Summary of What I Have Learned
- Feeding window should be 8-12 hrs during day time (Between about 12-3 PM best timing)
- Protein – 0.8 g/kg – 1.7 g/kg body weight depending on activity level
- Carbs not essential, but eating many veggies and some nuts/seeds & dark chocolate will provide fiber and vitamins/minerals
- Fat amount dependent on carbohydrate and protein content – high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diets can promote nutritional ketosis and will likely aid in fat loss and increasing lean body mass; coconut oil and MCT powder/oil will promote ketone production
- EPA/DHA (omega-3’s) are essential in the diet; ideal omega 6:3 ratio is 4:1 or lower
- Choose a cooking oil dependent on the temperature in which you are cooking
- Cooking, soaking, sprouting, and fermenting foods will reduce antinutrients and increase absorbability of vitamins/minerals
- Spinach, kale, red pepper, sunflower seeds, natto, avocado, mushrooms, eggs, peanuts, almonds, chick peas, dark chocolate, hemp seeds, yogurt, broccoli, cashews, and Brazil nuts contain high amounts of certain vitamins and minerals
- Key Supplements – D3 | K2 (MK-7) | Multivitamin (w/ methylcobalamin (B12) & L-5-MTHF (B9-folate)-not cyanocobalamin and folic acid, Omega-3 (Krill, Fish, or Algal Oil) | Potassium | Magnesium
- Salt Intake from Healthy Source – 1 1/3 – 2 2/3 tsps each day, although standard recommendation is 3/4 tsp
- Kitchen essentials – Chef’s knife, paring knife, solid cutting board, half-size sheet pan, baking dish (9×13 in), skillet, 2-3 qt saucepan, 4-6 qt Dutch oven or stockpot, solid measuring cups and spoons, 6-8 qt mixing bowls, long wooden spoon, a medium wire whisk, metal tongs, a whippy metal spatula, and a silicone spatula
- Cookware material – no Teflon or non-stick; go for high quality stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, titanium, ceramic, and glass
- Drinking adequate, filtered/purified water is essential
- Squatting position is ideal for pooping
Carbohydrates – Not an Essential Macronutrient | The Promise of Ketones
Carbohydrates are not an essential macronutrient. You could eat zero carbohydrates and be perfectly fine. The body is incredible in that way. When you do not eat carbs, you use non-carbohydrate substrates to produce glucose in your body. These non-carbohydrate substrates include pyruvate (from Kreb’s cycle), lactate (from Cori Cycle – converted by liver to pyruvate – for instance during strenuous exercise), alanine, and glycerol (break down of triglycerides, including from stored adipose tissue). The process in which non-carbohydrate substrates are used to produce glucose is called gluconeogenesis. And, it occurs when carbohydrates are not present in the diet.
Additionally, when glucose is not present, your body has the ability to synthesize ketone bodies. Nearly all tissues except for the liver and red blood cells can utilize ketone bodies as a fuel source. And, again, your body can still produce the glucose it needs for the liver, red blood cells, and any other tissues that need them. During a period of fasting, usually around 24 hours, your body starts producing these ketones. And, if you eat a ketogenic diet, which means you are typically restricting your carbohydrates to 20 grams or less a day, your body begins to adapt to utilizing ketone bodies as a fuel source. And how do you make ketone bodies? Well, from oxidation of fatty acids. So, you can essentially train your body to become efficient in utilizing this alternative fuel source, through a ketogenic diet and/or through intermittent fasting, which inevitably leads to fat loss. Something else interesting – medium chain triglycerdies (MCT’s) found in coconut oil or MCT oil/powder products, are not stored in adipose tissue (aka not stored as fat). After you consume them, they enter the blood and move to the liver. In the liver, they are activated to acyl CoAs, which are then oxidized to acetyl CoA. This acetyl CoA is converted to ketones. And ketones have been shown to be a “cleaner burning fuel source” as compared to glucose. When energy is produce, a free radical called super oxide is released. Ketone production produces less of this free radical than glucose production.
So, in essence, eating a high fat diet appears to be advantageous for promoting genomic stability, which prevents age-related diseases, and for promoting a lean, healthy, strong body.
To promote ketone production in the body, minimizes carbohydrate consumption, maximize the consumption of healthy fats, and consume moderate protein. The only objective way to tell if you are in nutritional ketosis is through a blood test.
Carbohydrates are Not Essential, but They are Not “Bad” by Any Means
Fiber good, fiber very good. I noticed when I went on a strict ketogenic diet, it was hard to poop. I was lacking enough fiber in my diet. Nutritional science is difficult because there is so much individual variability. I have found that consuming vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate provides enough fiber to keep me regular. On a classic ketogenic diet, you would not really be eating these foods as they contain some carbs.
If you eat a lot of vegetables, you’ll be getting a lot of fiber. Fiber will bind cholesterol (so it is excreted rather than absorbed), support healthy gut microflora, support GI health, can relieve inflammation and irritation, increase satiation, and can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and non-insulin dependent diabetes.
Dietary cholesterol has little to no effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood and does not appear to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cell membrane fluidity actually is key in blood cholesterol content. When you eat essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3’s, fluidity is promoted in the cell membrane. When the cell membrane is more fluid, cholesterol is sent there to stabilize it. Cholesterol is removed when the membrane is less fluid, such as in the case one consumes a lot of trans-fat or saturated fat in the diet. So, eating the right balance of fats and avoiding trans-fats will promote healthy cell membranes and reduce blood cholesterol levels.
LDL delivers cholesterol to extrahepatic tissues (outside the liver). HDL collects cholesterol from tissues and returns it to the liver. High LDL is a risk factor for vascular disease, as is low HDL.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3’s and 6’s. The ratio of omega-6 to 3 which promotes health and decreases risk of developing disease is 4:1. The table below breaks down more exact numbers for this recommendation.
|ALA (Plant Omega-3)||EPA/DHA (Omega-3)||Omega-6|
|Men||1.6 grams||0.50 grams||8.4 grams|
|Women||1.1 grams||0.50 grams||6.4 grams|
There is a vegan-friendly source of EPA and DHA which is derived from algal oil. Consuming EPA/DHA regularly is essential. ALA can be converted to EPA/DHA in the body but not very well.
Sedentary folks need about 0.8 g of protein/kg body weight. The other end of the spectrum is 1.7 g/kg body weight for those doing high-intensity training. 1 kg is about 2.2 lbs.
Animals, animal products, and some plant sources are complete proteins. They contain all essential amino acids. Vegetarians and vegans don’t have to consume complete proteins or a combination of foods that make a complete protein with each meal. There is an amino acid pool in the body. If vegetarians/vegans eat a variety of foods each day, it is very likely that they will get all of the essential amino acids they need.
Choosing a Cooking Oil
When you cook, you don’t want your oil to start smoking. When this happens, carcinogens and free radicals are formed and released. Eating these is not good for you. So, you should make sure you choose the oil that matches the temperature in which you are cooking.
In general, over cooking things creates all sorts of potentially harmful substances. But cooking can also help increase the digestibility of foods. For instance, cooking spinach will reduce levels of oxalic acid, which can bind calcium and iron. So, by cooking spinach, you are better able to absorb these minerals.
That’s a good segue into discussing antinutrients. Antinutrients interfere with the absorption of nutrients and include phytic acid, gluten, lectins, protease inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, oxalates, and tannins. Phytic acid inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, pepsin, and amylase. Grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables contain antinutrients.
Cooking, soaking, sprouting, and fermenting foods will reduce phytic acid.
Micronutrients (Vitamins and Minerals)
Vitamins and minerals are really important in the diet, and most people are not getting enough of them. There are a handful of reasons for this depending on the particular vitamin and mineral. Here are some really important ones to pay attention to.
Vitamin D is synthesized by UVB exposure (from the sun). In northern latitudes, this is impossible 4-6 months of the year. Plus, most folks are inside most the day and not getting exposure, and when outside we lather up with sunscreen. Taking a supplement is crucial for most people. Unfortunately, the recommendations have not caught up with the current research. Recommendations are based on preventing osteomalacia and rickets, and do not consider reducing the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other health complications. Many boards of nutrition experts recommend between 1,000-4,000 IU/day for adults, but the standard given is 600 IU/day. There are not many food sources of vitamin D.
The body can use about 400-500 mg of vitamin C per day. Any more is excreted.
Many people are at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency. The clinical testing for functional deficiency is usually inadequate. Supplemental forms typically contain cyanocobalamin, and the body does not appear to absorb it. Methylcobalamin and then adensylcobalamin are useable forms. Most supplements also contain folic acid, which is not a great form of vitamin B9. L-5-MTHF appears to be the most bioavailable form of vitamin B9 (folate).
98% of Americans are deficient in potassium, and potassium supplements are capped at 99mg. The RDA value for potassium is 4,700 mg/day. 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.
If you eat whole foods, you are more than likely to be deficient in salt. For the average American, 75% of their intake of salt comes from processed foods, and the average American consumes about 3,4000 mg of sodium/day (about 1 ¾ tsp salt). The recommendation is 1,500 mg sodium/day. This is ¾ a teaspoon of salt. Literature suggests 1 1/3 – 2 2/3 tsps each day to be ideal range. Some sources recommend that consuming 3 or 4 teaspoons of healthy salt per day is advisable and lower levels may lead to or exacerbate health conditions. I’ve found that if I do not pay close attention to my salt intake, I’ll get really bad muscle cramps. I consume at least 1 ½ teaspoons per day on average. If you are sweating, you are losing a great deal of salt and may need to increase uptake. Regardless of how much you consume, your body does a great job of excreting what it does not need (in healthy individuals). And if you are not getting enough, it will excrete very little to maintain adequate blood levels, but at the expense of taxing the adrenals. Increased salt intake does not increase blood pressure in many individuals, but too little salt can increase heart rate.
Foods Worth Eating
In terms of vitamin and mineral content, I included foods that would be good to eat on a regular basis as they are high in the vitamins and minerals listed besides them.
- Spinach – A, K1, B9, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Selenium, Manganese
- Kale – K1
- Red Pepper – A, C
- Sunflower Seeds – E, B1, B3, B5, Copper
- Avocados – E, B5, B9, Potassium
- Natto – K2
- Mushrooms – B2, B3, Copper
- Almonds – B2, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Manganese
- Eggs – B2, B7, B12, Sulfur, Iodine, Selenium
- Peanuts – B3
- Chickpeas – B6
- Dark Chocolate – Magnesium, Copper
- Hemp Seeds – Magnesium
- Yogurt – Calcium, Phosphorus, Iodine
- Broccoli – C, Chromium
- Cashews – Zinc, Copper
- Brazil Nuts – Selenium
I personally supplement with vitamin D3, K2, a multivitamin which contains many of the vitamins and minerals, potassium, and magnesium. I try and hit things that I may miss in my diet or do not get adequate amounts from time to time. K2 serves a different function that K1. I get a lot of K1, but not K2, although the body can convert K1 to K2. I take vitamin D3 though, which increases the need for K2. You can read more about that on the site if you’d like.
Feeding Window – Meal Timing and Frequency
Almost forgot this one! Lol. There are many benefits to eating within an 8-12 hour feeding window. These include improved sleep, fat loss, increased lean muscle mass, improving gut microbiome diversity, reducing risk of developing chronic diseases, and promoting a healthy lifespan. Eating just a few meals per day instead of constantly snacking is best. And eating during daylight hours is also ideal. New research showed that melatonin sends a signal to the liver to decrease its metabolic activity. Melatonin production increases as light decreases. So, if you eat late at night, you won’t be digesting the food you are eating as well. This could lead to less vitamins and minerals being absorbed and high circulating blood glucose (increasing risk of developing diabetes) and so on. This new research is showing that the body is not designed to consume food at night. Additionally, insulin is maximally stimulated by food when you eat late at night. So, if you eat a meal at 8 PM, you will produce insulin than if you ate that same meal between 12-3PM. More circulating insulin makes it more difficult to burn fat.
Further, extended fasts (4-7 days on average) once per year or so can be beneficial in helping the body to eliminate damaged cells (apoptosis) and essentially reset itself.
Healthy Cookware/Kitchen Essentials
Non-stick pans and Teflon are out of the question. High quality stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, titanium, ceramic, and glass are the least toxic options.
Chef’s knife, paring knife, solid cutting board, half-size sheet pan, baking dish (9×13 in), skillet, 2-3 qt saucepan, 4-6 qt Dutch oven or stockpot, solid measuring cups and spoons, 6-8 qt mixing bowls, long wooden spoon, a medium wire whisk, metal tongs, a whippy metal spatula, and a silicone spatula.
So, I’ve discussed:
- When you should eat, feeding windows, and fasting
- Macronutrient Ratios and fats
- Quality foods to choose from
- How to poop
- Increasing the absorbability of foods and enhancing digestion
- Stocking your kitchen
What I’ll get more into soon is how much to eat, food quality, obtaining food, more on metabolism, food sensitivities/intolerances/allergies, genetics and food choices, simple recipes, achieving goals (food psychology).