Best and Worst Dishes At Your Favorite Restaurants

| Food

Next time you sit down at a restaurant, contemplating your order, keep a few things in mind: calories, trans fat, sugar and protein. The overall caloric intake matters for obvious reasons, but the trans fat and sugar levels need to be low. Why? Trans fat is the "scary" kind of fat that is directly linked to heart attacks and strokes. Sugar is making headlines, and not in a good way, because of its connection to diabetes, cancer and heart disease, regardless of a person's overall health.

Lastly, pay attention to protein intake — the more, the better, even when trying to lose weight. One more thing to be aware of at most restaurants, like the ones listed below, is that most of them use something called "MSG" and other preservatives, making sodium levels sky-high. So, drink plenty of water and add a potassium source to balance it out. Enough of that! Let's get down to business and take a look at the best and worst dishes at your go-to sit-down restaurants.

Woman Looking at Menu

Olive Garden

Best: Parmesan Crusted Filet: 710 calories; 1g trans fat; 47 g protein; 4 g sugar

Worst: Chicken Alfredo: 1540 calories; 2 g trans fat; 72 g protein; 6 g sugar

Nutrition listed here.


Panera Bread

Best Breakfast: Ham, Egg, and Cheese on Whole Grain: 340 calories, 0 g trans fat; 16 g protein; 3 g sugar

Best Lunch: Turkey Cranberry Flatbread Sandwich: 310 calories; 0 g trans fat; 13 g protein; 7 g sugar OR Classic Salad with Chicken 300 calories; 0 g trans fat; 27 g protein; 12 g sugar

Worst Breakfast: Bacon, Egg, & Cheese on Asiago Cheese Bagel: 610 calories; 1 g trans fat; 34 g protein; 4 g sugar

Worst Lunch: Fontina Grilled Cheese on All-Natural White Bread: 850 calories; 2g trans fat; 41g protein; 4g sugar. OR Fuji Apple Chicken Salad: 550 calories; 1 g trans fat; 32 g protein; 21 g sugar

Nutrition listed here.

turkey cranberry flatbread panera
(Photo: Panera Bread)

Outback Steakhouse

Best: Wood-Grilled California Chicken Sandwich: 592 calories; 0.2 g trans fat; 42 g protein; 8 g sugar

Worst: No Rules Parmesan Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Scallops, 1305 calories; 0 g trans fat; 5 g sugar; 71 g protein

>> Try this: Baked Chicken Parmesan, only 251 calories per serving


T.G.I.Friday’s

Best: 6-oz sirloin: 370 calories; 0 g trans fat; 38 g protein. Add a side salad with low-fat balsamic vinaigrette for 120 calories.

Worst: New York Cheddar & Bacon Burger: 1480 calories; 2.5 g trans fat; 52 g protein

Please note sugar amounts were not listed. Nutrition listed here.


Cheesecake Factory (Offers SkinnyLicious Menu)

Best: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: 440 calories; 0 g trans fat; 0 g sugar; 27 g protein

Worst: Chicken and Biscuits 2262 calories; 30 g protein

More nutrition listed here.

(Photo: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap Photo By: Cheesecake Factory)

Ruby Tuesday’s (Offers Smart Eating Menu and Fit & Trim Menu)

Best: Smart Eating Menu Item – Blackened Tilapia: 200 calories with fresh steamed broccoli at 70 calories. OR Hickory Bourbon Chicken: 355 calories with fresh grilled zucchini at 41 calories from the Fit & Trim Menu

>> Click here for our Skinny Fish Sticks recipe!

Worst: Portabella Crispy Onion Pretzel Cheeseburger with fries: 1659 calories; 64 g protein

Please note sugar and trans fat were not listed. Nutrition listed here.


Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill (Offers Weight Watchers Menu)

Best Appetizer: Grilled Chicken Wonton Taco: 460 calories, 0 g trans fat; 23 g sugar; 35 g protein. OR Shareables Pot Stickers 660 calories (sharing); 0g trans fat; 29 g sugar; 17 g protein

Best Entree: 7-oz House Sirloin: 280 calories; 1 g trans fat; 1 g sugar; 34 g protein paired with a house salad without dressing at 230 calories

Worst Appetizer: Boneless Wings w/Sweet Asian Chile Sauce & Bleu Cheese Dressing: 1290 calories; 1 g trans fat; 27 g sugar; 52 g protein

Worst Entree: Applebee's Riblets Platter w/Honey BBQ Sauce: 1540 calories; 0 g trans fat; 92 g sugar; 73 g protein

Nutrition listed here.

(Photo: 7 oz House Sirloin Applebee's Photo By: Applebee's)

Carabba's (Offers Under 600 Menu)

Best Appetizer: Bread, Herbs & Oil: 300 calories; 0 g trans fat; 0 g sugar; 6 g protein

Best Entree: Caesar Salad with Chicken with Light Balsamic Vinaigrette: 363 calorie; 0 g trans fat; 9 g sugar; 41 g protein OR Small Wood-Grilled Chicken: 179 calories; 0 g trans fat; 0 g sugar; 32 g protein with Freshly Steamed Spinach side at 26 calories; 0 g trans fat; 0 g sugar; 3 g protein

Worst Appetizer: Calamari with Spicy Italian Peppers and Lemon Butter: Regular 1506 calories; 8 g trans fat; 5 g sugar; 29 g protein

Worst Entree: Conchiglie ai Formaggi with Chicken and Whole Grain Spaghetti: 1265 calories; 2 g trans fat; 4 g sugar; 69 g protein

Nutrition listed here.


O’Charley’s

Best Appetizer: Unsliceably Soft Yeast Roll: 180 calories; 0 g trans fat; 8 g sugar; 4 g protein

Best Entree: Bruschetta Chicken: 340 calories, 0 g trans fat; 9 g sugar; 48 g protein paired with side of grilled asparagus for 60 calories

Worst Appetizer: Top Shelf Combo Appetizer: 1880 calories; 0 g trans fat; 9 g sugar; 88 g protein

Worst Entree: Baby Back Ribs (full rack) 1460 calories; 0 g trans fat; 77 g sugar; 70 g protein

Nutrition listed here.

>> Read more: Fast Food Under 500


Buffalo Wild Wings

Best Appetizer: Naked Tenders (6 pieces): 260 calories; 0 g trans fat; 10 g sugar; 10 g protein

Best Entree: Grilled Chicken Buffalitos: 380 calories; 0 g trans fat; 4 g sugar; 40 g protein

Worst Appetizer: Cheeseburger Slammers: 1559 calories; 0 g trans fat; 10g  sugar; 66 g protein

Worst Entree: Ribs and More Ribs: 2380 calories; 0 g trans fat; 28 g sugar; 144 g protein

Nutrition listed here.