Diet principles I wrote for my gym with a focus on low-carb keto diets by request

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973)

  • All food is composed of 1 or more of the 3 macronutrients
        • protein (made from amino acids; like leucine, tryptophan, glutamine…)
        • carbohydrate (made from sugars; like starch, sucrose, lactose, dextrose…)
        • fat (made from fatty acids; like palmitic acid, oleic acid, cholesterol…)
  • All food contains a variety of micronutrients
        • minerals (atoms like Magnesium, Sodium, Copper…)
        • vitamins (like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin E…)
  • All animals have essential and non-essential macronutrients and micronutrients
        • The non-essential ones are those their bodies can make and the essential ones are those their bodies cannot make and so must obtained from their food or water
  • 2 essential macronutrients for humans
        • fat
        • protein
  • ~ 40 essential micronutrients for humans
      • 15 essential minerals
        • Potassium (K), Chloride (Cl), Sodium (Na), Calcium (Ca), Phosphorous (P), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Iodine (I), Chromium (Cr), Molybdenum (Mo), Selenium (Se), Cobalt (Co)
      • 14 essential vitamins
        • Biotin, Folic acid, Niacin, Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K
      • 2 essential fatty acids (from fats)
        • omega 3 (ω-3) fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
        • omega 6 (ω-6) fatty acid Arachidonic acid (AA)
      • 9 essential amino acids (from protein)
        • Phenylalanine (F), Valine (V), Threonine (T), Tryptophan (W), Methionine (M), Leucine (L), Isoleucine (I), Lysine (K), Histidine (H)
      • 6 conditionally essential amino acids (from protein)
        • Arginine (R), Cysteine (C), Glycine (G), Glutamine (Q), Proline (P), Tyrosine (Y)
      • Humans are obligate carnivores but preferential omnivores
        • all of our essential macro and micronutrients can only be obtained from animals
          • only some of our essential macro and micronutrients can be obtained from plant foods
        • historically, humans have nearly always eaten a mixture of animals and more or less plants
      • It is more correct to say that humans are adapted to certain properties of foods rather than say that humans are adapted to this or that food

 

 

Individualizing diet

Understanding that “humans are adapted to certain properties of foods” we can then visualize foods and their hierarchy in a healthy diet for humans, using Dr.Naiman’s (@tednaiman) Food Pyramid.Ted Naiman low-carb food pyramid

Unhealthy foods for all humans

The following 3 kinds of foods are what the vast majority of processed (‘junk’) food is made of. However, they are also found in unprocessed forms and said to be healthy – this is false.

  • Cereal grains (wheat, maize/corn, rye, barley oats, spelt, teff…)
      • this includes their processed flour forms (croissants, cakes, bread, muffins…)
  • Vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, sunflower soil, rapeseed oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, rice brain oil…)
  • Sugar, processed out of their original foods (Agave nectar, Beet sugar, Cane sugar, Caramel, Corn syrup, Dextrose, Fructose, Galactose, Molasses – there are ~56 different names!)

Healthy foods for all humans

*assuming no allergies or rare diseases

Ted Naiman low-carb food

Personalize the Food Pyramid/Guide

  • Grey Area foods
    • foods that can be part of a healthy diet for a minority of people because either (1) the food has not very many of the properties humans are adapted or (2) it has too many properties that humans are not adapted to (like anti-nutrients)
    • Dairy is a ‘grey area’ food
      • if you eat dairy, it should always be full-fat and raw
      • do not eat dairy if, after testing, you notice negative symptoms (allergies, poor digestion, loss of focus, joint pain…)
      • do not eat dairy, according to the precautionary principle, if if you have an autoimmune disease (asthma, celiac, multiple sclerosis…) or cancer
    • Legumes (from Fabaceae family) are a ‘grey area’ food
      • examples:  peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, peanuts…
      • if you eat legumes, (1) they should be a small part of your diet that does not displace essential animal foods because you cannot rely on them alone for adequate micronutrition and (2) they should not lead you to exceeding your level of carbohydrate tolerance
      • do not eat legumes (or eat very little of them only occasionally) if (1) you are on a low-carbohydrate diet or (2) if, after testing, you notice negative symptoms (allergies, poor digestion, low of concentration, joint pain…)
      • do not eat legumes, according to the precautionary principle, if if you have an autoimmune disease (asthma, celiac, multiple sclerosis…) or cancer
    • Rice is a ‘grey area’ food
      • Rice is a cereal grain which humans are poorly adapted to because, generally, they contain high levels of anti-nutrients, many indigestible elements, a lack of sufficient essential amino acids and fatty acids as well as being very high in starch (carbohydrates)
      • White rice is probably the least harmful cereal grain because it is stripped of many of its anti-nutrients and is mostly plain starch
      • do not eat white rice if, after testing, you notice negative symptoms (allergies, poor digestion, low of concentration, joint pain…)
      • do not eat white rice, according to the precautionary principle, if if you have an autoimmune disease (asthma, celiac, multiple sclerosis…) or cancer
    • Potatoes are a ‘grey area’ food
      • if you eat potatoes, (1) they should be a small part of your diet that does not displace essential animal foods because you cannot rely on them alone for adequate micronutrition and (2) they should not lead you to exceeding your level of carbohydrate tolerance
      • do not eat potatoes (or eat very little of them only occasionally) if (1) you are on a low-carbohydrate diet or (2) if, after testing, you notice negative symptoms (allergies, poor digestion, loss of focus, joint pain…)
      • potatoes are not a food you need or should be eating if diabetic or trying to lose weight
    • Sweeteners
      • do not use sweeteners if, after testing, you notice negative symptoms (allergies, poor digestion,loss of focus, joint pain…) and difficulties with appetite or weight loss
      • if you use sweeteners, they should not cause you to crave more sugary/starchy foods
  • Allergies to usually healthy foods
      • for example, if you are allergic to a shellfish or a certain fruit, do not eat it
  • Carbohydrate tolerance
      • historically, humans mostly ate a lower-carbohydrate diet
        • 16%-22% carbohydrate was the most common and 29%-34% carbohydrate was the next
      • in 2016, no modern population is healthy on a high-carbohydrate diet (65%-75% carbohydrate)
      • however, there are a few but important non-industrial examples of healthy groups (Kitava, Tokealau…) eating high-carbohydrate diets
      • if you suffer from diseases (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer…) you should not be on a high-carbohydrate diet and should eat a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet

 

 

What we are (mainly) trying to avoid

We want to avoid being ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry = hangry). We can understand it better by once again looking at my friend Dr.Naiman’s (@tednaiman) diagram of the simplified physiology.

hangry ted naiman

Carbohydrate tolerance

The best, widely available, clinical test for figuring out your carbohydrate tolerance measures your sensitivity to the hormone insulin. You can ask your doctor for a 2hr Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) with insulin assay. Your doctor might not order it for you if you are not diabetic or pregnant so you might have to pay for it directly.

  • The test
    • at time 0 (T0), the nurse takes 2 fasting blood samples, 1 for your glucose & 1 for your insulin
      • you then drink 75g-100g of a (medical) glucose drink
    • 30min later at T1, the nurse takes 2 ‘fed’ blood samples, 1 for your glucose & 1 for your insulin
    • 30min later at T2, the nurse takes 2 ‘fed’ blood samples, 1 for your glucose & 1 for your insulin
    • 30min later at T3, the nurse takes 2 ‘fed’ blood samples, 1 for your glucose & 1 for your insulin
    • 30min later at T4, the nurse takes 2 ‘fed’ blood samples, 1 for your glucose & 1 for your insulin
  • What the test tells you
      • it measures how well your body handles the glucose you drank
      • you want to be a Kraft Pattern I: the other responses are pre-diabetic, type 1 or 2 diabetic

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 16.18.55

 

 

Ketogenic diets

  • Basics
      • very low in carbohydrates (< 15%-10% carbohydrate; usually < 10%)
      • moderate in protein, not high-protein diets (< 25%-20% protein; usually ~20%)
      • high in fats (>65%)

A ketogenic diet is called “ketogenic” because eating this way turns some of the fat in your diet and in your body into molecules mainly used for energy called ketones: acetoacetate, acetone and β-hydroxybutyrate. Being ‘in ketosis’ is not an exact thing but usually means having more than 0.5mmol/L of β-hydroxybutyrate (BhB) in your blood.

  • Adaptation period
        • getting your body used to (1) using much more fat than carbohydrate for energy and (2) using much more animal fats (from beef and sardines for example) than processed vegetable oils (like canola and sunflower oil) for maintaing your basic biology
        • the time and difficulty in getting fully keto-adapted depends on (1) your general health, (2) your genetics and (3) your compliance to the diet
        • short-term adaptation
          • the 2 to 8 weeks it takes for most people to ‘feel good’ (or normal) after switching from a higher-carbohydrate modern Western diet to a well formulated ketogenic diet
        • long-term adaptation
          • the couple of months or +1year it can take athletes to perform the same or better at their activity or sport
        • Women, physiologically, can adapt to a ketogenic diet as well as men can. However, cultural differences may present women with a few more challenges
          • (1) they are often expected to ‘cut calories’, giving them lower energy levels
          • (2) they are told even more than men that ‘fat makes you fat’ which is false
          • (3) the fluctuations in mood and energy that often come with menstruation can make an already challenging adaptation even more uncomfortable; it will pass!
        • Men tend to be less patient than women, finding it harder to take a short break from their ‘performance goals’ to properly keto-adapt.
        • ketogenic diets are diuretic, meaning they make you pee more, leading to an increase loss of minerals (salt, potassium, magnesium…)
          • (1) this is a normal, healthy response (doctors tell us ‘the less salt the better’, this is false)
          • (3) mineral loss often causes negative symptoms some people have whilst keto-adapting
          • (4) if you feel low in energy, have a headache or heart palpitations, supplement with salt, potassium and/or magnesium
          • (5) add salt to your food using (a) your taste and (b) your sense of well-being afterwards
  • Factors influencing ketosis
      • the more exercise we do, the more grams of protein or carbohydrates we can eat without getting out of ketosis
      • being stressed (for e.g., releasing lots of cortisol) can temporarily lower blood ketone levels
      • the better you sleep, the easier it is to be in ketosis
        • sleep quality depends on (1) duration [how long…], (2) frequency [how many times you sleep in a 24hr cycle…], (3) quality [how ‘deep’ your sleep is, how complete and effectice your sleep cycles are]
      • omega-3 fats from fish (like sardines and mackerels) seem to help people get into ketosis more easily, although it is not known why

Ketogenic-specific Food Pyramid

This is a ketogenic food pyramid by Luis Villasenor’s (@ketogains). It has quantitative recommendations for health and performance goals.

keto gains food pyramid

Questions? raphi.inter[at]gmail.com

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