Can Fast Food Fit into Your Diet?

 

Diary of a Runner:

6:00 a.m. 5-mile run
7:00 a.m. shower, dress
7:30 a.m. get the kids up and ready for school
8:00 a.m. balanced breakfast of scrambled egg whites, whole wheat toast, orange juice and skim milk
8:15 a.m. out the door to work
10:00 a.m. swamped – too busy for a snack (forgot to pack it anyway)
12:30 p.m. blood sugar is dropping, didn’t bring a lunch, didn’t even bring an energy bar. 30 minutes until next meeting. Options are limited. Choices include burger joint, smoothie, Subway sandwich or fried chicken.

Help! What’s a runner to do?

“You can definitely eat at fast food restaurants,” says Ronda Elsenbrook RD LD, sports nutrition dietitian at The Healthy Weigh. “It’s just a matter of making choices that will help you reach your running and health goals.”

Over the past few years, various fast food restaurants tried offering healthier versions of the standard fare. McDonalds came up with the “McLean Deluxe” and Taco Bell premiered eight different “Border Light” items. They were lower in calories, lower in fat, and higher in nutrients than the regular menu options, but they were not what Americans wanted and they didn’t sell, so off the menu they went.

Fast food restaurants then made a 180º turnaround, offering bigger, super-sized servings and “value meal deals.” That’s what Americans wanted. The items sold, therefore, they’ve remained on the menus. You now see such fat- and calorie-laden items as double and triple meat burgers, super-sized French fries, and burgers with bacon, cheese and special sauce. And, not only are the servings bigger — they are also easier on the wallet. For example, a Super Value Meal Deal at McDonald’s, which includes a double patty hamburger, super-sized fries and a large coke, sells for only $4.00. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive.

So, it’s 12:30 p.m. You have limited time, you are really hungry, your defenses are down and a fast food restaurant is right around the corner. What should you do?

“Just stop for one second and think about your options,” says Elsenbrook. “Plan exactly what you want to order. Don’t order hastily – look at all options rather than choosing the first item that grabs your attention.”

Elsenbrook also recommends the following:
1. Order water or skim milk instead of soda.
2. Voice your needs to the waiter or order taker. Most restaurants are able to accommodate menu changes
3. Look for lower fat options by focusing on words such as grilled, broiled, steamed, poached or roasted.
4. Start your meal with a salad — with dressing on the side.
5. Listen closely to your body’s signals. The goal is to eat until you feel satisfied — not “stuffed.” And, remember, it takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to signal satiety. A lot of extra fat and calories can be consumed in 20 minutes.
6. Pass on the fried food.
7. Hold the cheese and special sauce.

 

McDONALD’S DON’TS
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Fish Filet Deluxe
560
28
Large Fries
450
22
Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry shake
360
9
Total calories: 1,370
Calories from fat: 39%

 

ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Mig Mac
560
31
Super Size Fries
540
26
Small Coke
150
0
Total calories: 1,250
Calories from fat: 41%
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Arch Deluxe w/Bacon
590
34
Garden Salad
35
0
Ranch Dressing
230
21
Apple Pie
260
13
Total calories: 1,115
Calories from fat: 55%

 


 

McDONALD’S DO’S
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Fruit Yogurt Parfait
380
5
Regular Hamburger
260
9
Total calories: 640
Calories from fat: 20%
 
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Grilled Chicken Salad
120
2
Fruit Yogurt Parfait
380
5
Total calories: 500
Calories from fat: 12.6%

 

ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Cheeseburger
320
13
Garden Salad
35
0
Herb Vinaigrette Dressing
50
0
1 cup Skim Milk
90
0
Total calories: 495
Calories from fat: 23%
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams)
Grilled Chicken Deluxe (without mayonnaise)
300
5
Small Fries
210
10
Low fat Vanilla Ice Cream Cone
150
5
Total calories: 660
Calories from fat: 27%

 


 

TACO CABANA DON’TS
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Super Nachos
1,398
71
46
Beef Enchiladas Dinner
815
38
42
Chicken Fajita Nachos w/Queso
1,222
62
46
Tortilla Chips w/8 oz. Queso
1,201
65
49
Chicken Fajita Dinner
1,900
81
38
Stewed Chicken Taco Salad
1,125
76
61
TACO CABANA DO’S
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Black Bean Burrito
464
9
17
Corn Tortilla
70
1
13
Soft Chicken Taco
217
9
37
Soft Beef Taco
200
8
36

 


 

SMOOTHIE KING DON’TS
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Strawberry Hulk
953
29
27
Peanut Power Plus
703
20.8
27
Chocolate Malt
887
41.4
42

*Anything that guarantees weight loss
(i.e. ma huange, ephedra, etc.)
*Anything that guarantees muscle building
(i.e. creatine, creatinine, etc.)

SMOOTHIE KING DO’S
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Orange Vanilla Slim & Trim *
199
.5
2
High Protein Pineapple
389
12.9
29
High Protein Chocolate
401
12.9
29
Chocolate Slim & Trim
270
1.6
5
Light & Fluffy
389
0.4
1
Angel Food
330
0.5
1

*Eat an energy bar and a banana to make it a meal



SUBWAY SANDWICH DON’TS
(6-inch on wheat, without cheese and oil, with vegetables)
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Pizza Sub
464
22
43
Seafood/Crab Sub
430
19
40
Seafood/Crab Salad
244
17
63
Cold Cut Trio Salad
191
11
52
Spicy Italian Sub
482
25
47
Tuna Sub
542
32
53
Cold Cut Trio Sub
378
13
31
SUBWAY SANDWICH DO’S
(6-inch on wheat, without cheese and oil, with vegetables)
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Veggie Delite Sub
237
3
11
Turkey Breast Sub
289
4
12
Ham Sub
302
5
15
Subway Club
312
5
14
Veggie Delite Salad
51
1
18
Turkey Breast Salad
102
2
18
Roasted Chicken Salad
162
4
22

 


 

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN DON’TS
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Original Recipe Breast
400
24
54
Original Recipe Thigh
250
18
65
Original Recipe Wing
140
10
65
Original Recipe Sandwich w/Sauce
450
22
44
Mashed Potatoes w/Gravy
770
42
49
Coleslaw
120
6
45
Biscuit
232
10
50
Pecan Pie
490
23
42
Large Popcorn Chicken
620
40
58
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN DO’S
ITEM CALORIES FAT (grams) FAT (%)
Tender Roast Chicken Breast Sandwich
270
5
17
Bar-B-Que Baked Beans
190
3
14
Tangy BBQ Sandwich
310
6
17
Corn On The Cob
150
1.5
9

Runners spend hours and hours, day after day, training and preparing for races. It’s important to spend just as much time focusing on nutrition to achieve optimum fitness goals. “Runners should pack snacks and meals whenever possible to have control over what they eat,” says Elsenbrook. “That way they are assured of consuming food that’s packed with nutrients and energy.”

So, pull out your Superman/Wonderwoman lunch box and pack a balanced lunch and snacks including:

  • 1 turkey breast sandwich on whole wheat bread (with mustard, lettuce, tomato, and a piece of 2% cheese)
  • 2 pieces fruit
  • 6-8 ounces lowfat yogurt
  • Energy bar (Balance, Luna, Ironman, etc.)
  • 2 oatmeal cookies or Fig Newtons

Good eating and good running!