Whataburger Paleo Review
Whataburger has always been my favorite fast food burger. What do you expect? I’m a native Texan. But after I went paleo about two years ago, I pretty much swore off fast food. So, I only eat fast food on occasions when I am with a group of people and need to be social and not burden them with my lifestyle. Recently, such an occasion presented itself when I found myself driving a group of Boy Scouts to our campout. As an adult leader in the troop, I know that it is troop tradition to stop at Whataburger on the way out of town. And, do these boys like to stick to tradition. One kid suggested Chick-fil-A, and was nearly bludgeoned to death by the other boys in my back seat. No, nothing would do but Whataburger. Besides, who am I to stop a boy scout from devouring that little greasy piece of heaven called the Whataburger with cheese?
Low-Carb Options at Whataburger
While the menu board at Whataburger doesn’t have any paleo specific recommendations, anyone who’s familiar with paleo eating can tell you the simplest hack is to remove the bun from your burger. The classic Whataburger with cheese, with no bun sounded a little plain to me, so I opted for the Monterey Melt. It’s basically the Whataburger with cheese topped with grilled onions and green and red bell peppers. I also added avocado for a dollar extra. I skipped the fries and substituted apple slices instead.
Nutritional density is a really important part of paleo. The problem with eating at fast food restaurants is that most of the food you associate with them are high-calorie and have low nutritional density. The top of the list is french fries. They taste awesome, but a small order of fries at Whataburger has 35 carbs, 280 calories, and 170 mg of sodium, and they basically have no nutritional value. By switching to apple slices, you downgrade to seven carbs, 30 calories, and zero sodium. You also upgrade to 22% of your daily value of Vitamin C.
Removing the bun from a burger seems a little weird for the uninitiated, but it lowers the carbs from 62 to seven, and lowers sugars from 12 to zero. It’s well worth the raised eye-brows you might get from other diners when they see you eating your burger with a knife and fork.
The peppers and onions that come with the Monterey Melt also come with pretty good nutritional density. According to authoritynutrition.com, “bell peppers are very high in vitamin C, and one bell pepper may provide up to 169% of the RDA. Other vitamins and minerals found in bell peppers include vitamin K1, vitamin E, vitamin A, folate, and potassium.”
Adding avocado makes everything better in my opinion. Not only does it taste great, but many consider avocados to be a super-food. According to to authoritynutrition.com “avocados are rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, potassium and copper.” They also have lots of healthy fats that really satisfy your appetite. That’s actually important when you aren’t eating half a pound of potatoes with your burger.
About the cheese, for most people practicing paleo, cheese is off limits. I have never given up cheese though, because my goal with paleo is to lower my sugar and carb intake, and cheese is low in sugar. I rarely pass up an opportunity for cheese. More about why I haven’t abandoned cheese.
The burger came out in a little black tray with a clear cover. It looked a bit like a terrarium. Not quite what I was expecting, but it made for a relatively nice presentation, and it made it easy to eat. The avocado was more like guacamole than the sliced avocado that I had in mind when I ordered the meal. It tasted good though, and it was easy to spread on top of the burger. The peppers and onions were crispy and flavorful. They added a nice savory flavor to the burger. I was a little worried that the burger wouldn’t taste as good as I remembered without the bun, but I have to say the meat was better than expected. I’ve always thought that Whataburger was in a different class than other fast food burgers, and going bun-less proves it. When you go bun-less, there is no place for bad meat to hide, and it can really ruin your meal when you get a nasty tasting patty. The Whataburger patty withstood the challenge.
The Monterey Melt filled me up, and tasted very good. It won’t win my best burger contest, but as far as fast food burgers go, it is really good, and if you order right, you can maintain a low-carb, nutritionally dense diet. If you are lucky it will give you enough energy to survive a weekend backpacking in the woods with a bunch of rowdy boy scouts.