You might know plenty of reasons to avoid fast food. But when it’s the end of the day, sometimes all you want to do leave the office, grab a double cheese burger and fries at a local drive thru, and binge on Netflix. As tempting as it might be, fast food should be avoided like it’s the plague. It has absolutely no nutritional value, not to mention leads to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and a bunch of other health problems. Just in case you’re not convinced, here are seven reasons to avoid fast food that may make you think twice about that next slice of pizza.
1. High in Calories
One of the most important reasons to avoid fast food is its high calorie content. Don’t think the burger you make at home on the grill is the same burger you buy from your local burger joint. The infamous Big Mac at McDonald's packs a whopping 560 calories—and that doesn’t include the fries! If you’re watching your weight or even just trying to eat healthy, fast food is definitely out of the question. There are plenty of healthy meals you can make in the same amount of time for far fewer calories. Don’t be afraid to go online and find some cool recipes to try!
2. Full of Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is one of the leading causes of heart disease in Americans. I hate to break it to you, but fast food is loaded with it. The burgers used at fast food restaurants are made from extremely fatty cuts of meat to save on costs and increase profit. The fattier the cut of meat, the more artery-clogging saturated fat it has. Also, don’t think that the fried chicken sandwich you’re ordering is a safe bet. Usually those cuts of meat are deep fried and have just as much saturated fat as their beef counterparts.
3. Loaded with Refined Oils
Think those fries are lightly sautéed in olive oil? Think again. Usually fast food restaurants use refined oils like soybean oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Why? Because these oils are cheap and save food companies a lot of money. The only problem is these oils are terrible for you! The high temperatures used to extract the oil release a ton of free radicals into the product, the same free radicals that cause DNA damage and premature aging. Avoid fast food and you’ll avoid these disgusting refined oils as well.
4. Tons of Sodium
Watching your salt intake? If so, it’s time to eliminate fast food from your diet. Because some fast foods travel as far as 2,000 miles to their destination, lots of salt is used as a preservative to maintain freshness and keep the food from spoiling. Don’t think that salt somehow evaporates when it’s time to eat. Burgers, fries, pizza, and even cold cuts from delis have a TON of sodium that can raise your blood pressure and make you retain water. No one wants to look puffy and huge or get a heart attack any time soon. Avoid both by ditching fast food.
5. Low Nutrient Density
Dietitians and nutritionists define nutrient density as the ratio between calories and vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. For instance, a banana has a very high nutrient density rate, because for a mere 100 calories you get a ton of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Fast food, on the other hand, has a very low nutrient density rate. For a ton of calories, you surprisingly get little (if any) nutrients. Instead of fast food, opt for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods rank far higher on the nutrient density scale.
6. Not Enough Fiber
On average, you should be aiming for 25-35g of fiber per day. Between the white sugar and refined starches, fast food doesn’t even come close to providing you the fiber that you need. Even worse, because fast food has no fiber, you can eat a ton of it only to be hungry a mere few hours later. Your best bet is to try to recreate your favorite fast foods at home. If you really want that pizza, try making it at home with a whole grain crust. It will taste much better—and you’ll feel super proud for doing it all by yourself!
7. Isn’t Real Food
At the end of the day, fast food isn’t real food. It’s a food-like product you’re being tricked into eating time and time again. Fast food isn’t nutritious or good for you. It’s simply something to waste your money on while you get a temporary high from how good it tastes. Make a better investment in your body by eating real food that your body recognizes and can use as fuel.
Fast food is one of the most dangerous food traps you can fall into. As great as it may taste, ultimately it’s a terrible investment in your health that will leave you overweight and unhealthy. What are some of your strategies for resisting fast food?