McDiet Day 3: No-One Needs To Pass The Salt

With less (often much less) than 2000 calories a day, my McDonald's-only diet definitely hits the mark in terms of energy requirements. But how does it stack up on other nutritional measures: protein, fat and sodium? As you might well expect, it's salt that's the biggest problem. Plus: vote for what I eat tomorrow!

I set myself essentially the same nutritional targets for this diet as I did for my original Mastercheap challenge:

  • At least 55 grams of protein a day
  • No more than 90 grams of fat a day
  • Less than 2500mg of sodium a day. For Mastercheap, I aimed for 1500, but it seemed unrealistic to do that with processed food. 2500mg is at the top end of what might be considered acceptable.

This is how I've fared over the first three days:

Day Protein (g) Fat (g) Sodium (mg)
Day 1 72.7 71.4 2696
Day 2 70.4 56.4 2843
Day 3 67.7 67.4 2609

Clearly, protein isn't an issue. Fat is a little higher than it should be, but given my sub-2000 calorie intake each day, I'm not going to let it stress me. Sodium, on the other hand, is definitely higher than you would want in an ongoing meal plan.

In the original US experiment which inspired this one, John Cisna had regular tests to check his cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and emerged with a clean bill of health. It doesn't make sense to do those tests when I'm only trying this for a week — it's too limited a frame of reference. However, the sodium figure is a pointer that this would not be a wise choice to sustain for a long period of time.

Cisna also had the advantage of having oatmeal and egg white omelettes for breakfast, which created one much lower-sodium meal. You can't do that with the Australian options available.

What I Ate: Day 3

Here's the day 3 menu, complete with calorie count.

Food Calories
Breakfast: Bacon & Egg McMuffin 297
Hash Brown 153
Small orange juice 135
Lunch: Noodle Grilled Chicken Salad 255
Dinner: McChamp 481
Small Fries 255
Total 1576

After yesterday's move to a plain McMuffin, today I went back to the full value meal at breakfast. The orange juice is really the only sweet thing I've consumed so far on this diet — in large part, that reflects the fact I'm a much bigger fan of savoury food. If I did want something sweet, a fruit bag (that is, a chopped up apple) or some McDonaldland Cookies (shades of my childhood!) would be the only realistic options. Some McDesserts have a higher calorie count than the burgers.

I swapped my lunch and dinner around, having the salad at lunch and a burger meal at dinner. Partly that was for variety; partly it was because, despite reassurances from readers, I still felt weird going into my local Macca's and ordering an identical meal every night. This is the first time I've tried the McChamp (essentially a McChicken but with better bread and more salad). It was OK, but probably not a burger I'll ever consciously seek out again, diet or no diet.

Vote for what I eat tomorrow!

If you've been following this series, you'll realise that one meal a day is a selected McBurger, plus small fries (and a Coke Zero). So far, I've had a Big Mac, because I like them and I wanted to kick off with something I enjoyed; the Angus McOz, because it's a limited special and I had calories to spare, and the McChamp, because I hadn't tried it before.

For my Friday meal, I'm going to let Lifehacker readers choose what I eat. The potential options (burgers and wraps) are based on having a reasonable calorie count and (for the most part) enough salad to make it filling:

Feel free to explain your choices, or ask other questions, in the comments.


Comments

    Why are you counting calories, not kilojoules?

      im guessing to keep within the original diet as the USA go by calories instead of kilojoules

      Why count kilojoules and calories? People more commonly aim for a daily calorie count, not kilojoule. Converting from one to the other is very easy though, 4.18 kj = 1 calorie (kcal).

        I would debate that calorie counting is more common here. I seem to know that 8700kJ is the average intake for adults in Aus through promotional material, but don't see the calorie intake listed anywhere .

        Kilojoule counts are the norm for fast food chains anyway, so would think using calories in this campaign is the wrong measurement.

          Yep, calories because (as I mentioned on day 1) that was the unit used in the original US experiment. KJ are the Australian standard, and that's what you see displayed in stores, though the McDonald's site lists both.

            Jeez, would it have been that hard just to list both in the article?
            e.g. Breakfast: Bacon & Egg McMuffin 297 C 1244 kj
            Total 1576 C 6600 kj
            Oh and the Heart Foundation recommends a MAXIMUM of 2300mg of sodium per day, but you oonly need about 900mg per day, so yeah, this diet would cause you to be severely over healthy sodium levels.

            Are you getting any green or orange vegetables at all in this diet?

              No, it wouldn't have been hard to list them -- but it's also not hard to convert them :)

              Green vegetables: yes, insofar as lettuce and cucumber. Orange, not so much. Which I agree is one reason you wouldn't want to stick with it forever, along with the salt.

              aww gee.... and could he wipe your butt too while he's there?? is it to hard for you to take a second to multiply by 4.2 - most will read this out of general interest. majority of people use calories still so why bother introducing confusion

              the heart foundation is not the be all to end all, and has a focus in a certain spectrum of nutrition

              nutrition can never be a one hat fits all sizes type subject

      In the first article he explained that since he was copying a US story it made sense to use the same scale for comparison

    i voted for the fillet o fish.
    because it is the smallest AND least filling.

    sorry Angus ;)

      I went with Fillet o' Fish because ... who the hell orders the fillet o' fish!?

    You're about 300 to 500 mg above the upper limit for sodium, that being 2300 mg. Not good long term (like you mentioned). Daily adequate intake for an adult male is about 400 to 900 mg for those interested.

      @anguskidman do maccas publish sodium statistics for if you order your chips without salt?

    Thought I'd be nice and vote for the Grilled Chicken & Spicy Mayo McWrap. My sister had one the other day and it actually looked quite tasty and filling at the same time (the McOz is noticeably missing from the list... Bad calorie count?)

    Last edited 16/01/14 9:43 am

      he already had the angus mcoz.
      trying to change it up

        Hmmm yeah, fair call... Reason I asked is because the McGrilled and McSpicy are similar to the McChamp from today (actually I'm surprised Angus didn't go with the McGrilled instead given the relative drop in satured fat, sodium etc.)

        Last edited 16/01/14 8:03 pm

    I voted for the Quarter Pounder.

    In my opinion (I'm a qualified PT and my wife is a nutritionist) you under eating in terms of your caloric deficit.

    Any Chance of getting your vital stats to try and get a ball park figure? Age? Weight? Height?
    I just think combined with your 45mins of exercise a day your maybe under eating.

    You will definitely lose weight but would not be safe over the long term.

    Your macros look okish. Your fats look good but your protein looks a little low.

    Ok i found the original article and got some of your stats.
    And this is what ive come up with

    CARBS - 181.2g PROTEIN - 203.g1 FAT - 81.2g FIBER - 41 - 51g CALORIES - 2268

    I included some LIT (So the 45 walking ect) and the fact you have a sedentary job. This is also at a 200 calorie deficit to lose weight.

    No your not doing weight resistance training so the protein could be a tad lower but in terms of your macros this is what you should be aiming for.

    This is all a rough estimate but would be around the mark

    Last edited 16/01/14 10:32 am

      Interesting. The protein number still looks very high to me!

        It is (Thats more of the protein ratio you would want if you were looking to build more muscle and doing weight resistance training)

        I'm a very firm believer that if you count your calories and hit you protein and fat macro's with in them that you can get the physique and or fat loss goals your looking for.

        You would be safe with around the 160g of protein as that more then enough.
        Just my 2 cents.

        While doing this i would strongly advise taking a multivitamin supplement too.

        Last edited 16/01/14 1:44 pm

          @wood_league

          can the human body cant absorb more than 30 grams of protein? id agree with most of your summation though sense a more mainstream approach....

            Based on the available evidence and studies, it’s false to assume that the body can only use a certain amount of protein per meal. Studies examining short-term effects have provided hints towards what might be an optimal protein dose for maximizing anabolism, but trials drawn out over longer periods haven’t supported this idea. So, is there a limit to how much protein per meal can be effectively used? Yes there is, but this limit is likely similar to the amount that’s maximally effective in an entire day.

            http://www.wannabebig.com/diet-and-nutrition/is-there-a-limit-to-how-much-protein-the-body-can-use-in-a-single-meal/

              nice - you had me up to the reference but the logic is inferred nicely

              sorry for my tone, I just get my back when I see people go 'Im a PT'

              its amazes me that a know nothing can get their ticket to call themselves a Trainer after doing a 4 week, limited course that barely qualifies a person as floor staff let alone someone the chain could call a Fitness Professional

              though thankfully there are still some who look at the industry as more than just a way to pick up and look pretty

    Got to be Fillet-O-Fish being a Friday, Fish Friday that is!! The boarding school that I worked in always served fish on Fridays to make the kids better Christians.

    pfft! What is with everyone voting Quarter Pounder? Boooooring!

    Fillet-o-fish I say, just to see what the reaction is :P

    I'm not seeing much liquid intake here.

    Also kudos on the lack of snacking

    Last edited 16/01/14 11:29 am

      Mentioned before: liquids are all zero-calorie (water, black tea/coffee, Coke Zero) so I'm not enumerating them.

    OR you could do what I (occasionally) do... Double Quarter Pounder with Angus Patties (so bad, but sooooo goooooood)

    A Double Big Mac for lunch, and a Double Quarter Pounder for dinner.

    Oh and the quarter pounder is only a 1/4 pound of meat before the frozen pattie is cooked.
    It weighs about half that by the time it is on the burger.

    Gotta be fillet-o-fish as you don't need to count it. Seriously, I have never consumed a less food-like thing in my life. Everything about the fillet-o-fish looks like it came out of one of those kids toy ovens wth the plastic accessory foods.

    Hey Angus

    Promoting a slow sodium suicide and lining the already fat pockets of the multinational?
    A local company that distributes real food is more deserving of media exposure.
    http://www.farmhousedirect.com.au/

    Next diet idea: eat as much healthy food as you can and see if you feel better?

    Tommy

    Kudos to you Angus, surprised Chris isn't included in this challenge ;). 1 vote for the fillet o fish. This is my fav burger and I think you should opting for the good stuff. As a side note have you had any reactions, how are your energy levels etc?

    I voted the Fillet-O-Fish. Basically cause its the only fish burger, and we should eat more fish burgers.

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