The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, just released its Xtreme Eating Awards. Hint: it's not that kind of award you want to win or even get mentioned. CSPI officials ranked the highest calorie, fat-rich meals served in restaurants across the country. This year, they say, they've been completely blown away by what they found on the table served to Americans.
“When we first started these studies [in 2007], we were shocked to see meals with 1,000 calories, but that has become the norm,” Paige Einstein, CSPI’s Project Coordinator and a registered dietitian said.
CSPI surveyed the menus of more than 200 restaurant chains and ranked the "unholiest" of them. Surprisingly, KFC doesn't even make the list. Instead, you'll find chains like The Cheesecake Factory, Outback Steakhouse, and Red Lobster. The latter tops the most calorie punch if you choose Red Lobster’s “Create Your Own Combination” in the following combo: the Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo to go with the Caesar salad, French fries, and one Cheddar Bay Biscuit. Together the meal packs 2,710 calories or more than you need for a whole day. The real kicker comes if you decide to order the 24-ounce Lobsterita (the restaurant’s margarita) to go along with your shrimp. In total, the meal would hit 3,600 calories.
Ranking 2nd of the worse is Steak 'n' Shake's 7×7 Steakburger ‘n Fries with a chocolate fudge brownie milkshake (2,530 calories), followed by Dickey’s Barbecue Pit's 3 Meat Plate (2,500 calories). Here are some (dis)honorable mentions found by Patch:
- IHOP’s Chorizo Fiesta Omelette: The omelette alone has 1,300 calories, but it comes with three buttermilk pancakes (or hash browns, toast or fruit). That brings the total to 1,9900 calories and two days’ worth of saturated fat.
- The Herb Roasted Prime Rib dinner is a 16 oz. prime rib alone, containing 1,400 calories. If you got a dressed baked potato and classic blue cheese wedge salad, along with bread, you’d hit 2,400 calories, 71 grams of fat, and 3,560 mg of sodium.
- The Louisiana Chicken Pasta at the Cheesecake Factory weighs 1½ pounds, comes topped with four slices of heavily breaded chicken. Add the New Orleans sauce (butter and heavy cream), and your plate is up to 2,370 calories.
- The Pick & Choose menu at Uno Pizzeria & Grill lets diners choose from five salads, four pastas, and three pizzas. CSPI started with the Baked Ziti & Sausage Pasta. That’s 720 calories (a third of a day’s worth), which is high-but-reasonable... for an entire meal. They added a Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza. Add ’em up and you get 2,190 calories, 49 grams of saturated fat (2½ days’ worth), 5,420 mg of sodium (a 3½-day supply), and white flour galore. As CSPI said, it’s the equivalent of eating three Pizza Hut Pepperoni Lover’s Personal Pan Pizzas.
The full list can be found here.
“This nutritional shipwreck from Red Lobster exemplifies the kind of gargantuan restaurant meal that promotes obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases,” said CSPI registered dietitian Paige Einstein in an announcement. “If this meal were unusual, that would be one thing, but America’s chain restaurants are serving up 2,000-calorie breakfasts, 2,000-calorie lunches, 2,000-calorie dinners, and 2,000-calorie desserts left and right. Abnormal is the new normal.”
Starting December this year, restaurants will be mandated by the Food and Drug Administration to list calories for each item on their menus. Until then, if you're not sure what you're ordering, the SPI suggests you keep clear of hefty-looking meals and order from the "lighter menus".