I Ate an Olympic Athlete's McDonald's Cheat Meal to See If I Would Die

It was time to push the limit of the human form. It was time to eat like an Olympian.

by Tom Usher
17 August 2016, 11:20am

And so to the Olympics. Go for gold! Try your best! It's not the winning, it's the taking part that counts! Jump over that metal pole! Throw that heavy stone! Run faster than that other guy even though no one even cares because Usain Bolt has already ran faster than you by 12 seconds and is already hilariously dabbing in a pic with Prince Harry! There is something so inspiring about the Olympics, where greatest physical specimens in the world pushing themselves to the absolute limit of human endurance. And, mildly related: I thought I too would push my body to the absolute limit of human endurance. But not by running or jumping or fencing. By pushing a series of McNuggets into it and hoping I wouldn't die.

See, Olympic athletes live like monks: a life of pure abstinence, of early nights and cryonic recovery, of protein shakes and vitamins, eat sleep train repeat, reps on reps on reps. And then they get a bronze and their Olympics are over and they realise the last four years have been for nothing and, as in the case of Australian athlete Sawan Serasinghe, have a gigantic badminton-fuelled McDonald's blowout to celebrate freedom from the yoke of athletic pursuit, and just deck a load of cheeseburgers. This. This was the kind of Olympic triumph I could emulate.

(Photo via Instagram)

For clarity: that's six large fries, 40 chicken nuggets, two chicken burgers, two hamburgers, six brownies, a Big Mac, a strawberry milkshake and a bottle of water, or 8,000 calories if you can only relate to food in terms of numbers, you nerd. What a cheat meal, what a lad. Although given that he'd probably been eating kale and raw chicken breasts for four years in a row, it probably doesn't really make up for 48 straight months of dietary modesty, does it? I mean this is basically just one hangover's worth of food, isn't it.

But it made me think: what would happen if the average Joe ate this Olympic-sized cheat meal? What would happen if I, the most average of all Joes, decided to take on 8,000 calories of McDonald's – not as a reward for any type of abstemiousness, because the only thing I've abstained from is doing the actual exercise this kind of meal is meant to be a reward for, but just because I quite fancied seeing what 8,000 calories would do to me physically and mentally? Well, I'm sure you can guess what happened next. I tried exactly that.

(Photos by Sam Howard)

Firstly, as is par the course with the Olympics, I had to stretch off. My hamstring in particular was feeling a bit tight from the weeks, months and years I've spent sitting on my arse so I thought I'd give it a good old stretch to warm it up before I had to sit on my arse and eat food for an hour.

Here I am, on the starting blocks of McDonald's, AKA the queue. My mind is awash with nerves, but also excitement. The thrill of the competition is only moments away. I've been building up to this point since basically this morning when I had the idea to eat over 8,000 calories in one sitting, so you can imagine just how thrilled I am to finally get my chance to shine on the big stage, AKA the McDonalds on the roundabout off the A146 in Beccles, Suffolk.

Here we are sports fans. The Big One, The Main Event, The Local Derby, The Guy Eating Lots Of Food Against His Better Judgement, you know, all of the sporting terminologies for a big match, and they don't come bigger than this stack of food that is so massive I literally can barely see over the top of it. That look you see in my eyes? No, it isn't dread, fear, or a burning desire to go back to a normal office job where they didn't make me do this to myself in the pursuit of clicks, that look is a pure and unadulterated PASSION to WIN and BE THE BEST.

The money shot. As in the £42.12 of money shot. Six large fries, 40 chicken nuggets with shitloads of salsa dips, a hamburger and three quarter pounders because I ordered two hamburgers and two quarter pounders but the lady at the counter got it wrong and I was too embarrassed to correct her, two chicken sandwiches, a Big Mac, strawberry milkshake and because they didn't have brownies I got two chocolate muffins instead because fucking hell guys give me a chance to see past the age of 30 here. Oh yeah I got a bottle of water as well because I was about to get through more salt than an Alaskan driveway.

First things first, amateurs. Fries, especially when you have six large versions of them, are meant to be used as a condiment in all burgers. In fact all potato should be used to further the satisfyingly bland crunchiness of any sandwich. Crisps in a ham and cheese sarnie? Yes. Chips in a chip butty? Well, that's why they call it a fucking chip butty and not just a butty, you heathen. And so to speed up the process of eating all this food I dashed a load of fries in the hamburger and plowed in. This is how Olympians eat.

I'd started to work my way through a few of the McNuggets by this point, and decided it was time to take on the Big Mac. I was feeling pretty darn good at this stage I have to say. Eating McDonald's is kind of like doing cocaine, really. You do some and at first you feel fucking great, excitable, buoyant and almost relieved in a weird way, most likely because you're addicted to it, that one small bump has forever rewired your brain. But then after a while that all dies down and you start feeling hollow, empty and wondering why the fuck you just spent £42.12 on a multitude of food based recreational drugs. Is it possible to prang out on McNuggets? Because I think I was pranging out on McNuggets.

Twenty minutes in and I was three portions of chips down, a chicken burger halfway through, some nuggets taken out, a hamburger, a Big Mac and a quarter pounder nowhere to be seen. Yes, I had salsa splodges around my mouth, but goddammit I was feeling proud of myself at this point. Only two Muffins, 25 or so nuggets, two quarter pounders, chicken burger, milkshake and bottle of water to go to get my gold medal for being absolutely terrible at being alive.

I don't know if you've ever tried to eat 40 chicken nuggets before, but let me tell you, it puts you into a pretty introspective place. Here I am, quietly reflecting on the nature of the nugget. The tiny, humble Chicken McNugget. With its soft, bready coating, smooth white chicken-based interior and shape that is oh so inviting to dip into the variety of sauces available to me, the average fast food athlete that I am. I wonder what this nugget would say to me if it could talk? I wonder what things it's seen, what wonders of the McDonald's world it has been through get to me, sitting at this table that lies so neatly off the A146 roundabout in Beccles, Suffolk? I don't know, but I'm starting to think that I'm basically rushing my nuts off from this absolute bombardment of imperiously high GI foods.

Maybe it's time to cool off. Maybe it's time to relax, unwind and just chill with the jubilant flavours of a strawberry milkshake. And, because my throat was feeling more salty than an episode of America's Next Top Model, I doubled up with some refreshing water, because although I wasn't timed for this challenge in any way, I could start to feel the drawbridge of fullness close its sturdy wooden door on me and I needed to act fast if I was going to pack this all in like a true Olympian.


I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to all my fans around the world. I gave it my best, but my best just wasn't good enough this time. My opponent was too big, too strong and too salty. I can't explain what I feel like right now. Regret, yes, certainly, I feel like I've let everybody down. Shame? Well, not so much because I gave it my all but it just wasn't good enough and I take my hat off to my opponent because they put up a great fight and have a wonderful career ahead of them. But I guess the overwhelming thing I feel right now is that weird sensation you get when you eat loads of McDonald's and you are both simultaneously full and yet also extremely hollow and sick at the same time.

BUT HOLD THE PHONE FOLKS, THEY GAVE ME A GOLD MEDAL (yellow balloon)! MAYBE THOSE 6018 CALORIES (Big Mac = 508 cal, Quarter Pounder = 518 x 2 = 1036 cal, Hamburger = 250 cal, Chicken Burger = 388 cal, 20 chicken nuggets = 863 cal, Large Fries = 444 x 5 = 2220 cal, Chocolate Mcmuffin = 515 cal, Strawberry Milkshake = 488 cal) WERE ACTUALLY WORTH IT IN THE END!

Yes... the sweet feeling of... victory... I... feel great, elated... gold medal, yellow balloon... Olympic spirit coursing through my arteries... fries, nuggets, muffins... cold... shaking, so alone now... leave me here... I'm no use to you anymore... just leave, go on without me... just me and my medal, here, here, A146, Beccles... it's just me, my medal and the Olympic spirit, waiting for eternal sleep...


More stuff from VICE:

I Doubled My Heart Rate Drinking the Three Most Sugary Drinks On the High Street

Eating Dirty With Ruby Tandoh: McDonald's

Getting Myself McFired

Rio 2016
Vice Blog