How much time did you spend in your car last week? Ten hours? Fifteen maybe? Wow, that sounds like a lot. But it’s still probably an underestimate: As it turns out, the average American now spends 21 hours per week stuck inside a mobile metal box.
No wonder the drive-thru is so appealing. All those hours spent in traffic leaves scarcely any time to sit and eat. Add to that the stress of daily life and the desire to feel like you’re accomplishing something while you drive, and you’ve got a pretty good case for turning the center console into a dining table.
But that convenience comes at a cost. A 15-year study published in the British journal Lancet found that those who ate fast food two or more times per week gained an average of 10 more pounds than those who ate fast food less than once a week. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In my latest book, The Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet, I teach you how to navigate fast-food menus and make sure the meal coming at you through your car window won’t necessitate a loosening of your seatbelt. The first step: Avoid the 5 foods on this list.
1. WORST SIDE DISH
Taco John’s Potato Ole’s (Large)
46 g fat (6 g saturated, 1 g trans)
2,200 mg sodium
Interspersed throughout the menu in various permutations, these glorified tater tots pack a serious one-two punch. The combination of saturated fat and sodium puts a heavy strain on your heart, and the 770 calories test the durability of your belt buckle. Not even the indulgent Meat and Potato Burrito touts numbers this abysmal. Instead, opt for a side of Refried Beans. Order it without cheese and you’ll cut 60 calories, but you’ll hold on to the amazing 11 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein.
2. WORST DESSERT
Dairy Queen Double Fudge Cookie Dough Blizzard (Large)
58 g fat (28 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
133 g sugars
This dessert ought to be served with a life insurance application. The problem is, the rest of the Blizzards aren’t much better—even the smalls tend to hover around 500 calories. Splitting one of those isn’t so bad, but if you prefer to have your own treat, go for a sundae instead. The best approach is to pick the ice-cream flavor of the Blizzard you wanted, and then ask to have that topping added to your sundae. That way you get all the flavor, none of the belly.
3. WORST BURGER
Hardee’s 2/3 lb. Monster Thickburger
95 g fat (36 g saturated)
3,020 mg sodium
At one-third pound of beef, the original Thickburger offers plenty by way of gluttony, but compared to this thing it appears positively conservative. Mashed between beef and bun are 4 strips of bacon, 3 slices of cheese, and a big gob of mayonnaise. That’s how it earns nearly twice the saturated fat you should consume in an entire day! Go with the Little Thick Cheeseburger to you’ll eliminate 65 percent of the calories.
4. WORST BREAKFAST
McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Large Biscuit, Hotcakes, and syrup
60 g fat (20 g saturated)
2,280 mg sodium
49 g sugars
This is the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink breakfast made popular by diners such as Denny’s and IHOP. Consider these stats: This meal has as much saturated fat as 2 Sausage McGriddles, more sodium than 6.5 large orders of french fries, more sugar than 3.5 Hot Apple Pies, and more calories than 3 Double Cheeseburgers. We’re all for eggs at breakfast, but not when they come flanked with pancakes, sausage, hash browns, and an oversized buttermilk biscuit. Pair a Parfait with an Egg McMuffin for 22 grams of belly-filling protein in fewer than 500 calories. Now that’s a great way to start the day.
5. WORST SANDWICH
Quizno’s Large Tuna Melt
98 g fat (20 g saturated, 1 g trans)
1,910 mg sodium
Tuna ought to be a healthy source of lean protein, but Quizno’s suffocates its with so much mayonnaise that the original fish has been relegated to a mere texturing agent amid a wet slurry of fat and calories. We’ve called Quizno’s out for this sandwich before, and we’ll keep at it until they decide trim back on the excesses. In the meantime, go with the Honey Bourbon Chicken Sub. For the regular-size sandwich, you could eat a dozen without hitting the fat load of the Large Tuna Melt.