Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paleo Lifestyle vs. Typical Western Diet Nutritional Throwdown

It's frequently assumed that because I follow a Paleo lifestyle that I'll be devoid of all these vitamins and minerals simply because I don't eat grains, dairy, or sugar.  That really couldn't be further from the truth.  I'm going to lift an excerpt from Loren Cordain's Book for this.  Let's take a typical Paleo day vs. a typical Western diet day.  This is an example using a 25 year old woman.  Out of a typical 2,200 calorie day (the US Recommended daily allowance, or RDA) half of her calories are coming from plant sources, and half from animal, all able to be found at your local grocery store.

Typical Paleo Lifestyle day:

Breakfast:  1/2 a cantaloupe, and a 12oz portion of Atlantic Salmon.

Lunch:  Shrimp and spinach/vegetable salad.  Specifically, seven large shrimp, three cups raw spinach leaves, one shredded carrot, one sliced cucumber, two diced tomatoes, and a lemon juice/olive oil/spice dressing.

Dinner:  Two lean pork chops, two cups steamed broccoli, and a tossed green salad consisting of two cups romaine lettuce, a half cup of diced tomatoes, a quarter cup of sliced purple onions, half an avocado, and lemon juice dressing.

Dessert:  Half a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries and a quarter cup of slivered almonds.

Snack:  Cold pork chop

Not too weird eh?  Yes, the salmon for breakfast is a strange choice, but that's not the only thing you can eat for breakfast obviously.  Now let's have a look at the Western Diet choices we're stacking this against:

Typical Western Diet day:

Breakfast:  Danish pastry and two cups of cornflakes with eight ounces whole milk topped with a teaspoon of sugar.  She washes it down with a cup of coffee containing a tablespoon of cream and a teaspoon of sugar.  Due to all the refined carbs consumed for breakfast, her blood sugar level plummets and she's hungry again by mid morning, so in goes a glazed doughnut and another cup of coffee as described above.

Lunch:  Hits McDonald's for lunch and grabs a Quarter Pounder, small fry, and a 12 ounce cola.

Dinner:  Two slices of cheese pizza and a small iceberg lettuce salad with a half a tomato and two tablespoons of thousand island dressing.  This is accompanied by a 12 ounce lemon-lime soda.

Now seriously... people are worried about *my* nutritional intake when that's a very real picture of an average American's daily diet?  I fully realize this isn't necessarily a fair fight, but again, we're looking at the average diet for a follower of a Paleo lifestyle and the average diet of a typical American.  But for giggles, let's look at the comparison.  These will be the percentages of the RDA for each nutrient:

Water Soluable Vitamins:

Thiamin (B1):  Paleo 417%, Western 95%
Riboflavin (B2):  Paleo 281%, Western 87%
Niacin (B3):  Paleo 374%, Western 73%
Pyridoxine (B6):  Paleo 369%, Western 20%
Cobalamin (B12):  Paleo 513%, Western 88%
Vitamin C:  Paleo 932%, Western 51%

Fat Soluable Vitamins:

Vitamin A:  Paleo 858%, Western 53%
Vitamin D:  Western 63%, Paleo 0%
Vitamin E:  Paleo 331%, Western 34%
Vitamin K:  Paleo 1,454%, Western 80%

Macro Minerals:

Calcium:  Paleo 111%, Western 111%
Phosphorus:  Paleo 289%, Western 115%
Magnesium:  Paleo 245%, Western 46%

Trace Minerals:

Iron:  Paleo 143%, Western 68%
Zinc:  Paleo 165%, Western 33%

There are a few items that there is no RDA for, but they're really important!  They are:

Omega 3 fats:  Paleo 6.7 grams, Western 1 gram
Dietary Fiber:  Paleo 47 grams, Western 8 grams
Sodium:  Paleo 813 milligrams, Western 2,943 milligrams
Potassium:  Paleo 8.5 grams, Western 2.1 grams

I've included only vitamins and minerals people would consider "common" even though the book gives many more.  I've not omitted anything where Paleo would have been an inferior dietary choice.  As you can see, there is only one listed where the Western example is better than Paleo, and only one where they are equal.  

Again, this is just an example provided in the book.  I may create my own example of a real day of my eating at some point against what I believe most people would consider a "Healthy" day of eating for the average American.

So I hope this puts to rest any fears of my lack of nutrition due to the omission of grains, dairy, and sugar from my diet!

No comments:

Post a Comment