optimal meals and foods for fat loss and muscle building

Ever wondered what foods and meals are optimal for fat loss and muscle building?

Ketogains’ Luis Villasenor recently put a call out for recipes for their upcoming Ketogains Boot Camp.  So I thought it would be interesting to see what the Nutrient Optimiser had to say about optimal foods and meals that align with the Ketogains approach.

luis villasenor

The essence of the Ketogains approach is to:

  1. consume adequate protein,
  2. limit carbohydrates, and
  3. use ‘fat as a lever’.[1]

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In this article, I’ll unpack each aspect of the Ketogains system and look at how we can further optimise nutrition.

Protein as a goal

The Ketogains macro calculator recommends a minimum protein intake of 0.8g per pound of lean body mass (LBM) (i.e. 1.8g/kg LBM), increasing to with 1.0g/lb LBM (or 2.2g/kg LBM) on lifting days.

This protein intake level is more than would be recommended in a therapeutic ketogenic approach or even the average protein intake.[2] [3] It does, however, aligns with Steve Phinney’s recommended protein intake level for athletes and performance.[4] [5] [6]

From a sports nutrition standpoint, more than 2.2 gram per kilogram of total body weight is regarded as “high protein”.[7]  This could be as high as 3.0g/kg LBM when fat mass is taken into account.  So, while the Ketogains protein recommendations might be considered high in therapeutic keto and vegan circles, the Ketogains recommendations would be ‘moderate’ in a sports nutrition and bodybuilding circles.[8]

This chart above (from Lemon, 1998[9]) shows that, for a strength athlete, muscle protein synthesis is maximised when they consume at least 1.8g/kg BW of protein.

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Protein is, however, potentially more critical when we are trying to lose weight.  The higher the energy deficit, the greater is our need for protein to prevent loss of lean muscle mass.  If we are active and/or doing resistance training, then our requirement for protein is even higher.  As shown in the chart below from a recent review paper by Stuart Phillips, muscle mass is best preserved best when we have higher levels of protein, particularly if you are targeting an aggressive deficit.[10] [11]

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More protein won’t be detrimental and won’t turn to chocolate cake.  Higher levels of protein may not build more muscle, but it can be beneficial to preserve lean body mass when losing weight.[12]

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Protein contributes to your energy intake.  So if your goal is fat loss, then you want to target the minimum effective dose of macronutrients and micronutrients.  As a general rule, a higher protein intake tends, up to about 45% of your intake leads to a better nutritional profile[13] and increased satiety.[14] [15]  Very high protein diets (i.e. above than 80% energy from protein) will likely rely on supplements and may minimise other foods that provide more vitamins and minerals.  As you can see on the far left of this chart, actively targeting a low protein intake can lead to a poor nutritional outcome.[16]

protein (%) vs nutrient density score [click to enlarge]
[note: If your goal is therapeutic ketosis for the management of epilepsy, dementia, cancer, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s you will need to pay particular attention to ensure you get your share of micronutrients.]

Carbs as a limit

As you can see in the chart below,[17] you can get a reasonable level of nutrition if you consume anywhere between 0 and 60% of your energy from non-fibre carbs.[18]  However, with an exploding diabetes epidemic,[19] [20] [21] it’s probably fair to say that the majority of people would do better if they reduced their consumption of refined grains and sugars.

carbohydrates (%) vs nutrient density score [click to enlarge]
If you have already developed insulin resistance or diabetes, then reducing your carbohydrate intake to the point you achieve normal blood glucose levels is a good idea,[22] both in terms of overall health and controlling appetite that can be driven by extreme blood sugar swings.

The fact that much of the population is already insulin resistant is likely part of the reason the Ketogains approach, with its limit on carbs, has been so successful.

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Low carbers are fond of saying “there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate”.  However, unless you are focusing on getting lots of organ meat, shellfish, or fresh meat, you may benefit from consuming some non-starchy veggies to get your essential vitamins and minerals.

Twenty or thirty grams of non-fibre carbs doesn’t sound like much in the context of grains or sugars, but it can feel like a LOT of food to consume if it’s from non-starchy veggies.[23]

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Fat as a lever

So to recap:

  1. Adequate protein is critical to support muscle growth and repair.
  2. Non-starchy veggies (which contain a small amount of non-fibre carbohydrates) provide vitamins and minerals (unless of course, you are eating heaps of shellfish, organ meat or drinking blood like the Maasai).

Recently, many people are swinging back from their fear of fat to embrace dietary fat again.

Carbohydrate is a more explosive fuel source for emergencies, while fat is a slower burning and more efficient fuel source.

While there are essential fats, we don’t require that fat each day.[24]  Beyond this, where you get your energy doesn’t matter that much.  As you can see from the chart below, we can achieve a a respectable nutritional outcome with a fat intake of between 10 and 65%.   More fat is not necessarily better, but very low-fat levels are not great either as they tend to have minimal amounts of protein and other essential nutrients.

fat (%) vs nutrient density score [click to enlarge]
If you are trying to reduce body fat, then maximising the nutrient density and reducing the energy density of your food is a worthy goal.  A protein sparing modified fast, an extreme version of this, provides adequate protein while limiting both fat and carbohydrates.

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If you are looking to gain weight, add muscle or perform extended feats of endurance exercise on a regular basis, it may be beneficial to load up on more energy dense fat.  However, conversely, if are not an endurance athlete but trying to use your body fat for fuel, you may want to wind your dietary fat intake back.

Micronutrients

Once you’ve worked out your macros using the Ketogains calculator and got the hang of using fat as a lever to manage energy intake, the next step is to ensure you are getting your share of micronutrients.

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Focusing purely on macros (e.g. Flexible Dieting, IIFYM, etc.) is short-sighted because it fails to consider micronutrients.  Chronic energy restriction without attention to micronutrients can lead to chronic nutrient deficiencies,[25] a lack of energy, increased hunger,[26] rebound bingeing due to cravings and even death.[27]

You’re likely aware that the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) trigger muscle protein synthesis and ensures you use the rest of the amino acids to build and repair your muscles.[28]  However, recent research has found that the amino acids arginine and lysine trigger satiety and hence we find foods that contain these amino acids more filling.[29] [30]

The chart below shows what your micronutrient profile would look like if you focused on branched chain amino acids (valine, isoleucine, and leucine) and the satiety-related amino acids (lysine and arginine) while also keeping carbohydrates low.

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While we get plenty of protein with this approach, we would not obtain the recommended minimum levels of a large number of the essential vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.

As much as we like to focus on macronutrients (i.e. fat, protein, carbohydrates, fibre, ketones), micronutrients are arguably a more useful to assist us in our nutritional decision making.

Getting adequate minerals is especially important for:

  • avoiding the symptoms of the keto flu,[31]
  • reversing insulin resistance and minimising the amount of basal insulin circulating in your body,[32] [33] [34] and
  • maximising athletic performance.[35]

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The chart below shows what happens to our micronutrient profile when, in addition to BCAAs, we also prioritise foods that contain the harder to find micronutrients (shown in yellow).

Optimal foods

In case you were wondering which foods will give you the most micronutrients while also having a lower energy density and fewer carbs, I have listed them below.

Vegetables

  • watercress
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • endive
  • asparagus
  • Chinese cabbage
  • chard
  • cauliflower
  • zucchini
  • white mushroom
  • spirulina
  • escarole
  • alfalfa
  • chicory greens
  • okra
  • portabella mushrooms
  • coriander
  • shiitake mushroom
  • cabbage
  • parsley
  • seaweed (laver)
  • summer squash
  • broccoli
  • arugula
  • snap beans
  • mung beans
  • artichokes
  • yeast extract spread
  • chives
  • beet greens
  • sauerkraut
  • cucumber
  • pickles
  • turnips
  • soybeans (sprouted)
  • celery
  • seaweed (wakame)
  • turnip greens
  • peas
  • radicchio
  • banana pepper
  • radishes
  • seaweed (kelp)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • amaranth leaves
  • mustard greens
  • collards
  • eggplant
  • onions
  • pumpkin
  • edamame
  • chayote
  • pinto beans
  • kale
  • rhubarb
  • red cabbage
  • butternut squash

Seafood

  • halibut
  • white fish
  • rockfish
  • salmon
  • pollock
  • sturgeon
  • flounder
  • fish roe
  • haddock
  • crayfish
  • cod
  • whiting
  • crab
  • lobster
  • mussel
  • perch
  • trout
  • clam
  • shrimp
  • molluscs
  • scallop
  • octopus
  • caviar
  • oysters
  • anchovy
  • sardine
  • herring
  • tuna
  • orange roughy

Offal

  • kidney
  • heart
  • liver
  • tripe

Animal products

  • chicken breast
  • pork chops
  • leg ham
  • ground pork
  • chicken drumstick
  • pork shoulder
  • veal
  • whole egg
  • cream cheese (low fat)
  • pork (lean)
  • turkey
  • ground beef (lean)
  • roast pork
  • roast ham
  • sirloin steak (lean)

You should ideally focus on the foods closer to the top of these lists.  But once you’ve eaten as much endive, alfalfa, liver and caviar as you can, feel free to move down the list to more energy dense foods or ones that you might enjoy eating more.

We can use a similar approach to ranking meals.   I have included a range of meals at the end of this post.

Supplements

If you can’t get enough nutrient-dense foods, it may be beneficial to use supplements.[36]  Keep in mind though, the nutrients from whole foods are likely to be better absorbed.  Too many minerals at once will ‘give you a dose of the salts’ and all your expensive supplements will end up in the toilet.  Whole foods are also more likely to contain all the other beneficial non-essential nutrients that come along with nutrient-dense foods.

What to track

“What gets measured gets managed”.[37]

But we can only manage a handful of things at a time.

“If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

You need to identify a few things to track to ensure you are moving towards your goals, but not too many.

In the context of losing fat and gaining muscle the best things to track appear to be:

  1. weight/body fat,
  2. macros/calories, and
  3. performance (e.g. weight on the bar).

weight / body fat

Most people want to have more energy and look good naked.  While it’s much easier to track body weight, this is really about losing body fat.

There are a ton of different ways to measure body fat (e.g. DEXA, comparison photos, bioimpedance scales, Skulpt, the Navy Method, etc.) and they are all inaccurate to some degree.  You can do your head in focusing on the fluctuations on the scale or body fat from day to day.  However, you want to see your overall weight and body fat reducing toward your target levels.  It seems that people who successfully lose weight and keep it off manage their food intake, measure their weight regularly and are active![38] [39]

If you’re a fitness model you might want to measure yourself daily.  If you’re just starting to focus on eating well and lifting, then you might just want to weigh yourself weekly or monthly.[40]

If you are not moving towards your goals over the long term, something needs to change.

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But first, you need to set some realistic goals.  Take the time to determine your current and target body weight, fat (in kg and %) and lean body mass (LBM).

  current target
body weight (kg)
body fat (%)
body fat (kg)
LBM (kg)

If you are disciplined, it is possible to lose 1% of your mass per week, but 0.5% is a more realistic and less aggressive target.  If you are already lean, then it will be harder to lose fat without losing muscle so you may need a less aggressive deficit.[41]

It’s not all about the weight on the scale.  You can be losing fat and gaining muscle, the weight on the scale probably is the most reliable indicator that you’ve got your inputs right.  If you’re getting enough protein and working out, then the muscle should be looking after itself, and any loss should be mainly fat.[42]

Weighing yourself can have a negative mental effect on some people.  So if it does your head in, don’t do it too often.

Keep in mind that body weight is a lagging measurement that tells you whether you’re on the right track.  Tracking inputs (e.g. food intake and exercise) will be much more useful.

macros / calories

Personally, I don’t enjoy tracking my food, so I’ve designed a range of food lists and meals that will help most people improve from where they currently are.  It will be pretty hard to get/stay morbidly obese if you eat only the foods and meals listed above.

But if you want to look like a fitness model, or you are not getting your desired results from ‘eating ad libitum’ you will likely need to track your food to overcome your inbuilt impulse to maintain a higher body weight and prepare for a possible famine ahead.

As noted by Luis below, tracking your food in an app like Cronometer can be a useful educational experience.

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The Ketogains calculator will give you a starting point in terms of calorie intake based on your current weight and activity levels.  If, after a few weeks, you are not seeing the progress you were hoping for you will need to adjust your inputs.

Performance/weight on the bar

Building muscle or achieving a performance goal is probably more important than weight loss, particularly if you are not trying to get down to a very low level of body fat.

The great thing about using a performance goal is that it is both a leading and lagging measure.  By going harder, faster and heavier you are providing a greater stimulus for growth.  And by measuring your performance outputs, you are ensuring that you are getting fitter/faster/healthier.

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While being strong doesn’t guarantee weight loss, being stronger will improve your metabolic health, insulin sensitivity and ability to burn fat more effectively than nearly anything else.

Having more lean muscle mass will ensure you burn both glucose and fat more efficiently.  Lean muscle mass is a key predictor of longevity.[43]

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The Ketogains boot camp uses a 5×5 strength progression.  The Stronglifts 5×5 or Starting Strength uses a similar progressive overload approach.  These programs involve compound lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, row etc.) and progressive overload meaning that you add weight to the bar each time and continue to get stronger.   By doing this, you train your body to produce energy from your food more and more efficiently.

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Don’t be surprised if your appetite ramps up during the first few months of intensive lifting as your body goes into anabolic overdrive to recover and build new muscle.  This will settle down after a while, and you can then focus on dialling your diet in if you want to gain strength as well as lose body fat.[44]  You have a unique window of ‘newb gains’ during initial this period of lifting that you may never get again.  You can focus on getting to single digit body fat later.

Other stuff that you could track

There are other things that you might like to track, but they will be less useful than the ones mentioned above.

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Most people have limited time and don’t really want to live a completely quantified life.  Unless this is your only hobby or you are a professional athlete or fitness model, you may quickly hit ‘analysis paralysis’ and give up.

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There is no guarantee that technology will help you reach your goals.  In fact, it seems that you are more likely to gain weight if you use wearables like a Fitbit.[45]  It’s hard to know whether this is due to the EMF or perhaps the wearer is always allowing themselves to consume the extra calories that their technology told them that they just burned with exercise.

So, coming from a bit of a biohacker nerd….  don’t try to track too many things at once!  OK?

Heart Rate Variability

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the variability between your heart beats.  If you are stressed and/or exhausted your heart will be more rhythmically as well as more rapidly.   If you are relaxed and well rested your heart will be more to stresses and quickly return to rest.

HRV.png

Measuring your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) can tell you if you’re pushing too hard and need to rest recover or you’re not pushing hard enough and should be working harder to maximise your progress.  Training when you are burning out can be counterproductive and lead to injury or under recovery.

Elite HRV.jpg

HRV tells you whether your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system is balanced.

  • If you are “parasympathetic nervous system dominant” you might be overstressed from too much activity, not enough sleep, too much caffeine or work stress.
  • If you are “sympathetic nervous system dominant”, then it probably means your body wants to rest. You’ll probably do better if you listen to it and let it recover.
  • If your overall HRV is dropping, it means you are burning out and should consider slowing down.

After 1.5 years of measuring my HRV each morning, it’s uncanny how many times I will see my HRV fall a few days before you get the flu or hit the wall.  I don’t like to stay still long enough to meditate, so tracking each day with Elite HRV is part of my relaxation, breathing and focus at the start of each day.

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Blood sugar

Your blood sugar and glucose control is a powerful indicator of metabolic health.  But blood sugar readings can vary depending, not just due to the food you eat or your metabolic health, but also exercise and stress.  For most people, blood sugar readings can be more confusing than helpful.

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If you have diabetes, then refining your food choices to normalise your blood sugars is critical. However, regular blood sugar tracking is likely a waste of time and money for most people who are following a Ketogains style approach (i.e. tracking their food to ensure they are moving towards an optimal weight, getting adequate protein and lifting regularly), because it’s simply not necessary.

Blood ketones

Unless you require therapeutic ketosis to help manage epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s measuring your blood ketones is also largely an irrelevant distraction.

Lots of people get caught up chasing ‘optimal ketosis’ by eating more dietary fat and less protein.  However, this is exactly the opposite of what you need to gain strength and lose body fat.

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Blood ketones do increase when we don’t eat. But high ketone levels don’t mean you are burning your body fat.  It could just be three Bulletproof coffees and exogenous ketones you just had to get that are driving your high ketone levels.

Some people, especially those who are physically fit and/or have been practising a low carb diet for a long time, seem to have lower blood ketone levels, even if they are eating a ‘ketogenic’ diet.  It’s hard to know whether this is due to the more efficient use of ketones or the fact they are burning more fat through non-ketogenic pathways.

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Ketones are just one of a number of ways that we burn fat (chart from Dave Feldman)

Someone who is not so metabolically healthy can load up on exogenous ketones, butter and MCT oil and get a high blood ketone reading on their meter.  But this may just mean that they have eaten a lot of fat that they are not burning (because of their lack of activity and/or poor metabolic health) and the fat is backing up in their bloodstream.

A healthy metabolism seems to keep the total energy circulating in the bloodstream fairly low (i.e. from glucose, ketones or free fatty acids).  If you are metabolically healthy, you can easily access your fat stores so you don’t need to build up high energy stores in the blood.  By contrast, someone with a less healthy metabolism seems to maintain higher energy stores in the blood (i.e. glucose, ketones, free fatty acids) as well as on their body.[46]

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This chart shows more than 3000 data points of blood glucose and ketones together from a range of people following a low carb and ketogenic diet.  Having high blood ketones and high blood sugar at the same time is not good!  Healthy people tend to have lower blood sugar and moderate level ketones.

Most people don’t need to worry about their blood glucose and ketone levels consciously.  If you focus on nutrient dense food to optimise your mitochondrial function and strength building to keep pushing your mitochondria to produce energy at peak efficiency, then your body will probably look after the rest.

[At the risk of getting too technical, it’s worth pointing out that blood ketones rise because there is a lack of Oxaloacetate (from protein and carbs) available to burn Acetyl CoA from fat in the Krebs cycle, so the body defaults to a starvation protocol to produce ketones (AcetoAcetate). 

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Figure from Amy Berger showing how fat can be burned in the Krebs cycle or via ketosis when there is not enough Oxaloacetate from protein and carbs turn the Krebs cycle.

If your NAD+ is low, AcetoAcetate will not be converted to Acetone so there will be lots of beta-hydroxybutyrate left in the blood to be measured on your meter.  So, other than fasting and/or exercising to deplete your liver glycogen levels, one ‘hack’ to achieve high blood ketone is to avoid protein and eat a nutrient-poor diet low in niacin and other B vitamins (which produce NAD+).  But don’t try this at home.  It’s not a recipe for optimal health, just high ketone levels]  

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Ketogains’ Tyler Cartwright has lost nearly three hundred pounds without exceeding 0.4mmol/L blood ketones on his ketone metre (other than that time he ate nothing but lard for two weeks as an experiment and got to 0.5mmol/L).[47]

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Breath ketones

Breath ketones are an interesting indication of your metabolic health.  But again, they’re not necessary if you are already focusing on a nutrient-dense diet without too much energy and plenty of activity.

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Waist measurement

BMI is often used to assess whether or not someone is at a healthy weight.

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However, BMI is notoriously problematic for people with more muscle.

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Waist to height ratio is a much better predictor of the years of life that you will lose due to your poor health.[48]

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Micronutrients and nutrient score

You may have gathered that I’m a big fan of micronutrients.  Focusing on the nutrient-dense whole foods above and the meals below will get you most of the way to optimal nutrition.  However, you can also track your macronutrients in Cronometer which will help you identify the nutrients you are not getting from your diet.

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But then, once you’ve tracked your food in Cronometer, you are left wondering what foods and meals you should eat.  If need to supplement, how much of each supplement do you require and how much?

The Nutrient Score is a measure of the micronutrient quality of your diet.  If you were able to get two times the recommended daily intake of all the essential micronutrients, you would get a perfect score of 100%.

To demonstrate what this looks like in practice, Ted Naiman’s diet got a very respectable nutrient score of 70%.

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Luis’ got 72%.

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Nutrition nerd Alex Leaf (and regular reviewer of my blog posts… thanks so much Alex!!!!) scored an impressive 74%.

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Mike Berta also scored 74%.

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Brianna Theroux’s scored a very healthy 79%.

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And sitting at the top of the leaderboard is Dr Rhonda Patrick with a score of 82%.

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But the coolest competition is against yourself.  Andy Mant managed to seriously up his nutritional game…

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… by eating a LOT of nutrient-dense seafood…

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… in preparation for his Paris wedding.

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By following the recommendations of the Nutrient Optimiser analysis, Robin was able to improve her nutrient score to 32% (junk food diet) to 68% over a number of iterations (see report 1, report 2 and report 3).

In the process, she was able to significantly improve her blood glucose levels, dropping her HBA1c from 10.6% to 6.4%.  Robin was also able to progress from taking hundreds of units of insulin per day to only needing occasional correcting doses to fine tune her blood sugars.  She also managed to lose 2.6lbs per week!

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And after a couple of rounds of following the Nutrient Optimiser recommendations and a couple of Ketogains boot camps the Matt Standridge (aka The Ketodontist) has stepped up from a nutrient score of 48% to 73%.  He says he is feeling great and continues to gain muscle and lose fat.

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The Nutrient Optimiser

While there are common themes, each person’s micronutrient fingerprint is unique.  The optimal foods and meals that will balance your micronutrient profile are unique to you.

The Nutrient Optimiser is the only tool that will tell you what foods are ideal to balance your diet while also aligning with your goals.

Currently, the Nutrient Optimiser is a manual report that will help you optimise your nutrition from the micronutrients based on your food log in Cronometer.  We’re working hard to develop an automated system that will use your goals and whatever data you have to help you refine your nutrition to achieve your goals.

If you don’t want to track your food, the system will tell you what meals and foods will align with your goals.  But if you want to step up your game and provide other data we can work with that to further refine your nutritional prescription to fill in your micronutrient gaps.  The system will also adapt with you to improve your nutrition, ideally from diabetic, to weight loss to achieve your performance goals.

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It might just be your secret weapon to help you blitz is #transormationtuesday.

Summary

  • The Ketogains protocol involves getting adequate protein (to support muscle growth and recovery) and adequate carbs to get essential vitamins and minerals. Fat is used as a level to manipulate energy intake to suit your goals.
  • If you are limiting your energy intake, maximising your nutrient : energy ratio is critical!
  • The Nutrient Optimiser can help you identify foods and meals that align with your goals and fill in your micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Chose what you track wisely. Trying to manage too many things can lead to ‘analysis paralysis’.  If you manage the most important inputs, results should naturally follow.

 

 

Meals

I’ve been building a database of to help identify, not just the individual foods, but also the meals, that provide you with the nutrients you need more of and align with your goals.

If you are tracking in Cronometer, you can sign up for a Nutrient Optimiser analysis and report here to find out which foods and meals will help you move forward.  I’ve also been working with Alex from Nutrient Hero for the past few months building a massive database of recipes we can use to optimise your nutrition.

It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but it won’t be too long before it’s all automated and online.  If you want to be the first to trial the beta version then make sure you enter your email in the pop on this page or head over to NutrientOptimiser.com now to learn more.

The recipes below are some of the highest ranking when we prioritise some of the harder to find vitamins and minerals (potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, thiamine and choline) as well as higher protein and a lower energy density.

I have included the link to the Cronometer entry as well as the nutritional profile and a list of foods that will help you balance the nutritional profile of the recipe.

Bootcamp omelette

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Gayle Louise created this simple omelette recipe for her Ketogains boot camp workout days.   Nutritional yeast has a fantastic nutritional profile and adds a cheesy taste without the calories, minimising fat and maximising nutrient density.

ingredients

method

  • cook the spinach first with ghee or butter.
  • whisk 4 eggs with salt and pepper and add too cooked spinach
  • sprinkle with nutritional yeast, cover and cook until firm.

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Cronometer analysis

https://nutrienthero.com/recipe-analysis/boot-camp-omelette

 

Potassium salted caramel coffee

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Everyone loves coffee, and most people find potassium harder to get in their diet than sodium.  So why not potassium coffee?!?!  The milk and caramel syrup are not essential, but they give you that indulgent salted caramel taste.

Getting adequate minerals is critical to ensuring insulin sensitivity, nutrient partitioning, muscle building and recover and avoiding diabetes.

While most people don’t need to worry about getting too much salt, having a potassium : sodium ratio greater than two is hard to achieve for most people, even if they do eat a lot of greens.

My friend Raymund Edwards of Optimal Ketogenic Living has been doing a LOT of research into the wide-ranging benefits of alkalising electrolytes, in particular, potassium.  This recipe was inspired by Raymund after hearing that he was adding potassium to his coffee.

Raymund said, “A potassium enriched coffee in the morning really wakes the muscles.  It’s better than any warm up.  Loose and alive we can feel the difference as they soak up actively the potassium especially after the night fast (where muscles have been releasing potassium).  And  the coffee in my view tastes so much better too.”

It’s hard to get a significant amount of potassium from tablets as they are limited to 99 mg which is only a fraction of the 3,800 mg of potassium that we need each day (you would need to take forty tablets to get the DRI for potassium!).

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You can also add the potassium citrate powder to your drinking water, coffee or pre-workout mix.  You would need more than 10g of the citrate powder to get your recommended daily intake of potassium, but, like all things, start slowly. However, in time, it might just make you feel amazing!

ingredients

method

  • Pour coffee shot from fresh grounds
  • Add potassium citrate powder
  • Add caramel syrup (optional)
  • Add a dash of full cream milk to taste (optimal)
  • Add hot water to taste (depending on how you like your coffee)

Cronometer analysis

nutritional analysis

 

Greens + eggs + seafood

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Dom D’Agostino infamously told Tim Ferriss in his sound check that his breakfast was sardines, oysters, eggs and broccoli.  It might sound bizarre, but it packs a nutritional punch.

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Most days my breakfast is some variant on frozen greens (spinach, broccoli, kale) + eggs + seafood (sardines, mackerel, oysters, mussels, anchovies) + nutritional yeast.

If you’re not focusing on losing body fat you can add cheese or peanuts for some extra indulgent taste, but leaving these out will help you increase your protein : energy and nutrient : energy ratio which is ideal if you are trying to lose body fat (and will make Ted Naiman and Luis Villasenor proud).

You could take more time to fry these ingredients up and plate them up nicely, but most of the time breakfast only needs to be time efficient and doesn’t need to look good.  If you can start the day with a high protein nutrient dense breakfast, you’ll be less likely to succumb to other cravings later in the day.

ingredients:

  • 250g frozen veggies. Spinach is always best, but broccoli or kale work too.
  • Three eggs. Consider removing the yolks if you are focussed on lower fat higher protein fat loss phase, though this will decrease the overall nutrient profile.  The yolk is where all the vitamins and minerals are!
  • 1 can of seafood (e.g. mackerel, sardines, oysters, mussels or anchovies).
  • 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast
  • Peanuts (optional, only if not looking to lean out)
  • 1 oz mozzarella cheese (optional, only if not looking to lean out)
  • Salt (No Salt, Celtic Sea or Redmond Real Salt) & pepper to taste.

method

  • Defrost greens in bowl for five minutes in the microwave.
  • Add eggs and cook for a further minute or until done. (I often find that the eggs need a bit more cooking but stir everything in at around three minutes and then cook for another two minutes).
  • Add other ingredients
  • Salt liberally to taste.

Nutritional analysis

Cronometer entry

Photos of other variants (hey, they ain’t pretty, but they work).

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image11.png

image5.png

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Bacon, egg, spinach and mushroom

image41.png

This is a variant on the common bacon and eggs recipe. The spinach mushroom and tomato round out the nutritional profile of the stock standard bacon and eggs.

The spinach provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin K and vitamin A.  Most people think kale is the ultimate nutrient-dense green vegetable.  However, kale just has a lot of Vitamin K1 and not so as much of everything else.  Spinach has a much better nutritional profile across the board.

If you are focusing on reducing body fat and maximising nutrient density, consider eliminating the cream, draining the bacon fat and keeping the butter to a minimum for cooking.  If your goal is bulking and recover, then you can be more liberal with the cream and cheese to taste.  Remember, fat is a lever.

ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 200g fresh spinach
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 30g cream (optional)
  • 30g mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • butter
  • Salt (No Salt, Celtic Sea or Redmond Real Salt) & pepper to taste.

method

  • Fry bacon separately. If your priority is reducing body fat then you can let the bacon rest on a paper towel to drain the fat.  Alternatively, bacon grease can be used to fry the spinach, mushroom and eggs.
  • Fry eggs separately.
  • Add cream and cheese if not looking to lean out.
  • Salt to taste.

Nutritional analysis

Cronometer entry

 

Steak, egg, tomato, avo spinach and lettuce

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This is a fairly standard Sunday night family dinner at our place.  A solid piece of steak on the BBQ with salad.

ingredients:

method

  • Grill BBQ steak
  • Cook spinach with some butter or coconut on BBQ plate when grilling the steak.
  • Serve with boiled egg (or fried on the BBQ) along with salad (avocado, tomato and lettuce shown here).
  • Salt (No Salt, Celtic Sea or REdmond Real Salt) & pepper to taste.

Facebook

Nutritional profile

Cronometer

 

Be sure to check out the more than 300 meals on the Nutrient Optimiser Facebook Group.  You might even want to add some of your own.

 

 

 

references

[1] https://ketogains.com/2017/06/energy-balance-macros-nutrient-density/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5304a3.htm

[3] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32252-3/abstract

[4] http://www.artandscienceoflowcarb.com/the-art-and-science-of-low-carbohydrate-performance/

[5] https://www.amazon.com/Art-Science-Low-Carbohydrate-Performance/dp/0983490716

[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkQYZ6FbsmI

[7] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/10/15/high-protein-vs-low-protein/

[8] https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0201-z

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9841962

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29182451/

[11] https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dropbox.com%2Fs%2F1if7n957u66htiy%2F10.1123%2540ijsnem.2017-0273.pdf%3Fdl%3D0&h=ATNppfskJJ6fMuIVoJrC0rX_8H9KCT2SeryF0MeRrAnJz6X9p_3FPhPYUK3RGSOE-kDTeOLxKdw26vel3zBWDbOlaCQzxkxpDU8CjFs9Moo51fC9NByHYvs83uU7PvjFolOxvqx3Pw

[12] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/06/03/why-do-my-blood-sugars-rise-after-a-high-protein-meal/

[13] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/10/30/nutrition-how-to-get-the-minimum-effective-dose/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15836464

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24588967

[16] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/10/30/nutrition-how-to-get-the-minimum-effective-dose/

[17] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/10/30/nutrition-how-to-get-the-minimum-effective-dose/

[18] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/10/30/nutrition-how-to-get-the-minimum-effective-dose/

[19] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-diabetes/cost-of-diabetes-epidemic-reaches-850-billion-a-year-idUSKBN1DD2SW

[20] http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/the-true-cost-of-diabetes-and-preventing-it/

[21] http://www.diabetes.co.uk/cost-of-diabetes.html

[22] https://optimisingnutrition.com/tag/insulin-load/

[23] https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/20-50-how-much

[24] https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/fats-total-fat-fatty-acids

[25] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17593855

[26] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2988700/

[27] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2017/06/17/psmf/

[28] https://metabolicnutrition.com/branched-chain-amino-acids-bcaas-benefits-for-muscle-growth/

[29] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170927093254.htm

[30] http://suppversity.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/the-satiating-secret-of-arginine-lysine.html

[31] https://ketogains.com/2017/06/keto-flu-electrolyte-imbalances/

[32] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21036373/

[33] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC301822/

[34] https://diabetesmealplans.com/6285/magnesium-and-diabetes-type-2/

[35] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150427

[36] https://ketogains.com/2016/08/ketogains-seven-must-supplements/

[37] https://athinkingperson.com/2012/12/02/who-said-what-gets-measured-gets-managed/

[38] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24355667

[39] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Weight_Control_Registry

[40] http://www.nourishbalancethrive.com/podcasts/nourish-balance-thrive/keto-masterclass-robb-wolf/

[41] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15615615

[42] https://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/calorie-partitioning-part-1.html/

[43] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2016/03/21/wanna-live-forever/

[44] https://startingstrength.com/articles/clarification_rippetoe.pdf

[45] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2553448

[46] https://optimisingnutrition.com/2015/07/20/the-glucose-ketone-relationship/

[47] https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjpo5y5qu_XAhWHFpQKHV8VAXgQFggvMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fketogeek.libsyn.com%2F14-tyler-cartright&usg=AOvVaw04xLzYxE3tS8oa8LWvLkZk

[48] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0103483

8 thoughts on “optimal meals and foods for fat loss and muscle building”

  1. Guys, you have to stop this ketogenics diet as a student of nutrtion. Yes, you will burn fat but you will also burn muscle, also, why putting your body to stress? None of the professionals recommend this diet,

    1) Portein requierements go from 1.2 to 2 g/kg, higher levels could lead to renal insufficiency in long term. You don’t want a transplant.

    2) Peripherical organs have a limit of ketogenics bodies,wich leads to cetonuria, wich drags water, minerals (this could lead you to death in extreme cases)

    3) Ketoacidosis could lead you to death if you are diabetic.

    3) Heart problems in the long term.

    Go for 55/15/30 and eat as clean as posible, you don’t need to put your body to stress. Just limit sugar, saturated fats, trans, coleterol, and use compelx carbs with low GI.

    1. I too studied Nutrition and in the past I would have agreed, but sadly what is being taught is not correct and you are being misinformed. All four of your points are based on old science and theories that have been disproved through current studies.

  2. What an outstanding article, thanks Marty. Love your clarity & logic lines (again). It so helps me make more sense of my study of this stuff.

    But can’t help feeling that nutrition student’s comment above is soooo out of whack with reality its a great example of his being a victim of the crappy “science” dogma school of nutrition…!! His remarks are so loaded with overt falsifications and/or bad info.

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