Wednesday 11 November 2020

19 Fast-Food Items You Should Never Eat, According to Dietitians

 America loves fast food. It's estimated that there are over 192,000 fast-food businesses in the U.S. in 2020, according to IBIS World. And it makes sense—it's convenient, quick, and yep—pretty tasty.

"Just like eating one salad doesn't make you healthy, eating one fast food meal does not make you unhealthy," says Mike Gorski, RD, registered dietitian, and owner of MG FitLife. "That being said, MOST fast food options can be quite deceiving in their total calories, be loaded with subpar ingredients, sodium, trans fats, saturated fat, and sugar."

While you don't need to cut fast food completely from your diet, eating it in moderation and making healthier choices when ordering can help soften the dietary blow it usually delivers. But some fast food options are far worse than others. Read on for the 19 unhealthiest fast-food items you can (but shouldn't) order. 


McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese

McDonalds double quarter pounder
Courtesy of McDonald's
NUTRITION: 740 calories, 42 g fat (20 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 1,360 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (2 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 48 g protein

"No, not the Big Mac, but the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese is actually the highest calorie burger option at McDonald's. Coming in at 720 calories, and a massive 42g of fat (2.5 grams of Trans Fat) it actually has almost 200 more calories in it than the Big Mac. Couple this with a large fry, and a large soda, and this meal could easily be more than most people's daily calorie needs." — Gorski



Culver's Triple Bacon Deluxe Burger

culvers triple deluxe burger
Courtesy of Culver's
NUTRITION: 1,090 calories, 76 g fat (30.5 g saturated fat, 2.1 g trans fat), 1,430 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (1 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 60 g protein

"Being from Wisconsin, Culver's is a staple of our fast food industry. They make some of the most amazing burgers in the fast-food game. However, the Culver's Triple Bacon Deluxe Burger is so obscenely high in calories, that there is no reason anyone could physically feel good after eating such a thing. At 1,090 calories, and 76 grams of fat, this burger alone would put most Americans past half of their daily needs for calories, and possibly OVER their daily needs for fat."— Gorski



Burger King Triple Whopper with Cheese

triple whopper cheese
Courtesy of Burger King
NUTRITION: 1,130 calories, 75g fat, 28g saturated fat, 4g trans fat, 1,120mg sodium, 49g carbs, 2g dietary fiber, 11g sugar, 67g protein

"According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in order to reduce your risk in developing heart disease, saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of your total intake. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, this sandwich alone contains 126% of the recommended daily value of saturated fat and 49% of the recommended daily value of sodium. These two numbers alone should be convincing enough to stay far, far away." — Jonathan Valdez, R.D.N., owner of Genki Nutrition and a spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  


Sonic Sauced Jumbo Popcorn Chicken Large – Buffalo

sonic popcorn chicken
Sonic Drive-In/ Facebook
NUTRITION: 920 calories, 60g fat, 11g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 105mg cholesterol, 4,670mg sodium, 58g carbs, 8g dietary fiber, 3g sugar, 37g protein

"The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and these wings contain 4,670 milligrams of sodium—that is 203% of your recommended daily value! 540 calories of this item are coming from fat which is more than half of the total amount of calories in the item itself. Excessive amounts of sodium and saturated fat can increase an individual's risk of developing heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. These numbers can be scary if you consider eating 3 of these per week. If you want to keep that heart healthy and strong, avoid this food item." — Valdez


McDonald's Large Caramel Frappe

Mcdonalds mccafe caramel frappe
Courtesy of McDonald's
NUTRITION: 680 calories, 29g fat, 18g saturated fat, 1.5 trans fat, 85mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 94g carbs, 0g dietary fiber, 88g sugar, 10g protein

"Can you imagine consuming 88 grams of sugar in a single drink? Well, believe it because it's true. The American Heart Association recommends that men should consume no more than 36 grams of sugar per day and women no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. This McDonald's 'coffee' (more like dessert if you ask me) should be avoided at all costs or consumed, sparingly." — Valdez 


Chili Cheese Fries from Dairy Queen

dairy queen chili cheese fries
Courtesy of Dairy Queen
NUTRITION: 990 calories, 52 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,280 mg sodium, 107 g carbs (9 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 25 g protein

"I think most folks see 'cheese fries' as a side item, but this is not your typical side of fries and that's where people can get into trouble. This contains almost 1,000 calories, 52 grams of fat and 2,280 milligrams of sodium which almost exceeds your daily sodium limit." — Amber Pankonin MS, RD, LMNT, registered dietitian and owner of Stirlist.

Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple

wendys pretzel bacon burger
Courtesy of Wendy's
NUTRITION: 1520 calories, 106 g fat (45 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fat), 1,910 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 89 g protein

"The highest calorie burger on the menu, this burger contains 1,520 calories, 106 grams of fat, and 1,910 mg of sodium. It's recommended that 20-35% of calories should come from fat in our diet, which means for a 2,000 calorie diet a person should get between 44 to 77 grams of fat. A better choice would be the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger which is only 390 calories, 24 grams of fat and 660 milligrams of sodium." — Pankonin


Panera Bread Mac & Cheese

panera mac and cheese
Courtesy of Panera Bread
NUTRITION: 1010 calories, 67 g fat (37 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fat), 2,220 mg sodium, 67 g carbs (2 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 33 g protein

"This Mac & Cheese contains over 1000 calories, 67 grams of fat, 2220 mg of sodium and only 2 grams of fiber. Fiber can help make us fuller longer, so if you are eating out, try to order something with fiber to help with satiety. A better choice would be the broccoli cheese soup which contains 360 calories, 1,330 mg of sodium and 6 grams of fiber." — Pankonin. Speaking of fiber—98% of Americans don't eat enough of it. 


Burger King Triple Flame-Broiled Whopper Sandwich with Cheese

burger king triple whopper with cheese
Courtesy of Burger King
NUTRITION: 1,216 calories, 82 g fat (32 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,473 mg sodium, 50 g carbs (2 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 72 g protein

"It has 82 grams of fat, 32 of which is saturated (recommendation is not to exceed 10 grams/day of saturated fat), and 4.5 grams of trans fat, which we want to avoid completely (they lower HDL and increase LDL). The sandwich contains 1470 milligrams of sodium, which is more than half the daily recommendation. The bun provides simple carbs and no fiber." — Silvia Carli, MS, RD, CSCS, registered dietitian at 1AND1 LIFE.


Domino's Italian Sausage Marinara Pasta Dish

dominos italian sausage marinara
Domino's Pizza/ Facebook
NUTRITION: 700 calories, 36 g fat (15 g saturated fat, .5 g trans fat), 1,650 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (3 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 27 g protein

"This dish has processed meats, which bring the sodium content to 1650 milligrams. It has 36 grams of total fat, 15 of which are saturated and 0.5 trans fats. The 27 grams of protein provided by this dish is not worth the caloric load of 700 calories and the fat and sodium content." — Carli


Dairy Queen Large Caramel Apple Pie Blizzard

dairy queen apple pie blizzard
Courtesy of Dairy Queen
NUTRITION: 1,200 calories, 48 g fat (33 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 550 mg sodium, 173 g carbs (1 g fiber, 134 g sugar), 20 g protein

"1200 calories with 48 grams of fat, 33 of which are saturated and 1.5 trans. This item contains 134 grams of sugar and a mere 20 grams of protein. This is probably the worse you can get nutritionally out of any fast-food item (the large size should not even be allowed for sale if I were to decide)." — Carli


KFC Classic Bowl

kfc classic bowl
Courtesy of KFC
NUTRITION: 740 calories, 35 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,350 mg sodium, 81 g carbs (6 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 26 g protein

"With 2350mg sodium per serving it practically meets 100% of the recommended daily value (DV) of sodium, in a single meal. It also has 35 grams of total fat (54% of the DV) and 6 grams of saturated fat (30% of the DV) in a single serving, which makes it not the ideal choice for anyone concerned with heart-healthy foods." — Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, registered dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet.


Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappuccino Blended Beverage

caramel frappuccino
Courtesy of Starbucks
NUTRITION: 370 calories, 55 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 230 mg sodium, 57 g carbs (0 g fiber, 55 g sugar), 4 g protein

"With 470 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat, and 73 grams of sugar, this drink should be in the category of dessert—not coffee beverage. Even if you were to customize it and choose a grande size and non-fat milk you would still be consuming 55 grams of sugar – which is more than is recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for an entire day." — Gans


Double SmokeShack

shake shack double smokeshack
John K./Yelp
NUTRITION: 870 calories, 57 g fat (24 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 3,030 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 58 g protein

"With 24 grams of saturated fat and 3,030 grams of sodium, I feel that this is a heart attack waiting to happen." — Gans


Taco Bell Double Decker Taco Supreme

taco bell double decker taco supreme worst
Courtesy of Taco Bell
NUTRITION: 310 calories, 15 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 610 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 11 g protein

"A fried taco and a white flour taco walk into a bar… why? Why would you need both? And then stuff it with ground meat (in an age where scaling back on daily beef consumption is advised), a sauce laden with oils we don't recommend, and a scattering of vegetables? This item also packs nearly 1/3 of your sodium limit for the day. And that's if you can stop at one." — Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for JOI.


Starbucks Pumpkin Scone

starbucks pumpkin scone
Courtesy of Starbucks
NUTRITION: 500 calories, 23 g fat (14 g saturated fat, .5 g trans fat), 450 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (1 g fiber, 46 g sugar), 4 g protein

"As festive as it may be, 46 grams of sugar isn't a party. That's 11.5 packets of sugar in a single pastry, and very little protein or fiber to keep you satiated. The white flour, the sugar, the butter, the lack of fiber, and the lack of any fruit/vegetable here makes for a sad Starbucks situation. And this is before a beverage. We have nothing against scones—but you could do much better baking your own and incorporating pumpkin puree or oat flour for plant power and fiber." — Auslander Moreno



Chipotle Salad

chipotle worst salad sofritas guac
Daniel C./Yelp

(with sofritas, cilantro brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, guacamole, queso, roasted chili corn salsa, sour cream, chipotle honey vinaigrette)

NUTRITION: 1,310 calories, 75 g fat (21.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3,505 mg sodium, 127 g carbs (26 g fiber, 31 g sugar), 35 g protein

"With plant-based taking over headlines and Chipotle being a favorite, your order can turn quickly. This order above has 1300 calories, which could be close to 3/4 of a day's calories. This bowl even though it is plant-based includes some high calorie, high-fat toppings like dressing, cheese, and sour cream. A quick way to make it better is to choose one of the 3 options instead of all 3." — Tony Castillo MS, RD, LDN , performance dietitian at Nutrition For Performance.


Wendy's Triple Bacon Jalapeno Cheeseburger

wendys triple cheeseburger
Courtesy of Wendy's
NUTRITION: 1,330 calories, 95 g fat (38 g saturated fat, 4.5 g trans fat), 2,150 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (2 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 76 g protein

"This cheeseburger has as many calories as the chipotle salad. This doesn't include fries or a drink. This 1,330 calorie bomb is full of inflammatory fats and lacks fiber which means you will eat this and be hungry within the hour. There are much better options and by choosing just a burger with one patty instead of three, you save close to half the calories." — Castillo


McDonald's Big Breakfast with Hotcakes

mcdonalds big breakfast hotcakes regular size biscuit
Courtesy of McDonald's
NUTRITION: 1,340 calories, 64 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,090 mg sodium, 155 g carbs (6 g fiber, 48 g sugar), 35 g protein

"This meal also has over 1,300 calories and it's only breakfast. It contains 123% of your recommended saturated fat intake and 91% of your sodium intake. After eating this breakfast you will most likely feel bloated." — Castillo.  

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