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Ideally you should be able to dine out healthfully, without worrying too much about what’s on your plate. But not every dining establishment puts nutrition—and what’s best for you—first. If you’re trying to be somewhat health conscious, you should avoid these top unhealthy restaurants in the U.S.
5 California Pizza Kitchen
With “California” in the title, you envision food that is light and healthy and topped with fresh avocado slices. But California Pizza Kitchen is far from healthy. Between the cheesy pizzas and creamy pastas, your heart might stop at the first whiff. But it’s the alarmingly unhealthy salads at CPK that may surprise you. The California Cobb, piled high with lettuce greens, diced meats, chopped eggs and veggies, has as much as 1,050 calories if you top it with bleu cheese dressing. The original BBQ chicken salad gives you 100 more calories than the cobb. You’re better off scratching this restaurant off your favorites list and cooking at home.
If your goal is to get more fat and calories in your diet than you’d get feasting from carts at the carnival, head to Friendly’s. While the name sounds nice, virtually nothing on that menu is “friendly” to your body. Between the traditional egg, bacon and pancake-based breakfasts, high-calorie cheese-smothered sandwiches paired with crisp fries and a bottomless supply of ice cream, you’ll get way more fat and calories than you may realize. Take the golden fried shrimp entrée; you think shrimp, it must be healthy. Not the case. After coating the shrimp in thick fatty batter, they deep-fry them, place them on a pile of french fries and serve up a side of mayo-covered slaw. In all, you’re getting nearly 1,100 calories from one entrée. Give your belly a break and ask for grilled shrimp instead—and skip those fries.
You may not want to believe that a house full of pancakes is unhealthy, but it’s true. IHOP—short for International House of Pancakes—is a restaurant you want to skip if you want to eat healthfully. The majority of foods are prepared on an oily griddle—bacon, sausage, pancakes and fried eggs, to name a few. While just about everything else goes in the fryer—fries, fried pancake batter and battered cuts of meat. Just to paint the picture of exactly how unhealthy IHOP can be, if you order the country fried steak and eggs with a short stack of pancakes, you’ll get over 1,750 calories. That’s just from a breakfast meal. No wonder Americans are getting rounder.
2 Cheesecake Factory
The name alone should frighten you—a factory that makes cheesecakes! The menu is longer than the latest novel you read, but the majority of dishes are enough to make your pants fit tighter, providing a day’s worth of calories in one order. From the cream-based pastas to the endless lists of desserts, the Cheesecake Factory is detrimental for your waistline. The pasta carbonara with chicken is a pile of deliciousness—for 2,500 calories. If you manage to have room for dessert, skip the chocolate tower truffle cake. Weighing in at three-quarters of a pound, this legendary treat dishes up more than 1,600 calories—the same amount you’ll get from 14 Hostess Ho Hos.
1 Five Guys
When the menu is limited to just burgers, fries, shakes and sodas, you know it can’t be good for you. Five Guys is surely delicious and serves up platters of these all-American classics, but it is extraordinarily unhealthy. After all, the entrees are fried, covered in cheese or made with heavy cream. The bacon cheeseburger is one of their worst offenders, providing 920 calories. Want a large side of fries with that? You’ll get another 1,460 calories. Stay far far away from Five Guys, unless they start dishing out small salads and fresh fruits.