Healthy Living

Calorie Count Reaches New Highs With 'Fattest' Fast Food: Red Robin's 3,540-Calorie 'Monster Meal'

fatty foods
Most of the meals that made the 2014 "Xtreme Eating Awards" list had calorie counts way over the daily recommended intake of 2,000. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This monster meal gives the phrase “heart attack on a bun” new meaning.

The fattest meal of 2014 award — if one can call it that — goes to Red Robin’s “monster” meal of an A.1. peppercorn burger, bottomless steak fries and a “monster” salted caramel milkshake. This mega-sized, all-American meal peaks at 3,540 calories — way over the recommended average calorie intake for a grown man (2,500 calories) and nearly twice that of a woman (2,000 calories).

The label was defined by the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) “Xtreme Eating Awards.” CSPI also judged the likes of other meals like the Cheesecake Factory’s intense creation of Bruléed French Toast, which is 2,780 calories worth of bread soaked in heavy custard, maple-butter syrup, and bacon. This French toast meal is complete with five days’ worth of saturated fat, over a day's worth of sodium, and three days’ worth of sugar. It would take seven hours of swimming to burn it off — and 12 hours of walking to burn off the Red Robin monster meal, according to CSPI.

“We are all notoriously bad at estimating calories,” Madelyn Ferstrom, the editor of TODAY Diet and Nutrition, said. “These eye-popping numbers seem ‘wrong’ — but it’s a strong wake up call. Including calorie counts is really important. … Many of the chains already have calorie counts for the lower calorie options, so the information on high calorie options provides the consumer with the other end of the calorie equation.”

Other mega meals that made the “Xtreme Eating Awards” list include Joe’s Crab Shack’s “Big Hook Up” platter, which contains seafood and crab balls stuffed with jalapeños, cream cheese, and ranch — along with fish and chips, coconut shrimp, hushpuppies, and coleslaw. The “Big Hook Up” contains about 3,280 calories. There’s also “The Big Slab” of spareribs at Famous Dave’s, and farfalle with chicken and roasted garlic at The Cheesecake Factory.

Because super-sized options have become rampant in American restaurants all across the country, it’s important to stick to a few tips before ordering meals. For example, choose to split dishes in order to cut your calorie count, and then take home leftovers to eat the next few days.

Cheesecake Factory is notorious for its excessive portions, and is just a symbol of the style of American restaurants, where appetizer sizes are enough to fill six people. But the Cheesecake Factory claims it provides diners with plenty of options, including 50 meals on the “Skinnylicious” menu that are under 500 calories. “Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories,” Alethea Rowe, spokeswoman for the Cheesecake Factory, said in a statement. “Others want to share their dish — and we love it when our 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.”

Meanwhile, the dieticians at CSPI are more concerned. “When French toast is ‘Bruléed,’ fries are ‘bottomless,’ and steaks are now garnished with not just one, but two Italian sausages, it’s clear that caloric extremism still rules the roost at many of America’s chain restaurants,” CSPI dietician Paige Einstein said in a news release. “Two out of three American adults are overweight or obese and one in 10 adults has diabetes, thanks in part to The Cheesecake Factory, Chevys Fresh Mex, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and much of the rest of America’s chain restaurant industry.”

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