Chain restaurants have a certain pleasing familiarity to them. An Applebee’s in Delafield, Wisconsin, is going to provide you with essentially the exact same experience as one in Parsippany, New Jersey. But standardizing menus across the entire system comes with one disadvantage: It allows anyone to be able to look up calorie counts online. We tracked down the calorie counts of some of the most popular dishes across 10 major chains, and, well, it ain’t pretty.
It’s a proven fact that meals eaten at restaurants tend to have more calories than those cooked and eaten at home. Restaurants aren’t shy about using a little more butter, for example, than you’re used to using in your personal cooking, and portion sizes (especially at chain restaurants) are astronomical. But the sheer amount of calories in some of these dishes might have you considering saving half (or more) for leftovers.
Fat is flavor, and chain restaurants know that all too well. Thankfully, more and more of them are offering special healthier menu sections, ones that only contain items with fewer than 600 calories, for example. We suggest that you stick to this section of the menu if you aren’t on a mission to expand your waistline.
Loosen your belt and prepare to be in for a shock if you weren’t already aware of the fact that some chain restaurant entrées contain more calories than the FDA recommends we eat in a whole day. Partner these with a couple sugary sodas or cocktails, an appetizer, and dessert, and you’re looking at a meal that can contain more than 4,000 calories! And don’t forget that these insanely high calorie counts don’t often just represent the specific offering from the specific chain; chicken fingers and fries really do have that many calories, wherever you order them.