Is McDonalds Paleo?

by (5002) Updated April 21, 2013 at 5:15 AM Created May 03, 2011 at 1:26 AM

The short answer is obviously No. However, I want to see what people think about a McDonalds hack that I've been implementing.

I order 3 McDoubles plain (ie no sauce) and only eat the cheese and meat, which sums to 3 slices of cheese and 6 patties.

The good: 100% beef, ~60g protein, minimal to no additives, only salt and pepper seasoning, no msg

The bad: CAFO meat (no n-3), sterilized w ammonia (all cooked off though, protects against e coli)

Well, Paleohackers, what do you think?

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19 Replies

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3244 · May 03, 2011 at 1:52 AM

Ha! You just described my "Damn I didn't bring enough food to work, I'm starving, and have $5 in my wallet" meal. I order 3 double burgers, plain, no cheese and throw the buns away. I do this after the gym maybe twice a month.

Is it paleo? It is what it is.

EDIT (Comment box not big enough).

Whoa...hang on everyone. I get it - McDonald's is baaaad and I know it's not good food. I'm not defending McD's or suggesting you should eat it. I'm simply being open about the fact that I'm human and sometimes make less-than-optimal choices. I admire you if you've found a way to live your life with perfect integrity and without contradiction - I haven't, and am quite OK with it. I'm not poor, nor do I lack a range of other healthy choices - I just sometimes WANT a greasy McBurger, fully accepting all of the consequences (physically, socially, economically) and forgiving myself immediately. Eating a burger or two is pretty low on my rap sheet: I bike to work but sometimes drive because I'm tired; I buy local, but sometimes the thing I want is at Walmart (yes...I go); I'm a social justice peacenik who loves the UFC (GSP would have taken him out, but he couldn't see for chrissake).

Look...if you live in North America, your life is an ethical contradiction. We're only able to philosophize about whether or not a burger is paleo because we live daily off the backs of the world's poor. I don't want it to be that way, but I've failed to live as a zero-impact ascetic. If you feel strongly about the ethics of your choices as a consumer, then back slowly away from the environmentally disastrous, slave-wage computer you're reading this on and spend the rest of the day throwing away everything that has a negative impact on the environment, society, or global economy. Or you could just be honest about who you are and give props to a guy like Eric who's brave enough to be who he is.

Being conscious about minimizing our impact is absolutely critical - I work hard at it, as I'm sure you all do, but let's at least be honest about our own versions of the McContradiction.

PS. uwiniwin - I wasn't talking about my kids, and you really have no idea what I deserve (some would say I deserve much worse...like Subway!).

24343 · May 03, 2011 at 1:35 AM

So the question is "Is questionable meat paleo?"

And the answer is "Semantics".

Paleo signifies different things to different people. Many would be fine with a McDonald's hack cheat, and many would rather fast. Some would do either depending on their mood (e.g. me). Obviously meat quality matters for nutrients and potential toxins/bacteria/etc. But it's easy to conflate anti-corporate sentiment with calling McDonald's meat not paleo.

What would the Fast Food Nation guy say about this if he were paleo?

5105 · May 03, 2011 at 1:49 AM

100% beef? I almost envy your naive optimistic outlook. Almost. You forgot ammonia, oh, and this stuff: http://www.grist.org/article/2010-01-05-cheap-food-ammonia-burgers

technically this "pink slime" is beef. very very processed beef washed with ammonia. Yum.

Sorry, but i don't buy the "i'm broke and I can't afford to eat decently" argument either. I've been unemployed for a while now. (long story, short of it is taking care of family).

you can and should eat well. it takes some effort, yes, but let's not put lipstick on a pig and call that acceptable meat. I can go buy a $4 package of mussels at walmart that feeds me and my husband for dinner. $2/person plus the one time cost of herbs and maybe onions.

A local pastured chicken costs us $15 and that feeds us both twice plus lunch for him. Then stock. $3/meal.

I did a lot of drugs in my 20's but I never pretended it was healthy for me. It's poison and it is not ok on any level, unless you're trying to die, in which case, have at it but at least be man enough to call it like it is.

15261 · May 03, 2011 at 5:11 AM

There is a loooooooong list of things anyone should eat for protien before resorting to McDonald's "beef". I would rather starve for 3 days first.

Remember that eating Paleo (or any other way) is first about being nourished well before meeting some techical definition of some food group.

On a practical level, I think you are guaranteed that this beef-alike substance has absolutely no food value. It has calories, no carbs (good), no nutrients (bad), toxins and chemicals (bad), and puts you in a place where you might be tempted to eat even worse (bad).

If you really need some quick and easy proteins, and are ok with dairy (which it sounds like you are, except that McDonald's cheeze probably contains no actual cheese), just go to your local grocery store's deli counter and buy a portion of ham, turkey, roast beef, etc. along with some cheese. This is highly processed and contains some water and chemicals, but is still 100x better than the sorry garbage served at McDonald's.

21258 · May 03, 2011 at 1:41 AM

I'll admit I do similar if I'm in a bind and need a feed. My poison of choice is the triple whopper at BK with no bun, they'll even put it in a salad bowl for you.

I do "field work" so I'm on the road all the time, and I emphasize sleep over making sure I have next-day grubs... so there are some days I won't have a packed lunch. I will try my best to hit up a BBQ, steakhouse, or churrasco, the meat might be CAFO but I can trust the preparation a bit more, and I don't have the stress of eating in my car.

1344 · May 03, 2011 at 2:10 PM

The only reason that I go to McDonald's is to pee. Seriously! It is a horrible company, promoting horrible food, and destroying rain forests. Their food does not rot! Their meat is so processed and I believe they use bleach in it. YUCK! There are much better choices and planning to be had. Not judging, because everyone is in their own place, but factory farmed meat, disgusts me!

669 · May 03, 2011 at 7:48 AM

If I'm desperate for fat, protein... meat, I do this.

5 cheeseburgers, no ketchup no bun, down the hatch. (In Spain there is no double burger on the "discount" menu.)

I feel great after. Really.

That said the McDonald's meat here in Spain is notably juicier and more tasty than the golden arches state side.

I consider this a valid PaleoHack. McDonald's is not evil.

3142 · May 03, 2011 at 2:18 AM


(Apparently I have to have more than three characters to post a response, but still— no.)

3621 · May 03, 2011 at 2:17 AM

I don't know what Paleo is, but I do know McDonald's AIN'T IT.

1884 · May 03, 2011 at 1:40 AM

The cheese is likely to be high in trans fats.

11957 · May 03, 2011 at 1:31 AM

Hmmm...I always say that little Cable Guy prayer about "forgive me lord and mumble the pygmies" before I eat it, but I do a similar hack at Jack in the Box, just without the cheese (no dairy or dairy-like products for me). It may not be "paleo," but it tastes okay to me.

Although lately I've been worried about what they might put into the meat in these fast food places. Obviously it's not local, grassfed, blah-de-blah, and I can tolerate that, but what if they're adding corn syrup or something to hook people? I forget where that particular scare story came from, but it's recent, and it's on my mind. Maybe I'll dig around and see where I can find it (I know about the Taco Bell "meat" story; it wasn't that).

877 · April 21, 2013 at 3:10 AM

Can guarantee that, that meat is NOT 100% Beef. I wouldn't touch that stuff with even a 20 foot pole! Grass-fed & grass-finished is BEST!

10 · April 21, 2013 at 1:39 AM

The butcher at my local Whole Foods (where I get most of my local grass-fed organic blah blah) pointed out to me that McDonald's actually gets first pick on beef from the beef industry because they're the biggest customer, so they may actually have the highest quality CAFO beef around.

My main qualm with your hack is the bun. Even a removed bun leaves enough behind to make me feel glutened afterwards. Le sigh.

10 · September 21, 2012 at 10:09 AM

I think McDonalds is offering far healthier and more real food than its reputation suggests. Its 100% beef, and unless you are only eating at restaurants that serve pastured, organic meat (where are they?), you won't get much different. People should look beyond conventional wisdom to the facts. After all, conventional wisdom says whole grain bread is good, and meat fat is bad. It is a convention to say McDonalds is unhealthy and even evil, but occasional meals here are fine. I get six burgers, toss the buns, chop them up and put them on a side salad, and I have a decent primal meal

1637 · November 09, 2011 at 9:18 PM

I'd rather "hack" an In-N-Out burger than McDonalds...

That orange haired clown just scares me; profit before people is his motto.

BTW You're obviously not dairy sensitive because any cheese from fast food seriously causes me some serious GI issues.

953 · April 21, 2013 at 5:15 AM

Just order a bunless angus burger, no sauce, wrapped in lettuce, and unsweetened tea. That's what I do.I've gotten some snotty remarks from the kids that work there but hey, you do what you gotta do!

1633 · October 13, 2011 at 7:40 AM

Skip the McDonalds. There is never a reason in the world to eat it. As someone stated above, grass-fed ground beef is not expensive. Buy it in bulk for $4 or less per lb anywhere in the world. With this you can eat all of your meals for under $3.

Ground beef may be the healthiest too. It has the CLA, a fair amount of protein, lots of saturated fat and all the micronutrients. Steak is awesome but very expensive.

5111 · October 13, 2011 at 7:06 AM

Do you have tastebuds? Because if you do that alone should tell you that something ain't right with McDonalds' burgers. They simply taste disgusting. I understand where you're coming from with this hack, and I've done a similar thing myself before while roadtripping (albeit at Wendy's, which, IMO, uses far better meat), but it's not something I'd want to do more than once in a blue moon.

And why exactly do you actually believe McDonalds' ingredient lists? I'd better dollars to donuts they're grossly misleading.

186 · October 13, 2011 at 5:07 AM

Dude, at least do it at BK where the beef is actually cooked over a grill.. Maybe a little healthier?

In my opinion, def a lot tastier.

My 2 cents.

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