Sticking to a tight and healthy eating plan can prove challenging, especially when you hit up your favorite restaurants. When you cook at home, you can control how much salt, fat, and sugar goes into your food and tailor your meals as needed. Many restaurants live by the complete opposite philosophy and load up their menu items with a ton of unwholesome nutrition to make their meals taste better and appeal to a broader crowd.
Chili’s menu features multiple items that fall prey to this very tactic. A full rack of the chain’s Honey-Chipotle BBQ Baby Back Ribs comes with 1,520 calories and 41 grams of saturated fat. Their Classic Nachos with beef is 1,370 calories and 43 grams of saturated fat. If you were to eat their Baked Seafood Pasta in one sitting, you would consume 1,600 calories and 99 grams of fat at once. None of these items prove particularly healthy, but they all pale in comparison to the unhealthiest menu item at Chili’s that no one on a diet should order.
“The Bacon Rancher Burger is the most unhealthy item on the Chili’s menu,” Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT at My Crohns and Colitis Team, told Eat This, Not That! “It is one of the highest calorie foods with the highest fat content out of all the entrees—specifically, 123 grams of fat, which is way above the recommended amount you should have in a day.”
The fat content in this burger is no laughing matter. “It has 50 grams of saturated fat and 5 grams of trans fat, which are both linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke,” Feder continues.
While the Bacon Rancher Burger packs in a ton of fat, it does not stop there. “It has 2,730 mg of sodium, which is way over the recommended amount of sodium you should have in a day,” Feder explained.
While the burger easily ranks as the worst item to order at Chili’s, if you need to watch your waistline, some folks find ways to pack even more calories into this meal. Chili’s goes a step further by letting you customize your burger with extra patties, bacon, and the chain’s classic chili. All of these customizable add-ons can easily turn the 1,710-calorie Bacon Rancher Burger into a menu item that easily surpasses 2,000 calories.
When you hit up a Chili’s, don’t assume you have to stick to salads in order to have a healthy and nutritious meal. If you’re craving a burger, you just need to go for the healthiest option possible. “Alex’s Santa Fe Burger is about half the amount of calories and fat,” Feder said. “If you want a burger, I recommend ordering that one instead.”
The Bacon Rancher Burger may rank as the unhealthiest menu item at Chili’s, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch out for other less-than-wholesome meals at the chain. If you need to navigate the restaurant’s nutritional minefield of a menu next time you visit, keep an eye out for extreme calorie counts and excessive fat to pick out a healthier entree.