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I recently embarked on a mission to learn more about nutrition. I found at least 3 different schools of thought:
- Michael Pollen’s book, In Defense of Food suggests, “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” The Book, Low Carb Myth by Ari Whitten, emphasizes whole foods and lowering the reward / palatability of food you eat, to help limit calories.
- Jimmy Moore’s book, Keto Clarity, digs into the Ketogenic Diet, and suggests: “High fat. Moderate protein. Low carb.” Dom D’Agostino, in his podcast with Tim Ferriss, agrees with this approach.
- Soylent, a food replacement product, suggests “engineered nutrition…a blend of protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and micronutrients.”
Across the books and articles I read, most agreed on a few basics. Avoid refined sugars (corn syrup, added sugar, etc.), refined carbohydrates (white bread, “whole wheat” bread with added gluten, etc.), and vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fat (canola, soy, and vegetable). Most also suggest avoiding processed foods (with Soylent as a notable exception).
My personal opinion is that:
- The Michael Pollen approach is healthy and reasonable.
- Soylent is better than most fast food options, and may represent the future of food, but there have not been enough long-term studies.
- The Ketogenic diet may have short-term benefits for some people, and sensible in certain health contexts (such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or cancer), but the long-term impact of the diet on healthy people is still unclear, and the diet is difficult to maintain.
My current food approach includes:
- Soylent and fruit in the morning while commuting to work (eggs or oatmeal, and milk on weekends)
- Lunch at LinkedIn – mostly salad, rice or noodles, side of a meat
- Afternoon snack of fruit (apple, banana), nuts, cheese, and pumpkin seeds
- Dinner – sweet potatoes, salads, black bean pasta, or other meals prepared by Jenny
- Between 1.5 and 2 liters of water / day
- No sugary drinks, coffee, or tea, and minimal desserts
At some point, I may experiment with the Ketogenic diet, but it does not seem sustainable to me. I also experimented with a 3-day water fast, which was not fun.
Your comments and feedback are welcome.
Now onto the book summaries. Enjoy!
- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.
- Avoid food products that contain more than 5 ingredients, unpronounceable ingredients, or include high fructose corn syrup.
- Shop the peripheries – dairy, produce, meat, and fish – and avoid the middle of the supermarket
- Native populations that do not eat the western diet have strikingly low incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke, no appendicitis, varicose veins, or tooth decay,
- Eating less stifles production of free radicals, curbs inflammation, and reduces risks associated with western diets
- Ketosis allows natural appetite control, weight loss, mental clarity, restful sleep, normalized metabolic function, stabilized blood sugar, lower inflammation, higher happiness, increased good cholesterol (hdl), reduced triglycerides, reduced hdl, improved immune system, slowed down aging, and reduced acne
- Underlying formula: eliminate sugars and starch, 2-3 oz of protein per meal, as much natural fat and fibrous vegetables to satiate
- Ketogenic approach is single most effective dietary treatment for cancer
- Food reward – palatability is the single most significant and important factor related to whether food makes us fat. Modern processed industrial food products with refined sugars and fats mixed with artificial flavoring are the most rewarding and palatable
- If you choose to adopt a ketogenic diet, you are essentially acting as a Guinea pig for which science does not have long term evidence and goes against the “blue zones” or longest living populations on earth.
- Although, occasional bouts of ketosis in the form of intermittent fasting may have profound health benefits
- Basic diet rule: eat whole food sources of carbohydrates (fruit, starchy veggies, pure grains, legumes). Recommend heavy serving of fruits and vegetables every time you eat