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Fast Food Confidential

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

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I don't know about you, but my overworked and overwhelmed football-watching eyeballs are telling me 'tis the season for "limited time only" fast food offers. Yes, from Burger King to Taco Bell, our favorite fast food joints are vying for your cash with what they hope you'll consider must-have meals.

A fast quiz: What do basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal and cartoon stupor-star Homer Simpson have in common? They are both pitchmen for the meaty-cheesy-bacony X-Treme Whopper being hawked by Burger King.

If you knew the answer, you too have spent a few hours in front of the boob tube recently. Lucky for you, I've tracked down some of the nutritional info you need to kill these TV commercial-induced cravings quick!

By the way, just what's so extreme about BK's new X-Treme Whopper? Well for starters, the already calorie-rich and fat-packed sandwich is now available with 4 slices of bacon. Does the word overkill mean anything to the kitchen whizzes at the world's No. 2 burger joint? I don't think so....

I couldn't find the exact nutritional numbers at the BK website, ww.burgerking.com, so I tracked down the customer service number and phoned Miami for the skinny on this fatty fare. The gal who answered my call was cheerful but she couldn't locate the info either.

Since the X-Treme Whopper is basically a hybrid of the ever-popular Whopper with Cheese sandwich I called on my math skills and -- with a little side research into bacon -- came away with a "neighborhood" total. Folks, it's a neighborhood you best stay out of!

One Whopper with Cheese sandwich packs 795 calories, 53 grams of fat (19 saturated), 115mg cholesterol, 1,390mg sodium, 51 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber and 39 grams of protein. Add to this the goodness of FOUR strips of bacon (not to mention the fries you will probably gobble with your Whopper) and an extra slice of smoked cheddar cheese and you begin to understand why you should exercise EXTREME caution here. According to an Ohio State University website I stumbled upon while rooting for info on bacon, TWO slices will run you 73 calories, 6 grams of fat and 11mg cholesterol. Thus your 4-slice X-Treme Whopper could very well sport 941 calories and 65 grams of fat. And this doesn't include the fries or the extra slice of smoked cheddar...

It's enough to make Homer shout his trademark DOH!

While there aren't any new products being pushed by McDonald's, the world's No. 1 burger maker is urging us all to come in for a $1 Big 'n Tasty sandwich. They've enlisted comic Cedric the Entertainer and a couple of costumed McD's characters (the Hamburglar and that creepy-looking purple critter -- NO, it's not Barney!) to shill for this Whopper knock-off.

OK, I agree: a buck is a great price for a "deluxe" burger. What's not so great is the 590 calories, 37 grams of fat (12 saturated), 95mg cholesterol, 1,210mg sodium, 40 grams of carbs and 27 grams of protein that come with your Big 'n Tasty with cheese dollar deal.

Turning to Taco Bell... By now you must have seen the cute Carne Asada Grilled Steak Taco TV spots. The ones where the single guy attempts to woo a few hungry gals with his "family recipe" carne asada steak tacos. The ad folks have dubbed this brazen act of deception "carne asada bravado." Maybe it's just me, but the repeated use of the phrase CARNE ASADA grates terribly on the nerves! Sure it sounds nice, but what the heck does that mean to you or me? It's steak (well, at least that's what they tell us) used instead of ground beef in a taco... nuff said.

According to the Taco Bell website, www.tacobell.com, one grilled steak taco has 290 calories, 17 grams of fat (4 saturated), 35mg cholesterol, 640mg sodium, 20 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber and 13 grams protein. The numbers aren't all that bad, however one taco weighs just 4.54 ounces... not nearly enough to satisfy my appetite. No, like Noah guiding the animals into the ark, I must parade at least a pair of tacos into my mouth or it just isn't lunch. Sorry, but for me one taco is an appetizer or a snack at best.

Crossing the road to get to the Colonel's fast food joint... I love Seinfeld reruns and I love original recipe KFC chicken, but I absolutely hate the commercials featuring Jason Alexander (a.k.a. George Costanza) as the smug fan of America's most famous fried fowl.

The latest entry features a pair of Alexanders -- one happy with his $2.99 3-piece KFC crispy strips dinner; the other pining over the $7 version of a similar meal purchased at some unnamed family restaurant. I could digress and tell Alexander just what to do with that $4 he is saving, however I will instead tell you the nutritional numbers.

But first, I've said this before and I'll say it again: KFC stands for Kentucky FRIED Chicken. White meat chicken can be a very healthy part of your diet. But white meat chicken that's breaded and fried should always raise a red flag.

According to the KFC website, www.kfc.com, 3 Crispy Strips have 340 calories, 16 grams of fat (4.5 saturated), 70mg cholesterol, 1,140mg sodium, 20 grams of carbs, 0 fiber and 28 grams of protein. The platter deal show in the commercial features the standard sides of mashed with gravy (120 cals and 6g fat), cole slaw (232 cals and 13.5g fat) and biscuit (180 cals and 10g fat) for an additional 532 calories and 29.5 grams of fat. Ouch!

The good news: Wendy's Mozzarella Chicken Supreme is back for a limited return engagement. The bad news: this cheese-choked offering has overstayed its welcome. Since this sandwich isn't standard menu fare its nutritional info isn't found on the Wendy's website, www.wendys.com. A customer service rep was willing to cough up the totals: 590 calories, 26 grams of fat (9 saturated), 1,300mg sodium, 56 grams carbs and 2 grams of fiber.

I'm about stuffed, but I'll squeeze in one more food that's getting far too much airplay -- The Chicago Dish at Pizza Hut. Sorry folks, but this pizza doesn't even look good. And you know they paid some high-priced food poser to spruce up this product before the cameras rolled!

According to the Pizza Hut website, www.pizzahut.com, one messy 6-ounce slice of the Meat Lover's style has 470 calories, 27 grams of fat (12 saturated), 30mg cholesterol, 630mg sodium, 35 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber and 21 grams protein. You can also have it in pepperoni, pepperoni-Italian sausage-mushroom, Supreme and Veggie Lover's style. The latter is the best bet here.

Anxious to know the best bets at your favorite fast food eateries, sit-down restaurants and convenience stores? eDieters have that info at their fingertips. So what are you waiting for? If you aren't yet a member of the world's leading online weight loss and fitness website click here and get started today.

BEST OF YOUR WORST

Now for a few more of your personal worst food tales. Please note: I am not urging anyone to sample one of these concoctions -- the descriptions are meant solely to prove the contention that man (and woman) will eat ANYTHING!

Here's a tale of bad food from over the water. I recently went on a trip to Scotland with my boyfriend and he introduced me to his local fish and chip shop specialty: A deep-fried pizza supper consisting of one frozen pizza, deep fried, which is then smothered in cheddar cheese and ketchup before adding a whole portion of chips, smothered again in cheese, salt and vinegar. The mix is then folded over and devoured! This delicacy is also available with a battered smoked sausage... just in case you are still feeling hungry!
Kerry

This was a guilty pleasure when I was pregnant. I still indulge on occasion. My husband called it an "Everything But The Salad" salad, and for good reason. I would take massive handfuls of cheese, ham, imitation bacon bits and huge croutons and mix all with bleu cheese dressing so that it was swimming. It's great!
Amy W.

Before my grandfather's heart attack, he used to eat a really gross snack. He would take a piece of chocolate cake, pour cooked brown beans over it, then proceed to stir in Miracle Whip! He would eat it like it was the best thing in the world. It still really grosses me out when I think about it.
Amber

I'm sooooooooooooo embarrassed. I am an ovo lacto vegetarian and I consciously tend to allow a few extra sweets in my diet since I'm not eating the meat. (I am well aware that this is wrong.) Well last night while coming home from work I decided to stop in a new gourmet dessert shop for some coffee and pastry. There I discovered the Chocolate Mountain. Ready? It is a wedge of chocolate cheesecake (about 5 inches high), smothered in chocolate fudge and walnuts. It's topped with a scoop of rocky road ice cream and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and more fudge on top. Whipped cream and nuts on top of this. I left off the cherry so I didn't overdo it. I'm so guilty I'm drinking water all day today.
April Thompson

READER FEEDBACK

Thank you for your newsletters telling us folks about grocery foods. I am a Mom of three small kids, one husband and two dogs and I work fulltime. I look to your newsletter to help me get foods that are good for my family. I had no idea Kraft Macaroni and Cheese had so much fat. I make that stuff all the time. Like when I get home at 5 and we have a kids' basketball game or swimming lessons at 6, I throw a bowl of macaroni and cheese on the table for all 5 of us and off we go. I will not do that again. My 8-year-old son usually eats 3 big bowls! I think of all the fat in his poor young body. YUCK!!! Thanks for the information.
Sherrie Ashenbremer

In response to the people who only put 1/4 a stick of butter in their mac and cheese: It doesn't even NEED butter! It tastes just as good without it! There are so many things that taste fine without butter, like mashed potatoes, Rice-a-Roni, etc. Yeah, it might taste weird to your non-dieting friends, but it's really easy to get used to!
Emily

I notice that all food packages will usually list the amount of sugar in grams, but I'm having a hard time finding out how much sugar is too much. Is there a daily requirement? What is a safe amount of sugar on a daily basis?
Jim Warrington
eDiets' recently departed manager of nutrition development Kathy Stone answers: You bring up an interesting point, one that is a pet peeve of mine. In my opinion, the sugar line is worthless. That is because the sugar grams listed are natural sugar as well as added sugar. Just look at a carton of milk. The sugar grams listed are the lactose, natural milk sugar in the product. It would have been nice if they made the line "added sugar" that would have given you better information. Still, if you are not eating an excessive amount of sweets each day, you should not worry. There is a new Dietary Guideline that says that no more than 25% of your calories should come from sugar. Most health-conscious people consume far less than this.

LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING

My old pal Bill hooked me with this fish story.

Two fellows are fishing in a boat under a bridge. One looks up and sees a funeral procession starting across the bridge. He stands up, takes off his cap, and bows his head. The procession crosses the bridge and the man puts on his cap, picks up his rod and reel, and continues fishing.
The other guy says, "That was touching. I didn't know you had it in you."
The first guy responds, "Well, I guess it was the thing to do - after all, I was married to her for 40 years."

Karen J. contributed this corny but cute chuckle:

A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor's office. After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone.
He said, "Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don't do the following, your husband will surely die. Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him. Don't burden him with chores. Don't discuss your problems with him -- it will only make his stress worse. No nagging. And most importantly, make love with your husband several times a week. If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely."
On the way home, the husband asked his wife. "What did the doctor say?"
He said you're going to die," she replied.

ETC., ETC., ETC.

Until next week, the fridge door is closed. But if you have any questions and/or comments -- or a tasteful joke to share -- feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at john@ediets.com.

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