back to top

Ten Restaurant Foods That Will Destroy Your Diet

Thirsty for 890 calories worth of margarita?

Posted on

Restaurants may be sprinkling their menus with healthier items, but their high-calorie, high-fat options are getting even worse, according to the seventh Xtreme Eating report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group.

"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, told BuzzFeed News.

To be fair, no reasonable human expects to save calories at an establishment called the Cheesecake Factory. But Einstein said the problem is that many consumers aren't aware of exactly how caloric a meal can become. She expects this will change when new FDA rules, effective this December, require restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to label calories on menus.

CSPI surveyed the menus of more than 200 restaurant chains. Here are some entrées, sides, drinks, and outlandish combos it highlighted for being abysmally high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.

10. Red Lobster's Lobsterita (890 calories)

Guys, this isn't just a drink. It's a 24-ounce drink called a Lobsterita. The type of drink you might consume before a 2,700 calorie meal (see below) if one day you say, "screw it," and decide to abandon all self-control. Inside this glass of slushy, boozy sweetness is nearly half a day's worth of calories.

9. IHOP’s Chorizo Fiesta Omelette (1,300 calories)

IHOP's chorizo-stuffed, sour cream-topped omelette alone packs 1,300 calories, which is quite a way to start the day. But that's just part of the meal. It also comes with a choice of three buttermilk pancakes (410 calories), hash browns (280 calories), toast (at least 250 calories), or mixed fruit (60 calories).

An IHOP spokesman responded that it's "all about choice" and recommended that dieters peruse the menu for items under 600 calories.


8. Steak ’n Shake’s 7x7 Steakburger (somehow, only 1,330 calories)

7x7 Steak Burger from Steak 'n Shake! #BiggestBurgerEver

Really, the average human can't put fit a stack of seven burger patties and seven slices of American cheese into his or her mouth, so you might consider the devouring of a 7x7 more of a spectator sport than any practical part of a meal. It's quite an excessive night snack too, being available only from midnight to 6:00 a.m.

7. Outback Steakhouse's 16 oz. Herb Roasted Prime Rib (1,402 calories)

Outback's 16-oz. prime rib contains about 1,400 calories, but if you add a baked potato, blue cheese wedge salad--and that half loaf of bread you inadvertently devoured over the course of the meal--CSPI estimates it all tallies up to 2,400 calories.

Outback responded that it also offers smaller portions and lower calorie sides.

6. Uno's 6" Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza (1,470 calories)

The smaller 6" pizza is part of Uno's "pick and choose" menu, which means it's just half the meal. The regular individual-size deep dish pizza is 2,300 calories.

5. The Cheesecake Factory's Warm Apple Crisp (1,740 calories)

We've fallen in love. Sure it's with Warm Apple Crisp, but the love is very real!

Apples. You think a dish with apples would be at least healthy-ish, but it's like the Trojan horse of the dessert world. The apple crisp has more than twice the calories of the restaurant's Original Cheesecake (710 calories).


4. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s 3 Meat Plate (1,970 calories)

Weekend plans: 3 meat plate #foodporn #delicious

Dickey's three meat plate has up to 1,970 calories, depending on which meats you choose (turkey and chicken have the least calories, the sausage has the most).

CSPI estimates that if an especially hungry customer orders a plate of sausage, pork ribs, and beef brisket, with fried onions and mac and cheese on the side, and also eats the free roll, pickles, onions, a 32-ounce sweet tea, and a small ice cream cone, it all adds up to 2,500 calories.

“We pride ourselves on offering an authentic barbecue experience complete with southern style sides and served with our signature brand of southern hospitality," the company responded in a statement.

3. Sonic's Large Pineapple Upside Down Master Blast (2,020 calories)

This large Master Blast is 32 creamy ounces of vanilla ice cream with pineapple, salted caramel, and pie crust pieces. I repeat, 32 ounces--that's like a Big Gulp, but for ice cream. Too much? There's also a 10-ounce mini Blast that's 630 calories.

2. The Cheesecake Factory's Louisiana Chicken Pasta (2,370 calories)

The Cheesecake Factory piles four pieces of breaded chicken over a plate of pasta. This menu item itself weighs in at 1.5 pounds.

1. Red Lobster’s “Create Your Own Combination” (up to 2,710 calories)

One particular meal CSPI warns will threaten your diet: Red Lobster's seafood combo, with three dishes. The trio might include lighter options--like crab legs and shrimp scampi--but if you forego those for heavier fare like the Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, and Shrimp Linguine Alfredo--and eat it alongside a Caesar salad, French fries, and Cheddar Bay Biscuit--you quickly exceed a day's recommended calorie intake.

A Red Lobster spokeswoman responded that this is "just one atypical combination" that doesn't reflect the range of choices, and noted another combo that was a much lower 620 calories.

Venessa Wong is a deputy business editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Venessa Wong at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.