This 56-Year-Old Lost 21lbs in 21 Days on the 'McDonald's Diet'

mcdonald's diet
56-Year-Old Lost 21lbs on the 'McDonald's Diet'Getty Images

Most of us enjoy an occasional Maccy Ds from time to time. Nothing wrong with that. But TikTok celebrity Kevin Maginnis is trying to prove that a Big Mac doesn't have to be an occasional treat and can instead be the basis for a full-blown diet. The 56-year-old grandfather has set out to eat nothing but McDonald's for 100 days, with the goal of losing 50lbs (23kg) and improving his health and blood markers.

You're thinking it, we're thinking it and every single dietician in the land is screaming it; there's no way eating McDonald's for 100 days straight can be healthy. 'Starting off everyone's like "No, you're gunna die, why are you doing this? Rest in peace,"' said Maginnis. 'Now, people are seeing that it's working.' Whether his methods are healthy or not, his (scale) results don't lie, with 21lbs (10kg) lost in 21 days so far.

The Tennessee grandfather has also amassed quite a following, and while some TikTok commenters are expressing concern, others are seemingly inspired by his progress. To see which side of the fence you should sit on, we've taken a look at the diet, it's efficacy and whether it's dangerous or not.

What Is the McDonald's Diet?

Before we state the rules of the extreme diet, we'll cut to the chase because it's important to mention that there's no evidence to support the efficacy of the McDonald's diet and we don't recommend it. However, if you're curious about what the diet entails, its five rules are fairly simple:

  1. Only eat meals from McDonalds for 100 days.

  2. Eat three meals a day, halving each meal from the menu.

  3. Only eat when hungry. According to Maginnis he will 'seek the heat before I eat. Don't eat until I have that feeling of my body needs more food.'

  4. No snacks.

  5. Keep a food log. 'There's gotta be a food log,' says Maginnis. 'Every expert will say a food log will help you get on track with your fitness goals.'

Maginnis also outlined his motivations during the process, and claimed he's embarking on the McDonald's diet for health reasons. 'For me, it's my grand babies, want to make sure my wife, my kids my grandkids, don't have to see me in a hospital bed, I want to make sure my grand kids' kids get to know me,' he said.

How Does the McDonald's Diet Work?

It will be no surprise to you that there isn't any magic at work when taking part in the McDonalds diet. The diet largely works by applying calorie restriction to facilitate fat loss. There are countless studies and reviews supporting that the quantity of calories eaten is more important for fat loss than the diet composition. But this doesn't necessarily mean we should all get in the car and head to the nearest drive through. There are some elements to the McDonald's diet composition, which could be easily replicated without eating fast food day after day.

According to physician Idrees Mughal MBBS, MSc in nutritional research, 'He is consuming protein at each meal, which suppresses appetite and keeps you full longer. This could be leading to less snacking than he was doing before and a calorie deficit at the end of the day.' There is evidence that protein content could also be the unsung hero of this obscure diet with research saying, 'It is the protein, and not carbohydrate, content that is important in promoting short-term weight loss and that this effect is likely due to increased satiety caused by increased dietary protein. It has been suggested that the increased satiety might help persons to be more compliant with a hypocaloric diet and achieve greater weight loss.'

However, the most interesting part about the diet is that Maginnis halves his meals. This not only restricts calories to ensure a deficit, but also encourages cognitive restraint to reduce portion sizing and incorporate mindful eating.

Maginnis also mentions one of the rules is to 'feel the heat before you eat', and there is a large wealth of evidence purporting to the benefits of mindful eating. In a 2019 study, which utilised mindful eating, it was demonstrated that participants assigned to this condition ate, on average, 50 calories less than those in the control condition.

We can't argue the mechanisms at play, but of course, you can use these methods without the McMuffin breakfasts and avoid any negative health implications.

Is the McDonald's Diet Safe?

Weight loss isn't just calories in calories out, the source of food choices does matter when it comes to health, satiety and how you feel. While the McDonalds dieter doesn't share his energy levels, it's not much of a leap to suggest that a diet low in nutrients will affect your get up and go, and especially, your training efforts.

A diet consisting of mainly McDonald's will likely have a high saturated fat content. In a meta analysis of studies into the association between dietary fat intake and mortality from all-causes, it was found that 'diets high in saturated fat were associated with higher mortality from all-causes, CVD, and cancer. CVD, and cancer.'

In addition to this, a McDonalds diet will likely have a very low fibre content. The main sources of fibre are fruits, vegetables, cereals and whole-grain products. It is a key component to health, with a 2020 study remarking that 'much evidence supports an important role for dietary fibre intake as a contributor to overall metabolic health, through key pathways that include insulin sensitivity. There are clear associations between dietary fibre intake and multiple pathologies that include cardiovascular disease, colonic health, gut motility and risk for CRC.' Bottom line: missing out on this key ingredient in your diet, could potentially spell trouble.

The MH Verdict

If we can take anything away from this somewhat off the wall weight-loss technique, it would be the following fat loss tips:

  • Incorporate an energy deficit you can adhere to for fat loss, composing of a mostly nutrient dense diet and incorporating lots of high fibre whole foods.

  • Make protein a priority.

  • Utilise mindful eating and portion control.

And perhaps as an additional note, it's also probably best to avoid following fad diets on the TikTok 'for you' page.

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