30 Worst Foods in America
Every year, in the minefield that is the American food scene, there are new and utterly inventive booby traps created. And this year, the calorie bombs are among the most dangerous we've ever seen. We've uncovered the worst of the lot (a few of which have held their respective crowns for consecutive years) that are in restaurants and grocery stores near you. Next time you're out food shopping or on a dinner date, make sure to steer clear of these worst foods to eat to avoid gaining weight.
Worst Foods to Eat in the Grocery Store
If your aim is to lose belly fat, consider all of these supermarket villains your very worst enemies…
The Worst Soda
Nutrition, 16 fl oz: 240 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 45 mg sodium, 65 g carbs, 65 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Don't get us wrong; pretty much all sodas are a no-go if you want to maintain a clean diet or lose weight—but this purple carbonated calorie bomb is hands down the worst of the lot. Liquify a bag of Skittles and you'd still have to add 6 grams of sugar to equal the sweetness of this can of corn syrup, citric acid, and artificial colors. In fact, that bag of Skittles has the exact same ingredients, including Red 40, which Canadian researchers found to be contaminated with known carcinogens. Even without its unsettling origin story—the Coca-Cola company created Fanta to profit in Germany when Nazis forbid the importation of USA-made Coke—this would still be the absolute worst soda in America.
Drink This Instead: Any of these drinks that make it easy to quit soda make for healthy alternatives.
The Worst Jarred Pasta Sauce
Ragu Chunky Tomato, Garlic & Onion
Nutrition, 1/2 cup: 90 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 460 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 2 g protein
Despite conventional wisdom, pasta isn't all that bad—it's the processed American pasta sauces loaded with excess calories, mounds of salt, and buckets of added sugar that deem your plate of carby heaven some of the worst foods to eat. Among the worst on the supermarket shelf? Ragu Chunky Tomato, Garlic & Onion. A glance at the name gives you an idea of how you'll look after spooning this sauce over your pasta: chunky. Full of more sugar than a bowl of Froot Loops cereal and fats entirely from likely pesticide-laden soybean oil, this pick is definitely a Not That!
Eat This Instead: Cucina Antica Tomato Basil (Buy It Now!)
Nutrition, 1/2 cup: 35 calories, 1.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 240 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
The Worst Frozen Nugget
Fast Fixin' Chicken Nuggets
Nutrition, 4 pc, 75 g: 180 calories, 11 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 510 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein
You can dig up nuggets of information, gather nuggets of wisdom, even pan for nuggets of gold. But good luck finding a nugget of chicken in these. Most of what you'll find in the grocery stores are actually nuggets of bread, preservatives, and flavorings, with shredded, crushed, and extruded bits of poultry mixed in. Appetizing, we know. Fast Fixin', the brand with the most calories, fat, and sodium per gram and the creepiest list of ingredients, claims they have a new and improved recipe, which really makes us wonder what was in the last batch. Made with added fat, three kinds of sugar, and caramel coloring (an additive typically found in soda that's a possible carcinogen for humans), this is one chicken nugget you should leave in the freezer section.
Eat This Instead: Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets (Buy It Now!)
Nutrition, 7 pc, 88 g: 180 calories, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 210 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 12 g protein
Worst Gluten-Free Food
Udi's Natural Artisan Granola
Nutrition, 1 cup: 520 calories 20g fat, 2g saturated fat, 8g fiber 20g sugars 12g protein
At first glance, Udi's seems like that rare exception: a gluten-free cereal that's actually good for you. That's because the package lists 130 calories and just 5 grams of sugar per serving. But look closer, and you see a serving is a mere ¼ cup—barely enough to cover the bottom of your cereal bowl. Four times that amount is what a typical cereal serving would be—and now you're eating almost as many calories as a Big Mac before you even pour in the milk. When it comes to breakfast, this is one of the worst a.m. foods to eat out there, whether you're avoiding gluten or not.
Eat This Instead: Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax with Chia Cereal
Nutrition, 1 cup: 270 calories 5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber 4 g sugars 9 g protein
Worst Frozen Pizza
Digiorno Small-Sized Four-Cheese Traditional Crust
Nutrition, 1 pizza: 710 calories, 29 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 1,190 mg sodium, 88 g carbs (4 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 25 g protein
If Digiorno is going to market a pizza as being "personal sized," you can't fault us for providing nutritional information for the whole pie. Even though they deceptively call the serving size half a pie, anything that's dubbed an individual pie is bound is get ravaged solo. (It's one of the reasons they're on our list of sneaky foods with bogus serving sizes.) If you're not into sharing your slices, the better option, hands down, is Amy's. Not only does it have a fraction of the calories, it's relatively low in sodium for a frozen dish, too.
Eat This Instead: Amy's Light & Lean Cheese Pizza
Nutrition, 1 pizza: 270 calories, 6 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 480 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 14 g protein
Nutrition, 3 oz: 82 calories, 1.96 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 45 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14.9 g protein
Tilefish has the highest mercury level among all varieties of fish, with 883 parts of mercury per billion, on average. And those you find from the Gulf of Mexico? Mercury levels can reach up to 1,445 parts per billion! That's 45 percent higher than the USDA-allowed maximum. Atlantic mackerel is a far safer choice. Listed on Seafood Watch's "Super Green List," this fish is a triple threat: it's low in mercury, provides almost eight times the recommended intake of omega-3 (a type of healthy fat), and is classified as a "Best Choice" in terms of sustainability. Just watch out for canned mackerel, which can have mercury levels up to 586 parts per billion.
Eat This Instead: Atlantic Mackerel
Nutrition, 3 oz: 174 calories, 11.8 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat, 76 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 15.8 g protein
Worst Peanut Butter
Peter Pan Creamy Original
Nutrition, 2 Tbsp: 210 calories, 17 g fat (3 g saturated fat,) 140 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 8 g protein
Four oils, sugar, and salt compete for space in what should be a jar of blended nuts. And if you can even believe it, one serving has more fat and sodium than a small order of French fries from McDonald's. If Peter Pan had eaten this, he'd be too fat to fly. Instead, turn to Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter Creamy, which is made of nothing more than peanuts and salt. Even better: Compared to some artisanal brands, Smucker's is fairly affordable.
Eat This Instead: Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter Creamy (Buy It Now!)
Nutrition, 2 Tbsp: 200 calories, 16 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 105 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 8 g protein
Nutrition, 1 cup: 133 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 53 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 20 g sugars, 2.7 g protein
Sugar. It's what turns a pile of musty grapes into a fine cabernet or a bitter cacao bean into an exquisite chocolate truffle. It's also what turns a healthy breakfast into an energy-sapping, bathroom-scale-tipping, nutritional disaster. And chances are pretty good that your breakfast cereal has a lot more of it than you think. With 60 percent of its calories coming from sugar, Honey Smacks is easily one of the worst ways to start your day. Although it's lower in sodium than most other cereal options in the grocery store, it contains the worst foods to eat: hydrogenated oils, plus appetite-increasing soy lecithin and BHT. With less than 2 grams of fiber, these sweet wheat puffs are the equivalent of kissing a frog.
Eat This Instead: Post Shredded Wheat Spoon Size Wheat 'n Bran (Buy It Now!)
Nutrition, 1 cup: 168 calories, 1.2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 37.6 g carbs, 6.4 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 5.6 g protein
Gardetto's Special Request Roasted Garlic Rye Chips
Nutrition, 1⁄2 cup: 170 calories, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fats, 320 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber
Gardetto extracts the worst part of its original snack mix and tries to serve it as a gourmet treat—a sneaky move that might have serious repercussions for even casual munchers. Each single serving exceeds the amount of trans fat deemed safe to consume daily by the American Heart Association. Stick to Lay's lightened up chips to crunch without fear of clogging your arteries and expanding your waistline. They're baked, not fried, so they have 65 percent less fat than regular potato chips.
Eat This Instead: Lay's Oven Baked Original Potato Crisps (Buy It Now!)
Nutrition, 1 oz, about 18 chips: 120 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 g trans fat, 135 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 2 g protein
Kraft Cheez Whiz Original Cheese Dip
Nutrition, 2 Tbsp: 91 calories, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 541 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 3 g protein
The calorie count here doesn't look so high, but that's because the serving size is so small. (Two tablespoons will only be enough for, like, five chips—and when have you ever stopped there?) That means these empty calories add up quickly, as does that shocking sodium number. There are too many great dips (salsa, guac, hummus) to rely on the Whiz for flavor. So what should you sink your healthy chips into instead? Try Wholly Guacamole. It is what it says it is: real food, with no added oils, starches, and artificial colors. Plus, avocados pack in healthy monounsaturated fats that contain hunger-quelling oleic acid. That means this snack will actually do what afternoon snacks are intended to do: keep you full and focused until dinnertime.
Eat This Instead: Wholly Guacamole, 100-calorie pack
Nutrition, 1 mini cup: 100 calories, 9 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 200 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar 1 g protein
Worst Health Food Fraud
Sambazon Acai Chocolate & Chocolate Chip Creamy Sorbet
Nutrition, ½ cup: 230 calories, 4.5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 40 mg sodium, 44 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 32 g sugar, 2 g protein
Known as a powerful anti-inflammatory and source of protective antioxidants and heart-healthy omega-3s, the acai berry certainly carries a health halo. However, most Americans aren't just popping the raw fruit into their mouths. They're consuming it in juice, powder, and snack food form, which almost always means they're also getting a dose of other ingredients their bodies don't need. This acai sorbet is no exception. It contains four types of sugar and carries more calories in a half-cup serving than an equal serving of Breyers Black Raspberry Chocolate—and double the amount of the sweet stuff. Don't let the word "acai" fool you; this isn't a good-for-you pick.
Eat This Instead: Breyers Black Raspberry Chocolate
Nutrition, ½ cup: 140, 4 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, <1g fiber, 1 g protein
Matador Original Beef Jerky
Nutrition: 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 670 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 11 g protein
This Matador certainly raises some red flags (pun intended). For starters, it has nearly 700 milligrams of blood-pressure-raising sodium per serving, which is more than four times what you'd find in the same serving size of chips. It's also one of the only brands that uses appetite-revving MSG and not much else to flavor it besides smoke flavoring and sugar.
Eat This Instead: Brooklyn Biltong
Nutrition: 70 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 12 g protein
Worst Instant Oatmeal
BetterOats Oat Revolution! Maple & Brown Sugar
Nutrition: 160 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (3 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 4 g protein
Maple & Brown Sugar is a classic flavor combo, but that's, unfortunately, all it is — a flavor. BetterOats Oat Revolution uses natural and artificial flavor, as well as caramel color, to trick your palate into thinking you're eating the real thing. And while there is real maple syrup used — it's listed as the last ingredient, meaning there's not much in there. Also interesting, they don't even use brown sugar, just regular sugar. On the other hand, Nature's Path is flavored with good old fashioned maple sugar, and the addition of pecans adds some healthy fats and extra protein to help you put a muzzle on your ravaging hunger pangs.
Eat This Instead: Nature's Path Organic Maple Nut Hot Oatmeal
Nutrition: 210 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (4 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 5 g protein
Sabra Classic Hummus
Nutrition (per 2 Tbsp): 70 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
Sabra is one of the most well-known hummus brands out there, but that doesn't mean it's the best for you! Sabra hits the trifecta when it comes to hummus no-no's: it's high in sodium, high in fat (the inflammatory kind from vegetable oils, not chickpeas), and it is rife with artificial ingredients — including our arch nemesis, potassium sorbate. This preservative has been linked to migraines and stomach issues, and it's been deemed genotoxic, according to a recent study published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro.
Eat This Instead: Blue Moose Of Boulder Hummus
Nutrition (per 2 Tbsp serving): 60 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein
Dannon Light & Fit Carb & Sugar Control, Vanilla Cream
Nutrition (per 4 oz serving): 45 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 25 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 5 g protein
Dannon might be marketing this container as yogurt, but it's far from it. The first ingredient is water, and although some of it is milk, the flavor and appearance of yogurt comes from milk protein concentrate, starches, gelatin, and caramel coloring.
Eat This Instead: siggi's Vanilla Skyr, 0%
Nutrition (per 5.3 oz serving): 100 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (0 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 14 g protein
The Worst Foods to Eat at Popular Restaurants
These restaurant felons will crush your weight loss dreams.
Worst Fast Food Pastry
Nutrition, 1 pastry: 1,080 calories, 51 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 950 mg sodium, 146 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 75 g sugar, 14 g protein
The cinnamon bun is an inherently unscrupulous pastry—there's just no way to slather big blobs of dough with butter and frosting and end up with a sensible treat—but this caramel catastrophe from Cinnabon is just plain inexcusable. Here, Cinnabon, that peddler of so much dietary mischief, takes its classic bun—which already packs an astounding 880 calories—and defiles it with a dousing of caramel syrup and a pile of pecans. This type of shameless excess results in a day's saturated fat, half a day's calories, and nearly 20 teaspoons of sugar. Save your own buns and indulge elsewhere.
Eat This Instead: Classic Bites
Nutrition, 4 bites: 420 calories, 16 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 380 mg sodium, 63 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 32 g sugar, 5 g protein
Worst Classic Fast Food French Fries
Arby's Curly Fries
Nutrition, medium): 550 calories, 29 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 1,250 mg sodium, 65 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 6 g protein
Arby's says their fries are "curly and fried to perfection," but that's not a good enough reason to indulge. Like many of the other "Not That" fries we've exposed in previous years, they're extremely high in fat. However, these trans-fat-laced potatoes pack more calories per gram than any other classic cuts on the fast food circuit. A better bet at the chain: the 2-piece Potato Cakes. Ordering them over this nutritional monstrosity will ax trans fat from your plate and save you over 300 calories and 820 milligrams of salt.
Eat This Instead: Arby's Potato Cakes
Nutrition, 2 pieces: 250 calories, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 430 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
Worst Sit-Down Pizza
Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Individual Pizza
Nutrition: 2,300 calories, 164 g fat, 53 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 4,910 mg sodium, 119 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 99 g protein
The problem with deep dish pizza (which Uno's invented it back in 1943) is not just the extra empty calories and carbs from the crust. It's that the thick doughy base provides the structural integrity to house extra heaps of cheese, sauce, and greasy toppings. The result is an individual pizza with more calories than you should eat in a day. Oh, did we mention it has nearly three days' worth of saturated fat, too? The key to (relative) success at Uno's lies in their flatbread pies. (So long as you share them!)
Eat This Instead: Cheese and Tomato Flatbread Pizza
Nutrition, 1⁄2 pizza: 490 calories, 23.5 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 1,290 mg sodium, 48 g carbohydrates, 2 f fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 29.5 protein
Worst Sit Down Burger
Chili's Southern Smokehouse Bacon Burger
Nutrition, burger with fries: 1,400 calories, 84 g fat, 28 g saturated fat, 2 g saturated fat, 3,780 mg sodium, 105 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 25 g sugar, 64 g protein
A typical burger at Chili's will cost you a cool 1,000 calories—without fries!—and with this ground-beef bomb, the chain pulls out all the gut-busting stops: cheese, bacon, fried onions, barbecue sauce, and mayo. This blatant display of excess translates into a sandwich with nearly as many calories as 2.5 Big Macs and far more than your recommended daily allotment of salt. There's only one way to safely get your meat fix at Chili's: Order a steak and pair it with respectable sides—and a tall glass of water (or three!). Everything there is packed with bloat-inducing salt.
Eat This Instead: 6 oz Classic Sirloin with Broccoli and Quinoa & Wheat Berry Blend
Nutrition, 550 calories, 22.5 g fat, 7.5 g saturated fat, 1,320 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 40 g protein
Quiznos Chicken Carbonara
Nutrition, 12": 1,360 calories, 70 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat, 3,340 mg sodium, 103 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 83 g protein
Carbonara is code for cream, cream, and more cream. Grilled chicken is usually a safe sandwich stuffer, but a smothering of Parmesan Alfredo sauce—along with the fatty one-two punch of bacon and cheese—makes for a chicken sub with more than a day's allotment of saturated fat. A 160-pound person would have to go on a three-hour hike just to burn off this sandwich's calorie load. There are much smarter ways to spend your lunch money. The basil pesto turkey flatbread (turkey, mozzarella, Italian cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, basil pesto), for example, delivers hints of Italian flavor (like the carbonara) without serving up dangerous trans fats nor nearly an entire day's calories. The winner here is clear.
Eat This Instead: Basil Pesto Turkey Flatbread
Nutrition: 350 calories, 15 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 1,070 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 21 g protein
California Pizza Kitchen Full Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad
Nutrition: 1,500 calories, 99 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1,380 g sodium, 80 g carbs, 27 g fiber, 80 g sugar, 43 g protein
We're pretty sure Morocco would be annoyed to learn their top spice, according to CPK, is sugar. If you wouldn't shove four Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes into your mouth in one sitting, then you'd best steer clear of this super-sweet salad! To cut out 68 grams of sugar and nearly 1,000 calories, get the chain's half-size Roast Veggie and Grilled Chicken salad, instead. Ask for the dressing on the side, and only use a few spoonfuls to ensure you're keeping calories and fat under lock.
Eat This Instead: Quinoa and Arugula Salad
Nutrition: 590 calories, 36 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 730 mg sodium, 58 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 17 protein
Baskin-Robbins Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Milkshake
Nutrition, large: 1,590 calories, 72 g fat, 46 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat, 730 mg sodium, 205 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 165 g sugar, 30 g protein
We're thankful that Baskin ditched the 2,310-calorie Heath Bar Shake that used to haunt our every waking moment, but there are still more than a few nutritional nightmares to be found on its menu. Even an average small shake at the chain houses 16 teaspoons of sugar! Order a large cookie dough and you'll gulp down more than two days' worth of saturated fat, 56 Chips Ahoy! cookies' worth of sugar, and enough calories to add half a pound to your gut. A word of caution: When you can drink your dessert, you're asking for trouble.
Eat This Instead: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Nutrition, 1 large scoop: 280 calories, 15 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 120 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 24 g sugars, 5 g protein
Worst Fish Dish
Applebee's Hand-Battered Fish and Chips
Nutrition: 1,530 calories, 102 g fat, 17 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 1,980 mg sodium, 108 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 45 g protein
Whenever your dinner is monochromatic (in this case, the off-brown hue of deep-fried junk), you know you've made a bad decision. Don't blame the fish—seafood is packed with lean, muscle-building protein and heart-healthy fats. No, the trouble here lies within 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. Plus, trans fats? Really? That's so 2005! When it comes to seafood, always abandon ship on fried fish and opt for grilled instead.
Eat This Instead: Cedar Salmon with Maple Mustard Glaze
Nutrition: 540 calories, 32 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 1,730 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 38 g protein
Worst Egg Dish
Cheesecake Factory Vegetable Benedict
Nutrition: 1,850 calories, N/A fat, 63 g saturated fat, 2,395 mg sodium, 91 g carbs, N/A fiber, N/A sugar, N/A protein
Clocking in at 2,780 calories, the Cheesecake Factory's bruleéd French toast is by far one of the worst breakfast picks on the planet—and though it may not look as villainous, this poached-egg dish isn't much better. Not only does it fool unassuming customers into believing it's a healthy dish, it has nearly an entire day's worth of calories and salt. Our advice? Skip this meal and ask for a couple scrambled eggs (cooked dry!) with some fruit. Honestly, there isn't a legit menu item from the Factory that is a safe bet for your belly, so when it comes to breakfast, stay home and make one of these healthy egg recipes instead.
Eat This Instead: Two scrambled eggs with fruit
Worst French Fry Platter
Steak 'n Shake Chili Cheese Fries
Nutrition: large 1,170 calories 67 g fat, 22 g saturated, 3.5 g trans) 2,150 mg sodium, 117 g carbs, 14 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 26 g protein
Here's the most distressing dietary fact we know: French fries are the most consumed "vegetable" in America. They also happen to be one of the most dubious caloric investments in the nutrition world. They're bad enough on their own, but when doused with trans-fatty processed cheese and loaded with greasy ground beef, they become a side dish so twisted it'll make a burger blush. In fact, you could scarf three Steakburgers with cheese and still take in fewer calories than you would with these spuds.
Eat This Instead: Bacon Cheese Fries
Nutrition, small: 360 calories 20 g fat, 6 g saturated, 1.5 g trans, 710 mg sodium, 37 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 7 protein*
Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion
Nutrition: 1,954 calories,155 g fat, 56 g saturated fat, 7.35 g trans fat, 3,841 mg sodium, 122 g carbs, 14 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 18 g protein
According to Outback's Web site, its signature starter is "hand-carved by a dedicated bloomologist." We have no idea what that means, but let's go ahead andconsider bloomology the science of diet destruction. This bouquet of batter-dipped produce is the caloric equivalent of eating an entire medium Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza—before your dinner! What's more, it also delivers two days' worth of cholesterol-boosting trans fats and enough sodium to keep your cardiologist up at night.
Eat This Instead: Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie
Nutrition: 582 calories, 13 g saturated fat, 0.25 g trans fat, 1,570 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 2.6 g sugar, 34.4 g protein
The Worst Fast Food Nugget
Popeyes Handcrafted Mild Tenders
*Nutrition, 3 pc: 340 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 1,350 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 27 g protein
Worse than Popeyes' laundry list of ingredients, these nuggets contain a gram of trans fat—the man-made fat that has been banned by the FDA because of its ties to heart disease, weight gain, and stroke. Not only can it wreak havoc on your weight loss plan, but solid trans fats can also clog arteries, including those in your brain, impairing cognitive function and memory. If crispy chicken is what you crave, we suggest ordering the chain's loaded chicken wrap instead. It delivers the taste you want without the dangerous trans fat and has far less sodium.
Eat This Instead: Popeyes Loaded Chicken Wrap
Nutrition: 310 calories, 13 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 890 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14 g protein
The Worst Fast Food Oatmeal
Dunkin' Donuts Brown Sugar Flavored Oatmeal
Nutrition: 300 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 470 mg sodium, 61 g carb, 6 g fiber, 28 g sugar, 7 g protein
Unless you're loading up your oatmeal with a variety of healthy toppings, you should be able to list the ingredients on one hand: oats, water, fruit, and brown sugar (if you like a sweetener). You can imagine our surprise—and horror—when we dug up the nutrition information for Dunkin' Oatmeal and found 24 ingredients! Oh, and guess what? It's not from healthy stuff like fruit! The name says it all: brown sugar "flavored" oatmeal. Along with the alarmingly high carb and sugar content, Dunkin' Donuts Brown Sugar Flavored Oatmeal is packed with additives like calcium carbonate, thiamin mononitrate, and sulfur dioxide to create a brown sugar "flavored" oatmeal that actually has no brown sugar at all. The point of eating oatmeal is to eat a nourishing, nutritious breakfast made of whole foods, and this is anything but that. Next time you find yourself at Dunkin' in need of a decent morning meal, opt for a breakfast sandwich instead. Sure, it still has some weird ingredients (as pretty much all fast food does) but the sugar count is far more reasonable and it provides satiating protein for sustained a.m. energy.
Eat This Instead: Egg White Flatbread
Nutrition: 320 calories, 13 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 610 mg sodium, 33 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein
The Worst Fast Food Burger
Hardee's and Carl's Jr. 1/2-Pound Thickburger El Diablo
Nutrition: 1,290 calories, 85 g fat, 32 g saturated fat, 2,790 mg sodium, 80 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 50 g protein
Hardee's and Carl's Jr. take misplaced pride in their shamelessly caloric approach to everything they put under a heat lamp, which is probably reason enough for some to find another place to eat. Need more motivation? This burger is named after The Devil! Many of their offerings break the perilous 1,000-calorie barrier, and this bun-buster has nearly 75 percent of your entire day's calories and as much fat as a dozen Taco Bell soft beef tacos. By ditching the bun and some of the fixings, the chain's Low Carb Thickburger lets you eat your burger without packing tons of stomach fat onto your frame.
Eat This Instead: 1/3-Pound Low Carb Thickburger
440 calories, 35 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 1,180 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 25 g protein
Worst Fast Food Pizza Slice
Sbarro Stuffed Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza
Nutrition, 1 slice: 810 calories, 40 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 2,180 mg sodium, 73 g carbs, 3 g fiber, N/A sugar, 36 g protein
Want to hear something horrifying? This slice has more fat than 10 slices of pan-fried bacon—and when you take a close look at this thing, it's easy to see why. Its architecture makes it less like a slice of pizza and more like a pizza-inspired burrito. It relies on an oversize shell of oily bread to hold together a gooey wad of cheese, sausage, and pepperoni. The net result is a pizza pocket with more than a day's worth of sodium. And the traditional pizza slices at Sbarro aren't much better; few fall below 600 calories. If you want to maintain your flat belly, think thin crust with nothing on top but veggies. (They've dubbed their version of this "The Skinny Slice.")
Eat This Instead: Sbarro Skinny Slice
Nutrition, 1 slice 270 calories, 8 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 720 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 1 g fiber, N/A sugar, 10 g protein