IT doesn’t take a genius to work out that McDonald’s shouldn’t be part of your daily diet.

A favourite across the nation, it’s undeniably delicious and moreish.

An expert has explained exactly why “Maccie's” gets a bad reputation.

Dietician Helen Bond used the example of a Big Mac, medium fries and medium strawberry milkshake, containing almost 1,200 calories.

The first few minutes of eating your meal, you’re likely to feel nothing but content.

Here’s what happens in the hour following – and it may surprise you that it's not all too bad.

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15 minutes

After you eat, your blood sugar will rise in response.

How dramatically it rises and falls will depend on the foods you eat. Carbs on their own are likely to drive a large, fast blood sugar response.

Having sharp blood sugar spikes is unhealthy over the long term, linked with obesity, inflammation and diabetes.

Helen told The Sun: “Blood sugar (glucose) levels will start to increase within around 15- 20 minutes of eating a carb rich meal.

“It’s even quicker for sugary carbs without fibre.

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“Surprisingly there’s about 8g of fibre in this meal – mostly down to the potatoes to make the fries, the burger bun and the accompanying salad."

Eating the fries alone would see blood sugar levels spike rapidly.

But, although a Big Mac meal is carb heavy, it has fat and protein from the burger, sauce and cheese.

“[This] would slow down its absorption and reduce spikes in blood sugars after eating,” Helen said. 

"But it's also high in fat, saturated fat, sugars and calories and won’t necessarily keep you feeling fuller for longer. It's not healthy or balanced."

20 minutes

Helen said fatty greasy food like McDonald’s “can trigger heartburn in some sensitive people after eating”.

Heartburn and acid reflux can start anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour after chowing down.

And it can last up to two hours.

Eating a Big Mac too close to your bedtime could spell disaster for getting shut-eye.

30 minutes

Salt is another issue in this meal, supplying just over half your 6g recommended maximum of blood pressure raising salt. 

Helen explained why too much salt is hard on the body.

She said: "Often people who are more susceptible to salt suffer water retention, so some people find they often feel quite puffy or swollen or bloated after they eat fast food.

“That’s because your kidneys try to maintain equilibrium in your body – holding onto extra water to compensate for the extra salt you ate. 

“This increased water retention may result in swelling, and can cause you to weigh more than usual.  

“Eating a salty meal can also make you feel thirsty as well, as it disrupts the balance of fluid in your cells and minerals in your body, so you want to go back for more drinks.”

Bloating may also set in as a result of you trying to digest so much junk, or from eating those fries too fast.

Helen explained: “Fast food like this Maccy-D’s’ meal is highly palatable, meaning we eat it quickly, and it does not need much chewing – this can lead to bloating.”

50 minutes

Helen said around one hour after eating a Maccies, you might have a sugar crash that will cause you to feel tired and sluggish.

This is especially true if there is a lack of fibre, protein or fat in your chosen items.

Helen said: "You will get a sugar rush [blood sugar spike] and your pancreas responds to that by producing more insulin. You will get a real insulin peak.

"This can affect things like your concentration, your mood, you may feel fed up in the afternoon.

"The body will have lots of glucose in it from the original meal but if it is not used instantly it is going to get stored as fat."

One hour 

Helen said to counter the insulin release, the body will start looking for more energy – cue hunger.

As you can see, a fast blood sugar response sets you off on a train of crashing and craving.

You will likely get hungrier faster compared to a meal that is more balanced, and causes a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream.

After you’ve gone through the heartburn, thirst, bloating and sugar high of a McDonald's, you’re shocked to discover you want more of it.

Helen said: “The combo of highly palatable fast food and moreish nutrients like sugar and fat, which activates the reward centers in the brain can stimulate one’s desire for more of the same type of food, once hunger resumes.”

Over time

The occasional Maccy’s treat is nothing to worry about.

But if you get stuck in a loop of craving junk food, Helen warned of the long-term impact (which you likely already know).

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She said: “If the meal contains way more carbohydrates and sugars than your cells need for energy doing exercise or in day-to day tasks, eventually your body turns excess into fat.

“Too much stored fat, particularly visceral fat (that wraps around your vital organs) can lead to serious health problems such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease over time."

Is a Big Mac meal bad for you?

“A medium Big Mac meal with fries and a strawberry milkshake make taste delicious but it will provide 1186 kcals – that's over half the calories and almost 70 per cent of the fat an average woman should have in a whole day,” Helen said.

“Portion size matters – go large with the fries and you’ll be adding an extra 107 kcals.”


Helen said: “This meal will provide a whopping 15g of cholesterol-raising saturated (the same amount as in three of those little butter packs you find in restaurants), and 75 per cent of the recommended daily maximum.”

The good news the fries are in non-hydrogenated vegetable oils, so are low in trans fats, which are the worst type of dietary fat linked with heart disease. 


“Salt is another issue this meal will supply just over half your 6g recommended maximum of blood pressure raising salt,” Helen said.

“There’s good news with the fries – potatoes are a natural source of immune supporting vitamin C and energy releasing B1, plus the mineral potassium, which helps to counteract the affects of salt in the body.”


Helen said: “Washing down your big mac and fries with a sugar-laden strawberry milkshake will also tip you right over the edge of your recommended maximum allowance of free ‘added’ sugars for the day – that’s no more than 30g for adults and children aged over 11 [roughly seven sugar cubes].

“By drinking just one medium sized strawberry milkshake, a person will easily exceed this free sugar amount – it contains about 11 teaspoons of added sugar (57g in a medium).

“Even though the milk shake is high in sugars, their absorption will be slowed down because of the protein and fat content.”


“On the plus side, surprisingly there’s about 8g of fibre in this ‘Maccy-D’s’ meal – mostly down to the potatoes to make the fries, the burger bun and the accompanying salad, which together with the protein content of the meal will help you feel fuller for longer,” said Helen.

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