If you're trying to eat healthy, what is the worst thing you could put in your mouth right now?
Sadly, the answer may be some tasty meals at your favorite suburban restaurants, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The group just handed down its Extreme Eating Awards, which is a list of restaurant meals packed with enough fat, sugar and salt to cause your heart to swoon (and not in a good way).
Unfortunately, everything on it sounds downright heavenly.
We're sorry if any of the following caloric nightmares are among your gastrointestinal dreams.
Monster Meal at Red Robin: 3,540 calories
Sugar isn't the first thing you think of when it comes to a big burger meal, but that's what you'll get a heaping dose of if you're downing Red Robin's A.1. Peppercorn "Monster" burger meal.
Once you monster-size that burger, add the bottomless steak fries and salted caramel milkshake, you're getting an additional three-fourths of a cup of straight sugar in your veins (38 teaspoons). That helps boost the meal's calorie level to 3,540. As an added bonus, you get 3½ days of saturated fat (69 grams) and four days worth of sodium (6,280 milligrams).
In case you didn't know -- and even if you didn't want to know -- the daily recommended intake for the average adult is 16 grams of saturated fat, 2,300 milligrams of sodium and 6 teaspoons of sugar.
You'd have to go dancing for 14 hours to burn if all off, or work 35 hours at your desk (counting trips to the bathroom and printer).
In contrast, you could eat 177,000 pieces of broccoli before you hit that same calorie level. Not that anyone would want to eat that much broccoli in one sitting.
The Big "Hook" Up, Joe's Crab Shack: 3,280 calories
Joe's Crab Shack's Big "Hook" Up platter is a friedfoodaganza of something called Great Balls of Fire ("seafood and crab balls full of jalapeños and cream cheese coated in panko bread crumbs served with ranch dressing), fish & chips, coconut shrimp, crab stuffed shrimp, hushpuppies and coleslaw.
You will sink like a stone after downing these 3,280 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 7,610 mg of sodium.
To burn off that many calories, one would need to play golf (without a cart or a caddie) for 11 straight hours, or work 32 hours at your desk.
Or, you could eat 124,640 brussel sprouts.
Bruleed French toast, The Cheesecake Factory: 2,780 calories
If you love your Bruleed French toast at The Cheesecake Factory, you might want to run a marathon or two before diving into all 2,780 calories of custard-soaked bread covered in powdered sugar and maple-butter syrup, and a 200-calorie side of bacon.
The meal includes five days worth of saturated fat (93 grams) and more than a day's worth of sodium (2,340 milligrams), and 24 teaspoons of sugar.
In order to burn that many calories, you'd have to swim for seven hours, or work 27½ hours at your desk.
Or, you could eat 927 stalks of asparagus.
Big Slab of ribs, Famous Dave's: 2,770 calories
If you pile 1½ pounds of "The Big Slab" of St. Louis-style pork spareribs at Famous Dave's on your plate, along with fries, Wilbur beans and a cornbread muffin, you'll be piling 2,770 calories, 54 grams of saturated fat, 4,320 mg of sodium, and 14 teaspoons of sugar on your hips.
You'll need to mow your lawn for 7½ hours to burn those calories off, or work 27 hours at your desk.
Or, you could eat 1,611 green beans.
Contadina style steak, Maggiano's: 2,420 calories
You can order any steak "Contadina style" at Maggiano's Little Italy and get two Italian sausage links, crispy red Vesuvio-style potatoes, roasted red & yellow peppers, roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, steak jus, and garlic butter added on to your meat of choice.
And that really adds on the calories. For example, adding Contadina style to a Prime New York steak nearly doubles its calories to 2,420.
That's like adding another five McDonald's quarter pounders, Nutrition Action experts say. The meal has 66 grams of saturated fat (3+ days' worth of damage) and 5,620 milligrams of sodium.
You'd have to push it on a rowing machine for 7½ hours to burn off the calories, or work 24 hours at your desk.
Or, you could eat 403 stalks of celery.
Farfalle with chicken and roasted garlic, Cheesecake Factory: 2,410 calories
You may think that the Cheesecake Factory's farfalle chicken with roasted garlic sounds a bit healthier than the French toast since the menu lists mushrooms, tomato, peas, and caramelized onions instead of bacon and maple syrup. But it's the cream sauce that brings on the big calories; 2,410 to be exact.
The meal packs three days' worth of saturated fat and more than a day's worth of sodium.
You'd have to jog for five hours to burn that off, or work 24 hours at your desk.
Or, you could eat 602 leeks.
The Center for Science and Public Interest is an organization that advocates nutrition, food safety and science. It is funded by subscribers and private donations.