Skip to content

10 Sugariest Meals in America

"Why do people have to sugar-coat everything?" my friend Jan asked recently when we met for dinner at Chili's. She was complaining about another bad date she'd been on. "If you know something's not working for you, just be honest!" Then, before I could answer, she ordered the Caribbean Chicken Salad.

Poor Jan. She'd just set herself up for another coating of sugar.

And she's not alone. Just this Wednesday, the World Health Organization announced you should reduce your amount of sugar to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake—or about 50 grams a day—or else risk obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Capping it at 5 percent "would provide additional health benefits," the agency reported. Yet in this brand-new 2015 Eat This, Not That! report on The Sugariest Foods in America, every meal has more than 68 grams of the sweet stuff—seafood, chicken, even salads with the sugar equivalent of 27 Hershey's Kisses piled high!

Don't get sideswiped like Jan. Strip away unwanted calories and start losing weight today with the all-new Eat This, Not That! 1,247 Awesome Slimming Swaps! And keep your waistline toned and tight—in record time—with these essential 10 Best Foods for Rapid Weight Loss.

SUGAR SHOCKER #10 : Pizza Hut Wingstreet Bone-Out Wings in Sweet Chili (6) with 3 Oz BBQ Wing Sauce

830 calories, 27 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 2490 mg sodium, 112 carbs, 4 g fiber, 68 g sugar, 31 protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 19 Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies!

The culprit here isn't the bird itself, but Pizza Hut's Sweet Chili sauce—which is really just a fancy name for a viscous pool of brown sugar. Next time a craving strikes, keep your diabetes risk in check by ordering the Naked wings, and enjoy six of 'em. This simple, slimming swap will save you 39 grams of sugar—the equivalent of seven rolls of Smarties.

Eat This Instead!
Naked WingStreet Bone-Out Wings (6) with 3 oz BBQ Wing Sauce
650 calories, 27 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 1890 mg sodium, 73 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 29 g sugar, 31 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #9: Chili's Caribbean Salad with Grilled Chicken

720 calories, 28 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 1170 mg sodium, 86 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 69 g sugar, 36 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 9 Dunkin Donuts Apple 'n' Spice Donuts!

A salad with grilled chicken—every skinny girl's cliché lunch, right? But this is a terrible example of sugar hiding in a seemingly healthful dish. After eating Chili's Caribbean Salad—and its 9 donuts worth of sugar—you'll be less bikini-confident than ever. Order the zesty, Southwest Chicken Soup with a side salad instead. You'll save 60 grams of the sweet stuff, and be swimsuit ready by summer. (Speaking of donuts, check out this Eat This, Not That! Special Report: 5 "Health" Foods Worse Than a Donut.)

Eat This Instead!
Cup of Southwest Chicken Soup with a Honey Lime Vinaigrette House Salad
390 calories, 23 g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat, 1094 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 11 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #8: Friendly's Honey BBQ Chicken Strips

1580 calories, 82 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 3170 mg sodium, 168 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 73 g sugar, 43 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 7 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!

These Chicken Strips are distinctly un-Friendly, thanks to a Honey BBQ sauce that could put your dentists' kids through private school. Choose the Turkey Tips—bite-sized pieces of protein-packed grilled meat—and save 1,020 calories and 68 grams of sugar!

Eat This Instead!
Turkey Tip Entree
560 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1,390 mg sodium, 48 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 64 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #7: PF Chang's Sesame Chicken

890 calories, 35 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 2250 mg sodium, 82 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 76 g sugar, 66 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 3 heaping cups of Edy's Vanilla Ice Cream!

Duck! Your dinner table is about to get ransacked by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Covered in thick coating of sauce, Sesame Chicken has never looked like the healthiest pick on the menu, but you probably didn't suspect that it has as much sugar as 20 jumbo marshmallows! Stay away from this dish, and the Sweet & Sour Chicken, too—that one came in a close second with whopping 69 grams of sugar (but at least it has the word "sweet" in the name). Instead, ask your server to bring you the Dynamite Shrimp starter with a small side of Spinach with Garlic as your entree. You'll get that sweet, tangy taste you crave for a fraction of the calories and sugar. And keep losing weight—rapidly—with the essential 4 Teas That Melt Fat.

Eat This Instead!
Dynamite Shrimp with Small Spinach with Garlic
610 calories, 46 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,250 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 12 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #6: California Pizza Kitchen Full Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Salad

1500 calories, 99 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1380 mg sodium, 128 g carbs, 27 g fiber, 80 g sugar, 43 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 4 Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes!

I'm pretty sure Morocco will be annoyed to learn their top spice, according to CPK, is sugar. For something that looks and tastes similar, but saves you 68 grams of sugar, ask for the Roast Veggie and Grilled Chicken salad. Ask for the dressing on the side and only use a few spoonfuls—plus, enjoy the heart-healthy avocado, and then Shed Flab with these 8 Fatty Foods That Make You Skinny.

Eat This Instead!
Half Roasted Veggie with Grilled Chicken Breast Salad
550 calories, 31 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 620 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 41 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #5: Cheesecake Factory Teriyaki Chicken

1320 calories, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 3993 g sodium, 207 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 96 g sugar, 70 protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 3.5 Snickers Bars!

"Terror-yaki" is more like it. This entree—which could only have been conceived in a "factory"—comes with two days' worth of sugar topped with two days' worth of salt. As much as I hate the idea of ordering anything called "Skinnylicious" in front of a dinner date, at Cheesecake Factory that might be your best best.

Eat This Instead!
Skinnylicious Tuscan Chicken
590 calories, 18 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 755 mg sodium, 17 carbs, 4 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 83 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #4: Panda Express 2-Entree Plate with Chow Mein, Sweetfire Chicken Breast and Beijing Beef

2310 calories, 107 g fat, 19 g saturated fat, 230 g carbs, 2840 mg sodium, 11 g fiber, 100 g sugar, 68 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 8 McDonald's Baked Hot Apple Pies!

"Panda Express" accurately describes both what you're going to look like, and how long it's going to take you to get there. They call them "sweetfire" meats for a reason. Listen to the warning shot, and take evasive action. Replacing this meal with the Chicken and Beef will save you 89 grams of sugar. And keep that waistline toned and tight—in record time—with these essential 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days.

Eat This Instead!
2-Entree Plate with Brown Steamed Rice, String Bean Chicken Breast and Broccoli Beef
700 calories, 26 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 1405 mg sodium, 111 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 34 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #3: Perkins Berry Blueberry Pancakes with 2 Oz Syrup

1000 calories, 24 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 975 mg sodium, 180 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 105 g sugar, 15 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 4 Dairy Queen Vanilla Cones!

Okay, you know pancakes with syrup is gonna be sugary. But holy cow, Perkins, how did you manage to pack two days' worth of sugar into one breakfast? It may seem like a magic trick, but this simple swap–just ordering one type of pancake over another–will save you 71 grams of sugar and 460 calories. And by avoiding the sweets, you'll save face, too—Look Younger by Avoiding the 6 Foods Destroying Your Skin.

Eat This Instead!
The Buttermilk Five Short Stack with Twinberry Syrup
540 calories, 22 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 685 mg sodium, 76 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 34 g sugar, 9 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #2: Cheesecake Factory French Toast Napoleon with Syrup

2880 calories, 190 g fat, 95 g saturated fat, 1585 sodium, 160 g carbs, 7g fiber, 139 g sugar, 29 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 5 Krispy Kreme Chocolate Eclairs!

French Toast Napoleon, meet your Waterloo. This one breakfast will feed you nearly three days' worth of sugar, a day and a half worth of calories, and nearly a week's worth of saturated fat. Oh, and somehow they squeezed a full day of sodium onto the plate as well. In this war of European powers, we'll take the English muffin over the French toast any day.

Eat This Instead!
Two Scrambled Egg Whites on an English Muffin
254 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 45.5 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 16 g protein

SUGAR SHOCKER #1: Boston Market St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs ½ Rack with Cinnamon Apples and Sweet Potato Casserole

1860 calories, 90 g fat, 33 g saturated fat, 3620 mg sodium, 201 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 162 g sugar, 68 g protein
This is the sugar equivalent of 6 Starbucks Double Chocolate Chunk Brownies!

With a holiday weekend's worth of sugar and two days of sodium, your blood sugar and blood pressure will be in a race to see who can redline faster. Opting for the Quarter Skinless Rotisserie Chicken plate will save you a whopping 144 grams of sugar—enough that you can enjoy what you really want: dessert.

Eat This Instead!
Quarter Skinless Rotisserie Chicken with Zesty BBQ Sauce, Fresh Vegetable Stuffing, Garlic Dill New Potatoes
580 calories, 15 g fat, 2 g fat, 1540 mg sodium, 62 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 16 g sugar, 55 g protein

There you have it: the Sugariest Meals in America—or at least the most sugary meals made public. Romano's Macaroni Grill and Red Lobster refuse to release their sugar counts, TGI Friday's only offered us partial counts and Ruby Tuesdays did not answer repeated attempts for confirmation, and does not publicly list sugar counts on their website.

We want the truth! Help America take back control of its health by joining us in our fight for what every diner deserves. Sign your name to the Truth About Sugar petition and demand full disclosure!

David Zinczenko
Dave is a globally recognized expert in health, fitness, nutrition, and weight loss and is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 25 books in 15 languages. Read more about David