Fast food meals are quick, economical choices for busy Americans, who often do not have time to prepare nutritious dishes at home after a long day at work or school. Each day, about 25 percent of Americans opt for fast foods instead of cooking, according to Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation." However, consuming fast food meals may contribute to a variety of health problems, including fatigue.
Saturated Fats and Trans Fats
Saturated fats are found in meats, particularly dark-meat chicken, bacon, beef, sausage and ham. Cheese, butter, eggs and margarine also contain saturated fats. Trans fats are primarily found in shortening used to fry fast food items such as french fries, breaded fish, onion rings, jalapeno peppers and french toast sticks. Saturated fats are difficult for your body to digest. Digesting saturated fats requires diversion of blood and oxygen to your digestive system and away from your organs and muscles, which can produce fatigue.
Refined flour, used in fast food hamburger buns, pancakes, bagels and breakfast biscuits, is made up of simple carbohydrates. These carbohydrates quickly convert into glucose in your digestive system, and this glucose is rapidly released into your bloodstream. The resulting glucose spike may cause a brief energy burst; however, any energy spike derived from consuming refined flour is typically followed by fatigue.
Like refined flour, refined sugar can cause rapid blood glucose spikes and crashes, contributing to fatigue. Fast food offerings such as ice cream, cookies, pies, cakes and doughnuts are typically loaded with refined sugar. Sugar is also a common ingredient in hamburger buns, breading, breakfast waffles and pancakes.
Several ingredients commonly found in fast food fare may cause allergic reactions, including fatigue. Wheat, used to make refined flour, can trigger fatigue. Other potential fast food allergens include fish, soy, eggs, dairy products, tree nuts and peanuts. Together, these foods are responsible for 90 percent of all food allergies, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.
- "Fast Food Nation"; Eric Schlosser; 2005
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. et al.; 2010
- The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network: Common Food Allergens