Fast food facts for muscle building and fat loss

Published: 09th April 2009
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Eating on the run. Unless you're Mr. or Ms. Perfect, it's become a necessary evil these days. Although we're suppose to have all the conveniences of the modern world, enough to make our lives easier, it just seems like there's less and less time in the day! Yet we know real gains in mass and controlling body fat require round-the-clock eating. What's the solution? How can you eat 5 to 6 meals daily in such a fast pace world? Of course you can live on Lean Body Shakes. That'll help. But you can utilize fast food joints, eating around the bad stuff and carefully selecting meals and items that are either low in fat or lower in sugar and refined carbohydrates. It's becoming easier too. With the onslaught of negative press aimed at such fast food establishments, many are currently in the process of slimming down, providing more healthy alternatives to the big Burger and super size fries. With that in mind, here's my simple guide to staying in shape at some of the top fast food establishments.

McDonalds
Surprise. Their burger is not that bad. Each one yields around 30% of its calories from fat, or 9 grams per burger. Even the American Heart Association would even be happy with that. Plus, there's 14 grams of protein and only 34 grams of carbs per burger. Most hard training bodybuilders will need at least 30 grams of protein per meal so 2 burgers will provide roughly that - about 28 grams - along with 64 grams of carbs. If you're on the road and starving, about ready to miss a meal, 2 burgers and a diet soda would make a nice meal replacement for many. If you need a little more protein, just substitute a serving of their 1% milk, which provides another 8 grams of protein. Tally: 2 burgers and a low fat milk equals 620 calories 77 grams of carbohydrate 36 grams of protein and 20 grams of fat. By comparison, 2 cups of rice with and 8 ounces of chicken breast would give you roughly 685 calories 88 grams of carbs, 37 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat.

Dieters, especially those keeping an eye on carbs can opt for the Grilled Chicken Salad Deluxe which weighs in at a skinny 120 calories 21 grams of muscle preserving protein 7 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat.

Subway
When it comes to quick and really balanced meals, Subway's the place to go because the sandwiches are really balanced, not lopsided with too many carbs and of course there's the veggies that are piled high atop each one.

The six-inch Roast Beef on Wheat provides 39 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of protein and only 5 grams of fat. That's an ideal ratio of about 55% of the calories from carbs, 27 % from protein and 15% from dietary fat. Even the staunchest nutritionist would grade this sandwich an A+.

For variety, the six inch Turkey on Wheat yields pretty much the same nutrient breakdown while the six inch Roasted Chicken Breast on Wheat provides more protein -27 grams - which bumps the calories up to 348. These guys are pushing tasty low fat meals and lead the pack in terms of nutritional responsibility.

Burger King
Here you have to really pick and choose as their main feature, the Whopper, is aptly named. If you really want to blow your diet, this greasy fat laden burger will more than do the job.
However, you can get by if you know what to order. The BK Broiler provides 550 calories with 41 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein and 29 grams of fat. If you drop the topping - the special sauce and just have mustard and ketchup, the fat content falls to 18 grams and the calories to 451. Not bad.

Your safest bet is the salads. The Broiler Chicken Salad (with low fat dressing) yields 200 calories 7 grams of carbs, 21 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat. If you're dieting and trying to keep the carbs under control, this would be the choice. If you're a larger bodybuilder requiring more protein, you could certainly order two to boost the protein content to 42 grams.

Wendy's
Though they don't push a low fat menu, you can get a few good items that'll fit within your fitness lifestyle. The Grilled Chicken Sandwich is a nice low fat meal proving 300 calories 36 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of protein and only 7 grams of fat. If you requested double chicken you'd be getting 414 calories, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 42 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat.

We know a carb snack eaten immediately before training can prolong training intensity and duration in endurance events and off set muscle catabolism during weight training, so a baked potato on the run would make a nice fit. Their hot-spud yields 310 calories 72 grams of carbs, no fat and about 5 to 7 grams of protein.

Wendy's also serves Pita's which are great though the sauces are too high in fat. You can compromise by ordering one of their Chicken Caesar Pita's but use only half the dressing. Doing so brings the nutrient breakdown to 48 grams of carbohydrates, 30 grams or protein and 13 grams of fat for a total of 365 calories. For a very active female, that would make a nice meal.

The active male would likely need more carbs so he could add the baked potato to this item serving up a total of 665 calories, 120 grams of carbs, 37 grams of protein and 20 grams of fat. The carb contents a bit high so this would make an ideal pre-training meal - about 2 hours before training or a good post training meal. That's when you need more carbs: before and after hard training.

Taco Bell
Here's a great place to stop, by virtue of the smaller serving sizes. Unlike the burger joints, Taco Bell serves smaller sizes of food. For example, their beef Burrito yields only 210 calories with 21 grams of carbs, 10 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat. While the fat content is a little high - roughly 42% of its total calories, the benefit is the calorie content. At only 210 calories, this would make a great "hold-over" something you can eat to satisfy your hunger until you can get to a meal.

Their Chicken Fiesta Burrito falls just under 400 calories at 370 with 48 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat. That would set the fat content at 29% of its total calories which would deem it a lower fat meal. Again, this would suffice for larger bodybuilders as a "hold over." An advantage of Taco Bell is the fiber content. Because nearly everything is prepared with beans, the fiber content is far greater than any other fast food joint. We know fiber is one area where even hardcore athletes fail to get their daily fill. Fiber can, to some degree, inhibit the absorption of dietary fat plus it helps delay the absorption rate of carbohydrates. This delaying-action contributes to a feeling of "being full" having eaten enough, a vital part of remaining within your daily caloric requirements and needs. For a high fiber snack, you can't go wrong with their Pinto's & Cheese; 180 calories, 20 grams of carbs. 10 grams of protein 7 grams of fat with 12 grams of fiber. Fiber wise, no other fast food item comes close to this


KFC
Yes, low carb diets are here to stay. In fact, this past October, the Harvard School of Nutrition affirmed low carb diets as a viable approach to weight loss. Pretty amazing considering the nutrition establishment has fought the low carb approach from the get go. I mean fought darn hard. One recent study showed of two groups of people dieting - one using a high carb diet, the other a low carb diet, both groups lost the same amount of weight even though the low carbers ate 300 more calories daily! Well KFC is the place to go if you're following a low carb plan. Remove the skin from a KFC breast and you get 140 calories, no carbs and only 3 grams of fat. Add in a piece of corn for 70 calories, 13 carbs and 1 gram of fat or green beans for another 50 calories 1 gram of fat and only 5 grams of carbs. They also serve a low fat vegetarian dish - high fiber too. BBQ baked Beans will only set you back 230 calories with a gram of fat and 46 carbs. It also provides 8 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.

Pizza Hut
Endomorphs, those who tend to have a naturally higher level of body fat might choose to incorporate lower carb meals to their eating plan, but ectomorphs, those with a faster metabolic rate and therefore lower amount of body fat can get away with a much higher carbohydrate intake. Pizza Hut's a perfect match. Their Fit N Delicious Chicken and Cheese pizza yields just 160 calories a slice with 21 grams of carbs, 9 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fat. Three slices would yield 480 calories 63 grams of carbs, 27 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat, a pretty balanced ratio for mass gains for the medium sized bodybuilder. Course if your looming large, you can eat more and if you're a little smaller, a little less.

The Bottom Line
You can eat fast food and build a killer physique. Important factors in getting your body to change include 5 to 6 meals daily spaced every 3 hours and eating within your calorie requirements on a daily basis. Even if you opt for a somewhat higher fat meal at a fast food place, as long as you stick with 4 to 5 clean meals during the day - lean proteins, complex carbs and veggies, you'll be alright. Remember, getting in shape is a process. It takes time, patience and consistency.
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