Some humans are destined for greatness. Some become scholars. Some broker world-saving peace treaties. Some eat a Big Mac for lunch every day for 50 years straight. I’m referring, of course, to Donald Gorske, the current Guinness World Record holder for most Big Mac burgers eaten in a lifetime. Gorske recently celebrated 50 years of eating a Big Mac every day—but, rather than celebrate his stunning achievement, some detractors are expressing half-assed concern about Gorske’s health.
“It’s hard to believe he is still alive!” writes one commenter on the Guinness World Records website. “The coroner’s report will be most interesting,” writes another. I’m certainly not here to defend McDonald’s as an entity, but it must be said: As nutrient-dense lunch options go, you could do a lot worse than a Big Mac.
When you hear “Big Mac,” there’s a good chance that your mind goes to what Takeout managing editor Marnie Shure calls “the Spurlockification of it all.” She’s referring to Morgan Spurlock, the director of the 2004 documentary Super Size Me. In the documentary, Spurlock sets out to expose the adverse effects of fast food by subsisting entirely on McDonald’s for one month. At the end of the month, Spurlock reported a number of side effects including weight gain and dramatically raised cholesterol. However, in 2017, reporters began to question Spurlock’s claims that McDonald’s caused his poor health after Spurlock confessed to years of alcohol abuse.
I’m not here to litigate Morgan Spurlock’s efficacy as an experimental test subject. I am here to argue that Donald Gorske’s daily Big Mac habit probably isn’t that big of a deal. Let’s break down a Big Mac’s nutrition facts, shall we?
Per the McDonald’s website, a Big Mac contains the following:
- Calories: 550
- Protein: 25 g
- Fat: 30 g
- Saturated fat: 11 g
- Sodium: 1010mg
Let’s start with calories. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended caloric intake for adult men ranges from 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day. Judging by photos alone, Gorske appears to be of average stature—so I’d put him somewhere in the middle of that recommended calorie range. With that in mind, a 550-calorie lunch is perfectly fine. Hell, pair that with a 500-calorie breakfast and a 700-calorie lunch and you’ve got plenty of wiggle room. Indeed, according to Guinness World Records, Gorske eats two Big Macs per day “more often than not,” which still only adds up to about half the recommended daily calorie intake.
In terms of other nutrients, I’m not worried. I’d like to see a little more protein here, but 25 grams in one sandwich is perfectly respectable. The Big Mac is high in fat, but as long as Gorske opts for lower-fat protein sources throughout the rest of the day, he’s good to go.
The sodium is the biggest issue here, with a Big Mac serving up about 44% total of Gorske’s recommended daily sodium value. Still, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fast food option with lower sodium than the Big Mac, at least one that you could make a hearty meal of. Grab a Chipotle steak bowl with all the fixings, and you’re looking at a sodium content of around 1540mg—about 64% of the total recommended daily value. Even an innocuous Turkey Tom sub from Jimmy John’s will run you 1160mg, or 48% of the total recommended daily value.
In the end, it’s all about balance. A cliche, I know—but a daily Big Mac can absolutely fit into a nutrient-dense day. It’s high in protein and fairly moderate in terms of calories. Throw a salad or a piece of fruit into the mix, and I’d wager you’re eating better than a large swath of the population. Here’s to 50 more years of Big Macs, Mister Gorske.