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Fast Facts About Fast Food
By Blair Morrison   View more articles by this author
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September 21

First, a disclaimer: this is NOT an endorsement for fast food.  Whenever possible, you should prepare and cook your own food, avoiding the processed, homogenized, and steroid-injected items that frequent the aisles of our supermarkets.  This is, instead, a user’s guide for those busy days when the local drive-thru is your only viable option.

For the purposes of this article, I’ve selected three of the more popular and abundant American fast food chains to use as examples: McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Subway.  The marketing strategies and menu of each respective corporation might color your initial opinions about which is “healthy,” but perception is not always reality.  Subway has been peddling the Jared weight-loss program for years, yet one of their most popular sandwiches, the footlong Chicken Bacon Ranch, totals over 1100 calories, 2,800 mg of sodium, and an 8/1 carb/fiber ratio.  Taco Bell’s Fiesta Taco Salad totals 840 calories, 400 of which are from fat, and 1,780 mg of sodium.  But McDonalds’ Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, arguably the worst thing on their menu, comes in at 740 calories, 1380mg of sodium, and a 40/3 carb/fiber ratio.  I’m not advocating you go out and start scarfing Double Quarter Pounders, I’m simply making a point: Just because it’s a sandwich or a salad does not mean it’s good for you.  Sauces, dressings, and portion size are killers on fast food menus, so don’t be fooled. You can find a reasonably healthy meal at any of these establishments if you know what to look for.

So, what, and where, can you eat?  First thing’s first, STOP EATING SO MUCH!!!  Just because its cheap to “supersize” something, doesn’t mean you have to do it.  Michael Phelps may be able to handle 6000 calories a day, but he also swims roughly the same number of hours you sit at your desk.

Second, focus on ordering things your body should have rather than avoiding those it shouldn’t.  Minimally processed foods are easier for your body to digest, so aim for meats that look like meat; i.e. grilled chicken or steak.  Nix the slimy cold cuts at Subway and the ground beef at McDonalds and Taco Bell.  Also, fiber will slow the rapid absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, a major cause of early onset diabetes and excess fat storage, so look for meals that are high in fiber.  This is not going to be easy because it typically means finding the vegetables on the menu.  For example, rather than dialing up a large order of McDonalds fries (570 calories, 330mg of sodium, 10/1 carb/fiber) to go with your Grilled McChicken, substitute a side salad.  Or, when the Subway sandwich technician asks you what you want on your sweet onion chicken teriyaki, opt for the green peppers and tomatoes rather than the double meat and extra cheese.

Finally, don’t underestimate the impact of beverages.  You can order 5 side salads and eat a bowl of Fiber One cereal if you want to, but chase it down with 40 ounces of cola and your insulin will spike and you will store fat.  If you’re serious about limiting the impact of fast food on your health, you should drink water— even if it means sacrificing that 99-cent portion of your value meal.

We all know that the real world rarely allows for 3 balanced, home cooked meals in a day, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to abuse our bodies with saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.  Be informed and use common sense.  It takes about 5 minutes and a very simple Google search to find all the menu nutrition information you’ll ever need.

Source: www.fatcalories.com

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