no carb foods

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 no carb foods.

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]

image04

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.

image07

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.

2016-11-07-1

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.

2017-02-26 (19).png

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).  Organ meats make 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.

image03

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).

no carb offal

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
turkey liver 9 21 189 1.6
lamb liver 9 20 168 1.4
chicken liver 9 20 172 1.4
beef brains 5 8 151 1.4
lamb kidney 8 15 112 1.3
veal liver 8 26 192 1.2
beef liver 9 25 175 1.2
chicken liver pate 4 17 201 1.1
lamb brains 3 10 154 1.0
beef kidney 5 20 157 0.8
pork liver 5 23 165 0.7
beef heart 3 16 165 0.7
lamb sweetbread 3 15 144 0.7
liver sausage -2 10 331 0.7
turkey heart 3 20 174 0.7
lamb heart 3 19 161 0.6
sweetbread -2 9 318 0.6
beef tripe 3 14 103 0.6
beef heart 2 23 179 0.5

no carb animal products

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
ham (lean only) 8 17 113 1.1
ground turkey 2 19 258 0.8
chicken breast 6 22 148 0.8
pork chop 5 23 172 0.8
roast ham 3 18 178 0.7
roast pork 3 20 199 0.7
turkey ham 3 14 124 0.7
ham 1 11 149 0.7
turkey drumstick 4 21 158 0.7
turkey meat 4 21 158 0.7
turkey (skinless) 2 16 170 0.6
turkey bacon -1 11 226 0.6
turkey drumstick (with skin) 0 15 221 0.6
chicken (leg with skin) 2 18 184 0.6
pork ribs 2 21 216 0.6
pork loin 2 19 193 0.6
pork shoulder 4 22 162 0.6
pork sausage -0 13 217 0.6
turkey -1 21 414 0.6
leg ham 4 22 165 0.6
pork 2 22 209 0.6
meatballs -1 14 286 0.6
veal loin 3 20 175 0.6
ground pork 3 25 185 0.6
salami -2 17 378 0.6
turkey 3 23 189 0.6
bratwurst -2 13 333 0.5
kielbasa -2 12 325 0.5
bologna -1 11 172 0.5
pork sausage -2 16 325 0.5
bacon -3 11 417 0.5
pork ribs -2 16 361 0.5
lean beef 3 23 149 0.5
veal 4 24 151 0.5

no carb seafood

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
fish roe 10 18 143 1.6
caviar 7 23 264 1.5
salmon 9 20 156 1.5
trout 8 18 168 1.4
sturgeon 8 16 135 1.4
mackerel 3 10 305 1.2
crab 10 14 83 1.2
anchovy 6 22 210 1.2
halibut 9 17 111 1.2
crayfish 9 13 82 1.2
sardine 5 19 208 1.2
oyster 7 14 102 1.0
cisco 3 13 177 1.0
cod 8 48 290 1.0
lobster 8 15 89 1.0
flounder 7 12 86 1.0
herring 3 19 217 0.9
pollock 8 18 111 0.9
rockfish 7 17 109 0.8
perch 6 14 96 0.8
shrimp 6 19 119 0.7
haddock 6 19 116 0.7
tuna 4 23 184 0.7
whiting 5 18 116 0.6
white fish 5 18 108 0.5
octopus 5 28 164 0.5
clam 4 25 142 0.4
scallop 5 22 111 0.3

no carb dairy and egg

food ND insulin load (g/100g) calories/100g MCA
egg yolk 4 12 275 1.4
whole egg 4 10 143 1.2
kefir 5 7 41 0.7
whey powder 9 82 339 0.6
cream -4 5 340 0.5
sour cream -3 6 198 0.5
feta cheese -2 15 264 0.4
butter -5 3 718 0.4
cheddar cheese -2 20 410 0.4
limburger cheese -2 15 327 0.4
camembert -2 16 300 0.4
blue cheese -2 19 353 0.4
Swiss cheese -2 22 393 0.4
cream cheese -4 10 350 0.4
gruyere cheese -2 23 413 0.4
cream cheese (low fat) 5 19 105 0.4
edam cheese -3 21 357 0.3
muenster cheese -3 19 368 0.3
Monterey cheese -3 19 373 0.3
gouda cheese -3 21 356 0.3

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.

image02

 

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.

To kickstart your journey towards optimal get your free program and one of 70+ food lists personalised just for you!  

  • Spencer says:

    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 ! !

  • Jan says:

    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.

    • my 2 cents says:

      just a personal preference, but would much rather just count carbs that matter to keep my weight down (and stay healthy) than eat offal because of it being ‘necessary.” Ew. If you’re a bit sensitive, we’re talking nausea, at the least here.

  • Jim says:

    Once again, differing values for Greek Yogurt. Three different lists. Three different sets of values. What gives?

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: