When you think of McDonald's, chances are you're not thinking of weight loss. It's a guilty pleasure drenched in saturated fat for some, and an absolute NO for others. In fact, nutritionists far and wide seek to provide advice on how to cut fast food joints from your diet in order to lose weight. But one man seems to defeat the odds.
John Cisna is a 55-year-old science teacher who lost 56 pounds from eating absolutely nothing else but McDonald’s for six months. “I ate 540 straight meals at McDonald’s,” he said. But not only did he shed the pounds, he also improved his blood pressure, cholesterol, and other blood profile numbers.
How, you might ask, are people like fitness enthusiasts and professionals responding? Well, quite frankly ... they're pissed.
“This is stupid!” they yell.
“His health would be twice as good if he ate real food.”
“Great, now everyone is going to think they can live off McDonald’s!”
But before you make a similar remark yourself, there's some information you ought to become privy to. First of all, Cisna repeatedly noted that he by no means wants to send a message from his weight loss journey to others that they should try this out themselves. Secondly, this wasn't a bright idea that just came to him one day, rather it was a challenge for his students who were requested to put together his meals with two guidelines:
- Keep him at 2,000 calories per day
- Track 15 different nutrients to keep him in line with the standards set by the FDA
So while the experiment isn't meant to have you running for the McDonald's drive thru, it does prove what research and science has stated all along: caloric intake and expenditure are necessary both for weight loss as well as health.
In the first three months of the experiment, Cisna's health improved greatly:
started at 249 and lowered to 170
from 156 to 80
from 170 to 113
Some people are outraged at the fact that Cisna didn't really do much to achieve the results he did, however, perhaps they may just be missing the point. Millions of people in the US are obese or overweight, so to promote the idea of weight loss solely through cooking at home, and shun eating out is just causing many people in today's society to feel like shedding pounds is unachievable.
Dr. Brad Schoenfeld
elaborates on this idea, saying "The point is to show that if you reduce calories below expenditure, you’ll lose weight regardless of (and despite) the nutritional components. I’ll also add the most important aspect of any diet is adherence. Sure, it’s nice to speak of ideals. But what good is giving someone a “healthy” nutritional approach if they don’t follow it?”
So with that in mind, what people can take from this is that weight loss plans should be implemented for the individual. For instance, if you tell someone with little to no knowledge of different foods and their values to eat a specific way, the information may just go over their head. Telling someone whose never paid attention to the difference between organic, natural and fair trade to opt for one over the other isn't going to help.
Meeting people where they are, and working step-by-step to provide them the tools they need to get healthy is important. Furthermore, telling someone who eats at McDonald's every day that they must cut it out cold turkey is just setting them up for failure, similar to telling someone who wants to quit smoking that they can't wean their way off of the habit, but must stop immediately. Taking small steps makes way for achieving big goals.
Cisna's experiment may be helpful for those who do, indeed, only eat at fast food restaurants. Inspiring people of all different backgrounds is more important than shunning their current behaviour. Of course, this by no means encourages people to pick up a burger from the infamous fast food establishment, but it does provide a different perspective to the story in its entirety, and brings up the point that we need to be more mindful of individual needs.
What is your take on Cisna's experiment?
Source: Nia Shanks
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