why french fries will blow up your diet

why french fries will blow up your diet

French Fries are one of those challenging foods for most people. You know they're not on the "good food" list, but you don't think a couple fries will add too many calories to your daily total. Problem is, you can't just eat a couple fries; you end up finishing the basket and eating more calories than your goal for the day! Then you carry around the guilt and shame for having done it, and in the end they weren't even all that satisfying.. What gives?

McDonald's french fries

Habits and Calories, that's what gives.


We've been eating french fries as part of our fast food, SAD diet (Standard American Diet) since we were knee high to a grasshopper. Your body knows those flavors so well, you get special feelings (and cravings) just by the mention of their name: McDonald's French Fries - mmmmm, yummy. Jack in the Box fries - you think to yourself "the old ones, or the new ones? and how about those curly fries?" Then you find your mouth watering. Then there are those local hangouts, where the fries are sensational - maybe a sports bar, or a Greek restaurant, or the diner on the corner..?

French fries are about as comfortable as American comfort food gets. Your mind craves them, your mouth orders them, and your hands go about their business of popping them in. You probably don't even give them a second thought. But you should.

It's very difficult to lose weight when french fries are on your menu. Remember, for all the talk about healthy this and low fat that, low carb diets and low protein diets, for the 99% of us who aren't top-level athletes, calories rule. Period. The end. Eat fewer calories than your body burns throughout the day, and you'll lose weight - regardless of what types of foods you eat or where those calories came from.

And that brings us to the second truth about french fries:


Do you know how many calories are in your favorite fast food joints' french fries? I took a trip around the web and made some notes from a few different restaurants' web sites. Check this out:

French Fries Calorie Counts
by restaurant and size

  • Kids - 100
  • Small - 230
  • Medium - 380
  • Large - 500

Jack in the Box - regular fries
  • Small - 330
  • Medium - 450
  • Large - 610

Jack in the Box - curly fries
  • Small - 280
  • Medium - 430
  • Large - 580

In n Out Burger
  • one size - 395

basket of french fries

Five Guys
  • Regular - 620
  • Large - 1,474

Smash Burger
  • Smash Fries - 520
  • French Fries - 460

White Castle
  • Small - 300
  • Medium - 350
  • Large - 600
  • Sack - 770

  • Fat Fries - 380

Chick Fil A - waffle fries
  • Small - 300
  • Medium - 390
  • Large - 520

  • Small - 260
  • Medium - 390
  • Large - 520

  • Small - 320
  • Medium - 420
  • Large - 530


Looking through this list, I can share from my own personal experience that it's pretty easy to eat 500 french fries calories! I've eaten that Five Guys' 620 without thinking twice. And the Chick Fil A waffle fries? Well, that large 520 isn't big enough!

Bottom Line

The point of all this is, when you're trying to keep your calorie intake at 1,300 - 1,600 per day, spending 400 or more on a side dish is not going to help you reach your goals. My guess is if you're eating these fries, you're also stuffing a 600 calorie burger down your neck. (and please don't tell me your washing it all down with a 400 calorie soda...) You could potentially eat a lunch with more calories than your entire daily allowance, which I doubt is what you set out to do.

Dieting is difficult - especially the first couple weeks. You're developing new habits, learning what foods have how many calories, and you're hungrier than you'd like to be. But dieting gets easier - you start to know what foods are safe, and your body learns how to burn fat more efficiently, which keeps your blood sugar more level. And once you reach your goal weight, you get to add back those deficit calories, which, if you continue to pay attention to what you eat, will seem like a ton of extra food! :)

fast food combo meal
Five Dollars - well over 1,000 calories!

If you're really craving calories as part of your lunch, here are a couple options:

1.) 2 Bites. Go ahead and order your fries. Take a couple bites' worth and place them on your tray. Then go through away the rest of the package - in the trash can, where you won't be tempted. Now you can savor every last bit of enjoyment out of those 30-40 calories.

2.) Make your own. Grab a potato and slice it up. (I've even seen french fry cutters at places like Bed Bath and Beyond.) Spread them out on a cookie sheet, spray them with a vegetable oil spray, sprinkle them lightly with salt, and bake them up at 400 degrees. You can eat a whole potato for less than 200 calories.

I hope this helps.

-Chris Butterworth