Straight Talk About Fast Foods

Let’s face it, most of us would say that Fast Food is convenient, fairly cheap and definitely has that satisfying taste. Unless you live in a void, you are bombarded by all forms of media, reinforcing these facts, and your kids are an easy persuader, too.

Are fast foods really as bad as the nutrition experts say they are?

Morgan Spurlock of “Supersize Me” fame would agree, while Jared Fogel of Subway fame would defend the Subway diet.

Are there some “good for you” fast foods out there? Can you trust the quality of ingredients and preparation practices?

Let’s look at a few popular fast food items:

Burger King Whopper Jr.:

According to Burger King:
“It’s a little WHOPPER® sandwich with a big taste. A flame-broiled beef patty topped with red ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, ketchup, crunchy pickles, and onions-all on a toasted sesame seed bun.”

Want fries with that? Value Fries (small)

Food Calories Total Fat Sat Fat Protein Carbs 40-30-30
Whopper Jr 370 21 6.0 16 31 33-17-50
Small Fries 220 11 2.5 2 28 51-4-45
Total 590 32 8.5 18 59 40-12-48

Meal Cost: $2.00

Health Cost and 40-30-30 considerations:

  • High Glycemic
  • Not balanced
  • Over 500 calories with the fries

Plus, the meal defies these recommendations for health:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
Angry Whopper

How about an Angry Whopper and Large Fries? (Honestly I LOVE Angry Whoppers. A definite comfort food for me, but at what cost? (Plus it sits in my stomach like a rock and I feel awful the next morning):

“A ¼ pound* of flame-broiled beef topped with sizzling bacon, Pepper Jack cheese, deliciously spicy jalapenos, angry onions and our signature angry sauce. It’s the WHOPPER® that bites back.”

Food Calories Total Fat Sat Fat Protein Carbs 40-30-30
Angry Whopper 880 55 18 37 59 27-17-56
Large Fries 580 28 6 6 74 52-4-44
Total 1,460 83 24 43 133 37-12-51

Meal Cost: About $6.00

Health Cost and 40-30-30 considerations:

  • High Glycemic
  • Not balanced
  • Over 500 calories

And again, it ignores these important health recommendations:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
Chicken Tendergrill, anyone?

Okay, I know they say eat chicken not beef, because there is less saturated fat. How about a Tendergrill™ Chicken Sandwich. This one actually comes close to balancing without any sides.

According to Burger King:
“You want chicken? You got it. You want a juicy grilled chicken filet on a corn-dusted bun, topped with crisp lettuce tomato? You got that, too. It’s called the TENDERGRILL® Chicken Sandwich.”

Want fries with that? Here’s an example with small fries:

Food Calories Total Fat Sat Fat Protein Carbs 40-30-30
Tendergrill™ Chicken Sandwich 490 21 4 26 51 41-21-38
Small Fries 220 11 2.5 2 28 51-4-45
Total with Fries 710 32 6.5 28 79 41-16-40

Meal Cost: about $6.00

Health Cost and 40-30-30 considerations:

  • High Glycemic
  • Not balanced
  • Over 500 calories with fries
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
Yes, but what about Salads?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve only given you the choice for a burger or a chicken sandwich. Why not a salad? Isn’t that a better choice?

Tendergrill™ Chicken Salad:

Season-ripe lettuce, cucumber, carrots, onions and tomatoes topped with grilled chicken, three kinds of cheese, and your choice of KEN’S® Salad Dressing. TENDERGRILL™ is the salad for grilled-chicken lovers.

Dressing options:
KEN’S™ Light Italian Dressing (2 oz) Cal:120 Fat:11g Sat Fat:1.5g Carb:5g Pro:0g
KEN’S™ Ranch Dressing (2 oz) Cal:190 Fat:20g Sat Fat: 3g Carb:2g Pro:1g
KEN’S™ Creamy Caesar Dressing (2 oz) Cal:210 Fat:21g Sat Fat: 4g Carb:4g Pro:3g
KEN’S™ Honey Mustard Dressing (2 oz) Cal:270 Fat:23g Sat Fat: 3g Carb:15g Pro:1g

Let’s see how the salad shakes out….

Food Calories Total Fat Sat Fat Protein Carbs 40-30-30
Tendergrill™ Chicken Salad 210 7 3 29 8 15-55-30
Croutons 60 2 0 1 9 62-7-31
Total NO dressing 370 9 3 30 17 25-45-30
Ranch Dressing 190 20 3 1 2 4-2-94
Total with Dressing 560 29 6 31 19 16-27-57

Right – I did not add dressing first. I then added Ranch Dressing (a favorite). I clearly need carbs to make it balance. Even if I use the Light dressing I am adding more fat than carbs. If I add the Honey Mustard I get the carbs (in the form of sugar), but I also get unneeded fat.

Cost: Varies

Health Cost and 40-30-30 considerations:

  • Not balanced
  • Over 500 calories with the dressing

Again, it dismisses these health suggestions:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
OK, what about Subway?

To be fair, I’ll see how a Subway 6” sandwich would play out, and I’ll even add a salad for a choice:

  • Any sandwich can be made into a salad with chopped lettuce, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell peppers, and olives.

Subway tells you up front (well in fine print):

“The following are the standard formulas for sandwiches, salads and wraps served at SUBWAY® restaurants. The customer can alter this formula by choosing different vegetables, condiments and breads. Standard vegetables include iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, and cucumbers. (made on Italian or 9-Grain Wheat bread)”

What do these sandwiches look like, anyway?

Food Calories Total Fat Sat Fat Protein Carbs 40-30-30
6” Turkey Breast 280 3.5 1.0 18 47 64-25-11
Flatbread Turkey Breast 310 6.0 1.0 18 47 60-23-17
6” Tuna 530 30.0 6.0 21 48 35-15-49
New 6” Buffalo Chicken (I got these values from a different site. Subway did not have the nutritional info on their site.) 370 7.0 1.5 25 54 57-26-17
Turkey Breast Salad 110 2.0 0.5 14 12 39-46-15
Fat Free Italian 35

0 0 1 7 88-12-0
Total w/ Italian 145 2.0 0.5 15

19 49-39-12
Ranch 320 35.0 6.0 0 3 4-0-96
Salad Total w/ Ranch 430 37.0 6.5 14 15 13-12-74

When you go into a Subway they ask you:

  • What size
  • What kind of bread
  • What cheese
  • What veggies
  • What condiments

You are immediately in danger of altering the listed nutritional values. I am usually tempted to say, “Footlong, pepperjack cheese, ALL the veggies (which includes a fistful of olives), and a little oil and vinegar (no mayo of course).

After all isn’t the $5 footlong the better deal?

Meal Cost: Varies

Health Cost and 40-30-30 considerations:

  • Not balanced

And yet again, flies in the face of:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
Some things to consider:

When you consider how you have to alter the “fast food” to make it fit and healthy, is it really “fast”?

How tempting is it to just eat the whole bun rather than throw away half of it? Besides – who wants to have the waste in the car, or maybe you drive a bit further and are still hungry, so you retrieve it from the bag and eat it.

Additions are really a dice roll. Subway lists an add-on of olives on a 6” sandwich as 3 rounds. I have NEVER seen an employee add 3 little pieces of olives to a 6”. How much is “just a little mayo”? . When you are going through a drive-through, how do you ask for “mayo on the side”?

What Fast Food Should Be…

Fast food to me is something made at home where I know EXACTLY what I am eating, which I can make in 5 minutes or less and put in a sack and take with me.

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