Unless you’ve been eating under a rock, you probably know by now that the greasier something is, the unhealthier it is for you, especially from a fat and calorie standpoint. But we bet that the sheer quantity of calories contained in some of the most popular greasy foods will still shock you.
The science behind greasy foods being unhealthy isn’t especially difficult to understand. It all comes down to energy: Oil makes for an especially good energy source (just look at how a small amount can power a lamp), and calories measure how much energy a food product contains. The more oil contained in a food we eat, the more calories we consume (to put it simply), and if we don’t immediately burn off that energy, it’s stored in our body as fat.
Occasionally eating greasy food isn’t going to hurt you. It’s when greasy foods become a staple of your diet that your health (and waistline) can be negatively impacted. And just as important as what you eat is how much of it you eat. And that’s where we tend to go off the rails. Even if you’re eating something that’s considered to be healthy, if you eat three times as much as you should, well, it’s not so healthy anymore. And if you eat three slices of pizza instead of one, then you’re getting into really unhealthy territory.
Read on to learn just how much fat and calories are lurking in your favorite greasy foods, and prepare to be surprised. In order to find the exact figures, we used nutrition information from chain restaurant websites, so keep in mind that the portion sizes at your favorite local restaurant might be twice the size (or containing twice as much cheese) as that of dishes served by these chains.
Either way, we suggest you maybe take half home in a doggy bag.
1. Buffalo Wings
Deep frying chicken wings and dousing them in a sauce that’s half-butter, half- hot sauce (yes, that’s the standard wing sauce formula) is a recipe for diet disaster. At Buffalo Wild Wings, for example, an order of 10 wings contains about 750 calories, 45 grams of fat, and 14 grams of saturated fat.
2. Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich
Because this isn’t a chain restaurant staple, we had to do our own calculation on this one. Add up the fat and calories in a bacon-egger (one egg, one slice of cheese, two strips of bacon, a roll, and a dab of butter), and you’re looking at about 600 calories and 35 grams of fat, not to mention a hefty dose of cholesterol.
A straight-ahead cheeseburger from Shake Shack contains 455 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 13 grams of saturated fat, which isn’t too terrible, but this is a relatively small burger. If you’re in the mood for a more substantial patty from a restaurant like Red Robin, a classic cheeseburger clocks in at 733 calories and 41 grams of fat.
A bowl of chili can be less healthy than a burger. A bowl of Terlingua chili at Chili’s, for example, contains 460 calories, 31 grams of fat, and 15 grams of saturated fat, and bean-free versions pack in even more calories.
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A doughnut may seem light as air and be gone in just a few bites, but they’re still deep-fried dough. At Dunkin’ Donuts, a chocolate frosted doughnut contains 280 calories and 15 grams of fat, and a coconut doughnut (the unhealthiest offering) contains 400 calories and 22 grams of fat.
6. French Fries
A medium-sized order of fries at McDonald’s contains 230 calories and 11 grams of fat, but don’t forget that appetizer-sized restaurant portions are much larger. And once you start adding chili and cheese, you can easily be passing the 1,000-calorie mark.
7. Fried Chicken
Order an Original Recipe half-chicken (breast, thigh, wing, and drumstick) at KFC and you’ll be downing 860 calories, 52 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, a whopping 280 milligrams of cholesterol, and 2,640 milligrams of sodium. Fried chicken tenders are also among the unhealthiest things you can order at a restaurant; when served with fries (which is usually the case), they can easily exceed 1,000 calories.