On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump’s typical McDonald’s meal contained nearly a day’s worth of calories and sodium, almost double the recommended daily dose of saturated fat and 2½ times the sugar he should eat in a day, according to US Dietary Guidelines.
Trump became well-known for his love of fast food during the 2016 election. He even tweeted a photo from his plane, ready to dive into a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but there are new details about his go-to meal at his other fast food favorite, McDonald’s.
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wrote about it in his book about the campaign, saying Trump would order two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake.
“Well, he never ate the bread, which is the important part,” Lewandowski told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “He was busy campaigning. We didn’t have time to sit down for a meal.”
But even without the bread — or the fries one would typically get with McDonald’s meals — nutritionists say he should rethink his diet.
“This is not a healthy way of eating, even if it is without the carbs of the bun,” said Lisa Drayer, a nutritionist who frequently writes for CNN. “I’d prefer he’d eat half the protein and much less saturated fat.”
Without the bun, this meal still contains at least 1,880 calories based on nutrition information available on the McDonald’s website. Although your daily calorie count can vary, based on the typical 2,000-calorie count diet used by the US Dietary Guideline, that doesn’t leave a lot of room to eat anything else during the day — bun or no bun.
Drayer said that based on the protein and saturated fat in all those sandwiches, Trump would be better off eating one of the Big Macs or one of the Filet-o-Fishes rather than two of either, even without the bun. And if he had a medium chocolate shake, that alone is 2½ times the recommended daily amount of sugar.
Trump measures in at 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, according to his last available medical records, resulting in a body mass index of 29.5. That makes him overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health’s online BMI calculator, though his doctor said his “test results were within normal range,” with a cholesterol level of 169 and blood pressure of 116/70. However, he takes a cholesterol-lowering statin, which is prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and low-dose aspirin, which also can benefit the heart. But at 71 years of age, a steady fast-food diet could compromise his health.
“As you get older, your metabolism slows down, your blood pressure increases with age just naturally, and if you are doing this every day, then you are increasing your risk for heart disease in addition to upping your risk for cancer,” Drayer said.
Eating red meat regularly has been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. A 2009 study showed that people who regularly ate red meat were more likely to die sooner than those who ate it in smaller amounts.
“A hamburger every once in a while is fine, but eating this on a regular basis is not healthy,” Drayer said. “Red meat does offer iron and protein, but at the amount he is consuming, it is putting his health at risk.”
It is unclear how often the President would eat such a meal.
If he continues to make McDonald’s a go-to, she suggests some menu alternatives: Apple slices and mandarin oranges are good. Some of the salads are better choices. But if he insists on a sandwich, she recommends skipping the Big Macs and instead having the fish without tartar sauce and cheese.
Swap the chocolate shake for a low-fat yogurt parfait she suggests, which has healthy fruit and fiber. The blueberries and strawberries at least offer antioxidants. If Trump is not a yogurt man, even a vanilla cone would be healthier, at less than half the calories and less than a third the sugar than a small shake.
“At least,” she said, “he is not eating the McFlurry with M&M’s. He didn’t pick the (least-healthy) dessert choice on the menu.”