I get asked every so often how I implement a low fat diet. This isn’t something I really discuss often, because my diet is so spartan and countercultural. Besides, there are many great low fat books out there with great recipes. Cooking is deifnitely my forte and,I basically, I eat to minimize prep time. I enjoy what I eat, but for me it’s much more chemistry than culinary. Notably missing from my standard diet are little things like a) cooking and b) foods that are socially acceptable. The latter simply does not matter me to any more. For all these reasons, you may not find my diet very practical. But for those not faint of heart, you can check out how I eat below and it may give you some ideas at least.
Let me mention some strong points of my diet that may not be readily apparent:
a) Low Fat Paleo. I consider my diet very Paleo and would term it “Low Fat Paleo”. I rarely consume wheat, for example, and the primary “grain” that I eat is quinoa, which is not really a true grain. I also eat fish (BPA-free, low mercury sardines) almost every day and rarely have dairy or soy.
b) Good Fats. One of the big problems that plant-based folks often have is horrendous omega-6 to omega-3 ratios. Mine is stellar and right around 1:1.
c) Just Pretty Low Fat. I do not go super low with the fat levels and am in the 15-20% range (as a percentage of total fat). I believe this is important to displace some carbohydrates and increase nutrient absorption. It is the recommendation in the Pritikin Edge as well.
d) 90% Plant. I believe that the sweet spot for diets is 90% Plant / 10% Animal. The ultraelite supercultures (Hunza, Abkhasians, Tarahumara, Vilcabambans) eat roughly this way and they enjoy not only incredible longevity but a life without heart disease, cancer or autoimmune disorders.
SUCCESSES: Here are some goals that I have achieved while consuming a low fat diet that I think are noteworthy:
a) Heart Scan of Zero. About a year ago, I had a heart scan and they found zero cardiac artery plaque. That’s pretty good for a guy in low mid 50’s in a Western Culture. This is good for erections and should greatly improve my chances of traditional heart disease, assuming I can maintain it.
b) A1C. My latest A1C was 5.2. While not stellar, this is a pretty respectable number for a guy eating a solid amount of carbohydrates.
c) Hypertrophy. I am a skinny bastard, but I have 20+ more pounds of muscle than I did in college with almost exactly the same amount of body fat.
d) Excellent Triglycerides, LDL-C and apoB. For example, in 9/4/2014 I pulled the standard lipids and had cholesterol of 121, triglycerides of 98 and LDL of 76. My apoB was 68 mg/dl, which is a very respectable number. I’d like to get the triglycerides and apoB down about 10% more, but the point is that diet alone can get you very close to plaque regression levels.
CONCERNS: Here are a few things that I need to work on:
a) Occasional Prehypertension. When I go to a doctor’s appointment, I will at time get a reading that is about 128/86. This could be a side effect from TRT or from overwork. I can only say, “Working on it.”
b) High PSA. I had a high PSA read and actually had to have a biopsy. They found (in a biopsy) no cancer and inflammation, so so far so good.
RDA’s: Although not perfect, my RDA totals are very good. I eat pumpkin seeds, which are high in zinc and magnesium, and consume nutritional yeast, which is high in the B vitamins, areas where plant-based men can come out a little low:
- Vitamin A: 1086%
- Vitamin C: 72%
- Vitamin E: 59%
- Vitamin K: 786%
- Thiamine: 163%
- Riboflavin: 776%
- Niacin: 57%
- Vitamin B6: 123%
- Folate: 291%
- Vitamin B12: 133%
- Pantothenic Acid: 61%
- Calcium: 75%
- Iron: 178%
- Magnesium: 201%
- Phosphorus: 189%
- Potassium: 81%
- Sodium: 13%
- Zinc: 93%
- Copper: 118%
- Manganese: 378%
- Selenium: 60%
Yes, selenium is a little low, but I actually take it in supplement form to make sure I get enough. Iron is a little high, but I am consuming almost entirely non-heme, so I believe I will be okay there. Niacin is also a little low, but I haven’t worked on that yet. Note that sodium is not actually low, as I get ample amounts from my pumpkin seeds which have salt.
FOODS: I guess I should also include the actual foods that I eat! Here they are:
- 1/2 cup frozen organic blueberries
- 1/2 cup of organic strawberries and red tart cherries
- 1 stalk medium organic celery
- 3 cooked cups of quinoa
- 4 cups of raw or frozen organic spinach
- 10 organic baby carrots
- 4 T Solgar nutritional yeast (no affiliation)
- 1 can of Trader Joe BPA-free sardines (in water; no affiliation)
- 3 T flaxseed
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 4 T rice protein
- 1.5 cup pinto beans cooked
- 1/5 cup oat bran
HOW I EAT – THE MECHANICS: As I mentioned, my diet is designed around minimum prep time and fast but nutritious meals. Basically, I do the following:
- Smoothie in the evening
- Multiple small meals during the day where I consume quinoa with beans; pumpkin seeds; and some kind of protein powder (or the sardeines)
Note that for sauces I will use low fat ones that I find at Trader Joe’s. This includes various salsas, salad dressings, etc. This adds some “spice” to eating the same thing virtually every meal. I will sometimes substitute brown rice or millet in place of the quinoa.
MACRONUTRIENT LEVELS: I exercise about an hour a day and, therefore, need a good supply of carbs in my opinion. My goal is a carb-to-protein ratio less than 2:1, which this diet achieves. In addition, as mentioned above, I was targetting fat levels at 15-20% of total calories. You’ll also notice that I consume a fair amount of protein for hypertrophy (muscle building) purposes:
- Carbs: 56% (272 g)
- Fat: 19% (41 g)
- Protein: 31% (149 g)
Everyone is obsessed with saturated fat for reasons that escape me. I consume about 4 grams per day. Saturated fat servers no useful purpose and lowers nitric oxide levels. So I avoid it.
TOTAL CALORIES: All the above numbers are based on a diet of 2,000 calories.. However, I have some buffer, where I can eat some additional calories – around 300 – from fruit, etc.. Therefore, my actual calories levels are around 2,300 per day. This is probably low for some of you men out there that are very athletic, doing endurance sports or just young with a high metabolism.
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