TODAY   |  January 06, 2014

Man loses nearly 40 lbs. eating only McDonald’s

John Cisna, a 54-year-old science teacher from Iowa, says he lost almost 40 pounds eating nothing but food from McDonald’s for 90 days. Cisna stops by TODAY to talk about his journey and explain why he decided to embark on the diet.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> question, could you eat mcdonald 's all day, every day? well, morgan sperlock tried it in his documentary.

>> now a decade later, another man has given it a shot with drastically different results. he actually lost weight. and we're going to talk to him in a moment. but first, part of his documented journey.

>> one of the alarming statistics that has risen its ugly head is obesity and weight problems.

>> john sizna embarked on an experiment.

>> we're going to try to replicate the super size me documentary only the opposite.

>> he walked 45 minutes a day and followed a strict 2,000 calorie diet using the recommended daily allowances for ca carbohydrates, sugar and fat. all the meals had to be from mcdonald 's.

>> anything we might need to make changes with?

>> his students planned his meals and his local mcdonald 's donated the food. the results might surprise you. john says he lost 4 inches on his hips and 7 on his stomach. his cholesterol level went down from 249 to 170. as for his weight, john lost 37 pounds.

>> and john is with us now along with "today" contributor and registered dietitian joy bauer.

>> hi.

>> we'll talk about your meal choices in a second. 54 years old, started out at 280 pounds, but the big thing that jumped out to me, you started walking 45 minutes a day.

>> well, i did. what was challenging and surprising to me, when i started that first day, i thought i was going to die. i couldn't even walk 45 minutes carrying that 280 pounds. and as you can see, if i'd gotten any bigger, i would probably have to avoid harpoons.

>> well, you're getting a lot of attention because you ate strictly at mcdonald 's. not only did you lose weight , but your cholesterol level dropped. did that surprise you?

>> well, what was surprising in this. everyone's paying attention to the weight loss . that's not the big deal . i knew i was going to lose weight . math tells you, if you only eat 2,000 calories a day, your body has to use more than that to operate. i knew i was going to lose it. what came out really nice in this experiment was the blood levels . i was so concerned about it, we took my blood halfway through it and told the kids. now, even though i've lost like 20 pounds, if this blood level stuff doesn't come back good, we're pulling the plug.

>> i'm not surprised. if you lose weight and you're overweight to begin with, normally your cholesterol, your blood sugar , they will come down, too. and i think this isn't really the mcdonald 's diet. i think what he proved is it's not where you eat, it's what you eat. you eat less, move more, it comes off.

>> however, let's put off some of his menus here and give you an idea of the kinds of things that john was choosing every day. anything jump out at you here, joy?

>> well, diet coke in the morning for breakfast is not necessarily the greatest thing. the calories always maxed out at 2,000. which is great. because it encouraged weight loss . he went out of the way to pick things that were healthier when you consider what mcdonald 's offers. but one glaring red flag is the salt he was taking in on a day-to-day basis was more than double of what's recommended. that's worrisome.

>> i think this brings up the point that mcdonald 's and other fast food restaurants have more healthy options available than they had at the time of supersize me. but did you have the big mac ? did you go for the big calorie items?

>> that's a great point. because, yes, i did. in the last three to four weeks as you've seen from the menus, i did start eating big mac meals and quarter pounder meals. and the kids came up and said, we've got a problem. if you're going to eat these high-caloric sandwiches, we can't stay in the recommended daily announces of the 15 nutrients we're tracking. and i said, kids, that's where choice comes in. are you going to keep me at 2,000 calories? and are we going to jeopardize the health? or stay at the health and jeopardize the calories? and you'll find the last three weeks i wasn't able to eat 2,000 calories, it was 1,750 or 1,800. that was beautiful about the kids. they put these menus together.

>> first of all, i wish i had a teacher like you. you make it interesting. that's great. and you told joy after the segment here, you're hungry, you're going to find a mcdonald 's? really?

>> well, i'm on the second part of it. the first part is done, but it's going so well. one of the things i want to try differently is continue with the diet through march 15th but now do exercise of what i'm capable of doing. one of the neat things about the first 90 days is the fact that we have made this simple. not everybody can jog or lift weights, but everybody can walk.

>> here's what i would like for his second experiment. i want to show him how to do this with 2,000 calories a day with no fast food .

>> all right.

>> i think he'll feel markedly better.

>> we're going to catch up with you.