20 Highest Calorie Counts at Fast Food Chains (And How to Lower Them)

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double cheeseburger
Photo credit: kajakiki/istockphoto

SNEAKY SWAPS

Everyone knows eating out can be dicey for dieters, or really anyone who wants to keep calories in check. Making things trickier: Not all diet-busters are burgers — even a soup-and-salad combo can hide an entire day's worth of calories. The good news? New menu labeling guidelines have made calorie counts more accessible than ever at the nation's largest chains. We've hacked some of the unhealthiest meals and menu items out there to figure out easy ways to skimp on calories — but not on flavor.
Double Bacon Smokehouse Meal, Mcdonald's
Photo credit: Courtesy of mcdonalds.com

MCDONALD'S

Double Bacon Smokehouse Meal: 1,930 calories
The Double Bacon Smokehouse Burger sounds delicious, but it's the most sinful burger on McDonald's menu at 1,130 calories. Add a large order of their hugely popular fries and a large Coke and you've tacked on 800 more calories — perilously close to eating a day's worth of calories in one sitting.

Bacon McDouble, Mcdonald's
Photo credit: Courtesy of mcdonalds.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Trade the large Coke for a Diet Coke, or better yet, water. Downsize the fries to a medium, then trade the Double Bacon Smokehouse for the smaller but still-decadent Bacon McDouble. Bonus: It'll be easier to manage if you're eating on the run.
New total: 790 calories

Spicy Deluxe Sandwich Meal, Chick-fil-A
Photo credit: Courtesy of chick-fil-a.com

CHICK-FIL-A

Spicy Deluxe Sandwich Meal: 1,220 calories
To Chick-fil-A's credit, it keeps calorie counts in check better than a lot of its competitors. Still, if you indulge in a Spicy Deluxe Sandwich, a large order of waffle fries, and the chain's famous lemonade, you'll hit 1,220 calories in one sitting.

12-Piece Grilled Nuggets, Chick-fil-A
Photo credit: Courtesy of chick-fil-a.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Get your chicken fix with a 12-piece order of grilled nuggets instead. Trade the large waffle fries for a small, and satisfy your sweet tooth with a cookie-crumb Greek yogurt parfait instead of the lemonade. You'll get way more protein to keep you full at a fraction of the calories.
New total: 710 calories

XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito Combo, Taco Bell
Photo credit: Courtesy of tacobell.com

TACO BELL

XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito Combo: 1,460 calories
Anything that has "XXL" in its name may not be the healthiest choice. The XXL Beef Grilled Stuft Burrito alone will set you back 870 calories. Adding a crunchy taco and a large Mountain Dew Baja Blast, a Taco Bell favorite, means a run for the border will cost you 1,460 calories.

Grilled Stuft Burrito, Taco Bell
Photo credit: Courtesy of tacobell.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Keep the crunchy taco, but trade in that massive Grilled Stuft Burrito for the more modest (but equally flavorful) Burrito Supreme. You can even keep that cult-favorite Baja Blast — just downsize to a small. Not only will you save big on calories, but sugar, too.
New total: 790 calories

SuperSonic Bacon Double Meal, Sonic
Photo credit: Courtesy of sonicdrivein.com

SONIC

SuperSonic Bacon Double Meal: 2,430 calories
If you find yourself at America's Drive-In come lunch or dinner time, the burgers will surely beckon. But don't heed the siren song of the SuperSonic Bacon Double with Mayo — it has 1,030 calories alone. A meal with a large order of onion rings and Sonic's biggest Frozen Limeade (an insane 44 ounces) adds 1,400 more.

Jr. Deluxe Cheeseburger, Sonic
Photo credit: Courtesy of sonicdrivein.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Okay, okay, we won't take away your bacon. Add it to a Jr. Deluxe Cheeseburger for a more reasonable splurge. Trade that large onion rings for a small order of tater tots — few places make 'em better than Sonic — and swap the massive drink for a large (non-frozen) Diet Cherry Limeaid.
New total: 795 calories

Clam Chowder and Southwest Chile Lime Salad Meal, Panera
Photo credit: Courtesy of panerabread.com

PANERA

Clam Chowder and Southwest Chile Lime Salad Meal: 1,520 calories
Soup and salad for lunch ... what could be healthier? Not so fast: Order Panera's New England clam chowder in a bread bowl, and you're already over 1,000 calories. Add on kettle chips and a half portion of the chicken-topped Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad, and you've topped 1,500 — may as well have that burger.

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, Panera
Photo credit: Courtesy of panerabread.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Step far, far away from the bread bowl. If you've just got to have a creamy soup to warm up on a chilly day, Panera's Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice soup is as satisfying to slurp but much less calorie-dense. Pair a cup of it with the same half salad, and trade out the chips for an apple.
New total: 590 calories

Wendy's Baconator
Photo credit: Wendy's/facebook.com

WENDY'S

Baconator Meal: 1,870 calories
A half-pound of beef, six pieces of crispy bacon, mayo, cheese ... what's not to like? Well, the fact that this sandwich is 950 calories for starters. Add an order of large fries and a large Sprite, and suddenly you're scarfing down 1,870 calories in one go.

Son of Baconator, Wendy's
Photo credit: Courtesy of wendys.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Order the smaller Son of Baconator burger and get all the flavor of the original in a less gut-busting size. Pair it with a large chili instead of fries — you can get those anywhere else, right? — and trade the Sprite for a large Minute Maid Light lemonade.
New total: 895 calories

Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch Meal, Domino's
Photo credit: Samantha D./yelp.com

DOMINO'S

Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch Meal: 1,610 calories
Pizza? Not something we think of health food, but there are choices that can help mitigate the damage. At Domino's, they definitely don't include the Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch pan pizza. Two slices from an extra-large pie pack a whopping 1,040 calories. Starting off a meal with a four-piece serving of parmesan bread bites and ending it with a Chocolate Lava Crunch Cake (one of the menu's sleeper hits) will pack on close to 600 more.

Alfredo Chicken Pizza, Domino's
Photo credit: Tiffany V./yelp.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Swapping the crust is key here. Two slices of a medium crunchy thin-crust pizza with Alfredo sauce, light cheese, chicken, bacon, diced tomato, and provolone will pack in all the flavors of the original pizza, but at less than half the calories. Restrain yourself with just a couple of those parmesan bread bites, and opt for a Marbled Cookie Brownie instead of the cake, good as it is.
New total: 740 calories

Crispy Colonel Sandwich Big Box Meal, KFC
Photo credit: Courtesy of kfc.com

KFC

Crispy Colonel Sandwich Big Box Meal: 1,420 calories
Hungry? This combo gets you a crispy chicken sandwich, a small order of popcorn chicken, potato wedges, coleslaw, and a medium drink such as Tropicana Fruit Punch — an indulgent, if filling, meal setting you back 1,420 calories.

Grilled Chicken Breasts, KFC
Photo credit: Courtesy of kfc.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

There's a healthier way to double up on chicken: Trade the sandwich and popcorn chicken for two juicy, filling grilled chicken breasts. Keep the potato wedges and coleslaw, but switch the drink from fruit punch to Tropicana Light Lemonade. That's still a lot of food, but with a much friendlier calorie count.
New total: 870 calories

Frozen Coffee and a Croissant Breakfast Sandwich, Dunkin' Donuts
Photo credit: Courtesy of dunkindonuts.com

DUNKIN' DONUTS

Frozen Coffee and a Croissant Breakfast Sandwich: 1,900 calories
Say what? Cooling off with a large Mocha Swirl Frozen Coffee with Cream at Dunkin' Donuts means be sucking down 1,190 calories. And while you may have good intentions by choosing a breakfast sandwich over a sugary donut, a Sausage, Egg & Cheese on a Croissant is another 710 calories.

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Wake-Up Wrap
Photo credit: Courtesy of dunkindonuts.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

You can still indulge your sweet tooth: Replace that giant frozen coffee with a medium Mocha Swirl Iced Coffee with Cream. And grab a Sausage, Egg & Cheese Wake-Up Wrap instead of the croissant sandwich — you'll still get plenty of protein while saving big on fat and calories.
New total: 550 calories

Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich Meal, Burger King
Photo credit: Courtesy of bk.com

BURGER KING

Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich Meal: 1,840 calories
This fried chicken sandwich with bacon, onion rings, barbecue sauce, mayo, and cheese sounds decadent and delicious, but at close to 1,000 calories, it's a diet-buster. Adding a large order of fries and Burger King's biggest Dr. Pepper — 38 ounces! — almost doubles your calorie count.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Burger King
Photo credit: Courtesy of bk.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Downsizing to a medium order of fries is a no-brainer. Trade the fried chicken sandwich for a grilled chicken sandwich (keeping the mayo fix). And if you can skip the Dr. Pepper altogether in favor of a diet drink or water, you'll shave off a ton more empty calories.
New total: 850 calories

Chicken Burrito Meal, Chipotle
Photo credit: Courtesy of chipotle.com

CHIPOTLE

Chicken Burrito Meal: 1,935 calories
Chipotle prides itself on serving "food with integrity" — but that integrity still comes with a lot of calories unless you're careful. A chicken burrito with white rice, black beans, veggies, roasted chili-corn salsa, sour cream, and cheese comes in at a whopping 1,165 calories on its own. Adding chips and queso is 770 more (and c'mon — Chipotle's queso isn't worth it).

Chicken Burrito Bowl, Chipotle
Photo credit: chipotle/facebook.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

First, ditch the tortilla's empty calories by ordering a chicken burrito bowl instead. Trade the roasted chili-corn salsa for fresh tomato salsa, and choose either cheese or sour cream — not both. Then split your chips and salsa (not queso) with a friend — fill up on all that burrito-bowl protein instead.
New total: 910 calories

Chicken & Bacon Ranch Footlong Meal, Subway
Photo credit: Courtesy of subway.com

SUBWAY

Chicken & Bacon Ranch Footlong Meal: 1,680 calories
Subway has a lot of lighter options, but that doesn't mean everything on the menu is a smart choice. A footlong Chicken & Bacon Ranch sub on Italian bread will set you back 1,190 calories on its own. Add one of Subway's famous sugar cookies and a 21-ounce Coke, and your "healthier than a burger joint" lunch is actually a whopping 1,680 calories.

6-inch Chicken Sub, Subway
Photo credit: subway/facebook.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

First, replace that footlong with a 6-inch sub — or at least save half for another day. Keep the tasty cookie, but replace the sugary Coke with Diet Coke or water. Not married to the ranch dressing on the sub? Skip it for another easy way to keep calories in check.
New total: 710 calories

Half-Pound Beef N' Cheddar Meal, Arby's
Photo credit: Courtesy of arbys.com

ARBY'S

Half-Pound Beef N' Cheddar Meal: 1,720 calories
Yes, Arby's has the meats. If you opt for the half-pound Beef N' Cheddar and a large order of curly fries to satisfy your carnivorous desires, you're already at 1,390 calories. Add a 22-ounce root beer and you're up to a whopping 1,720 calories.

Classic French Dip & Swiss, Arby's
Photo credit: Courtesy of arbys.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

First, go for the Classic French Dip & Swiss instead: You'll still get that unbeatable beef-and-cheese combination, but you'll save a couple hundred calories. And no, you don't even need to give up the curly fries — just make them a snack size. Finally, trade the root beer for water, diet soda, or a cup of brewed iced tea.
New total: 790-795 calories

Alfredo MontAmore and Garlic Bread, Noodles & Company
Photo credit: Courtesy of noodles.com

NOODLES & COMPANY

Alfredo MontAmore and Garlic Bread: 1,760 calories
Oh, pasta, how we love you — we just wish you loved us back. Chowing down on a regular order of creamy, cheesy Alfredo MontAmore at Noodles and Company will set you back 1,410 calories. Add a small order of cheesy garlic bread and you're closing in on 1,800.

Zoodles, Noodles & Company
Photo credit: noodlesandcompany/facebook.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

In an effort to appeal to calorie- and carb-conscious diners, Noodles and Company has introduced zucchini noodles, or "Zoodles." A small Alfredo MontAmore made with Zoodles comes in at under half the calories of the original dish. If you just have to have some bread to sop up that yummy sauce, opt for a baguette instead of garlic bread.
New total: 770 calories

Orange Chicken and Fried Rice Bigger Plate, Panda Express
Photo credit: Alta D./yelp.com

PANDA EXPRESS

Orange Chicken and Fried Rice Bigger Plate: 1,840 calories
The "Bigger Plate" at Panda Express? Probably so named because it's bigger than anyone really needs, featuring three entrees and one side. Load it up with orange chicken, Beijing beef, honey walnut shrimp, and a full order of fried rice, and you're near your daily 2,000-calorie limit in just one meal.

Orange Chicken and Broccoli Beef, Panda Express
Photo credit: Robyn C./yelp.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Step down to the regular plate and your diet will thank you. That delicious orange chicken can still be yours, but opt for a lighter option such as broccoli beef for a second entrée. Swap the side of rice for mixed veggies and your new meal squeaks in under 700 calories.
New total: 675 calories

Fish and Shrimp Platter, Long John Silver's
Photo credit: Courtesy of ljsilvers.com

LONG JOHN SILVER'S

Fish and Shrimp Platter: 1,920 calories
Long John Silver's tried to clean up its act after being singled out for offering the "worst restaurant meal in America" in 2013. But you can still make a big caloric splash here if you aren't careful. A platter with two pieces of whitefish, a half-dozen shrimp, onion rings, macaroni and cheese, and hushpuppies would close in on 1,400 calories. Pairing it with a large Mountain Dew would tack on over 500 more.

Baked Shrimp and Rice, Long John Silver's
Photo credit: Jared M./yelp.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Cut bait on those heavily battered fish in favor of Long John Silver's baked shrimp and rice. Keep the indulgent macaroni and cheese and hush puppies, but replace the oily onion rings with a side of broccoli. Finally, trade the Mountain Dew for a diet drink (or water), and you won't be drowning in a sea of calories anymore.
New total: 628 calories

Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger Munchie Meal, Jack in the Box
Photo credit: Courtesy of jackinthebox.com

JACK IN THE BOX

Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger Munchie Meal: 1,890 calories
The menu at Jack in the Box is filled with quintessential American road food, but we all know how that greasy goodness can torpedo a diet. Ordering the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger Munchie Meal off the late-night menu will get you a gut-busting mashup of a grilled cheese and a burger, two tacos, a mixed order of French fries and curly fries, and a 20-ounce soft drink. But you'll be downing close to 1,900 calories to satisfy those after-dark cravings.

Jr. Jack with Cheese, Jack in the Box
Photo credit: jackinthebox/facebook.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Trade in the behemoth burger for an equally tasty Jr. Jack with Cheese — hey, it'll be easier to eat at the wheel — and keep one of those iconic tacos. Next, ease up on the grease by replacing the fries with some apple bites with caramel, and opt for a diet drink or water. Your waistline will thank you (and your digestive system, assuming you want to sleep).
New total: 630 calories

Venti Java Chip Frappuccino and a Scone, Starbucks
Photo credit: Courtesy of starbucks.com

STARBUCKS

Venti Java Chip Frappuccino and a Scone: 1,100 calories
Hitting Starbucks for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up? It's hard to do quite as much damage here as a traditional fast-food joint, but that doesn't mean every choice is a good one. Grabbing a Venti Java Chip Frappuccino with whole milk and whipped cream, for instance, will set you back 600 calories — more than a Big Mac. Add a pumpkin scone to further satisfy your sweet tooth and your "snack" hits 1,100 calories.

Venti Java Chip Frappuccino, Starbucks
Photo credit: Courtesy of starbucks.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

You can still have your beloved Frappuccino. Get the tall, not the venti, and request nonfat milk. Skip the whipped cream, too. And if you need something else to stave off hunger, try a Berry Trio Yogurt instead of a scone. The 14 grams of protein will keep you full without the fat and calories.
New total: 470 calories

J.J. Gargantuan Sub Meal, Jimmy John's
Photo credit: Courtesy of jimmyjohns.com

JIMMY JOHN'S

J.J. Gargantuan Sub Meal: 1,770 calories
It's not exactly shocking that a sub named the "Gargantuan" is a 1,120-calorie bomb. Though it's just 8 inches, it layers on salami, capicola, turkey, roast beef, ham, and provolone — plus oil, mayo, vinegar, and some extraneous veggies. Adding a bag of chips and a large Coke only makes matters worse.

J.J. Gargantuan "Unwich" Lettuce Wrap, Jimmy John's
Photo credit: Yohermo E./yelp.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Who needs bread? Make the Gargantuan into a Jimmy Johns "Unwich" lettuce wrap, then ask for light provolone and mayo — yes, you can still have all that delicious meat. Grab a bag of Jimmy John's lower-fat, lower-calorie "Thinny Chips," and stick to a diet soda or water.
New total: 875 calories

Meat Lovers Meal, Pizza Hut
Photo credit: Michelle S./yelp.com

PIZZA HUT

Meat Lovers Meal: 1,360 calories
Pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, pork, beef: We know you love them, but there's no quicker way to keep piling on calories. Just two slices of a large Meat Lovers pan pizza have close to 1,000 calories. Add four of those delectable little garlic knots and a serving of garlic dipping sauce to compound the damage.

Pepperoni Pizza Slices, Pizza Hut
Photo credit: pizzahutus/facebook.com

HOW TO TWEAK IT

Swap out the greasy pan pizza for the lighter thin n' crispy crust. Two large slices of pepperoni will get you your meat fix at just 540 calories. And instead of the garlic knots, nosh on two of Pizza Hut's famously delicious breadsticks.
New total: 820 calories

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