The 10 Worst Restaurant Chain Meals

people sitting holding burger
Photo: Getty
  1. Applebee’s

    Photo by The Justified Sinner/Flickr / The Nest
    Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs With Fettuccine -- oh, you saucy minx. These cheese-filled meatballs on top of heaps of fettuccine pasta equal 1,510 calories and a whopping 43 grams of saturated fat. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that most adults consume 2,000 calories and 65 grams of fat, with 20 grams of that being saturated fat, daily. Translation? One serving of this meal provides about a day’s worth of calories and over two days’ worth of saturated fat.

    Instead, go for something off the Under 550 Calories menu, which boasts tasty dishes like Roasted Garlic Sirloin and Sizzling Asian Shrimp and Broccoli.

  2. Chili’s

    Photo by Patrickkwk/Flickr / The Nest
    One of the worst options on the Chili’s menu? The Southern Smokehouse Burger With Ancho Chile BBQ. It has 2,290 calories and 139 grams of fat. In fact, all of the burgers on the Chili’s menu are well over 1,000 calories. And if you’re going for a lighter option, watch out: The Quesadilla Explosion Salad has 1,300 calories and 87 grams of fat. So much for “a fresh take on salads.”

    Your best bet is the Margarita Grilled Chicken (550 calories). Order it with a side of steamed broccoli (80 calories) or sweet corn on the cob with butter (200 calories) to keep yourself from completely ruining your diet.

  3. T.G.I. Friday’s

    Photo by ElvertBarnes/Flickr / The Nest
    In short, stay away from anything labeled Jack Daniel’s Grill -- it may taste good, but it’s not so good for your waistline. The Jack Daniel’s Salmon has the lowest calorie count (890) -- but add sides and you’re back to a colossal calorie bomb. The Kansas City BBQ Burger is also a bad bet: It comes in at 1,510 calories and 29 grams of saturated fat. (And that’s before fries.)

    Try going for the Balsamic Glazed Chicken Caesar Salad or the Dragonfire Chicken entree (chicken with a Chinese kung pao sauce served over jasmine rice with broccoli).

  4. California Pizza Kitchen

    Photo by Ericyu/Flickr / The Nest
    Thinking of a deli sandwich? Be sure to skip CPK’s Italian Deli Sandwich With Herb Cheese; it has 1,260 calories and 23 grams of saturated fat. Even worse? The Pesto Cream Penne With Chicken and Shrimp, which rounds out at 1,631 calories and 58 grams of saturated fat.

    Your best bet is sticking with the item the restaurant is named for: Pizza. Plain cheese or chicken is the smartest option. Split one with a friend and add a salad, and you’re looking at about 800 calories.

  5. Olive Garden

    Photo by Sjsharktank/Flickr / The Nest
    One of the worst contenders on the menu is the Tour of Italy, which comes in at 1,450 calories and 74 grams of fat, 33 grams of which are saturated fat (plus 3,830 milligrams of sodium). The worst part about dining at Olive Garden is that you’re left with not so many options in the healthy eating department: Half a dozen of the choices on the Classic Pastas menu exceed 1,000 calories (plus, let’s not forget the breadsticks!).

    Instead, go for protein-based meals with not-so-heavy sauces, like the Venetian Apricot Chicken (400 calories). If you’re hunkering for pasta, stick to the Linguine alla Marinara, which contains a respectable 430 calories.

  6. Outback Steakhouse

    Photo by Roboppy/Flickr / The Nest
    We get it: If you’re going to a steak house, you’re probably jonesing for red meat. But if you choose Baby Back Ribs (with Aussie Fries), you’ll be consuming 1,539 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat.

    Instead, choose something from the Under 500 Calories menu -- which includes a 6-ounce sirloin. See? You can have your meat and eat it too (without the guilt).

  7. The Cheesecake Factory

    Photo by Allieatfood/Flickr / The Nest
    If you think you only have to worry about the cheesecake, you’re wrong. Not one of this chain’s Factory Combinations -- which offer two-meat dishes -- has less than 1,000 calories and 40 grams of saturated fat. Other huge diet killers? The Factory Burrito Grande (1,840 calories) and the surprising Grilled Chicken and Avocado Club (1,400 calories).

    You’re better off sticking to -- interestingly enough -- The Factory Burger. It has 740 calories (be sure to skip the fries and add some fresh veggies if you want a side). Or order from the SkinnyLicious menu, which offers almost 50 dishes under 590 calories.

  8. Chipotle

    Photo by EricMMartin/Flickr / The Nest
    These big burritos are delicious -- but also packed with calories! One Burrito, with your choice of meat, plus beans, rice, sour cream, cheese and salsa, comes in at about 1,000 calories (or more).

    Get the same great taste -- and save yourself some calories -- by ordering a Burrito Bowl (sans the rice). Or, take the less is more approach and share the Burrito with a friend.

  9. Cosi

    Photo by EdYourdon/Flickr / The Nest
    Don’t be fooled by Cosi’s flatbread pizzas. The Smokey BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza comes in at 913 calories -- and 11 grams of saturated fat. Another one to watch out for: the Steak T.B.M. Sandwich (tomato, basil, mozzarella), which packs 821 calories and 19 grams of saturated fat.

    To cut down on the calories and fat, choose something from the “lighter side” menu, which takes items from the original menu and lightens them up a bit. You can choose anything from a Cosi Cobb Salad Light to the Tandoori Chicken Sandwich Light.

  10. Red Lobster

    Photo by CalgaryReviews/Flickr / The Nest
    Red Lobster is one of the best restaurants out there in terms of good-for-you options. But be forewarned: The seafood spot boasts some very bad-for-you meals too, like the Admiral’s Feast, coming in at 1,280 calories and 73 grams of fat (not to mention the Cheddar Biscuits, at 150 calories and 8 grams of fat each).

    Instead, go for the Garlic-Grilled Jumbo Shrimp, which equals 370 calories and 9 grams of fat. Order a side of steamed veggies and you’ll be doing your body good.