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The Most Fattening Meals in America

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Extremely caloric meals at major restaurant chains may be one of the primary culprits behind Americans’ fat waistbands.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently released its annual Xtreme Eating 2013 list of the most caloric dishes served at American restaurants.

The worst offender? A shrimp and pasta dish served with “fresh mushrooms, tomato and arugula” that Cheesecake Factory admits to containing 3,120 calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a very active male eat between 2,400 to 3,000 calories per day.


Chili's full rack of baby back ribs with Shiner Bock BBQ sauce racks up 1,660 calories, 39 grams of saturated fat and 5,025 milligrams of sodium. Down the fries and cinnamon apple sides, and that's an extra 670 calories.

The meal owes the bulk of its calories—as well as its 89 grams of saturated fat (the amount an average person should consume over five days) and 1,090 milligrams of sodium (nearly a full day’s worth)—to the shrimp’s crispy batter, its basil-garlic-lemon cream sauce, and its 3-1/2 cups of “spaghettini.”

Ranking in second place, Maggiano’s 18-ounce Veal Porterhouse clocks in at 2,710 calories, 40 grams of fat (a two-day supply) and 3,700 mg of sodium (exceeding two days’ limit) if you also consume all the “roasted, fried and garlic-buttered crispy red potatoes” on the side. That’s excluding the complimentary ciabatta roll that accompanies the meal. 

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In a close third, the Cheese Cake Factory qualifies again with its 2,610-calorie Crispy Chicken Costoletta with mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus. How does such an innocent-sounding meal ring up so many calories? With triple the normal serving of chicken, lemon (ahem, butter) sauce, oil-drenched breading, and a three-quarter-pound serving of mashed potatoes thickened with heavy butter and cream.

CSPI writes, “Think of the Crispy Chicken Costoletta as an entire KFC 12-piece Original Recipe bucket (2,550 calories), except that the KFC has less than half the sat[urated] fat.”


IHop's Country Fried Steak & Eggs: "Nothing like a mix of fried red meat, fried eggs, fried potatoes, and a load of refined carbs from the breading, pancakes, syrup, and potatoes) for breakfast," wrote the CSPI.

And some restaurants aren’t shying away from the label. As IHop puts it, “It’s all about flavor. Not about limits.” The chain stays true to its motto with combination meals like its Country Fried Steak & Eggs that offers an eight-ounce fried beef steak smothered in country gravy, served with two eggs, hash browns and two buttermilk pancakes. At 1,760 calories, 26 grams of saturated fat and 3,720 mg of sodium, a diner fills his or her daily quota—with some fat, salt and sugar to spare.

Check out CSPI’s full list of calorie-laden meals here:

Unfortunately, these kinds of foods are not only artery-clogging, potentially causing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but they're addictive, as David Bender, Lakota, who in recent years adopted the Paleo lifestyle, and Mary Annette Pember, Ojibwe, can attest. Read: Native Family Turns to its Roots to Combat Poor Health and Food Addiction and Mary Annette Pember Examines the Root Causes of her Food Addiction.

"Separated from our traditional spirituality and cultures, however, we chose the white man’s medicines," Pember wrote in her blog post "Eat, Pray, Love...East Some More" on Daily Yonder. "Alcohol, drugs and foods high in fat and sugar offered short-term relief but in the end, they have betrayed us."