Written By: Brandon Wright
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Owner of Be Right Fitness
2x Nationally Qualified Men’s Physique Athlete
The popularity of fast food is obvious. Whether it be commercials on television, the radio, paper ads, or just driving down the street, Americans are constantly exposed to the marketing of the fast food industry. With the ever increasing profits of these chains, it’s safe to say that their advertising has paid off – for them at least.
While fast food continues to rake in record profits, American’s rates of heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and obesity have continued to increase. Everything we put into our body either has a positive or a negative effect – there is no middle ground. With every bite you take you either become healthier or sicker.
What are the components of nutrition that determine if a food is health or disease promoting? One of the most important factors is something called Nutrient Density. Nutrient Density is a term coined by the renowned Dr. Joel Furhman, and it is a ratio of the micro-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) content of a food in relation to the amount of calories in that food.
For example, broccoli is a very nutrient dense food. It is loaded with nutrients and has a relatively low amount of calories in it. On the other hand, a Burger King Whopper contains very little nutritional benefit, but is loaded with calories. While eating fast food, not only are we consuming far more calories than we actually require at one sitting, but we are also starving ourselves of the important nutrients our bodies need to thrive.
Another very important aspect of health that often goes overlooked is our blood PH levels. Our bodies work very hard to keep our PH at a normal level. This usually ranges anywhere from 7.35 to 7.45. What does this mean? This means our bodies prefer our blood to be slightly alkaline. When our blood levels become acidic, disease can prosper, energy levels deplete, and our immune system weakens.
Our bodies will even try to combat this by seeping calcium from our bones to try to balance this PH out. This obviously is detrimental to our bone health and can contribute to osteoporosis.
So what foods promote alkalinity? Primarily plant based foods – vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens. As for the acid forming foods, animal proteins and processed foods top the list. So when we take in that empty calorie laden Whopper, we are also pushing our blood towards an acidic state due to the refined white bread, the cheese, hamburger patties, and mayonnaise. But hey, at least there’s tomato and lettuce on there right?
I believe people are smart. We all know that cheeseburgers, french fries, and sodas do not promote health. You don’t need a professional to inform you of this. So why do so many still choose this option?
An excuse I’ve heard for awhile is the price. “It’s too expensive to eat healthy!” The price of a Whopper value meal with a small fry and a small coke is $6.45. I can go to my local Kroger and purchase an entire bunch of organic kale for $.99, a roman tomato for $.49, a cucumber for $.50, a granny smith apple for $.50, and an organic banana $.25, bringing my total to $2.73.
If I don’t think this huge salad and 2 fruit servings will fill me up, I can buy and grill a 4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast and have it on my salad for $.66 (a 3lb bag for $7.99). This new total comes to $3.39.
This nutrient dense meal is just over half the price and contains roughly 400 calories compared to 1,210 in the small Whopper value meal (1,610 for a large!).
Fast food is something that has had an impact on our population in a multitude of ways. It is an option that millions of us choose to partake in everyday, even though we know it is not promoting optimal health.
As an independent personal trainer and high school strength coach, it is my hope that we continue to become more educated about the effects that this food is having on us, as well as the positive effects that natural plant food can provide us with.
I truly believe that a drastic, positive change would be made on society if everyone made their own health a priority. Billions of dollars could be saved on healthcare alone! So as you begin thinking about your next meal, save yourself from compromised health and wasted money. Eat more plants!