fast food

What Can Happen When You Eat Too much Sugar?

What can consuming too much sugar do to your health?  More than you think! Eating excessive amounts of sugar has been linked to obesity, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, high blood sugar levels can also lead to some serious health issues, including excessive hunger and thirst, headaches, rapid heartbeat, and vision problems amongst other symptoms. On top of all that, did you know that eating too much sugar can even promote the formation of wrinkles, and can accelerate signs of aging? It’s true! 

Saturated Fat and Sugar Intake Recommendations

If you have recently been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, with a blood test, you may have spoken to your newly-formed healthcare team at length regarding how to control your blood sugar levels going forward. Most health experts recommend losing weight if necessary, and eating moderate-sized meals and snacks that are rich in fiber and other beneficial nutrients and low in saturated fat and added sugars. Saturated fat should be limited to no more than 10 percent of total calories, and according to the American Heart Association, women should limit daily added sugars to 25 grams (g) and men, 36 g per day.

Sometimes Fast Food is the Only Option

When you’re managing type 2 diabetes, making smart diet choices can not only help you lose weight and stabilize your blood sugar, but may even help you reduce your reliance on medications in the future.

Fast-food menu items are often loaded with calories, saturated fat, and sugar, and should be avoided whenever possible if you’re actively trying to manage your blood sugar levels. There are those inevitable times, however, when you’re in a hurry or on the road, or work late into the evening.  Fast food may be the only convenient option available to you. These fast food quick-bite chains are everywhere, too! Did you know that the United States has about 7.52 fast-food restaurants per 100,000 residents, according to a study published in the journal Critical Public Health? That’s staggering!

To help you navigate fast food drive-throughs during those times where these meals seem to be the only available option, while at the same time juggling your blood sugar levels, we offer to you a list of six of the least healthy fast food orders to avoid so as to not jeopardize your health.  

Don’t worry-we’ve got you!


The 6 Worst Fast Food Orders for Diabetics

1. Carl’s Jr. ‘Spicy Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger

Nutritional info (One Burger): 1,400 Calories, 87 g (35 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fat), 2960 mg sodium, 75 g carbs (5 g fiber, 20 g sugar,) 80 grams protein

Weighing in at 1,400 calories per burger, this is one of the highest-calorie burgers on any restaurant menu. Unless you’re running a 26-mile marathon, this burger probably won’t fit the bill.   A healthier option would be their ‘Big Burger’ which will have 480 calories, 56 g carbs and 13 g of added sugar.

2. Papa John’s ‘The Meats Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza’

Nutritional Info (One Slice): 440 calories, 22 grams fat (10 grams saturated fat), 55 mg cholesterol, 1200 mg sodium, 40 grams carbs, (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 20 g protein

One of the unhealthiest pizza choices you could make for your blood sugar levels and overall health are those rich with double crust, added meats, or cheese. A healthier option would be opting for thin crust pies with half the cheese and your favorite veggie toppings-cutting your caloric intake literally in half! Maybe consider pairing a slice of pizza with a side salad for a more balanced meal that’s lower in carbohydrates, to help keep blood sugar levels more stable.

3. Wendy’s ‘Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Burger’

Nutritional Info (One Burger): 1530 calories, 107 g fat (44 g saturated fat, 5 g trans fat), 250 mg cholesterol, 1890 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (3 g fiber, 6 g sugar) 89 g protein

This is one of the highest-calorie burgers available at all of the major fast-food chains. The calorie count alone is enough to make it very difficult to manage blood sugar levels. To add even more insult to injury, the pretzel bun this burger spotlights adds extra carbohydrates, compared to a traditional bun!  A healthier option would be Wendy’s ‘Double Stack’ burger, coming in at  410 calories, 26 g carbohydrate, and 6 g sugar.


4. Panda’s Express ‘Fried Rice’

Nutritional Info (One Order): 520 calories, 16 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 120 mg cholesterol, 850 mg sodium, 85 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar ), 11 g protein

This Fried Rice option at this popular Chinese fast-food chain, but it’s one of the worst options to keep your blood sugar from spiking, due to its ratio of carbs to fiber. Fiber helps to mitigate blood sugar spikes if paired with a carb by slowing down digestion. This option doesn’t cut it! A healthier option from Panda Express includes the nutritious ‘Mushroom Chicken’ that has just 170 calories and 11 g of total carbs and just 1 teaspoon (4 g) of sugar. Another choice is their ‘Black Pepper Chicken’ that weighs in at 280 calories and 14 g of total carbs.

5. Taco Bell ‘Double Beef Grilled Cheese Burrito’

Nutritional Info (One Burrito): 950 calories, 49 g fat (19 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 90 mg cholesterol, 2120 mg sodium, 94 g carbs (9 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 34 g protein

If you just gotta have Taco Bell, steer clear of this new burrito option. This new menu addition is overstuffed with calories, saturated fat, and a whopping 94 g carbs! This high amount will flood your bloodstream with excess sugar, making it nearly impossible to maintain stable blood sugar levels.  A healthier substitution would be to ask for your burrito to be in a bowl rather than a carb-rich tortilla, and add more nutritious veggies, like a small scoop of guacamole. The healthy fats from the avocado will help your body absorb carbohydrates more slowly, leading to a more gradual rise and fall in blood sugar levels. Still want a tortilla? Ask for a whole grain version!

6. Starbucks ‘Crispy Grilled Cheese on Sourdough

Nutritional Info (One Sandwich): 520 calories, 27 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 1040 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate (4 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 21 g protein.

You may be aware already that some of  Starbucks’ signature drinks are not conducive to stable blood sugar levels.  Did you know that some of these drinks actually pack in more calories and added sugar than a couple cans of Coke? That’s astounding! The same goes for this grilled cheese sandwich item, with its high caloric and saturated fat values. With the carbs from the bread and the parmesan cheese spread, you have a blood sugar spike just waiting to happen.


How To Avoid The Fast Food Trap.

One of the ways fast-food restaurants make a profit is by getting more customers to come through the drive-through more quickly, pressuring you to make a fast ordering decision.  Sometimes when you feel rushed, you may make the wrong food choices. Be your own advocate! Make smart rules and stick to them! 

Here are some tips you can follow in making smart choices when ordering fast food on the spot:

  • If possible, take a look at the online menu ahead of time, so you’ll have an idea what to order when you get to the order window
  • Try to refrain from ordering jumbo or super sizes. Remember, also, that you don’t have to eat the full portion of any food you order, especially if a chain’s “regular” portions are larger than you need. Eat half, then save a portion for another meal! Cutting down on portion size can make a huge difference in your caloric intake.
  • Order single burgers, not double or triple patties 
  • Opt for chicken, turkey, or fish sandwich options
  • Avoid fried meats and even fried fish; instead, choose grilled or broiled sandwiches or platters whenever possible
  • Limit your toppings to vegetables, like a slice of tomato and lettuce or salsa, staying away from high-fat sauces, dressings, and mayonnaise which are loaded with seed oils. Seed oils are one of the culprits in creating insulin resistance!
  • Try to avoid croissants and croissant-based sandwiches, and baked goods such as large muffins, pies, and bagels
  • Limit ice cream-based desserts as much as possible.
  • Look for fast-food places that offer salad bars! Whenever possible, make your salad a more complete meal by adding a healthy protein source, such as lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, hummus, or cottage cheese
  • Keep an eye out for various special healthy menu items. Many fast food restaurants offer smart choices that are lower in cholesterol, fat and sodium and fiber-rich, helping you get the nutrition you need with the convenience you desire.  Some restaurants even offer reduced-calorie salad dressings, low-fat or fat-free milk, and salt substitutes, as well!  Don’t see these items? Just ask!

CopilotIQ Is Here To Help!

So, do you need to give up on fast food altogether if you want to keep your blood sugar levels in check? Not at all! Armed with knowledge, and a little bit of willpower, you can take advantage of the convenience fast food restaurants have to offer, without taking a toll on your overall health and wellness. As always, it is wise to consult with your healthcare team or your CopilotIQ Nurse if you have any questions regarding your unique diabetes nutritional plan. 

Don’t have a plan in place yet? CopilotIQ offers personalized nutrition plans built around your life and needs. Find out if you’re eligible today.


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