Food in general has to go through quite a thicket of hurdles before its nutrition can actually be used by the body. First, there’s digestion that begins in the mouth, accelerates with the acid in the stomach, and really takes off in the small intestines with digestive enzymes and all those critical bacteria doing their thing, but then the nutrition that the small intestines admits into the body must first pass muster with that filtration system of the body, the liver, before it finally gets admitted to the blood stream and can actually be used by the body. Any inefficiencies in any of these processes along the way and that means the food you think your body will take advantage of — because you did eat it — won’t actually be fully utilized by the body but, to the extent it was not properly “processed,” instead passes right through you with no benefit.
This brings us to what many nutritionist speak about constantly — the all-important ratio between the very valuable Omega 3 fat and the commonly overconsumed Omega 6 fat. Why is this ratio so important, you may ask? It’s important because both fats use the same digestive enzymes in the body, and therefore compete for their use. And there is a finite number of these specific digestive enzymes in the body at any given time, (although the healthier your diet, the greater the number). If the ratio between Omega 3 fat and Omega 6 fat becomes too skewed in favor of Omega 6 fat, then the Omega 6 fat utilizes a disproportionate amount of those limited number of digestive enzymes, and the Omega 3 fat gets left out in the cold, so of speak. So this skewed ratio, which is very common in the SAD diet, produces a huge inefficiency in digestive processes mentioned above relative to the Omega 3 fat you ate versus the Omega 3 fat that the body actually ends up using.
They think the modern contemporary diet can be become as skewed as 1:16 when our caveman ancestors had a diet that was 1:2. Exactly what ratio is the ideal ratio is a controversial subject, but there is no question that the SAD diet is hopeless skewed in favor of Omega 6 fat, and therefore those people who have this skewed ratio in their diet may think they are getting enough Omega 3 fat in their diet, but because of their warped Omega ratio, are in fact not fully utilizing the amount of Omega 3 fat they eat, perhaps to an alarming degree.
And so it is not enough to know how many grams of Omega 3 fat are in your daily diet — you have to also know your ratio.
My Almost-Vegan Diet
High carb, high fiber, high protein, but low fat (except Omega 3); GBOMBS (Joel Fuhrman); plant-based with a small amount of turkey each day for the lysine (thus the “almost”); dairy-free except for the use of Pillars Greek yogurt as almond-milk substitute for cereals (ditto “almost”); no processed foods with the exception of Dave’s bread, cereals (Alpen, Muesli, Grape Nuts), and Pillars, which has live culture, but low fat and no added sugar (unlike most commercial yogurts where they add so much sugar that it’s practically candy). Macros: 50% carb, 30% fat, 20% protein — fat has been trending down and protein trending up, intentionally. Incorporate all high-nutrition foods and void or minimize low-nutrition or downright unhealthy foods. Therefore, say yes to all vegetables and fruit and various fermented foods, and say a big fat no to almost all processed foods. Avoid or minimize saturated fat, salt, and sugar — the 3 demon S’s. Reduce meat consumption to an absolute minimum, especially processed meats (carcinogenic) and red meats in general. No alcohol except red wine for cooking. 19:5 intermittent fasting every day. Learn how to make plant-based dishes that are nevertheless delicious — garlic, onions, tomato paste, lemon juice, and curry powder are your allies.
You’ll live to be 100 but in good health.
I use Cronometer each day, and it will tell me if I’m weak or outright deficient in anything at a very granular level. For instance, it has shown that my diet was weak in lysine, calcium and iodine, and so I’ve take measures to address these shortcomings.
Make your meals as intensely nutritious as possible — as in way over-the-top nutritious — but still be savory. I practice the GBOMBS diet, and Cronometer is indispensable to achieve super duper nutrition. It’s your body…you are in charge of it, no one else.
Super-duper nutrition involves two very different elements — finding the foods that have powerful nutrients and including them; identifying the foods that undermine your health and avoiding them. You have to do both.
Weight loss from 198 to 155 in one year. Nutritarian diet (Joel Fuhrman) with intermittent fasting.
I’ve recently found that baked potatoes are also a useful tool, as they are filling and very low in fat. Having days with a very low number of grams in fat really accelerates weight loss. It may not be true that “fat makes you fat,” but it is clearly true that low fat will make you skinny because low-fat days tend also to make for low-calorie days.
What Don’t You Know?
If you use Cronometer religiously, you can find out what your diet is deficient in, and then make the adjustment either with foods that have the missing nutrient or with supplements. Without Cronometer, you won’t know. For instance, I now know that I’m routinely deficient in iodine, choline and lysine and often low in calcium.
Cronometer even has a function where you plug in the missing nutrient, and it will tell you the top 25 foods that contain it.
The seeds in oranges are also high in Vitamin C.
All the oils, including olive oil, are considered processed foods that don’t have enough nutrition to justified their excessive calories from all that pure and concentrated fat, so most plant-based eaters avoid or minimize oils (for instance, instead of cooking with oils, use vegetable broth or even water). Instead of olive oil, eat actual olives instead — they have those good fats (monounsaturated) but also the very beneficial fiber.
Tofu from non-GMO soy is a high quality source of protein, despite what the meat industry would have you think about soy products. The magic of tofu is that it marinates in whatever foods you want to use — I use it for curry/turmeric/pepper.
Consider getting that particular combination, turmeric/pepper, into your daily diet for health purposes. Turmeric without some pepper is absorbed by the body less efficiently so you don’t get all the health benefits.
Have lost 30 lbs. in about 12 months with 19:5 intermittent fasting and the GBOMBS diet. The weight loss also has targeted fat, that is, ketones, so my waistline has gone down noticeably.
Cronometer has been a valuable tool because it helps me not go over a calorie limit each day, and I can manage each day’s intake so that I come in a little under the number of calories it says I should be eating for my age and activity level — I never before knew what that number was. Cronometer also has given me a much better sense of how caloric each food actually is.
Don’t even think about 19:5 intermittent fasting anymore because it is just the way I eat. Losing the weight slowly over that 1 year period has been easy to do. I haven’t felt like I’ve been missing out on food at all, but the focus has been on nutritionally dense food. No processed food at all, 98% plant based, a very small amount of meat (white meat/turkey, which is very lean meat and low in saturated fat) each day. Lots of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and beans.
One thing that has become very obvious to me with Cronometer is that everyone should be taking a general vitamin pill, as it is so common to be deficiency in many of the micronutrients when one doesn’t take such a pill. So it’s just a kind of insurance policy to avoid those several likely deficiencies, which you won’t even know you have without using such a tool.
Vitamin Pills and Fat
When you take a vitamin pill, you should do it with some food and particularly with food that has some fat, as this will improve digestion and absorption of the vitamins.
I’ve discovered the protein issue with a vegan diet is more nuanced than is commonly realized. Yes, a well rounded vegan diet will give you plenty of overall protein. But if you use cronometer every day and see how such a well rounded vegan diet breaks down relative to each of the essential amino acids (essential in that you have to get them from food, the body doesn’t make them), then you will see that one is often chronically short of lysine and somewhat short of leucine despite the well rounded plant-based diet. So a more sophisticated question for the vegan diet, isn’t where do you get your protein, but how do you get the RDAs for those two specific essential amino acids? Lysine in particular is a serious problem for vegans imo.
I’ve been on a straight, plant-based vegan diet (Joel Fuhrman’s GBOMBS) for the last few years, but this experience with conometer has made me modify it to include a small amount of turkey to address the lysine/leutine issues. Interestingly enough, even with the addition of a small amount of turkey, my lysine and leucine numbers still come in somewhat below their RDAs, which makes me think the change was even more justified. Now I call myself an “almost vegan,” due to this modification to my diet.