Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Buffalo Wild Wings Bad For You?



Short answer

Buffalo Wild Wings can be integrated into a balanced diet, but their menu items, often high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats, should be consumed in moderation. Strategies like opting for grilled items, controlling portion sizes, and forgoing calorie-dense sauces can help mitigate health risks. While occasional consumption is unlikely to cause harm, it's important to make informed choices and favor nutrient-dense options for overall health.



Long answer

Caloric Content of Popular Buffalo Wild Wings Menu Items

When assessing whether Buffalo Wild Wings is 'bad' for you, it's crucial to consider the caloric content of their menu items. Calories are a basic measure of the energy provided by food, and understanding them can help you make informed dietary choices. The number of daily calories an individual needs can vary widely based on age, sex, weight, height, and level of physical activity. That said, the average recommended daily caloric intake is around 2,000 to 2,500 calories.

Below, we'll break down the caloric content of some of the most popular Buffalo Wild Wings menu items:

  • Traditional Wings, Snack Size (5 wings) – Approximately 330-440 calories, without sauce or seasoning.
  • Boneless Wings, Small Size (8 wings) – Ranges between 575-740 calories, not including sauces or additional sides.
  • Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wrap – A single wrap contains about 680 calories, with variations based on choice of dressing and additional ingredients.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Burger – Depending on toppings and sauces, a standard burger rings in at roughly 730-850 calories.
  • Screamin’ Nacho Burger – Expect around 1010 calories for this indulgent menu option.
  • French Fries, Regular Size – A side of fries can add an extra 330 calories to your meal.
  • Chicken Caesar Salad – Though it's a salad, it's not necessarily low-cal, averaging about 720 calories with dressing.

It is important to note that additional condiments and dipping sauces can substantially increase the caloric values of the items. For instance, a single serving of Blue Cheese Dressing can add another 300 calories to your intake.

While these numbers may seem high, there are several factors to consider. For those following a more physically active lifestyle or involved in high-intensity sports, higher caloric meals might be required to meet their energy needs. However, for individuals aiming for weight loss or maintaining a lower-calorie diet, these items would represent a significant portion of their daily calorie quota.

Consumers should also be aware of the concept of 'calorie density,' which refers to the number of calories in a given volume or weight of food. Foods with high calorie density provide a large number of calories in a small amount of food, which might not be satiating and could lead to overeating.

Choosing the right items or portions from the menu can allow for a more balanced caloric intake. For example, opting for smaller serving sizes, sharing an entrée, or skipping the appetizer can all be strategies to enjoy the flavors of Buffalo Wild Wings without going overboard on calories.

It's crucial to balance the occasional high-caloric meal with regular physical activity and an overall nutrient-dense diet. Remember that the guidelines provided by health professionals suggest that the occasional indulgence can be part of a balanced diet, but moderation is key.

Keep in mind that while calories are important, they are not the only factor to consider. Nutritional content, such as the presence of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and added sugars or unhealthy fats, also plays a significant role in the overall health impact of a food item.

Sodium and Fat Content: A Heart Health Perspective

The nutritional content of foods, especially those eaten at popular dining chains, is of significant interest to health-conscious consumers. When examining Buffalo Wild Wings' menu items from the standpoint of heart health, two critical factors demand attention: sodium and fat content. The impact of these nutrients on cardiovascular health is well-documented, and understanding their levels in the offerings of Buffalo Wild Wings can guide consumers in making informed choices.

High sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a leading risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. However, a single meal at Buffalo Wild Wings can easily surpass this limit, given that many of their popular dishes, like traditional wings and certain sauces, are high in sodium. For example, a small order of traditional wings can contain upwards of 2,000 mg of sodium, and this amount escalates with larger portion sizes and additional seasonings or sauces.

Fat content, and more specifically the type of fat consumed, is another essential consideration for heart health. While the body needs some dietary fat for energy and to absorb vitamins, not all fats have the same effects on health. Saturated and trans fats are particularly linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. Buffalo Wild Wings' menu items can be high in these unhealthy fats, primarily due to the cooking methods involved, such as deep-frying, and the use of cheese and rich dressings.

However, it's crucial to differentiate between different types of fats:

  • Saturated Fats: These fats are found in higher amounts in animal products and can be present in significant quantities in Buffalo Wild Wings' offerings. Consuming foods high in saturated fats can lead to increased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Trans Fats: Although the FDA has taken steps to eliminate artificial trans fats in foods, naturally occurring trans fats can still be found in meat and dairy, albeit in small quantities. An awareness of the potential presence of these fats is important when considering menu options.
  • Unsaturated Fats: Typically considered heart-healthy, these fats are found in plant-based sources and are present in smaller amounts in some of the menu items.

When evaluating fat content, patrons should also consider portion sizes, with larger servings contributing to a higher overall intake of both saturated and possibly trans fats. The addition of sides and condiments can further increase the overall fat consumption.

It's essential for diners to be aware of these nutritional components and how they align with their individual dietary needs and health goals. For those concerned with heart health, opting for items with lower sodium and saturated fat content or choosing smaller portion sizes can make a notable difference.

Lastly, the balance of one's overall diet beyond a single meal at Buffalo Wild Wings will significantly affect cardiovascular health. Those concerned with sodium and fat intake should consider how food choices at Buffalo Wild Wings fit into their broader dietary patterns.

For those tracking their heart health meticulously, consulting nutritional information provided by the restaurant or seeking out menu items specifically designed to be lower in sodium and unhealthy fats is advisable. Many establishments, including Buffalo Wild Wings, offer nutritional facts on their websites, allowing for pre-visit planning and healthier decision-making.

Studies and expert recommendations consistently point towards moderation and balance when it comes to sodium and fat intake, emphasizing the importance of informed choices and awareness of how one meal fits into a day's — and ultimately, a lifestyle's — nutritional profile.

Hidden Additives in Sauces and Seasonings

When diving into the details of the sauces and seasonings at popular restaurant chains like Buffalo Wild Wings, many customers are surprised by the presence of certain additives. These ingredients are used to enhance flavor, preserve texture and maintain shelf life, but they can also have health implications if consumed in excessive amounts over time.

Artificial Colorings: Some sauces could contain artificial colorings like Yellow #5 and Red #40. These additives are FDA-approved but have been linked to hyperactivity in children and some allergic reactions. A study in The Lancet highlighted concerns about certain artificial food dyes contributing to behaviors associated with ADHD in children.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): HFCS is a common sweetener found in various sauces. This sweetener has been associated with obesity and diabetes in several studies. Its pervasive use, particularly in the American diet, has raised red flags with nutritionists due to its link with metabolic diseases.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is a flavor enhancer that's often added to foods to bring out their savory taste. Although the FDA classifies MSG as generally safe, anecdotal reports have associated it with symptoms like headaches and flushing, often referred to as "MSG symptom complex." However, scientific reviews, such as one published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, have not found conclusive evidence to support these claims.

Sodium Benzoate: Used as a preservative, sodium benzoate can be found in acidic foods such as salad dressings and sauces. While recognized as safe by the FDA, there are concerns about its potential to convert to benzene, a known carcinogen, in the presence of vitamin C, as per a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Trans Fats: Partially hydrogenated oils, a source of trans fats, may be lurking in some seasonings and sauces. Trans fats are known to increase the risk of heart disease and are considered detrimental to health. The FDA has taken steps to remove artificial trans fats in processed foods, but it's important for consumers to read labels cautiously.

Becoming aware of these additives is crucial for those who want to maintain a clean and healthy diet. Here are actionable steps you can take:

  • Request nutrition and ingredient information before ordering.
  • Consider choosing sauces and seasonings that are marked as having no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
  • Limit the frequency of your visits or the amount of sauce you consume to reduce the intake of these additives.

It's key to acknowledge that while eating at Buffalo Wild Wings occasionally may not pose a significant health risk, being mindful of the hidden additives in their sauces and seasonings is an important aspect of informed dining and healthier lifestyle choices.

Understanding the Impact of Fried Foods and Breading

Fried foods and breading are cornerstones of the menu at establishments like Buffalo Wild Wings. However, their impact on health can be significant and is multi-faceted. Here we delve into the details of why frequent consumption of such dishes might raise concerns for your well-being.

Nutritional Content of Fried Foods: When foods are fried, their nutritional profile changes drastically. The frying process can cause a decrease in water content and an increase in fat. This results in a higher calorie density which, if consumed in excess, can lead to weight gain. Studies have shown that regular consumption of fried foods is associated with a higher risk of obesity and related diseases.

The breading often used in fried foods can significantly increase the calorie, carbohydrate, and sodium content. Additionally, breading can lead to an increased intake of unhealthy refined grains, unless whole-grain options are specifically used.

Presence of Trans Fats: Trans fats, which are created during the hydrogenation process and can be present in fried foods, are a major concern. These fats are known to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL), leading to an increased risk of heart disease. While many food providers have reduced the use of oils that contain trans fats, it's essential to be aware of their potential presence in fried and breaded items.

Acrylamide Formation: A substance named acrylamide can form in starchy foods during high-temperature cooking processes like frying. The FDA has recognized acrylamide as a potential carcinogen. Hence, foods that are battered and fried are more likely to contain higher levels of acrylamide.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): AGEs, which form when meats are cooked at high temperatures, have been associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, potentially leading to chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Fried chicken wings, an essential part of Buffalo Wild Wings' offering, can contain high levels of AGEs.

Portion Sizes and Condiments: The portion sizes at restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings are often larger than recommended, which can contribute to overconsumption of fried foods. Additionally, dips and sauces that commonly accompany these foods are high in calories, fat, and sodium, which may exacerbate health risks.

To minimize negative health impacts, consider the following recommendations when dining at establishments that serve fried and breaded foods:

  • Opt for grilled rather than fried options where possible.
  • Avoid or limit the consumption of creamy dips and high-sodium sauces.
  • Be conscious of portion sizes – share dishes or save half for another meal.
  • Choose side dishes like vegetables or salads instead of fries or onion rings.
  • When available, select whole-grain breading options.

In summary, while fried and breaded foods like those found at Buffalo Wild Wings can be a delicious indulgence, they carry potential health risks primarily associated with weight gain, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Moderation, mindful choices, and an overall balanced diet are key to enjoying such foods without significantly compromising your health.

Portion Sizes: The Overeating Factor at Buffalo Wild Wings

When dining out, especially at popular chain restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, portion sizes are often larger than the recommended serving sizes established by dietary guidelines. This discrepancy can lead to unintentional overeating, a factor that significantly impacts one's overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), controlling portion sizes is an effective way to manage weight and prevent the gradual gain that can occur over time due to eating outsized servings.

At Buffalo Wild Wings, the allure of various flavors and the social dining atmosphere may encourage individuals to consume more wings, sides, and appetizers than they would typically eat. Understanding the relationship between the portion sizes offered and your personal nutritional needs is critical. Here's a breakdown of how portion sizes can influence dietary intake:

  • Caloric Consumption: The larger the portion size, the more calories a dish contains. For instance, a standard order of traditional wings can deliver an amount of calories that might exceed an individual's caloric needs for an entire meal or, in some cases, for the day.
  • Sodium Content: Buffalo Wild Wings menu items are often high in sodium, primarily due to sauces and seasonings. Consuming large portions can lead to an excessive sodium intake, which the American Heart Association links to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Fat and Cholesterol: Chicken wings are naturally higher in fat and cholesterol. When consumed in the large quantities available at Buffalo Wild Wings, you may be getting more saturated fats and dietary cholesterol than is recommended for heart health.

It is also important to consider how these portion sizes at Buffalo Wild Wings fit into the broader context of your daily food intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest adjusting portion sizes based on age, gender, physical activity level, and overall health. Unfortunately, the "one size fits all" serving approach found in restaurants does not account for these individual differences. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offers tools such as the "Portion Distortion" interactive quizzes to help visualize how portions have increased over the years and to understand appropriate serving sizes.

For those watching their intake, here are some strategies to avoid the overeating factor associated with large portion sizes:

  • Sharing is caring: Consider splitting large orders with friends or family to keep portion sizes in check.
  • Take control: Ask for half the order to be boxed up before you start eating, effectively halving the portion on your plate.
  • Pay attention to hunger cues: Listen to your body and stop eating when you feel comfortably satisfied, rather than when the plate is empty.
  • Be sauce-savvy: Sauces can significantly increase the calorie and sodium content of your meal. Opting for sauces on the side allows you to control the amount you consume.

Remember, moderation is key, and being mindful of the portion sizes can help you enjoy your meal at Buffalo Wild Wings without compromising your health goals.

Healthier Choices at Buffalo Wild Wings

When navigating the menu at Buffalo Wild Wings, it's possible to make selections that are better for your health without sacrificing the experience. Here are some strategies and options to consider:

Opt for Grilled Over Fried: Choosing grilled items over fried can significantly reduce the intake of unhealthy fats. For example, opt for Traditional Wings over Boneless Wings. The Boneless Wings are breaded and fried, adding extra calories and fat.

Control Portion Sizes: The large portion sizes can lead to overeating. Consider ordering from the "Snack" portion sizes or splitting a larger meal with a friend to help manage calorie intake.

Choose Sauces Wisely: Sauces can be a hidden source of calories, sugar, and sodium. Go for rubs such as the Desert Heat Seasoning or the Lemon Pepper Seasoning which tend to be lower in calories compared to creamy sauces and dressings.

Load Up on Vegetables: Substitute fries or chips with carrot sticks, celery sticks, or a side salad to add nutrients and fiber to your meal which can aid in digestion and provide essential vitamins.

Pay Attention to Sides: Sides can make or break a meal's nutritional value. Choosing a side of coleslaw, for instance, can add a creamy heap of extra calories and saturated fat. Opt for a healthier side like the Veggie Boat.

Watch Your Drink Choices: Beverages can add a significant number of calories. Stick to water, unsweetened iced tea, or diet sodas instead of sugar-laden drinks or alcoholic beverages.

Here are specific menu items that are healthier choices at Buffalo Wild Wings:

  • Traditional Wings with no sauce or a dry seasoning.
  • Grilled Chicken Buffalitos without cheese and sour cream.
  • Naked Tenders – These are grilled, not fried, and can be paired with a rub or a sauce on the side for more controlled consumption.
  • Garden Salad with Light Dressing – Be careful with toppings like cheese or croutons.

Keep in mind that modifications to menu items can often be made to improve their nutritional profile. Don't hesitate to ask for such changes when ordering. Additionally, consider sharing dishes or taking part of your meal home for later to avoid overeating in one sitting.

While indulging in wings and other menu offerings from Buffalo Wild Wings is okay on occasion, making thoughtful choices can help align your meal with your health goals. It's important to enjoy the social aspect and pleasure of dining out, but keeping health in mind can ensure that such experiences contribute positively to your overall well-being.

Remember, moderation is key. Balancing indulgent meals with healthier options and keeping active are essential components of a healthy lifestyle.

Frequently asked questions

For a heart-healthy diet at Buffalo Wild Wings, opt for items grilled rather than fried to reduce unhealthy fat intake. Choose side dishes like vegetables or salads instead of fries, and be mindful of portion sizes. Avoid creamy dips and high-sodium sauces, and consider sharing dishes or saving part of your meal for later to help manage fat and calorie consumption.

Yes, Buffalo Wild Wings provides lighter options such as Traditional Wings with no sauce or a dry seasoning, Grilled Chicken Buffalitos without cheese and sour cream, Naked Tenders that are grilled instead of fried, and garden salads with light dressing. Opt for these choices and ask for modifications where possible to better align with a low-calorie diet.

Healthier beverage choices at Buffalo Wild Wings include water, unsweetened iced tea, or diet sodas. Avoid sugar-laden drinks and alcoholic beverages that add extra calories and may contribute to dehydration, especially when consuming salty foods.

To manage sodium intake at Buffalo Wild Wings, select sauces and seasonings that are lower in sodium, like the dry rubs. Share dishes to reduce the portion size, opt for grilled items over fried, and consider using dressings and sauces sparingly or on the side to have more control over the amount you consume.

Ask a question about Buffalo Wild Wings and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • increased blood pressure
  • flushing
  • headache
  • hyperactivity in children

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • metabolic diseases
  • increased ldl cholesterol
  • decreased hdl cholesterol
  • inflammation
  • oxidative stress
  • diabetes
  • increased risk of stroke

Ingredients to be aware of


  • provides energy for active lifestyles
  • can be part of balanced diet with moderation

Healthier alternatives

  • grilled items

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-25-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-25-2024

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