Eat This, Not That: Worst fast-food breakfasts

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By TODAY Health

by Dave Zinczenko

Men's Health

Countless studies have shown that eating a daily breakfast is your best strategy for losing weight fast, so thankfully Americans are doing so with increasing frequency. Over the past five years, breakfast has comprised more than 60 percent of restaurant traffic growth, and in response, chains like McDonald’s and Burger King have expanded their morning menus. What’s more, Taco Bell and Wendy’s—two chains that have traditionally skipped breakfast—are right now testing egg-based sandwiches and burritos in select markets.

But while it’s easy to praise the increasing variety, it’s equally important to recognize that not every fast food breakfast is equally good for your waistline. Sure breakfast can help you shed pounds, but the wrong meal—one with too many calories—can just as easily pack pounds on. Here’s what to watch out for when you’re hungry and in a hurry, courtesy of Eat This, Not That! 2012.

#5: WORST BREAKFAST

Jamba Juice Chunky Strawberry Topper Parfait (16 oz)

570 calories

17 g fat (3 g saturated)

59 g sugars

SUGAR EQUIVALENT: 18 Keebler Fudge Shoppe Fudge Stripes cookies

You’ll be the chunky one soon enough if you down too many of these parfaits. Jamba adds granola and peanut butter to its “nutritious and delicious” parfaits, resulting in excess fat and calories. The chain’s oatmeal provides protein and fiber, and oat consumption has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol in research studies.

Eat This Instead!

Jamba Juice Blueberry and Blackberry Steel-Cut Oatmeal

290 calories

3.5 g fat (1 g saturated)

25 g sugars

SNACK SMART: Consult The Ultimate Snack Scorecard to find the most slimming between-meal boosters.

#4: WORST BREAKFAST

Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Cake Muffin

650 calories

27 g fat (9 g saturated)

56 g sugars

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 5 bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal

With the exception of the Reduced-Fat Blueberry variety, every one of the monstrous muffins at Dunkin’s sits at about 500 calories or more. In fact, this one is filled with more calories than any doughnut you’ll find on the menu! Plus, more than half of those come from cheap, refined carbohydrates—the top two ingredients are refined flour and sugar. The Cheese Danish doesn’t provide the protein or fiber of an ideal breakfast, but it’s a superior splurge and the moderate sugar load will spare you a mid-morning crash.

Eat This Instead!

Dunkin’ Donuts Cheese Danish

330 calories

17 g fat (8 g saturated)

17 g sugars

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#3: WORST BREAKFAST

Wendy’s Mornin’ Melt Panini with Sausage

650 calories

46 g fat (22 g saturated, 1 g trans)

910 mg sodium

SATURATED FAT EQUIVALENT: 37 Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets

Wendy’s new breakfast menu is slowly rolling out across the country—but it’s the nutrition facts that are really all over the map! Take the Mornin’ Melt Panini: Stuffed between these slices are more than a day’s worth of saturated fat and a full gram of dangerous trans fat. Fortunately the menu offers a few decent options, too. Of the 11 new entrees, five of them fall under 500 calories.

Eat This Instead!

Wendy’s Sausage & Egg Burrito

350 calories

22 g fat (8 g saturated)

850 mg sodium

FREEZER BURN! Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by frosty “health” foods—strike the 6 Worst Frozen Diet Foods from your grocery list.

#2: WORST BREAKFAST

Burger King Ultimate Breakfast Platter

1,310 calories

72 g fat (26 g saturated, 1 g trans)

2,490 mg sodium

41 g sugars

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 17.5 Banquet Brown ‘n Serve Original Sausage Links

This super-sized breakfast is a triple threat of cheap carbs. It features a biscuit, pancakes, AND hash browns, a combination that will set your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride throughout the day. The platter also knocks out a day’s worth of sodium and two-thirds of your day’s total caloric allotment. Compromise with the Double Bacon Double Croissan’wich—doubling up on the bacon grants you an extra 6 grams of protein, adding up to a substantial 20 grams total.

Eat This Instead!

Burger King Double Croissan’wich with Double Bacon

440 calories

25 g fat (11 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)

1,190 mg sodium

6 g sugars

BRUTAL BOWLS: Warm up with winter’s ultimate comfort food—just be sure to skip the6 Worst Soups in America.

THE #1 WORST BREAKFAST IN AMERICA

McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hotcakes (Large Biscuit) with Hotcake Syrup and Whipped Margarine

1,370 calories

64.5 grams of fat (21.5 g saturated)

2,335 mg sodium

49 g sugars

CALORIE EQUIVALENT: 16 Eggo Blueberry Pancakes

This platter contains about 400 more calories and nearly double the saturated fat and sodium load of a Big Mac Extra Value Meal. Plus, it’s made with partially hydrogenated oils, which are the source of those tricky trans fats. Fortunately, McDonald’s also boasts some of the best fast food breakfast options around—this Egg McMuffin-Hash Brown combo is relatively lean, and it’s bolstered with 19 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

Eat This Instead!

McDonald’s Egg McMuffin and Hash Brown

450 calories

22 g fat (6 g saturated)

1,120 mg sodium

3 g sugars

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