Though calorie counts are now required on chain restaurant menus, the New York Times notes that most restaurants haven't slimmed down meal portion sizes at all. A diner can easily purchase a single meal — or in one case, a single beverage! — that puts them over the recommended daily calorie allowance (which, depending on the individual, is between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day).
So-called upscale chains are not exempt from this finding. Shake Shack, Potbelly, and even America's beloved Chipotle are guilty of serving normal-sized meals (a sandwich, a bag of chips/a side of fries, a beverage) that skyrocket past 2,000 calories. The Cheesecake Factory has long been a culprit (a single dish there is commonly over 1,500 calories), but not many people know that the Cowboy rib-eye at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse clocks in at over 1,600 calories — and that's without a beverage, side dish, or bread.
Sonic's Peanut Butter Caramel Pie Shake contains over 2,000 calories, not including the cherry. The company might want to read up on the woman who recently filed a lawsuit against Chick-fil-A. She alleges that the milkshake she ordered caused her heart attack.
It's perhaps heartening then to know that two of America's most famous chains are serving up decent meals without breaking the calorie bank: Both Starbucks and Subway offer sandwiches and salads that range from 500 to 700 calories. The Times found a diner would have to consume a cold-cut sandwich combo, a bag of chips, chicken noodle soup with oyster crackers, a cookie, a Buffalo-chicken salad, a medium Coke, an egg-and-cheese flatbread, and a boxed juice in order to hit 2,010 calories at Subway. And that sounds like a full day's worth of food.