By Olivia Tarantino&Stephen Perrine
Steer clear of these surprising dishes that have so much sugar they should come with warning labels.
The U.S. government thinks you're sweet enough. In fact, earlier this year, the USDA issued guidelines recommending that Americans keep their consumption of added sugars low—to no more than 10 percent of overall calories, or about 180 calories a day for women following an 1,800-calorie diet and 200 for men following a 2,000-calorie diet. This was a huge deal because it was the first time the USDA stepped up to say what the limit on sugar should be.
Their guidelines translate to about 45 grams of sugar a day, tops, or about 11 teaspoons. But organizations from the American Heart Association to the World Health Organization recommend cutting that number further; they say no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day (about six teaspoons) is best for optimal health.
Think 11 teaspoons of sugar a day sounds like a lot? Well, it is. But you'll be surprised how easy it is to eat that much; in fact, the average American woman consumes about 25 teaspoons (100 grams!) of sugar a day, or about 125 Jelly Belly beans a day.
But if you're not popping jelly beans or chugging high-fructose corn syrup, where are all those sugar calories coming from? Surprisingly, a lot come from foods you'd never think of as "sugary." Here's our list of surprising foods with more sugar than the USDA allows in a day, ranked from crazy bad to insanely bad. And if any of these dishes makes your mouth water, consider checking out these tips on 30 Ways to Eat More But Weigh Less!
35. California Pizza Kitchen Three Thai
Nutrition: 1,470 calories, 66 g fat (27 g saturated fat), 3,330 mg sodium, 159 g carbs (12 g fiber, 45 g sugar), 54 g protein
You knew you'd be getting a hearty helping of fat when it came time to order this deep-fried platter, but we bet you'd never guess you'd also be getting as much sugar as 11 Sugar Raised Dunkin Donuts! Even splitting it among three people leaves you with the same amount of sweet stuff that you'd find in a bowl of Reese's Puffs cereal.
34. O'Charley's Chipotle
Nutrition: 1,160 calories, 40 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 2,230 mg sodium, 107 g carbs (13 g fiber, 47 g sugar), 80 g protein
Your love of Chipotle shouldn't lead you to make bad choices. One of which, may be ordering this extremely sweet—and just as salty—appetizer from O'Charley's.
33. Quizno's Apple Harvest Chicken
Nutrition: 680 calories, 38 g fat (6.5 saturated fat), 1,190 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (7 g fiber, 47 g sugar), 25 g protein
Studies have found that people who perceive not-so-wholesome meals as "healthy" will tend to eat 35 percent more of the meal than if they thought of it as a regular food. That's particularly bad news because Quiznos has marketed this salad with a bunch of these health food buzzwords: "apple" and "acai" to name but a few. Brace yourself for the truth: This dish actually has more calories than a Big Mac and more than a day's worth of sugar. Yes, seriously!
32. Red Robin Boneless Bar Wing 'N'
with Banzai Sauce
Nutrition: 1,263 calories, 56 g fat (n/a g saturated fat), 3,839 mg sodium, 141 g carbs (19 g fiber, 47 g sugar), 56 g protein
At Red Robin, "Banzai" is code for "sugar." The same meal with Buzzard Sauce has just 1 gram of sugar.
31. Denny's Fit Fare Banana Pecan
Nutrition: 750 calories, 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,590 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (11 g fiber, 49 g sugar), 29 g protein
Rather than leading you to a healthy choice, Denny's "Fit Fare" really just means the amount of sugar in their breakfast can fit into the worst bottle of sweet iced tea: Gold Peak.
30. Sonic Asian Sweet Chili Boneless
Wings, 12 Piece
Nutrition: 1,110 calories, 32 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 4,130 mg sodium, 123 g carbs (5 g fiber, 49 g sugar), 60 g protein
Don't be fooled by the fact that there's chili in these wings. The hot spice is known to boost your metabolism, but it won't get the chance to do it job when it's drained in as much fat, sodium, and sugar as what's found in these wings.
29. Sonic Handmade Onion Rings,
Nutrition: 1,610 calories, 79 g fat (14 g saturated, 1.5 g trans), 202 g carbs (10 g fiber, 51 g sugar), 23 g protein
Okay, it is "family size," so for sure you'll be sharing. But even if you're a family of four, you're still getting as much sugar from a small portion of rings as you'd get from a Little Debbie Doughnut Stick.
28. Applebee's Honey BBQ
Nutrition: 1,120 calories, 57 g fat (10.5 g saturated fat), 3,100 mg sodium, 108 g carbs (7 g fiber, 51 g sugar), 41 g protein
Yes, honey is an added sugar, no matter what Winnie the Pooh says. In fact, 51 grams of the sugar in this platter comes from the sauce.
27. Applebee's Sweet Potato Fries
Nutrition: 1,160 calories, 77 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,460 mg sodium, 109 g carbs (15 g fiber, 51 g sugar), 7 g protein
Sweet potatoes are already naturally sweet (hence the name), but many restaurants feel the need to guild the lily, sugar-wise. Love sweet potatoes? Try these 20 Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes!
26. California Pizza Kitchen Waldorf
Nutrition: 1,230 calories, 87 g fat (18 g saturated fat), 1,860 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (10 g fiber, 56 g sugar), 43 g protein
It sure sounds like the picture of good health—a salad of fresh apples, grapes, celery, walnuts, and blue cheese—but be cautious. The extra large portion combined with a sugary dressing means that you'll be taking in too much sugar for a single sitting.
25. Au Bon Pain Strawberry
Nutrition (one size, 16 oz): 310 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 72 g carbs (5 g fiber, 57 g sugar), 9 g protein
Calling this a "smoothie" lends the aura of good health. However, this small smoothie has more sugar than what you'd find in half a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream!
24. Pizza Hut Wingstreet
8 pc Honey BBQ
Nutrition (with side of ranch): 1,170 calories, 58 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 2,710 mg sodium, 89 g carbs (2 g fiber, 61 g sugar), 75 g protein
The culprit here isn't the bird itself, but Pizza Hut's Honey BBQ sauce—which is really just a fancy name for a viscous pool of brown sugar. Next time a craving strikes—and you're looking for something hot but still sweet—keep your diabetes risk in check by ordering the Sweet Buffalo. This simple, slimming swap will save you 34 grams of sugar.
23. Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing
Nutrition: 1,710 calories, 74 g fat (29 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fats), 5,330 mg sodium, 184 g carbs (12 g fiber, 62 g sugar), 77 g protein
Sure a large (around 20 wings) may seem like a lot, but even the medium (15 wings) will fill you up with 50 grams of sugar in this sauce described as "Sweet meets heat: A chili pepper, soy and ginger sauce." Judging by the nutrition, the two flavors met, and sweet just ran right by and claimed these wings as its own.
22. Perkins Gridiron Rib Dinner
Nutrition: 2,391 calories, 144 g fat (45 g saturated fat), 3,626 mg sodium, 131 g carbs (8 g fiber, 63 g sugar), 131 g protein
The sugar isn't even the scariest nutritional in this mega dinner. It serves up nearly a day and a half's worth of sodium, a day's worth of calories, and 3 days worth of saturated fat. This is a definite pass. Just like these 30 Worst Supermarket Cookies.
21. Bob Evans Wildfire Fried Chicken Salad
Nutrition (served with ramekin of Colonial dressing and 2 slices of specialty bread): 1,320 calories, 71 g fat (17 g saturated fat), 1,880 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (11 g fiber, 65 g sugar), 43 g protein
This Wildfire salad ravaged everything in its path—including your diet success.
20. Chili's Crispy Honey Chipotle
with BBQ Sauce
Nutrition: 1,450 calories, 51 g fat (11.5 g saturated fat), 194 g carbs (10 g fiber, 66 g sugar), 56 g protein
With the word "crisp" in the title twice, you'd think fat would be your biggest worry, but Chili's manages to pack 66 grams of sugar into the actual Crisper itself—before even adding on the BBQ Sauce.
19. Perkins San Francisco
Stir Fry with
Nutrition: 701 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 3,492 mg sodium, 128 g carbs (5 g fiber, 67 g sugar), 42 g protein
This stir fry certainly sticks out like a sore thumb in the land of chicken wings, pancake platters, and smoothies. But don't be fooled by its great proportion of veggies and protein-packed shrimp. This sweet dish is a diet bomb waiting to detonate.
18. Buffalo Wild Wings Hickory Pork
Nutrition: 990 calories, 43 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 3,160 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (5 g fiber, 69 g sugar), 36 g protein
Although whipping up a slow-cooker batch of pulled pork makes low-calorie desk lunches a breeze, we'd recommend sticking to your homemade version over this dietary disaster.
17. Jamba Juice Island Pitaya Bowl
Nutrition: 470 calories, 8 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 20 mg sodium, 100 g carbs (12 g fiber, 70 g sugar), 6 g protein
"Energy bowls" are a new trend at juice places, but remember that another word for "energy" is "calories." While some of the sugar comes from fruit, much of it comes from honey and granola, leading to more than two days' worth of sweetness.
16. Chili's Caribbean Salad with
Nutrition: 720 calories, 28 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 1,160 mg sodium, 86 g carbs (8 g fiber, 70 g sugar), 36 g protein
A salad with grilled chicken—every dieter's cliché lunch, right? But this is a terrible example of sugar hiding in a seemingly healthful dish. After eating Chili's Caribbean Salad—and its nine donuts worth of sugar—you'll be less bikini-confident than ever. Order the zesty, Southwest Chicken Soup with a side salad instead. You'll save 60 grams of the sweet stuff, and be swimsuit ready by summer. Build a better salad at home with these awesome mason jar salad recipes!
15. Denny's Peanut Butter Cup
Nutrition (served with hash browns&eggs): 1,580 calories, 92 g fat (28 g saturated fat), 2,600 mg sodium, 160 g carbs (9 g fiber, 73 g sugar), 33 g protein
Don't tell us you didn't see this one coming—the breakfast is named after a candy, after all.
14. O'Charley's California
Nutrition: 1,440 calories, 106 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 1,245 mg sodium, 89 g carbs (0 g fiber, 74 g sugar), 38 g protein
Naming a salad after a state that evokes thoughts of juices and acai bowls seems certainly ironic when said salad has more sugar than you should eat in an entire day and a half!
13. Bob Evans Cranberry Pecan
Nutrition (served with ramekin of Colonial dressing and 2 slices of specialty bread): 1,310 calories, 76 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 2,330 mg sodium, 112 g carbs (9 g fiber, 75 g sugar), 51 g protein
This whole salad has more sugar than you'll find in a piece of cranberry pecan pie!
12. P.F. Chang's Sesame Chicken
Nutrition: 990 calories, 36 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 2,590 mg sodium, 102 g carbs (7 g fiber, 77 g sugar), 69 g protein
Duck! Your dinner table is about to get ransacked by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Covered in a thick coating of sauce, Sesame Chicken has never looked like the healthiest pick on the menu, but you probably didn't suspect that it has as much sugar as 20 jumbo marshmallows! Stay away from this dish, and the Sweet&Sour Chicken, too—that one came in a close second with whopping 69 grams of sugar (but, at least, it has the word "sweet" in the name). Instead, ask your server to bring you the Dynamite Shrimp starter with a small side of Spinach with Garlic as your entree. You'll get that sweet, tangy taste you crave for a fraction of the calories and sugar. And keep losing weight—rapidly—with these 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
11. Perkins Lemon Blueberry Pie
Nutrition: 1,060 calories, 40 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 2,090 mg sodium, 149 g carbs (1 g fiber, 79 g sugar), 24 g protein
The second set of pancakes to top our list hails from all-day-breakfast restaurant, Perkins. These flapjacks have more sugar than 123 M&M's—and no, that's not a typo. You can thank the heaping pile of lemon meringue pie filling, powdered sugar and whipped topping for the all-day sugar buzz.
10. California Pizza Kitchen
Nutrition: 1,500 calories, 99 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1,380 mg sodium, 128 g carbs (27 g fiber, 80 g sugar), 43 g protein
We're pretty sure Morocco will be annoyed to learn their top spice, according to CPK, is sugar. For something that looks and tastes similar, but saves you 68 grams of sugar, ask for the Roast Veggie and Grilled Chicken salad. Ask for the dressing on the side and only use a few spoonfuls—plus, enjoy the heart-healthy avocado, and then check out these avocado recipes for weight loss.
9. Panda Express 3-Entree Plate
Nutrition (for Chow Mein, Sweetfire Chicken Breast, Sweet&Sour Chicken, and Beijing Beef): 1,660 calories, 75 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 2,220 mg sodium, 198 g carbs (7 g fiber, 84 g sugar), 49 g protein
"Panda Express" accurately describes both what you're going to look like, and how long it's going to take you to get there. They call them "sweetfire" meats for a reason. Listen to the warning shot, and take evasive action. Getting a trio of String Bean Chicken Breast, Broccoli Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken with a side of brown rice would save you 66 grams of sugar!
8. P.F. Chang's Spicy Chicken
Nutrition: 960 calories, 35 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,500 mg sodium, 102 g carbs (0 g fiber, 90 g sugar), 61 g protein
We're starting to see a trend here where "spicy" really means you're getting a plate of chicken with as much sugar as 14 Birthday Frosting Filled Chips Ahoy cookies.
7. O'Charley's Full Rack Baby Back Ribs
with Broccoli and
Nutrition: 1,530 calories, 73.5 g fat (26 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 5,300 mg sodium, 136 g carbs (10 g fiber, 94 g sugar), 73 g protein
The culprit for the sugar isn't just the Baby Back Ribs. Would you ever guess that a side of mashed potatoes had 18 grams of sugar in it? That's more than what's in three KIND Fruit&Nut Delight bars! And that's one of our top ranked KIND bars!
6. Cheesecake Factory Teriyaki Chicken
Nutrition: 1,320 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 3993 g sodium, 207 g carbs (2 g fiber, 96 g sugar), 70 protein
"Terror-yaki" is more like it. This entree—which could only have been conceived in a "factory"—is the sugar equivalent of 3.5 Snickers Bars, and comes topped with two days' worth of salt. As much as we hate the idea of ordering anything called "Skinnylicious" in front of a dinner date, at Cheesecake Factory that might be your best.
5. Boston Market Half-Rack St. Louis
Style BBQ Ribs
Nutrition (served with Corn, Sweet Potato Casserole, BBQ Sauce&Cornbread): 1,760 calories, 94 g fat (30 g saturated fat), 2,950 mg sodium, 164 g carbs (10 g fiber, 105 g sugar), 58 g protein
With a holiday weekend's worth of sugar and two days of sodium, your blood sugar and blood pressure will be in a race to see who can redline faster. Opting the same plate but with a Quarter Skinless Rotisserie Chicken with gravy instead of BBQ sauce will save you a whopping 28 grams of sugar—enough that you can enjoy what you really want: dessert.
4. Cheesecake Factory Bruleed
Nutrition: 2,780 calories, n/a g fat (93 g saturated fat), 2,230 mg sodium, n/a g carbs (n/a g fiber, 120 g sugar), n/a g protein
Calling this "dessert for breakfast" wouldn't even cut it, since an average slice of white cake with chocolate frosting only has 30 grams of sugar. Meet the absolute Worst Breakfast in America.
3. Jamba Juice Strawberry
Surf Rider, Large
Nutrition (28 oz): 590 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 142 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 128 g sugar), 4 g protein
Strawberry Surf Rider? Strawberry Couch Rider might be a better name for this sugary combination of fruit, lime sherbet, and lemonade. Even downgrading to the smallest size, 16 ounces, will still put you at 70 grams of the sweet stuff.
2. IHOP Cinnamon Bun Pancakes with Syrup
Nutrition: 1,205 calories, 35 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 842 mg sodium, 212 g carbs (0 g fiber, 140 g sugar), 6 g protein
Wolfing down this breakfast means you'll set yourself back more sugar than if you had two and a half Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Rolls.
1. Smoothie King The Hulk
Strawberry, 40 oz
Nutrition: 1,928 calories, 64 g fat (26 g saturated fat), 576 mg sodium, 290 g carbs (16 g fiber, 250 g sugar), 50 g protein
"Blended to help you get toned, build muscle, last longer or recover faster" is the claim Smoothie King makes for its line of Fitness Blends, of which The Hulk is the beefiest. It contains butter pecan ice cream and a proprietary "weight gain blend." We're pretty sure we know what's in that: about five days' worth of sugar. If you looking to bulk up, take a look at these protein powders instead.
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