7 Restaurant Meals That Have More Than A Day's Worth Of Calories, But Ugh, They Still Look So Freaking Good — PHOTOS
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released the results of the 2015 Xtreme Eating Awards, a competition that awards nine chain restaurants with the title of serving the least healthy meals in the country. This year's “winners” include Red Lobster, The Cheesecake Factory, SONIC, Outback Steakhouse, and IHOP, among others. Er, congratulations?
The report’s authors, Jane Hurley and Bonnie Liebman, explain that earning a place on this dishonorable list is harder than you might think. It takes a lot (of calories) to earn the award, simply because high calorie food is so common at restaurants; most restaurant meals clock in at close to 1,000 calories. Most of the meals on this year’s list offer diners well over 2,000 calories, which is the number that most moderately active adults should be aiming for per day, not for single meals. Hurley and Liebman point out that, although it takes effort to earn an Xtreme Eating Award, “our winners have what it takes...a total disregard for the obesity epidemic and the coming diabetes tsunami.”
All of the meals cited by the report are over-the-top in their unhealthiness, but one had to come out on top (or the bottom, depending on how you think about it). Here it is, the least healthy meal you can buy at a U.S. chain restaurant: (Drumroll, please….)
Red Lobster, Create Your Own Combination
This meal lets diners pick their combos, so the researchers chose Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo. Add to that a side of fries, a Caesar salad, and a Cheddar Bay Biscuit, and this meal comes to 2,710 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat, and four days’ worth (6,530 mg) of sodium. Hurley and Liebman explain that eating this meal would be “like eating an 8-piece bucket of KFC Original Recipe chicken with four sides of mashed potatoes with gravy, four pieces of corn on the cob, and eight packets of ‘buttery spread.’” But that’s not all! You need a drink, right? They also ordered a 24 oz. Traditional Lobsterita, which contains 890 calories and 860 mg of sodium. That means this single meal tops out at a startling 3,600 calories.
Although this meal alone might make you never want to go to a restaurant ever again, keep reading to learn about some of the other meals that made the list:
IHOP, Chorizo Fiesta Omelette
This omelette, which comes “loaded with spicy chorizo sausage, roasted peppers, onions & pepper jack cheese, then topped with a citrus chili sauce & sour cream and served with a fresh grilled serrano pepper” on its own clocks in at 1,300 calories. But add the three pancakes that come on the side and syrup, and this breakfast becomes an unhealthy monster. (You can get toast, hashbrowns, or fruit instead of the pancakes, but you’ll still have a 1,300-calorie omelette). This meal will leave you with 1,900 calories (a day’s worth), 42 grams of saturated fat, and 4,840 mg of sodium.
The Cheesecake Factory, Louisiana Chicken Pasta
As Hurley and Liebman point out, the description for this meal doesn’t sound that bad: “Parmesan crusted chicken served over pasta with mushrooms, peppers and onions in a spicy New Orleans sauce.” But along with your chicken and vegetables, you’ll get breading and a cream sauce that all together add up to a whopping 2,370 calories, 80 grams of saturated fat (which is four days' worth), and 2,370 mg of sodium.
The Cheesecake Factory, Warm Apple Crisp
You’d think that after eating the Louisiana Chicken Pasta, you would never want to eat ever again, but surely you can make room for a little dessert, right? Unfortunately “little” is not the right word to describe the Factory’s Warm Apple Crisp, which features apple crisp, a “nutty topping,” two scoops of ice cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream. This little ditty will run you 1,740 calories, 48 grams of saturated fat, and 32 teaspoons of sugar.
If you go to the Cheesecake Factory and ate both the Louisiana Chicken Pasta and the Warm Apple Crisp, you will have consumed 3,110 calories and 128 grams of saturated fat (which is almost a week’s worth) in a single sitting.
SONIC, Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast
A large Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast is 32 oz of vanilla ice cream, pineapple, piecrust pieces, caramel, and whipped cream. Eating this dessert will give you 2,020 calories (about a day’s worth), 61 grams of saturated fat, two days’ worth (4.5 grams) of trans fat, and 29 teaspoons of added sugar. To put that in perspective, Hurley and Liebman explain that eating one of these SONIC behemoths is equivalent to consuming “roughly four Dairy Queen Banana Splits.”
Steak and Shake, 7X7 Steakburger ‘n Fries
This burger, which features seven beef patties and seven slices of cheese inside a single bun, is only available from midnight to 6am. Are we to assume that’s because only a drunk person would order this? The 7X7 on its own contains 1,330 calories; add a small side of fries and the Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milkshake, and this late-night meal will run you 2,530 calories and 68 grams of saturated fat. Hurley and Liebman explain that this meal is “like polishing off four 9 oz. Outback sirloin steaks, each topped with two half-cup scoops of Breyers Chocolate Ice Cream.” Um. Eww.
Outback Steakhouse, Herb Roasted Prime Rib Dinner
This meal features a 16 oz steak (1,400 calories), with options for sides. If you pick the classic blue cheese wedge and dressed baked potato, and eat half the loaf of bread with a bit of butter, the meal adds up to 2,400 calories, 71 grams of saturated fat, and 3,560 mg of sodium.
To see the full list of unhealthy restaurant meals to avoid, as well as tips for eating healthier when eating out, check out the full Xtreme Eating 2015 report.