Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to estimate the glycemic load (GL) of nutritionally promoted fast-food menu items and to compare menu items nutritionally.
Methods: Published glycemic index (GI) values and nutritional information from the Web sites of Subway and Burger King were used to calculate the GL of nutritionally promoted items. Menu items were compared based on calories, macronutrients, saturated fat, GI, and GL as basic items and as often served.
Results: Subway offered 7 low-fat (total/saturated fat: 3-5/1-2 g), low-calorie (230-330) sandwich options that had an average GL of 29. If the customer accepts the soda and baked potato chips, the total calories exceed 600 and the total/saturated fat becomes 13/4 g, with a doubling of the GL. The Burger King low-fat options contained 4.5 g total fat and 1.5 g saturated fat, with GLs of 53 to 54, and low-calorie options (265-310 calories) had low GLs (0-18.3). Adding fries and a soda brings the GL up from a 53 for just the sandwich to 123 for the meal. The bunless low-carb Whopper has the same fat content (total/saturated fat: 42/13g) as the original Whopper, but the GI and GL are zero.
Conclusions: The nutritional information for meal options available at Burger King and Subway can help the patient with diabetes make choices. Accepting the fries or chips and soda can dramatically increase the calories, carbohydrate, fat, and GL of the nutritionally promoted fast-food meal.