Today’s food marketers have loaded many of their offerings with so much fat, sugar, and sodium that eating any of the foods in this article on a daily basis could destroy all your hard work and best intentions of eating healthy. Beware! This list is brought to you by Eat This Not That and Men’s Health.
1. Worst Meal in America
Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Guacamole Bacon Burger with Medium Natural Cut Fries and 32-oz Coke
1,810 calories – 92 g fat (29.5 g saturated, 2 g trans) – 3,450 mg sodium
Of all the gut-growing, heart-threatening, life-shortening burgers in the drive-thru world, there is none whose damage to your general well-being is as potentially catastrophic as this. A bit of perspective is in order: This meal has the caloric equivalent of 9 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnuts, the saturated fat equivalent of 30 strips of bacon, and the salt equivalent of 10 large orders of McDonald’s French fries!
2. Worst Drink
Baskin-Robbins Large Chocolate Oreo Shake
2,600 calories – 135 g fat (59 g saturated, 2.5 g trans) – 1,700 mg sodium – 263 g sugars
We didn’t think anything could be worse than Baskin-Robbins’ 2008 bombshell, the Heath Bar Shake. After all, it had more sugar (266 grams) than 20 bowls of Froot Loops, more calories (2,310) than 11 actual Heath Bars, and more ingredients (73) than you’ll find in most chemistry sets. Yet the folks at Baskin-Robbins have shown that when it comes to making America fat, they’re always up to the challenge. The large Chocolate Oreo Shake is soiled with more than a day’s worth of calories and 3 days’ worth of saturated fat. Worst of all, it takes less than 10 minutes to sip through a straw.
3. Worst Ribs
Outback Steakhouse Baby Back Ribs
Let’s be honest: Ribs are rarely served alone on a plate. When you add a sweet potato and Outback’s Classic Wedge Salad, this meal is a 3,460-calorie blowout. (Consider that it takes only 3,500 calories to add a pound of fat to your body. Better plan for a very, very long “walkabout” when this meal is over!)
4. Worst Pizza
Uno Chicago Grill Classic Deep Dish Individual Pizza
2,310 calories – 165 g fat (54 g saturated) – 4,920 mg sodium – 120 g carbs
The problem with deep dish pizza (which Uno’s knows a thing or two about, since they 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 and more sodium than you would find in 27 small bags of Lays Potato Chips. Oh, did we mention it has nearly 3 days’ worth of saturated fat, too? The key to success at Uno’s lies in their flatbread pizza.
5. Worst Mexican Dish
Chili’s Fajita Quesadillas Beef with Rice and Beans, 4 Flour Tortillas, and Condiments
2,240 calories – 92 g fat (43.5 g saturated) – 6,390 mg sodium – 253 g carbs
Since when has it ever been a smart idea to combine 2 already calorie- and sodium-packed dishes into one monstrous meal? This confounding creation delivers nearly a dozen Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts worth of calories, the sodium equivalent of 194 saltine crackers, and the saturated fat equivalent of 44 strips of bacon. Check please.
6. Worst Seafood Dish
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Parmesan Crusted Sole
2,190 calories – 141 g fat (58 g saturated) – 2,980 mg sodium – 145 g carbs
Fish is normally a safe bet, but this entrée proves that it’s all in the preparation. If you fry said fish in a shell of cheese, be prepared to pay the consequences. Here that means meeting your daily calorie, fat, saturated fat, and sodium intake in one sitting.
7. Worst Chinese Dish
P.F. Chang’s Combo Lo Mein
1,968 calories – 96 g fat (12 g saturated) – 5,860 mg sodium
Lo mein is normally looked at as a side dish, a harmless pile of noodles to pad your plate of orange chicken or broccoli beef. This heaping portion (to be fair, Chang’s does suggest diners share an order) comes spiked with chicken, shrimp, beef, and pork, not to mention an Exxon Valdez-size slick of oil. The damage? A day’s worth of calories, 1 ½ days’ worth of fat, and 2 ½ days’ worth of sodium. No meat-based dish beats out the strip.
8. Worst Appetizer
On the Border Firecracker Stuffed Jalapenos with Chili con Queso
1,950 calories – 134 g fat (36 g saturated) – 6,540 mg sodium
Appetizers are the most problematic area of most chain-restaurant menus. That’s because they’re disproportionately reliant on the type of cheesy, greasy ingredients that catch hungry diners’ eyes when they’re most vulnerable—right when they sit down. Seek out lean protein options like grilled shrimp skewers or ahi tuna when available; if not, simple is best—like chips and salsa.
9. Worst Burger
Chili’s Smokehouse Bacon Triple Cheese Big Mouth Burger with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
1,901 calories – 138 g fat (47 g saturated) – 4,201 mg sodium
Any burger whose name is 21 syllables long is bound to spell trouble for your waistline. This burger packs almost an entire day’s worth of calories and 2 ½ days’ worth of fat. Chili’s burger menu rivals Ruby Tuesday’s for the worst in America, so you’re better off with one of their reasonable Fajita Pitas to silence your hunger.
10. Worst Sandwich
Quizno’s Large Tuna Melt
1,760 calories – 133 g fat (26 g saturated, 1.5 g trans) – 2,120 mg sodium
In almost all other forms, tuna is a nutritional superstar, so how did it end up as the headliner for America’s Worst Sandwich? Blame an absurdly heavy hand with the mayo the tuna is mixed with, along with Quiznos’ larger-than-life portion sizes. Even though they’ve managed to trim this melt down from the original 2,000-plus calorie mark when we first tested it, it still sits squarely at the bottom of the sandwich ladder.
11. Worst Salad
On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef and Chipotle Honey Mustard
1,700 calories – 124 g fat (37.5 g saturated) – 2,620 mg sodium
The dismal dawn of the 1,700-calorie salad is upon us. With as much saturated fat as 37 strips of bacon and more calories than 11 Taco Bell Fresco Beef Tacos, this abdomen expander earns a well-deserved spot on our list of the Worst Foods in America.
12. Worst Dessert
Romano’s Macaroni Grill New York Cheesecake with Caramel Fudge Sauce
1,660 calories – 97 g fat (57 g saturated) – 950 mg sodium – 165 g carbs
Considering the fact that Macaroni Grill’s savory menu is already cluttered with one of the country’s most potent arrays of calorie, fat, and sodium bombs, its lineup of destructive desserts only adds insult to injury. There’s the Dessert Ravioli (1,630 calories), the Lemon Passion (1,360 calories), and the always classic and catastrophic caramel-smothered cheesecake, which, with more calories than 3 Big Macs and as much saturated fat as 57 strips of bacon, is the worst dessert in America. Seek solace in a scoop of sorbetto—one of the country’s best sit-down sweets
13. Worst Pancake Breakfast
Bob Evans Stacked & Stuffed Caramel Banana Pecan Hotcakes
1,543 calories – 77 g fat (26 g saturated, 9 g trans) – 2,259 mg sodium – 109 g sugars
This appalling platter is stacked and stuffed with the sugar equivalent of 7 Twinkies, the caloric equivalent of 8 Dunkin’ Donuts glazed doughnuts, the sodium equivalent of 6 ½ large order of McDonald’s French fries, and 4 ½ times your daily limit of trans fat. It’s made numerous lists in our newest book, Eat This, Not That! The Best (and Worst!) Foods in America, including Worst Foods, Most Sugar-Packed Foods, and Trans-Fattiest Foods. Above all of these dubious distinctions, it’s the undisputed Worst Breakfast in America.
14. Worst Omelet Breakfast
IHOP’s The Big Steak Omelette
We’re not sure what’s more concerning: IHOP’s never-ending stacks of margarine-slathered sweets or their reckless attempts at covering the savory side of breakfast with entrees like this one. With close to three-quarters of a day’s worth of calories folded into its eggy shell (thanks to a heaping portion of fatty beef), you’re committing to eating rice cakes for your next 2 meals when you start your morning off with this bomblette. Why not enjoy the substantial Garden Scramble and 2 more real meals instead?
15. Worst “Healthy” Sandwich
Applebee’s Chicken Fajita Rollup
For some curious reason, wraps have come to be viewed as a healthy upgrade from sandwiches, as if those massive tortillas can be filled with nothing but anticalories. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem with wraps is that they function as holding tanks for fluids, so hurried fry-cooks can squirt in as much sauce as they want without making it look messy. With Applebee’s rollup, the offending sauce is a Mexi-ranch sauce, which looks suspiciously more like ranch than anything eaten in Mexico. But here’s the final insult: This “healthy” meal is served with fries. Eat them and you tack on 400 extra calories.
16. Worst Sliders
Ruby Tuesday Bacon Cheddar Minis
1,358 calories – 86 g fat – 75 g carbs
Diminutive dishes are one of the hottest trends in the restaurant world right now (probably since most are looking for ways to stretch a buck), and you’d think that would serve health-conscious eaters well. But not under the reckless watch of the burger barons at Ruby Tuesday, who manage to turn 4 “mini” burgers into the caloric equivalent of 7 Dunkin’ Donuts Sugar Donuts.
17. Worst Kids’ Meal
Uno Chicago Grill Kids Kombo with French Fries
1,270 calories – 79 g fat (11.5 g saturated) – 2,850 mg sodium
For food marketers, the color of money isn’t green—it’s beige. Any parent knows that most foods kids clamor for, from fries to white bread to chicken nuggets, come in beige. It’s also a marker of cheap, calorie-rich, nutritionally bankrupt foodstuffs. So when you see this monochromatic cluster of cheese sticks, dinosaur-shaped chicken and fried potatoes, you know your kid’s in trouble. Make it a rule when eating out: All dishes must come with at least two colors (and ketchup doesn’t count).
18. Worst Vegetarian Sub
Blimpie Special Vegetarian Sub (12″)
1,186 calories – 60 g fat (19 g saturated) – 3,532 mg sodium – 131 g carbs
“Vegetarian” doesn’t automatically translate to “healthy.” Sure, this sandwich has vegetables, but it also has 3 different kinds of cheese and a deluge of oil tucked into a hulking 12” roll. No wonder it contains more than half a day’s worth of calories and a cascade of carbs. For a truly healthy pile of vegetables, try the garden salad. If a sandwich is the only thing that will do, you’ll have to settle for the small VeggieMax, still far from a model of meatless eating.
19. Worst Frozen Meal
Stouffer’s White Meat Chicken Pot Pie
1,160 calories – 66 g fat (26 g saturated) – 1,780 mg sodium
The potpie is one of the world’s worst dietary inventions to begin with, and the damage is all the more extreme when the pie seems as big as a child’s head. Stouffer’s tries to get away with it by falling back on the serving-size sleight of hand; that is, to list as 2 servings what every person with a fork will consume as 1. Nobody splits potpies, and eating this whole thing will fill your belly with more saturated fat than you should eat in an entire day.
20. Worst Mall Treat
Cinnabon Regular Caramel Pecanbun
1,110 calories – 56 g fat (10 g saturated, 5 g trans) – 151 g carbs – 47 g sugars
Cinnabon and malls are inseparable. Consider it a symbiotic relationship: Researchers have found that men are turned on by the smell of cinnamon rolls, and further studies have shown that men are more likely to spend money when they’re thinking about sex. But just because Cinnabon might be good for Gap doesn’t mean it’s at all good for you. This dangerously bloated bun contains nearly an entire day’s worth of fat and more than half of your daily allotment of calories. (For those keeping score, that’s as much as you’ll find in 8 White Castle hamburgers.)
21. Worst Breakfast For Your Blood Pressure
Arby’s Sausage Gravy Biscuit
1,040 calories – 60 g fat (22 g saturated, 2 g trans) – 4,699 mg sodium
This is absolutely one of the worst ways you could start your day. Make a date with this and you’ll have consumed 2 full days’ worth of sodium before the noon hour. The key to maintaining a reasonable blood pressure for most folks is to take in at least the equivalent amount of sodium and potassium throughout your day. (A 1:1 ratio is seen as ideal.) The problem with this biscuit is that you’re consuming a heart-stopping level of sodium and almost no potassium. Throw in an abundance of calories and trans fat and you may have been better off sleeping in.
22. Worst Adult Beverage
Red Lobster Traditional Lobsterita
890 calories 183 g carbs
Lobsterita means a lobster tank-sized glass filled with booze and high-fructose corn syrup. You’d have to drink 4 regular on-the-rocks margaritas to outdo the massive caloric load. Pair that with a dinner and you might be pushing a full day’s calories in one meal. If you want to get drunk, take a shot. If you want to enjoy a cocktail, make sure it doesn’t start with a bottle of mix—your body and your taste buds will thank you.
23. Worst Frozen Breakfast
Jimmy Dean Pancake and Sausage Breakfast Bowl
710 calories – 31 g fat (11 g saturated) – 890 mg sodium – 34 g sugars
A disastrous trifecta of refined carbs from the pancakes, saturated fat from the sausage, and added sugar from the syrup. Jimmy’s got his name attached to more than a few solid breakfast choices, so find one less than 400 calories immediately and make the switch. Hint: Look to the breakfast sandwiches and the D-Lights line.
24. Worst Frozen Pizza
DiGiorno for One Supreme pizza with Garlic Bread Crust
840 calories 44 g fat (16 g saturated, 3.5 g trans) 1,450 mg sodium
Regardless of the crust you choose, DiGiorno’s For One line is dominated by nutritional duds. The bloated crust and the greasy toppings will saddle you with 60 percent of your day’s sodium, 80 percent of your day’s saturated fat, and nearly twice the amount of trans fat you should take in daily. Hands off!
25. Worst Side Dish For Your Arteries
Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges
760 calories – 52 g fat (16 g saturated, 13 g trans) – 960 mg sodium
It’s no surprise this side dish is bursting with fat and calories—it’s a plate of fried potatoes topped with bacon and melted cheese. The Jack in the Box menu is so thoroughly swaddled in trans fats that they truly have earned the bottom slot on our list of the trans-fattiest foods in America—not to mention, the title of Trans-Fattiest Restaurant in America. The good news is that not all of Jack’s items are filled with the bad stuff—a smarter appetizer or side dish would be the Grilled Chicken Pita Snack.
26. Worst Supermarket Kids’ Lunch
Oscar Mayer Maxed Out Turkey & Cheddar Cracker Combo Lunchables
680 calories – 22 g fat (9 g saturated) – 1,440 mg sodium – 61 g sugars
The Maxed Out line is the worst of the lackluster Lunchables, with a back label that reads like a chemistry textbook. By cramming dessert and a superweet drink into the box, Oscar manages to saddle this already-troubled package with more added sugar than your child should take in all day. This meal has the sugar equivalent of 10 Dunkin’ Donuts jelly-filled doughnuts!
27. Worst Gas Station Treat
Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pie
520 calories – 24 g fat (14 g saturated, 1.5 g trans) – 45 g sugars
This is the type of snack you pick up at a gas station in a pinch and feel vaguely guilty about, not knowing that you just managed to ingest nearly three-quarters of a day’s worth of saturated fat before your tank finishing filling up. And considering these little packages of doom cost a buck or less across the country, the pudding pie qualifies as one of the cheapest sources of empty calories in America.
28. Worst Supermarket Drink
Sobe Pina Colada Liz Blizz (20 oz bottle)
325 calories – 0 g fat – 78 g sugars
Don’t be fooled by the natural motifs that adorn Sobe’s bottles. It has more sugar than you’ll find in two Snickers bars! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Don’t buy products with cartoon animals on the front.
29. Worst Snack For Your Arteries
Pop Secret Kettle Corn (1/3 bag)
180 calories – 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated, 5 g trans) – 150 mg sodium
The only “secret” here is that the company has no qualms about trans fat. Eat an entire bag of this kettle corn, and you’ll consume 15 grams of the artery-clogging junk—that’s more than 7 times your recommended daily limit. Choose Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter for fewer calories and no trans fat.
30. Worst Canned Fruit
Del Monte Peach Chunks Yellow Cling Peaches in Heavy Syrup
100 calories – 23 g sugars
Peaches themselves aren’t bona fide junk food; they are, after all, still fruit. But why manufacturers feel the need to can, packaged, and bottle nature’s candy with excess sugar is a question we will never stop asking. In this case, the viscous sugar solution clings to the fruit like syrup to a pancake, soaking every bite with utterly unnecessary calories. Looking for cheap sources of fruit to have on hand at any time? Opt for the frozen stuff—it’s picked at the height of season and flash frozen on the spot, keeping costs low and nutrients high.