American fast food culture is having a great time and offering more and more elaborate delicacies. Gone are the days of simple burger and stir fry combined meals. Milkshakes also seem a bit of a note as we are offered a wide range of new and imaginative menu items.
The downside? While there has been a noticeable movement towards new health-focused offerings, not all the latest versions of fast food are created equal. Many, in fact, are still produced with an apparent disregard for food altogether. We’re all for occasional indulging, so that’s not to say you need to avoid the tempting new menu items entirely. But before you pull up to the drive-thru window, arm yourself with facts about what you’re about to order.
To help select the incredible abundance of options in today’s fast food market, we consulted dietitian Amy Goodson. Here are the new fast foods that she flagged as unhealthy.
For burrito: 520 calories, 27g of fat (7g of saturated fat), 1,140mg of sodium
If you’ve ever taken a late night Taco Bell run (and regretted it in the morning), you might not be surprised to see that one of the brand’s new items has entered the top five of the most unhealthy list. This unique burrito is, in many ways, surprising. Roll together nacho fries topped with Mexican spices, steak, tomatoes, low-fat sour cream, cheddar cheese, creamy chipotle sauce, and nacho cheese sauce inside a flour tortilla.
But it’s also incredibly unhealthy. Goodson calls it “one to write home about,” noting that not only are you getting an impressive list of ingredients, but you’re also consuming 27 grams of fat and practically half a day of sodium intake. “Nearly half of the calories in this burrito come from fat,” he adds.
A better option at Taco Bell is plain bean burrito, which may be noticeably less fun but also contains a third of the fat.
For biscuit: 610 calories, 45g of fat (17g of saturated fat), 1,370mg of sodium
Goodson summed it up quite clearly: “Cookies are a good way to increase the calories on a breakfast sandwich!”
Wendy’s recently added several cookie sandwiches to the breakfast menu. This particular one stacks grilled sausage and melted American cheese on top of a buttermilk cookie and contains over half the allotted amount of salt a person should consume in a day, and you’re eating it all for breakfast. Plus, as Goodson also pointed out, 45 grams of fat is a pretty big amount to start the day.
The chain’s classic bacon egg and cheese sandwich, which contains an egg, Applewood bacon and cheese and comes on a warm muffin, is a much less unhealthy bet.
By order: 900 calories, 52g of fat, 21g of saturated fat, 1,570mg of sodium
We love the constant innovation on the Shake Shack menu. The burger supplier always throws the script on customers, offering new lineups and flavor profiles that keep things exciting. But one of their latest releases, Buffalo Spiced Cheese Fries, is very unhealthy.
“While potatoes provide nutrients like potassium and fiber, when you turn them into fries drizzled with buffalo gravy and served with a side of more gravy (ranch in this case), you create a side dish with too much sodium and fat,” says Goodson.
Instead of these tasty fries, opt for regular fries with ketchup and save nearly half the calories, fat and sodium.
For burgers: 1,020 calories, 67 g of fat (27 g of saturated fat), 2,500 mg of sodium
Dairy Queen is proud of their new version of burger, the most substantial menu update they have had in years. The cargo A.1. Triple Stack Burger, in particular, is a true creation: spread three meatballs with steak sauce and creamy peppercorn sauce, then stack on thick sliced Applewood bacon, melted Sharp American cheese, and onion rings.
As Goodson points out, this burger alone has more sodium than a person is recommended to consume in a day, as well as over 1,000 calories. Instead of indulging in this extreme option, he suggests grabbing a regular cheeseburger or grilled chicken sandwich.
For sandwich: 1,200 calories, 58 g of fat (18 g of saturated fat), 3,070 mg of sodium
The new most unhealthy fast food no. 1 is this Big Cubano on white bread, Potbelly’s original. This delicious sandwich comes with pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. According to Goodson, meats and cheese are increasing the calorie count and fat content. He also reported the sodium count, which is so exaggerated it’s a bit absurd.
Instead, she recommends opting for the original turkey breast and Swiss bun on multigrain bread and load it with all your favorite veggies.