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PURSUE HEALTHY: Fast Food. You Can’t Afford It

Better time management can solve your fast-food necessity issue.

It’s lunchtime in the middle of the week. Your stomach is attempting to digest itself, and you’ve just walked out the office to lunch. There she is: the Queen, the Golden Arches, McDonald’s. As you head toward it, you begin thinking about a salad, removing the bun from a burger, getting apple slices instead of french fries, a diet coke instead of regular, and skipping the apple pie, right?

David Viergutz is a personal trainer who holds certifications in personal training and nutrition and wellness coaching. He owns 1080 Physique Personal Training Services based in Burnet and serving the Hill Country.

If not, you’re one of the average 37 percent of adults who consume fast food on any given day, according to a study between 2013 and 2016 by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Let’s take a second to digest a simple meal at McDonald’s. Using the McDonald’s “Nutritional Calculator” (build your own heart attack), a modest, and I mean modest, meal at the eatery is going to set you back 1,090 calories with the majority of it coming from fats and carbohydrates. That’s 50 percent of the average adult’s daily needed caloric intake of 2,000.

Here we go:

• Big Mac — 540 calories

• Medium fries — 340 calories

• Medium Coke — 220 calories

In terms of money, you’re looking at 50 percent of your daily allowance for one meal. You can’t afford it.

My goal here isn’t to bash fast food; it has its place. It tastes great; it’s simple, easy, and temporarily satisfying; and, in comparison to a steak, it’s affordable.

What fast food isn’t is the catch-all for our county’s major disassociation with time management and convenience. Fast food filled a niche, and that niche was laziness and an issue with time management.

Well, for those who claim they work too much, why would you waste your hard-earned money on something that could potentially kill you? That’s a recipe for a heart-attack.

I took a minute and punched in data similar to what I might do with a client to determine the Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) for that person. Your TDEE is the amount of calories your body consumes on a daily basis to sustain itself. Go above that number, you gain weight; go below that number, you lose weight.

For our fictional character in his 30s with an office job and weighing approximately 200 pounds, his TDEE is about 2,090 calories. Do you see the problem here? Convenience has overshadowed his conscious eating decisions.

McDonald’s and most fast-food chains readily make their nutrition information available to everyone. They aren’t hiding it; we simply don’t care. Enough of this. Time to talk about solutions. That same calculator that allowed us to see what we were truly consuming also presented the nutritional information on the available options.

By replacing french fries with apples, removing the bun from a hamburger, and replacing regular Coke with a Diet Coke, our new lunch looks more wholesome, appealing, and forgiving. We even get to enjoy our hamburger (most of it).

Here are a few takeaways from this.

• Time management solves your fast-food necessity issue. Prepare meals at home. Wake up 15 minutes earlier; make your lunch the night before, etc.

• Nutritional facts are readily available for most establishments. Know what you’re eating. If you’re working with a trainer such as myself, we’ll want to make sure we’re eating in the right direction.

• When in doubt, take the bun and soda out. You can’t afford the calories.

• Many grocery stores are open 24 hours, and their selection and prices make them a close competitor for lunchtime meals.

• Bonus: A salad covered in dressing isn’t a salad (150 calories per serving of dressing). When’s the last time you checked serving sizes before you went all Noah’s Ark on your salad with dressing.

• Hire a trainer to slap food out of your hands.

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