Best & Worst Foods on the Campaign Trail

Election season is a marathon. So why do most politicians have the diet of a couch potato? "They should be eating like athletes, for physical and mental strength," advises Ruth Frechman, RD, CPT, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That means stocking up on lean proteins for energy, fiber to regulate a metabolism thrown off by grueling schedules, and low sodium food to keep blood pressure down. Unfortunately, the four main players in this presidential election don’t always get it right. Recently, the team looked at how Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and their running mates are chewing up the campaign trail. Let's just say that, at this rate, none of them will be their fittest for the White House come November. 


Hot Dogs

At the Hot Dog Shoppe in Warren, Ohio, GOP veep hopeful Paul Ryan scarfed down at least 1,000 calories in one quick lunch stop. His major offense wasn't the hot dog with sauerkraut (which can be a good source of calcium, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium), but the chili cheese fries. “There are a lot of oil calories and the sodium is off the charts,” says Frechman. The fastest way to burn off those calories? High-intensity metabolic training—i.e., workouts that burn fat, build muscle, and boost your metabolism. Check out our Speed Shred program, which will help you build the body you've always wanted in just 90 minutes a week!

Ice Cream

With so many stops in warm-weather cities during the long summer, it's understandable to seek out ice cream to cool off. Here, Obama digs into a scoop of mint chocolate chip and waffle cone outside Deb’s Ice Cream and Deli in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Fechman says a snack like this in moderation is fine, as long as the president knows when he's full: “Always listen to your hunger cues and stop eating when you feel satisfied.”

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Vice President Joe Biden is known more for putting his foot in his mouth than anything else. But here he is at Pat’s Steaks in Philadelphia, ordering a “Whiz, widout” (a sandwich with Cheese Whiz and without onions). That probably cost him at least 690 calories, not including the Cheese Whiz (the Kraft variety has 45 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per tablespoon). Biden reportedly skipped the hot peppers, which is a shame: Recent research shows that a compound called capsaicinoids found in spicy foods can help protect against heart disease.

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Corn Dogs

The wealthy Romney has struggled with his “every man” image, so we get why he wouldn’t mind a photo op like this, munching on a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair. The downside? Most corn dogs have extremely high sodium and fat content. One way to improve the meal, says Fechman, is to use low-fat, nitrate-free meat and bake it, instead of dumping it in a frying pan.

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Michelle Obama has long been an advocate of organic and healthy food choices for children—and that passion has influenced her husband. In August, the White House hosted the first-ever Kids State Dinner, with a menu consisting of dishes created by America’s top junior chefs. On the menu: cabbage Sloppy Joes, baked zucchini fries, fruit skewers, and kale—all great sources of vitamins and nutrients. For Barack Obama, who dropped by to sample the fare, that meant a nice respite from the usual fatty food he finds on the road.

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Ah, that’s more like it, Mitt! After indulging on corn dogs, pancakes, and other dubious food choices, the GOP presidential hopeful stopped by Subway, which tops our list of The Best Restaurants In America thanks to its effort to cut sodium by 15 to 30 percent across the menu. It appears as if Romney opted for one of Subways’ breakfast options during a morning meal run. The regular bacon, egg, and cheese has 200 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat—but also 23 grams of energy-boosting protein.


Nectarines are a great source of immune-boosting vitamin C, which is essential for politicians like Obama who often operate on little sleep. (At the height of cold season, that could compromise his immune system by as much as 50 percent). “Most Americans don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, but these guys might want to start setting a good example for the country,” says Fechman. Speaking of great examples of health and fitness, find out which of the candidates made our list of The 25 Fittest Men in Politics!


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