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zero carb

For most people the optimal dietary approach seems to include a balance of plant and animal based foods.  Some people prefer more (or all) plants due to ethical or religious reasons, while others prefer to avoid vegetables and grains.

Some people just don’t like veggies, while others struggle to digest plant fibres and find relief from debilitating digestive, mental health[1] or other symptoms when they avoid plant based foods and even dairy.[2] [3] [4]

Others feel that the nutrients in plant based foods are less bioavailable and that the nutrients in animal based foods will be more easily absorbed.[5]

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The chart below shows a comparison of the nutrients provided by:

  • the most nutrient dense zero carb foods,
  • the most nutrient dense plant based foods, and
  • the most nutrient dense foods available.

As you might expect, the zero carb foods (red bars) do well in the proteins and fatty acids while the plant based foods (blue bars) generally contain more vitamins and minerals.

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The chart below is a comparison of the average amount of nutrients (as a percentage of the daily recommended intake) for a range of dietary approaches.  A zero carb approach can provide you with a solid amount of nutrients, and likely more than a plant only based approach, though not as much as dietary approaches that incorporates both plant and animal based foods.[6]

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Going zero carb will reduce the insulin load compared to most dietary approaches, although the higher levels of protein may mean that you won’t necessarily be ‘ketogenic’ or showing high levels of blood ketones.

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While the recommended daily intake values for various nutrients is debatable, it appears that it is more difficult to obtain the recommended quantity of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin E and Vitamin C on a zero carb approach compared to others that contain plant based foods and hence it may be useful to supplement these nutrients.

You’ll notice the most nutrient dense zero carb foods listed below contain a solid amount of organ meats which are very nutrient dense.  The chart below shows the nutrient density of the highest ranking zero carb foods with and without organ meats (cutting out all carbohydrate containing foods narrows the list of available foods from 8000 to 2887 and removing offal narrows the list to 2784 available foods).

You can see from this comparison that organ meats makes a significant difference to the levels of copper, manganese, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin B-12.  So if you are going to go with a zero carb approach it makes sense to maximise your organ meats.

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The zero carb foods below are sorted using both nutrient density and insulin load (to make sure you’re not just eating lean protein).

Also included in the table are the nutrient density scores, percentage of insulinogenic calories, insulin load, energy density and the multicriteria analysis score (MCA) that combines all these factors (see the building a better nutrient density index article for more details on the MCA process).

offal

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
lamb liver 18 20 168 1.9
lamb kidney 19 15 112 1.9
chicken liver 15 13 119 1.7
veal liver 16 26 192 1.5
turkey liver 14 21 189 1.5
beef brains 8 8 151 1.5
chicken liver 14 20 172 1.5
beef liver 16 25 175 1.5
beef kidney 13 20 157 1.4
chicken liver pate 7 17 201 1.2
lamb brains 5 10 154 1.1
turkey heart 8 20 174 1.0
lamb heart 8 19 161 1.0
pork liver 10 23 165 1.0
liver sausage 0 10 331 0.9
beef heart 8 23 179 0.9
beef heart 5 16 165 0.9
lamb sweetbread 4 15 144 0.8
sweetbread -3 9 318 0.7
beef tripe 6 14 103 0.7
liver pate -4 13 319 0.5

animal products

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
ground turkey 4 19 258 1.0
ham 11 17 113 1.0
salami 1 17 378 1.0
pepperoni -1 16 504 0.9
lamb chop 5 25 234 0.9
rib eye steak 5 21 210 0.9
roast pork 5 20 199 0.9
roast beef 4 21 219 0.9
meatballs 0 14 286 0.9
T-bone steak 2 19 294 0.8
turkey bacon 0 11 226 0.8
lean beef 9 23 149 0.8
park sausage 1 13 217 0.8
turkey 0 21 414 0.8
kielbasa -1 12 325 0.8
pork sausage -0 16 325 0.8
pork ribs -1 16 361 0.8
bacon -2 11 417 0.8
turkey meat 6 21 158 0.8
turkey drumstick 6 21 158 0.8
roast ham 4 18 178 0.8
chicken 7 22 148 0.7
veal 8 24 151 0.7
pork chop 6 23 172 0.7
ground pork 6 25 185 0.7
bratwurst -2 13 333 0.7

seafood

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
caviar 14 23 264 1.8
fish roe 16 18 143 1.7
salmon 17 20 156 1.7
oyster 18 14 102 1.6
trout 14 18 168 1.6
mackerel 7 10 305 1.6
anchovy 13 22 210 1.5
cisco 7 13 177 1.3
sturgeon 11 16 135 1.2
sardines 8 16 185 1.2
crab 15 14 83 1.2
sardine 8 19 208 1.2
herring 7 19 217 1.2
flounder 11 12 86 1.1
halibut 12 17 111 1.0
tuna 9 23 184 1.0
shrimp 12 19 119 0.9
lobster 12 15 89 0.9
rockfish 11 17 109 0.9
crayfish 11 13 82 0.9
pollock 11 18 111 0.9
cod 11 48 290 0.8
perch 8 14 96 0.7
octopus 9 28 164 0.7
haddock 9 19 116 0.6
whiting 8 18 116 0.6
white fish 8 18 108 0.5

dairy and egg

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
egg yolk 8 12 275 1.6
cream 4 5 340 1.4
butter 3 3 718 1.4
cheddar cheese 7 20 410 1.4
Swiss cheese 7 22 393 1.4
cream cheese 4 10 350 1.3
sour cream 4 6 198 1.3
whole egg 7 10 143 1.3
feta cheese 5 15 264 1.2
mozzarella 8 26 304 1.2
parmesan cheese 6 35 420 1.1
limburger cheese 2 15 327 1.1
camembert 2 16 300 1.0
Greek yogurt 6 9 97 1.0
goat cheese 2 14 264 1.0
gouda cheese 3 21 356 1.0
gruyere cheese 2 23 413 1.0
blue cheese 2 19 353 1.0
edam cheese 2 21 357 0.9
brie 1 16 334 0.9
Monterey cheese 1 19 373 0.9
muenster cheese 1 19 368 0.8
kefir 10 7 41 0.8
Colby 0 20 394 0.8
ricotta -0 12 174 0.7
sour cream (light) -1 9 136 0.6
cottage cheese (low fat) 6 13 81 0.6
Greek yogurt (low fat) 6 11 73 0.6

other dietary approaches

The table below contains links to separate blog posts and printable .pdfs for a range of dietary approaches (sorted from most to least nutrient dense) that may be of interest depending on your situation and goals.   You can print them out to stick to your fridge or take on your next shopping expedition for some inspiration.

dietary approach printable .pdf
weight loss (insulin sensitive) download
autoimmune (nutrient dense) download
alkaline foods download
nutrient dense bulking download
nutrient dense (maintenance) download
weight loss (insulin resistant) download
autoimmune (diabetes friendly) download
zero carb download
diabetes and nutritional ketosis download
vegan (nutrient dense) download
vegan (diabetic friendly) download
therapeutic ketosis download
avoid download

If you’re not sure which approach is right for you and whether you are insulin resistant, this survey may help identify the optimal dietary approach for you.

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notes

[1] https://zerocarbzen.com/2016/10/04/zero-carb-interview-amber-ohearn/

[2] https://www.gutsense.org/fiber-menace/about-fiber-menace-book.html

[3] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2015/10/05/ketogenic-fibre/

[4] https://zerocarbzen.com/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153292/

[6] However, keep in mind that this analysis is based on the USDA database that includes all the nutrients in the food rather than what will be absorbed.  Species specific nutrient bioavailability is still an emerging area.  While we can measure the nutrient in a food, it is hard to quantify how much of those nutrients are digested and absorbed into the body.

3 thoughts on “zero carb”

  1. Your info/data is top-draw; 10/10!
    Cheers for what you do here, you have helped improve my blood readings @ local Dr’s significantly (:
    Many Thanks ! !

    Like

  2. I see people around the net who think they are doing zero carb right but admit they are not eating any offal. Then they claim their diet is ok because people like the Inuit do it. But the Inuit would not pass up the offal where much of the nutrients lie.

    Nutrition deficits can take years to manifest. It’s scary to see people who
    Are oblivious to the need to eat offal to supply nutrients which are not in muscle meat.

    Liked by 1 person

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