Did you know eating fast food just twice a week can make you gain 10 pounds and double your risk for insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, obesity, and a host of other health issues? (If that’s not enough to scare you, maybe knowing that a 1999 McDonald’s burger is still looking fresh or that Burger King burgers were contaminated with horsemeat in 2012 will. Ew.)
Needless to say, I don’t think anyone would be shocked to learn that fast food isn’t the healthiest dining option out there, but it may not be for the reasons you think. The fried foods and the empty-calorie sodas aren’t the only thing that make fast food bad for you. It’s not such a bad thing to have something battered and fried, or high in fat or calories, as long as it’s mixed with a balanced diet and active lifestyle. But what about all the other things that make fast food not so much a food, but more of a science experiment? Often referred to as “Franken-food,” fast food is typically composed of a variety of absolutely terrifying ingredients you would never consider putting in your body if they weren’t disguised so beautifully as a delicious burger or French fry, and presented in fun, colorful packaging and buried in catchy marketing messages.
Take for example McDonald’s menu description: “Our tender, juicy, Chicken McNuggets are made with USDA-inspected white meat. They’re tempura battered and cooked to golden perfection.” Doesn’t sound half-bad, right? Until you look past that flaky exterior and further into the ingredient list. According to Dr. Mercola, “Only 50 percent of a McNugget is actually chicken. The other half includes corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents, and completely synthetic ingredients.” If that’s not bad enough, a recent Annals of Diagnostic Pathology study revealed that number may be as little as 2% — as in only 2% of your meat is actually meat. (The average was 12% meat.) Yikes.
After looking into this I’m slightly regretting all the fast food I ate on my road trip this past weekend. Although the occasional fast food isn’t really a big deal, I’ll be keeping these ingredients in mind next time I decide to roll through the drive through. It’s definitely making me appreciate the simplicity of the “rule” to try to eat foods with five ingredients or less, that way there’s less likelihood of crazy things like the following making the list.
So what scary things are making up that other 50 to 98% that’s not meat? Click through to find out what ingredients are lurking in your fast food.
Ingredient information for fast food menu items found on company websites. All photo credits to iStockPhoto. Photos not intended to represent actual product.