A burger and fries might be my favorite meal in the world… ok I confess it IS my favorite meal in the world!
The saddest part, is despite my love for a great burger and fries, that I rarely indulge in my favorite treat of all. The truth is that one of America’s favorite meals is one of the worst combinations someone can put into their body.
Now, I must state, that most things in life are all about balance and consistency.
Eating a burger once a month, as a reward for watching what you eat the other 29 days, is VERY different from grabbing a double cheeseburger and fries 3 days per week on your lunch break AND on the way home from work.
I will tell you, my favorite time to get a burger and fries is right after a heavy squat or deadlift training session; the burger tastes great, the fries are like heaven, and the meal doesn’t weigh me down at all, but grabbing a burger on the weekend when I have been laying around watching movies all day makes me feel very different.
Recently I was intrigued and wondered to myself, what happens to your body, physically, when you eat a burger and fries?
So I did some research on the topic and this what I found.
What happens to your body immediately after eating a cheeseburger and large fries?
What is in a burger a typical burger and fries meal? (Sample: Burger king- double cheeseburger and large fries)
- Calories- Burger-360 + fries-500 = 860 calories
- Fat- Burger-19g (trans fat 1g) + fries-22g (trans fat 0) = 41g fat + 1g trans fat
- Carbohydrates- Burger- 27g + fries 72g = 99g carbohydrates
- Sodium- Burger- 670 mg + fries 710 mg =1380 mg sodium
Just taking a look at the numbers is staggering; 860 calories, 41 grams of fat (including 1 gram of trans fat, almost 100 grams of carbs, and 1380 milligrams of sodium, and that’s just the “small” double cheeseburger, choose a whopper with cheese and the burger stats almost double, choose a triple whopper and calories for just the burger alone soar to over 1000.
Just to put things into perspective…
Most people require somewhere between 1800 to 3000 calories a day to maintain their current weight and activity levels, so a single double cheeseburger and fries can account for 47-28% of your daily calorie needs in a single meal. Choose a triple whopper meal and one meal can easily exceed an entire day’s needs.
A lot of people add in a large coke or soda with their meal which will add another 290 calories and almost 80 more grams of carbs to the bigger picture.
- It would take about 8 lbs of spinach to amount to 860 calories.
- It would take about ½ gallon of whole milk to equal 860 calories.
- This meal contains about ½ teaspoon of salt, or about 75% of your daily recommendation of salt
*For the purposes of this article, I won’t go into saturated fat and cholesterol data, because science is highly conflicted on the effects of these two factors on heart health and blood cholesterol levels.
Ok so a burger and fries is loaded calories, fat, carbs, and sodium, but what actually HAPPENS after you eat it?
A burger and fries is a large meal that will cause significant short term changes in your metabolism and hormone secretion.
The trans fat and high fat intake coupled with large starch intake from the burger and fries creates a large and rapid rise in blood cholesterol levels (especially in LDL, the bad cholesterol), and will also create a large spike in blood sugar levels.
As blood sugar levels rise from the high simple carbohydrate intake, insulin and insulin like growth factor also ramp up production in order to lower the elevated blood sugar levels back to normal.
As the insulin signals your body to start converting excess fat and carbohydrates into body fat for storage, they are sent to the liver where they are converted into triglycerides that are transported out into the body to be stored as fat.
Some studies have also found that high sodium meals can reduce the ability of the blood vessels to widen as soon as 30 minutes after a meal and for up to 2 hours after a high sodium meal. (This can temporarily increase the risk of heart attack)
The short term effects of eating a burger and fries
- increase in body fat (it is simply too much fat and simple carbohydrate to be burned at once, therefore a good majority of this meal will likely be stored on the body as fat.
- increased triglyceride levels that contribute to plaque and hardening in the arteries
- increased insulin levels and increased insulin like growth factor production
- increase in LDL and decrease in HDL cholesterol (The more trans fat present, the worse the effects)
- High sodium content of meal may restrict blood vessel dilation and decrease circulation temporarily
*An interesting study on students who eat a meal very similar to this one, and the effects that scientists identified can be found here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/even-in-healthy-adults-high-fat-fast-foods-affect-arteries-almost-immediately-101996025/?no-ist
All of these effects are temporary, and will go away with a little time.
The thing to note of course, is the cumulative effect foods like these can have on your body over time. It is clear that significant stress can be placed onto our bodies from a single meal like this, and when meals similar to a burger and fries are eaten repeatedly over prolonged periods (and coupled with lack of exercise) the results can greatly affect someone’s long term health.
The point of this article is not to scare you from ever eating a burger and fries again, but to make you realize that there are immediate effects in your body to what you eat, even if you can’t see what is going on with your own eyes.
It is tempting to neglect exercise and healthy food choices in our day to day life, because the effects of neglecting them are not immediately visible- but many times- only surface years in the future in the form of: heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, heart attacks, cancer, and diabetes.
Just understand, that every decision you make, even a small one like what you eat for lunch, can affect your future negatively, especially when the choice becomes a pattern of neglect; be mindful of your choices and health and you will most likely enjoy many years of good health and happiness, but neglect your health, and you will soon realize what you have been missing out on.
What do you think? Do you love having a burger and fries and are you surprised by what you read here? Care to offer any alternate viewpoints or spread encouragement to others? Please leave a comment below, and if you liked the article, please share it with someone who might benefit from this knowledge, I want to see this article go viral!