The Huffington Post | By Sarah Klein
You wouldn’t sit down to dinner at your favorite restaurant and order a stick of butter a la carte. You’re too smart for that — you know there’d be lots of calories and little nutrients and, most of all, lots and lots of fat.
But some of the cheesy entrees and meaty meals you’re ordering are packed with just as much fat — or more. There’s a total of 92 grams of fat in a stick of butter, much more than the maximum amount recommended for an entire day on a healthy diet.
The Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommend limiting fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories. (A gram of fat provides 9 calories.) For a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that means anywhere from 44 to 78 grams of fat a day won’t push you over the edge. Most Americans don’t have to worry about not getting enough fat; in fact, our diets are too heavy in saturated and trans fats and skimpy on the healthy, unsaturated kind, found in good-for-you foods like fish, olive oil and nuts.
Unfortunately, it’s too easy to find foods — especially on the menus of your favorite chain restaurants — that trample those daily fat recommendations in one fell swoop. Here are seven of the worst offenders. Let us know in the comments what other fat traps you’ve spotted — or even eaten!
When health experts say to eat fish a couple of times a week, they don’t mean any and all fish.
Not only are certain types healthier for you (and the environment), but how the fish is prepared also makes a big difference, with fried dishes of course being the worst offenders.
No one expects fish and chips to be a healthy choice, but Applebee’s New England Fish & Chips has a jaw-dropping 138 grams of fat, about the same as one and a half sticks of butter and more than enough fat for three days.
You can’t go wrong choosing the salad, right? Not quite. Whether you’re creating your own or ordering one at a restaurant, beware of piling on too many toppings like bacon, fried chicken, tortilla chips, creamy dressings, croutons, cheese and eggs.
IHOP serves a Crispy Chicken Salad that’s guilty of many of the above no-nos: It’s topped with fried chicken, bacon, two kinds of cheese and a hard-boiled egg, and served with garlic bread, clocking in at 95 grams of fat.
Applebee’s serves an Oriental Chicken Salad that illustrates another common problem: dressing. Without the vinaigrette, this mix of greens, chicken, almonds and crispy noodles clocks in at 41 grams of fat — which on its own is nearing the lower end of the suggested daily intake range. But with the dressing? That’ll be 99 grams of fat!
Burgers That Overdo It On The Meat
This American staple can be part of a healthy diet — when toppings, cooking method and bread type are taken into consideration. But one of the biggest problems with today’s burgers is their sheer size. A serving of meat is generally considered to be three ounces, about the size of a deck of cards. You might make an appropriately-sized patty at home to throw on the grill, but when’s the last time you saw a three-ounce burger on a restaurant menu?
One particularly scary option: Hardee’s 2/3-lb. Monster Thickburger. With two 1/3-lb. patties, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayo, it’ll set you back 92 grams of fat — as much as that stick of butter.
Burgers That Overdo It On The Toppings
Pizza burgers, quesadilla burgers, burgers that have doughnuts for buns — our cravings for fatty foods have led us to try all sorts of wacky combinations. But, like salad toppings, burger toppings, especially when they are really piled high, can cause fat counts to suddenly skyrocket.
TGIFriday’s Southwestern Burger is a serious offender, with cheese, spread, avocado and fried onion strings, rounding this mega-meal out to 100 grams of fat.
You’ve probably heard that you generally don’t want to drink your calories. Well, you probably don’t want to drink your fat, either. While shakes and smoothies can be healthy, they are often loaded with hidden sugars and fats.
You probably wouldn’t expect to find a healthy shake at an ice cream store, but Cold Stone Creamery’s PB&C Shake blows regular ice cream out of the water. This indulgent sip has made headlines around the world after Men’s Health named it the worst beverage in America. At the time, the chocolate ice cream, milk and peanut butter concoction was listed at 131 grams of fat — the equivalent of about 68 strips of bacon, Men’s Health wrote. Today, Coldstone’s website clocks the large size at well over a stick of butter, with 118 grams of fat. (Even the small has an entire day’s worth, at 74 grams!)
Fried Chicken Meals
This southern splurge became trendy in late 2009 and has enjoyed a lengthy 15 minutes of fame over the last few years. For the time being, the fried chicken buzz may have settled down, but the dish will remain a standby on comfort-food and southern-style menus.
You can healthy up this pick by opting for veggie sides, white meat chicken and by removing the crispy skin. You can also trim back the portions. The Popeye’s website depicts a meal consisting of three pieces of chicken, plus a biscuit and a side. We calculated that a similar meal, topped off with a slice of pecan pie for dessert, would add up to 108 grams of fat.
All that ooey-gooey cheese, sour cream and guacamole really add up. Other ingredients, like chicken, may be deep-fried. And tortillas are often coated in butter to get that perfectly-toasted appearance. Of course, portion size is a factor here again. If you’re craving a quesadilla, opt for an appetizer-sized one.
Ruby Tuesday’s Baja Chicken Quesadilla sounds innocent enough — it’s stuffed with grilled peppers and onions, and topped with a chile-lime sauce. But one order costs you 95 grams of fat!