Anything wrong with a Big Mac a day?
October 18, 2007 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Anything wrong with a Big Mac a day?

As long as I avoid french fries or anything fried which would be full of trans fatty acids, I could eat at McDonald's everyday without any worries right?

Looking at the nutritional content of the burgers, the macro nutrients like protein, fat and carbs seem pretty ordinary, on the contrary it seems healthy to have in moderation (roughly once a day).
posted by gttommy to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to go with no, especially considering that 540 calories is an awful lot for one component of a meal.
posted by awesomebrad at 8:38 AM on October 18, 2007

Have you seen Supersize Me? There's a guy in there who eats at least one a day of not more.
posted by GuyZero at 8:40 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Things to consider:

- It's virtually devoid of any proper nutrition- it's pretty much empty calories
- The carbs are all complex carbs, which stick around longer
- None of the ingredients are of good quality
- Very high in sodium- probably the worst thing about it

It's really about what you're not putting into your body (fresh food, vitamins) because you're filling it with fast food.
posted by mkultra at 8:41 AM on October 18, 2007

I wouldn't describe once a day as moderation in dietary terms. At least when discussing something as calorific as a Big Mac. I'm no nutitionist but I would hazard a guess that the level of salt in a Big Mac is over, or close to, the daily recommended intake, and should be avoided for that alone.
posted by fire&wings at 8:42 AM on October 18, 2007

Well I took the OP question to mean that is there any accumulated "badness" by having a Big Mac per day (assuming that the rest of the diet rounds out needed nutrients and doesn't cause you to exceed recommended allotments of calories, fat, sodium, etc.). This would be akin to having Mercury problems if you ate too much of certain kinds of fish.
posted by mmascolino at 8:48 AM on October 18, 2007

A single Big Mac is 540 calories, with a gram of sodium and 10g of saturated fat. That's over half the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat and sodium, and probably up to a quarter of your daily calories. Maybe you could eat a Big Mac per day without huge problems if you're really careful about every other food you eat and make sure not to eat any other foods high in fat, calories or sodium. Or you could eat something much more filling containing the same amount of calories and fat.
posted by penguinliz at 8:49 AM on October 18, 2007

Best answer: Big Mac Bun:

Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, soybean oil, canola oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of each of the following: sesame seed, salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium chloride, calcium carbonate, baking soda, soy flour, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: distilled monoglycerides, DATEM, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, enzymes, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, guar gum, mono-and diglycerides, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate & sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

Big Mac Sauce:

Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG AND SOY

Pickle Slices:

Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color).

Pasteurized Process American Cheese (some years ago this crap used to have to be labeled "cheese food." I wonder how much it cost the crap food industry to get that fixed.):

American cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, milkfat, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, salt, sorbic acid (preservative), acetic acid, artificial color, soy lecithin and/or corn starch (added for slice separation

Apparently the beef, lettuce, and onions are actually made of just beef, lettuce, and onions, though they note the Beef is "USDA inspected" while coyly avoiding the subject of the grade given during that inspection. There are 8, and the lower ones have interesting names like "Utility" and "Canner."

So you can make of these ingredients what you will, but personally I think I already have my RDA of propylene glycol alginate, and more seriously, note the use of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:51 AM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

The animal protein in one big mac is substantially more than appropriate if you are trying to live at optimal nutrition.

One McGriddle a day raised a friend's cholesterol to over 300.

I'm all about The China Study right now.
posted by letahl at 8:52 AM on October 18, 2007

32 grams of fat, with 11 grams of that being saturated. Your recommended DAILY allowance is about 60 grams of fat. If you look at this page you'll see that the nutrition from a big mac isn't from protein, it's from fat and carbs. And if you look at the Nutritional Target Map on that page? That chart explains that "Foods closer to the upper right corner are better choices for healthy weight loss, while foods closer to the lower right corner are better choices for healthy weight gain." Notice that the dot signifying the nutritional value of the Big Mac is on the LEFT side in the MIDDLE. It doesn't have enough nutrition or beneficial ingredients to be considered healthy for weight loss OR weight gain. That's why it's called junk food.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:52 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Have you read Fast Food Nation? Feel free to skip to page 197, where Schlosser explains (quite memorably) that there is shit in the meat.

The list of Big Mac ingredients seems to omit "shit" as an ingredient, however.
posted by hermitosis at 9:04 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anything wrong with a Big Mac a day?

As long as I avoid french fries or anything fried which would be full of trans fatty acids, I could eat at McDonald's everyday without any worries right?

These are two separate questions actually. Having a Big Mac a day isn't good for most people, but some special cases could probably do it. I'm talking people with some weird metabolism that

McDonald's does server other things though, including salads, so if you're really careful and stick to a strict diet, it's probably possible. But no sane person could really avoid eating french fries MickeyD's, so I'm gonna go with no.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:25 AM on October 18, 2007

To speak to Brandon Blatcher's point about it maybe being okay for some people, and to second (third, fourth) the recommendations that you watch SuperSize Me, the movie has a segment on Don Gorske who does eat at least one Big Mac a day and has been doing so for years. He's thin as a rail. Healthy, who knows, but his body seems to tolerate the diet better than I'd have expected.
posted by juliplease at 9:34 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

In looking at the ingredients list posted by TheOnlyCoolTim, it reasserts my opinion that a Big Mac once is a bad thing!
Oh my god, how can they put so much crap in food and have anybody want to eat it?

I am more glad than ever that I have never succumbed (though use of the word succumbed makes it sound like I've been tempted).

Basically my answer, while biased, is yes.
posted by opsin at 9:43 AM on October 18, 2007

Best answer: In Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, he analyzes fast food with a mass spectrometer and reveals it to be mostly corn, which is due more to the economics of factory farming and corn subsidies than to any sense of appropriate nutrition for cows (or people!) With the bun and sauce containing HCFS, you're getting many more calories from corn byproducts than the sort of "pure protein" you might think you're getting from a similar hunk of more organic meat. And this may or may not be what makes sense to you, nutritionwise.
posted by judith at 9:46 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As Judith points out, you're getting a lot of those 500+ calories from HFCS. I would not be worried about the portein or dietary fat content, but rather the carbs (which break down to glucose) and HFCS. HFCS raises insulin levels in the blood while simultaneosly keeping the liver from processing glucose while it instead processes the fructose. This will keep your insulin levels elevated far longer than they normally would from a regular cheeseburger. If you're eating more than one Big Mac, your insulin levels are liable to be elevated through your whole waking cycle.

Over the course of time this hyperinsulinemia will cause serious health problems, as your body tissue starts to resist insulin. The results could be diabetes, obesity, heart disease.
posted by herda05 at 10:04 AM on October 18, 2007

As to Don Gorske, I haven't seen any information on his insulin levels. The link only points out his cholesterol level, which isn't a very helpful predictor to chronic diseases. In SuperSizeMe I don't think they discuss his insulin levels either.

It's possible that Don Gorske's body can compensate for the insulin flood that a Big Mac gives him. Its possible you're body could do the same. Its more likely that you won't and the Big Mac-a-day will cause serious health problems.
posted by herda05 at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2007

you probably won't die, but there are better choices out there.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:46 AM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

speaking from the experience of knowing people who did this for years ... it didn't kill them ... but I would hot have described them as poster children of health (not that many of us are anyways).
posted by jannw at 11:04 AM on October 18, 2007

in moderation (roughly once a day)

When you are advised to eat something in moderation, it does not mean "1/3 of the time". A Big Mac once a week, or once a month, would be closer to moderation.

Anything you're eating every day is a "staple" of your diet. If you are interested in improving the health of your diet, you want to focus on making your staple foods be basically healthy, and then you would have a non-healthy food (like a Big Mac) as a treat, once a week or once a month.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:10 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I hope you do watch Supersize Me. But in case you are thinking you don't want to watch the whole thing, check out this...

Morgan Spurlock's Fastfood Test
posted by miss lynnster at 6:00 PM on October 18, 2007

Okay, I'm gonna give in to the dark side. I've been fighting it, but I'm trying to use my powers for good here... so here goes.

Just do yourself and us all a favor and sit yourself down right now and & watch Super Size Me already, okay?
(Click "Full Movie." May take a minute to load.)
posted by miss lynnster at 6:40 PM on October 18, 2007

Response by poster: Ah so there are more to a Big Mac than what the table of nutrition shows. Thank you all.
posted by gttommy at 5:54 AM on October 19, 2007

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