These days, fast food and obesity seemingly run hand in hand. Simply turning on the television, we’re force fed shows such as The Biggest Loser, My 600-Lb Life, and I Used To Be Fat. A common thread between most of “stars” of these shows is that they all have “fat habits”. In other words, they tend to live very sedentary lifestyles while eating a high-calorie diet, which inevitably includes way too much fast food.
With so much media exposure to this type of unhealthy lifestyle, we as a society are only becoming more accustomed to the issue and have begun to look past it in many ways. How often have you walked down the street to see someone who is struggling to simply walk around? Just browsing through the popular website People Of Walmart, you’ll notice that quite a few match that description.
Compared to my younger years, humans have gained a lot more access to information. While most people can understand that fast food isn’t necessarily “good” food, it doesn’t quite stop them from treating themselves a little too often. Usually, the only time someone will cut back is when it’s too late and they either become sick, obese or both.
Obesity rates have skyrocketed along with the growth of fast food in America. And, while correlation is not equal to causation, it’s safe to say that this industry hasn’t had many positive effects on our health. Heck, most places even have drive-thrus so that you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your car.
And yet, despite all of this, fast food continues to be a $200 billion dollar industry and people continue to flock there in droves.
The Definition of Fast Food
Growing up, I had no idea that fast food was actually doing any sort of real damage to my health. Sure, I had some sense that it wasn’t the best food available, but it was awfully tasty. I thought that eating this type of junk food simply meant that I had to try and exercise more, or perhaps eat smaller portions throughout the rest of week.
When you think of highly processed foods, typically the top fast food chains come to mind – McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack In The Box, Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger, Chick-Fil-A, and the list goes on.
One of the biggest fast food secrets is that behind the scenes, all of these profit-maximizing behemoths have massive marketing and research budgets, which allows them to scientifically develop extremely affordable, yet remarkably unhealthy, food in just a matter of a few minutes.
Here is a short video produced by fast food giant, McDonalds. In the style of a documentary film, this three-minute clip addresses the age-old question of “why does fast food never look like the picture?”
In short, the actual food at the restaurant is made to order in just a couple of minutes or seconds, while it takes professional food stylists and photographers hours to painstakingly prepare the food pictured in the advertisements. It is no secret that the fast food industry has deep pockets to fund aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns. Millions of dollars are spent each year on assigning top advertising experts to design ads that specifically target your wallet.
In today’s economy, pressure from shareholders to increase corporate profitability has left the fast-food industry scouring for ways to drive down the cost of its products. Scientists work each day to develop low-grade meat and other ingredients to engineer the most taste bud friendly food possible. As it turns out, fast food has little in the way of nutritional value and is packed with harmful chemicals, preservatives and additives.
Think that those french fries you are eating are simply deep-fried potatoes? Think again. There are actually 19 different ingredients that go into your salty spuds! The list includes hydrogenated soy bean oil, Sodium acid pyrophosphate, dextrose and more.
Why Is Fast Food Bad For You?
So you’ve come this far and you’re still wondering what’s so bad about that $5 quarter-pounder value meal?
First off, a single meal from one of these so-called restaurants can quickly reach upwards of 1,000 to 2,000 Calories! Ever wonder what 2,000 Calories looks like? Check out this image-filled article for a visual benchmark.
Remember that you need to burn 3,500 Calories to lose one pound of fat, while the average one-hour workout will burn only 300-700 Calories. That means that the “convenience” of fast food can set you back more than a whole week’s worth of progress towards your goals.
In my early 20’s, it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend the night out drinking with friends only to make a 2am run to a fast food joint after the bars closed, ordering up four burgers and two large fries just to be “safe” in case I was extra hungry later. Of course, I’d simply end up eating it all in one sitting.
In my hometown of Hawaii, there is a burger chain called Teddy’s Bigger Burgers, and the name says it all. Extremely delicious, my go-to was the double 9-oz burger with garlic fries. With every bite, I saw my dreams of achieving an Arnold-esque physique slipping through my special sauce-covered fingers.
These days, I eat far less fast food. And, when I do, it’s because I fully understand the implications of my decision and use it simply as a “treat” and go into it knowing I’ll have to eventually work it off. Most of the time when I am planning my meals, I think to myself things like “what would really nourish me?” and “what would best propel me towards my goals”, and the answer decision is made for me.
The adverse effects of fast food on health have been widely studied and highlight the need for a healthy diet.
Anyone with a Body-Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30 is considered to be obese. And yes, for everyone it is different, but it’s still a pretty valid rule to keep in mind. Hopefully you don’t fall into this category, but if you do, you may want to consider cleaning up your diet.
Although fast food may seem convenient, keep this in mind the next time you’re planning a trip to the drive-thru. There is no substitute for a healthy diet, and it is important to give your body the fuel that it needs to perform at its best.
Do you stick to a strict diet, or do you allow yourself to indulge in these foods? Eating clean can be a struggle, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!