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Health: Keeping the cuffs on your inner hamburglar

Let's face it. It's good to pay attention to your diet, but sometimes, you just have to indulge in some fast food.Sometimes, only a burger and fries will do.Fast food is tasty and convenient. When you...

Let’s face it. It’s good to pay attention to your diet, but sometimes, you just have to indulge in some fast food.

Sometimes, only a burger and fries will do.

Fast food is tasty and convenient. When you stop to fuel up, it’s easy to take advantage of the attached fast food joint.

It makes sense because it’s time efficient. Since we all do it, let’s explore the nutritional value of some of those meals.

Before we get started – stop pretending there’s any nutritional value in fries.

Consider them straight fat. Any vitamin hiding in a potato took a quick hike when it hit the boiling grease. Empty calories. (But, ohhh so tasty.)

And the ketchup you dip them in is almost entirely sugar (more empty calories.)

Don’t ignore all that salt: 16 more calories/fry. Add it up – in a large fry, you’re probably getting at least 500 empty calories.

What about pop? Regular or diet? There are mixed ideas about diet pops.

Depending on who you talk to, artificial sweeteners are either benign, or a deadly poison.

However, any pop is quite bad for your bones, because it makes them more porous.

Regular pop is full of sugar. The caffeine content in colas is consistent between Canada and the U.S.

However – root beer, Wink, and other flavors contain caffeine in the U.S., but not in Canada. Some medicines react to caffeine. So, be aware.

As well, some people have been shown to be sensitive to the coloring in some brands, so if you have allergies, take care.

Where’s the beef?

So, now that we’ve covered the side orders, on to the meat of the matter: the burger.

What’s good about a burger? It has calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates and a few significant vitamins.

Calories: for energy – the average man requires 2,900 cal/day, women need 2,200 cal/day.

Fat: for hormone synthesis, and some vitamin and energy storage.

Protein: for muscle building and tissue repair-the average person needs 50-60g/day.

Carbohydrates: for energy – the average man needs 300g/day (about 60 per cent of the day’s calories should be from carbohydrates.)

Vitamins: for feeding and repairing cells – each person’s needs vary according to the environment and his/her current state of health. (Remember to get enough antioxidants.)

So, according to our needs, how good are these burgers?

Let’s look at a Big Mac; The Whopper with Cheese; and The Quarter Pounder with cheese.

First the Big Mac. This burger boasts about 510 calories.

How much is fat? Twenty-six grams.

That compares to the 25 grams of protein, with carbohydrates totaling 46 grams.

The significant nutrients in the Big Mac are zinc, vitamin A, some B vitamins, and folic acid.

The salt is fairly high in this burger.

Fries with that fat?

The Whopper with Cheese holds about 730 calories.

In this burger there are 46 grams of fat and you’ll get 33 grams of protein.

Carbohydrates total 46 grams and the vitamins in The Whopper and cheese are vitamin A and some B vitamins.

There is also a ton of salt in this burger – 1,350 mg – so if you’ve got high blood pressure, or diabetes – watch out.

The Quarter Pounder with Cheese contains about 640 calories.

You’ll get more than 24 grams of fat in this burger, as well as 34 grams of protein.

Carbohydrates are at 42 grams.

The significant vitamins in the Quarter Pounder with Cheese are calcium, iron, niacin and some vitamin A.

The salt is lower in this burger.

Eating a meal of a burger, fries, and diet pop uses up from 1/3 to 1/2 of your daily allotment of calories and leaves you with very little to show for it (except around your waist.)

Even extra lettuce, or a few more onions won’t change this ratio.

On these burger days, be sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies on the side.

Burgers have almost no fibre at all.

Sure, we all like to splurge on a fast-food meal every once in a while.

It’s quick, available, and it tastes good, this cheap fuel.

You can also put cheap fuel in your rig, when that’s all that’s available.

When it combines with good stuff, you can get by.

Just don’t use the cheap stuff all the time or you’ll put extra wear and tear on your engine.

Same is true of your body, give it the fuel it needs for continued performance.

Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at


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