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The 20 Worst Restaurant Breakfasts in America

You're better off not starting your a.m. with these morning meals.
The 20 Worst Restaurant Breakfasts in AmericaCourtesy of Friendly's

Anyone who’s ever offended someone with a compliment that was intended to be genuine knows that sometimes things can go awry, even when you have the best of intentions. And in America, the land of the free and the overfed, there’s no better example of this than our breakfasts.

In theory, breakfast is a good thing. Studies show that people who take time for a morning meal consume fewer calories over the course of the day, have stronger cognitive skills, and are 30 percent less likely to be overweight or obese. But when food marketers get their hands on it, “a hearty breakfast” turns into something more like “a heart-breaking breakfast” because much of what’s on offer at America’s restaurants and fast food joints is a collection of salty scrambles, misguided muffins, and pancake stacks taller and sweeter than my two-year-old cousin. (And let me tell you, he’s really sweet and pretty darn tall for his age!)

But enough is enough. It’s time for a wake-up call, America; and more importantly, it’s time to to correct the restaurants that have ruined the notion that any breakfast is better than no breakfast. Here, we call out the 20 Worst Breakfasts in America—not just for nutritional justice, but so you can stay far, far away. Read it, share it, and then start losing weight with the help of these best breakfast habits to drop 5 pounds!

1

Denny’s Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast

Cinnamon roll pancake breakfast - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Denny's

Two buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon crumb topping, whipped cream, warm cream cheese icing, two eggs, two bacon strips, and hash browns
1,810 calories, 70 g fat (24 g saturated fat), 2,670 mg sodium, 263 g carbs (5 g fiber, 186 g sugar), 29 g protein

Dessert-driven pancakes can be found on many menus, but Denny’s Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast out-sweets them all. They’ve topped two buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon crumb topping and whipped cream and then gave you a pitcher of warm cream cheese icing to “drizzle” (read: dump) on top. The result is a dish with more sugar than 13 servings of Breyers’ Natural Vanilla Ice Cream. (Throw in eggs, hash browns and two sausage links, and the sodium count soars, too.) Stay far, far away from this meal if weight loss is one of your health goals.

Eat This! Instead:

Everyday Value Slam with two hearty wheat pancakes, two turkey bacon strips, and two eggs over easy
650 calories, 33.5 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 1,410 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (5 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 27 g protein

RELATED: The science-backed way to curb your sweet tooth in 14 days.

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2

Cheesecake Factory Bruléed French Toast with Grilled Ham

 - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Two slices french toast, powdered sugar topping, grilled ham
2,180 calories, 131 g fat (70 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fat), 1,070 mg sodium, 208 g carbs (7 g fiber, 115 g sugar), 45 g protein

Say hello to the highest calorie item on Cheesecake Factory’s menu—and, yes, that goes for the entire menu, not just for breakfast. (By the way, don’t think to swap your bacon for grilled ham, as this substitution will bring up your sodium count to over a day’s worth: 2,620 milligrams.) This “rustic” dish will likely rust your arteries, with half a day’s worth of sodium, more than a day’s worth of calories, over two days worth of added sugar, and three and a half days’ worth of saturated fat. To quell your sweet tooth craving (and keep your breakfast under 1,000 calories and free of trans fats), place an order for a Strawberry Fruit smoothie and then make-you-own breakfast sammie with a side order of eggs and an English muffin.

Eat This! Instead:

Strawberry Fruit Smoothie, 2 Eggs, and an English Muffin
790 calories, 27.5 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 515 mg sodium, 114 g carbs (7 g fiber, 64 g sugar), 25 g protein

3

Friendly’s Southern Chicken & Waffles

Friendly's breakfast southern fried chicken and waffles - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Friendly's

Five honey-maple-sauce-covered crispy chicken tenders on a Belgian waffle
1,470 calories, 40 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1,580 mg sodium, 280 g carbs (n/a g fiber, 130 g sugar), 40 g protein

Wolfing down this breakfast means you’ll set yourself back more sugar than if you had two and a half Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Rolls. To get the mix of sweet n’ salty you crave—for a fraction of the calories and fat—order pancakes with two slices of bacon instead. Or better yet, stay home and whip up one of these best healthy pancake recipes.

Eat This! Instead:

1 Buttermilk Pancake and 2 Slices Bacon
740 calories, 20 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1,110 mg sodium, 120 g carbs (0 g fiber, 60 g sugar), 10 g protein

4

Bob Evans Double Meat Farmer’s Choice Breakfast

Bob evans double meat farmer breakfast - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Bob Evans

Three hotcakes, two freshly-cracked eggs, two sausage patties, three strips bacon, and homefries
2,020 calories, 89.9 g fat (26.5 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 4,810 mg sodium, 237 g carbs (7 g fiber, 43 g sugar), 69 g protein

With more than a day’s worth of fat, saturated fat, and over two full days’ worth of sodium, this Bob Evans breakfast plate is a real doozy for your arteries. Switch to the Rise and Shine platter for a tasty mix of cooked-to-order eggs, homefries, and breakfast meats. You’ll save a whopping 1,380 calories and 3,670 milligrams of sodium—that’s what you’d find in about 18 individual packets of salt!

Eat This! Instead:

The Rise & Shine: freshly cracked eggs, two Bob Evans sausage links, and home fries
640 calories, 49 g fat (12.5 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,140 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 25 g protein

5

IHOP Fried Steak & Eggs

ihop country fried steak eggs - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of iHOP

8-oz Fried beef steak, sausage gravy, two scrambled eggs, hash browns, two buttermilk pancakes (pancake syrup not included)
1,590 calories, 104 g fat (31 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,670 mg sodium, 109 g carbs (7 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 54 g protein

When you see the words “fried” and “steak” next to each other on your breakfast menu, just keep scanning the menu. No matter what the chefs serve it with, and no matter where you place the order, it’s a bad idea for your body—especially with as much sodium as 9 one-ounce bags of Rold’s Gold Pretzels.

If something hearty and meaty is what you crave, try iHop’s T-Bone steak with three poached eggs instead. Don’t get it twisted, though; this Eat This! swap is by no means healthy. But it will give you the flavors you’re looking for while keeping 680 calories, 63 grams of fat (that’s nearly a day’s worth!), and 10 SuperPretzel Original jumbo pretzels worth of sodium off of your plate. And speaking of surprisingly salty grub, check out our report, restaurant desserts with more salt than a bag of pretzels.

Eat This! Instead:

10-oz T-Bone steak with three poached eggs and buttermilk pancakes
910 calories, 41 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,360 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (3 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 78 g protein

6

Perkins Hearty Man’s Combo

Perkins hearty man combo - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Perkins

Two eggs, smoked sausage, two Applewood smoked bacon strips two sausage links, breakfast potatoes, Banana Nut Mammoth Muffin
1,870 calories, 131 g fat (39 g saturated fat), 3,000 mg sodium, 126 g carbs (5 g fiber, 54 g sugar), 48 g protein

It may not be the highest sodium order at Perkins (that title goes to the Southern Fried Chicken Biscuit Breakfast at 4,700 milligrams of the blood-pressure-raising stuff), but holy cow, Perkins! This mount of processed meats amounts to 200 percent of your daily value of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, as well as over a day’s worth of sodium and added sugars. You’d think that a muffin is a safe bet, but it actually has more sugar than Perkins’ three buttermilk pancakes with pancake syrup. If you’re looking for a protein-rich meal without the processed meat, opt for the new Pork Chop dish for double the protein but 600 fewer calories as well as half the fat and saturated fat.

Eat This! Instead:

Pork Chops & Eggs: two eggs, hash browns, two slices whole wheat buttered toast
1,210 calories, 66 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 2,750 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (9 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 85 g protein

7

Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap

Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Taco Bell

Crunchwrap with bacon, cheddar cheese, creamy jalapeno sauce, eggs, and hash browns rolled into a flour tortilla
660 calories, 42 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,280 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 21 g protein

Fried potatoes topped with creamy jalapeno cheese and cheddar—it’s no shock that the Crunchwrap is by far the worst breakfast option at Taco Bell. Consuming over half a day’s allowance of sodium and saturated fat at breakfast is the worst possible way to start your day. Reach for the Grilled Breakfast Burrito and you’ll be getting the same potatoes, eggs, and cheese, but with half the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium..

Eat This! Instead:

Grilled Breakfast Burrito Fiesta Potato
340 calories, 14 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 780 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein

8

Jamba Juice Island Pitaya Bowl

 - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Jamba Juice

Smoothie bowl with pineapple Juice, pineapples, bananas, pitaya, strawberries, mangos, blueberries, pumpkin flax seed granola, honey, chia seeds, and coconut
470 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 100 g carbs (12 g fiber, 70 g sugar), 6 g protein

“Energy bowls” might be the biggest trend at juice places, but remember that another word for “energy” is “calories.” While some of the sugar comes from fruit, a lot of it comes from honey and granola, leading to nearly two days’ worth of sweetness in just one bowl. Instead, pick up a protein-rich bowl of greek yogurt topped with berries to cut out 80 calories and 28 grams of sugar. For more calorie-saving swaps, check out these easy ways to cut calories.

Eat This! Instead:

Fruit and Greek Yogurt Bowl
390 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (5 g fiber, 42 g sugar), 31 g protein

9

Dunkin’ Donuts Big N’ Toasted

Dunkin' Donuts Big N’ Toasted - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Dunkin'

Two eggs, Cherrywood-smoked bacon, and American cheese layered between two slices of Texas toast
620 calories, 38 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,200 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 29 g protein

Two impressively thick slices of Texas toast sandwich crispy strips of bacon, cheese, and two eggs to create a breakfast bomb that’s filled with more than half a day’s worth of sodium and fat. If something savory and protein-filled is what you’re after, consider switching to DD’s bacon, egg, and cheese on an English muffin. With an impressively low amount of sodium and calories and a solid hit of fiber and protein, this is a fast food breakfast sandwich we can get behind!

Eat This! Instead:

Bacon, Egg and Cheese on an English muffin
390 calories, 19 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 800 mg sodium, 37 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 18 g protein

10

Panera Vanilla Roll

Panera vanilla cinnamon roll - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Panera

One roll
620 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 410 mg sodium, 109 g carbs (3 g fiber, 72 g sugar), 8 g protein

This sticky roll will literally stick to your rolls. In fact, this sad excuse for a morning meal has more calories and fat than every single breakfast sandwich Panera offers. Plus, it has 150 percent of your daily value of added sugars, or about what you’d find in a Starbucks Grande Vanilla Frappuccino. If something sweet and nutty is more your taste, though, stick with the almond quinoa oatmeal. It’s a hearty order with a reasonable number of calories and a solid hit of fiber and protein, too.

Eat This! Instead:

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Almonds, Quinoa & Honey
320 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 51 g carbs (8 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 10 g protein

11

Au Bon Pain Eggs, Sausage & Cheddar Bagel

Au Bon Pain Eggs, Sausage and Cheddar Bagel - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Two Eggs, sausage & cheddar on a plain bagel
660 calories, 36 g fat (16 g saturated fat), 1,110 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 35 g protein

Why order a fat, nutrient void bagel sandwich when you can order a thinner, healthier one that’s just as flavorful? By simply moving your egg and sausage over to a smarter carb, you save 160 calories and an impressive 30 grams of carbohydrates without altering the taste of your breakfast. And speaking of carbs done right, check out these 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss!

Eat This! Instead:

Two eggs and sausage on a skinny wheat bagel
450 calories, 29 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 790 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 28 g protein

12

Sonic Ultimate Meat & Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Sonic Ultimate Meat and Cheese Breakfast Burrito - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Breakfast burrito filled with bacon, sausage, tater tots, scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese
840 calories, 58 g fat (19 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,220 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 30 g protein

What does bacon, sausage, tater tots, and cheddar all have in common? They’re all filled with fat and salt, and they’re all part of Sonic’s sad excuse for a breakfast burrito. Paired with eggs—which is arguably the only healthy thing part of the entire concoction—and shoved into a nutrition-void carb blanket, this 800-calorie artery-clogger is better left unordered.

Eat This! Instead:

SuperSONIC breakfast burrito
610 calories, 35 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1,800 mg sodium, 49 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 24 g protein

13

Chick-Fil-A Hash Brown Sausage Scramble Burrito

Chick fil a hash brown scramble burrito - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

Sausage, crispy Hash Browns, scrambled eggs, Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, flour tortilla, Jalapeño Salsa
710 calories, 46 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,400 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 27 g protein

The craziest thing about this breakfast burrito is that you can eat two (two!) of our Eat This! Picks—the Egg White Grill—and still consume 110 fewer calories, 32 fewer grams of fat, and 9 fewer grams of saturated fat while eating nearly double the protein and almost the same amount of sodium. To learn more about better-for-you eats from the chicken baron, check out our report, Chick-Fil-A’s menu ranked by nutrition.

Eat This! Instead:

Egg White Grill
300 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 980 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 25 g protein

14

Starbucks Iced Lemon Loaf Cake

Starbucks lemon pound cake - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america Courtesy of Starbucks

One slice
470 calories, 20 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 310 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (1 g fiber, 42 g sugar), 6 g protein

The classic recipe for a pound cake is one pound each of butter, eggs, flour, and sugar. And they did not skimp on the sugar in this recipe. Having one of the highest sugar counts on this list (and the equivalent of about 15 yellow Starbursts) for a paltry single slice has landed Starbucks’ Iced Lemon Pound Cake a spot on our list. Skip the trans fat-laden lemon pound cake and opt for the Petite Vanilla Scone instead. Both options will satisfy your craving for something sweet, but indulging in the scone instead will save you 350 calories, 15 grams of fat and a whopping 34 grams of sugar! Making this pastry swap just 3 times a week can help you lose 18 pounds over the course of a year. Now that’s what we call having your cake and eating it, too!

Eat This! Instead:

Petite Vanilla Scone
120 calories, 4.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 95 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 2 g protein

15

Carl’s Jr. The Breakfast Burger

Carl's Jr. The Breakfast Burger - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Cheeseburger topped with bacon, egg, hash rounds, and ketchup
730 calories, 43 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,290 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (3 g fiber, 10 g sugars), 37 g protein

Smash a plate of eggs, bacon, and hash browns between two buns and you get a breakfast sandwich that’s nearly three times the calories of an Egg McMuffin. Good going, Carl—not! It’s safe to say that some dishes—like burgers—are better off when they’re left unaltered.

Eat This! Instead:

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit
610 calories, 42 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,380 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugars), 20 g protein

16

Hardee’s Bacon Breakfast Platter

Hardee's Bacon Breakfast Platte - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Biscuit ‘N’ Gravy, one egg, two strips of bacon and hash rounds
760 calories, 45 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,670 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 19 g protein

Hardee’s earns its reputation as one of the most perilous fast-food chains by continuing to sire one crazily caloric burger after the next—and by failing to offer many impressive breakfast options. The bacon breakfast platter lives up to the chain’s reputation, packing in over half a day’s worth of sodium into one little meal. Though it may come as a shock, this is one time opting for a starchy breakfast burrito is actually the better move for your belly. For more simple ways to eat a healthy breakfast, check out these 15 Healthy Breakfast Ideas: 5 Minutes, 5 Ingredients!

Eat This! Instead:

Loaded Breakfast Burrito
580 calories, 30 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 1,320 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (3 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 30 g protein

17

Smoothie King ‘The Hulk’ Strawberry Smoothie

Smoothie King ‘The Hulk’ Strawberry Smoothie - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

40-fl-oz cup: Bananas, strawberries, turbinado sugar, weight gain blend, super grains enhancer, butter pecan ice cream
1,680 calories, 47 g fat (32 g saturated fat), 810 mg sodium, 272 g carbs (67 g fiber, 230 g sugar), 54 g protein

You’ll see that there are 230 grams of sugar, and 154 of those grams are “added sugar.” The USDA recommends that we eat no more than 50 grams of added sugar a day, so this smoothie breaks through that barrier over three times! Plus, liquid calories are absorbed more quickly than solid calories, because the digestion process is quicker. That’s a sugar rush that will send you flying! Not only will switching to Vegan Nutty Super Grain axe 1,160 calories from your order, it also reels in the sugar count to a much more respectable amount (and this one has 0 added sugars). Plus, it has a reasonable amount of vegan protein for a post-workout shake. For even more ways to cut back on the white granular stuff, check out these ways to cut back on sugar!

Eat This! Instead:

Vegan Nutty Super Grain, 20-oz
520 calories, 26 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 61 g carbs (8 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 19 g protein

18

Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Burrito with sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon crumbles, shredded pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese sauce, creamy Sriracha sauce, and a side of fire roasted salsa
1,044 calories, 90 g fat (20 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,131 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (5 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 36 g protein

To put things into perspective, a 150-pound person would have to go on a three-and-a-half hour stroll to burn off this breakfast—and ain’t nobody got time for that! Opt for our Eat This! suggestion instead and you’d only have to walk for two-and-a-half hours to burn it all off. Not great, but definitely an improvement if you’re in desperate need of a breakfast burrito.

Eat This! Instead:

Meat Lovers Breakfast Burrito with salsa
790 calories, 50 g fat (21 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,706 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 39 g protein

19

Burger King Ultimate Breakfast Platter

 Burger King Ultimate Breakfast Platter- worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Scrambled eggs, Hash Browns, sausage, baked biscuit, and 3 pancakes drizzled in sweet syrup
1,170 calories, 65 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,450 mg sodium, 122 g carbs (5 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 27 g protein

There’s no way you ever thought for a second that this meal was a healthy pick, right? The biscuit and sausage alone carry 400 calories and half a day’s salt. Add eggs, pancakes, syrup, “hash rounds”, eggs, and something called a “butter blend” to the mix you wind up with a meal that has more calories than three orders of BK’s medium fries! Although this swap isn’t the healthiest item on the BK menu, it does allow you to have almost all the same items as the breakfast platter but without an extra 26 grams of sugar, or 50 percent of your DV’s worth. Plus, it has an extra 8 grams of protein!

Eat This! Instead:

Egg-Normous Burrito: Sausage, bacon, eggs, cheddar cheese, hash browns, creamy spicy sauce in a flour tortilla
930 calories, 57 g fat (17 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,110 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (6 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 35 g protein

20

McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hotcakes

McDonald's Big Breakfast with Hotcakes - worst and unhealthiest restaurant breakfasts in america

Three hotcakes, one biscuit, two scrambled eggs, one sausage & hashbrowns
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

Buttermilk biscuits, savory hot sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and hotcakes join together to create a meal that might just make it hard for your heart to pump. Somehow Ronald and his pals managed to shove 49 percent of the day’s fat and 65 percent of the day’s saturated fat. Well, your gig is up, clown. We’re comin’ after you and branding this breakfast as an official dietary delinquent. To learn more about the best and worst options at the Golden Arches, check out our official report, McDonald’s menu ranked!

Eat This! Instead:

Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle
550 calories, 32 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 1,290 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (2 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 20 g protein

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Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the new Eat This, Not That! Magazine.