Diet PlansCategory Archives

The Bulletproof Diet

This great diet is something like Paleo Atkins meets high tech.  Dave Asprey, the author of this diet, spent many years researching and experimenting on himself to come up with this plan.  He communicated with leading edge doctors and scientists, and he invested a substantial amount of his own funds on equipment and testing in his quest to get the truth about what really works with respect to diet and health.  During that time up through the present day, he maintains a blog and a radio show.  His site also has a forum where others can ask questions and report their own results.

I became aware of Dave Asprey’s work at least three years ago.  I have an early version of his food guide that I downloaded back in March of 2012.  The latest version of The Complete Bulletproof® Diet Roadmap is attractive and quite useful.  On this chart, various foods are categorized as Bulletproof®, Suspect, or Kryptonite.  I can vouch for some foods being absolute Kryptonite.  For instance, if I fall for the advice that oatmeal makes a great breakfast and have a bowl of it, I will soon be back in bed asleep.  A food is definitely Kryptonite if it can knock someone out like that.

Anyway, I became interested in Dave’s material again when I saw his email with the subject, “Vision quests for neuroscientists?”  The title of that show is Alberto Villoldo: Brain Hacking & One Spirit Medicine.  This got my attention since I am currently taking classes in shamanism.  During the interview, Dave talked about the extent of his research and experiments, and I became intrigued all over again.  I found out that he had recently published his information as a book, The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life.

I bought the book for my Kindle and began reading.  Dave talked about how his diet encourages the growth of the type of intestinal flora that encourages slimness.  Now I was even more interested!  I was at the time going through yet another round of concurrent antibiotics and antifungal medications to treat various conditions.  I liked the idea that perhaps I could encourage my body to restore itself in that direction as I recovered from the antibiotics.

Dave Asprey’s suggestions in The Bulletproof Diet turn standard dietary advice upside down, but he certainly isn’t the only one saying that standard recommendations are all wrong and even opposite of what the body actually needs.  For instance, Dave recommends getting 50% – 70% of calories from fat with much of it coming from saturated fat.  He claims that saturated fat and cholesterol are the building blocks for all of our hormones.  The highest recommended meats are grass-fed beef and lamb as well as pasture-raised eggs.  Poultry, even the organic pasture-raised kind, is down in the Suspect category due to its higher content of inflammatory unsaturated fats.  Conventionally raised meats of any kind are in the Suspect to Kryptonite range due to the hormones, antibiotics, and GMO ingredients that are often in the feed.  Some conventionally raised animals are literally fed garbage.  On top of that, the conditions in which these animals are raised are quite unsanitary.  It is not unusual for cattle at a feedlot to be standing deep in their own filth.

As Dave says in his book,

One of the biggest leaps I took was to begin eating more butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows. This was scary. It went against everything I’d been told about healthy eating my entire life, but I had done the research and checked the science and I wanted to fix my hormones, so I took a deep breath and stopped holding back on butter. I knew that if I was wrong, my body would show more inflammation in blood panels and I could always stop eating it. Immediately, magical things started to happen. My ability to focus increased, I started losing weight, and my blood panels showed less inflammation, not more—but why?

From there, he began his quest to find out why the butter worked so well.

At the foundation of The Bulletproof Diet is Bulletproof Coffee®.  Among the benefits Dave cites for his coffee recipe are (in his words):

  • stomps on hunger and cravings
  • lights up your brain with an alternative energy source
  • helps you lose weight and build muscle
  • increases focus and performance

Dave emphasizes that the quality of the ingredients of Bulletproof Coffee® is key to its function.  The coffee MUST be as free as possible of mycotoxins from fungal contamination.  The butter MUST be from grass-fed cows.  While coconut oil can be used in Basic Butter Coffee, MCT Oil is preferable and gives the Bulletproof® results.

Since coffee in the United States is not tested for these mycotoxins, Dave has made his own Bulletproof® brand available.  Paper filters should not be used when making Bulletproof Coffee® since the oils containing some of the best components in the coffee will cling to the paper.  A gold filter can be used in a drip coffee maker.  I chose to give a French press a try.  Admittedly, it is more work to make coffee that way, but the results are worth it.  The flavor is that much better.

The butter from grass-fed cows most readily available in the United States is Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter.  It is shown here to the right.

If choose to get a French press and you are serious about using it every day to make coffee, I suggest getting a quality item.  With less expensive coffee presses, the plunger may fall apart, the screens may rust, and the carafe may not be adequately heat tempered.  The SterlingPro Coffee & Espresso Maker comes highly rated; and at the time of this writing, it is available on Amazon.com with 2 bonus screens included for only $29.95.

What follows is the recipe for Dave’s Bulletproof Coffee®.  I expanded the instructions a bit.

  • Up to 1 liter filtered water
  • 2 heaping scoops Bulletproof® Coffee, ground
  • Up to 2 Tbs MCT Oil such as Bulletproof® Brain Octane Oil  (It’s STRONG – start with 1 tsp. and work up over several days.)
  • Up to 2 Tbs unsalted grass-fed butter or ghee  (In Dave’s words:  “Realize salted coffee is a crime.  Do not do this with salted butter. Bleah.”)
  1. Use the carafe of the French press to measure the water for the coffee.  Pour it into a kettle and heat until just boiling.
  2. While the water is heating, put the coffee into the carafe of the French press.
  3. When the water is ready, slowly pour it over the coffee in the carafe, moving the stream around to break up any lumps in the coffee.  If necessary, use a soft spatula to stir away any remaining lumps.  Place the plunger and lid on the French press, but do not press the plunger down just yet.  Let the coffee steep for 5 minutes.
  4. While the coffee is steeping, put the butter and oil into the blender jar.
  5. When the coffee has finished steeping, SLOWLY press down on the plunger of the French press.  This will separate the coffee from the grounds.  It is best to do this slowly to minimize the amount of grounds that slip past the filter screen on the plunger.
  6. Pour the coffee through a fine-mesh tea sieve into the blender jar.  This should catch grounds that slipped past the filter in the French press.
  7. Place the lid securely on the blender jar.  This is IMPORTANT since you do not want hot coffee flying around your kitchen!
  8. Hold down the lid long enough to make sure that it won’t fly off and turn on the blender.  Blend for at least 30 seconds.
  9. While the coffee is blending, rinse the screen of the French press and set it out to dry to prevent rusting of the screen.  Dispose of the coffee grounds properly.  Do NOT put them down your sink.
  10. Pour the coffee into a mug and enjoy!

Please pay attention to the warning about starting slow with the MCT Oil.  The potential result of overdoing it could be, as Dave puts it, “disaster pants.” He’s not kidding about that.  If you choose to start with the full amount anyway, please do so on a low-stress day when you will have easy immediate access to a toilet all day long.  I don’t want anyone coming back here after not heeding this advice and saying that they had a blow-out in front of their company president or best customer.

The Coming Paradigm of Pursuing Biological Balance

I am currently reading An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.  In a nutshell, it is about how the decreasing biodiversity of our environment is creating more disease.  It is about how our agricultural methods, sanitation methods, and compulsive cleaning have in very short order eliminated many of the microorganisms and parasites that we evolved to deal with.  We for the most part no longer live with farm animals.  We seldom come in contact with excrement where in our not so distant past, it was all around us.  Our agricultural growing and distribution methods result in near-sterile produce.  Now that our immune systems have little to contend with, they turn on ourselves.  We are seeing increasing asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases with each new generation living in an environment devoid of the organisms our immune systems are familiar with.

The book begins in a bizarre way.  The author is seeking to infect himself with hookworms in a desperate hope to improve allergy and autoimmune conditions.  The very idea of it is so counter to the paradigm of eradication that we have been living in for the past century or two.  We think we are doing a good thing when we eliminate parasites; and yet when one practitioner dewormed pregnant women, she discovered that their offspring suffered from allergies at a greatly increased rate.  In contrast, some who have purposefully infected themselves with worms have seen reductions in allergic and autoimmune symptoms.  Lest anyone think to do the same, it must be remembered that the science of balancing one’s internal biology is still in its infancy.  We are a long way off from having dependable protocols for balancing the immune system in our modern world.

This book points to a new health specialty coming maybe ten or twenty years in our future, I would guess.  Practitioners of this specialty will use genetic testing, culture testing, and multigenerational environmental history to develop custom protocols for balancing internal biology and preventing allergies and autoimmune diseases.  The genetics of our immune systems are highly complex.  They were shaped over time by the prevailing biological environment in any given locale.  Since there is vast variation in environments, there is likewise vast variation in the immune strategies developed in our genetics.  What will stimulate one individual toward health could cause in another an immune system meltdown.  For this reason, protocols will ideally be custom-made for each patient.

So what does all of this have to do with diet?  Early attempts at achieving biological balance have included probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, and cultured vegetables, as promoted in The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity by Donna Gates and Linda Schatz.  This may not be entirely without risk.  For instance, Moises Velasquez-Manoff says in his book that overabundance of even a generally friendly organism such as Lactobacillus acidophilus in the small intestine can cause problems for some, resulting in a condition called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO.  Chris Kresser addressed this topic with Steve Wright in a recent interview.  In this interview, Chris Kresser mentions that he has found the use of soil-based organisms to be helpful in the treatment of SIBO.  Indeed, my understanding of what I have read of the topic so far would indicate that a diversity of organisms is needed for best results.  I look forward to the day when the science of balancing internal biology reaches its maturity.

My First “CSA” Box

My first box arrived from Farm Fresh To You.  It’s a service that delivers organic produce right to your door.  I ordered a Veggies Only box since we tend not to eat many fruits.  This week’s box included butternut squash, green cabbage, baby Romanesco, bacon avocado (appears to be a Florida variety), broccoli, leeks, fennel bulb, nantes carrots, lacinato (dino kale), and a large head of green leaf lettuce.  The broccoli is clearly for me since hubby won’t eat it.  I’m a little concerned about the Romanesco.  It may be too close to broccoli for hubby, but it is also considered a type of cauliflower.  Since he’ll eat cauliflower, that’s what I’ll tell him it is.  He isn’t too keen on carrots, either, but I can generally get small amounts of it into recipes without complaint.

Romanesco

So the hunt is on for Paleo-friendly recipes for the Romanesco.  Many recipes are basic, consisting of Romanesco with oil and salt added.  I’m fairly certain that won’t fly with hubby, so onward!  I found a recipe for Romanesco Tarte with Bacon that looked good.  Without the shell, it would be at least Primal-friendly.  Another option would be Romanesco with Spicy Italian Sausage.  Mario Batali’s Romanesco alla Diavola recipe could work, too, though it appears to be rather upscale and may need some modification for the budget-conscious.

Nutrition in the Loetschental Valley

I am currently reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.  Dr. Price was concerned about the degeneration of dental health that he was seeing in his practice.  He decided to go out and find populations where dental health was still good.  He traveled the world looking for people still eating traditional diets.  This book was first published in 1939, but it would be very difficult to write such a book today because virtually all populations now include modern foods in their diet.  What Dr. Price found was that those still eating their traditional diets did indeed have healthier teeth and facial bone structure.  He did explore to some extent other health issues, but these were not his primary interest or expertise.  It is unfortunate that researchers from other medical specialties did not likewise engage in similar studies.

So far, I have read through the chapter in which Dr. Price describes the differences he found in the traditional Swiss and their modern counterparts.  When Dr. Price inquired as to where he could find populations in Switzerland still eating a traditional diet, he was directed in Switzerland to the Loetschental Valley that had only just recently been reached by rail service.  They were still producing all of their own food and clothing in the valley.  This population had very few caries (decayed teeth)—only 2.3 out of every 100 teeth.  That’s less than one per mouth.  Meanwhile, severely rotten teeth were common in the modern population.  The traditional population had wide dental arches with no crowding.  Their facial bones were well-formed.  The teeth of the modern population were crowded, and there were some deformities of other facial structures causing some to be mouth breathers.  Also, tuberculosis was a major health problem in Switzerland, and yet not one case had been recorded in the Loetschental Valley.  These traditional people were very healthy.

The daily diet in the Loetschental Valley included 100% whole grain rye bread and large slices of cheese.  They ate meat once a week and would use the scraps to make soups the rest of the week.  I assume this means they were eating bone broth, but this was not specifically mentioned in the book.  They ate some vegetables in the summer when they could grow them.  There were no fruits in the diet.  There was no sugar and no white flour.  Their dairy and meat was pasture raised and highly nutritious.

The modern population ate less dairy.  Much of the milk they produced went into the production of chocolate.  They were eating white bread with jams and jellies.  Their cattle were kept in barns.  The quality of the nutrition in the dairy and meat suffered for it.

The traditional diet in the Loetschental Valley was distinctly not Paleo since it was mainly grain and dairy, and yet they enjoyed superb health.  The secret to their health appears to be in the superior quality of the foods they did eat.  They were eating pasture raised animal products and freshly ground whole grains.  Those modern-day populations who have gone Paleo in their eating may be enjoying improved health because they are eating whole fresh foods more like these traditional peoples.  The secret may not necessarily be in the elimination of dairy or grains.  If doing so helps them, it may be because the quality of modern dairy or grains is inferior and in some way deleterious.  Dr. Price recommended in the introduction that all bread should be made from freshly ground whole grain flour.  The fats in flour that has been stored for any length of time tend to go rancid, possibly contributing to ill health.  And, of course, white flour has had most of its nutrition removed to the extent that the law requires that it be enriched with vitamins to prevent malnutrition in the populations eating it.

Bone broth for health

Bone BrothBone broths are an important element of traditional cuisines.  They are the basis of wonderful sauces, soups, and gravies.

Bone broth is a great way to get the nutrients needed for healthy bones and joints in an easily absorbable form.  Bone broth is rich in glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium—basically a total bone- and joint-building package.  The gelatin in bone broths can be used to treat many intestinal disorders such as colitis and Crohn’s disease.  The amino acids in broth act as a tonic for the bowel wall.  Bone broth helps the liver cleanse itself from the residues of metabolism.

Bone Broth Recipe

The following fits well in my oval Crock-Pot. Scale the recipe to fit your pot.

I give bone broth to my dog, too, so I don’t use onions in the broth. You can add an onion if you will not be feeding the finished stock to a dog. Do NOT feed the cooked bones to your pet. They will be too soft and may break into pieces. Seriously, feeding soft bones to your dog can result in intestinal blockage that could potentially kill your dog.

I have included directions for three methods: electric pressure cooker, stove top, and slow cooker.  According to the Serious Eats Food Lab, the pressure cooker method yielded the best results followed closely by the stove top method.

Ingredients

4 lb. raw bones with or without skin and/or meat
8 cups water
½ cups apple cider vinegar
2 carrots
2 stalks celery

Directions (electric pressure cooker)

  1. Add your choice of bones into pressure cooker. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. DO NOT FILL MORE THAN 2/3 FULL!  Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Set pressure cooker to high for 2 hours for chicken bones or 4 hours for beef bones. If you are using a stove top pressure cooker, you will need to monitor it closely the entire time.
  3. After the broth is cooked, let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  5. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones.
  6. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Directions (stove top)

  1. Add your choice of bones into a large pot. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Bring to a low boil. Remove any scum that has risen to the top,
  3. Reduce heat. Let simmer for 6 to 48 hours for chicken bones or 12 to 72 hours for beef bones. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  4. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones.
  5. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Directions (slow cooker)

  1. Add your choice of bones into a slow cooker. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Set the slow cooker for high heat and bring to a boil. Remove any scum that has risen to the top,
  3. Set the slow cooker for low heat. Let simmer for 6 to 48 hours for chicken bones or 12 to 72 hours for beef bones. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  4. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones. You can also cook bone broth in a crock-pot. Low heat.
  5. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Sally Fallon on Bone Broth:

How To Make Beef Stock:

References:
Mary Enig, Sally Fallon. Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats.  Plume (March 28, 2006).
Catherine Shanahan, Luke Shanahan. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Big Box Books (November 14, 2008).

A day on my modified NutriSystem plan

I have been telling you that I have modified my NutriSystem diet to make it lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat in order to prevent falling cholesterol levels. My modified plan would be considered a low-carb diet by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek as defined in their book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable. I thought I would share with you what a typical day on my modified NutriSystem diet looks like. It could possibly be improved a bit by adding some additional low-carb vegetables at lunch, but it is performing well as is.

Breakfast
NUTRISYSTEM Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bar 2012 (1 bar)
Egg (1 ea)
Butter (2 tsp)

Lunch
NUTRISYSTEM Wedding Soup 2012 (1 x 1 container)
FAGE Total 0% All Natural Nonfat Greek Strained Yogurt (1 x 1 container)

Afternoon Snack
Nuts, mixed nuts, without peanuts, raw (1 oz)

Dinner
NUTRISYSTEM Lasagna with Meat Sauce 2012 (1 package)
Mixed greens (2 oz)
Red bell peppers (1/2 ea)
Salad dressing, GOOD SEASONS ITALIAN, prepared (1 Tbs)

Evening Snack
NUTRISYSTEM Pretzels 2012 (1 package)

Calories 1216.24
Calories From Fat (41%) 500.71
Calories From Protein (23%) 284.35
Calories From Carbs (35%) 431.18
Total Fat 55.87g 86%
Carbohydrates 110.77g 37%
Dietary Fiber 16.55g 66%
Sugar 28.75g
Net Carbohydrates 94.22g
Protein 71.82g 144%

Dr. Cate Shanahan on diet and brain health

I’ve been listening to the Paleo Summit with Sean Croxton.  Today, I listened to the author of Deep Nutrition, Dr. Cate Shanahan, MD, talking about how important proper dietary fat is to the brain. Brains are primarily made of fat and cholesterol. She says that kids with ADD or ADHD are actually exhibiting signs of poor nutrition that could lead to more serious mental illnesses later such as schizophrenia if the nutrition is not corrected. The crux of Dr. Cate’s talk today was that most pharmaceutical use can be eliminated with proper diet. She recommends Paleo and traditional diets. These tend to be lower carb, higher fat diets.

References:
Shanahan MD, Catherine (2011-04-22). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (p. 287). Big Box Books.
Dr. Shanahan’s site: http://drcate.com/

What is a high-fat diet

More from The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek: When looking at studies about high-fat diets, it is important to know what is meant by a high-fat diet. Most consensus experts define a high-fat diet to be one with 45% – 60% of calories from fat. The authors of the book define high-fat to be 65% – 85% of calories from fat. The distinction is very important. Consensus experts will tell you that insulin resistance gets worse as fat in the diet increases, and this is true of the diets in the lower range. However, after fat intake goes above 60% of calories from fat, insulin resistance turns around and starts to improve. The benefits of a low-carb diet are found in the higher range of fat intake.

Diet modification results

Cholesterol results are in.  As you all know too well, I’d been very concerned that my levels might drop too low due to the dieting.  I have made modifications to my NutriSystem plan with the intention of preventing this.  I have decreased the carbohydrateI am pleased to report that what I am doing is working.  The total was 180, which is right where I want it.  HDL was 71, which is high on the lab’s scale.  I believe this is a good thing.  LDL was 100, and VLDL was 9.  Total to HDL ratio was 2.54, which is low on the lab’s reference range.  I believe this is also a good thing.  Triglycerides were 46, which is toward the low end of the scale.  I would say that my diet modifications have been successful.  I’ve been able to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and that was my goal.  Glucose was 88, which is acceptable.

Low-carb dieters need more salt

I bought The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek for my Kindle. These two have done a lot of primary research into low-carb dieting. They were also coauthors on the most recent Atkins book, The New Atkins for a New You.

So far, I’ve learned that they would consider the way I’m doing NutriSystem to be a low-carb diet because I’m eating less than 125g of carbohydrate a day. I average about 100g, according to my tracking. I would like to be eating less carbohydrate than that, but that’s about as low as I can get it on the NutriSystem foods.

Another thing I learned is that those on low-carb diets need more salt. Low-carbers retain less fluids, and thus they pass more of their sodium through their kidneys. A lot of the problems low-carb dieters run into have to do with lack of salt. This morning’s egg tasted better with some salt on it.

According to the authors, none of my ancestors (mostly northern Europeans and some Native Americans) would have been eating dense carbohydrates earlier than about 2,000 years ago when the Romans introduced grains to northern Europe, so I would have little genetic accommodation for it. That would explain why I thrive so much better with little or no grains.