Meal Plans

What's Better: Hot Dogs or Bratwursts?

In the land of All-American grilling, which one reigns supreme?

Hotdogs on Grill
grandriver / Getty

At some point this summer, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the prospect of cooking cylindrical meat products, and you’ll have a decision to make: hot dogs or brats? Both satisfy those backyard cravings, but which one is the right choice when looking to pack on lean muscle and keep those washboard abs?

To find out, we turned to Tavis Piattoly, founder of Piattoly Sports Nutrition. He says that each summertime staple has a good amount of protein, but the heftier brat is more caloric. Fortunately, brands on both sides of the aisle have been working to make their products healthier, and now offer leaner options with fewer ingredients and additives.

Piattoly likes Applegate Naturals—both its turkey hot dog, which is lean and uncured, and its beer bratwurst. Neither product adds nitrates or nitrites, and both are antibiotic-free. Even Oscar Mayer has joined the cleaner wiener initiative, recently announcing an end to the use of artificial preservatives, nitrates, and nitrites.

We like our hot dogs and sausages grilled, but the cooking method doesn’t affect the calories. So to keep them from piling up, watch your condiments and bread. Piattoly notes that if lowering body fat and weight is your goal, you should use a whole-grain bun or high-protein bread like P28 and add a few veggies to keep you full longer. “Personally,” Piattoly says, “I like to add turkey chili, mustard, raw onions, and raw cabbage to my hot dog."

Chef's tip: Add mustard and relish to your hot dogs, and mustard, grilled peppers, and onions to your bratwursts.

Hot dogs vs. bratwursts

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Hot Dog (U.S.A.) Bratwurst (Germany)
6" long 8" long
56g weight 78g weight
110 calories 240 calores
7g protein 13g protein
8g fat 20g fat

** Winner: hot dogs ** 

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