He calls himself McRunner. He often begins his day with an Egg McMuffin and a plate of hotcakes. And he has a love-hate relationship with the McRib sandwich.
His name is Joseph D'Amico and he is training for the March 20 Los Angeles Marathon on a diet comprised entirely of items found on the McDonald's menu.
"I'm not really trying to prove or disprove anything," said D'Amico, a Palatine resident for about six years. "It's an experiment of one. When I say challenge I mean challenge in the true sense of it. To myself it is a personal challenge."
D'Amico said he will only eat at McDonald's – anything on the menu – for the 30 days leading up to the marathon. So far he is 12 days in. D'Amico is tracking his progress on his website, mcrunner.com, counting how many hamburgers, hotcakes, salads, cookies and immense soft drinks he has consumed.
Surely this is a McDonald's ploy? Some sort of corporate response to Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me?" D'Amico said McDonald's has not contacted him and has no involvement with his McRunner effort.
"People don't believe it," D'Amico said with a laugh. "[But] I'm an independent agent."
Although D'Amico is eating at McDonald's every day, for every meal, he is not consuming a Big Mac each time. In fact, McRunner never has eaten a Big Mac. He has not even tried the Angus Deluxe.
"I'm going to explore the menu a little bit more," D'Amico said. "So really it was born out of 'I really like McDonald's and I really like running.' "
He eats hotcakes, usually, for breakfast. For dinner he said he often has a regular hamburger and a salad. He also said he eats chicken sandwiches – grilled not fried.
"The items [D'Amico] listed, those are the healthier items," said Kate Olson, a registered dietian with Advocate Good Shephard Hospital in Barrington.
Olson said the regular hamburger has less fat than some of the larger burgers at McDonald's. And a grilled chicken sandwich has less fat content than a fried sandwich.
Olson said the bigger concern would be menu items lacking in fiber and complex carbohydrates, such as the larger sandwiches. Weight gain should not be an issue. Unlike most McDonald's regulars D'Amico is running about 100 miles a week.
D'Amico ran track and cross country at Oak Forest High School.
After college, he started running again and ran his first marathon in 1998. D'Amico said he has run about 14 marathons, most have been in Chicago, but he also has run the Boston and New York marathons.
His goal for L.A. is to top his personal best time: two hours, 36 minutes – a pace below six minutes a mile.
Is D'Amico promoting an unhealthy diet?
"I think even those who avoid McDonald's every day are susceptible [to obesity]," D'Amico said. "I walk around Whole Foods and people don't look a heckuva a lot more different than they look when I look around McDonald's."
He said he believes that life is about choices.
"If you make good choices and better choices more often than not, you're going to have good results," D'Amico said. "There's diet, there's exercise, there's stress. There's a lot of things. That's something I try to tell people to keep in mind. Don't focus on one aspect look at things as a whole."