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Yearning for fast food? Try the caveman approach

Power Crunch gets expert feedback on a different workout routine every week. This week, George Cohon, founder of McDonald's Restaurants of Canada, shares his exercise regimen.

Founder of McDonald's Restaurants of Canada and McDonald's in Russia, George Cohon enjoys a health-conscious lifestyle in Toronto and Palm Beach, Fla. This septuagenarian credits consistent, varied exercise for his longevity and success in business.


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"To stay healthy and keep in shape. To do that, you have to keep exercising on a regular basis."


"I ride my bike two to three times a week," Mr. Cohon says. And each outing lasts about an hour. "When in Toronto, I ride the Martin Goodman Trail along the bottom of the city or [at other times]it might be the Niagara Escarpment. I'm in Palm Beach and [recently]rode 18 miles. ... But riding is different in Palm Beach. It's flat."

"I play golf twice a week. I like swimming, too."

"I also play tennis twice a week, more when I'm in Florida. I play competitive doubles. At my club, I was the men's singles runner-up and winner of the seniors' doubles."

"I never like running. I walk a lot with my golden retriever. I'm the co-chair of Toronto's Santa Claus Parade and I walk the whole five-kilometre route."


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"I flunked retirement. I travel a lot. In Toronto, I'm at the office every day, but it's important to me to have a healthy lifestyle and that's a combination of exercising often and the foods you eat.

"I eat at McDonald's a couple of times a week. There are all kinds of choices now. ... After my [18-mile Palm Beach]ride, I had a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, salad and a bottle of water, but I didn't eat the bread. It's a protein platter."


"To be in good shape," Mr. Cohon says. "Once you stop [exercising] you stop being active and you give up. Your health suffers. It's important to exercise. I've been consistent. My weight has been the same for 40 to 50 years."

Active living runs in the family. "My kids exercise. My son, who is the Canadian Football League commissioner, he exercises. My wife exercises. My grandson plays tennis and he's good. By the time he's 12, he'll be winning a set or two."


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"I have a Cannondale - great bike - and I have a portable radio on it. In Toronto, I dial in CFRB or jazz, or [National Public Radio]in Florida. It's a good listen."


"You might say I get bored," Mr. Cohon says. The hardest thing, he says, is "to stay focused and not let [a fitness routine]slide away from you.

"I love variety. It prevents boredom. I [recently]rode to the ocean and along the beach where there were boats and lots of people and activity to keep my interest and make the ride even more enjoyable," he says.

"I used to do hills. Well, you don't do that so much at my age any more, so you find another route."


Eat more carbs

According to Charles Poliquin, a Rhode Island-based strength coach and nutrition expert, Mr. Cohon leads an exceptionally active lifestyle for an individual of any age. However, his low-carb diet needs to be changed to meet athletic demands.

"A bun-less cheeseburger is not exactly the best way to refuel postexercise," Mr. Poliquin says. "Meat and cheese won't promote rapid recovery."

If Mr. Cohon wants to maintain his energy and boost his performance for the next bout of endurance exercise, Mr. Poliquin recommends that he drink a smoothie of apricot juice and whey protein concentrate, postworkout nourishment with carbohydrates that will quickly restore glycogen levels.

Portion distortion

Mr. Poliquin, who has designed training plans and diet strategies for Olympic medalists and world-record holders in 23 sports, says Mr. Cohon's choice of a salad instead of supersized French fries is a smart selection.

"McDonald's has been trying to improve its image in recent years, hiring medical experts such as Dr. Dean Ornish, and promoting the health virtues of mandarin oranges, almonds and soy," Mr. Poliquin said. "Where will you find those ingredients at McDonald's? In a salad."

Even with fitter fare, Mr. Cohon is mindful of his portion sizes and salad dressings, where fat and calories are found, Mr. Poliquin adds.

Hydration helper

Mr. Poliquin says that by drinking water instead of soda pop, Mr. Cohon benefits from proper hydration without adding empty calories. He also offers instruction on a simple way for Mr. Cohon to make future diet decisions. "Ask yourself this question: Could a caveman have access to this food? Grilled chicken on a salad. Yes. McNuggets, French fries, a chocolate shake and an apple pie? No."

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