The Unhealthiest Value Meals You Can Order At Fast Food Chains

fast food value meal combos
fast food value meal combos - Shutterstock / Mashed

Fast-food prices always seem to soar just when your hunger kicks in. Thank goodness the biggest chains take your budget into consideration by offering value meals that help your disposable cash go a little further. It may be a bit of devious corporate trickery, but packaging a main dish with sides and a drink can help you economize your dining dollars even when inflation blows up to wallet-cramping proportions. But grabbing a bag of instant gratification can do serious damage to your nutrition goals if you're not paying attention to what your value meal contains.

Just which of these so-called convenience dining collections are the biggest offenders when it comes to knocking your nutrition down a peg or two? We snooped around the nutrition facts to find the unhealthiest value meals waiting on menu boards at some of the world's most popular chains. You may be grossed out to learn just the volume of calories, fat, sodium, and sugar you're consuming when you tap the app and order up your favorite money-saving combo. But as the adage goes, knowledge is power, and power is powerful (we added that part ourselves).

Read more: The Healthiest Fast Food Chains In The U.S.

Burger King Bacon King Meal

Burger King Bacon King Meal
Burger King Bacon King Meal - Facebook / Burger King

Dethrone the king of burgers and dub this chain the jester of ridiculous nutrition for having one of the unhealthiest value meals in the industry. The fact that the derisible digits come with the name Bacon King Meal is a clear-cut indicator that there's nothing healthy going on in this bag of tasty fare. If deliciousness were a measure of nourishment, maybe this value pack would have a shot at the crown. Alas, enjoyment and health are at odds with every element of Burger King's colossally caloric collection.

If you live large and order the upsizes of both fries and drink to go with your already-unhealthy burger, you'll be bringing in 2,030 calories -- just over a day's worth if you're following FDA eating guidelines of 2000 calories per day ... and that's in one meal. Consider that those calories include 100 grams of fat (35 grams of which are saturated), 215 milligrams of cholesterol, 2655 milligrams of sodium, and 126 grams of sugar, and you've just taken in a super-sized collection of substances you should be aiming to minimize rather than maximize during the day. The solution? Choose something more favorable to your health, even if it means adding a little extra jingle to the cash register drawer.

Carl's Jr. Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger Combo

Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger Combo
Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger Combo - Carl's Jr.

A meal named for large cattle and salted pork products throws out all sorts of nutritional red flags, before you even read the contents of the cartons. Carl's Jr. may aim for quality beef in its Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger Combo, but the devil is in the nutritional details with this package of questionable dining, a value in dollar value only -- and also available at Carl's Jr.'s sister restaurant, Hardee's. Dine on this selection of stunningly unhealthy options and you'll be spending more in healthy eating points than you can hope to earn back for the rest of the day -- maybe two.

Even if Angus beef is mouthwateringly flavorful, taking it in with this lower-priced collection with large fries and a large Fanta Strawberry means consuming 1850 calories, 79 fat (28 grams of which are saturated), 150 milligrams of cholesterol, 3160 milligrams of sodium, and 86 grams of sugar. The taste and texture may be nurturing, especially when your hunger is high, but the food that provides that comfort is not the most nourishing choice you can make, by far. Best case scenario: Split the meal with someone you like to mitigate the undesirable aftereffects for you both.

Burger King Texas Double Whopper Meal

Burger King Texas Double Whopper Meal
Burger King Texas Double Whopper Meal - Burger King

The Texas Double Whopper Meal from Burger King is a whopper, all right -- a whopper of a health-crushing fast-food combo. Even when the recipe heads south for an old-fashioned twist on the world-famous Whopper, consumption of all the least healthful elements stays north of advisable. This overstuffed bag of burgers, fries, and beverage ends up stampeding your hopes for keeping mindful eating, making for dubious dining moments at the Not-OK corral.

Saddle up and ride with a Texas Double Whopper Meal and you'll be branding your body with 2020 calories, a gobsmacking 94 grams of fat (28 grams of which are saturated), 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 2485 milligrams of sodium, and 145 grams of sugar. Whoa, Nellie -- that's a lot of nutritional no-no in one combo. If you ride with this less-than-wise bronco in your lunch or dinner plans, you should keep riding to the gym and do some real galloping on a treadmill afterward to balance things out (wait at least 30 minutes to avoid adding some gnarly cramps to your set list).

Wendy's 20-Piece Saucy Nuggs Combo

Wendy's 20-piece Saucy Nuggs Combo
Wendy's 20-piece Saucy Nuggs Combo - Wendy's

Come on, now; you had to know eating 20 pieces of anything from Wendy's was going to result in a veritable health crisis. When it's a 20-Piece Saucy Nuggs Combo, an invention purposely named to declare the undoing of your carefully-constructed clean eating plans, any hopes of keeping your macros in check go right out the drive-thru window. Being bite-sized does nothing to cut down the nutritional hostility you'll find in this tasty yet ill-conceived value meal.

Through the mathematical miracle of multiplicity, these 20 nuggets combined with fries and soda become an astonishing 1970 calories, shuttling into your digestive tract 79 grams of fat (15 grams of which are saturated), 160 milligrams cholesterol, 3800 milligrams of sodium and 148 of sugar. With one fell swoop of a value meal, you'll take in almost a full day's worth of calories and more than a day's worth of the other substances. Maybe if you spread this one out over the course of a week you can minimize the impact to your well-being. But that would just be gross.

Jack In The Box Supreme Sourdough Combo

Supreme Sourdough Combo meal
Supreme Sourdough Combo meal - Jack in the Box

Even breakfast value meals have a way of overloading your system with elements best enjoyed in strict moderation. So when Jack in the Box adds a Supreme Sourdough Combo to its morning bargain menu, you face a serious challenge of limiting your intake of sugar, fat, and sodium with every bite of this largely unfavorable feast. Instead of enjoying a clean-burning breakfast that imbues your body with optimal energy sources, you're likely to find yourself depleted of go-go-go well before lunch hour rolls around.

Just what does Jack stuff into the box that's not the coolest way to start your day? How about a blend of the sandwich, large curly fries, and a large sweet vanilla crème coffee combining to bring in 1510 calories, 86 grams of fat (29.5 of which are saturated), 410 milligrams of cholesterol, 2840 milligrams of sodium, and 32 grams of sugar? None of this amounts to a well-balanced breakfast, though the chain allows you to customize your options to minimize the questionable elements. Still, there are more health-friendly choices to be made first thing in the morning.

Popeye's Blackened Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich Combo

Blackened Golden BBQ Chicken Combo
Blackened Golden BBQ Chicken Combo - Popeye's

Oh, does the name of this meal deal ever sound enticing. That should be a clue that a combo featuring Popeye's Blackened Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich will do you dirty in the nutritional arena. It's fried chicken, after all, served with fries and soda -- not even close to producing favorable blood work. While chicken may have gained a glowing reputation as a cleaner form of protein to pick up at a fast-food outlet, when it's battered and dipped in sizzling oil until crisp and honey-colored, the nutritional good will get left behind in the fryer.

Say you just can't resist the photo on the menu and you order up one of these curious collections. Eating the entire bag will introduce 1960 calories into your daily count, bringing with them 73 grams of fat (25 of which are saturated), 130 grams of cholesterol, and 161 grams of sugar. These are all so far above the allowances advised by the FDA, you'll need to recalibrate your calculator just to total it all up. Okay ... so that's an exaggeration. But saying this value meal is a detriment to your nutritional aspirations is not.

Arby's Big Cheesy Burger Combo Meal

Arby's Big Cheesy Burger Combo Meal
Arby's Big Cheesy Burger Combo Meal - Arby's

In addition to hawking America's Roast Beef (Yes, Sir!), Arby's sells burgers now too, elbowing in on the other chains' stock-in-trade selections. The company also puts your health in a headlock with its Big Cheesy Bacon Burger Combo Meal, where the word "cheesy" means "loaded to the gills with gooey cheese" and not "cheap and silly, like the jokes your dad tells." Hats off to the chain for going big with its good burgers, but if you're going home with one of these value sacks in your possession, you're in for a wild ride.

It's not just because of the burger, either; you can also get Chicken Bacon Loaded Fries to add dietary insult to nutritional injury, plus a tempting Jamocha Shake to wash it all down. Your tally for this imprudent temptation is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2240 calories, exceeding your daily recommended 2000 calories by a meal's worth or so. With 109 fat (41 of which are saturated), a bloodcurdling 3990 milligrams of sodium and 113 grams of sugar, you've just taken in more than a day's worth of every unsavory macronutrient on the scoreboard. Don't let the 83 grams of protein fool you; they're not worth sacrificing every other nutritional aspect, even if you save a buck or two.

Taco Bell Grilled Cheese Burrito Deluxe Cravings Box

Grilled Cheese Burrito Deluxe Cravings Box
Grilled Cheese Burrito Deluxe Cravings Box - Taco Bell

When was the last time you had cravings for celery sticks and wheat germ? It's probably never happened, and if it has, there's no chance a fast-food restaurant would offer a value meal featuring those healthy yet bland components. Cravings usually call for mindless munching on chow made for enjoyment rather than enrichment, which explains the Taco Bell Grilled Cheese Burrito Deluxe Cravings Box. The name alone gets your appetite racing for a collection of comfort food that doesn't take your physiology into consideration beyond your taste buds.

Anything with grilled cheese as part of the recipe is starting off on the non-nutritional side of the argument, and this premium-priced production is no exception. But in addition to the Grilled Cheese Burrito in the name, you also get a Chalupa Supreme, a chicken soft taco, cinnamon twists, and a large soft drink. Sure, you could choose diet or a zero something-something. But if you go for broke with your value meal, you're looking at 1610 calories, delivering 68 grams of fat (23 of which is saturated), 2760 milligrams of sodium, 145 milligrams of cholesterol, and 79 grams of sugar. Numbers like those are destined to take your dedication to careful eating south of the border, taking you miles into Not a Good Idea territory. Spend a little more for non-value a la cart items and save your health.

Raising Cane's Caniac Combo

Raising Cane's Caniac Combo meal
Raising Cane's Caniac Combo meal - Raising Cane's

Okay, so the Caniac Combo from Raising Cane's is cleverly named, enough to make hungry Canes fans shake their heads and think twice about going for the smaller options they had in mind. A value meal with fingers, fries and a soft drink sounds innocent enough to anyone who doesn't recognize that for Cane's, chicken fingers are closer to the size of a chicken hand. Pay no heed to the fact that chickens have neither; the point is, you're getting large portions of fried food that doesn't have the best intentions for your physiology.

A Caniac Combo brings together not three, not four, but six oversized chicken strips -- er, fingers, with a slab of Texas toast, a handful of crinkle-cut fries, a cup of coleslaw, and a dipping sauce that's looking to add to the greasy, health-clobbering excitement. There's a large drink sweetening the deal, too. All told, you're eating 1790 calories, 104 grams of fat (16 of which are saturated), 255 milligrams of cholesterol, 3160 milligrams of sodium and 21 grams of sugar. If you read this information and still decide to indulge in a Caniac Combo, maybe think about setting up an appointment with your GP afterward to make sure everything is still in check.

Sonic Garlic Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Combo

Sonic Garlic Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Combo
Sonic Garlic Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Combo - Sonic

Sonic makes it easy to bash your own nutritional needs without getting out of the car, thanks to the Garlic Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Combo sold at its numerous drive-up windows. Watch the waitstaff glide through the doors carrying your tray filled with a burger dripping with garlicky butter spread, gooey cheese, and greasy bacon and watch your fitness goals go up in smoke, even if your meal comes off the grill cooked to smoky perfection.

Order up this mind-boggling combo of burger, tots, and a large beverage of your choice, and you're staring down the barrel of 1860 calories, 91 grams of fat (23 of which are saturated), a staggering 125 milligrams of cholesterol and 3540 milligrams of sodium, enough to make your cardiologist pack his bags and retire. With the sugar in the cup pouring 109 grams of the sweet stuff into the fray, you have the recipe for a nutritional meltdown that has everything to do with the liquified butter and gooey-chewy cheese, though they're clearly not alone in causing this dietary dilemma. Add this value meal to the list of things you should never order at Sonic. Your circulatory system will thank you.

How We Chose Our Value Meals

burger with fries and a large drink combo
burger with fries and a large drink combo - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Though many fast-food chains take measures to address customers' desire for healthier fare, value meals that combine less healthy options usually take priority on the menu. The combination of flavorful food makes it easier and cheaper for patrons to get their favorites while saving money, a tempting blend that means big business. It also made choosing the value meals for this list a simple task; there's no shortage of unhealthy food flowing from fast-food outlets, which lets reduced-priced package compound the nutritional compromise in numbers like calorie count that are often shown right on the menu for all to see, though some chains require a bit of addition to combine nutritional info for individual items in the meal.

Calorie count was a key factor in choosing our meals, as were fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar, as compared to FDA guidelines for daily intake. We gauged all of these aspects to find value meals that piled on the problematic ingredients and additives while choosing items that utilize frying rather than baking or grilling. We opted for large-size sides and full-sugar drinks to maximize the overall impact. This gave us a workable formula for identifying the value meals where nutrition is forsaken for enjoyment and led us to our selections. We also tried to represent a variety of chains in the industry to give a well-rounded view of the value meal nutritional conundrum.

Read the original article on Mashed.