Happy Saturday everyone!
I hope you’re enjoying an amazing weekend, and one that includes some exercise and nutritious food. Today I’m introducing yet another strand on Angry Trainer Fitness – this one’s called Fast Food Fix – and as the title suggest it’s all about Fast Food.
Let’s be honest as much as diet books and gurus advocate eating salads and low fat foods we all partake in some fast food from time to time. Maybe you need a break from cooking, or are out on the road and starved. What do you do? What are the best choices for you to eat that won’t send you straight to the ER in need of an angioplasty? And what should you stay away from at all costs? Well don’t worry The Angry Trainer is here to help with my guide to the best choices at your local fast food emporium!
First up, we’re talking those glorious golden arches of goodness – McDonalds.
I’ll admit I went to Mickey Dee’s a lot with my family as a kid, and when I was a teenager. I just loved the minced up onions on the bottom bun of my cheeseburgers. But later on, as I found out more about nutrition I was literally afraid to eat some things on the menu. Too many news stories about chicken nuggets (not really chicken), processed meat and ridiculously high saturated fat contents just scared me away.
Now however, it’s a whole new game. Many fast food restaurants are offering healthier options all the time. In fact it’s McDonalds that recently announced they’d be offering oatmeal on their breakfast menu in the near future. That’s a step in the right direction. I can actually go to McDonalds and eat healthy food! How great is that? So here are my top 3 menu choices based on calories, total fat and taste.
1. Grilled Chicken Salads – I know, you don’t necessarily think “salad” when it comes to fast food. But the grilled chicken Southwest, Bacon Ranch, and the Cesar salad’s all taste really good. All contain less than 400 calories, and under 10 grams of fat. Plus due to the chicken you get a good dose of muscle building protein. You can’t go wrong.
BUT…..watch the amount and type of dressing that you use. The Cesar and Ranch varieties can add up to 180 more calories and 15 additional grams of fat! That’s if you use the entire packet. I only use a drop on mine – about 50 calories worth at most. A safe bet is the low fat Balsamic Vinaigrette; it only has 60 total calories and 3 grams of fat. And croutons are not free calories; a little bag contains about 60 calories of simple carbs and fat. I’d skip them.
2. Grilled Chicken Wraps – Take a white flour tortilla, add some grilled chicken, cheese, lettuce and offer a few different dressings and voila, McDonalds Chicken wraps are born. There’s three kinds; Chipotle BBQ, Honey Mustard and Ranch snack wraps, and they all hover right around 300 calories, with on average 10 grams of fat. Compare that to 23 grams of fat in a double cheeseburger or 43 grams in a double quarter pounder with cheese and you can easily see the snack wraps are a better choice.
And here’s an Angry Trainer tip – whenever I get wraps there always seems to be too much wrap so I peel away the excess tortilla and toss it. I also ask for the sauce of my choice and the cheese on the side. This way I control how much goes on my food. I think conservatively, you could cut about 50 calories per wrap, including a gram or 2 of fat this way. Try it out.
3. Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich- This is another tasty sandwich. It’s a bit higher in calories coming in at 420 calories, but it has only 10 grams of fat and 32 grams of protein. That’s decent for a fast food place. As with the salads, I’d ask to hold the dressings or put them on the side for your own dispensing.
I’m sure you’ve notice a common theme here – grilled chicken is in all of these options. The truth is crispy or fried chicken is just the death of your diet. Frying in oil can add up to 20 grams of saturated fat to otherwise healthy food. That’s just unacceptable. And don’t think that because the oil is “trans fat” free that it’s ok? It’s not – bottom line is fried food is garbage.
I also didn’t include any burgers in my choices. Why is that? Truthfully I’m not sure how accurate the calorie count claims are. For instance, the nutritional data provided states that a 4 oz. cheeseburger has 300 calories and about 10 grams of fat. That’s the same as the 4 oz. grilled chicken snack wraps. Yet the burger has a bun in place of a wrap, and has meat (?) instead of chicken. I don’t see how they are calorically equivalent.
And if they were, I believe that the chicken selections have better overall nutrition, especially in the quality of protein. This is a list of the best choices, not the mediocre ones.
Okay now that we’ve settled that let’s get to the ridiculous calorie monsters served up in this place that. Caution: Avoid these at all costs!
1. Angus Bacon and Cheese Burger – 800 freakin’ calories and 40 grams of fat! Holy $&@! That’s almost 50% pure fat and the same as if you ate half a stick of butter. Keep in mind, that’s just the burger. Lets add some fries to that order, and I’m going to guess anyone ordering the Angus isn’t getting size small fries. Large fries adds another 500 calories and 25 grams of fat- yep, time to eat another ¼ stick of butter. That’s a 1,300-calorie meal with an insane amount of fat. I can’t in good conscious even say it’s ok once in a while.
2. Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese – This is virtually calorically the same as #1, minus 50 calories and a few grams of fat. It’s hardly a better choice by any stretch, and without repeating myself just stay away. It’s a wolf, in wolf’s clothing!
3. Steak, Egg and Cheese Bagel – I can’t find nothing nutritious on the breakfast menu that I would recommend but would you guess this sandwich has 660 calories and more than 30 grams of fat? That’s appalling, and NOT a great way to start your day. A breakfast sandwich made at home comprised of Ezekiel bread, 3 eggs and 1 yolk, reduced fat cheese and a strip of turkey bacon would come in at about 400 calories, provide 8 grams of fiber, 30 grams of protein, and less than half the fat. That’s a better choice for sure and actually it tastes better.
Listen, we all know that fast food in general is not a healthy choice to eat on a regular basis. Food that is processed, high in simple carbohydrates, loaded with saturated fat, and fried, is just not what the human body was designed to ingest and process. But, if you care about your health, then make a better choice next time you’re in a McDonalds. Visualize eating a stick of butter when looking at those glossy, cleverly marketed food photos.
With regards to kids meals, and chicken nuggets I’d have to make the same suggestions. My kids love the snack wraps, and sometimes they may share a small fries between the two of them. They’re not deprived and on occasion they get burgers. Remember that you are setting precedents and ingraining lifestyle habits in your children every time you allow, or disallow certain foods. That’s how I feel and I’m sticking to it!
I suggest that you visit the supplied nutrition information from McDonalds at http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/nutritionfacts.pdf I think you’ll be very surprised by what you see.
But what do you think of my suggestions? Do you have a different recommendation? Fire away…