Healthy Eating at McDonalds?

Be Healthy Eating at McDonaldsYes, I used to be a manager at McDonald’s. No, I am in no way promoting McDonald’s.

I chose to do this article because I, like many other people, am a busy person and to think I can cook meals for every day of the week is unrealistic.

Fast food is a big part of our lives, but as unhealthy as it is, there are things we can do to make fast food a lot healthier and even lose weight while doing it.

Everything I talk about applies to all fast food chains, but I chose McDonald’s in particular because you can find one on any corner and they have the largest variety of drinks, meals, and desserts. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but when you’re in the process of losing weight, it can make it more challenging.

I’m going to share the strategies that I used to lose weight while I was working at McDonalds, but also check out how this man loses weight eating McDonalds every day and nothing else for six months.
I was actually working at McDonalds in 2014 when this happened. I must admit I was shocked by it, but after giving it some thought, all John Cisna did was use a lot of common sense to create meal plans and then execute the plans. Being healthy while eating fast food isn’t as unrealistic as you might think.

Can you lose weight eating fast food?

Yes. The trick is to think Kids’ Menu portions for two reasons.

You might not have realized this, but if you’re breaking your meals up into 4-6 small meals per day, the number of calories you get from a kid’s meal is usually 400-600 calories, which is what an adult should be eating.

If you don’t feel like counting calories, a good rule of thumb is to eat a large sandwich with water and no fries. If you insist on fries, compensate for it by eating a small sandwich and still drink water instead of soda.


Not all salads are created equal.

I remember when I was working at a pizza restaurant when a woman walked in, ordered a salad, and told me she was eating healthy to get the year started off right.

A smile flashed across my face, but it wasn’t because I was proud of her. It was because I was trying my hardest to keep from laughing at her.

There was nothing healthy about my company’s salads. They were packed with two kinds of cheeses; sodium-soaked pork, olives, and banana peppers; and after you add whatever dressing you’re going to add to it, whatever healthiness was left over was flying out the window.

She, like many other people, made the assumption that our salads were healthy just because they were called salads.

Do your due diligence. Look up the nutritional information online. Check the ingredients before you order a salad and don’t forget to include the dressing.

I was shocked to find out that some salads can have more sodium than a bacon cheeseburger if you’re not careful.


Hold the salt and pickles. Just ‘dill’ with it!

One thing I like about McDonalds is the custom ordering. Protein, carbs, and fat are all macro nutrients that can be controlled without special orders, but when it comes to sodium, if you’re not asking for your burgers and fries to be made with no salt, I guarantee you are getting way too much.

Not to mention leaving the salt off means they’ll have to make your meal fresh. It’s going to taste a lot better than if it was coming out of the hot LZ. I think that’s worth an extra few minutes of wait time.


I lost about 20 pounds eating McDonalds every day

When I was at McDonalds, I ate it every day because I was a manager, I was in financial trouble, and it was free. I didn’t eat it every day, but I did eat it every day that I worked.

I hadn’t heard of John Cisna yet, but around the time that he was in the process of losing 56 pounds eating nothing but McDonalds, I had also started working out and incorporating a healthier version of McDonalds into my diet.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to record my exact results. I don’t know what my exact start and end weights were, but I lost about 20-25 pounds within a couple of months.

My McDonalds diet mainly consisted of burgers or chicken sandwiches. If I ate fries, it was always with a light amount of salt, but I didn’t cut it out completely. Sodium is an electrolyte that your body needs. It gets a bad rap because we tend to consume too much, but it’s okay to eat it in sensible quantities.

Another thing I did, and this may sound weird to you, but I drank a medium frappe with one meal per day. That may sound strange, but since I worked there, I mixed two scoops of protein powder and a teaspoon of fiber with it. That gave me an extra dose of muscle-building protein, added another flavor to an already tasty drink, and the fiber kept me feeling full for hours after I ate it.

You probably don’t work at a McDonalds, but you can still bring a drink home and use a blender to do the same thing. Just be sure to ask for it without whipped cream and try to do it after a workout when your body is starving for glycogen.


Don’t get trapped in the C.A.R.

I’m not talking about the drive-thru. By C.A.R., I mean the free food and reduced prices that you get from Coupons, Apps, and filling out the Reviews on the backs of most receipts.

Yes, you save a ton of money, but the point of all those rewards programs is to get you to come back often enough to form a habit. Companies know they aren’t going to make money on what they sell with coupons and apps, but once the habit is formed, you’ll keep coming back and that is when the big money starts coming in because people are naturally inclined to order more as time progresses, never less.

For that reason, you might be better off deleting that McDonalds app from your phone and just pay full price. If you’re eating it sensibly, you won’t be going back often enough for it to make a difference anyway.

I did lose weight eating McDonalds every day, but it was because I worked there; I was a manager, which meant the food was free; and I was having financial trouble. Of course I made it work.

What’s the Final Verdict?

Although it’s been proven that you can eat McDonalds or any other type of fast food and still lose weight, I still wouldn’t recommend eating it on a regular basis. I only did it because I was going through financial problems. John Cisna only did it because he was trying to prove a point.

Fast food is loaded with harmful preservatives to keep the food from going bad so the manufacturers will have more time to sell it and earn a profit. The same preservatives that keep the food from going bad makes it hard for your digestive system to break it down. I’m not going to get into all the problems that causes on this particular article, but just know that being thin and losing pounds doesn’t automatically mean you’re in good health.

Fast food is useful for helping us get quick meals when we’re pressed for time, but don’t make it your primary source of food. Eat it only when necessary and follow the tips on this article and you won’t have any problem keeping in good shape.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hey LaShaun, this is a very interesting (and nicely balanced) article.

    Following your tips, I can very well believe that it is possible to lose weight on a McDonalds ‘diet’.

    Thing is, I think there is more to health than weight loss. I doubt there’s much in the way of nutrients in McDs food. The vegetables aren’t exactly going to be organic. Despite people’s fear of red meat, good quality grass-fed beef is one of the most nutritious foods that you can eat. But that’s not the beef you’ll be getting at McDs.

    You also make a very good point about the preservatives. I understand McDs food is to bacteria what cockroaches are to nuclear holocausts! You can leave it sitting there and it never rots.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s a tasty treat. I eat it maybe once a year tops, and when I do eat it, I do so in style – one Big Mac, three normal burgers, a large fries, and a milkshake. But boy does my digestive system suffer afterwards 😉

    1. I enjoyed this comment, Al. You make some great points and you are absolutely right about grass-fed beef. Meat gets a bad rap, but if you leave the additives and preservatives out, meat is fine and beneficial to eat.

  2. Hi Wolf,

    Very interesting article. Thank you for this. Obviously, McDonalds is still a very poor choice for people who are interested in improving their health and/or losing weight. I am hard pressed to think of any situation that I would say “sure, its ok, have the mcdonalds!” to someone who is trying to be healthy… although there are a few times when it may be unavoidable (maybe you’ve been wandering the desert and then you happen upon a mcdonalds and must eat it to survive).

    So, maybe once in a while you would find yourself in a Mcdonalds (or other fast food place) and trying to be healthy. But these should be one off instances. Maybe you could provide some more tips for people who are in mcdonalds once in a while and are trying to stick to a healthy diet, instead of providing tips about how to eat fast food long term while trying to be healthy.

    No judgement on your personal situation, or anyone’s personal situation, it just seems more likely that you would need advice on what to get from McDonalds once rather than on a long term basis if you’re interested in health.

    Thanks for the post. Very interesting and thought provoking.

    1. I appreciate the feedback and I agree with what you’re saying, which is why the last paragraph says I wouldn’t recommend it. Perhaps you missed it. It’s the paragraph labeled “What’s the Final Verdict?” In that paragraph, I pretty much say everything you mentioned. Thanks for the feedback, though. It’s very much appreciated.

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