The 2022 Xtreme Eating Awards
This article is free for a limited time. Subscribe to access every article and recipe.
A typical restaurant meal—with no appetizer, drink, or dessert—can easily hit 1,000 calories. Just what we need!
But that’s child’s play compared to our “winners.” Most pack 2,000+ calories and more than a day’s saturated fat and sodium. Some also deliver a wallop of added sugar. (The Feds still don’t require restaurants to disclose added sugar, so our numbers are estimates. Helloo, FDA?)
Are these eight items the worst in America? Heck no. Are they extreme-worthy? You bet.
And if you're looking for lighter options, we've got some better bets.
What’s a day’s worth?
- Calories: 2,000
- Saturated Fat: 20 g
- Sodium: 2,300 mg
- Added Sugar: 50 g
For the items below, saturated fat, sodium, and (estimated) added sugar are only shown if an item has close to half the Daily Value (half a day’s worth) or more. Calories are always shown.
Since the chains don’t disclose added sugar, we estimated using total sugar, menu descriptions, ingredients (if available), and, in some cases, total vs. added sugar in similar packaged foods.
Even bigger mouth
Remember w-a-a-y back when a Quarter Pounder was a big burger? In October, Chili’s proudly announced two new Big Mouth Burgers that “boast two (yes, TWO) beef patties for a full pound of beef!”
Between the (greenhouse gas-generating) beef, cheddar cheese, six slices of bacon, sugary BBQ sauce, and white-flour bun, the Big Bacon BBQ Burger hits 1,720 calories. With fries, you’re talking 2,140!
It’s like eating: 3 Burger King Whoppers with Cheese.
Like Applebee’s other “Mucho” cocktails, the Shark Bowl is served in a humongous goblet that holds roughly 2½ cups.
You get a pair of gummy sharks swimming in what looks like a blue slushy. (It’s a sugary drink mix blended with rum and ice.)
Nothing like 630 calories and an estimated 26 teaspoons of added sugar before your meal!
It’s like drinking: 1 liter of Sprite plus 2 oz. of rum.
You’ve gotta hand it to The Cheesecake Factory. The chain has never missed earning at least one Xtreme Eating award. This year, make it two: And its new (since 2021) Classic Italian Trio is a stunner.
The Fettuccini Alfredo/Chicken Parmesan/Baked Rigatoni platter may look like one dish, but its 2,800 calories are enough for nearly 1½ days, and its saturated fat is enough for more than 4! And those calories include the load of refined carbs in the white pasta, but not the free bread served at your table.
It’s like eating: 3 Pizza Hut Supreme Personal Pan Pizzas plus 1 stick of butter.
The Cheesecake Factory French Dip Cheeseburger is a “Charbroiled Cheeseburger Served on a Toasted Brioche Roll with Grilled Onions, Sriracha Mayo and Au Jus for Dipping.” The sandwich alone has 1,670 calories. With fries, it hits 2,200...if you eat none of the extra free bread.
Nothing like an oversized cheeseburger & fries dressed up to look classier (though it’s mostly just bigger) than fast food.
It’s like eating: 2 footlong Subway Steak & Cheese sandwiches plus ½ cup of lard for dipping.
Who wouldn’t want to start the day with the two strips of bacon, two sausage patties, two sausage links, slice of ham, two eggs, hotcake, and slice of French toast plus hash browns, home fries, or fresh fruit in a Bob Evans The Whole Hog? Anything less, and you’d be famished by 10 a.m.
With home fries and fried eggs, the meal hits 2,000 calories. “Go hog wild for our farm-famous meats!” says Bob’s website. Make that “cancer-causing processed meats!”
It’s like eating: 2 Sausage McMuffins, 2 Egg McMuffins, and 6 Hotcakes at McDonald’s.
Fajitas are never skimpy. But the Smokehouse Fajitas at On The Border are “Texas-size.”
We’re talking ribs, sausage, carnitas (pork), and beef brisket with sugary BBQ sauces, plus 6 flour tortillas and refried beans, rice, cheese, and pico de gallo. It’s a salt-drenched 2,530-calorie red-and-processed-meat extravaganza!
It’s like eating: 13 Taco Bell Beef Soft Tacos.
Shake it off
“What, you’ve never wanted to take a piece of tasty yellow cake with some sweet and creamy ice cream and blend it all up until you can drink it?” asks Cold Stone Creamery.
Well, here’s your chance. With a 20 oz. “Love It” size Cake Batter ‘n Shake, Cold Stone squeezes 1,440 calories’ worth of ice cream plus white flour plus whipped topping into your cup.
You’ll never even notice the 2½ days’ worth of saturated fat and the estimated 24 teaspoons of added sugar.
Remember when an ordinary ice cream cone was a memorable treat?
It’s like eating: A pint of Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream plus 3 Twinkies.
The Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo with Grilled Chicken at Olive Garden doesn’t sound so extreme. It’s grilled chicken, for goshsakes.
The tip-off: “Alfredo.” The butter-cream-and-cheese sauce can turn almost any food into a health hazard. The dish delivers 1,980 calories...but only if you turn down the free breadsticks and soup or salad that come with Olive Garden’s entrées.
It's like eating: a Fettuccine Alfredo entrée plus a Cheese Ravioli entrée at Olive Garden.
You've seen what not to eat. Now here's the good stuff.
Want to protect your heart, eat more fruits and veggies, and cut unhealthy carbs? Nutrition Action breaks down which foods—and how many servings of them—belong in a healthy eating plan. We also show you what a day's worth of healthy food looks like.
Past Xtreme Eating Awards
Subscribe to Nutrition Action
Nutrition Action is completely independent. We accept no advertising and take no donations from corporations or the government. So we’re free to blow the whistle on dishonest or unhealthy supplements, foods, and restaurant menu items—and to applaud the good ones.