At first it sounds like a bizarre combination, but when the smartest guy in keto says that he has sardines, oysters, eggs and broccoli as his regular breakfast I wasn’t surprised to find this diet scored highly in the nutritional analysis.
Before he started saving the world by developing Warburg’s mitochondrial theory of cancer and oxygen toxicity seizures for DARPA Dominic D’Agostino studied nutrition and is rumoured to be able to do a 500-pound deadlift for 10 reps after a week of fasting.
Both physical and mental performance are undoubtedly critical to Dom, so it’s not surprising that he is very intentional about his diet and what he puts in his mouth to start each day.
As you can see in the plot from Nutrition Data below Dom’s breakfast scores a very high 93 in the vitamins and minerals score and a very solid 139 in the protein score.
You could say this meal was high protein (44%), low carb (10%) and moderate fat (46%), although his fatty coffee and high-fat desserts would boost the fat content to make it more “ketogenic”.
Dom’s breakfast scores well against the 250 meals analysed to date in the meal rankings for different goals coming in at:
- therapeutic ketosis – 176
- diabetes and nutritional ketosis – 87
- nutrient density – 9
- weight loss – 16
I’ve heard Dom say that he aims for a ‘modified Atkins’ approach with higher protein levels rather than a classical therapeutic ketogenic diet which is harder to stick to and might be used for people with epilepsy, cancer, dementia, etc. It was intriguing to see that Dom’s standard breakfast ranks the highest in nutrient density rather than therapeutic or nutritional ketosis.
Dom first mentioned his favourite breakfast concoction in his first interview with Tim Ferriss (check out the excellent three-hour podcast here). You can hear the shock and slight repulsion in Tim’s voice in the sound check as he responds with
“Do you blend that up in the Vitamix?”
But now Tim, rather than following his own slow carb approach, has made sardines and oysters a regular breakfast staple and mentions it as one of the top 25 great things he learned from podcasts guests in 2015.
The stats for a 500 calorie serve of Dom’s breakfast are shown in the table below.
I was aware that broccoli, eggs and sardines are nutritionally amazing, but then the oysters fill out the vitamin and mineral score to take it a little bit higher. Dom obviously understands the importance of Omega 3s which are hard to get in significant quantities from anything other than seafood.
I was surprised to see that oysters can be ‘carby’ (at 23% carbs) which is apparently due to their glucose pouch which varies in size depending on when they’re harvested.
If you wanted to skip the oysters due to taste or cost considerations, the combination of sardines, egg and broccoli still does pretty well. This option gives fewer carbs, a slight decrease in the vitamin and mineral score with a small increase in the amino acid score.
The ranking for the sans-oyster option is:
- therapeutic ketosis – 159
- diabetes and nutritional ketosis – 67
- nutrient density – 11
- weight loss – 20
The stats for a 500 calorie serving are:
The combination of nutrient dense seafood with nutrient dense vegetables is hard to beat. The chart below shows my comparison of the nutrients in the various food groups in terms the proportion of the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) from 2000 calories (click to enlarge).
I couldn’t get any photos of Dom’s breakfast, but I did get a picture of my current go to lunch. Each weekend I get a bunch of quality celery and chop it up into tubs to take to work each day. I have cans of mackerel and sardines in my drawer at work.
Celery does really well in terms of nutrient density per calorie and sardines and mackerel are high on the nutrient density lists without being outrageously expensive (e.g. caviar, anchovy, swordfish, trout).
When I feel hungry, I might start munching on the celery which is pretty filling and hard to binge on. Then if I’m still hungry, I’ll have as many cans of mackerel or sardines as it takes to fill me up (which is usually 2 to 4).
At around 2 pm this is my first meal of the day (other than espresso shots with cream) at around 2 pm. If I start to feel hungry before then I might check my blood glucose to see if I really need to refuel or if I think I’m hungry because I’m bored. I’ll then go home and have an early dinner with the family around 6 pm.
I’ve been known to indulge in some peanut butter with, cream, Greek yoghurt or even butter if I’m still hungry (e.g. if I’ve ridden to work) but I try to not overdo it as I’m not as shredded as Dom yet.
The simple combination of celery and mackerel also does pretty well in the ranking of 250 meals and aligns well with my current goal of maximising nutrient density and ongoing weight loss now that I’ve been able to stabilise my blood glucose levels.
- therapeutic ketosis – 137
- diabetes and nutritional ketosis – 36
- nutrient density – 16
- weight loss – 8