Working out may not be enough to burn off the calories some of these restaurants are dishing out.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, has released its annual “Xtreme Eating Awards,” naming some of the highest-calorie dishes in popular restaurants.
CSPI specifically called out The Cheesecake Factory, which took three out of the nine awards, and says the 150-outlet mall fixture could have “easily swept the entire list.”
“[CEO David Overton] may be tiring of the prize, but he’s certainly making sure that The Cheesecake Factory remains the most calorically extreme chain that we’ve seen,” said CSPI dietitian Paige Einstein.
The Cheesecake Factory argues that they have several low-calories options for diners and says their large portions aren't always consumed in one sitting or by one person.
“With more than 200 menu items, The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices,” the restaurant said in a statement. “Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories. Others want to share their dish – and we love it when guests share – that’s a great sign that our portions are generous – and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers for lunch the next day.”
The restaurant has also released a “SkinnyLicious Menu” with options under 590 calories.
Other restaurants included on the list were Famous Dave’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, Chevys Fresh Mex, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Maggiano’s and Red Robin.
The single unhealthiest meal came from Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. The A.1. Peppercorn burger, bottomless steak fries and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake, had a total of 3,540 calories.
According to CSPI, the average person would need to walk briskly for a full 12 hours to work off those calories.
CSPI suggests that caloric content of foods in restaurants has increased over the last seven years.
“When we were screening candidates for the first Xtreme Eating awards in 2007, we were shocked to see 1,500-calorie entrées,” a release from the group read. “This year, nearly all of our “winners” hit (or just missed) the 2,000-calorie mark. And a few doozies topped 3,000 calories. You could take half home and still overeat.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, daily calorie consumption varies depending on a person’s gender, age and physical activity level.
The USDA recommends consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and advises those who consume 2,000 calories per day to consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat.
Nearly every meal on the CSPI’s list has, by that standard, several days’ worth of saturated fats.
CSPI notes that health care reform legislation signed in 2010 could soon require chains with 20 or more outlets to disclose calorie content on menus. The federal regulations for menu labeling have not yet been finalized.
The full list of high-calorie menu items is listed below.
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers' A.1. Peppercorn Burger, Bottomless Steak Fries and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake: 3,540 calories (almost two day's worth), 69 grams of saturated fat, 6,280 milligrams of sodium, 38 teaspoons of sugar.
- Big "Hook" Up Platter: Joe's Crab Shack: 3,280 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat and 7,610 milligrams of sodium (nearly five days' worth).
- Cheesecake Factory's Bruleed French Toast: 2,780 calories, 93 grams of saturated fat (almost a full work week's worth), 2,230 milligrams of sodium and 24 teaspoons of sugar.
- "The Big Slab" of St. Louis-Style Spareribs at Famous Dave's: 2,770 calories, 54 grams of saturated fat, 4,320 milligrams of sodium and 14 teaspoons of sugar.
- Prime New York Steak Contadina Style at Maggiano's Little Italy: 2,420 calories, 66 grams of saturated fat (3+ days' worth) and 5,620 milligrams of sodium.
- Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic at The Cheesecake Factory: 2,410 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat (a three-day load) and 1,370 milligrams of sodium.
- Signature Deep Dish Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza at BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse: 2,160 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat and 4,680 milligrams (three days' worth) of sodium.
- Chevys Super Cinco Combo and Chevys Fresh Mex: 1,920 calories, 36 grams of saturated fat, and 3,950 milligrams of sodium.
- Cheesecake Factory's Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake: 1,500 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 21 teaspoons of added sugar.