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Fast Food – It’s Easy and I Love It

A few weeks ago, my roommate walked in on me eating a stack of pancakes, McDonald’s burgers or something equally dense in calories.

He asked “How do you get away with eating like this and is it what you’d recommend to your clients?”

And it made me really think about it for a second. So here is my response, in article form.

Lately, with work, school, playing web designer, fitness consulting and my own personal tri-weekly training, I am finding it rather difficult to get the kcals I need on a daily basis. Before the end of the year, I was eating just about everything I could get my hands on to get my squat, bench and row numbers to go up.

Nowadays, I am lucky to just get enough food to hit my maintenance requirements. And the funny thing is, most food just doesn’t seem appetizing anymore.

Okay, so it’s not like eating is hard. It’s really not, at all. But for me, when I get real busy and stress levels soar, unlike many who resort to eating, I just don’t. Then, the extra busyness cuts into my regular meal times and I forget to eat altogether.

So, when I think to myself “oh, I haven’t eaten anything in the last 14 hours,” I’m grabbing something quick and easy so I don’t have to cook. I know this may sound awful and like I suck at planning. But I have my priorities – and cooking a meal that a chef would be proud of every night is just not one of them.

Now enters my infatuation with fast food.

So, in my world we have two forms of the stuff.

Those are it’s really easy to insert into my pie-hole food choices and the typical fast food burger joints.

So, to give you an idea of how I’ve been doing it lately, let me give you an example of my typical meals on a training day and an off day.

Training Day

  • half pot of coffee upon waking
  • work for 2-3 hours
  • 3 bananas + peanut butter + 50-75g protein shake
  • train like it’s the Armageddon
  • another 50g protein shake + bowl of cereal + bowl of oats or whatever
  • back to work for 2-3 hours
  • play time
  • a large piece of animal (1-2lbs of deer, chicken, fatty beef) + starch (potatoes, rice, gingerbread men) + green veggies of some sort + more fruit + fish oil and vitamins and other good stuff.
  • Sometimes I have alcohol (beer or whiskey) after this last meal


Off Day

  • half pot of coffee upon waking
  • 3 bananas + peanut butter + 100g protein shake
  • leave for class at 10 a.m.
  • eat nothing until I return at 8:30 p.m.
  • Either a large meal like the last one above or I will hit the dollar menu at McDonald’s and get about 1200 kcals worth of burgers to choke down and then fill in the rest with some lean protein from cottage cheese or some more animal


Don’t Judge Me

Okay, so I have a confession. I love the McDonald’s dollar menu. Lots of people poke fun, but I don’t care too much. To me, it’s only $3.29 for a solid 1200 kcals. It fills me up, helps me replenish the energy I expended when walking around on campus and allows me to reminisce on my Happy Meal days.

Do I do this every day? Absolutely not. For one, it would mean I’d have to get into the car and drive to McDonald’s on a daily basis. I don’t wish to do such a thing. Plus, I’ve a feeling that it would be detrimental to my long-term health.

Have you seen those month old pictures of the burgers from McDonald’s? They look the same as day one!

However, I’d say I do this on average about 3-4 times per month depending on when I get out of class, how tired I am, what I’m in the mood to eat, etc.

Sometimes, I’ll go an entire month without any McDonald’s at all.

Am I at risk from all the trans-fat? Hardly.

As you know, I am not partial to clean eating. Frankly, from a body compositional standpoint, it’s not going to make much of a difference – if any at all.

Am I advocating you go eat a bunch of Mickey D’s? Nope.

But here is what I’m really saying.

When you need the extra calories and fast food is your only option – go take care of business. If you don’t have access to some fresh fruit or lean protein in the form of animal, stop by the drive-thru and do your thing.

Moderation is key here and it is okay to have that greasy burger if you really want it.

The only problem I see is if you become lazy and rely on these meals daily. This is how America got fat – lots of laziness + a ton of food = grandiose adiposity.

As far as recommending it to clients – I hardly do such a thing. Why? Mainly because most of them are looking to lose body fat. However, I do encourage clients to include food into their diet that they enjoy. If you can manage to fit a greasy burger into the macros I’ve laid out for you – by all means.

Adversely, if you’re one of the many who gets hungry on a diet – this probably isn’t the best strategy. But no one ever said you can’t have a free meal once in a while. I know I couldn’t live without a greasy burger and a few beers now and again. How do you think I maintain my sanity?

About the author

JC Deen

JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer out of Nashville, TN. Get more from JC here: Twitter | Facebook| JCD Fitness

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Toni - September 23, 2011

Gosh, this article has my head spinning, lol. Diet has always, always, always been my biggest downfall when it came to attempting to get into shape. That being said, I can see both sides of the coin.

On the one hand, running my ass off (quite literally) and being completely anal (sorry for all the butt references, lol) about what I ate for the past several months is what worked to blast the substantial layer of belly fat off my midsection. Add on a couple of pregnancies from the last decade and my stomach was a train wreck with a captial T! I now have some really nice girl abs (if I may say so myself, lol) and I’m not willing to give them up for the love of McDonald’s even if only occasionally.

I’m amazed that you can eat like that every now and again and still maintain a pretty nice physique (don’t mean to embarrass you). Maybe it’s the fact that you’re 15 years younger than me and a guy. Women seem to hold onto weight more, particularly as we get um, *cough* older. At my point in life, if I go to McDonald’s, my digestion (sorry for the TMI!) is seriously screwed up for a couple of days afterwards. I have even gotten serious cramps after eating a Big Mac – it’s just not worth it IMO. And not to mention that it wrecks havoc with my skin too. But hats off to you if you can do it! :)

On the other hand, I’m part Italian and German – two cultures where food plays a main part. It would be a TRAVESTY if you showed up at a family function of mine and declined the lasagna or bratwurst or tall glass of German beer or cannoli cake. I cannot eat cleanly 100% of the time, it’s just not possible. I totally agree with you on that point. I try to eat well 85%-90% of the time, particularly during the week so the weekends I can relax a bit.

On an unrelated side note: It’s a shame that you live so far from me geographically b/c I would totally hire you to be my personal trainer. I could really use someone like you motivating me in the gym. Oh welz. *sighs deeply*

    JC Deen - September 23, 2011

    I’m flattered.

Kylee - May 14, 2011

JC I loved this post. I would rather eat something than eat nothing.
Also if I was to try and eat clean 99% of the time I would Fail!!! with a capital F.
I tried full on healthy eating and lost so much weight and muscle it was ridiculous. I ended up gaunt in the face and not achieving anything.
Bad food in moderation can actually be good for you. I generally get pizza because it helps build my leptin levels up and keep me from falling off the wagon.
Thanks for the post and keeping things real. :)

    JC Deen - May 16, 2011

    thanks for stopping by and glad you’re enjoying the writing!

Marlena - May 9, 2011

I especially the the half pot of coffee part. Lately I’ve been feeling guilty about the amount of caffeine I drink in the morning. But how do you go all day without eating literally and not feeling like gnawing off your classmate’s arm?

    JC Deen - May 9, 2011

    meh, I don’t feel guilty. I enjoy it.

    I don’t generally get hungry because I stay busy with work. It seems the longer I fast, the more blunted my hunger becomes. weird, I know…

Kevin Hellman - April 22, 2011

One of the cheapest fixes for protein when I am on the road is McD’s double cheeseburger. Its pretty cheap and a couple of them fills me adequately and has 40+ grams or protein (I’m guessing the sodium is the biggest drawback, but one wouldn’t eat this when dieting anyways). That or a Subway meatball.

    JC Deen - April 22, 2011

    I eat like this when I’m dieting sometimes.

Von from - April 14, 2011

Whenever I have to go to work I never have the time to eat so I end up getting fast food (like McDonald’s) right after. Do I feel guilty? Of course not. Like you have emphasized, I’m actually more worried about eating ENOUGH calories and full-filling my macronutrients than worrying about where the food is coming from. Great article JC.

    JC Deen - April 14, 2011

    Glad you aren’t beating yourself up about it – life is too short to worry about such minutiae.

Alex - April 11, 2011

The only downside of this sort of behavior is that it prompts others to comment on how fast your metabolism must be. Because, you know, that’s the only way anyone stays fit.

Propane Fitness - April 10, 2011

Great article JC, I think the key to a successful diet is learning to have small failures, if you can learn to reason that having a few fast food meals each week is OK you’re far less likely to let the odd cookie turn into four cookies then the box, then 7 boxes crushed into 4 pints of B&J. Also, we really strongly advocate a similar approach to our clients, covering protein requirements, EFAs and vitamin needs then being more creative with food choices.

    JC Deen - April 10, 2011

    sound approach. I like you guys.

    Bacon - May 9, 2011

    I now have a strong craving for crushed up cookies mixed with Ben & Jerry’s.

    Also enjoyed the article. I tend to fit in my fast food in the opposite manner — I love it post-workout. My favorite PWO meal is a big protein shake, then either pizza or taco bell. The other day I had two giant pepperoni rolls and some garlic knots. My wife was eating pizza and commented that it was kind of “a waste” of having gone to the gym because of what we were eating. She and I have different goals and I remarked that all the calories were simply aiding in my recovery. Bulking is fun.

      JC Deen - May 9, 2011

      haha, that’s what I tell me roommate when he walks into the kitchen from work while I’m eating pizza waiting for my pancakes too cook!

Clement - April 8, 2011


Recently, I’ve been so busy with my job that I’ve hardly had any breathing space. I have to wake up at 4.30am to train, for heavens’ sake!

But that means that I get to enjoy a McDonald’s breakfast meal every single day and get 3 solid meals in on weekdays. I’ve been so busy and the rules furing office hours are crazily strict that I can’t even find time for more meals than that.

I really like that you’ve told your clients that they can eat anything they want, as long as it fits into their caloric and macronutrient goals. Yes, as you said, it may affect their long-term health, but what’s affecting their long-term health more is that they’re eating too much!

You have to pick your battles, and you’ve certainly picked out the greater evil as the enemy.

Peyton G - April 8, 2011

Just curious…The 100g protein shake you have – is that a shake that is 100g worth of of protein powder or is that a shake with 100g of total protein in it?

    JC Deen - April 8, 2011

    100g protein from whey…

Daniel - April 8, 2011

My dad has an ancient McDonalds meal he keeps around on the table to show how well preserved it is.

Very compelling evidence for anyone who hasn’t left an organic apple core on their windowsill for a couple years.

Eric - April 7, 2011

The past week and a half has been crazy and at least 1 meal a day has been unplanned. Jack in the Box one day, but the Chicken Teriyaki fits my macros pretty closely. Chips, Salsa, and a big ol Shrimp cocktail another. McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets and two cheeseburgers another (and only God knows how many beers). Flautas, beans, and rice a.other. and 7 slices of pizza another. Am I saying this is ideal? Hell no, but it under the circumstances I enjoyed myself and my waist is slightly smaller as of today.

The thing is.that after those meals I made sure I had enough protein to meet my needs, since crabs and fats were covered pretty nicely by those other meals. Obviously I don’t plan on doing this forever but tomorrow I got out of torn again and I plan on enjoying myself.

People are wondering how I can lose weight and eat as much as I have on those days. I tell them that, yes I an on a diet and if I have an unplanned meal its not the end of the world. It is not invitation to eat however much you want the rest of the day. Adjust accordingly, calories in calories out.

Stephon - April 7, 2011


Great article, I have been following your recommendations with some leniency and I noticed no change in body composition for the worse. It actually feels great to eat some tasty foods while maintaining a fairly lean physique. I think this makes it easy for most of us. I enjoyed a big slab of ribs and some Capn’ Crunch last night and don’t feel one bit of regret.

    JC Deen - April 7, 2011

    hell yes! can I get an amen? anyone in the house?

    Ben - April 7, 2011

    I tip my hat to you sir! I’m going to follow the yellow brick road to chic-fil-a for some samiches and fries shortly. mmmm bacon, fries, and ketchup OH MY!

Joe - April 7, 2011

This doesnt suprise me one bit. You are the pinnacle of objectivity.

    JC Deen - April 7, 2011

    lol. going to add that to my business card.

Keith J - April 7, 2011

Love the “gingerbread men”… I actually lauged out loud in my cube!! Just had me a nice tasty chicken parm panini type thing for lunch.. delish… AND it fits into my kcals for the day! Everything in moderation!!

John - April 7, 2011

Hey JC,

I love Wednesdays and 49 cent burgers and 59 cent cheese burgers and will at times get like 10, 5 of each.

Like you I have to make a conscious effort to eat or I can go a whole day without eating and not feel hungry at all.

Trying to eat 5-6 meals a day is super hard for me. I agree for fat loss what you eat does not make all that much difference but from health-wise stand its not best choice long term.

Good article as I expect from you.

The other JC

Scott - April 7, 2011

Once again moderation is key. Its amazing how many times your friends, colleague, or even family members will see you eating a chicken with vegetable stir fry, made fresh with whole ingredients, and simply walk by and not say anything. But the first time they see you smashing 2 double cheeseburgers and a fry from In-N-Out, they’re there saying “your’re so lucky you have a high metabolism”. They don’t realize that you know approx. how many calories&protein you need for the day and that meal was a little more thought out then just indulging upon 4 patties and a large fry. And on top of that 90% of your other meals are well thought out and well timed.

    Keith J - April 7, 2011

    If there is one thing that annoys me about people it’s when they see you eating a big yummy breakfast (my fav!) and start in with the “Ohhhh…. what happened to your CLEEEANN eating?!?!” I wanna back hand them and return to my french toast, but I have given up defeneding myself as I’ve come to realize they’re frustrated becasue they just dont understand how to make it all work for them! (Thanks JC!!!!)

      JC Deen - April 7, 2011

      haha. yea, some people just don’t quite understand how it all works. and that’s fine but I rarely ever explain myself in person anymore.

      I just lift, take a bite of the cheeseburger and then go back for another set.

        Ty - April 7, 2011

        I still don’t understand how it all works :-\ But I’m still trying!!

      Stephen - April 8, 2011

      I enjoy when this happens – it opens the door for conversation on how you can eat trash and look like a million bucks.

FJ - No BS Fitness - April 7, 2011

This post is just a huge justification for being a filthy, nasty fat kid…

…and I’m all for it. *BroFist*

    JC Deen - April 7, 2011

    my fist meets your *BroFist* kindly

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