Explainer: 5 meals that are a disaster for your waistline
But this terrifying competition to build the biggest, scariest weapons of mass destruction isn’t happening between the United States and Russia, or on the Korean peninsula, or among angry rivals somewhere in the Middle East. It’s happening between America’s restaurants — every one of them, it seems, is eager to show it has the biggest, scariest, most destructive new food in the marketplace. And the unsuspecting victims of this Strangelovian contest? You and me.
See, even the most well-established restaurant chains can’t rest on their laurels, serving the same old standbys that we’ve loved since we were kids. They have to keep us interested and attracted with shiny new bells and whistles. And since no one has invented, say, a new kind of potato, they’ve got to go with the next best thing: gimmicky entrees with terrifyingly complicated ingredient lists and rapidly expanding serving sizes. It wasn’t enough that pizza makers started putting cheese inside the crust! KFC saw that and ramped up its own destructive powers, by making a sandwich in which the bread is replaced by slabs of fried chicken. Then a few major league ballparks started serving their burgers on doughnuts instead of buns. What’s next: fried Fluffernutter franks?
Almost. Take a look at what’s being whipped up in the labs of the mad fast-food scientists, and be afraid, be very afraid!
Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt with wavy fries and marinara
63 grams fat (21 grams saturated, 1 grams trans fat)
3010 mg sodium
Calorie equivalent: 18 T.G.I. Friday’s Cheddar and Bacon Potato Skins (3 full boxes)
Apparently Denny’s deemed the classic grilled cheese too boring for our novelty-seeking taste buds, so they fixed it by driving four deep-fried mozzarella sticks into the core of the sandwich. So what you have are cheese sticks drowning in melted cheese and stuck between slabs of buttered bread with a pile of fried potatoes on the side. That’s a lot of fat — as much as you should eat in an entire day, in fact. This is part of Denny’s $4 value menu, but although it doesn’t cost much to your wallet, it takes a serious toll on your waist.
Eat this instead: BLT with Hash Browns
47 grams fat (10.5 grams saturated)
1,270 mg sodium
IHOP New York Cheesecake Pancakes
Calorie equivalent: 28 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets
When you eat cheesecake for breakfast, there’s nothing to look forward to the rest of the day. It’s all downhill from there. You’re low on energy, half a pound heavier, and you’ve got the sweet tooth of an 8-year-old on Halloween. Next thing you know IHOP will have a breakfast sundae on its menu. The best breakfast is one with protein and fresh fruit, but if you’re going to go for the carb-heavy indulgence, there’s a better way to do it. Don’t make it a habit, but IHOP’s Chocolate Chip Pancakes will save you 660 calories.
Eat this instead: Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Friendly’s Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt (burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches)
97 g fat (38 grams saturated)
2090 mg sodium
Calorie equivalent: 15 Snickers Kudos Granola Bars
One grilled cheese sandwich on top, one grilled cheese sandwich on bottom. Who comes up with this stuff? It’s just perverse! This is even worse than the “Luther Burger” being served at fairs right now. That one replaces a bun with a sliced doughnut, which is gross to say the least, but it’s still better than this. You can find recipes for this thing online, but you have to search for it by its other name: The Fatty Melt.
Eat this instead: Grilled Cheese
37 grams fat (12 grams saturated)
1,280 mg sodium
Uno Chicago Grill Lobster BLT Thin Crust Pizza
87 grams fat (30 grams saturated)
3,480 mg sodium
Calorie equivalent: 51 Nabisco Ginger Snap Cookies (80% of one box)
Lobster is a perfect food. You don’t have to do anything to it. It’s naturally sweet, lean, and loaded with protein and minerals (zinc and selenium). But, of course, restaurants don’t want to serve anything without putting their signature stamp on it. And that’s what Uno is doing here: Trying to turn a lobster into a pizza — it’s an Italian-American hybrid dish with a seafood twist, like throwing an old Maine fisherman into the cast of “Jersey Shore.” It just doesn’t fit. Plus it contains 75 percent of your day’s calories and a 1 1/2 day’s worth of sodium and saturated.
Eat this instead: Lobster Wrap with side of roasted vegetables
30.5 grams fat (4 grams saturated)
1,660 mg sodium
Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine
97 grams fat (46 grams saturated)
3,910 mg sodium
Calorie equivalent: 148 Whoppers Malted Milk Balls (nearly 2.5 5-ounce boxes)
You might have noticed by now that every item on this table suffers from cheese overload. America has a cheese fetish — and this is a prime example. These cheese-filled meatballs are like beefy water-balloons of fat. You could throw this thing against a wall and it would leave a big splash of melted cheese against the wall. With this new item on Applebee’s menu, I predict that kids will no longer egg houses; they’ll just chuck meatballs instead. Especially problematic here is the fact that these meatballs are served on a bed of fettuccine Alfredo, which is basically noodles basting in oil, butter, and — yes — more cheese! Cut more than a thousand calories by switching dishes. Make a swap like that a couple times a week and you’ll lose about 2½ pounds this month.
Eat this instead: Spicy Shrimp Diavolo
10 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated)
1,910 mg sodium
Bonus tip: Avoid all items on our list of the worst foods in America.
Purchase “Eat This! Not That! Restaurant Guide” today!
10 new top swaps for weight loss
The 50 best summer bodies
Sign up for the Eat This, Not That! newsletter for free nutritional advice
© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.
A mother who sought shelter in a 7-Eleven that collapsed under the force of tornado winds, killing both her and her four-month-old son, are among the victims whose names were released by Oklahoma's chief medical examiner Wednesday.
- 24 dead, 13,000 homes wrecked, $2B in damage
video Jodi Arias sits down with Diana Alvear after her day in court. In this extended interview, she talks about her comments in court and her thoughts of suicide.
- Arias jury to judge: What if we can't reach a decision?