From September 2013 to February 2014 (for half a year of his life), a man named John Cisna ate nothing but McDonald’s for all of his meals, and he lost weight and lowered his cholesterol.
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So what is the secret behind Mr. Cisna eating this way yet losing weight?
A calorie deficit.
So What Is a Calorie Deficit?
Everything you consume is made up of calories. A calorie is a unit of energy used to express the nutritional value of foods.
When you sleep, you’re burning calories. When you go about your day, you’re burning calories. When you’re dancing in the shower to Justin Bieber (just because you hit the gym doesn’t mean you don’t have to be about that life), you’re burning calories.
A calorie deficit is consuming fewer calories than you expend during any given day.
Mr. Cisna maintained a calorie deficit while eating what most people would consider unhealthy foods for every single meal, every single day, seven days a week, six months of the year.
Now, these people would be correct in saying that these foods are unhealthy. Eating McDonald’s, or any food termed “junk food,” “fast food,” or “highly processed food,” has been linked to higher rates of obesity and all-cause mortality.
But if John Cisna lost a total of 56 pounds, dropped 21 inches off of his chest, waist, and hips, and lowered his cholesterol, then how can these foods be considered unhealthy?
Losing weight and fat isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive to being a healthy individual. Whilst these things certainly help reduce the risk of disease and all-cause mortality, they aren’t the only things a person can do to be healthy.
A person can lose weight while maintaining a calorie deficit yet still be unhealthy…they may be a smoker and consume alcohol, junk food, sugary drinks, and listen to Cardi B, all things that are considered unhealthy in excessive amounts and increase the risks of mortality. (Joking on that last one!)
Losing weight and fat is independent of a calorie deficit while being healthy isn’t necessarily independent of losing weight and fat.
Granted, Mr. Cisna did manage to lose weight, he was:
- Walking 45 minutes per day
- Following a 2,000-calorie diet (this meant he was in a calorie deficit considering the weight he was at the time)
- Meeting the daily recommended allowances for macronutrients — carbohydrates, proteins, and fat
- Hitting the sugar recommendations.
Even so, this diet shouldn’t be recommended to anyone, as it’s high in sodium and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals due to the lack of whole foods and vegetables. Of course, this isn’t to say that junk food — or “soul food,” as the majority call it — cannot be included in a healthy diet.
Okay, What About Macros — What Are Those?
Macros are (simply) the things we eat on a day-to-day basis. They make up everything we consume.
The three macros are as follows:
- One gram of protein = 4 calories
- One gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
- One gram of fat = 9 calories
While carbs and fats are important for muscular function and brain activity, protein is the only macronutrient that can actually turn into muscle!
Thus, you should take into account how much protein you need to be eating in order to reach your goals:
- If you’re looking to gain weight: 1 gram per pound of body weight / per day
- If you’re looking to lose weight: 1.2 grams per pound of body weight / per day
You should take this into account when trying to lose weight whilst enjoying McD every now and then. That’s because protein can actually help you lose fat!
The other macros can be split as you like, just as long as you remain within the calorie deficit, as mentioned before.
Step 1 – Know Your Limits
You can still say, “I’m lovin’ it,” without loving every food item on the menu. It’s too easy to give in and go on a free-for-all of McDonald’s, Netflix, and chill. The power lies in knowing your limits and being able to say, “That’s enough.”
Once you’ve found your total daily energy expenditure, you need to figure out which foods make it easier to go beyond the limit and which can help in satiety (the feeling of fullness).
Fast food tends to be less satiating, which is why you could eat more a little after a Big Mac, yet you’re fuller for longer after an equivalent amount of high-fiber vegetables and protein.
You don’t have to have a “clean diet” in order to be shredded. You just have to focus more on whole foods, fiber, and your macros… specifically protein intake.
Both are satiating and help promote weight loss and fat loss because they induce higher rates of satiety for fewer calories. Protein also has a higher thermic effect than the other macros.
So you can still order McDonald’s and watch Netflix. Just get used to chilling a little more with the amount you order…
Step 2 – McDonald’s Doesn’t Always Have To Be McDonald’s
It’s time for all those hours spent watching Master Chef to pay off. Ever thought about cooking up your own Big Mac? Well, now’s the time.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Sesame seed burger bun
- 150g extra-lean beef mince
- 20g light cheddar cheese
- 10g chopped onion
Seasoning includes 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp black pepper, and 1/2 tbsp salt. Sauce ingredients include 1 tbsp ketchup.
And don’t worry. Gordon Ramsey isn’t going to bust through your door and tell you his gran could do better. So the way you cook it is up to you.
Just remember: the more oil and sugar you use, the more calories you’re adding. After all, fat contains more than double the number of calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates.
Think about your health and cook at home more often.
Step 3 – Train Like a Beast, Not a Clown
I’d rather look like a beast and get the girl (Belle) than look like Ronald McDonald. I also happen to love McDonald’s, so I take it into account when I’m eating it.
However, I don’t look at it like this: I eat a 550-calorie Big Mac, so I now have to go burn 550 calories on the bike at the gym. This is a one-way slope to disordered eating.
Part of our TDEE is our exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT). This only accounts for 5% of our TDEE.
This means while we’re training to gain muscle and burn body fat, we’re only adding 5% into the equation. Regardless of it accounting for 5%, in order to gain muscle and get shredded, we still need to train hard with progressive overload and hit our daily protein target.
This means that we need to gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of reps in our training programs in order to continually force our bodies to adapt to a new stimulus over time.
Get Shredded Eating McDonald’s Conclusion
To get shredded eating McDonald’s, you need to:
- Know your limits
- (Understand that) McDonald’s doesn’t always mean McDonald’s
- Train like a beast, not a clown
Train hard, eat soul foods in moderation, and remember that if you train and eat like a clown, you’ll get the results of a clown.
Calories in versus calories out determine whether we lose weight or not. So remember that when you’re lovin’ it a little too much. A solely clean diet is a lonely road.
Have fun, listen to JB without shame, and get shredded eating McDonald’s.