Ever wondered what is in that fast food meal you just ate? I don’t mean a burger with meat, cheese & tomato sauce served with hot, salty chips, I mean nutritionally. Most of us don’t read food labels, but for those of us who do, you will struggle to find all the details about your fast food choice.
This may surprise you? The major fast food outlets have nutrition calculators available on-line. These tell you the amount of energy, protein, fats, carbohydrates (sugars) and sodium (salt). You can enter one item or an entire meal and the calculator will add it up for you. The totals also include the number of Kilojoules (energy) consumed.
I want to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a few of these web site calculators. I hope you enjoy.
KFC – http://kfc.com.au/nutrition/ This is possibly the easiest of them all. As long as you know their menu, you can just type in the search bar your chosen meal, hit calculate and the numbers all appear for you in the totals box. It does have a weakness in that, it tells the consumer the recommended amount of Kilojoules an adult male should be eating and no recommendations for any other demographic. It does, however, provide a link https://healthy-kids.com.au/nutrition-for-kids/ which is aimed at guiding you through the ‘nutritional puzzle’ for children (because kids don’t get abstract ideas, such as Digestion, Chronic Disease, Vitamins and Minerals and Recommended Serve Size). My 4 year old can tell you about the digestive system from the top to the bottom as well as tell you that ‘you are going to get fat and die early if you drink too much soft drink (soda)’?
McDonald’s – http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/meal_builder.html Maybe not as easy as the KFC web-site but still fairly easy once you get going. It could be just me, but I couldn’t find an Australian version, so you have to go with the UK one. You need to know which meal items fall into what category, for example condiments and sauces is different to sides. Once you select your chosen product you hit the calculate button and it adds it to your meal. The odd thing is that the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) is set for a woman and this can’t be changed, or at least I couldn’t work out how to change it. So if you are male or under the age of 18 (which is well over 50% of McDonald’s customer base) the recommendations of daily intake mean nothing. Another flaw is that what is being recommended is coming out of the UK and not Australia. In saying all of that – with half a brain you can work it out fairly easily.
Subway – https://www.subway.com.au/menu This web site is probably the most interesting of them all. It effortlessly takes you to the nutritional information of its sub range, but there is a major flaw. I could not find the nutritional information on their cookies or soft drinks. I guess when you are a multi-national, marketing yourself as healthy, it would be a shame to shine a bright light on the reality of the additional products and the total lack of nutritional value that they provide. Let’s face it, when we buy these additional products, we already know a cookie and a bottle of coke hold little to no nutritional value. I guess as a consumer I want transparency in what is that I’m buying, especially if I am eating or drinking it! Good on you for protecting your image Subway ‘Eat Fresh’ has taken on a whole new meaning.
Hungry Jack’s – http://www.hungryjacks.com.au/images/pdf/NutriGuide2014.pdf These guys have produced a 7 page PDF. This makes it really easy to run your eye down the list to find what you are looking for. As far as I could see, I don’t eat Hungry Jack’s, the PDF includes everything on their menu. Congratulations Hungry Jack’s, maybe someone at Subway might like to check out how to do things a little more thoroughly. The negative, when compared to the on-line calculators, is that you have to add the totals yourself. This is not a major issue, it just takes a little more effort.
My Daily Intake – http://www.mydailyintake.net/daily-intake-levels/ This website is awesome if you are wanting to find out how much of what you should be eating. It has a calculator so that you can enter your own data to find out how many kilojoules you should be consuming in a day. There is a guide here for BMI (Body Mass Index) if that’s your thing, I don’t personally prescribe to this method of finding out if you are healthy or not (that’s just me). The last thing I will mention here is that this website also explains, in simple terms, what the role of each nutrient is in the diet.
My Fitness Pal – http://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/add_ingredient This website is a fantastic resource if you are trying to get an individual breakdown on each food item you are consuming. I am not claiming that it is exhaustive, but I can tell you it is pretty good. All you have to do is add your individual ingredient and the quantity and then hit the add button and it does the rest. It then breaks down the nutrition value of each of your entered items. It gives you the Calories, Carbohydrates, Fat, Protein, Sodium and Sugar. It also gives you a total so you can find out what a whole meal provides. There are two negatives – it gives you calories instead of kilojoules, in Australia we use kilojoules. There are plenty of websites that can convert your info over e.g. http://www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness/tools-and-apps/tools-and-calculators/calorie-converter. The only other issue is that the weights are in Ounces (oz). Same principle applies here, Google a conversion calculator to get your data in Grams (g) e.g. http://www.metric-conversions.org/weight/ounces-to-kilograms.htm
It probably seems like a lot of work on your initial look. It doesn’t take long to work out that the major fast food outlets are selling us food that is high in fats, salt and sugar and low in vital nutrients, but hey we know that when we walk up to the counter right?
Eat fresh, eat raw, eat organic, eat real food.