What It Takes to Burn Off 5 Fast Food Meals (and a Latte)

woman working out

The holidays are behind us, and that means one thing – dreams of sugarplums dancing in our heads have turned to nightmares of cellulite chasing our posteriors. Because even the best eater is going to sample a homemade white chocolate chip mocha cookie when it’s offered piping hot from the stove, right? (This is me, raising my hand.) And the best eater might even have another cookie – or six. Who’s to say?

And besides all the awesome baked goods we may or may not have consumed over the holidays, there are also the quick dinners we might have grabbed between shopping and wrapping and generally trying not to go insane. And maybe, just maybe, this food arrived to you through a drive through window with grease seeping through its paper bag – a paper bag you later threw away in an anonymous dumpster on the side of the road. Perhaps?

But not to worry! We’ve got a quick guide to a quick way to burn off the bad stuff. Every wonder how many crunches it takes to burn off a Big Mac from McDonald’s? Or how many miles you have to run to burn off a large French fries from Wendy’s?

First, everyone burns calories in a different way. In other words, a 120 pound woman with 17% body fat isn’t going to burn the same amount of calories as a 250 pound man with 30% body fat. It all varies according to weight, size and metabolism. So for the purposes of this article, we figured in statistics for the average sized American woman – which is 5’4″, 140 pounds, and a size 14.

Here’s a look at our average Jane eating our favorite fast food wonders, and how she pays for them. (Not that we green Janes ever eat fast food…)

Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburger

burger king bacon double cheeseburger

620 calories and 28 grams of fat. Get out your bathing suit and hop in the pool for some swimming. Like the back stroke? You’ll just have to swim 2.18 hours of the back stroke to burn off the 620 calories. We suggest a wet suit and nose plugs.

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets


Six pieces have 290 calories and 17 grams of fat. Sounds like a lot, right? Easy enough to fix: a few hours of vigorous sex will burn that off! Just 9.06 hours in bed will take care of those six McNuggets. Up for it?

Thirsty? Before you reach for a Starbuck’s Mocha, Low Fat Milk, Venti, here’s a thought.

venti mocha

At 446 calories and 20 grams of fat, you can burn that all off with just one simple exercise. Consider climbing some hills for just one hour – while carrying a 21-42 pound load. That’s about a bushel of apples. We suggest not eating one on the way up – one Red Delicious apple will add 127 calories to your count.

Want a Chocolate Softie from Wendys?


One large Frosty Dairy Dessert in Chocolate from Wendys is 540 calories and 91 grams of fat. Participating in one hour of your place of worship –  i.e. kneeling, walking, and praying – will burn 32 calories. You just have to marathon it by completing 16.8 straight hours at church.

Carl’s Jr Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich

crispy chicken bacon swiss carls jr

690 calories and 36 grams of fat. Like working on your home? Just 2.17 hours of roofing will burn off your crispy sandwich. If that’s not motivation to get your home in order, I don’t know what is.

IHOP Pancakes with Syrup

ihop pancakes

110 calories and 3 grams of fat per dessert pancake, and 230 calories and 58 grams of fat per two ounces of syrup. So if you layer up the pancakes, you’re looking at about 790 calories. But no worries. If you bicycle like a rabid hamster – or, roughly 20 mph – you can burn it off in 45 minutes. And possibly win the Tour De France. Look out, Lance Armstrong!


Note: please excuse our inadvertent errors and typos. IHOP syrup has 58 grams of carbs, not fat.  A large Wendy’s shake has 13g of fat.

Further reading: Calorie Counts frequently off for fast food

Images: mikebaird, thefoodpornographer, milkintheclock, lyberty, foodfacts, mooshee85, foodbeast

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.