America's Unhealthiest Restaurants
Going out to eat? The authors of Eat This, Not That! have some recommendations on places to avoid.
By David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, Men's Health
Your favorite fast food restaurant is often like your favorite city: Visit some neighborhoods and you live the high life. Visit others and you’re just plain asking for trouble. And that’s where Eat This, Not That!
comes in: We’ve analyzed and graded 66 different chain restaurants—fast food and sit-down—to determine which ones have healthy options, and which could turn out to be diet disasters. What we found will surprise you. Specifically, some of the fast food joints you’ve come to think of as terrible for you actually ranked alright—McDonald’s scored a B+, for example, so the Micky D’s drive-through just might be your fast-lane to weight loss. Something even more shocking, though: More than half of the sit-down restaurants we graded ended up with our lowest scores!
To separate the commendable from the deplorable, we calculated the total number of calories per entrée. This gave us a snapshot of how each restaurant compared in average serving size—a key indicator of unhealthy portion distortion. Then we rewarded establishments with fruit and vegetable side-dish choices, as well as offering whole-wheat bread. Finally, we penalized places for excessive amounts of trans fats and menus that temp you with gut-busting desserts. Hey, if the neighborhood is crowded with shady characters, sooner or later, one of them will jump you.
Here’s our list of the Worst Restaurants in America. It’ll help you stay on the safer side of town.
We thought we'd see some improvements after we identified Baskin's Heath Shake as the Worst Drink on the Planet. All they did was lower it from 2,300 to 1,900 calories, leaving an almost equally egregious drinkable disaster to set back unsuspecting sippers. It’s typical of the menu there; B-R’s soft serve is among the most caloric in the country, the smoothies contain more sugar than fruit, and most of what Baskin sticks into a cup winds up with more fat than a steakhouse buffet. Check out our list of the 20 Unhealthiest Drinks in America
to see other liquid offenders. If you learn how to make smart choices when you sip, you can lose a few pounds a month—without giving up your favorite foods or ever dieting again.
With frozen yogurt, sherbet, and no-sugar-added ice cream, Baskin's lighter menu is the one bright spot. Just be sure to ask for your ice cream in a sugar or cake cone—the waffle cone will swaddle your treat in an extra 160 calories.
Carl’s Jr.: D+
Most fast-food restaurants today are making at least some attempt to offset their bulging burgers and deep-fried sides with healthier options such as lean sandwiches or yogurt parfaits. But Carl's Jr. is swimming against the nutritional tide, trying to attract those with hearty appetites and less concern about fat, salt, and calories. The lightest item on the breakfast menu, for instance, is the Hash Brown Nuggets—but even they have 21 grams of fat, and 5.5 of them are trans fats. (As a rule, you should try to get 2 grams or fewer of the stuff in an entire day!) The burgers are worse, and there's not a side on the menu that hasn't been given a long, bubbling bath in their trans-fatty frying oil.
Find another place to grab lunch. Failing that, you should settle on either the Charbroiled Chicken Salad with Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing or the Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich—the only sandwich on the menu with fewer than 400 calories.
Too bad the adult menu at Denny's doesn't adhere to the same standard as the kids' menu. The famous Slam breakfasts all top 800 calories, and the burgers are even worse. The Double Cheeseburger is one of the worst in the country, with 116 grams of fat, 7 of which are trans fats. Make sure you try to avoid it whenever possible.
The Fit Fare menu gathers together all the best options on the menu. Outside of that, stick to the sirloin, grilled chicken, or soups. For breakfast, order a Veggie Cheese Omelet or create your own meal from à la carte options such as fruit, oatmeal, toast, and eggs.