16 Unhealthy Restaurant Meals That Contain a Full a Day’s Worth of Calories

Think the plate of food your server placed in front of you is way too full? Restaurants’ portion size problem isn’t all in your head — and it has a serious impact on the quality of your meals. In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published a study looking at the calorie counts of popular restaurant meals around the country. Researchers found that 92% of the meals surveyed contained more calories than one person should eat in an entire day — over 2,000 calories per meal. Some of your favorite restaurant chains are guilty of this — and it’s something to be aware of if you want to eat out without destroying your diet.

If you’re trying to slim down, you’ll want to stay away from these calorie-dense restaurant meals. Some of them have almost 3,000 calories. Here’s where you’ll find them, and what makes them so unhealthy.

1. Red Lobster: Crab Linguini Alfredo

Restaurant meals like pasta tend to have unhealthy sauces.

Alfredo sauce tastes great, but isn’t great to eat. | iStock.com/MSPhotographic

Craving seafood and pasta? Red Lobster’s Alfredo is a linguini-based pasta dish with a garlic-Parmesan cream sauce and crabmeat pieces. A full lunch portion comes out to 1,910 total calories — and that doesn’t include the accompanying side salad. In addition, you’ll also consume about 48 grams of saturated fat and more than 4,000 milligrams of sodium in a single meal — almost double the recommended daily amount of salt.

The pasta sauce is mostly to blame here. Red Lobster’s website does describe it as “creamy,” which is basically a menu’s way of saying, “There’s way too much salt and fat in this stuff, but it tastes great!” Alfredo sauce is a mixture of butter, cream, salt, and cheese — which are all fine to eat in moderation, but in this case, it’s anything but a moderate portion.