Fast food has a terrible reputation. And for good reason: It’s really unhealthy, and if you eat a lot of it, not only will you gain weight, you’ll also end up sick and tired. But how much do we really know about why fast food is bad for you? What we put into our bodies plays a huge role in how we feel day in and day out, for a wide variety of reasons.
It’s High in Sugar
Sugar hides in nearly every fast food item, even the savory ones. Eating too much sugar can lead to diabetes and obesity, and, on top of that, the type of sugar that appears most often in fast food and other processed food is fructose, which is metabolized by the liver directly into fat — just like alcohol.
It’s High in Ingredients That Aren’t Real Food
There are dozens of chemicals in every fast food item, from texturants to fillers, preservatives to artificial flavors and colors. While they’ve all been approved by the FDA for use in food, none of them are food, so they don’t add any nutritional benefits. They’re just empty space, bringing nothing to the party except, possibly according to some reports, cancer.
It’s Engineered to Be Easy to Overeat
The trifecta of sugar, salt, and fat hits the pleasure centers in our brains, and each bite becomes a “reward,” making it nearly impossible to stop eating once we get going. This is called the “food reward hypothesis of obesity,” and fast food companies have these formulas down to a science.
It’s High in Simple Carbohydrates
The simple carbs in the buns, fried chicken breading, and basically anything else that’s bready at a fast food joint quickly break down into sugar, leading to a quick spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Whole grains, on the other hand, digest slower and provide sustained energy. When you eat simple carbohydrates, you’ll get a quick energy boost, but within a couple hours you’ll crash — and find yourself craving carbs again.