13 May, 2010

Why The KFC Double Down Isn't As Bad For You As the Media Wants You To Believe

An Editorial by Lynnafred

On April 12th, KFC's Double Down rolled out across America after having been a test-market-only sandwich in Summer 2009. By this time, the Double Down needs no introduction, but if you haven't heard of it yet, it's two boneless chicken breasts, two slices of cheese, three strips of bacon, and a spicy mayonnaise sandwiched together, with no bun. This breadless sandwich has created quite the media splash - and I'm astonished at how much of it is negative. Statements such as "Look at the calories in that thing; it's an artery clogger," "I felt myself getting bloated as I ate it," and "I saw it in the store and was so disgusted I couldn't bring myself to buy one, but I know it's gross," are extremely common in the buzz about Double Downs.

But how bad is the Double Down for you, really, in comparison to other fast foods that people consume on a semi-regular basis? I did some digging to find out, studying nutrition information and taking personal interviews from people who work in fast food, and then stacked it against the "evil" Double Down. And my results are interesting and, at times, shocking. (At least, they were to me.) I learned that compared to commonly ordered items from fast food giants like Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King, and even Dunkin' Donuts, a breadless chicken sandwich could really be considered the least of your concerns, as far as eating habits go.

That doesn't mean that I'm preaching that the Double Down is the best thing out there for you. It doesn't even mean that you should go get one. I'm just trying to relay that, perhaps, the Double Down isn't the Satan's Sandwich the media has made it out to be. And where better to start than with the specs of the Double Down itself?

The Fried Double Down is a pretty hefty sandwich. It weighs in at at least 1/3 lb. It's got 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1380mg of sodium. But the sandwich has hardly any carbs (11g for the regular DD and only 3g for the grilled) due to its lack of bread, and has 53 g protein because of all the meat.

Okay, so now to put those numbers into perspective. A friend of mine who works at a local McDonald's said that the item he sees selling most is a large Big Mac combo. That Big Mac has 540 calories, 29 total grams of fat, and 1040mg of sodium. The fries have 500 calories, 25 total grams of fat, and 350mg of sodium. Add that up, and you get a total of 1040 calories, 54 total grams of fat, and 1390mg of sodium, and none of that is including your drink. You also get 108 grams of carbs in that meal.

But that doesn't affect you, because you're a salad person. Okay, fine. According to Burger King's nutrition facts, found on their website, a Tendercrisp garden salad has 410 calories, 23g of fat, and 1000mg of sodium, and that's without your dressing. A Tendergrill chicken salad is only marginally better for you, with 210 calories, 7 total grams of fat, and 780mg of sodium. But as soon as you add dressing onto that, however healthy you were trying to be goes right out the window. At only 50 calories, the best dressing you could get would be the fat free ranch, but you'd be sacrificing the rest of your daily sodium count. With 740mg of sodium, that brings your Tendergrill salad up to 1520mg of sodium, and your Tendercrisp salad up to a whopping 1740mg of sodium.

According to the manager of a local Dunkin' Donuts, the two most popular non-donut food items  his location sells are a sausage, egg, and cheese on a croissant, and the turkey, cheddar, and bacon flatbreads. Those have 640 calories, 43g of fat, 1250mg of sodium and 410 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 1110mg of sodium, respectively. By themselves.

Suddenly, that Double Down doesn't look so bad, huh?

But the Double Down does take up a little over 1/4 of your daily calories, if you're on a 2,000 calorie diet. And that's assuming you're eating three square meals a day. Many people nowadays rely on heavily processed foods from the grocer's freezer section, and frozen "dieter's meals" like Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, and Smart Ones are all loaded with added sodium to compensate for the lack of fat (and, therefore, flavor.) But, if you only eat, say, twice a day, a Double Down may not be as bad for you as you think it might be. I'll use myself as an example. Three days of the week, I get up at about 6:30, and by 7:30 I'm on the road to school. I don't have time for a breakfast, unless you count the Mtn Dew I chug on the road. I have classes almost back-to-back throughout the day (except for the campus-wide "activity period" from 11-12), and I don't eat again until I get home at about 2:45. So, if I took my activity period and ran up to the nearest KFC, getting a Double Down wouldn't hurt me. I'm not saying I'd want to get one every day, but getting one every now and then certainly wouldn't lead to my demise.

As the saying goes, "everything in moderation." If the sodium content bothers you that much, you should really take a good, hard look at what you eat on a regular basis. You'll be shocked at the amount of sodium tucked away in the things people eat every day. And, after a good look at the rest of the fast food world, you'll see that a breadless chicken sandwich should really be the least of anyone's fast food concerns.

Links/Worls Cited:

KFC's Nutrition Facts website
Burger King Nutrition Facts
McDonalds Nutrition Facts
Dunkin' Donuts Nutrition Facts
Consumerist.com's 10 Fast Food Items Worse For You Than The Double Down


zoe p. said...

It all seems like a very elaborate way to advertise chicken cordon bleu.


Lynnafred said...

Dave said something very similar to that last night when he was reading over my post. It had never even crossed my mind to think of the Double Down like that before.

Dave said...

Seriously, if a non-fast-food restaurant had done this, on a plate with a knife and fork and veggies on the side, no one would have noticed. Yet when it's from KFC, all the tin-foil-hatted health lunatics come out of the woodwork.

Also, I wish to go on record saying that Chicken Cordon Bleu would be at least 3.14159 times more awesome with the Colonel's secret blend of 11 different salts and MSGs.

C. said...

It's not like no one has ever seen a chicken sandwich with two patties before. This is really pale compare to those 1000 calories burgers they serve at Applebees or Chilis

zoe p. said...

Someone just drew my attention to the 5 Guys nutritional info: Cheeseburger 820 cal, 1/2 order of fries 310 cal