When it comes to eating out, America has no shortage of unhealthy options. While many of the artery-clogging, calorie-packing, and waist-expanding choices are obvious, other fast food items are deceptively deleterious. And although some can be enjoyed on occasion, most you’re better off avoiding—for good.
Worst Caffeinated Calories: Grande Starbucks Mint Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino® Blended Crème with Chocolate Whipped Cream and 2% Milk
Nutritional info: 530 calories, 19g fat (11g saturated fat), 320mg sodium, 84g carbohydrates
Whether the drink is a special treat after a stressful day at work or a part of your everyday diet, the calories in all Starbucks beverages beyond black coffee can add up. Even if you get the Mint Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino in the tall size with nonfat milk and no whipped cream (which, let’s be real, you’re probably not going to do), the drink’s calorie count isn’t going to drop below 320.
A better bet: Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino® blended coffee, without whipped cream, only has 270 calories.
Worst Catastrophe in Cheese: Burger King’s Triple Whopper with Cheese
Nutritional info: 1230 calories, 82g fat (32g saturated fat, 3.5g trans fat), 1590mg sodium
You knew when you ordered a Whopper that it wasn’t going to be health food, but eighty-two grams of fat and quadruple-digit calories? Really?
A better bet: A single Whopper without cheese or mayo still has 510 calories—split it with a friend.
Most Disastrous Dessert: PF Chang’s Great Wall of Chocolate
Nutritional info: 1,440 calories, 61g fat (20g saturated fat), 1,120mg sodium
A massive chocolate-cake fortress probably wouldn’t be very helpful in protecting China from marauding Huns. Your stomach won’t be safe either if you consume this over-the-top dessert (unless you’re splitting it between a family of five).
A better bet: The “mini great wall” only has 170 calories and 9g fat, a much more reasonable dessert for one person. Photo: mightykenny (cc)
Worst “Salad”: Chevys’ Tostada Salad with Chicken
1551 calories, 94g fat, 2480mg sodium
Don’t let the word “salad” mislead you; this abomination can only be described as a pile of fatty, faux-Mexican shame. Even without tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, or guacamole (one wonders what’s left), this “salad” weighs in at 883 calories and 42g fat.
A better bet: Most Chevys meal items have fewer calories than this salad.
Worst “Salad” Runner-Up: Taco Bell’s Chicken Ranch Fully Loaded Taco Salad
Nutritional info: 960 calories, 57g fat (10g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat), 1740mg sodium, 78g carbohydrates
Even though its calorie count isn’t as despicable as that of Chevys’ aforementioned disaster, this dressing-drenched meal item still doesn’t deserve a place in the “salad” family.
A better bet: Items from Taco Bell’s “Fresco Menu” are meal-sized and contain 340 calories or less.
Least Appetizing Appetizer: Chili’s Onion String & Crispy Jalapeno Stack with Jalapeno Ranch
Nutritional info: 2130 calories, 213g fat (31g saturated fat), 34g carbohydrates, 1320mg sodium
That Chili’s manages to make onions and jalapenos add up to a gut-busting 2,130 calories is impressive. That anyone would order this freak of nature as an appetizer and then devour whatever Chili’s considers a full meal is downright scary.
A better bet: Don’t get an appetizer from Chili’s. The lowest-calorie appetizer is the Triple Dipper Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip w/ Chips, which contains 460 calories and 38g fat (maybe it’s less if you dip once rather than thrice).
Worst Beverage: One KFC-Sized Serving of Wild Cherry Pepsi
Nutritional info: 800 calories, 0g fat, 160mg sodium, 224g carbohydrates (Serving size: 64 fluid ounces)
Why anyone would want—let alone order—sixty-four ounces of intolerably sweet soda is beyond me, but seeing as that’s the serving that KFC offers customers who order Pepsi Wild Cherry, some people must. I pity anyone who orders this to complement their meal—at 800 calories, this drink is at least two meals in itself. Honestly, you’d be better off with the Frappuccino.
A better bet: Drink a 12-ounce can of Pepsi Wild Cherry like a normal person. Photo: Frank Boisvert (cc)
Worst Snack-Food Offender: T.J. Cinnamons Pecan Sticky Bun 4Pack
Nutrition info: 2751 calories. 90g total fat (21g saturated fat), 1678mg sodium, 363g total carbohydrates
Hopefully, no one sits down and eats the entire 4Pack of cinnamon buns alone. Still, just one sticky bun contains 688 calories, and it’s not likely that a 4pack ever sits around unfinished for more than a week in anyone’s home (T.J. Cinnamons’ slogan, “You’re Allowed,” doesn’t make resistance any easier).
A better bet: Choose a T.J. Cinnamons Cinnamon Twist for 260 calories (just lay off the 117 calorie cream cheese icing that comes with it).
Worst Thing Ever Invented: Domino’s Chicken Carbonara Pasta Bread Bowl
Nutritional info per serving (bowl contains two servings): 740 calories, 35g fat (12g saturated fat and 0.5g trans fat), 1140mg sodium, 94g carbohydrates
Ew! Ew! Why would they do that??
A better bet: Make pasta and put it in a bread bowl. Or, even better, make pasta and put it in a regular bowl. Photo: jasonlam (cc)
Worst Breakfast Offender: Arby’s Sausage Gravy Biscuit
Nutrition info: 1040 calories, 60g total fat (22g saturated fat, 2g trans fat), 4700mg sodium, 107g carbohydrates
Gravy never seems to be good news in terms of reasonable meals. This seemingly small and innocuous breakfast item is one of the most caloric items on Arby’s menu (second only to the T.J. Cinnamons Pecan Stick Bun 4Packs!).
A better bet: Order the biscuit without gravy and cut out 709 calories.
Even the most innocent-seeming snacks, salads, and drinks you consume when dining out can contain shocking amounts of fat, sodium, and other nasty surprises. Before eating at any fast food chain, you might want to consider checking a nutritional pamphlet (most chains have them) to spot the silent killers. Who knows? It might save you a heart attack, or at least a clothing size.