Standard American Diet (SAD)

The Standard American Diet

Why was this diet created?

The Standard American Diet is the joke name for what is semi-officially called the Western Pattern Diet, but the acronym WPD is neither as funny nor as accurate as SAD.  Now why was it created?  The Standard American Diet began to form after WWII, when the hundred year old process of canning and the new techniques in food processing started filling grocer’s shelves with items that had longer shelf lives and lower costs than fresh foods.  It is far cheaper to process foods in bulk, remove nutrients that may cause them to spoil faster, load them with salt and sugar so that they last longer, then stick them in storage somewhere until they reach the shelf or drive-through you buy them at.  Compared to the cost of having to deliver fresh, nutritional food to you within a few days of harvesting?  It’s a no brainer for corporations.

What will you be craving because of deficiencies?

Everything.  A lot has been said about how Americans eat far too many calories, yet we still get hungry at meal time, and crave snacks in between.  Why is this?  Buckle up.  This may take a while.

Well, the SAD can be broken down like so.  63% of all of our nutrition comes from processed foods.  These foods have had their nutrients stripped out of them to extend their shelf life, and salt and sugar are added in order to make them more addictive, make you hungry more often, and extend their shelf life even more.  A further 25% comes from meat, the vast majority of which is beef and chicken.  Beef is loaded with saturated fat, which your body does not really need (or want) and is not as filling as good fats.  Additionally, beef is low on useful proteins compared to most other meats.  Chicken, on the other hand, is a good (but not great) source of protein, but is a terrible source of minerals and other micronutrients.  That skin is also loaded with saturated fat.

So that’s 88% of our diets that aren’t providing much in the way of healthy nutrition.  Then there’s that last 12%, which comes from plant-based sources like vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.  12% is a pretty SAD number, but it gets even more depressing when you know that half of that comes from French fries.  Yes, a whopping 6% of our diets comes from trans and saturated fat loaded French fries, a portion equal to all of what we get from healthful plant sources.

The result of this absurdly lopsided diet is that we get plenty of calories, but none of the nutrients we need to burn those calories, such as B-Complex vitamins, L-Carnitine, and Chromium.  A lot of wood for the fire, but almost no oxygen.  So we crave more and more food.  After all, it’s also far more cost effective for corporations to provide you with food that keeps you hungry.

To illustrate just how lacking the SAD is, I went to a certain popular fast food restaurant’s website.  To avoid any sort of trademark infringement we’ll call them McDowell’s.  There they have a tool to build a meal, and see what the nutritional facts of that meal are.  So I added a few standard items to the meal.  I’ll call the hamburger a Big Mick Burger.  Then I added a large drink that we’ll pretend was called Dr. Soda.  Finally, I added a large fry.  The results?

1340 Calories, which is 67% of the recommended amount (2000 KCal) for a lightly active person to maintain their weight.  That’s two meals for the price of one!  So why don’t you feel like skipping dinner after you’ve had this meal for lunch? You may think it’s because our bodies are used to overeating, but surprisingly, that’s not why.  Let’s dig a little deeper into these nutrition facts to get at the real answer.

Saturated Fat:

13 grams (66% DV)

Dietary Fiber:

9g (37% DV)

Trans Fat:

1.0g

Vitamin A:

510.0IU (10% DV)

Cholesterol:

80.0mg (26% DV)

Vitamin C:

119.0mg (30% DV)

Sodium:

1390.0mg (58% DV)

Calcium:

170.0mg (15% DV)

Sugars:

87.0g

Iron:

5.5mg (30% DV)

 

When looking at saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium levels, bare in mind that the percentages here are the maximum recommended amounts, not the minimum like with other nutrients.  This is something that should be noted on nutritional labels, but never is.

So in one meal, you’ve achieved two thirds of the maximum amount of the bad cholesterol building saturated fat.  There is also 1 gram of trans fat, and the reason there is no DV % for this is that your goal for each day should be to eat close to zero grams of trans fat.  As little as possible.  It’s what we call “partially hydrogenated oils” like margarine.  Unlike saturated fat, which only raises your bad cholesterol, this trans fat stuff raises your bad cholesterol and lowers your good cholesterol without serving any helpful purpose.  Rather than a nutrient, it would be more accurate to call trans fat a slow acting poison that pushes you closer and closer to developing heart disease.  Really nasty stuff, but it’s cheaper to make than butter, has a longer shelf life, and margarine had some great advertising campaigns in the 80s and 90s that led people to believe it was a healthy alternative.  So you see this in a lot of processed foods.

We’re not going to worry about the cholesterol, because it’s not as bad for you as most people fear.  Cholesterol is a wax-like substance made from a combination of protein and fatty acids, which makes it very hard for the body to absorb.  In fact, only about a third of the world’s population is capable of digesting and absorbing a significant amount of cholesterol.  The cholesterol in our bodies is made in our own livers from the fats that we eat.  Even for the minority who can absorb cholesterol, it’s not as important to watch as saturated and trans fat.  Note that cholesterol is almost always in milligrams, while saturated fat and trans fat are measured in grams.  If we do the conversion, this burger meal has 0.08 grams of cholesterol, compared to 13 grams of saturated fat.  That’s 162.5 times more saturated fat than the stuff misinformed news reporters tell you to avoid.  So maybe next time, ditch the egg white, and eat a much healthier real egg.

Over half of the day’s sodium in one meal, which can not only lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), but has also been linked to increased inflammation in the body, and an increase in auto-immune disorders.  Sodium is needed by your body, but not in the amounts that we tend to use.  Everything in moderation!  Try to stay between 1000 and 2000 mg per day.

Then the 87 grams of sugar means that this burger has 348 calories in raw sugar alone.  That’s almost as many calories in pure, micronutrient-free sugar as I eat in a single meal (granted, I eat 4 or 5 small meals a day, which is uncommon).  You wouldn’t pour 43.5 sugar packets into your morning coffee, so why would you want all of that in your value meal?

Finally, though, we’ve gotten to the healthy nutrients.  Fiber is a great thing to have in your diet, but not because of its nutritional value.  Fiber helps clean out your digestive tract, and can reduce cholesterol levels.  This meal has a good amount of fiber, at 37% of the recommended intake.  Unfortunately that’s only half as much as it has saturated fat, which completely offsets the benefits of the fiber.  For the micronutrients, let’s do the math.  In a single meal that contain two thirds of the recommended calories per day, this provides 10% of your Vitamin A, 30% Vitamin C, 15% Calcium, and 30% of your iron requirement.  Taking the lowest of the listed nutrients, you would neat to eat this same meal 10 times per day to get the minimum recommended amount of vitamin A.  That would be 13,400 calories, or 6.7 times the recommended amount to maintain your current weight.  By the way, that would also mean eating the equivalent of 435  sugar packets.  These nutritional facts don’t even list other vital nutrients, like B-Complex, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, any minerals, or the healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

So it seems we have found our culprit.  Is it any wonder that we can eat the equivalent of two meals worth of calories in one sitting, and still want a snack after dinner?  Your body is begging for more nutrition, but it doesn’t know any way to tell you other than making you hungry.  Satisfying your hunger with a fast food burger is like you’re gasping for breath, and keep trying to fix the problem by inhaling helium.

Which nutrient deficiencies will cause your cravings?

Calcium is a strange one, because so much of our milk is fortified with it that you would think we are getting enough.  However, not all dairy products are fortified.  Cheeses, for instance, usually are not.  We could get a lot of calcium from green, leafy vegetables, but we don’t eat nearly enough of those.  Recommended Product: Osteo-CalMag will help you absorb the calcium you do eat, and you should add more green, leafy vegetables, too!

Magnesium tends to go hand in hand with calcium, as they often come from the same sources.  Recommended Products:  They also have the same solution in Osteo-CalMag and expanding your diet.

Vitamin A  Best known for good eye health, vitamin A comes from carotenes, which are the things that give carrots and sweet potatoes their color.  Recommended Products:  Multiple.

B-Complex vitamins are a mixed bag in the SAD.  Some, like folate, are fortified in processed foods.  This means that after the foods have been stripped of their natural nutritional value, some vitamins are added back in.  You are supplementing some B vitamins and you don’t even know it.  Some… but not all.  In fact, B5 (Pantothenic Acid), and B7 (Biotin) are tragically low in the average diet.  With the large amount of meat that we consume, we get enough B12 for children and young adults, but as we get older it becomes more difficult to absorb, and more essential to supplement with. The real danger here is that even if you are getting good amounts of most B vitamins, none of them work as well unless you have all of them.  Recommended Products: B12, Biotin Plus, BSlim Boost or Slender Mist Chocolate Fudge (or Slender Mist Berry Supreme).

Vitamin C Citrus is just a squeeze away, but we still don’t get enough vitamin C in our diets.  Don’t get me wrong, most people aren’t at risk of contracting scurvy.  The situation isn’t that desperate, but it’s not exactly great, either.  Recommended Products: C+Zinc has the bonus benefit of supplementing your zinc intake, which also tends to be low.

Vitamin E The biggest dietary sources of this wonderful, fat soluble antioxidant are nuts and seeds, which the average person only snacks on rarely.  Even when they do, they tend to drown them in salt.  Recommended Products: E+Selenium, which like with Zinc, has the bonus benefit of supplementing your selenium intake.  Another mineral you are in short supply of.

Fiber is not your typical nutrient.  There are two varieties, soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber comes from oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. This is the type that may help lower your risk of heart disease. Insoluble fiber comes from wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains, and is not absorbed by your body.  Instead it makes its way through you, cleaning out your digestive tract and aiding in the regularity of your bowel movements.  Both are important, and both are severely lacking in the SAD.  Recommended Products: CardioMax contains some soluble fiber to aid in heart health, but the real answer is to expand the whole grains, vegetables, nutes, beans, and lentils in your diet!

Chromium is vital for maintaining your blood sugar levels.  We don’t need very much of it to be healthy, but shockingly tend to get far less than we need.  Recommended Products: BSlim Boost and Slender Mist Chocolate Fudge (or Slender Mist Berry Supreme)

Standard American Diet Booster Pack

Omega-3's and Omega-6's Are most commonly found in fatty fish, but since fried cod and fish-sticks don't count, most people get very little of these heart healthy fats.  Recommended Products: Omega.

Trace Minerals tend to be lacking even in diets with a moderate amount of vegetables, due to soil depletion.  So you can imagine just how desperate the average person is for them with only 6% of their diets coming from vegetables.  Recommended Product: Minerals.

Standard American Diet Booster Pack

This package is loaded with eveything you need to keep your diet the same, and still get the nutrients you need.  It contains MultipleMineralsB12C+ZincBiotin PlusE+SeleniumOsteo-CalMagBSlim BoostSlender Mist Chocolate FudgeCardioMax, and Omega, all for 20% off the cost of purchasing them individually!

If you still find the sheer number of supplements you would need shocking, and cost prohibitive, another alternative would be to eat fresh food, instead of processed food!  Check out our Top Diets page for great alternative.  The Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Plan are some of the healthiest and tastiest out there.

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