On the surface, the theory that one can lose weight by eating junk food is quite absurd. For many individuals who are overweight, obese, or simply not in their preferred shape, many of their problems stem from the overconsumption of junk food.
If this is the case, then how could continuing to eat junk food solve any of these problems?
First off, we need to identify what constitutes “junk food” in the first place. We know, of course, that food items like candy, chips, and soda are primary examples of junk food. Simply put, junk food is essentially a pejorative term for food that contains little or no vitamins, minerals or protein, while simultaneously containing excessive amounts of calories from either the sugar or fat in the food product that you are consuming.
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If you plan on consuming junk food, make sure to read the nutritional label on the side; it really does serve a good purpose. With all of these negatives surrounding junk food and its unhealthy nature, it seems impossible to fathom someone potentially losing weight by consuming junk food.
Has anyone ever done it before?
If you’ve been following the news closely for the past several months or years, chances are you’ve heard of John Cisna. For those of you who haven’t, or need a refresher on what was significant about that name, Cisna is a science teacher in the Colo-Nesco Community School District in Iowa.
Back in January, Cisna announced that he dropped nearly 40 pounds in 90 days by only eating at McDonalds. The experiment was actually quite simple: he had his students design a daily diet plan at McDonald’s that stayed under the 2,000 calorie daily limit (as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration dictates as a “healthy daily caloric intake”).
Cisna then proceeded to follow these guidelines for 90 days, adding in 45 minutes of daily walking. He noted that his typical daily meals consisted of two breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal for breakfast; for lunch: a salad and fruit parfait, and some sort of value meal for dinner (typically a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich), and french fries. He also noted, however, that he would interchange some items, and would go for an ice cream cone or sundae at times.
This was the most intriguing part of the experiment; he didn’t side more towards McDonald’s “healthier options”; he didn’t shy away from the burgers, chicken sandwiches or desserts, generally considered the most “unhealthy” of McDonald’s menu items, and yet he still obtained considerable success in his experiment.
His results were so good that he elongated his experiment, and he ended up losing 61 pounds in 6 months, and his cholesterol level dropped significantly! This, of course, landed him national attention, including a position as an ambassador for McDonald’s, and he wrote a novel, entitled “My McDonald’s Diet”.
Cisna also noted that the point of this experiment was about learning portion control, and that it doesn’t matter what you eat, so long as you balance it out and stay within a reasonable caloric intake level.
This is a good and hopeful story, of course, but it’s simply one out of millions of people who struggled with weight and hoped to fix it through such means. On the opposite side of the scale was the story of Morgan Spurlock, the author of the book and documentary “Supersize Me”.
Spurlock gained almost 25 pounds and his cholesterol skyrocketed in only 30 days of conducting the experiment, and he also noted a severe draining of energy, multiple bouts with nausea and overall sickness, and a loss of sexual energy, as both he and his girlfriend note in the documentary.
It took him 14 months to lose all that weight and lower his cholesterol. Spurlock’s experiment proved to be part of a rapidly growing movement to help prompt fast food companies everywhere shift the focus off of “super sizing” and more towards providing healthier options. This experiment, for many, is more accurate of one’s experiences with both fast food and junk food in general that Cisna’s experiment is.
Ultimately, it appears that this “debate” boils down to one’s will power and strength. Junk food in and of itself is not necessarily a very bad thing. If you work out and generally eat healthy, a Snickers bar or a Mountain Dew isn’t going to make any sizable impact on your overall health.
The big issue is convenience. For today’s “on-the-go” individual, which is more convenient to travel with: a cheeseburger or homemade salad? Maybe for some people, it isn’t a problem to bring a salad with them, but most people have neither the time, patience, or in some cases, money to make that decision.
That 99 cent cheeseburger and bottle of Coke won’t ruin your health, but what if you travel a lot and stay dormant, unable to get exercise? All those trips and cheeseburger-Coke combos add up, causing an increase in weight and an increase in health issues.
Given these preexisting issues – and I’m fairly certain that we have all had encounters with them at some point – Cisna’s success certainly gives everyone hope. The notion that maintaining or attaining a state of good health comes down to control has its merit, and has been proven before.
It seems that exercise plays a pivotal role in good health as well; even Cisna walked 45 minutes per day in addition to his food consumption. Also, some protein bars have a chocolate coating, which adds to the caloric content of the protein bar, but adds taste. That doesn’t necessarily make the protein bar unhealthy for you.
Overall, the debate on whether one can potentially lose weight by consuming junk food is intriguing. No one is arguing that tearing into a bag of Doritos with reckless abandon and sitting around all day is good for you; finding a key balance is essential to losing weight.
As mentioned earlier, will power and strength are key. How badly do you want to lose the weight? It is amazing what the human mind is capable of when it is set on something, and if you dedicate yourself to finding that perfect balance, eating a cheeseburger or two shouldn’t prevent you from shedding away those pounds!