When he was 18, Alton Ward, now 25, reportedly decided to start exercising and eat a diet that only consisted of Chick-Fil-A. He ate the fast food, though he notes he opted for healthier choices (oatmeal, salad, grilled chicken wrap), for several meals per week. According to him, he lost 140 pounds in 11 and a half months.
Ward isn't the first person to attribute his weight loss to fast food. Jared Fogle, aka the "Subway guy," supposedly lost 200 pounds by eating Subway sandwiches. That was, of course, before all the child rape and sex crimes. There's also Dan Janssen, who survived only on pizza for 25 years. According to him, his diet was perfectly fine. "I must say, even though I sound like a horribly unhealthy and fat person, I'm not," he told VICE. "I'm thin. I have tons of energy, and I feel great every day, so there might be something to the exclusive diet pizza."
But, is it really possible to lose weight—let alone 140 pounds—eating only Chick-Fil-A? We spoke to Jessica Pearl, a registered dietician, to get answers. She also listed some of the healthier options—other than salads—at Chick-Fil-A in case you're about that life.
A man reportedly lost 140 pounds eating only Chick-Fil-A. Is this possible? Can you lose weight by eating only Chick-Fil-A?
I’m looking at [the story] now and there are a few ways this could be true. First of all, he said when he went to college he started exercising. So the increased physical activity contributed to weight loss. And when he went to Chick-Fil-A, he was making healthier choices. He said he didn’t grow up eating well, but we don’t know exactly what he was eating before. If someone is eating poorly and mostly fast food then starts making smarter choices, they can definitely lose weight. As long as eating behaviors have improved you will likely have beneficial results. Even though we don't think of fast food as healthy, for him the changes were positive in comparison. It’s really about small changes. He started eating salad, oatmeal, and grilled chicken wraps. So it is possible to make healthy choices at fast food restaurants. And he’s a big guy, so he does need a certain number of calories to maintain body function.
He said he tried several diets—juice diet, no carb diet, etc.—but none of those worked. Why?
Those [diets] won’t work because they’re restrictive. You’re only drinking juice when you do juice diets. For low carb diets, you’re eating less carbs. He didn’t restrict himself. He didn’t say, “I can’t have this. I can’t have that.” The most important thing about losing weight is having a balanced diet that provides enough nutrients. The best diets are the ones you can maintain. You can’t maintain a juice diet. You can’t maintain a low carb diet.
Is there more of a chance to lose weight if the change in diet is more drastic?
No. Drastic changes are not better because they are not sustainable and it’s a lot to take on. Making small, gradual changes is a better method to lose weight. It gives you more time to get used to these new eating habits instead of taking on everything at once.
So, there are ways to eat healthy at fast food restaurants?
Yes. For example: Instead of fried chicken, have grilled chicken. Instead of fries, have a baked potato.
According to Pearl, while it is possible to lose weight without giving up fast food, Chick-Fil-A's menu is loaded with preservatives and additives—even the fruit. She says she doesn't recommend consumimg a diet composed primarily of Chick-Fil-A. But, here are some of the "healthier" options at the chain:
She definitely doesn't recommend relying on Chick-Fil-A for most of your diet, but if you do, some healthier options include the grilled nuggets, grilled chicken sandwich, Greek yogurt parfait, fruit cup, chicken breast soup, side salad, and superfood side.