We all know that food from McDonald’s isn’t going to be high on the list when trying to lose weight by following a healthy eating plan.
But what exactly IS inside a Big Mac burger?
Well, it’s a whole lot more than just two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onion on a sesame seed bun.
The combination of fat, salt and sugar (and calories!) mean it gives your senses a wallop as you eat it. At first, it makes you feel good because your blood sugar levels go up and dopamine is released (the feel-good hormone).
Then the sugar content (which is addictive) in the burger can lead you to feel hungry even after you’ve finished it (cue the fries). Then the sodium content (also addictive) makes you dehydrated and thirsty – here comes the giant Coca Cola…
One burger contains 493 calories, and most people tend to add a large fries (453 calories) and a large Coke (224 calories) to their order. So, you are quickly looking at more than half of your recommended daily intake of calories in one fast food order.
With 26.9g fat in one burger and another 24.3g if you’d like a large fries with that, it’s easy to see why fast food isn’t your best pal when you are trying to lose weight.
While we know that we need good fats in our diet, these come from foods such as avocado, nuts and oils – not the type of fat found in take away food.
In a Big Mac there is 5.9g sugar – that’s around the same amount of sugar as you’ll find in two red frog lollies.
But it’s the large Coke that’s going to scare you – this contains a whopping 55.1g of sugar which is more than 13.5 teaspoons of the white stuff.
The trouble with sugar is that it actually makes you feel more hungry, which means you will probably end up overeating even though you aren’t actually hungry.
A Big Mac contains 859mg sodium (you’d find this much sodium in around 3 50g bags of potato chips). The large fries will add a further 435mg and even the large Coke pops an extra 50mg in.
The good news? The lettuce is 100% lettuce and the beef is 100% beef. Phew.
But after that, things get a little less ‘natural’.
Not only do they use ‘dehydrated white onion’ (what’s wrong with a real onion?) but their cheese contains 9 other ingredients besides those used to make actual cheese (milk, salt, cultures and enzymes).
The colours and preservatives added to the cheese give it the bright yellow hue and makes it last a lot longer in storage.
The love-it-or-hate-it pickle mostly contains ingredients that you would expect to find in a pickle such as cucumber plus vinegar and salt. There are also some preservatives and flavourings in there too.
When it comes to the bun, the sugar and canola oil in the bun are probably the least favourable ingredients. Canola oil is highly processed, and offers little nutritional value.
And for such a small blob of sauce, there sure are a LOT of ingredients in the ‘special sauce’.
As well as the ingredients you would expect (mustard, oil, onion and spices) there are plenty that you might not consider ideal for a healthy diet. There’s high fructose corn syrup (plus some extra corn syrup and sugar, for good measure).
There are a lot of numbers too (15 of them in fact) ranging from artificial colourings to make the sauce look better, to preservative 211 which keeps it safe in storage for longer.
Having a Big Mac should most definitely NOT be on your to-do list any time soon.
If you are going to indulge yourself once in a while, then hey, it’s not going to do you any serious long-term harm. But if you are a weekly visitor to the golden arches, it might be time to rethink your habits and try to cut right down.
The other issue is that it is quite rare to just purchase a Big Mac and be on your merry way.
Most people would add a large Coke and fries to their order too. Dine in, and you might even get yourself a chocolate sundae.
It all quickly adds up to an overload of calories, salt, fat and sugar that is not going to help you to lose pregnancy weight.
*** Nutritional information for this article was sourced from www.mcdonalds.com.au