Does eating fast food make you gain more weight?

Weight Loss
Coach Kannan
January 13,2023

Fast food and weight gain are largely synonymous with one another. In other words, for those who consume fast food on a regular basis, weight gain is almost a guaranteed outcome. 

Unfortunately, the prevalence of fast food consumption is rapidly on the rise, especially in the western world. As you can likely guess, so too are the overweight and obesity rates. And this is becoming the case in India too. It is made worse by the fact that many fast foods are marketed as healthy.

The link between fast food and weight gain can’t go unnoticed, begging the question of whether or not it should even be consumed at all.

In this article, we’ll be discussing what fast food is, why it’s unhealthy, how it causes weight gain, and how you can continue to include it within the confines of a generally healthy and sustainable diet.

What counts as fast food?

Defined by the way in which it’s produced, prepared, and served, fast food is often associated with chain restaurants like McDonald’s that serve inexpensive, low-quality food with low nutritional value.

From pizza and fried chicken to ice cream and French fries, fast food is anything that is mass-produced, typically containing unhealthy amounts of calories, sugars, and salt, among other unhealthy ingredients.

Here are examples of fast foods and highly processed foods that you might buy. These are low-quality because they are processed to a large degree and contain many added ingredients.

  • Burgers
  • Pizza
  • Fried chicken
  • French fries
  • Donuts
  • Biscuits
  • Chocolate and candy
  • Chips and deep fried namkeen
  • Jams and bread spreads
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Most ready to eat snacks that come in packets such as granola bars

Often limited to precooked, flash-frozen, packaged goods prioritized for the speed of service rather than the quality of production, fast food tends to lack in quality and nutrition, rather focusing on addictive taste and affordability.

This, in large part, is what keeps consumers coming back for more! It’s also what’s creating a global obesity epidemic that, if not attended to soon, will result in irreversible damage to the health and well-being of its citizens.


So, is fast food healthy? The simple answer is No!

Why is fast food unhealthy?

Due to its prioritization of mass production and speed of service, fast food requires certain synthetic ingredients for preservation (long shelf life) and taste.


The primary goal of fast food is to be cheap, addictive and have a long shelf life.


As you can imagine, using high quality and healthy ingredients is not going to work to meet these goals. This requires artificial ingredients and additives such as syrups, sugar, salt and chemicals that have been shown through research to be unhealthy and promote the onset of disease.

So is fast food healthy? Clearly not.

As a result of the consumption of such food, fast food has a direct impact on an individual’s health, including but not limited to their blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight, just to name a few.

From excess calories to ungodly amounts of sugar and other undesirable chemicals, fast food was never intended to be part of the human diet; it’s why so many health issues are prevalent in today’s society.

As for which fast food is good for health, the list is very limited. While in a broader sense, meats, fish, and poultry are a welcomed addition to a  Healthy Diet, the way they’re processed in the fast-food industry means that the end food that you eat is far from healthy.

are fast food healthy

Does fast food cause weight gain?

As far as weight-gaining causes, there are plenty. Undeniably the most prevalent, however, is diet and nutrition or lack thereof. In other words, fast food most certainly causes weight gain.

Fast food not only affects weight gain but an entire list of other health-related consequences, both direct and indirect. As mentioned earlier, ingredients often found in fast food are widely linked to undesirable health markers relating to blood pressure, cholesterol, and otherwise.

As a consequence of these undesirable health markers, other health-related conditions may develop, weight gain being one of them. Similarly, weight gain itself, unbeknownst to fast food, comes with its own list of complications, both direct and indirect.

Why does fast food cause weight gain?

As discussed throughout, fast food is packed with calories, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates. In addition they are flavored in such a way as to make it addictive. 

Food brands have teams of food scientists who work in Research & Development departments covering food technology, flavor research, and product development.


Flavors used in fast-foods and processed foods are created in a laboratory by scientists with the sole purpose of making the flavor addictive.


This means you end up eating large amounts of these foods. When a food company says you cannot eat just one, they mean it!

Eating large amounts of high-calorie foods is the fastest route to weight gain.

How to include fast food within a healthy diet

A healthy diet is one that can be sustained and enjoyed for the long term. This, however, requires further context, as one could technically sustain and enjoy an unhealthy diet rich in fast food.

A healthy diet is one that’s rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruit, dairy, grains, nuts, seeds and proteins, and thus, abundant in nutrients. Except if you have any food allergies, limitations, or food preferences, you should target to consume just that. 

Of course, it’s also acceptable to treat yourself every once in a while, whether it’s a meal from McDonald’s or an ice cream from the corner store.


The main point is to keep this as an exception, not a daily occurrence.


Do not lose sleep over whether fast food is healthy. Instead, realize it is not and think of it as a treat to be had once in a while. So the goal is not to make fast food healthy, but to make sure that the rest of your diet is healthy and minimize fast food.

In short, it’s all about balance. Consider approaching your diet using the 80/20 rule.

Simply put, you aim to eat healthily 80% of the time, whilst allowing yourself to indulge 20% of the time.

This should result in an overall healthy diet that’s both sustainable and enjoyable.


In conclusion, is fast food healthy? No.

Can you have them occasionally as a treat? Yes.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding the trap that is fast food, and instead, thriving on a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Of course, it goes without saying that we’re all human and it’s acceptable to allow yourself some indulgence every once in a while, be it fast food, junk food, or otherwise. While there are zero benefits to actually consuming fast food, if it helps you psychologically stick to an overall healthy diet long-term, it’s an acceptable strategy. In fact, in the Daily9 weight loss program, we encourage users to think of their favorite treats and eat them once a week. This ensures you do not deprive yourself of your favorite foods and you then maintain a good diet & your weight loss for a long time.

About the Author

Coach Kannan
Kannan is a Precision Nutrition & ISSA Certified Nutrition Coach and a ACE-Certified Behavior Change Specialist. Kannan focuses on ideas that are scientific and also work in the real world. He is allergic to advice that is unscientific or not practical.

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