They have taste on their side, but are these meals ever really worth the splurge?
When you hear the expression “triple threat,” a person exceptionally good at three separate things (dancing, acting and, say, piano playing) comes to mind. Not so with these foods, which exemplify the expression quite literally. Each possesses such high quantities of saturated fat, calories (often from processed carbs), and sodium that, if eaten in excess, they can raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and of course an expanding waistline.
We talked to Susan Weiner, RD, CDE, a New York based nutritionist and Karyn Capazzo, an RD in private practice in Florida for five “triple threat” foods to eat in serious moderation—or just skip all together.
Somewhere along the line This buttery, flaky pastry, typically eaten on its own with a cup of café,’ became a sandwich bread substitute. Then, inexplicably, the sandwich filling of choice became chicken salad, creating a triple threat lunch of epic proportions.
A large croissant can have nearly 300 calories, 7g saturated fat, and nearly 500mg sodium; add one cup of regular mayo-based chicken salad and you’re looking at an additional 400 calories, about 6g saturated fat, and about 250mg sodium. Do the math—then keep your croissant and chicken salad separate.
An open faced, fish-based sandwich topped with a piece of cheese. How bad could that be? Very. At the popular sandwich chain Quiznos, a large tuna melt contains around 1500 calories, 27g saturated fat, and 1800mg sodium, about the amount recommended for an entire day.
Aside from the high-fat flaky crust, thick, flour-based filling, and high sodium counts typical of packaged foods, according to Weiner, some frozen pot pies—a seemingly single serving meal—actually count as two servings. If you don’t double the nutrition facts on the label, you could be unwittingly consuming double the amount of everything. Still, even a single serving of some potpies should give you pause. A one-cup serving of Marie Callender’s Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie contains 510 calories, 12g saturated fat, and 830mg sodium.
Fast food is, of course, an easy target, but if you’re in a pinch, ordering a grilled chicken sandwich seems wiser than a double cheeseburger, shake, and fries. Even the grilled chicken sandwich at Burger King has 1000 calories, 6g saturated fat, and 1800mg sodium. And, notes Copazzo, this is before you add the value meal soda and fries and any extra ketchup (just two packets has 30 calories and 220mg sodium).
While extremely high-protein diets have mostly fallen out of favor for a more moderate approach, there’s still an all protein/no carbs mindset that could make eating a full rack of ribs seem, if not smart, less-than-awful if you skipped the breadsticks and dessert. Never mind that the BBQ sauce is loaded sugar (carb central), a full rack of baby back ribs at Outback Steakhouse has a whopping 2013 calories, 59g saturated fat, and 2600mg sodium. Even if you split it with a friend, this still probably counts as the ultimate triple threat meal.