Well, let's see. How long does it take you to run a few carrots under water to clean them? Chop some different greens, whir them in a salad spinner and throw on a little extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit of salt? If that's what you mean by fast food, then the more you eat, the better! And the truth is, that salad probably takes less time than it takes to get into a car, go to the nearest drive-thru, wait in line, put an order, pay, get your bag and find a place to eat your meal. Probably a LOT less time than you're going to spend moving your body to work off all those calories.
And probably a WHOLE LOT less time than Americans with lifestyle-related chronic disease spend in treatment for their problems. In 2009, the CDC reported that 133 million, or almost 1 in every 2 American adults, suffered from at least one chronic disease, something that changes in diet and exercise patterns would have prevented.
But, of course, when we say the fast food we mostly mean a quick trip through the drive-through on the way to take a child to sports practice, or a fast pit stop in the morning to grab your breakfast of choice. The kind of food that is filled with calories, grease, and fat--or at least, that's the message you're going to hear from most clean eating enthusiasts. If you really want to drop those extra pounds and get in better shape, you'll have to give it up. The reality, however, may be different than you think.
Many Fast Food Chains Offer Healthy Options
Some fast food chains have become aware of their poor reputation when it comes to customer health, and they're taking the steps necessary to fix it. Consider Starbucks, for example. They offer several drinks, both cold and hot, that are created to be under 200 calories. Subway bases a large portion of their menu around offering options that have less than 6 grams of fat. Chick-fil-A has several options that come in under 500 calories (the average you should aim for in your lunch). Choosing from these healthy options will allow you to pay a visit to a fast food restaurant without completely breaking your diet.
Being Informed Helps
Is fast food forbidden? It is when you go at it fast, with no prior research and no idea whether or not you're making good choices. Remember, even fast food salads aren't necessarily healthy. Wendy's Spicy Chicken Salad, for example, clocks in at 790 calories - and that's before you add any extra dressing. If you're going to pay a visit to a fast food restaurant, take a few minutes beforehand to figure out exactly what you're going to be eating and what kind of nutritional impact it has. Chick-fil-A even offers a meal calculator that will allow you to quickly figure up the number of calories you're consuming in your planned meal.
Sometimes, your favorite treats are the ones that are the hardest to give up. After all, how much damage could those treats really do? Be aware of the impact those yums are going to have on your diet and your body. For example, an Egg McMuffin or a cheeseburger from McDonald's only has 300 calories and 13 grams of fat.
A sausage biscuit, on the other hand, clocks in at 430 calories and 27 grams of fat. That means that you need to know the nutrition facts about a McDonald's breakfast before you head in and decide for yourself whether not that indulgence is worth it. If you're at Starbucks, desperately in need of a pick-me-up, you can have an iced coffee with classic syrup for just 60 calories. An Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, however, will let you drink down 520 calories before your brain even registers the choice you've made. Same goes to a Latte Grande with 190 calories -- a lot of calories to use up without getting any real nourishment or protection for your future.
If you're going to indulge, try to choose healthy indulgences. Look for lower-calorie treats at your favorite fast food restaurants. Or if you are planning to enjoy, say, a muffin, choose lower calories drink, such as water or black coffee. Over time, as your taste buds adapt to your new habits, you may even discover that your former favorite treat is now too sweet, too salty, or too greasy.
Fast food restaurants don't have to be forbidden entirely when you've embarked on a new fitness journey. The trick is to know what you're getting into. Resist the temptation to just make a fast stop and grab your old standby; instead, take the time to look up the nutrition information for the items you're considering and make a wise choice based on that information. Over time, you'll develop new standbys along with a new, healthier way of eating that will help you keep your diet on track.
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