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The Paleo Diet – Misunderstood?


The Paleo Diet – Misunderstood?

For those of you that have adopted the paleo lifestyle, it’s pretty likely you’ve heard comments from a slew of naysayers. No cheese??! I could never live without cheese!! Or, how are you getting the right nutrition when you’re not eating some of the basic things they sell in the grocery store?!? It’s definitely a paradigm shift from the nutritional habits and education we received as kids. The food pyramid highlighted the importance of dairy and grains, and as such you probably had a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast before heading out to school each morning. This isn’t a discussion about cereal being bad, but it got me thinking about a diet ranking that came out a while back…and how unfortunately low they ranked paleo.

 It shocked me, but then I realized that it’s amazing what a lack of research or education can do…and then I found a blog post that took my thoughts and put pen to paper. The following is a post from CrossFit Southbay. It’s an interesting read and pretty much debunks U.S. New’s inaccurate diet ranking philosophy.  

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OK so I’m not the poster child for diet and nutrition, but I do have just a little common sense.

Seeing this article really pissed me off.  Mainly because it just doesn’t make sense.

So go read at your own risk….

This is a diet ranking by US News.  They looked at 20 different diets and ranked them.  I briefly perused this article; I didn’t plan on reading the whole thing because I already know the proper diet etc…. (Paleo – duh).

I was absolutely stunned though to see Paleo diet ranked dead last out of 20 different diets.  Then I had to go read the damn thing to see what they screwed up.

If you look at the detail behind the reviews there are 7 categories by which the diets were ranked.

  1. Short term weight loss
  2. Long term weight loss
  3. Easy to follow
  4. Nutrition
  5. Safety
  6. For Diabetes
  7. For Hearth Health.

 I’m not going to go into the detail for all of these categories and how Paleo was ranked.  I will touch on an overall theme and comment on category 4 nutrition.

 So in general Paleo scores poorly on all categories and the typical explanation cites lack of research.  Whether I agree or not (about the lack of research); I can see that as a semi valid explanation.  I don’t believe it’s a valid explanation for low rankings, but more for being skeptical.  If there really was such a lack of research and information perhaps they should have left Paleo off the list.  In other words If I put a tall, strong, fast 20 year old male in front of you and asked if he could play football I think acceptable answers would be:

  1. Looks good on paper so I assume he can
  2. I’ve never seen him play, therefore I’m not sure. (this is like citing lack of research)
  3. He sucks – not really acceptable answer, just a stab in the dark (which is what they did on this ranking)

OK so enough about the overall rankings, I want to focus on nutrition now.

Below is the explanation from the article for Paleo nutrition ranking.

“While its focus on veggies and lean meat is admirable, experts couldn’t get past the fact that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded on Paleo diets. “The risk of nutrient deficiency is real, unless the person takes a multivitamin,” one panelist commented. Here, its rating lagged a full two or more stars behind many other diets.”

After reading this I really wondered what in the hell “nutrition” is in grains that are superior to vegetables.

I’m mean that really sounds like a stupid statement.  I figure we can settle this pretty quickly so I went online and did a quick comparison.

  Unit Whole Wheat Bread (278 Calories) Broccoli (278 Calories) Difference
Fat g 5.4 2.78 -2.62
Cholesterol mg 0 0 0
Sodium mg 346 250.2 -95.8
Potassium mg 314 2502 2188
Total Carb g 51.4 52.264 0.864
Fiber g 6 19.46 13.46
Sugar g 3.84 13.344 9.504
Protein g 8.4 22.24 13.84
Vitamin A % 0 111.2 111.2
Vitamin C % 0 1167.6 1167.6
Calcium % 3 27.8 24.8
Iron % 17 27.8 10.8


So I compared calorie per calorie as I believe that’s a more relevant comparison than by serving size.

According to my quick check of the facts Broccoli blows whole wheat bread out of the water when it comes to nutrition.  It has less fat and sodium, then for everything else it has far more nutritional content.

 So let me wrap this up.  If you want to be skeptical about Paleo because you’re unfamiliar, don’t have information, cite lack of research……then fine.

Don’t try and tell me though that wheat bread is more nutritional than broccoli and I have to take a multivitamin, cuz now you just sound stupid.

(Source: CrossFit South, by Chris Harris)