We’re proud to be bringing you the first article from our sponsor, Protein Dynamix. It just goes to show that there are ‘good’ options, even when dealing with fast food! Emergency fast food features in most of our lives, especially when we’re busy dads, this guide can help you make the right choices with that fast food!
Burgers, pizzas, kebabs, Chinese, Indian, fish & chips – the options are endless when it comes to fast food. The truth is, we live in a society where sometimes time is against us and these options are, quite frankly, the most convenient. Also, let’s face it, the meals can be cheap, tasty and hit the spot when craving something naughty.
This guide should steer you towards healthier alternatives when you are seeking food on the go… along with some tips on how you can make little adjustments to a meal to reduce those sneaky extra calories that may be overlooked! These can be very helpful not only for weight management but also for healthy living.
It’s no secret to any of us that the typical choices for fast food are unhealthy – they tend to be high in trans fats, saturated fats, sodium and calories. The meals are not very balanced, often extremely high in carbohydrates and lack nutritiously dense ingredients such as fruit and vegetables. The key to eating fast food is moderation. I’m not saying, “Don’t eat these foods”, but it’s important to do it only occasionally, so you don’t get reliant on the habit of take-away and convenience.
If you know you are having a take-away that evening then plan for it. Take into account that the sodium levels in the foods will be higher than you would normally consume, so reduce your salt content in foods leading up to the meal. Also, most fast food chains have a website that will contain the nutritional information of all their foods. Failing that, many apps that we can download to our iPhones and Androids can provide nutritional information (I highly recommend downloading one of these).
Sounds healthy? Double check!
A typical example would be a salad. Certain salads are emphasised in taste due to the high fat dressings they come with and often the protein content is minimal. So, you find yourself with some lettuce, high-fat dressings and little else, however, the calorie content can be surprisingly high. This is where learning how to read nutritional information on food labels comes in useful. Ironically, some burgers can be nutritionally healthier than some salads!
Tweak your food order
You have the right as a customer to make slight changes to meals to make them more suitable for you. For instance, you could order a plain burger with no sauce, cheese or extras, such as bacon. Another alternative would be to change the bread type – from white to wholegrain. Try a lighter sauce for your curry, or even opt for marinated spices over sauce. Choose a thin crust pizza over any other base. I appreciate not all restaurants and fast food chains are able to accommodate, but it’s worth asking.
Read the menu properly
Check how the food you order is cooked. Opt for lean meats and grilled options over fried, battered, creamy options. Even a simple change in an Indian-based dish from a creamy korma dish to a masala dish can make a lot of difference in calories. When ordering Italian food, consider tomato-based sauce as opposed to cream. Simple changes and wiser choices can make a lot of difference to the nutritional make-up of the meal.
Do you really need that side dish?
Many fast food chains offer a meal and then tempt you with many delicious sides to accompany the meal. These innocuous dishes all create additional unwanted calories. Ask yourself, would you have opted for the extras prior to seeing them? Hunger and greed can sometimes kick in at this visual stage. Be careful! These extras can add calories to the meal, usually with no nutritional benefit. For example, large fries at McDonalds provide more than 500 empty calories!
We all need to wash down that tasty food with something refreshing right? Take care again on what you choose. Many sodas have more calories than you may realise, so try and keep to the zero calorie options, or better still, bottled water!
Make informed decisions
So you can see, there are ways you can make wiser choices in relation to fast food. It is about educating yourself to a different way of thinking. Be aware of the extras and sides that are offered, normally you don’t really need them. Try to keep meals to under 500 calories (a lot of take-away chains have meals over 800 calories) or alternatively choose from the children’s menu. Plan ahead in some cases and take your own sides, just pick something as a main dish.
The best thing you can do though is to plan ahead, check the websites of the chosen food chain as mentioned previously, plan your food choices, track in a food app and adjust your food for the rest of the day to accommodate those tempting extra calories!
Enjoy! (In moderation, of course).
It would be great to hear your thoughts and experiences on fast food choices, or if you have any questions just tweet @sportsdadhqand