As Americans become more aware about what they’re chowing down on, restaurants are providing healthier options in line with our evolving dietary needs. And while we might think the presence of the ever-expanding lighter fare selections on menus is helping us stick to our better-eating habits, that’s far from the case.
You see, Babson College researchers found that the mere presence of healthy options on a menu can actually cause people to select a less nutritious meal. Experts believe that we ultimately end up splurging because we take the fact that we considered ordering a healthy item as being virtuous, so it leads us to make poor food choices down the line.
Here’s the problem: those less healthy options lurking on menus are some of the least nutritious, most caloric, most horrifying choices we’ve ever seen on a menu. (And, trust us, we’ve looked.) In fact, with some of the dishes we discovered below, you can top over a day’s worth of calories—2,000—in just a single meal.
That’s right. The days of supersizing aren’t as far in the past as you might think. So when it comes to choosing a decent option when dining out, read on to discover the one (or two) things you definitely should not order. And if you’re trying to keep your eating habits on track in the office, don’t miss these 40 Healthy Snack Ideas To Keep You Slim.
From Least…. To Most Caloric
Bonefish Grill Blackened Baja Fish Tacos
1,110 calories, 74 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,540 mg sodium, 73 g carbs (9 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 28 g protein
Bonefish serves you a dish filled with more than 100 percent of your day’s recommended intake of fat and sodium! This Mexican-inspired dish is far from authentic—the white carb-based tortillas, crema, and oil-soaked fish will leave you feeling like you need to unbutton your jeans. Even if you shared this dish with your friends, you’d be taking in more salt than what you’d get from seven servings of Cool Ranch Doritos. That doesn’t sound appetizing when you’re trying to lose belly fat.
P.F Chang’s Crispy Honey Chicken
1,220 calories, 48 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,410 mg sodium, 130 g carbs (1 g fiber, 50 g sugar), 55 g protein
Chicken may be one of the best proteins to keep that belly flat, but when it’s deep fried and smothered in sweetness and salt, it’ll put you in major diet debt. Not to mention this dish is void of vegetables and set on a bed of blood sugar–spiking white rice. We suggest taking a hard pass next time you visit P.F. Chang’s.
Denny’s Brooklyn Spaghetti & Meatballs with Bread
1,230 calories, 64 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,410 mg sodium, 112 g carbs (7 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 53 g protein
Warning: this meal is far from your Nonna’s spaghetti and meatballs. It’s even far from what Brooklyn locals may be eating. This massive serving of carb-loaded spaghetti is topped with humongous meatballs and drenched in a thick sauce. And it’s billowing over in saturated fat—Denny’s has managed to keep trans fat alive and well in this dish, a fat the FDA has deemed unacceptable when added to packaged foods come 2018.
P.F Chang’s Coconut Curry Vegetables
1,270 calories, 90 g fat (36 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 2,800 mg sodium, 73 g carbs (19 g fiber, 31 g sugar), 47 g protein
Made purely from vegetables, you might not even think that it possible a dish like this could be coated in fat, salt and, calories. Wrong! A dish like this is a trap, and you can blame that on coconut oil. Originally thought to be the golden star of oils, the saturated fat-loaded oil is way worse than we thought. In fact, earlier this summer the American Heart Association released new research explaining why coconut oil isn’t all that. The study found that coconut oil increases bad cholesterol, a major cause of heart disease. The report wrapped up with a strong statement: “We advise against the use of coconut oil.”
Friendly’s Crispy Chicken Club
1,270 calories, 70 g fat (20 g saturated fat, n/a g trans fat), 2,260 mg sodium, 120 g carbs (10 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 40 g protein
Crispy chicken tenders, bacon, fries. As if those diet-derailing foods weren’t enough on their own, Friendly’s decided to top this sandwich with overly processed American cheese, mayonnaise, and lay it all on a white-bread based Ciabatta roll. But it’s just a sandwich. How bad could a sandwich be? Pretty bad, we say. With over a day’s worth of fat and sodium, you’re better off splitting this entree in half, or better yet thirds.
McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
1,350 calories, 65 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,100 mg sodium, 155 g carbs (6 g fiber, 48 g sugar), 35 g protein
There’s a reason this breakfast ranked worst in our roundup of Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!. One meal is filled with hot cakes, biscuits, scrambled eggs, sausage, and hash browns! Sounds like enough food to fill an entire table. In fact, this serving wipes out your entire day’s worth of fat, more than a day’s worth of saturated fat, and just skims your day’s worth of sodium and sugar. And chances are, you still have two more meals and a few snacks throughout your day. Next time you hit the Golden Arches, just say no to this option.
Cracker Barrel Homestyle Chicken
1,350 calories, 92 g fat (19 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,200 mg sodium, 65 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 66 g protein
We give props to Cracker Barrel. They’ve managed to knock out a day and a half’s worth of fat and sodium in just one serving of beige, breaded, deep-fried chicken. And adding on two sides and biscuit, free of charge is certainly overkill. If you’re really craving this Cracker Barrel Chicken? Split it into four. You and your family members will have just the right amount of food. Your bellies and bank account will thank you.
Red Lobster Cajun Chicken Linguini Alfredo
1,390 calories, 63 g fat (24 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 2,760 g sodium, 119 g carbs (8 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 84 g protein
This Red Lobster pasta dish sounds like a mouthful because it is! Here’s a pasta hack: If it’s covered in white sauce, we advise you stay away. This creamy pasta dish is loaded up with cajun-spiced chicken, garlic parmesan sauce, all over a bed of carb-heavy pasta. The truth is: Pasta’s really not that bad—it’s the processed American pasta sauces loaded with excess calories, mounds of salt and buckets of added sugar that give the plates of noodly heaven such a bad reputation. Plus, meals like this are often made with oils that are full of inflammatory omega-6’s—a stark contrast to the fat-burning oleic acid found in extra virgin olive oil, which is used in authentic sauces.
To make sure you don’t make the same mistake at home, don’t miss our exclusive report: The Unhealthiest Pasta Sauces On The Planet.
Denny’s The Grand Slamwich with Hashbrowns
1,390 calories, 96 g fat (28 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,320 mg sodium, 82 g carbs (4 g fiber, 9 g sugar) 47 g protein
Caution: Eat at your own risk. Denny’s took breakfast sandwich to a whole new level—and not in a good way. With eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, cheese, potato bread covered in “maple spice” (read: sugar) and hash browns you’re putting your dietary progress into major set back. In fact, this meal serves you nearly 70 percent of your day’s calories. And of that doesn’t give enough of a reason to declare this offer a foul ball try this: You’d be chowing down on just 4 grams less than two day’s worth of fat.
Chipotle Carnitas Burrito
Carnitas Burrito with White Rice, Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Romaine Lettuce, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Guacamole
1,390 calories, 68 g fat (23.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,810 mg sodium, 139 g carbs (27 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 54.5 g protein
It may be delicious, but it’s far from nutritious. This fully-loaded burrito from Chipotle has more than a day’s worth of salt and fat. In fact, it has more fat than six hot dogs—and who (aside from those crazy Coney Island competitors) would ever eat six hot dogs in one sitting? But that’s not all. This madman of a meal serves up more carbs than you’d find in nearly six whole-grain dinner rolls! Although almost everything in this burrito is carb-heavy, the tortilla carries 46 grams and the choice of white rice adds in another 40 grams—numbers which are destined to make our bellies feel bloated.
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad
1,420 calories, 99 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,530 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (11 g fiber, 42 g sugar), 39 g protein
A salad on this list—who would’ve thought? When craving some leafy crunch—this restaurant chain is not the place to go. That’s because a fair number of Applebee’s salads live around the 1,000 calorie mark, making them just as problematic as many of their other menu items. This Asian-inspired salad is no exception. Because of its sugar-soaked dressing and the fat overload from crispy noodles and fried chicken, this “healthy” option serves up more calories, fat, and sugar than the restaurant’s Quesadilla Burger.
P.F Chang’s Walnut Shrimp with Melon
1,420 calories, 113 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,390 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (13 g fiber, 47 g sugar), 33 g protein
The enticing title may sound appealing for the beach body go getter. In fact, both melon and walnuts can be a great snack together, packed with fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and protein. But for this dish, that is not the case. Based off deep fried shrimp, aioli sauce (a fancy term for mayo), and a heavy sugar-rich crusting on the nuts—this dish is a definite Not That! in our book.
IHop Cheeseburger Omelette
1,450 calories, 104 g fat (38 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 3,170 mg sodium, 54 g carbs (5 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 75 g protein
Dinner and breakfast mixed into one? No wonder this dish carries over two days of your recommended fat count. Stuffed with fatty meats, and paired with breakfast sides, it may not come as a shock that this egg treat is far from flat-belly-friendly. And guess what? This dish has six times the amount of fat than this chain’s massive three stack of pancakes. We never thought we’d say this, but you’d be far better off ordering some pancakes than downing this icky egg-based meal.
Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad
1,470 calories, 99 g fat (30 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,000 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (10 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 33 g protein
This salad is quite the deceiving demon. At first, it seems like the best of both worlds: You get a great bed of veggies and a few slices of gooey quesadillas. But if that sounds too good to be true to you, good! Your subconscious is telling you the truth. This salad holds onto more than the recommended daily intake of salt, fat, and saturated fat. And scariest of all, the salad also somehow manages to pack in trans-fat.
Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo
1,480 calories, 94 g fat (56 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 1,480 mg sodium, 95 g carbs (4 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 63 g protein
Yes, normally we say go for it when it comes to ordering a lean protein and carbs. But this fat-laden dish does not do the iconic pair any justice. Adding chicken to the creamy-based pasta does bump up the protein, but it also adds extra calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium to this already heavy carb dish.
Olive Garden Tour of Italy
1,520 calories, 96 g fat (48 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 3,250 mg sodium, 92 g carbs (6 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 75 g protein
Although it’s cheaper than a flight to the homeland of pasta and pizza, this dish is far from authentic and it will set you back on nearly two days worth of fat. In other words, choosing this dish may be easy on the wallet but at a costly price to your body. And we can’t get over this dishes alarming sodium count of 3,250 milligrams. Not sure what that means? It’s estimated that those tiny packets of salt at fast food chains serve you 189 mg of sodium. So with this meal alone, you’re consuming nearly 17 of those!
On The Border Dos XX Fish Taco
Courtesy of Yelp/Julianna C.
1,520 calories, 103 g fat (30 g saturated fat, n/a g trans fat), 3,660 mg sodium, 106 g carbs (5 g fiber, n/a g sugar), 43 g protein
For a relatively low priced meal, On The Border stacks your plate with nearly 75 percent of your day’s worth of calories. This deep-fried, beer-battered fish dish also carries too much sodium for comfort—you’ll be reaching for the nearest glass of H2O left and right!
Friendly’s Clam Strips Platter
1,550 calories, 90 g fat (20 g saturated fat, n/a g trans fat), 2,710 mg sodium, 160 g carbs (10 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 40 g protein
Unless you’re getting ready to host a party, or split this for the table, there’s no rhyme or reason to ever order a menu item that contains the word “platter.” More often than not it’s code for “way too many calories, carbs, and fat.” Don’t believe us? This bland bowl of beige serves you more fat than six servings of McDonald’s greasy, oil coated french fries.
Friendly’s Sriracha Big Beef Cheeseburger
1,580 calories, 100 g fat (50 g saturated fat, n/a trans fat), 3,730 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (0 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 90 g protein
This Friendly’s burger is far from our BFF. While it’s true that hot sauce can boost your metabolism, this hot n’ spicy burger is most definitely an exception to the rule. Topped with melted pepper jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, crispy onions (code words for fat), lettuce, tomato, and creamy sriracha mayo this caloric calamity is a no-go in our eyes.
Olive Garden Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara
1,590 calories, 114 g fat (61 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 2,410 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 66 g protein
Olive Garden’s menu is in major need of a touch-up. Its average dinner-size plate of pasta packs a staggering 976 calories—thanks in part to the soggy plate of carbs pictured above. This particular seafood entree is swimming in pools of sodium and fat. It also serves up a day’s worth of trans fat, an artificial fat that’s been linked to heart disease. All of this is before you tack on the breadsticks and salad
Buffalo Wild Wings Cheese Curd Bacon Burger
1,950 calories, 142 g fat (53 g saturated fat, 4.5 g trans fat), 4,700 mg sodium, 98 g carbs (8 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 69 g protein
You’d never hear us suggest heading out for a cheeseburger with fries—but the truth is, you’re better off ordering that compared to this measly meal. BWW manages to deep-fry cheese and place it on top of a burger. We are also disgusted to see that the chain packs in 4.5 grams of trans fat—that’s over two day’s worth of the fat that experts say can drain your brain and tax your heart.
Cheesecake Factory Pasta with Shrimp and Sausage
1,650 calories, 88 g fat (28 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat), 4,650 mg sodium, 147 g carbs (11 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 66 g protein
Let’s do the math. It’s a simple equation: Shrimp + Sausage = Salt! This wanky combination carries over two day’s worth of the belly-bloating culprit laid on a bed of refined carbs.
Red Lobster Bar Harbor Lobster Bake
1,680 calories, 93 g fat (35 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,280 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (9 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 87 g protein
When you’re fresh at the beach, at a seafood restaurant, or just grilling in your backyard It’s hard to screw up a plate of roasted lobster tail, shrimp, sea scallops, and mussels. Red Lobster manages to transform a protein-rich plate of seafood into one that can give you an instant heart attack by adding linguini and a fatty garlic-and-white-wine sauce. Please do yourself a favor and say no to this deep-sea diet bomb.
On the Border The Big Bordurrito Steak
1,760 calories, 102 g fat (30 g saturated fat, n/a g trans fat), 3,850 mg sodium, 158 g carbs (13 g fiber, n/a g sugar), 68 g protein
You knew it would be big, but ever wonder how big? Somehow, On The Border crafted a burrito with over two day’s worth of fat. For this insanely large wrap, you’d be chowing down on the equivalent of 12 Whoppers from Burger King. Here’s a trick: if the chain labels a dish as big, remember that it’s only going to make you even bigger.
TGIFriday’s Jack Daniel’s Ribs, Full-Rack
1,790 calories, 78 g fat (26 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 4,000 mg sodium, 197 g carbs (9 g fiber, n/a g sugar), 81 g protein
We think this entree should come with a warning sign. It carries 4,000 milligrams of sodium—that’s equivalent to 4 huge soft pretzels from the mall. Covered in fat, this dish will leave you feeling nothing but regrets—and a hankering for liquid for the rest of the day.
Chili’s Bacon Ranch Beef Quesadilla
1,850 calories, 140 g fat (48 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,990 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (4 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 82 g protein
With nearly a day’s worth of calories and more fat than 10 hot dogs, this dish isn’t doing you any favors. And if you thought you could get a pass by splitting this with a friend, think again! You’re consuming 2.8 times the recommended daily intake of saturated fat from the American Heart Association. In fact, if you’re trying to keep that belly flat, you’ll want to avoid all options with the word quesadilla at Chili’s—every one of them has over 1,000 calories per serving!
Applebee’s Firecracker Shrimp Cavatappi
1,970 calories, 131 g fat (53 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fat), 3,610 mg sodium, 152 g carbs (8 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 50 g protein
Attack of the beige! Whenever your dinner is monochromatic (in this case, the off-brown hue of deep-fried junk), you know you’re in trouble. Choosing a dish like this is easily one of the 40 Bad Habits That Make You Sick and Fat. The spice may boost your metabolism, but it’ll be fighting an uphill battle against all those calories, fat, and sodium.
Applebee’s Hand Battered Fish Fry
1,990 calories, 137 g fat (24 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 4540 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (10 g fiber, 14 g sugar) 55 g protein
Applebee’s strikes again. Don’t blame the fish—the seafood is packed with lean, muscle-building protein and heart-healthy fats. No, the trouble here lies with a massively unbalanced fish-to-fat ratio. A coating of crispy batter and a heaping pile of deep-fried potatoes is no way to treat the golden child of nutrition. When it comes to seafood, always abandon ship on fried fish and opt for grilled instead.
Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Large Thai Curry Wings
2,040 calories, 133 g fat (40 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fat), 7,050 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (12 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 78 g protein
At Buffalo Wild Wings people often think the bigger the better, because come on it’s only chicken! But beloved BWW fans, think again. Among their list of 20-plus variations of wing sauces and seasonings, Thai Curry is the worst! These are soaked in sodium, fat, and of course calories. Like we always say less is more—stick with a simpler rendition of the chicken wing to cut back on the chub adding culprits.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill Deep Dish Individual Chicago Classic Pizza
2,220 calories, 157 g fat (49 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 4,410 mg sodium, 112 g carbs (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 92 g protein
Since 1943, Uno has been delivering diet-derailing pizzas—and not all pizzas are created equal. The issue with deep dish pizza is not just the empty calories from the crust. It’s that the thick doughy base allows extra room for layers of cheese, sauce, and greasy toppings. The final product? A pizza for one with more than an entire day’s worth of calories. And that’s not all, the dish delivers 2 days worth of saturated fat. Next time you need your pizza fix think like this: the less crust, the fewer calories. For more healthy swaps, don’t miss 25 Food Swaps That Cut 2,500 Calories a Week.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill BBQ Sampler Platter
2,310 calories, 147 g fat (45 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 5,160 mg sodium, 121 carbs (9 g fiber, 54 g sugar), 120 g protein
Like the word platter, sampler is another word to stay away from when aiming to shed a few. This dish waved major red flags—because it used both. The word sampler indicates that even though you’re eating less of each item, you’ll eat more overall because you’ll be trying everything. Uno Pizzeria tops their BBQ Sampler Platter with a half-rack of ribs, four wings, a slider, fries, and a side of your choosing. That sounds like enough to feed an entire family of six—because it is! This dish eats up a single person’s full allotment of daily calories—split into six you’re still chowing down on a meal close to 400 calories, with plenty of fat and protein to keep you full.
Chili’s Crispy Honey Chipotle & Waffles
2,480 calories, 125 fat (40 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 5,240 mg sodium, 276 g carbs (11 g fiber, 105 g sugar), 63 g protein
Chili’s somehow took the classic waist-widening thought of chicken and waffles and made it even worse! The chain uses their crispy honey-chipotle Chicken Crispers and places them on top of 4 Belgian waffles, which they then stack with applewood smoked bacon, jalapenos, and drizzle ancho-chile ranch all over it. Thinking you’ll need more food? Don’t worry, you’ll also get a heaping handful of fries. With two day’s worth of fat and saturated fat—we’re seriously wondering why this dish filled with foods that cause inflammation is even an option!
Chili’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo
2,595 calories, 166 g fat (43 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 7,820 mg sodium, 171 g carbs (14 g fiber, 44 g sugar), 103 g protein
As seen above, Chili’s really creates over-the-top meals. But this time, they’ve outdone themselves. The combo allows you to chose any three types of meat, and load them up next to ribs and sides. Forget about having to choose a side or two, you’ll get four—roasted street corn, homestyle fries, chile-garlic toast, and garlic dill pickles. According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest, ordering this combo was worse than chowing down three of the chains sirloin steak dinners. That’s 10 ounces of sirloin covered in fattening garlic butter, with the addition of three orders of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill Whole Hog Burger
2,750 calories, 216 g fat (80 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 6,610 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 178 g protein
Uno wasn’t joking around when it said the whole hog. This burger is massive with over a pound of meat and pork—hamburger, sausage, bacon, and pepperoni. It also has three types of cheese, garlic mayo, and pickles. In case that isn’t enough, you’re given fries and onion rings too! This burger carries over three days worth of fat, and four days worth of saturated fat! If you’re trying to lose 10 pounds—or even just avoiding a premature heart attack—stay far, far away from this horrible excuse for a meal.