Many lap-band patients who come to our DayOne Health clinic admit that fast food still remains their regular lunch destination. While many realize that fast food is definitely not a healthy option, it is very often that patients either do not realize or try to downplay the catastrophic nutritional facts behind what they eat. Unsurprisingly, the reason for eating fast food is that it’s a fast and cheap way to get full in the middle of a stressful day. After all, just a few bucks can get you a full sized meal.
So how bad is it? Meaning, how much healthier could we be by preparing our meals ourselves or looking for different options other than fast food? Let’s look closer at the calorie and fat content, and try to compare it to some other food options. So here are some typical meals that our patients list as their lunch options:
- McDonalds Big Mac: 540 calories and 29 g of fat
- Burger King Whopper: 670 calories and 40 g of fat
- Wendy’s Bacon Deluxe Double: 880 calories and 52 g of fat
- Taco Bell Nachos Bell Grande: 770 calories and 24 g of fat
- Medium fries at McDonalds: 380 calories and 19 g of fat
- Onion rings at Dairy Queen: 360 calories and 16 g of fat
- Regular cole slaw at Popeye’s: 260 calories and 23 g of fat
Finally, the drinks:
- Large Frosty at Wendy’s: 540 calories and 8 g of fat
- Large sweet tea at McDonalds: 280 calories and 0 g of fat
- Iced Carmel Latte from Dunkin Donuts: 450 calories and 12 g of fat
Now let’s crunch the numbers. While the calorie content of each of those dishes is every dietitian’s nightmare, the full nutritional report card looks even worse. A complete Big Mac® meal at MCD’s adds up to approximately 1,170 cal; if we substitute the medium fries and a medium drink to its small sized counterparts we will still get a whooping 900 cal in one sitting. In comparison, the average daily calorie intake for a thirty something adult female should be between 1,400 to 1,600 cal (depending on an activity level).
Now imagine that in one sitting you manage to use 80% of your daily calorie budget on your lunch. In other words, if you want to get your love handles under control and stay with your typical fast food lunch meal, you would need to condense your breakfast, snacks and dinner into a small 300 cal portion! And let’s be honest. Despite its high calorie/fat/carb content a fast food lunch won’t keep you full for long. Grazing seems to be unavoidable.
While there are ways to eat out healthy, it is always far healthier if you prepare your meals yourself. Getting organized and taking dinner leftovers to work may be the best remedy for your unwanted love handles. Preparing your own meals will not only save you money, but also put you in control of your diet – portion size and ingredients.
Without visiting the fast food joint you also won’t be exposed to the temptation of unhealthy eating. Let’s be honest, it is far more difficult to go to Burger King and order a grilled chicken breast instead of a Whopper®, than eat a grilled chicken breast from the night before and stay away from unhealthy snacks in your office.
If you are one of the people who appreciate fast food mostly for being fast and cheap, you can always think of substituting the most calorie packed foods, for more friendly options.
Fast Food DayOne Health Tips:
- Visit the nutrition page of your favorite fast food restaurants and look at the calorie/fat/carb content
- Avoid sauces and creamy dressings
- Substitute padded and fried chicken for grilled chicken
- Choose unsweetened ice tea or water over soda
- Swap your side of fries for a salad, fruit, or yogurt
- Limit portions by getting sides and drinks in small, and don’t cave in for the large or extra large dollar offers
- Don’t get milkshakes or any desserts that are not made from fruit or yogurt (and no, frozen yogurt is not a good idea either)