7 Amazing Things That Happen When You Give Up Fast Food
It's no secret that fast food, while tasty, is overall just not healthy. In fact, eating fast food can negatively affect much more than your waistline. Researchers have found that a diet high in fast food—and its essential components such as bad fats, sodium, and sugar—can have effects on your brain, your bones, and your mood. So what happens if you stop eating fast food?
Yep, we're talking about giving up fast food once and for all.
Lucky for you, we rounded up seven things you can look forward to happening to your body when you stop eating fast food.
Your jeans will fit better.
Fast food is packed with sodium, and you can easily consume most of your daily allowance in one meal. At McDonald's, a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and medium fries contains 1,630 milligrams of sodium while a Quiznos 8" Chicken Mesquite sub has 2,230 milligrams. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams, so you can see how these meals are not helping you there.
See, the body copes with this influx of salt by holding on to water to maintain the proper sodium balance in the body. That's when you experience bloating. Stop eating fast food and just watch the bloat subside, allowing your jeans to fit better.
You lower your risk of heart disease.
Eating fast food more than twice a week makes you 1.5 times more likely to develop heart disease than people who infrequently or never eat it, a study published in the journal Circulation found. The high fat and sodium content of fast food is to blame. In fact, if Americans reduced their sodium intake, there would be 120,000 fewer cases of heart disease, 66,000 fewer strokes, and 99,000 fewer heart attacks each year, according to the British Medical Journal.
You improve your memory and ability to learn.
It's not just years of relying on the fried food of these restaurants that will affect your body, either. Mice who ate a diet of junk food displayed memory loss and a lack of cognitive ability after just one week, according to a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Sorry to break it to you, but those effects extend to humans, too.
Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University compared people's blood levels of trans fats to their brain volume via MRI. They found that trans fats actually shrink your gray matter, replacing good fats in its membranes and affecting its ability to function. Yep, fast food can fry your brain.
Your mood improves.
Think a Whopper with cheese is comfort food? Think again. Eating fast food is associated with a higher rate of depression, and the risk gets higher the more fast food that's eaten, a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found. The reason may lie in a separate study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity: Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who ate a diet high in foods that trigger inflammation—such as soft drinks, refined carbs, red meat, and margarine—had a 41% higher risk of depression over 12 years compared to women who ate a diet rich in inflammation busters like healthy fats, vegetables, coffee, and wine. So, alright, that black coffee from McCafe gets a pass.
You reduce your risk of diabetes.
Eating a diet high in saturated and/or trans fats—hello, fast food!—can lead to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body releases more and more sugar into the blood. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and a vastly increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. In fact, regularly eating fast food doubles your chance of developing insulin resistance, according to a study published in The Lancet.
You get stronger bones.
Those deliciously salty fries can have unappetizing long-term effects: Excessive salt consumption is associated with high blood pressure, strokes, and reduced kidney function, according to researchers at the University of Stony Brook. And, as if negatively impacting your heart, brain and kidneys weren't bad enough, some studies suggest sodium also affects your bones by competing in your body with calcium.
So what exactly does this mean? Well, the more sodium you take in, the more calcium your body loses via your urine. That can lead to bone demineralization and a decline in bone mass, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and breakage. Essentially, skipping out on the fast food leaves you with stronger bones!
You have more energy.
Fast food is high in sugar, and it lurks in menu items that don't sound remotely sweet. Wendy's Apple Peca Chicken Salad has 23 grams of sugar—and a salad is supposed to be a good choice to make! When you consume a high amount of refined sugar and simple carbs, the pancreas secretes insulin to keep your blood sugar low. Because fast food doesn't contain enough complex carbs to give you lasting energy, your blood sugar levels crash soon after you finish eating, leaving you tired, and craving another quick hit of energy from more junky sugar and carbs. When you stop eating fast food, you'll feel better, as you won't be groggy and dealing with those crashes.