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How Long Will It Take Me to Work Off That Fast Food?

written by: Deborah Walstad • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 5/24/2011

You know you shouldn't eat fast food, but if you happen to break down and do it, just how long will it take before you burn off those calories? The answer may surprise you. Take a look at some fast food nutritional facts and find out how many calories are in the fast food you can't resist.

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    Fast Food Nutritional Facts

    You know you shouldn’t eat fast food. All of that grease and refined sugar is sure to ruin your diet.

    But fast food is cheap and quick, and many Americans continue to include fast food as a regular part of their diet. Even despite the link between fast food and obesity and diabetes, many Americans don’t see a reason to stop eating at McDonald’s.

    But take a look at some fast food nutritional facts and you’ll begin to get a clearer picture of why fast food is such a bad choice for your health.

    Take the McDonald’s Big Mac for instance. A Big Mac will set you back 540 calories. And if you order the sandwich as part of a combo meal, you’ll be eating a total of 1145 calories:

    Big Mac: 540

    Medium French Fries: 380

    Medium Coca Cola: 210

    Packet of Ketchup: 15

    The average woman needs a total of 2000 calories per day. If she eats this Big Mac meal in addition to her breakfast and lunch, she’s consuming much more food than she needs. And when you eat excess calories, that’s when you gain weight.

    Think the calories in a Big Mac meal are bad? The Big Mac isn’t among the worst fast food offenders. Check out the calories in these popular fast burgers:

    Burger King’s Whopper With Cheese: 760 calories

    Carl’s Junior Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger: 900 calories

    Jack In the Box Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger: 1120 calories

    Those fast food facts include the burgers alone. Add in the fries and drink you’re sure to have with the sandwich, and the calories in fast food are jaw-dropping.

    The calories in fast food aren’t the only reason to stay away from it. Consider what else is in a fast food burger—including trans fat and meat from cows who’ve been fed saw dust and dirt—and you may think twice about making a fast food run.

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    Working Off the Calories in Fast Food

    So what do all those calories in fast food mean for your diet and exercise plan? You’ll have to work hard to shed the fast food pounds.

    Take a look at the calories you can burn with common exercise activities. These numbers are based on a 140-pound woman exercising for 30 minutes:

    Walking 3 mph: 140 calories

    Yoga: 160 calories

    High Impact Aerobics: 200 calories

    Jogging: 200 calories

    Cycling at 12-14 mph: 280 calories

    Elliptical machine: 360 calories

    Running 10 mph: 571 calories

    If a 140-pound woman eats a Big Mac meal with a total of 1145 calories in it, she’ll have to walk on a treadmill for over four hours just to burn off her McDonald’s meal. Looking at the list of activities above, you can see that there are very few ways to burn the calories in fast food quickly.

    Those four hours on the treadmill are simply the minimum amount of time she’ll need to walk to burn off the McDonald’s meal and don’t include the other calories she’ll have to burn to stay with her weight loss plan.

    If you want to lose one pound per week on your diet, you’ll have to exercise off at least 3500 calories—that’s equivalent to 500 calories per day. 3500 calories is the amount of energy needed to burn off one pound of body fat. If you want to lose two pounds per week, you’ll need to up that number to 7000 (or 1000 calories per day).

    Do the math and you’ll see that if you’re trying to burn 7000 calories in a week you just can’t afford to eat a single meal that contains 1145 calories.

    The next time that you ask yourself “how long will it take me to burn off the calories in this fast food?" you can answer yourself back with, “too long."

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