We’re tackling the issue of obesity once again, but now we want to know what role does food play in our instant-gratification culture?
To find out what happens to your body and psyche, we put our favorite guinea pig through thirty days of nothing but fast food. As usual, he updated us on weekly progress, so strap in and stay tuned for Challenge: eat only fast food for a month!
I have to admit, I’m not looking forward to this one at all. I don’t really like fast food, I mean I used to when I was a kid but when you start having to pay for your own food you kind of hit a point where you think to yourself, why am I paying to eat garbage? Now it’s all I’m going to have to eat for the next thirty days, and all I can say is that I’m glad the pay is worth it.
Naturally the fitness-freak girlfriend did not take this well at all, but I worked some of my charm on her to ease this one through, and by “worked some of my charm” what I actually mean is that after the thirty days are up I’m going to owe her big time. Again.
So, beforehand I did my research on what I could potentially expect. We’ve all seen Supersize Me, and after it came out everyone hated fast food until it was revealed that Morgan Spurlock fudged quite a bit of the quote- experiment- unquote, for the sake of drama.
I’m going to keep it simple, I’ll figure out how many calories I’m taking in and keep track of my weight as well as mood and energy levels, etc. I’m less interested in the numbers and more on what the actual physiological effects are on me and my life.
The effects of eating lots of fast food vary, but some of the scarier ones include diabetes. Apparently that’s because fast food is loaded with carbs that have almost no fiber, and when your body breaks those empty carbs down they turn into glucose which pumps up your blood sugar levels.
To regulate, your body releases insulin, but if you do this too many times your body can actually stop responding to the blood sugar leading to insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Nothing I’ve found says that thirty days of nothing but fast food is nearly enough to do this though.
The other major side effect is, duh, weight gain. The American Heart Association recommends eating only 100 to 150 calories of added sugar per day, or six to nine teaspoons, but a 12-ounce soda has eight teaspoons of sugar- so kiss the rest of your daily allowance goodbye.
Then of course there’s added sugar in the food itself in order to make it taste good- I heard a rumor that Mcdonald’s soaks their potatoes in a sugar-water solution to enhance the flavor, but that’s just a rumor. What’s not a rumor is that their fries are actually pretty amazing.
There is also added trans fat in fast food, and every health website pretty much says that there are absolutely zero levels of trans fats that are healthy for you. Lucky for me fast food is loaded with trans fat, so… hooray?
Then there are concerns over sodium, but that only seems to be a real issue for people with weakened hearts and blood pressure conditions, which I do not have- although the AHA recommends you eat no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day and a single fast food meal contains as much as half your day’s worth.
So basically what I’m gathering from all this research is that we need to add more hours to the day, so that then one meal won’t have almost all my daily allotment of sodium, calories, and sugar. You’re welcome to fast food industry, I just ended your biggest marketing nightmare- just add more hours to the day and your meals won’t have an entire day’s junk limits in one sitting! I should’ve been a Mad Man.
Ok, so as usual I’ll update weekly. My starting weight is 165 pounds, and I confess that I exercise regularly so my results probably aren’t going to be the same as a couch potato. In fact, my fitness Nazi girlfriend has promised that she’s upping our workout routine viciously because she’s starting her own thirty-day challenge called: I’m going to not let my boyfriend get fat and crush him physically to make sure it doesn’t happen.
I’ve been doing some rough tabletop math just to figure out how many calories I’ve been taking in based off what I can find on different restaurant websites, and I’m pretty sure I’m running at about 3,000 calories a day, well over the 2,000 a day natural limit we’re supposed to be taking in.
I’ve been hitting up McDonald’s and grabbing Big Macs with fries, so that’s about 1k calories right there, and then grabbing In and Out for a double-double with fries which is about 1100 calories.
By the way, if you don’t have In-and-Out where you live, why do you even live there? It’s basically the only fast food restaurant that doesn’t taste like fast food, and the only place where I actually feel the money I spend is worth the food I’m getting in return. In other places like McDonald’s I typically feel like I might as well just have eaten the ten dollars I spend, vomited the tenner back up, and then eaten the vomited ten dollar bill.
I’ve also been hitting up Del Taco though, until I realized that Chipotle very much still counts as fast food but is infinitely better. I considered Taco Bell but then I remembered that I don’t actually hate my own existence and I like eating things that on some level are considered food.
Carl’s Jr. has been good to me, and honestly, I’d say their quality is definitely in the upper tier of fast food, though far below In and Out. Then again being upper tier quality in fast food is like being the smartest dumb guy, you’re still an idiot.
Speaking of dumb guy, I was getting the Swiss chicken sandwich at Carl’s Jr thinking to myself, hey it’s chicken, this is definitely healthier than a burger! And guess what, it’s 780 calories, over 200 calories more than a Big Mac! Even that doesn’t compare with the half pound mile high bacon thickburger though, which is a whopping 1230 calories.
Ok, so I’ve been getting in right around 3k calories a day this week, and I’ve been skipping breakfast because every fast food breakfast is awful. I hit the scale and weighted 167, but that’s definitely within natural fluctuation so I can’t say I’ve actually gained that much weight already. There’s also the fact that the girlfriend has been running me during our exercise time like an old drill instructor, a job I suspect she is secretly loving. The first week is done, and I gotta say, I feel pretty normal.
I’ve been trying to switch it up other than just hitting the same few places over and over again, and I gotta tell you, fast food really tastes the same everywhere you go, and that’s predominantly: awful.
Thank god for in and out though, and chipotle. At least those taste like real food. I’m definitely no food snob, I’ve eaten way too many cold MREs in my life to ever be one, but I think if we were all honest with ourselves we’d admit that fast food tastes good for like the first five bites, and after that, it tastes like depression, loneliness, and suicide.
My mood is definitely affected, I feel sluggish both physically and mentally. My girlfriend got called up for an acting gig that took her away for most of the week so she hasn’t been around to slavedrive me into exercise oblivion, and I kind of wish she had.
I tried to switch things up and added Panda Express to the mix just to get away from Mexican food and burgers. Two servings of orange chicken and fried rice are just over 1500 calories. How in the world did I think this would be a healthier option?! I’ve been going to a lot of fast food places guys, and it turns out that burgers are overwhelmingly the healthiest option!
I’m at 169 pounds this week, which is definitely past normal weight fluctuation, and if I remember right it’s the high point I got to when I did the only soda for a month challenge. And it’s only halfway through! Welp, this is definitely not going to be the month of washboard abs.
I am legitimately dreading mealtime. At first, it was kind of fun to eat fast food all the time, especially since I rarely get to. Then it became boring and repetitive- spoiler alert, it all starts tasting the exact same.
Then it very quickly became a mini-hell. I literally feel like my blood has turned into barbeque sauce, I could probably flavor my own food just by cutting myself open. I now hate fries, and I have always- always- loved French fries.
Now I think we need a new potato famine. I kind of wish I could go back in time to the famous Irish potato famine just so I could gloat over all those dead potatoes. Not so much the dead Irish though.
This week I added Wienerschnitzel to the mix, and then I immediately took Wienerschnitzel out of the mix. Remember how I said that Carl’s Jr. was an upper tier of fast food earlier? Well, Weiner doesn’t even rank. It’s just not food, period.
Physically I can’t keep up with my girlfriend when we exercise anymore. She outruns me, she outboxes me, I am on the verge of passing out while she’s still warming up. I’m at 172 pounds, and that’s not major weight gain but the fast food just literally… I don’t know, it weighs you down physically.
It’s like jamming chocolate and marshmallows into a car’s engine. I feel absolutely terrible, and my mood has definitely been quite a bit darker. The girlfriend has definitely taken note of the mood change, and she’s been sending me corny one-line jokes while she’s at work because she knows I love bad dad jokes. It’s actually really sweet of her. Then she comes home and kicks my ass working out.
Only one week left, and I am seriously looking forward to this one being over.
Final weight is 174 pounds, or a nine pound weight gain over thirty days. I have no doubts that if I hadn’t been exercising as much as I do, I could’ve easily done some pretty high double digits.
I know Murgon Spurlock fudged a lot of things in his Supersize Me doc, but honestly, a lot of the stuff he presented was spot on. Fast food kills your mood, absolutely ruins your sex drive, and destroys your energy levels. I used to breeze a two mile run, now I’m dying at a mile.
My girlfriend celebrated the end of the challenge by going out and buying a bunch of healthy stuff to make for lunch and dinner for the next week, and I gotta tell you after all the garbage I’ve been eating, seeing the rows of fresh vegetables and fruit in our fridge has kind of got me salivating.
I can’t say that I hate fast food now and will never eat it again, in fact, I think this challenge has helped me identify exactly which fast food I do like and which I’ll never touch again, but I definitely have no desire to eat fast food for at least… a year?
His final verdict
If you’re eating fast food pretty regularly and feel terrible about yourself or depressive all the time, try and stop or cut down. You’ll be amazed at how much food is to blame for how you’re feeling, or at least making bad feelings much, much worse.
Four weeks of 3000 to 4000 calories a day, specially such low nutrition calories, have absolutely wrecked me, and I can’t imagine what it must do to people over the really long term.