Would you like to know how many calories, how much nutrient therein and how much and how big a portion you should gulp down, if you really must go for a fast food?
Hey! Fast food? Anyone?
Throw that question to your kids and you see eyes light up, mouth salivates, tongue slurps and feet tap…
Fast food, I think, seems to be every kid’s (and every adult’s) favorite, one time or another.
Because when comes to speed, convenience and low-cost, fast food is d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y king.
And surprise of surprise, it tastes “good” to boot.
But chew on this first before you grab one for your next meal –
A study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute shows that young adults who eat fast food at least twice a week double their insulin resistance (a risk factor for diabetes) and gain 10 lbs more over time than those who eat fast food infrequently.
The Health Risks
You see, specifically, fast food brings to you 2 health risks:
- The calories are high and add up quickly (unless you choose a high-fiber food). If you don’t burn them off somehow (through exercise and other physical activities), you store the extra calories as fat
- The salt levels are high. This is big concern because it triggers the onset of high blood pressure. Have you noticed the high salt levels in the fast food you eat? I used to skin off the meat, “rinse” it with some water before I eat!If you’re at risk for high blood pressure, you got to limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day
If you eat fast food excessively (2 or more times per week), well, you could be in for another big health problem – obesity.
In a study conducted on monkeys that are fed on a diet rich in trans-fats, often found in fast food, the monkeys grow bigger bellies than those fed a diet high in unsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil), with the same overall number of calories. The trans-fat fed monkeys also develop signs of insulin resistance (an early indicator of diabetes).
The bigger belly is the result of belly fat, which is risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
Would you want to walk down the path to diabetes and heart disease, later in life?
If you absolutely must eat, get round it with tips on how to eat healthier in my fast food guide…
Healthier Fast Food in Action
I understand lack of time is the major factor that drives you (and I) to go for that unhealthy fast food, so let’s see what we can do about that!
What I mean is this – we could sort of make the fast food healthier and more nutritious, if we do some adjustments like these:
- When you eat, watch your portion size. If a small order of fries can fill you up, order this size. You save over 100 calories compared with ordering a super size
- If healthy side orders are available, go for them rather than the ubiquitous french fries
- Order salad with low-fat dressing, to provide you with some fiber and vitamins and minerals, to balance an otherwise unhealthy fast food meal
- Look out for deli-style fast food outlet where it offers sub or sandwich on wholewheat bread or a wrap, a lower-fat and lower-calorie version than fried food
- Lessen your fast food visits by replacing them with visits to supermarket where you can buy ready-cut fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt or low-fat cheese
- Stinge on mayonnaise!A tablespoon of regular mayo has over 100 calories
- Don’t add a sugary, calorie–rich drink to your fast food order. Drink plain, old water, which has no calories
- You can get picky – issue requests like “less salt”, “no mayo”, “no bun”. Fast food outlets are ever ready to please their customers
- Study the menu. Some fast food outlets do incorporate healthier alternatives in their menus, for instance, white meat, snack wraps, salads and greens and fruits. Go for these healthy items
The Nutritional Value in Fast Food
OK. Now I’m giving you the fast food nutrition guide – the one that zooms in on the nutritional value of fast food.
1. KFC Original Recipe Drumstick
- Serving size: 59 grams (g)
- Calories: 140
- Total fat: 8 g
- Salt: 440 mg
- My verdict: 2 drumsticks will fill you up and no fear of going overboard on calories, fat or salt.
2. McDonald’s Quarter Pounder
- Serving size: 171 g
- Calories: 420
- Total fat: 18 g
- Salt: 730 mg
My verdict: Compared with “Big Mac” and the “Double Cheeseburger”, quarter pounder has the lowest amount of fat and a relatively low level of salt.
If you’re kind of not feeling full, get a low-fat side salad instead of the fries (which adds 230 calories and 11 g of fat, minimum).
3. WENDY’S Jr. Hamburger
- Serving size: 117 g
- Calories: 280
- Total fat: 9 g
- Salt: 600 mg
My verdict: Calories, fat and salt content are lower than most of Wendy’s other burgers.
4. TACO BELL’s Fresco Style Crunchy Taco
- Serving size: 92g
- Calories: 150
- Total fat: 7 g
- Salt: 360 mg
My verdict: Has relatively lower level of salt and 25% less fat than the regular tacos.
5. SUBWAY’s 6-inch SUB: Veggie Delite
- Serving size: 167 g
- Calories: 230
- Total fat: 3 g
- Salt: 520 mg
My verdict: This one’s best particularly for its lower salt level. The others have more than 900 mg of salt.
To further cut calories and fat, go for no or only light mayo, Olive Oil blend or any of the fat-free sauces
Make your own Healthier Version of Fast Food
You can always experiment on your own and come up with less fat, less salt and lower calorie mix and match orders.
But remember this- fast food isn’t your regular healthy meal and you shouldn’t go for it unless you’re in a real bind.
Remember, Junk food can result in several health problems.