KFC, Subway, McDonald’s; it doesn’t matter which one you visit, if you are keen on staying fit or making gains, then you’ll probably know there are better places you can eat.
There are also worse.
So, let’s see what we can do to make fast food, fit…or at least fitter.
1. Don’t go large
This might seem madly obvious, but what we really mean is that if there is an option to have the small or regular and then the large; you don’t go for the latter.
Most fast food choices are high on the calories anyway, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as we need calories to survive and to gain weight or muscle. In fact, the McDonald’s cheeseburger has been called “the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.” But you will only ever need X amount of fat, X amount of carbs and X amount of protein in any meal, and in all that, X amount of calories.
So the chances are that the larger options don’t offer opportunities to hit your nutritional, or caloric targets, but they do offer a chance to needlessly go over them. If you are really looking to gain weight and get the calories in, you are better off with a weight gainer than an extra large milkshake from the house of Ronald McDonald.
2. Do your research
All major fast food chains will publish their nutritional info. Be it online, instore or on the side of the food they serve.
So with this in mind, you can look at the menu before you visit and make an informed choice. If it is an impromptu visit, then use common sense, and hopefully there is a nutritional chart in store. Failing that, myfitnesspal should have more than enough info.
3. Focus on sugar
Despite the outdated government advice that fat should be avoided at all costs, most people with half an ounce of knowledge on fitness have realised that you need to consume carbs, protein and fat.
The real enemy is sugar. Sugar that isn’t used as energy turns to fat (in basic terms), it has been blamed for causing a massive increase in diabetes and from a bodybuilding perspective, too much sugar can cause insulin sensitivity, which can in turn hinder muscle growth. We wrote about this when discussing whether dirty bulk was a good idea or not.
So when you are looking at the menu, this is where you should focus your attention. Go for water, a hot beverage or a sugar free option like Pepsi Max.
4. Be prepared to be annoying
Too much salt can increase your blood pressure, leading to heart problems, and other nastiness we generally want to avoid. Salt is perhaps the main bad point about fast food, especially McDonald’s fries.
Burger King Satisfries were an attempt to bring in a healthier option, and tellingly, they failed. But there is help at hand. McDonald’s idea of “lightly” salted may be a bit heavy handed, but you can order without salt if you want. You will be seen as annoying and picky, but if you are still reading this, I don’t think you’ll care.
Off the menu options are also, perhaps somewhat mythologically, supposed to be plentiful. So if you can find one that ticks the healthy boxes, try and order it. Otherwise, try a custom order and see how you get on!
Don’t be too snobby or serious.
One meal won’t kill you and there are very few meals that are perfect. You could use a meal like this as a cheat day if you like, or you could even try and look at the benefits.