Investigating Fast Food

We all sometimes give in to the temptation that fast food presents: a delicious, inexpensive meal with no work involved. We know that most fast food can cause weight gain and is loaded with saturated fat and sodium, among other things. Opting for a healthy, home cooked meal is much more beneficial for our health. My hope is that by providing you with facts on how fast food measures up with home cooked food I can help you to make positive choices.

The following are some comparisons of typical fast food meals and a healthier home cooked version. These are not from any specific menu, but are an average of what you are likely to receive. Think about these numbers next time fast food is tempting you.

The average large fast food hamburger contains a whopping 692 calories. These calories are comprised of 41 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 50 grams of protein. It contains only one gram of fiber. Try cooking your own hamburger. Use three ounces of the leanest beef, a whole wheat bun, some vegetables and 1 tablespoon of low fat mayo. You will consume a reasonable 291 calories, 10 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 28 grams of protein. Your meal will include three grams of fiber.

A chicken fillet sandwich may seem like a healthier option because it contains chicken is a leaner meat. When consuming a chicken fillet sandwich, on average you are consuming 515 calories, 29 grams of fat, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of protein and no fiber. A better choice would be to cook a three ounce 99% fat free chicken breast on a whole wheat roll. Load with veggies and one tablespoon of your favorite dressing. You'll be consuming 288 calories, eight grams of fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of protein and three grams of fiber.

On average if you order fried chicken, mashed potato with gravy and a biscuit you will be consuming an astonishing 780 calories, 42 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of protein, and only one gram of fiber. Instead, try substituting with a 3 ounce 99% fat free turkey breast, ½ of a baked potato with two tablespoons of light sour cream and half a cup of peas. You'll be getting a modest 283 calories, four grams of fat, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of protein and five grams of fiber.

For breakfast it may be quick and easy to pick up a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. However, you are starting off your day with 500 calories, 29 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, two grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. Waking up ten minutes earlier to prepare 2 slices of whole wheat toast with 2 egg whites and one slice of bacon would provide you with 294 calories, six grams of fat, 40 grams of protein, six grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein. Last but not least is America's favorite meal: Pizza! One 12 inch pepperoni pizza offers you 938 calories, 47 grams of fat, 85 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of protein and no fiber. If you are like so many people and pizza is a huge temptation for you, try making your own. Use a whole wheat crust, low sugar sauce, part skim mozzarella and turkey pepperoni. You will be consuming an improved 545 calories, 20 grams of fat, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, and 35 grams of protein.

While preparing your own meals may take a bit more time and effort, it is a very healthy habit to develop. Eating less fast food is a small change that can make a big difference in weight loss and your overall health. Think about these numbers next time you are tempted to pick up a quick meal on the way home try making the extra effort to make your own healthy version of whatever it is you crave. You may be surprised at how good it tastes and how good healthy choices feel.

author: Sarah Brown

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