(Cartoon by Mike Lynch. Used with permission)
The Paleo lifestyle is getting BIG and so is the market for ‘’Paleo” convenience foods and snacks. There are paleo bars, paleo treats, paleo cookies, paleo granola – you name it. Now granted, I wasn’t around to know for sure but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Paleolithic man did not have the luxury of rolling into 7-11 and grabbing a quick snack. We’ve got it easy compared to our ancestors and while, for the most part, that’s a good thing it can lead to some major problems.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received food logs that look something like this:
Breakfast: Paleo Pancakes (made with coconut flour), Almond Butter (on top of pancakes), Bacon
Lunch: Salad with chicken, dried cranberries, walnuts and balsamic dressing
Dessert: Paleo cookie
Snack: Coconut water, Paleo energy bar or paleo banana bread, Handful of almonds
Dinner: Steak, Sweet Potato with butter, Broccoli
Dessert: Paleo brownie
Okay, so yep, this person is eating a seemingly paleo friendly diet – but he or she is likely not seeing earth shattering results. Why? Well, like they say – “You can paint a turd gold, but it’s still a turd.” A cookie is always a cookie, a pancake is always a pancake, and sugar (whether it be honey, agave, or coconut nectar/sugar) is still sugar; and the body is going to treat it as such. Now, don’t get me wrong, ingredients matter too – gluten, dairy, and soy free are important, and it’s perfectly okay to indulge and enjoy a ‘treat’ – sometimes. The problem comes in justifying a paleo snack or sweet as a daily, totally innocent (like meat and vegetables) food, while expecting to see major body composition and/or health improvements. Nutrient density matters. Steak and vegetables are going to do a lot more for you nutritionally than any bar, cookie or ‘healthy’ paleo treat.
To help drive this point home below are the nutrition fact labels of two food items. One of them has ‘paleo’ printed on the label and the other doesn’t. And yes, the ingredients in one are much purer, but from a nutritional standpoint is one really that much better than the other? And can you figure out which is which?
|Product #1||Product #2|
|Serving Size||50.7 grams||56 grams|
|Total Fat (grams)||12 g||14 g|
|Saturated Fat (grams)||9 g||1 g|
|Cholesterol (mg)||5 mg||0 mg|
|Sodium (mg)||100 mg||0 mg|
|Total Carbohydrate (grams)||33 g||30 g|
|Fiber (grams)||1 g||2 g|
|Sugar (grams)||24 g||26 g|
|Protein (grams)||2 g||6 g|
|Vitamin A (% Daily Value)||0%||0%|
|Vitamin C (% Daily Value)||0%||0%|
|Calcium (%Daily Value)||4%||2%|
|Iron (% Daily Value)||2%||4%|
So here’s the take-home message – 80 to 90 percent of the time eat the good stuff: meats, vegetables, good fats, some fresh fruit. Reserve (paleo or otherwise) pancakes, cookies, bars, etc, for times of indulgence and don’t be fooled by the seemingly innocent appearance of a ‘paleo’ treat. Gold turds will do you no favors!
** Product #1 = Twix Bar**
**Product #2 = Paleo Cookie**