A 7-pound burrito. A burger packed with more calories than most people need in two days. A deep-fried banana split. These are among the unbelievably fattening foods that have captured the popular imagination.
Shows like Man v. Food on the Travel Channel have showcased the sport of extreme eating. A 72-ounce steak at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, and restaurants like the Heart Attack Grill in Dallas and Mel’s Country Café in Tomball, Texas, have become infamous for their enormous portions. Customers are lured by media attention, the idea of getting their name on a "wall of fame," free meals and T-shirts, or just bragging rights.
"Restaurant foods are getting worse," says Jayne Hurley, RD, senior nutritionist for the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest. "They are going for broke, and I don’t think it is as bad as it is going to get."
"Fifteen years ago, when I first started evaluating restaurant food, I was blown away by the 1,500 calories in a serving of fettuccine Alfredo. But now it takes 2,000-3,000 calories to turn my head."
So what are some of the worst of these super-fattening foods? American Dietetic Association spokeswomen Marisa Moore and Lona Sandon helped WebMD calculate approximate calories of some of these supersized dishes to come up with a list of the five worst foods for your diet. (When reading this list, keep in mind that most adults need fewer than 2,000 calories each day.)
1. Mel’s Country Café in Texas sells the Mega Mel Burger with 1.5 pounds of ground beef, a pound of bacon, 1/4 pound of American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickle and bun. It weighs in at an estimated 4,556 calories.
2. Fifth Third, a minor-league baseball park in Comstock Park, Mich., offers the Fifth Third Burger, which totals an estimated 4,800 calories. The $20 burger features five beef patties, five slices of cheese, almost a cup of chili, lots of salsa, and corn chips piled on an 8-inch bun so colossal it was featured on the Food Network's popular show Unwrapped.
3. Jack n Grills in Denver tests the limits with their football-size, 7-pound burrito filled with eggs, ham, green chiles, potatoes, cheese, and onions, totaling an estimated 3,764 calories. Women who finish this colossal meal in one sitting without a bathroom break are rewarded with free meals for life.
4. One of the most popular items at the Shake Shack, a modern roadside burger stand in New York, is the Shack Stack, featuring a deep-friend Portobello mushroom, stuffed with cheese, sandwiched between two cheeseburgers on a bun. This colossal burger will set you back about 1,500 calories.
5. Among the deep-fried monstrosities to be found at state fairs is the Fried Banana Split, served across the country. For this over-the-top creation, banana and honey peanut butter are rolled into balls, then battered, deep-fried, and topped with powdered sugar, caramel and chocolate syrups, peanuts, whipped cream, banana split-flavored ice cream bites, and a cherry. The dietary damage? Approximately 2,000 calories and four days' worth of saturated fat.