A personal trainer and fitness coach ate a McDonald’s Big Mac every day for 30 days to prove to his followers that there’s no such thing as a “bad” food.
Jordan Syatt, 28, ate one of the burgers every day in September, but still lost seven pounds in the process by ensuring he was in a calorie deficit overall and factoring a Big Mac into his daily diet.
Aside from his daily Big Mac, “I ate regular foods,” he told Insider.
“The majority of my diet was whole, minimally processed foods, salads, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, Greek yogurt, really regular food,” he said.
He’s not saying it’s healthy to eat a Big Mac every day
Syatt, who trains VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk, also made very clear to his 524,000 Instagram followers that he categorically was not recommending people eat a Big Mac every day, and is not saying it’s healthy to do so.
“I don’t want anybody doing this challenge,” he said. “I do not think that this challenge is healthy. I don’t think it’s smart but sometimes you have to do something extreme in order to make a simple point.”
Syatt merely wanted to hammer that point home.
“The whole point of it was to show people that you can include your favorite foods into your diet in moderation and not only not lose progress, but actually continue to make progress, because so many people worry about ruining their entire diet if they go off track for one meal, whatever it is.”
Syatt’s aim was to show people they can eat less nutrient-dense foods without worrying.
“I want you to be able to go to your daughter’s birthday party and have a slice of pizza without feeling guilty or ashamed or worry that you’re ruining your progress; or to go to your nephew’s graduation ceremony and have a slice of cake; or just literally to be able to go out on a Friday night with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife and have ice cream without feeling like you’re ruining everything,” he said.
“Because a lot of people have one of those meals, they’ll feel really guilty about it, think they screwed up, and then they’ll just completely give up altogether. This is how yo-yo dieting is made, because people feel like they screwed up.
“They go off track, then get back on track. Basically it’s either all in or all out. And I wanted to show people, it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be all in or all out. You can incorporate your favorite foods while still making progress.”
Over the course of the month, Syatt went out for dinner various times and also attended a wedding, and he is open about the fact that he “indulged” and went over his calorie goal on some days.
“But the main recurring theme was I got right back on track as soon as I was home,” he said. “And I was in a deficit the majority of the time.”
His weight fluctuated throughout the challenge
Syatt documented the whole challenge on social media, filming every Big Mac he ate and every time he stood on the scale — the whole journey is saved in the pinned stories on his Instagram profile.
As Syatt’s followers the graph of his weight rise and fall but overall head in a downward trajectory, Syatt’s message became ever clearer.
Weight fluctuations are normal, and Syatt appreciates that seven pounds is “a lot” to lose in a month.
“Generally speaking, what you’ll notice if you track your weight over the course of time, you will see a consistent pattern in how your weight fluctuates,” he said.
And it’s for this reason that he actually recommends people log their weight once month, comparing, say, October 1 to November 1 as a more reliable way to measure progress, although he says you can also weigh yourself every day to see the overall trend.
Syatt encourages people to see the number on the scale simply as data, not as something that affects how you feel.
“For me, when I have a general idea of knowing when I’m going to spike, when I’m going to drop, when I’m going to plateau, it takes away the emotion because I just know, I know more logically what’s going on,” he said.
“I know if I ate more salt the day before then the scale will probably be up. I know if I’ve had trouble pooing the scale will probably be up. I know if I had a really heavy leg workout, my weight will always be up as I’ll be holding on to more glycogen.
“So it’s really just not looking at the scale as a definitive marker of progress, good or bad, and more as a tool.”
He added: “A lot of fitness professionals say, ‘Don’t step on a scale. It’s evil.’
“It’s a f—ing machine that gets out a number at you. It’s not evil. You just have to teach people how to use it.”
You can include foods you love in your diet and still reach your goals
His main message throughout the challenge was that you can still make progress by eating a little bit of what you fancy.
“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that you’re either making progress or you’re destroying your progress.
“There is a middle ground that you can find where you can enjoy your favorite food while actually continuing to move forward and achieve your goals without feeling like a failure.”
Syatt explained that he’s not trying to glorify the Big Mac, but he’s not demonizing it either.
“We don’t want to demonize any certain foods,” he said.
“So we want to promote healthy habits and promote how to be able to understand how much you’re eating without feeling like a failure if you end up enjoying a f—ing ice cream cone, God forbid, or a slice of pizza or something like that.”
Big Macs don’t have a great reputation, but their nutritional profile is actually better than most people think — in the US, the signature McDonald’s burger contains 540 calories and 25g protein.
Before the challenge, Syatt said he had only ever had a Big Mac about once or twice in his life, and it was so long ago he couldn’t even remember if he enjoyed them. It turns out he does.
Incredibly, however, he didn’t grow sick of them.
If you’re in an overall calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight
Syatt wanted to show people that no certain food makes you gain or lose weight, it’s just about managing your energy balance.
“There’s a lot of noise in the fitness industry, there are a lot of people who say carbs are going to make you fat, or fat makes you fat. There are people who say fruit is going to make you fat for f—‘s sake.
“So what I want to do is just show people that the most important thing when it comes to fat loss is moderating your total energy, your calorie intake.”
He added: “I really wanted to take away food anxiety, eliminate food anxiety, and allow people to enjoy their lives about being ruled by nutrition every waking moment. And I think that’s what the challenge accomplished.”