Battle of the Burgers: Shake Shack vs. In N Out Burger

Cheeseburger. Fries. Chocolate shake (Hold the whip? No way!). It’s summertime, so there’s no shame in indulging in some guilty pleasure of greasy goodness. Now, the difficult question: If you still want to choose the “healthier” option, should you run to In-N-Out or Shake Shack?

In N Out nutrition

This fast food joint is a favorite on the West Coast, with 264 locations throughout the southwest states. In N Out is known for its high-quality burgers and bare-bones menu. Yep, you can only choose between a double cheeseburger (dubbed a Double-Double), cheeseburger, hamburger, fries, shake or soda. But the lack of options doesn’t keep customers away. In fact, it’s created a cult of followers.

People stand behind the chain’s 2-ounce patties, which are made from 100 percent beef in the company’s own grinding facilities and delivered fresh, never frozen, everyday. In fact, you won’t find a freezer, heat lamp or microwave in any of their restaurants, because all of their ingredients are delivered fresh. They also pride in cutting their fries in-store and cooking each burger one at a time as the orders come in. While this sounds great, can you really count on getting a healthy meal?

In N Out calories

Say you order a cheeseburger, fries and 15 oz chocolate shake from In N Out. The total meal will run you about 1,465 calories. Each menu item is outlined below:

There are 480 calories in an In N Out cheeseburger. The cheeseburger contains 27 grams of fat, 39 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of protein.

There are 395 calories in an In N Out fries. The fries contain 18 grams of fat, 54 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of protein.

There are 590 calories in an In N Out chocolate shake. The chocolate shake contains 29 grams of fat, 72 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of protein.

Based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories, a person needs to consume around 65 grams of fat, 300 grams of carbs and 50 grams of protein everyday. This meal almost exceeds all of those categories and goes over the daily fat gram consumption by 9 grams. While fans rave over this made-to-order meal (and why shouldn’t they? It’s delicious!), you might be a little wide-eyed from those numbers. Like any fast food burger joint, In-N-Out might not be the first choice for a health nut, but you may be running for this cheeseburger and fries combo after looking at a Shake Shack alternative.

Shake Shack nutrition

Hey, East Coast! It’s time for your burger breakdown. Shake Shacks have cropped up across the nation and have even staked it out internationally, but the popular chain started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in New York City just 15 years ago. Today, the menu stretches from their original dogs to hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, shakes (obviously), beer and more. With so many different variations to choose from on the menu you’ll be thankful the line is so long.

So, what’s so great about this fast food joint? Like In-N-Out, Shake Shack’s burgers are delivered fresh everyday and never frozen. They boast about their no hormone, no antibiotic ever burger standards and serve their juicy beef on a non-GMO potato roll. Plus, a vegetarian option means veggie eaters can dine with their meat-loving friends—not so at In N Out

Shake Shack isn’t just conscientious about their burgers. Their energy use is offset with wind power credits, their oil is recycled into biofuel, and they compost food waste. In addition, they cook with soybean oil, which contains no trans fat and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which could reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. This sounds great, but do these healthy initiatives translate to the nutrition? The numbers might surprise you.

Shake Shack calories

Say you order a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate milk shake from Shake Shack. The total meal will run you about 1,615 calories. Each menu item is outlined below:

There are 455 calories in a Shake Shack cheeseburger. The cheeseburger contains 26 grams of fat, 26 grams of carbohydrates and 28 grams of protein.

There are 420 calories in a Shake Shack fry. The fries contain 19 grams of fat, 56 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein.

There are 740 calories in a Shake Shack chocolate shake. The chocolate milkshake contains 46 grams of fat, 75 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of protein.

This meal at Shake Shack cuts just 385 calories shy of the daily recommended value of calories—and that’s not a good thing. That only leaves enough room for a small breakfast of yogurt, fruit and granola. Of course, counting calories isn’t everything and critics who take the In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack challenge often choose the New York native over its Cali-born opponent. If you’re really worried about going overboard spring for one of their iconic shakes, which comes in seven flavors. No guilt attached.

Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out

If you’re craving a burger and fries but don’t want to completely blow your morning workout, a burger, fries and shake meal at In-N-Out will save you 200 calories compared to the equivalent at Shake Shack. However, the lack of variety and options could leave your diet-restricted friends hanging in the dust.

While both joints stand firm about fresh, never frozen meat and vegetables, Shake Shack takes the environmental high road when it comes to their energy usage and recycling habits. If calories have no meaning (come on, let yourself slide for a day), head on over to Shake Shack. Now, the hardest decision of all: Shack Stack or Smoke Shack?

Callahan is a fitness enthusiast who moonlights on the growth team at ClassPass. She's a certified fitness trainer, with years of fitness experience both inside and outside of the gym. When she's not working you can find her pursuing her passion projects as editor of Trek Montana, contributing writer to the Ultimate Nashville Bach Planning Site and Plan Your Bach.
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