As a wise man once said, let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. That was actually Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, but we won’t question anybody’s definition of wise man here. This is a serious point, and the point is this: life is darn tough, and we often don’t take the time to feed ourselves properly.
Breakfast, the Most Important Meal of the Day™, is sometimes skipped entirely, or else quickly ingested in bar/coffee form. After a long and soul-saddening day at work or school, dinner often falls by the wayside too. Cooking? Nuts to that, it’s takeout time.
It’s a convenient and cheap option, sure, but it’s also a dangerous one. There may be all kinds of threats to our health and lifestyle in the bad old world of 2018, but McDonald’s starting to roll out delivery to more and more of us is probably one of the biggest. What will it do to our jiggly and/or saggy bits, knowing that we can have McFlurries and nuggets delivered to our door at the tap of an app?
There are all kinds of different schools of thought regarding fast food. I’m one of the not too often, and be careful what you order sort of people. Which means you wouldn’t see me chowing down on Jimmy John’s J.J Gargantuan, the 3-Meat Plate from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Dave & Buster’s Carnivore Pizzadilla or any of the other unappealing offerings on this rundown.
Hold on to your waistlines, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
As a Brit, I’ve not had much experience with Five Guys. The chain does have outlets around these parts, but they’re few and far between. They’re still a bit of a novelty.
I was quite surprised, on my first Five Guys experience, to learn that double patty burgers are the default. It’s either that, or you order a ‘Little’ burger, like you’re some sort of feeble burger-weakling unworthy of the restaurant and the old-school rock it’s pumping out into the street.
You can opt for a regular double, a cheeseburger or a bacon burger; or you can resign yourself to the fact that your summer body is never happening after all and go with all three at once.
This is the Bacon Cheeseburger, and quite a burger it is too.
Of course, for some of us, doubling up just won’t suffice. Two patties? Come on, now, that’s for the weak. My grandma eats two patty burgers for breakfast.
If you’re one of those burger aficionados (and you feel that the blood’s just been thundering through your arteries lately and you want to bring it down a peg or two), three patties are the way to go.
This beasty burger is the Dave’s Triple, courtesy of Wendy’s. That’s “1,070 calories, 72 grams of fat, 30 grams of saturated fat, four grams of trans fat, 260 milligrams of cholesterol, and 1,930 milligrams of sodium,” all in one monstrous package.
Speaking of dishes that look deceptively innocent, fast food-wise, Here’s the JamBolaya Bowl and Biscuit, fresh from Bojangles’. The Southeastern chain is known for its Cajun chicken and buttermilk biscuits, and here’s how you can get in on all of that action in one protein- and fiber-heavy package.
Now, sure, protein and fiber are two things I can totally get on board with. No qualms there. The trouble, is, as Eat This, Not That! Explains,
“this jambalaya bowl is jam-packed with the same amount of saturated fat as over six large orders of McDonald’s greasy fries.”
Dang, that’s a lot.
Fast food, as we all know, is largely dominated by that old classic: the burger. Taste change all around the world, of course, and chains have to alter their menus to adapt to that, but that’s the bottom line. One of the most popular fast food cravings is for a good ol’ fashioned juicy burger.
Doubling up the patties, naturally, doubles the calories and everything else, and Whataburger’s A1 Thick & Hearty Burger is one of the worst offenders for that.
As I’ve snarkily said, Domino’s is not a place for health fanatics. If you’re one of these organic, calorie-controlled, kale-loving fitness fans, you’re just not going to dig the menu choices.
Myself, I take the lesser of many evils approach to fast food, so some things are still a step too far for me. One of those things would be Domino’s notorious Hot Dog Stuffed Crust, a Frankenstein’s monster of fat-tastic that should never have been allowed to exist.
It may have had its fans, but our hearts and waistlines were not among them. This is one for true YOLO-ing fast food fans only.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always seen the concept of brunch as a bit… futile. If you’re not quite fulfilling your breakfast or lunch needs, what are you really doing here? How do you work out the portion size? Are you still going to be hungry for dinner? There are so many questions here.
Insider/The Daily Meal explains that “the sandwich is 770 calories, and provides a full day's worth of saturated fat.” Not bad going, for a brunch.
Jack in the Box’s Brunch Burger offers some possible answers to the above questions. The idea of brunch, it seems, is to consume “a croissant with cheese, hickory-smoked bacon, a fried egg, a beef patty, and a topping of "real" mayonnaise.”
Ah, yes. The McNugget, that most irresistible of McDonald’s side-offerings. Whatever I pop in for (usually something from the Signature Collection, because I’m a super-classy, top-hat-and-monocle-wearing British gent), I just can’t resist getting myself a side order of McNuggets.
Here's my fast food philosophy in a nutshell: at least try and moderate what you order. A little bit. Just to try and kid yourself about the fact that you’re a chunky monkey in the making.
Moreish as they are, you really shouldn’t go nuts with the nuggets. According to Eat This, Not That!,
a 40-pack of them “has the highest amount of both calories [and] fat out of all Mickey D’s offerings,”
It serves up a frightening 1,880 calories and 3,600mg of sodium.
Speaking of meals that proudly wear their unhealthiness right on their sleeves, here comes IHOP’s Cheeseburger Omelette with Pancakes. There’s just something about that combination that lets you know, in no uncertain terms, you’re going to regret this one when you visit the bathroom next, friendo.
Granted, you can’t expect anything different. You’re in the International House of Pancakes, after all. You’ve got to be prepared for the fact that there are going to be freaking pancakes everywhere, otherwise they’d have called themselves The International House of Much Less Pancakes Than You Might Think, Which Is A Little Disappointing We’re Sure.
And that acronym wouldn’t work nearly as well as IHOP. It is a super colourful and pretty-looking menu option, though, so bonus points for that.
Like a lot of you, I’m sure, I have a love-hate relationship with pizza. While awaiting the delivery and actually eating it, I love it. After I’m done and I feel so bloated I could be pregnant with a 20lb octuplets, I hate it. And myself.
The difficulty with pizza is portion size. Can you just eat one or two slices? Holy heckola no. That delicious stuffed crust takes its toll as well.
One of Pizza Hut’s worst offenders is their Meat Lover’s personal pan, which, PaleoHacks reports, packs in a huge amount of sodium, saturated fat and questionable meats per slice.
If I’m totally honest, I’ve never really been a fan of ranch dressing. Those kinds of sauces have never really done it for me. Which is a good thing, really, because they tend to be like pulling the ripcord on your thighs.
If you were thinking that going for a sandwich with some salad is a relatively healthy option… well, it can be. It’s all about the extras you throw on there, though. According to The Daily Meal, Arby’s Roast Turkey Bacon and Ranch Sandwich is packed with cholesterol, and a mighty 2,250mg of sodium (more than a portion of Pizza Hut’s finest).
It’s easy to get suckered into the trap of opting for the healthier choice. That is, the choice that looks to be healthier, but the paunch you didn’t have a year or two ago would heartily disagree.
Speaking of hearty, I’ve always thought that there was something wholesome about the chicken pot pie. Not KFC’s take on the dish, though, which is laden with salt and cholesterol. Nobody’s here looking for a superfood that’ll add five years to your life just looking at it, but still. It’s pretty darn uncool that even much-loved dishes like these can get the fast food fat-tastic treatment.
Now, when it comes to words and phrases that just scream healthy and slimming, deep-fried and cheese curds are not very high on that scale. They’re around the same place as supersized ice cream sundae or something like that.
As we know, cheese and bacon are both popular burger toppings, and they’re great for increasing the havoc that they wreak on our waistlines.
This particular treat, the Cheese Curd Bacon Burger from Buffalo Wild Wings, weighs in at a formidable “1,950 calories, 53 grams of saturated fat, and 4,700 milligrams of sodium,” according to a report by Delish.
At least it has the decency to look as unhealthy as it is, though. I can appreciate that.
The evils of pizza are well-documented. They’re like festivals of cheese and bread, both of which are delicious and neither of which are magical elixirs that are going to prolong our lives. It’s opposite, really, but let’s not think about that.
Anywho, with all of that in mind, you might want to order something else the next time you eat with Domino’s. One of their sandwiches, for instance, must be a less calorie-tacular option?
Well, no. Insider/The Daily Meal neatly summarises these menu offerings: “…lots of fat, lots of salt, no vegetables. The Buffalo chicken sandwich is the least healthy of the bunch, sitting at 840 calories and containing over 2,500 milligrams of salt, more than a person is supposed to eat in an entire day.”
You see that, friends? That is a powerful name for a fast food meal, right there. Carnivore Pizzadilla. It sounds like something you might see in the next Jurassic World movie, chasing Jeff Goldblum’s jeep or being trained by Chris Pratt or something.
This order from Dave & Buster’s is something special, that’s for sure. It’s an enormous quesadilla, filled with different types of cheese and sausage, topped with another generous portion of cheese and sausage.
Does any part of that sound like something your body’s going to appreciate? That’s because it isn’t. You’re sure to get yourself into a heckola of a mess trying to eat it, too.
By this point in the rundown, you’ve probably picked up on a couple of things. Firstly, meat (big patties, sausage, bacon and the like) is not really your friend when it comes to salt and fat. Secondly, doubling up is really bad, and tripling up is really, really bad.
To work this meal off, Nutritionix estimates, you’d have to walk for 531 minutes, or run for 190 minutes.
To combine both of these dangerous food habits, we have the mighty 3-Meat Plate from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. That’s a powerful plate by anyone’s estimation, and it makes me feel a little queasy just looking at it.
Now, the Whopper already wants to be seen as something pretty darn big. It’s Burger King’s iconic offering, its gold standard (well, maybe that’s overselling it a little) and it wants to be seen as right up there with the Big Mac.
It’s a big deal. Which is why it isn’t called The Teeny or something like that. Already a substantial proposition, Burger King again felt the need to go beyond the double. The Triple Whopper With Cheese, PaleoHacks reports, is “…beyond bad. Half of your day’s calories, almost all of your daily sodium, and even half of your daily sugar intake (!) can be found in this colossal burger.”
So, yes. When it comes to fast food and trying to moderate your intake of certain evils, piling on the meat is not the way to go. As with piling on the patties, you’re just multiplying the saturated fat, calories and other nasties.
Jimmy John’s J.J Gargantuan takes the cake in that regard, boasting a generous serving of ham, roast beef, turkey, salami and provolone. As you’d expect, all of this adds up to one big no-no. The chain itself may claim that the gargantuan is “huge enough to feed the hungriest of all humans,” but not if said human is discerning about what they eat.
When it comes to fast food meals, as I say, the burger tends to reign supreme. Five Guys Burgers And Fries famously keep their menu simple and to the point. They do not kid around with their burgers, as we’ve seen, and they sure as heck don’t kid around with their fries either.
Fries are an essential component of the experience, and Five Guys will always give an enormous portion. Even the smallest size is probably best shared, and the large? Well, monstrous might be a better term. “Nearly an entire day’s worth of calories and a whopping 71 grams of low-quality fat get backed into a paper cup here,” PaleoHacks concludes.
Another common culinary trap we fall into is 'bite-sized'… well, just about anything. With something like mini pizzas, cocktail sausages and the like, it’s so easy to just grab a couple more. They’re so small, after all, what harm can just one more do?
The alarming thing is just how easily it can all add up. That’s what happens with the sandwiches when more meats are added, and it’s what happens when you attack a portion of Auntie Anne’s Breakfast Sausage Stix.
They may look small and harmless, but as Eat This, Not That! reports, they take a heavy toll. Five of them will run you 760 calories and 1,240mg of sodium.
There’s that word again. Bacon is more than a salt-tastic foodstuff, it’s a way of life for some of us. I get that, but seriously, it’s just a dietary disaster.
McDonald’s isn’t one to shy away from salt, fat and the like, so you might feel tempted to opt for something that sounds like a better choice. Yet again, though, the Bacon Clubhouse Crispy Chicken Sandwich is not going to be your friend, diet-wise.
Foregoing the bacon will save you a good amount of that, of course.
With all these super-fattening burgers, sandwiches and such we’ve seen so far, it’s clear that vegetarian fare doesn’t tend to be a fast food forte. They provide it, certainly, but it’s often a tacked-on, meek sort of offering.
Business Insider certainly weren’t impressed by White Castle’s attempt at diversifying their menu. Their big new vegetarian option, the Veggie Slider, simply couldn’t look any more generic if it tried. That bun!
The verdict? “White Castle's vegetarian attempt was vile. The texture was somehow mushy and crispy at the same time. It's reminiscent of "fried slime.”"
So, when you have one of those insatiable cravings for slime, you know where to go.
Ah, yes. This’ll be good. Come on, Monster Thick Burger? The superlatives are built right into the name. Hardee’s are going to have to bring us a burger that’s pretty darn special to be worthy of that name.
So, what are we dealing with here? All the usual components are there: the sizable patty (yep, 1/3lb), the ketchup and sausage combo, the sprinkling of salad to make you feel as though something vaguely healthy is happening here…
The trouble is, everything’s been taken to absurd proportions.
“More than a day’s worth of sodium, nearly 75% of your day’s calories, and mind-boggling amounts of fat stacked into one burger,” PaleoHacks concludes.
Now, Panera Bread has a reputation as one of the better-for-you options out there. I don’t see how we can go wrong here. Spoiler: we totally have, in a big way.
Sandwiches may sometimes be lighter options, but as we’ve seen, that’s a totally deceptive idea.
CheatSheet have put together a… cheat sheet of Panera Bread options you really need to avoid, and the Steak And White Cheddar Panini tops the list. It may sound delicious and a little fancy, but watch out:
“…with 940 calories, 48 grams of fat, and 1,520 milligrams of sodium, this steak and cheese sandwich is just too much. It certainly contains plenty of protein and fiber, but the calorie count is hardly worth it.”
As the beloved meme goes, KFC, baby, what is you doin?
Did we learn nothing from Domino’s absurd hot dog crust?
Simple food math dictates that something bad for you wrapped up in something bad for you equals… something-bad-for-you-ception. It’s really not cool on any possible level.
KFC, completely unconcerned by all of this, went ahead and dropped their Double Down on an unsuspecting world. This abomination consists of a hot dog wrapped in some of that sweet, sweet fried chicken, and it makes me feel just a little bit sad to look at it.
The buns themselves certainly aren’t great, but a fried chicken bun is a whole new low.
They say that it’s great to step out of your comfort zone every now and then, to challenge yourself. To, you know, impulsively take up swing dancing lessons or something like that.
Sometimes, chain restaurants are forced to do this by changing consumer tastes or competitor’s own products. You never quite know if this is going to pay off or not, and in Arby’s case, it really doesn’t seem to have.
The way Business Insider tells it, the chain’s Fish Sandwich is a “Charybdis of fast food. This joyless sandwich had a gelatinous texture that only a blobfish could accurately replicate, with any flavor seemingly lost at sea.”
Now, we’re all familiar with Chipotle. The chain has made itself quite the staple, offering a range of burritos, tacos and other such Mexican cuisine.
While there are more taco shells, peppers and rice than you can ever imagine eating in your life, there’s one thing that Chipotle haven’t offered until recently.
Queso is one item that the chain’s fans have been desperate to see, and it was finally added to the menu. Once it was, it was all kinds of a disappointment.
“what we found was not queso but an abomination to the very concept. It was grainy and soupy, more akin to a broccoli-cheddar soup from Panera than to a cheese dip,” Business Insider complained, though they conceded that the recipe has improved since.
That’s right, friends. By this point in the rundown, you can probably see it already. The omens are not good here. What do we see in the name of this next product? Subway’s Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt has bacon, ranch and the word melt in it.
What does melt mean? I’m glad you asked. It means a whole oozing heckola of a lot of cheese, that’s what it means.
Throw in the ranch and the super-fatty bacon, and you’ve got a recipe for dietary disaster. This bad boy contains a mighty 2,710mg of sodium and 1,190 calories. Uh oh.
Oh dear. Here we go again. Speaking of melts and how generally hateful they are to your arteries and general lifespan, Dunkin’ Donuts are throwing their own hats into the ring with the Tuna Melt Croissant.
As the name suggests, it’s tuna and melted cheese on a croissant. Which seems harmless enough, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into, but it’s one of the most unhealthy savoury items on the chain’s menu.
The Daily Meal reports that this little treat is laden with sodium and calories, and boasts a fair amount of cholesterol into the bargain too. And it looked so innocent.
Where’s the beef, you ask? That’s actually a really great question. Logic dictates that it should be inside this beef quesarito, this quesarito of beef, but nobody really tends to listen to logic these days.
That’s right. Where’s there’s a whole lot of salt and fat in this little package, the truly concerning thing is the beef itself. As PaleoHacks reports, this item looks quite harmless compared to some of the things we’ve seen here, but “this is barely beef. This item has an ingredient list so long, it may need to be printed on a scroll.”
Thanks for that thought, guys. I appreciate it.
Much like Five Guys, Smashburger is a chain known for allowing consumers to customise their burgers to their own liking. Toppings can be mixed and matched, allowing you to make your own choices about your burger. Which is important when it comes to trying to moderate intake of certain questionable ingredients.
Alternatively, you could just throw them all on together. Smashburger’s BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Burger made it onto Cheatsheet’s list of America’s unhealthiest fast food burgers, boasting 16 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of sugar and 1,690 milligrams of sodium. Now that’s a powerful burger, whichever way you slice it.
Resources: PaleoHacks, The Daily Meal, Eat This, Not That!, Delish, Insider, Nutritionix, Business Insider, Metro, CheatSheet.