What you should absolutely never order at Red Lobster

When you think of the popular seafood restaurant Red Lobster, obviously one food item in particular comes to mind — Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Oh, and lobster, but really, it's those biscuits. You're probably better off going to a local establishment for your seafood fix if you live on the coast, but not everyone is so lucky. If the nearest ocean is a two-day drive, Red Lobster will definitely satisfy any shellfish craving.

There are certainly a few items on the menu that are probably best to skip over unless you happen to be a sumo wrestler in training. What we're getting at is that many of the restaurant's menu items can really stack up the calories fast. Those cheddar biscuits for example are 160 calories each and let's be honest, no mortal can have only one. On the plus side, they do have a nutritional calculator on their website, in case you really want to see just how much abuse you'll be putting your arteries through. Stop telling yourself that you'll make tomorrow a salad day and steer clear of these menu items next time you set sail for Red Lobster.

Sweet Chili Shrimp

Red Lobster describes their battered and deep fried shrimp in a chili sauce as the "perfect mix of heat and sweet." Unfortunately, that "perfect mix" will send you into the red in both the fat and sodium. There's nothing sweet about a plate of 10 shrimp that contains 76 grams of fat (or 117 percent of the recommended daily intake). Add to that 230 milligrams of cholesterol and 2,570 milligrams of sodium (that's 107 percent of your recommended sodium for the day) and this shrimp appetizer is a no-go for sure.

Sweet Chili Shrimp is no doubt one of Red Lobster's most popular menu items, as evidenced by the number of recipes out there that attempt to mimic it. Yes, we know the whole point of going out to eat is so that you don't have to do the cooking yourself. However, it's certainly possible to avoid the 1,100 calories and 48 grams of sugar if you're willing to take a stab at making this seafood appetizer at home. You can do it!

Loaded Seaside Fries

Let's not kid ourselves, there's nothing subtle about Red Lobster's new fry offering. The word "loaded" fits perfectly here as the fries are topped with cheese, green onions, fried clam strips, and clam chowder. It's a wonder the wait staff doesn't need a forklift to bring a dish this heavy to the table. The menu item is a relatively new addition and was only introduced in late 2017 to mostly positive tasting reviews. So why steer clear of this item then?

Well, these seaside fries come with a loaded 1,880 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of saturated fat. This dish is easily more of a full meal than an appetizer, and you would have to run for an hour and 15 minutes to burn off the 770 calories that come with it — unless you're sharing, but who does that? If Dr. Frankenstein were a chef at Red Lobster, this deep fried glob of fries would definitely be his monstrous creation. 

The Create Your Own Combination meal

Left to their own devices, many people would likely eat themselves into a stupor with this menu item. Don't get us wrong, the offerings are pretty tempting and include multiple choices of everything from coconut shrimp to fried flounder, scallops, and even grilled tilapia if you want to kid yourself that you're going the healthy route with this. If you maxed out the meal with the highest calorie choices it would come in at a gut-busting 2,710 calories. Of course eaters are also encouraged to "wash down that combo with the Lobsterita — the chain's trademarked 890-calorie, 24-ounce margarita." When it's all said and done, the meal with the margarita tops off at more than 3,600 calories.

Paige Einstein, a registered dietitian with the Center for Science in the Public Interest said that the combo meal is an example of "the kind of gargantuan restaurant meal that promotes obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases." Ouch.

Alotta Colada

Alotta Colada? More like alotta sugar. With 98 grams of sugar, this tropical drink is the equivalent of chugging two and a half cans of regular Coca-Cola. The "go big or go home" drink is advertised as coming in an extra large glass with a sidecar of rum. Possibly to help you forget about the 580 calories in the drink? Super sweet frozen drinks like a piña colada are never really low on the calorie scale, but this is certainly over-the-top.

To burn off the calories from just this drink you would have to run for nearly an hour straight or walk for 156 minutes. Honestly, that may not be a bad thing though and will give you plenty of time to think about making better drink choices during your two hour-plus stroll.  For the love of your teeth, please don't order dessert if you decide to throw caution to the wind and "go big" with this beverage.

Lobsterita

Good news — sorta. The Lobsterita is actually a little less of a terrible choice than the Alotta Colada — even if only slightly. Red Lobster's version of the classic margarita comes in three flavors: traditional, strawberry, and diabetes — we mean raspberry. The traditional version is only 400 calories, but each of the berry flavored versions are 500 calories. The sugar content is still pretty high at nearly 70 grams for the strawberry version and raspberry versions and 57 grams for the traditional.

The chain has also been accused of watering down their drinks, so that jumbo Lobsterita that you shelled out seven bucks for could be just heavy on the sweet and sour mix. Talk about a real "buzz" kill *cue drum cymbal.* If you had any more doubts about the trademark drink, a couple of years ago Men's Health listed it at number seven on a list of the "20 Worst Drinks In America," although since then they must have either reduced the size or seriously changed the recipe, since the calories have been drastically reduced.

Admiral's Feast

Yes, this 1,650 meal might be fit for an admiral, but it's also fit for an athlete like Michael Phelps who burns up his 12,000 calories-a-day diet winning gold medals. Ask yourself "Am I training for the Olympics?" If the answer is "no," this meal may not be the wisest of choices. The meal is piled high with golden fried items such as "Walt's Favorite Shrimp, bay scallops, clam strips and wild-caught flounder."

To ensure that you don't get the wrong idea about the meal being totally unhealthy, Red Lobster did include a few stalks of broccoli on the edge of the plate. That was nice of them. We're not sure how much good that broccoli is going to do when you factor in the sodium levels here. According to Nutritionix, this plate contains 208 percent of your daily sodium. Are you trying to make your heart explode with a single meal?

Lobster Mac And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese on its own is already a pretty awesome, and we gotta admit, adding lobster to the mix is the sort of addition that makes our eyes glaze over and mouth water. That said, it might be wise to tell your inner child to shut up when you spot this item on the menu. Hear us out please before you scoff and order it anyway.

All that cheesy goodness totals out at 1,250 calories and it's recommended that even the most active men eat only 3,200 calories a day and 2,400 for women. For most people though, this meal is equal to half or more of the recommended daily calorie count. Health aside, you don't know exactly how much real lobster you're even getting in the meal. Langostino, a crustacean closer to the hermit crab than the lobster, is one of the ingredients. Mmm, who wants a big plate of hermit crab mac and cheese?

Cajun Chicken Linguini Alfredo

Finding a healthy Alfredo dish is about as easy as tracking down a vegan barbecue restaurant. Sometimes it's best to just accept things as they are. This linguine dish tossed in a creamy Parmesan sauce has been reworked from previous incarnations and dropped a few calories in the process. Kudos for that, Red Lobster. It used to be full of crab meat and top off at 1,910 calories but the masterminds at Red Lobster swapped out the crab meat and placed in Cajun-spiced grilled chicken to bring it down to a slightly more respectable 1,330 calories for the full portion.

According to a cook at Red Lobster, pretty much anything fried at the chain comes pre-frozen before hitting the fryolator. Surprisingly though, the Alfredo sauce doesn't come in a plastic bag that's simply heated up in a microwave, but instead is made in-house. At least you know some effort is going into all that saturated fat. That said, the huge calorie count here still makes this item a hard pass.

4-Course Feast

Alright, by now you've probably caught on that any Red Lobster menu item with "feast" in the menu might not be the best health-conscious item to order. Red Lobster touts this feast with the selling point of "unlimited cheddar bay biscuits" which we're fairly certain would cost nothing but you're dignity, regardless of the menu item you ordered. Moving on though, the four-course meal breaks down with a choice of soup — oddly enough, the potato bacon soup is the healthiest option — salad, entrée and dessert.

On the surface, this lineup isn't terribly alarming, but once you add up the calories and sodium, well, let's just say your heart may hate you afterwards. If you went with the lowest calorie options (potato bacon soup, garden salad, grilled shrimp, and brownie à la mode) and skipped the biscuits completely (ha!) it would clock in at 1,040 calories. Not completely terrible. Now that we've kicked that fantasy of an order to the curb, let's dig into the heavy stuff. The highest calorie options (two cheddar biscuits, lobster bisque, Caesar salad, coconut shrimp, and brownie à la mode) comes in at a scale-breaking 2,160 calories. We hope that feast was worth your pants no longer fitting.

Bar Harbor Lobster Bake

Avast, ye mateys, what that be on the menu horizon? Why it's the sodium sea monster known as the Bar Harbor Lobster Bake, turn back now! This dish is Red Lobster's take on the traditional Maine lobster bake, only with an extra layer of linguine pasta below, because CARBS! Lobster tails, scallops, mussels, and tomatoes come together to form this dish that has 1,250 calories and 85 percent of the recommended daily fat value. Oh, we almost forgot to mention the 375 milligrams of cholesterol and 3,630 milligrams or 151 percent of the recommended daily value of sodium. It's the sort of dish that should require diners sign a liability contract.

As much of a sodium and cholesterol juggernaut this item is, that's not even taking into account the addition of butter dip as an extra. Each one of those little cups of butter dipping sauce is an extra 300 calories and 33 grams of fat. If you happen to be one of those people who simply can't eat lobster without dunking each bite into melted butter and order this dish, well, godspeed.

Chocolate Wave

How people are able to make it through free biscuits, the over-sized dishes at Red Lobster, and still have room for dessert is nothing short of amazing — and also a little disturbing. The dessert menu at Red Lobster isn't anything radical, and includes the standards of apple pie, cheesecake, brownie, key lime pie, and possible seasonal offerings. The Chocolate Wave stands alone though with the piece of cake, fudge frosting, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce adding up to 1,100 calories. To put that in perspective, the Wood-Grilled Lobster, Shrimp, and Salmon meal is only 870 calories. No dessert should be able to outweigh a dinner plate by 230 calories that includes three different kinds of seafood.

If you were to only order the Chocolate Wave cake and nothing else, you would need to bike for two and a half hours to burn off its 93 grams of sugar and 22 grams of saturated fat. Do yourself a favor and order the key lime pie like a reasonable person instead.