This Is Why Warren Buffett Really Eats So Much Fast Food

Warren Buffett eats in a way few would consider healthy. "I am one quarter Coca-Cola," he joked at the Berkshire Annual General Meeting in 2016. Out of the 2,700 calories he consumes per day, 700 come from the fizzy drink. With each can, the body undergoes a sugar spike and then a crash. At the end of the day, Buffett's energy level plotted on a graph should look like a choppy wave. But the senior tycoon can work for 29 hours without a nap. He spends 80 percent of his time reading — he reads five newspapers daily — and spends eight hours a week playing bridge.

All this despite a high-sugar, high-sodium diet that includes ice cream, potato chips, peanut brittle, and copious amounts of fast food. The billionaire's company, Berkshire Hathaway, is Coca Cola's largest shareholder. He's also invested in See's Candies, McDonald's, and Dairy Queen, according to Forbes.

Buffett's love for fast food is thick as a DQ Blizzard. Nothing — not even a high-end gourmet luncheon — can change that. As part of his Asia tour in 2007, he was invited to a 12-course lunch that included exotic ingredients like sea urchin, native to the locale in China. Buffett didn't touch any of it; he was instead brought a cheeseburger (via CNBC). Buffett has his reasons for what he eats, and Mashed now knows what those are. Here's a look.

This is why Warren Buffett eats like a six-year-old

Warren Buffett's close friend, billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, says Buffett mostly subsists on a diet of hamburgers, ice cream, and Coke. Celebrating 25 years of their friendship in 2016, Gates wrote in his blog, Gates Notes, "One thing that was surprising to learn about Warren is that he has basically stuck to eating what he liked when he was six years old." He recalled a time when Buffett stayed at his and his wife Melinda Gates' house, and opened a package of Oreo cookies for breakfast. "Our kids immediately demanded they have some too. He may set a poor example for young people, but it's a diet that somehow works for him," Gates mused.

Yes, Buffett eats like a kindergartener whose parents are away. He downs three cans of Coke before leaving for work. For breakfast, he may have a bowl of ice cream, or Utz potato chips. Buffett's logic? "I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among 6-year-olds, so I decided to eat like a 6-year-old. It's the safest course I can take," he reasoned with Fortune (via The Washington Post).  

A few have tried to follow Buffett's diet, but they hardly felt any richer. A reporter at Business Insider who ate like Buffett for five days felt "food drunk", "bloated," and "awful." When Buffett says he has "some lucky genes," it's best to believe him.

Dairy Queen visits are part of Warren Buffett's family tradition

In between managing a $509 billion company (Berkshire Hathaway), Warren Buffett makes time for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "He could tell you everything about what they're all doing. He knows every one of those kids and he knows about their lives," Buffett's daughter Susie told People. Once a month, Buffett takes his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the fast food restaurant and soft-serve ice cream chain Dairy Queen.

"What I usually get is a small sundae for the ice cream and the extra large sundae for the topping," Buffett told Yahoo Finance. "I just smother in the cherry topping and then pour a lot of nuts on it," he said. Buffett also enjoys vanilla orange bars and vanilla soft-serve ice cream topped with chocolate syrup and malted milk powder.

Buffett's history with Dairy Queen goes back a long way. "Warren tells this story that, when he was young, he took a young lady to Dairy Queen. She had a great experience, and he said that if he ever had the opportunity, he would buy the business. So he did," John Gainor, then-Dairy Queen CEO, told Fox Business at the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder meeting in 2016. Berkshire Hathaway bought Dairy Queen for $585 million in 1997.

Warren Buffett gets free food at McDonald's

Warren Buffett told CNBC that he has a McDonald's card that allows him to eat for free at any of the fast food chain's Omaha restaurants. There's no expiration date on the gold card — not that it matters. Buffett's company has enough money to buy McDonald's outright (via Business Insider). But the very modest billionaire told CNBC that the card is the reason "why the Buffett family has Christmas dinner at McDonald's."

Buffett has always been careful in how he spends his money. He sticks to his hard-and-fast rule of investing: "Don't lose [money]." This involves saving every penny that can be saved, even if that means using coupons. In Bill and Melinda Gates' 2017 annual letter, Bill recounted a time when he and Buffett traveled to Hong Kong and Buffett whipped out coupons to pay at McDonald's.

Yes, Buffett seems to appreciate a good deal — no matter how small. The market's highs and lows even affect what he eats. In the documentary Becoming Warren Buffett, Buffett explained how he decides which of three breakfast options to order at McDonald's. "When I'm not feeling quite so prosperous, I might go with the $2.61, which is two sausage patties, and then I put them together and pour myself a Coke," he revealed (via CNBC) . He continued, saying, "$3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, but the market's down this morning, so I'll pass up the $3.17 and go with the $2.95."

Warren Buffett eats only that which makes him happy

Warren Buffett doesn't need much to keep him happy. He has been going to the same office for over half a century, residing in the same house that he purchased in 1958 (for $31,500). "I'm having a vacation every day. If there was someplace else I wanted to go, I'd go there. This is the pleasure palace here — you're sitting in it now. I have more fun here than I think any 88-year-old is having, virtually, in the world." he told Financial Times in 2019. What he eats, therefore, is also solely based on the happiness test.

"My diet, though far from standard, is somewhat better than usually portrayed. I have a wonderful doctor who nudges me in your direction every time I see him. All in all, I've enjoyed remarkably good health — largely because of genes, of course — but also, I think, because I enjoy life so much every day," he said (via CNBC).

Although Buffett may eat McDonald's every day, he sometimes eats at non-fast food restaurants. One of Buffett's favorite Omaha eateries is Gorat's Steakhouse, where he always orders the same thing: a salad with blue cheese, a 22-ounce T-bone steak with a double order of hash browns, and a tall glass of cherry Coke. 

Warren Buffett isn't a fan of vegetables

Cauliflower makes Warren Buffett sick and rhubarb makes him retch. He doesn't like sweet potatoes, but he will reluctantly nosh on some carrots. Buffett is vocal about his disdain for vegetables in the book The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. Buffett's biographer, Alice Schroeder, wrote, "He had despised everything green from birth, except money."

Buffett is quoted as having once told his chef, "Broccoli, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts look to me like Chinese food crawling around on a plate." As it turns out, the billionaire also had a particularly unique way in which he ate his meals. Schroeder wrote, "He ate his foods in sequence, one at a time, and did not like the individual foods to touch. If a stalk of broccoli brushed his steak, he recoiled in horror."

At the 50th annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders meeting in Omaha, he even took a dig at a popular grocery store for their vegan offerings. He said, "I don't see smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods" (via Daily Mail). Buffett's idea of a feast, as mentioned in Schroeder's book, doesn't go beyond a half-gallon of chocolate chip ice cream. "If somebody told me that I live a year longer by eating nothing but broccoli and asparagus from now on ... every day will seem ... long. I'll stick with the Cheetos and the Coke," he told CNBC in 2010.

Warren Buffett is not open to trying new foods

No matter which part of the world he travels to, Warren Buffett sticks with the meals he knows, usually a hamburger or a hotdog. In Buffett's biography, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, he is quoted as saying, "I like eating the same thing over and over and over again. I could eat a ham sandwich every day for fifty days in a row for breakfast."

Some have tried to change his deep-set ways. Buffett's first wife, Susan Thompson, in an attempt to broaden her husband's exposure to international cuisine, had them join a gourmet cooking club in which couples "dined on Swedish meatballs one month and French crêpes the next," Buffet: The making of an American Capitalist revealedBut Buffett would always ask the hostess to make him a hamburger.

CNBC's Becky Quick, who'd once traveled with Buffett to China and South Korea, learned that Buffett liked to travel, but did not like to try the local food. In her video diary, she said, "He made a joke and said that he'd eat anything that he ate at his fifth birthday party and that's about it. He likes hamburgers, he likes hot dogs, and he was pretty much dead set that he wasn't going to be eating much of the local cuisine."

Warren Buffett doesn't necessarily think he'd live longer if he gave up fast food

A Business Insider reporter attempted to try Buffett's diet and realized that by drinking soda like the billionaire, he was flooding his body with a whopping 252 grams of sugar per day, on an average. Note that the American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar (like that in soda) per day.

Buffett's diet is not just high in sugar. After having a meal with Buffett in 2014, the chief executive officer of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, commented on the amount of salt that Buffett generously showered on his food. Stumpf told Bloomberg"When the food comes, Warren grabs a salt shaker in his left hand and one in his right, and it's a snowstorm." Consuming too much salt can increase your blood pressure, and make you more prone to heart failure.

Buffett probably knows his diet is unhealthy, but he has no plans to discontinue it. "I elect to get my 2,600 or 2,700 calories a day from things that make me feel good when I eat them. I have not seen evidence that convinces me that it'll be more likely I reach 100 if I suddenly switched to water and broccoli," he revealed at his company's annual meeting in 2016 (via Bloomberg). Fair enough.