July 30, 2014 -- Talk about a belt buster. The Monster burger meal from Red Robin -- featuring a double-patty burger, steak fries, and a milkshake -- clocks in at 3,540 calories, 69 grams of saturated fat, and more than 4 days’ worth of sodium, making it the most Xtreme restaurant meal in America, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
“That’s definitely the highest-calorie meal this year,” says Paige Einstein, a registered dietitian at the CSPI.
This is the sixth time the group has handed out its Xtreme Eating Awards, and Einstein says this year’s list features some of the heaviest meals it has ever seen.
The restaurant industry says the list isn’t fair since its members offer a variety of healthy choices, too.
“Consumers’ interest in nutritious options continues to grow and the industry continues to meet that demand by providing an array of healthful menu choices. National Restaurant Association research shows that healthful options are not a passing fad, but a top trend across the industry,” says Joy Dubost in a written statement. Dubost is a registered dietitian and director of nutrition and healthy living for the National Restaurant Association.
Calorie Bombs Dominate Menus
But Einstein says that’s not what the CSPI sees when it surveys the menus of 200 top chain restaurants in the U.S.
“Some restaurants have added a handful of these lower-calorie options,” she says, “But by far, the majority of the menu items are higher-calorie menu items, and it should be the other way around. They should have more of these healthier menu options with maybe a handful of ones that are more indulgent.”
Take the second-highest-calorie meal, The Big Hook Up platter from Joe’s Crab Shack. Eat this meal, which includes fish & chips, crab balls with cream cheese, coconut shrimp, crab-stuffed shrimp, hushpuppies, and coleslaw, and you’ll reel in 3,280 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 7,610 milligrams of sodium.
“Seafood is generally healthy, and people might assume any seafood is healthy, but that’s not the case with this meal,” Einstein says.