The 10 Worst Foods of 2011

By , SparkPeople Blogger

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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People must like those things, they sure sell a lot of them. Just not to me. Report
I couldn't believe the Dunkin Donut breakfast sandwich. I haven't had one in almost three years, but use to have one 4-5 times a week. No wonder I got into the mess I got myself into. Report
I have to agree these are all horrible. Way too much fat, sodium and calories for anybody Report
Maybe SP should host a contest and have the fast food places submit tasty healthy options. Report
Dang! Every one of these meals has more calories than I consume in an entire day of eating- including my 2 snacks. Report
Not shocked in the least at these reports. I have always referred to fast food meals as 'make-believe-food'. Food cooked at home can be, if knowledgeable, the best food available.

I wonderful book to read, and you can only purchase it now through as a used book purchase if The Conquest of Cancer. Her discussion on foods, eating and cooking them, is outstanding. Report
These are not "worst" foods. These are foods that are high in sodium, fat, and calories. If a person wants to splurge and eat one of these, so be it. I'm glad chain restaurants make the calorie contents of the menu items available. Truth be told, it rarely changes what I order. I love fried things, and treating myself to fish & chips now and then isn't going to kill me.

Yes, there are people that eat like this everyday. Yes, they're killing themselves. Education without shame is a much better way to change peoples' behavior. Telling them their food choices are gross or disgusting is likely to make them dig in their heels and order a milkshake to wash it all down. Report
What an eye opener..... Report
A triple whopper? Why would you want that? Report
It's really sad that some people eat like this on a daily basis! Report
Wow! I would not choose most of the items even if splurging! They just don't look appealing! Good to know. Report
The only one I have had is the Alice Springs Chicken at Outback...a couple of times. It's delicious. But I have not had it in the past 2 years, and most likely, never will again. Report
i agree, good thing is i dont choose these dishes when i go to these places. except my hubby he always gets the alice springs chx from outbck, needeless to say i just texted him that info lol. taco bell actually has a great fresco menu. the fresco crunchy taco is better than the regular one and only 7g fat...mmm...hungry lol Report
I'm sorry, most of those things even look disgusting, cannot even imagine how awful they taste....except the tripple whopper of course ;) Report
Ok. I don't eat at any of the above except Burger King. I try to make it a Junior Whopper & milkshake for the least amount of calories &fat. I try to not eat fast food much anymore. Report
I am thankful I quit eating fast food years ago, with all those calories they hold. Report
I am so glad I never got caught up in the fast food fad. Never eaten at MacDonalds and most of the ones mentioned above I cook all the meals we eat and grow and raise about 75% of the food I serve. It saves alot of money. I do admit I do like some of Subways sandwiches. Report
I'm so glad i don't eat any of that junk. Report
Romano's Macaroni Grill has a Shrimp dish that includes spinach and pine nuts over vermicelli which is to die for! I found a knock off recipe and total butter for 6 servings is 1 pound and 4 Tbs. My recipe calculator comes up with almost 1100 calories per serving! And that doesn't include the salad and bread you are sure to have along with it. Darn, it's good, but it will never pass my lips again! Darn shame, but enough is enough! Report
I don't eat any of that stuff, but then again, most of those places don't exist in my city (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) maybe only 3 of them I have saw. It would be nice if you included a list that is more world wide since people from around the world use spark! Report
*Taco Bell Triple Steak Stack: Well, anything from Taco Bell is dangerous by any standards!
*KFC Cheesy Bacon Bowl: That just looks disgusting.
*McDonald's McRib: I agree, pretty harmless compared to the others on the list. I know a lot of guys who eat this as a cheat meal when it's available, but at only 500 calories, by itself it's not a half-bad cheat.
*Dunkin' Donuts Sausage, Egg, & Cheese on a Croissant: One of my favorite breakfasts when made fresh. But I can't remember the last time I had one...
*Olive Garden Baked Pasta Romana with Beef: Cheese and beef? Yeah, fat!
*Ruby Tuesday Triple Prime Bacon Cheddar Burger: Cheese and beef? Yeah, fat... Wait a minute...
*Outback Alice Springs Chicken and Outback Fries: Cheese and... well, chicken. But I'm sensing a pattern here.
*TGI Friday's Fusion Skewers: Not gonna lie, this one is tricksie! It's the only one on this list that I think actually looks healthier than it is.
*Applebee's Riblet Platter: Okay, riblets aside, that's a LOT of fries. Holy potato!
*Burger King Triple Whopper: Um, duh. But I bet its flame-grilled goodness makes it better than the Hardee's burger it is clearly mimicking! LOL! Report
The McDonalds McRib sandwich looks benign by comparison with the others.
500 Calories vs 1000+ for the rest
Why is it on this list with so many other chains serving up bad food?
For me personally it has too much salt - about as much as a can of soup - but calorie-wise doesn't seem like such a bad item. Report
I can't believe that Pei Wei or PF Chang's didn't make the list - they serve you 1180 calories with their spicy chicken salad (and then hide it by saying that's 2 servings) - even velvet cooked the calorie count is outrageous.
Good that I don't dine at these restaurants - and now you've provided reason enough not to start. None of these items sounds the least bit yummy to me. I've seen the TV ad for the bowl of "stuff" now with bacon - I can't believe that bowl of "food" sells. Makes me nauseous each time I see it. I still have willies.... Yuck. Report
The good news is that I wouldn't order any of these...even if I didn't read the blog! :) Report
I think the best choice when out in the daytime is Subway. Most other places are too unhealthy. Report
I do not do fast foods. I am quilty of just plain home cooking. Report
So grateul these items have never been part of my diet! Feel so guilt free right now! Report
So grateul these items have never been part of my diet! Feel so guilt free right now! Report
I'm lucky to live in a big city with MANY wonderful ethnic mom-&-pop restaurants right in my neighborhood, so if I want to eat out I don't need to resort to these chains. The downside, of course, is that I don't have access to specific nutritional values--but common sense allows me to avoid high-calorie low-nutrient foods. Report
I usually have one or two McRibs every year when they come out for their limited run. I really have to say that the Taco Bell Steak sandwich is really good, it's just way to big. It could be 1/3 the size and be a much better sandwich. Report
I was going to say this too, just one in one year, too much sodium.. ohhh it is good. Report
I'm absolutely disgusted with the fat content in these meals. What are these restaurants trying to do - KILL US!!!! I mean who eats that amount of fat in one meal let alone all day long. I totally grossed out - ewwwww Report
I learned something really gross about the McRib that will keep me from EVER eating one again - it's made from 'scorched pig stomach' according to an article I read on Yahoo... ewww...

Also, I love KFC's commercial for the bacon bowl. They say "everything tastes better with bacon". My response was the usual "I beg to differ", and my husband came back with "no ice cream!" hahaha Report
A friend and I were driving past a KFC the other day and saw the bacon bowl advert. I said, "there's a heart attack waiting to happen." She agreed that it looked horrendous. Glad to know we knew what we were talking about. Report
I have never had any of these and I guess I never will. They don't appeal to me anyway. I love that many restaurants now have the calories added to the menu. It sure helps me choose what to eat... Report
Although none of those options entice me at all, I would have appreciated a complete nutritional report. I did not see how much protein or carbs one gets if one eats the above meals. Report
So gross. How the heck do you even get 1200 calories into a single sandwich??? They must give you an IV bag of corn syrup to go with it or something.

I'm surprised you don't give more nutritional information. What about sugar/carb content? For those of us watching our carbohydrate intake, that's just as important as saturated fat info. I'll bet ALL of those glazed/sauced entrees have at least a tablespoon's worth of added sugar. Report
Eeks! Another thing to be grateful for this year...that my stomach hasn't had the pleasure of digesting any of the above foods, and for that I'm grateful! ;-) Report
McRib ,wow thanks for the info. Report
Thank Goodness! I don't LiKe any Foods on this 10 Worst food list. Report
Most of these meals I wouldn't eat anyway, even without knowing the numbers, but the skewers may appear like a healthy choice at first blush. Just goes to show how important it is to research the menu BEFORE eating out. Report
None of these were a surprise except the TGIF's skewer. I also can't figure out where the calories come from. This would have seemed a viable option for eating out. Can a marinade really hold that much fat? Are the vegetables cooked in butter? Any ideas? Report
No, I haven't tried any of those and don't plan to. Just reading about them made me feel nauseous. Report
"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." --- Not every place that sells food CAN post "numbers" as foods that are made on sight vary in calories and nutrients from batch to batch.

Control is the issue not good foods vs. bad foods. There are no bad foods. Report
Small point, but "prime" is actually a grade if beef given when it is inspected by a usda representative. Prime beef has the highest degree of internal marbling (fat). It's what makes a steak delicious and juicy. Totally pointless for ground meat, but it absolutely makes sense that it is very high in fat and calories if they're grinding prime beef. Report
Everything is ok in moderation? So just a little bit of poison? no thanks.
I wouldn't even share with a friend, maybe my worst enemy. Report
Wow, not only did I avoid those so-called foods--I avoided those restaurants. Report
I guess that is one of the benefits to living in a small town in Wyoming. We don't have most of these places. Report
It's hard to see things I used to eat all the time on there. No wonder I got this way! Report