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LL Cool J's Platinum Workout Excerpt from LL Cool J's Platinum Workout

by LL Cool J and Dave Honig with Jeff O'Connell

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Fast Food: The Fastest Way to Get Fat

Fast food is definitely fast; whether its food is debatable. Many of the most popular offerings at fast-food restaurants contain 40 or even 50 ingredients. Hold up -- last time I checked, chicken contained one ingredient: chicken. Whats up with all that other stuff? Entire scientific labs are devoted to making fast-foodstuffs smell and taste better than they should with chemical flavorings, special odors, and a truckload of salt. How else could they make things like methylcellulose, potato starch, and autolyzed yeast extract taste like chicken? Add to these mystery ingredients a cup or two of cooking oil, butter, or margarine, and youve got a caloric gut-bomb thatll kick you clear off your nutritional track.

I know, youre saying: But, LL, the stuff tastes so good! And I can just pick up a bucket of chicken on my way home from work. But I ask you: What price are you willing to pay for convenience? Are you willing to risk your health and the health of your family by driving thru to save a few minutes in the kitchen? Im not, and my advice is to avoid the stuff altogether. I do understand that sometimes youll be forced to do a drive-by eating, but in these circumstances you can choose alternative menu items to stay dialed in with your healthy eating plan. Call it damage control.

Because of customer demand and some seriously bad press (how many of you saw Super Size Me?), many restaurants nowadays offer healthier meal choices. Items such as salads with grilled chicken, steak, or fish; soups; baked potatoes; and yogurt with fruit are popping up in McDonalds, Wendys, and Burger Kings around the country as viable alternatives to their regular fried fare. Other places offer customized menu options. Taco Bell, for instance, will replace the gooey sauce or cheese on an entre with a mixture of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro when you order it fresco, and at KFC you can actually order skinless, nonfried chicken breast. Not exactly soul food, but as close to a heart-friendly alternative as youre likely to find. Always ask for a fat-free salad dressing and use it sparingly, and request that your salad be prepared without cheese, that your potato be cooked dry, and that your burger be made with lettuce instead of that overprocessed bun. Restaurants can and will do these things for you, but theyll probably cop an attitude and take extra long to make it. But if you save yourself 10 to 15 grams of fat, its worth the hatin for a minute or two. As for regular, sugary soft drinks, just walk on by, as Dionne Warwick once said. If you have to have a pop, make it diet or skip it altogether and have water, lots and lots of water, to help dilute the huge sodium content of even the healthiest fast food fare. More damage control.

Next, beware of the seemingly healthy juice, coffee, and drink bars around town. I mean, youd think a smoothie would be better for you than a burger and fries, and in some ways it is -- smoothies have very little fat. However, many are packed with calories, carbohydrates, and sugar. Have your smoothies made with water instead of sorbet or ice cream, and your coffee drinks made with fat-free milk and no whipped cream, and youll be in good shape. If your coffee bar order has five adjectives, look out.

Most of all, educate yourself. Always check the nutritional content provided by the store either in house or on their Web site to see where you can subtract unneeded calories. Better yet, look up your favorite fast-food meal on the Internet for a reality check on their ingredients and nutritional content. Believe me, youll think twice about ordering that again once you know what it contains.

Yes, fast food is easy, convenient, and cheap, but ultimately your health is paying the price, and I dont think any burger is worth that big of a hit.

(Sources: www.nal.usda.gov, www.bk.com, www.mcdonalds.com, www.tacobell.com, www.jambajuice.com, www.kfc.com

Reprinted from: LL Cool J's Platinum Workout by LL Cool J and Dave Honig with Jeff O'Connell. Copyright 2007 by James Todd Smith. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling at (800) 848-4735.