Your Fast Food Workout Plan

You’re hungry, and you’re in a hurry – so you grab a burger, a taco, or a burrito. But before you take a bite, think about it: You’ll need to exercise a lot to burn off those calories. Even the options that seem light – the smaller burger, the breakfast sandwich, the wrap – are more fattening than you might think.

So how much havoc can a fast food meal wreak on your otherwise healthy diet? We’ve crunched the numbers, compiled the calorie counts, and even created a simple interactive calculator so you find out exactly how much exercise it would take for you to work off each meal. Here’s to making healthy choices!

From fat-laden burgers to supersized sodas, during the past 60 years fast food giant McDonald’s has served billions – of calories, that is. Go ahead and bite into that Big Mac (two layers of beef, cheese, special sauce, lettuce, onions, and pickles on a sesame seed bun), nibble those fries, and sip the soda. You can burn it off later with nearly six hours of yoga if you're a man, and nearly seven if you're a woman

You’re dragging, and you could use a caffeine fix. At Starbucks, one of the world’s largest coffee chains, you can enjoy a venti java chip frap (hold the whip) before breaking a sweat during an almost hour-long run.

Chicken. Rice. Sour cream. Guac. Burritos aren’t so bad, right? Chipotle has long enjoyed a reputation as a healthier fast food option, but counting the calories reveals that there are two sides to every story: Eating one burrito with a side of chips propels your calorie consumption to nearly 1,900 – in one meal. Want that burrito still? Work it off with eight hours of strength training (if you’re a woman) or nearly three hours of biking (if you’re a man).

At Taco Bell, you can indulge your craving for a Gordita (seasoned beef and cheese on flatbread) and satisfy your desire for nachos smothered in beef, beans, and nacho cheese sauce – but it’s going to cost you some serious exercise time. Add a soda, and you’re looking at a nearly 1,200-calorie meal, which means you’ll want to dance for three hours if you’re a man, or three-and-a-half hours if you’re a woman.

Breakfast is an important meal. But if you kick off a busy day with a steak and egg sandwich, hash browns, and an iced coffee with cream and sugar at Dunkin’ Donuts, you’ll want to clear your schedule for some serious exercise: You’re looking at nearly two hours of rollerblading if you’re a man and more than two hours if you’re a woman.

Healthy Eating on the Go

Given today’s busy lifestyle, it’s easy to understand why some people turn to fast food: It’s quick, affordable, and available on virtually every corner. But, as our research reveals, even a small meal or a drink can quickly max out your daily calorie count (not to mention fat and sodium intake) – and add unwanted weight.

How can you break free from a fast food habit? For starters, plan ahead: On busy days, eat a healthy, filling breakfast, such as oatmeal, yogurt, or a smoothie. Make a list of low-cal take-along lunch options, such as salads and wraps with a side of fruit or veggies. When you do need to grab lunch on the go, scan the menu for low-calorie options – and go light on condiments, side dishes, and liquid calories. Eating right may take a little more time and planning – but your body will thank you. Want more inspiration? Visit for advice on choosing natural foods, getting fit, and more.