The movie “Supersize Me” follows Morgan Spurlock’s 30-day commitment to eating only fast food. At the beginning of the film, Morgan is found to be healthy with no medical concerns. By the end of the 30 days, Morgan’s health reached life-threatening status. His body was starving from malnutrition and he began experiencing heart related problems. Just three weeks into his fast food diet, his doctors begged him to quit the experiment.
While it may be extreme to eat fast food every meal for an entire month, this experiment shows just how damaging fast food can be to our bodies.
Fast food is on every corner. It’s cheap and one of the most inexpensive ways to get a meal. Unfortunately, fast food is one of the main causes of rising obesity rates among children and adults and is a huge contributor to poor health. There are many reasons to steer clear of fast food whenever possible. Here, we dive into the most important reasons: calories with little nutritional value, unhealthy fats, hidden sugar, and excess sodium.
Excessive calorie consumption with little value
Have you ever noticed that eating fast food rarely leaves you satisfied? Or, how you can eat french fry after french fry and still not feel full? It is not uncommon for a burger, fries, and drink combination to contain more than 1500 calories. This is nearly your entire calorie allowance for the day!
Even though fast food is extremely high in calories, it provides little nutritional value. Few vitamins and minerals are found in fast food. Because of this, doesn’t satisfy you the way more natural foods do. So, while your stomach may be full, your body is craving nutrients it just can’t get from fast food.
Beware unhealthy trans & saturated fats
Trans fat was originally created to keep liquid oils solid at room temperature. It is uncommon in nature, but has become commonplace in many of our snacks and packaged goods. In fast food joints, it is often used to fry food.
Trans fat can wreak havoc on your body. A diet that is high in trans fat will greatly increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. In the United States, trans fat has recently been banned from restaurants by the FDA. Restaurants have until 2018 to completely remove trans fats.
Fast food is also high in unhealthy form of saturated fat. A Whopper from Burger King has 1.5 grams of trans fat and 11 grams of saturated fat. Considering that 16 grams of saturated fat is your daily allowance, one burger has nearly your entire daily value. Similarly, a large fry at McDonald’s has 3.5 grams of saturated fat. At Taco Bell, the Steak Cantina Power Bowl has 7 grams of saturated fat. The list goes on and on. Your best bet to avoid health concerns related to fast food consumption is to avoid it all together.
The hidden dangers of sugar in fast food
Added sugar contains a lot of calories and little nutritional value. Sugar in excess can make you feel sluggish and cause you to gain weight. No one wants that! Other long term effects include overloading your liver, contributing to tooth decay, causing insulin resistance, and leading to type II diabetes. Increased sugar consumption has even been linked to cancer risk.
You know sugar is in soda, but surprising to many people, sugar is in almost all fast food items. A standard burger has 10 grams of sugar and a Whopper has 12 grams. That is the equivalent of three sugar cubes. A ‘healthy’ yogurt parfait can have anywhere from 20-30 grams of sugar, equal to eating 5-8 sugar cubes. Why add sugar at all? Sugar is added to these foods as a preservative and to add consistent flavor. It is found in the burger, bun & added condiments, such as ketchup.
The Mayo Clinic recommends having a maximum of 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar or 25-37 grams a day. One item on the fast food menu easily tops this. The worst culprit: a 12-ounce soda, which may have up to 40 grams of sugar alone. Super-size it for a 64-ounce drink, and you are getting 200 grams of sugar! That’s like filling a water glass to the top with sugar. While that is probably not as appetizing, it is a good representation of the hidden sugar in many fast food beverages.
High blood pressure from excess sodium
Like sugar, fast food is loaded with sodium, another word for salt. When you have an excess of salt in your body your kidneys can’t remove it fast enough. In the short term, it will make you retain liquid and you will gain water weight and feel bloated. In the long term, the spikes in sodium can be a major contributor to heart disease. While we all need a small amount of sodium to survive, when eaten in excess, sodium becomes harmful.
The average daily allowance for Americans is 2300 mg of sodium. Many fast food chain sandwiches and burgers have sodium content between 1400-1800 mg. The full meal contains even more sodium. It is possible to double or even triple your daily sodium allowance with three fast food meals. This is a recipe for disaster.
Give yourself the gift of health by staying away from fast food
Next time you’re in the drive-thru line ready to buy that Big Mac or extra large french fries – stop! There is a huge cost that we, as consumers, don’t realize until it is too late. It’s a debt that is paid later on, when the high calorie, fatty food causes weight gain and a myriad of health concerns. Instead, opt for some baked chicken and veggies or a homemade smoothie.
Meals should be around 300-400 calories depending on your goals and be mainly composed of whole foods. Control your portion sizes to control your caloric intake, and in turn, you’ll be able to control your health. This is why all meals in the 8fit PRO meal plans have a low-calorie, high nutrition profile. The meals help you maintain healthy portions while keeping you satisfied for longer.
Preparing and cooking your own meals is the best way to know exactly what you are eating. Focus on fruits, vegetables and lean meats. The recipes created by 8fit are designed to have maximum nutritional value without weighing you down by adding sugars or sodium. Meal prepping also helps to cut down on your need to hit up the fast food restaurant. Plan your meals for the week ahead with an easy-to-use shopping list and personalized meal plan directly in the 8fit app.