Nutrition is a huge part of reaching any goal in fitness or just being healthy in general. Getting the right amount of protein and the right amount of calories will be the biggest factors in whether you will get the results you want or not. Sometimes people can’t eat the foods they want to or know they need to eat, but trying to keep the food balance is important.
One common question I get from my clients is how they can stay on track when they are traveling or really busy at work and don’t have access to the right foods. Fast foods can be an option in this instance. While fast foods are often given a negative rap, going through a drive-though does not need to mean ordering a burger and fries. Many of the fast food restaurants have been offering healthier options over the past few years and it is not the nutrition killer it once was.
I have often said it is better to eat something than to skip a meal. Obviously there are exceptions to this if you eat too crappy, but this would normally hold true for most people regardless of your goal. Skipping meals are usually a big no-no.
Before I get more into this though, let me just say this would definitely NOT be my preferred choice of foods. Fast foods are known to have a lot more sodium and preservatives than fresh natural foods so I would not recommend this to anyone long term unless they were in a jam.
For me this happened in 2012 when my family drove cross country and since we weren’t cooking our foods our meals were made up entirely from fast food items. We also had 4 month old twins so it was hard for us to stop in a nice restaurant. This was not my ideal week of health (since I did not work out either) but I kept my foods as clean as I could given the circumstances, so it’s definitely possible to not totally destroy your nutrition when fast foods are your only option.
I wanted to set a challenge to myself to find a good meal at the 10 top fast food restaurants in the U.S. I’ll use the 2012 sales figures to determine which restaurant are the top restaurants that will be included in the list.
This food plan will be for building mass but can easily be adapted (for most restaurants) for losing fat by removing some of the ingredients.
- I can only use menu items that have the nutritional info on the company website.
- No specialty, regional or limited time items. I am assuming that these items would not be on their nutritional information list anyway.
- No adding or removing ingredients unless they are listed that way on the nutritional guide from the company website. This might make some things hard when there are bread and buns for a lot of the items, but I wanted to make it simple to calculate for people who read this to be able to order a meal and eat it.
- I need to come up with a meal for each restaurant and not skip any. This may sound simple, but after looking at which restaurants are in the top 10 there are some that I know will be very difficult. Some restaurants don’t really seem like they have a bunch of healthy options to choose from, but I will need to come up with something for each one.
To build muscle you will need a good ratio of protein carbs and fats. I generally recommend clients who are trying to lose bodyfat to lower their carbs and up the fats while keeping the proteins at a good level. The meals I pick will have more of a mix of protein, carbs and fats and will try to be as close to the ratio of 30% protein 40% carbs and 30% fat. If you are in a cutting phase you would want to adjust the ratio of some of these meals to lower the carbs. Also since I am trying to keep the calories in a range of 400-700 calories, you may need to increase or decrease the amount of total food depending on what your goal is.
Note: I went on the assumption that the information listed on their website is accurate and based my recommendations on that. After compiling the lists though I noticed some of the macros were very off and when totaled they equaled a number that was far from 100%.
I added up the calories from protein, carbohydrates and fat and found that the total calories listed on every website did not match up with the calories that I calculated. (Protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram and fat has 9.)
I then went back and created a separate column tilted adjusted calories for the total calories that I came up with when adding up the calories from the macronutrients. After I that I tried again to calculate out the macro percentages for each meal and they all added up to be 100% (or close enough to it account for the rounding up or down.)
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