The 10 Worst Foods of 2011


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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Choosing the 10 worst foods of the year is like shooting beer-battered deep-fried fish in a barrel of boiling oil. Everywhere you aim, you’re bound to hit one.

This year, we scoped out a few fast food joints and a couple of America’s favorite sit-down restaurant chains.

A number of popular restaurants (Cheesecake Factory, anyone?)  do not post their nutritional values online. While most restaurants we researched do share info with consumer, not all are so open with the numbers. And that always raises a red flag for the diner looking to take control of his or her health.

Some of the following “worst 10” are special meals that are rolled out “for a limited time only”; others are standard menu fare at some of our most-visited eateries. Check out our list of the worst of the worst, then be sure to forward it to your friends!

Taco Bell Triple Steak Stack

690 calories
30g fat
13g saturated fat
1,950mg sodium

They say: “A warm, soft flatbread layered with a triple portion of 100% USDA Select marinated, grilled steak and a delicious, melted three-cheese blend.”

Mr. Bad Food says: Despite a cool TV campaign that had a guy who looked part-chef, part-ninja concoct one of these “sandwiches,” I wouldn’t stake my diet on this fast-food meal. I must say Taco Bell has done an amazing job using the same basic ingredients to construct “new” offerings – menu choices that traditionally run fatty and salty.  

The damage: A 155-pound person would have to spend 90 minutes of vigorous stationary rowing to sail away from the caloric damage. (Instead, try Food on the Run: Taco Bell.)

KFC Cheesy Bacon Bowl

680 calories
31g fat
8g saturated fat
2,130mg sodium

They say: “Everything is better with bacon.” That’s the advertising slogan for the limited-time Cheesy Bacon Bowl, which includes layers of mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, popcorn chicken, shredded cheese and bacon.

Mr. Bad Food says: Maybe because it’s only available for a limited time, but the nutritional info for the Cheesy Bacon Bowls is not available on the KFC website.  I even called the main office and was told that the info I sought should be there.  The numbers listed here are for the bacon-free original Mashed Potato Bowl. (Try it: Food on the Run – Is KFC Becoming KGC?)

The damage: A 125-pound person would have to toss a Frisbee for FOUR HOURS to bowl over those estimated calories!

McDonald’s McRib

500 calories
26g fat
10g saturated fat
980mg sodium

They said: “Join the club. The club who loves the flavorful pork and tangy barbeque sauce of our favorite sandwich. We're a discriminating group who don't mind getting sticky.”

Mr. Bad Food says: McDonald’s has brought the McRib sandwich about as many times as the Friday the 13th horror film series brought back serial killer Jason Voorhees. In fact, the “limited time only” sandwich was featured on last year’s Worst Foods list. You can’t keep a bad man – or a bad sandwich – down, I guess. (Try: Food on the Run: McDonald's)
The damage: An hour and 15 minutes of badminton would serve notice to these calories for a 185-pound person.

Dunkin’ Donuts Sausage, Egg & Cheese on a Croissant

690 calories
48g fat
19g saturated fat
1,340mg sodium

They say:  “We offer a wide variety of food and beverages that get you going and keep you running. Find the choices that best fit your lifestyle.”

Mr. Bad Food says: My son and I love these breakfast sandwiches but it’s obvious the sandwiches don’t love us back. Consider this a divorce! (We Tried It: Healthier Options at Dunkin' Donuts)

The damage: Someone who weighs 125 pounds could take the high road and burn off the calories with 90 minutes of rock climbing.

Olive Garden Baked Pasta Romana with Slow-Cooked Beef

1,290 calories
81g fat
40g saturated fat
2,230mg sodium

They say: “Baked layers of ruffled lasagnette pasta and fontina-asiago cheese sauce topped with slow-cooked beef braised in a chianti wine sauce.”

Mr. Bad Food says: Mamma mia! This saucy little number looks luscious, but looks are deceiving as the beefed-up nutritionals prove. (Reach for this instead: Diet Friendly Dining: Olive Garden)

The damage: Feel the burn because it would take three hours and 15 minutes of low-impact aerobics to slow-cook away these calories.

Ruby Tuesday Triple Prime Bacon Cheddar Burger

1,204 calories
88g fat
1,273mg sodium

They say: “Our handcrafted burgers are fresh, never frozen 100% USDA Choice beef. We make all of our burgers to order with only the freshest ingredients. Prime Burgers are the best of the best, made from fresh, 100% USDA Prime beef.  Less than 3% of beef is graded Prime.

Mr. Bad Food says: You would think the “prime” ranking would make the beef lean and the burger less damaging to the waistline. But it’s just another case of fancy marketing lingo tricking us into thinking we are eating healthier. Remember Arby’s “Fresh Market” offerings?  (Choose Diet Friendly Dining: Ruby Tuesday)
The damage: A 185-pounder can wheel away the calories with two hours of Rollerblade skating.

Outback Alice Springs Chicken & Aussie Fries

1,172 calories
68g fat
26g saturated fat
2,050mg sodium

They say: “Wood-fire grilled chicken breast topped with sautéed mushrooms, crisp bacon, melted Monterey Jack and Cheddar and finished with our honey mustard sauce. Served with Aussie Fries.”

Mr. Bad Food says: I hate to break this nutritional news to my wife, who adores this dish.  But frankly my dear, you’re much better to leave this fatty fare out back.

The damage:  You can go ask Alice, but a 125-pound diner can shoosh away the caloric damage with two and a half hours of downhill skiing.

T.G.I. Friday’s Fusion Skewers: Mediterranean Entrée - Black Angus Sirloin

1,440 calories
77g fat
19g saturated fat
3,220mg sodium

They say: “Marinated and fire-grilled with a lemon-garlic sauce. Served with a tasty tzatziki cucumber yogurt sauce, jasmine rice pilaf, vegetable medley and grilled pita.”

Mr. Bad Food says: I think my heart has been skewered! I hate to beef but when I hear of skewers, I tend to think of healthy meats and veggies grilled over an open flame. These numbers were mind-numbing to me. Where do the calories, fat and sodium come from! (Instead try: Diet Friendly Dining – T.G.I. Friday's)

The damage: If you weigh about 155 pounds, you can spike away your caloric damage by spending two and a half hours playing beach volleyball!

Applebee’s Riblets Platter

1,590–1,820 calories
86-87g fat
29g saturated fat
4,170–5,630mg sodium

They say: “With fries and cole slaw these babies are something else.”

Mr. Bad Food says: These “babies” are to ribs what Chuckie is to dolls. They may be harmless-looking at a glance but, WOW! These babies really bite back and they’ll surely stick to your ribs… your belly, thighs and butt, too! (Instead try: Diet Friendly Dining: Applebee's)

The damage: A 155-pounder would bust a rib running at 10 miles an hour for 90 minutes to burn away these calories!

Burger King Triple Whopper

1,230 calories
82g fat
32g saturated fat
1,550mg sodium

They say: “Three flame-broiled beef patties with two slices of American cheese, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, red ripe tomatoes, pickles and onions–all on a toasted sesame seed bun. It’s once, twice, three times the tasty, and it’s waiting for you.

Mr. Bad Food says: Of all the burger joints in the world, this has to be my favorite. But the Home of the Whopper is no home for a healthy heart. Frankly, I don’t even know how anyone can open their mouth wide enough to fit in a TRIPLE Whopper!

The damage: It would take a 185-pound boxer 90 minutes of ring work to punch away the calories from this formidable challenger. (Try Food on the Run: Burger King)
These are the worst food offerings, but the restaurants listed here have plenty of healthier choices on the menu. Be sure to read Tanya's Food on the Run and Diet Friendly Dining series, where she highlights some of the better choices when eating away from home.

See what made our list in past years:

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  • 23
    I don't eat any of these items. Hubby LOVES the McRib, tho. I cringe every time he gets 1. - 12/8/2011   11:50:38 AM
  • 22
    Thanks for the information! - 12/8/2011   11:25:15 AM
  • 21
    Thankfully none of these have reached my lips ~ or have gone to my hips! :-) - 12/8/2011   11:13:30 AM
  • 20
    oh my....thank goodness i stopped eating Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches! That's appalling! eeek - 12/8/2011   11:12:37 AM
  • 19
    phew haven't had any of these things!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 12/8/2011   11:12:18 AM
  • 18
    This is incredible........THANK GOD I HAVE NOT EATEN ANY OF THESE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!! - 12/8/2011   11:03:42 AM
    Holy crap! Applebees riblets! I knew they were high in calories, but that is ridiculous!!!! I've only had it twice, but thats all for me. - 12/8/2011   11:00:46 AM
  • 16
    I'm a little surprized that the Dunkin Donuts Big N Toasty sandwich didn't make the list. That's the one made with two huge pieces of Texas toast, bacon, egg, cheese, etc... I figured that one would be worse than the croissant sandwich.

    - 12/8/2011   9:44:09 AM
    All I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW!!! No wonder I avoid these restaurants like the plague. The amounts of fat and sodium totals in these dishes are staggering to behold.

    I like that these restaurants advertise their dishes on TV as if they are the greatest things to eat (like KFC's Cheesy Bacon Bowl and EVERYTHING from Olive Garden) when they are all truly disgusting looking: gloppy, overdone, unhealthy piles of crap. Thanks for confirming that they truly ARE gloppy, overdone, unhealthy piles of crap. - 12/8/2011   8:55:10 AM
    John, ya done well! These all look like express tickets to Vomitsville - kinda liver-curdling! - 12/8/2011   8:24:41 AM
  • 13
    I did try the Olive Garden one, but had a little under half of it. And the dairy part of it really upset my stomach. My mom ordered it for me. Won't have it again. - 12/8/2011   2:19:17 AM
  • 12
    I love the alice chicken, but never realized how bad it was for you. All this time I thought I was making the "healthy" choice. Guess it's time to make a better version at home. - 12/8/2011   12:20:06 AM
    Meh...all of the stuff listed here is junk food...bereft of nutritional value...and not in my world at all... - 12/7/2011   10:43:16 PM
  • 10
    Hummm, under "The damage:" section. It would be more helpful to stick with one weight and one type of exercise. You started with a 155 lb person doing stationary rowing. If you keep with that analogy, then we can actually judge if we are going to have one of these, maybe once a year like SHIRAK69. I don't, but I have to say I am tempted by the McRib since I know they are sold on a limited basis. - 12/7/2011   7:49:40 PM
  • 9
    The amount of salt alone could give you a heart attack! Yikers! Applebees riblets? No way. - 12/7/2011   7:41:03 PM
  • 8
    Ugh, not one of those items looks appetizing. - 12/7/2011   7:10:33 PM
  • 7
    I noticed that not one of these items is vegetarian. Not to say there aren't veg-friendly bad options (alfredo, cheesy foods, and baked goods immediately come to mind!), but I think by being vegetarian, you automatically avoid a lot of the junk that's out there.

    Not saying that everyone should go veg, but eating vegetarian (make sure to get your protein!) once a twice a week could help to avoid processed junk if you're looking for a way to break your own unhealthy food cycle.

    - 12/7/2011   6:15:03 PM
  • 6
    I would so rather cook at home than kill myself with those awful foods! Gross!
    - 12/7/2011   5:46:02 PM
  • 5
    Just not worth going out to eat - my restaurant is the supermarket and I'll order my meal from the fresh produce, lean meats and whole grains departments! - 12/7/2011   4:11:58 PM
    Man, people just aren't dying fast enough of natural causes, are they? Who thinks that this acceptable? The rallying war cry seems always to be, "but it tastes SO GOOD!" Well, if one is accustomed to garbage, I guess it does. But is it really worth diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, organ failure, and depression? Talk about a "value meal"---they really do give you what you pay for. - 12/7/2011   3:09:46 PM
  • 3
    After I found out how many ingredients the McRib has and that it shares some of the same ones that are in yoga mats, I can't imagine ever even looking at one let alone eating one. - 12/7/2011   3:06:36 PM
  • 2
    Triple Whopper? That's ridiculous... - 12/7/2011   2:37:00 PM
  • 1
    ohh the McRib! I allow myself to have 1 a year. - 12/7/2011   2:31:33 PM

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