out if you haven’t already done so.
I also wrote a guide on how to fit Nando’s into your diet. As with any restaurant food, there’s plenty of stumbling blocks for a dieter to navigate, however the grilled chicken paired with nourishing sides and salads means that diet-friendly options are plentiful at Nando’s.
Today however, I want to focus on one that isn’t quite as easy to make work – Five Guys.
This simple menu is overflowing with calorie-packed burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, fries and milkshakes. So how can you eat five guys without blowing your diet?
About Five Guys
Five Guys as founded in 1986 by Janie and Jerry Murrell. Jerry and the couple’s four sons; Jim, Matt, Chad and Ben were said to be the original “Five Guys”.
There are now over 1,500 locations Five Guys locations across the globe with another 1,500 units in development. Five Guys now employs over 15,000 people worldwide.
The menu itself is simple, Five Guys offers burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches in a variety of sizes with unlimited free toppings. These can be accompanied by Five Guys or Cajun Style Fries and their famous mix-in milkshakes.
Doesn’t sound that diet-friendly, does it? Truthfully, it’s not.
With that said, it’s certainly not out of bounds in a calorie restricted diet. In this post I’m going to some of the healthier options and some that you should probably avoid!
Five Guys are known best-known for their burgers.
The famous patties are made from 120-day grain finished beef and served well-done. Grain-finished beef in known for its tenderness and marbling which creates a milder steak flavouring – perfect for burgers. Of course, this flavour comes at a cost – grain-finished beef is notoriously high in fat vs it’s grass-fed counterparts.
The toasted ‘secret recipe’ buns are known for being sweeter and eggier than normal burger buns. Ample slices of American style cheese is placed between the patties. The buns are then sealed with the famous foil wrapper which ensures perfect melting consistency.
The burgers are available in two sizes – regular and little.
Regular options include two beef patties whilst the ‘little’ options contain just one. Both sizes are available as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon burgers and bacon cheeseburgers.
All burgers come with unlimited free toppings which include lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, onions, grilled mushrooms, green peppers, jalapenos and a wide variety of sauces.
Which Five Guys burger should I choose?
A little hamburger at Five Guys contains:
- Protein: 24g
- Carbohydrates: 37.5g
- Fat: 21.5g
- Calories: 433
Whilst slightly high in fat, this is a viable option to those on a calorie restricted diet.
The problem is, as you start to add more to your burger, the calories start to creep up. The cheeseburger contains 500 calories. The little bacon burger substitutes a slice of cheese (67 calories) for two rashers of crispy applewood smoked bacon (78 calories), create a net 11 calorie increase and a total of 520 calories – still not out of the question.
The little bacon cheeseburger contains both a slice of cheese and two pieces of bacon making it 587 calories, the addition of the bacon adds 6.5g of protein and 5.5g of fat, making the final macronutrients:
- Protein: 34g
- Carbohydrates: 39.5g
- Fat: 32.5g
Once again, this is not out of the question providing you’re smart with your calories for the remainder of the day.
Doubling up the burger patties adds a significant number of calories:
- Little Hamburger: 433 Calories –> Double Hamburger: 628 Calories
- Little Cheeseburger: 500 Calories –> Double Cheeseburger: 762 Calories
- Little Bacon Burger: 520 Calories –> Double Bacon Burger: 793 Calories
- Little Bacon Cheeseburger 587 Calories –> Double Bacon Cheeseburger: 927 Calories
As you can see, doubling up does significantly increase the caloric content of the burgers. The double hamburger is still a viable option for those who can spare the 35.5g of fat that it contains.
As I mentioned, the more you add to the basic hamburger, the higher the calories. With that said, there are several toppings and sauces that add very few calories to the meal:
- Green Peppers (2Kcals)
- Grilled Mushrooms (12Kcals)
- Hot Sauce (2Kcals)
- HP Brown Sauce (10Kcals)
- Jalapenos (1Kcal)
- Lettuce (3Kcals)
- Mustard (4.5Kcals)
- Grilled Onions (11Kcals)
- Pickles (2Kcals)
- Relish (15Kcals)
- Tomatoes (6Kcals)
Generally, I’d avoid adding mayonnaise, even a small amount contains 113 calories and 12g of fat.
A wildcard choice for those who are on a low-carb or keto diet is the bunless burgers.
The burger bun is replaced with a tin-foil tray which subsequently saves subsequently saves 238 calories. As with a regular burger, you get unlimited free toppings so you can load up on salad.
A single burger with cheese, lettuce tomatoes, green peppers and jalapenos yields:
- Protein: 21.5g
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Fat: 19.5g
- Calories: 274
If you’re looking for something with a little more protein, then you could double up on the burger patties and cheese. This would give you:
- Protein: 43g
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Fat: 40g
- Calories: 558
With only 4g of carbs 40g of fat, this is perfect for someone one a keto or low-carb diet. It’s also a viable choice for someone following an IIFYM or flexible dieting approach, providing you hold back on fats for the remainder of the day.
Another popular option at Five Guys is the hot dogs.
Just like the burgers, these all-beef hot dogs come with unlimited free toppings. Unlike the burgers they come in just one size.
The basic all beef hotdog is the lowest in calories:
- Protein: 16g
- Carbohydrates: 34g
- Fat: 22g
- Calories: 398
The cheese dog contains an additional 67 calories (465Kcals), the bacon dog contains an additional 78 calories (476Kcals) and the bacon cheese dog contains an additional 145 calories (543Kcals).
As you can see, the caloric content of the hot-dogs is very similar to the little burgers. The main difference (and reason for the additional calories) is the burgers have an additional 8g of protein.
So, for those who are weight-training and looking to retain or build muscle tissue, the burger could be considered a superior option. But for those who are simply looking to restrict calories, the hot-dog is the wiser choice.
Unbeknown to some, Five Guys also offer 4 sandwich options. These are:
- Veggie sandwich (280Kcals)
- Cheese veggie sandwich (420Kcals)
- Grilled cheese sandwich (470Kcals)
- BLT (600Kcals)
The veggie sandwich is the lowest calorie option on the menu with just 280Kcals. The soft burger bun is toasted inside-out and filled with grilled onions, mushrooms, green peppers, lettuce and tomatoes. Whilst this is super easy to fit in your diet, it’s lack of protein and fibre means it’s not going to be very satiating!
The grilled cheese sandwich simply takes several slices of Kraft American cheese and melts it on an inside-out Five Guys bun until gold brown. With 26g of fat and 470Kcals it’s not the lightest sandwich, but one that you can probably fit in your diet if you’re craving some grilled cheese!
With six strips of American smokehouse crispy bacon, the BLT does provide a bit more of a protein hit, but with 600 calories and 34g of total dietary fat, you could certainly find more nutrient dense options.
I know what you’re thinking – so I can have a burger, but what about the fries?
Five Guys fries are almost as famous as their burgers. They are available in two flavours; Five Guys style or Cajun Style. They are hand cut in store from fresh potatoes every day, salted and cooked in peanut oil to lock in the flavour and freshness.
You can choose from three sizes; little, regular and large.
Are they low in calories? Absolutely not.
Even the little fries are 694 calories with 41g of fat! The regular fries come in at 1,019Kcals and the large pack a staggering 1,491Kcals with an astonishing 88g fat.
I’d steer well clear of the chips if you’re on a calorie-restricted diet.
This will probably come as no surprise, but the milkshake section is strictly out-of-bounds for those on a diet!
The hand-spun vanilla milkshake base is an astonishing 670 calories, and 690 calories if you’d like to add whipped cream. Add a little banana and peanut butter, and you’re looking at over 800 calories and north of 100 grams of sugar!
Fortunately, most Five Guys stores will feature a Coca Cola Freestyle drinks machine which has an incredible selection of sugar-free diet drinks. Skip the fries, skip the milkshake and bag yourself a large diet soda to accompany your burger, hot-dog or sandwich.
Whilst Five Guys is far from the most nutrient-dense food outlet, it’s not completely out of bounds for those on a diet.
Choose a little burger to save on calories or consider a bunless burger if you’re looking to limit carbohydrates. Hot-dogs, veggie or grilled cheese sandwiches are not out of the question, but just be aware that they are low in protein and micronutrients so be sure to get in plenty of lean protein, fruit and veggies in other meals.
What do you go for at Five Guys? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!