McDiet Australia: Can I Lose Weight Eating Nothing But McDonald’s?

McDiet Australia: Can I Lose Weight Eating Nothing But McDonald’s?

A US man has been making headlines by losing weight while eating nothing but McDonald’s. Would that be possible with the different menu options offered by Maccas in Australia? I’m going to find out by subjecting myself to the same diet.

Picture: Getty Images

As we reported last week, American teacher John Cisna lost almost 17kg over the course of 90 days on an all-McDonald’s diet. He restricted his overall intake to just 2000 calories a day, and exercised for 45 minutes each day.

While this has led to breathless headlines all over the internet, there isn’t anything astonishing about this. If you limit your food intake to a sensible number of calories (or kilojoules) and increase your activity level, you will lose weight. That would be true whether you ate nothing but Subway or Oporto’s or Domino’s pizza.

The issue is that eating at McDonald’s doesn’t make that easy. You’re encouraged to upsize, to bundle extra items into a value meal, and to “indulge” yourself with some seriously calorific desserts. Salads are available, but they’re not part of a standard meal.

The options you have also vary widely from country to country. Cisna’s diet included egg-white omelettes and oatmeal (which aren’t on the regular McDonald’s menu in Australia) and an entirely different selection of salads to what we can get here. Hell, even the meat is different.

I love undertaking an idiotic dietary challenge for Lifehacker. Over the years, I’ve set myself a weekly food budget of $25, eaten all my meals at a single takeaway outlet, and lived on nothing but IKEA food for a week.

So when my colleague Chris Jager suggested I should test out the McDiet, it seemed like McDestiny. And it seemed like an even better idea when I actually stepped on a scale for the first time in years.

Yes, I need to lose weight

To do that, I actually had to purchase some bathroom scales. I’ve long held the view that obsessively monitoring your weight is not a healthy thing. My Kotaku colleague Mark Serrels weighs himself daily, but as Mark learned when he went on a punitive juice diet last year, all you really learn from that is that you weight varies a lot day to day. Nonetheless, for this challenge, I needed the numbers as a baseline.

As of this morning, I weighed 92.3 kilograms. I’m 186cm tall, so that gives me a body mass index (BMI) of 27 — well above the suggested range of 20 to 25. We’ve written before about why BMI is only a very approximate indicator of health, but I can’t make the excuse that I have unusual muscle density. My arms are wimpy, my pecs are non-existent and my six-pack is hiding under a definite collar of blubber. I don’t feel obese, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to lose a little.

I’d be quite content to get my weight back to around 85 kilograms. That’s not going to happen in a week, but if I stick to the core elements of Cisni’s plan — no more than 2000 calories a day, a varied diet, and 45 minutes of exercise daily — that figure should have fallen by next Monday. (I’m allowing myself as much calorie-free water, black coffee and black tea as I like for liquids, incidentally.)

Unlike Cisni, I’m not going to stick to this for 90 days — it’s not practical with my schedule. In many ways, I think the biggest challenge is coming up with a suitably varied and filling diet within the constraints of an all-Maccas menu.

I’m not leaving the experience to chance, mind. I’ve plotted out a spreadsheet with everything I’m going to eat over the next seven days, right down to which branches of McDonald’s I’ll be visiting. Throughout this week, I’ll be posting daily about the experience: what I’ve chosen to eat, what the challenges are, and how I’m feeling. This is the McDiet. Let’s see how it pans out.


  • After reading the original article last week, a few of my friends thought it would be impossible to stick to 8370kJ/day eating nothing but McDonalds. I set out to prove them wrong and came up with the following meal plan:

    Bacon and egg McMuffin 1240
    Hash Brown 638
    Long Black 2

    Warm Chicken Salad (Grilled) 644
    Bottled Water 0

    Big Mac 2060
    Medium Fries 1540
    Medium Coke 612
    Small Sundae 1450

    TOTAL 8196

      • One of my planned days does resemble tat list a little. Whether I starve will be part of the challenge.

      • There lies the problem, you can eat almost anything and still be under kj/calorie requirements, but obviously some food you can eat more of, and some less. However, one of the biggest problems people have is eating more food than they need.

        To me, that looks like enough food, tbh I would sub out the Small Sundae to allow for some form of morning tea/afternoon tea snack.

        • I agree. You can eat two grilled chicken salads for less calories than one small sundae… I know which would fill me up more!

    • That diet is very high in carbs and sat fats and low in protein. Myself, even if i was bulking its still highcarb (Me personally after lot of fails i found my body puts on more muscle and less fat with a lowish carb diet)

      • Yeah. That’s the big part of the challenge. Diet isn’t a 2D equation so you can’t just weigh it in kJ and hit a daily goal. You’ve got nutritional needs to be met so it really is all about balance.

  • What’s the point Angus? Cisna has already proven it can be done so neither you or us are learning anything new here. The food you will eat at McDonalds is full of sugar and unhealthy. If you are that dedicated to losing weight why don’t you eat the same amount of calories in fruit and vegetables. You’ll feel and look better and more importantly you’ll be healthier.

    • It’s been tried in the US, but not in Australia, where our choices are different (as the post notes).

    • The argument could be made that Angus is just trying to see if the results are reproducible, like what happens with pretty much any scientific discovery.

      But on a more practical basis, it could be said that it’s just being done as a challenge.

    • Stop. If you eat nothing but fruit and veg for your total caloric intake everyday you are not going to be ‘healthier’. It’s all about counting your Macros. Protein/Fat/Carbs. As long as you hit your numbers with these everyday you can eat whatever the hell you want. Flexible dieting.

      • Pretty sure there are a lot of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, calcium, etc.) that you need to be “healthy” that are not reflected in just counting Protein/Fat/Carbs. I think doubleh was saying that you will get more of these nutrients from eating a diet rich in fruit and veg compared to eating nothing but maccas (for the same amount of rotein/Fat/Carbs).

  • Angus, are you following the menu to a tee or making subtle changes?

    I mean. coke zero, no mayo, extra side of just grilled chicken ect?

    If you ask they generally can make it for you.

  • Folks, it’s time for a new paradigm on fat loss/gain.

    After 50 years of trying no study can show that restricting the calories consumed results in sustained weight loss for the vast majority. Also, studies on exercise show plenty health benefits from exercise, but not weight loss from exercise. So the calories in/calories out model is broken.

    The French figured out in the 1700’s that we get fat from consuming carbohydrates. Carbs spike our blood sugar, which causes secretion of insulin, which cause our fat cells to store fat. Skip the carbs and the fat doesn’t get stored. We’ve known the science of this for at least a century, but it’s been forgotten in the mainstream.

    So yes, lose weight on McDonalds, but skip the desserts & soft drinks, and chuck out the buns.

    For more info check out ‘Why we get Fat’ by Gary Taubes.

    • Safe to say this is something of an oversimplification at best. I will happily continue eating carbs.

    • Ketogenic Diet Plans. Or Atkins or Paleo. All work. What self respecting male doesn’t want bacon and eggs for breakfast everyday. I’d eat Maccas more often if I could get something that wasn’t wrapped, dipped or battered. I feel like a million bucks without carbs in my meal plans. Be that from fruit/veg or bread/rice products.

        • I think he’s saying he feels better without fruit, veg, bread, and rice? Some fruit and veg are also high carb.

        • I feel that my body operates better with a higher intake of Protein and Fats and minimal carbs. Regardless of where they come from. Using a fiber supplement helps to keep things moving. I do eat fruit and veg. Not at the recommended daily intake level though. All depends on how I am feeling day to day. But who does?

    • really does get tiring to hear talk of a new paradigm every time someone reads the latest rehash of whatever topic they’ve just read regarding nutrition

      nothing is new my friend, people have been eating and taking note of the response since before written record began. the dietary responses you indicate have been known since the days of the Greeks – if you went even with the 1700’s then its not the paradigm that’s at fault, its human nature.

      you are correct though, no diet can and will work, a diet plan is simply a cookie cutter approach to our very specific lives though people demand guidance rather than education… no one would ever need a diet if they learnt how foods affect the body and how that relates to the next three hours of your life

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!