Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Typical Paleolithic High-Fat, Low-Carb Meal of an Intermittent Faster

Wild salmon has a good omega-3/omega-6 ratio
Wild salmon has a good omega-3/omega-6 ratio. (Photo by woodleywonderworks)

I wrote a short while ago about my typical day of intermittent fasting. I also mentioned I'd share the details of my diet in later posts. Analyzing it with the help of CRON-o-Meter has led me to categorize my typical warm meal as a high-fat, medium-protein, low-carb meal with a paleolithic twist.

While I don't subscribe the paleolithic way of eating in its entirety, I think we can learn a lot of useful things by studying how and what our ancestors ate. I see our evolutionary history as a useful starting point for drawing up healthy diet plans, which can then be further improved upon through modern science.

Olive oil is one example of a food item regularly consumed by paleo dieters, even though cavemen didn't actually pour cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil on their buffalo meat. In my opinion, it's more about learning the basics by studying the past and then tweaking the discoveries to make them suitable for the modern world. Whether or not a diet with olive oil, butter and spices can be called a true paleo diet is questionable, but in many ways, they're still closer to a stone age diet than for example processed grains are.

I haven't really measured my calorie and especially fat intake after my caloric restriction experiment, so the amount of fat in my diet surprised even me a little. Apparently my high-fat diet is still going on, even though I haven't purposedly chosen to consume ridiculous amounts of fat like I used to during the experiment; it's just that by cutting out grains (with the exception of oats) and starchy vegetables, fat intake almost inevitably goes up. Since a true high-protein is practically impossible, low-carb diets are usually synonymous with high-fat diets.

So what is the recipe, you ask? Here are the basic ingredients for a meal I consume 3-4 times a week with slight variations (replacing the salmon and shrimp with red meat, usually):

The high-fat, medium-protein, low-carb recipe

100 g wild salmon
100 g shrimp
400 g crushed tomatoes
150 g coconut milk
100 g zucchini
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1,5 tbsp red palm oil
1,5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seed oil

I'll spare you the details of preparation for now and concentrate on analyzing what's happening inside this beast of a meal, but if you have questions about the recipe, do leave a comment. While the fat content may not seem that big at first, here's what CRON-o-Meter has to say:

High-fat, low-carb, medium-protein meal
First of all, this baby packs a whopping 1,273 kcal, which is more than half my daily energy intake. If that seems like too much for one meal, trust me, eating it all at one sitting is not a problem after you've fasted for 24 hours.

Second, as you can see from the pie chart on the right, the fat/protein/carbohydrate percentages are 68/16/15, respectively. If we look only at the numbers, you could of course call this a high-fat, low-protein, low-carbohydrate meal, but in terms of daily recommendations, the protein content is medium or even high.

The distribution of different types of fat is: 48 g saturated, 32 g monounsaturated, 13 g polyunsaturated. The omega-3/omega-6 ratio is 1:5, which is pretty good compared to the average modern diet.

So there you have it, the macronutrient composition of the main element of my current diet. I don't, of course, eat the exact same things every day, but the distribution of fat, protein and carbs has remained pretty stable for the past two years or so. It may not be optimal, and I'm constantly seeking to improve it, but my arteries haven't clogged yet, my HDL/LDL ratio looks good, and I maintain a BMI of ~18 with less than 10% body fat, so it can't be all bad.

The other staple of my diet is my morning (or sometimes evening) smoothie, which is what I take all my supplements with. I'll post the details of that one later.

For more information on diet and health, see these posts:

A Typical Day of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity Even without Weight Loss
Coconut Lowers LDL, VLDL and Triglycerides, Raises HDL
How to Get Natural Sun Protection by Eating the Right Foods

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10 kommenttia:

Med Dog August 3, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

I would very much like to know how exactly all these are prepared, as I can see more than one course in this meal. Good luck! I'll be starting a similar regime myself.

JLL August 5, 2009 at 3:23 PM  

@Some Kid,

Actually, that's just one dish! I don't follow recipes too religiously, but here's the way I usually make this one:

1. Heat the palm oil and sesame oil in a pan
2. Add the chopped garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes
3. Add the salmon (I use frozen), the tomatoes and the coconut milk
4. Add the chopped zucchini
5. Add spices (I use turmeric, jeera, cloves, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and black pepper)
6. Cook under high temperature for a few minutes or until some of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thicker
7. Reduce temperature and let simmer for a while
8. Add shrimps and let simmer for a minute
9. Put on plate, add plenty of olive oil

You can use fresh salmon (chop it into cubes before adding), or frozen cubes, or a frozen block (I just roughly chop it into cubes with a spatula when it has melted in the plan).

Med Dog August 5, 2009 at 4:28 PM  

Sounds quick and easy and not too bad! Thanks!

PirkePetter February 15, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

About olive oil, you may want to know that it blocks absorption of vitamin D from food. In contries with lots of sun, where olive oil is a traditional part of the diet, this is of no concern because the vitamin D produced from the exposure to the sun, but in northern contries this easily becomes a very serious health problem. Info:

JLL February 15, 2010 at 9:52 AM  


Looks like you're right -- I got my blood levels of vitamin D up even while consuming lots of olive oil, but maybe it's a good idea to not take them at the same time.


Alan March 3, 2010 at 8:52 AM  

What's your take on fat consumption when body fat reduction is the goal? I have been low carb high fat for over a year now and my aim was to reach 10% BF in that time. While I have lost some fat and gained muscle (I workout 4 X a week) I haven't lost the belly fat I wanted to. I eat paleo, meat, cheese, butter, cream, eggs, coconut oil etc and 24hr IF 2-3 times a week and occasional 48 hours. I consider I'm in a deficit and FitDay agrees as I'm usually between 1000-2000 cal depending on fasting or not. Usually about 60%-80% fat 35%-15% protein. I never feel hungry or the need to binge.
I am a 53yo male bi-lateral amputee (R arm, R leg) who apart from weight lifting 3-4x a week lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle. I don't enjoy much in the carbohydrate world and don't eat grains or potatoes etc only some green leafy veggies. My question is should I lower dietary fat to make the body consume adipose body fat? I have the idea that eating fat will make the body chose it in preference to body fat. Is this valid? Thanks,

JLL March 3, 2010 at 8:20 PM  


I can really only speak for myself, but increasing fat intake (sometimes to ridiculous amounts) and cutting back on carbs decreased my bodyfat significantly. I was lean before, but now it's 6-8%.

Your diet seems very prudent; only thing I can suggest is to leave dairy products (especially cheese) alone for a while and see what happens. I've seen people on the traditional Atkins diet (including dairy) lose a lot of weight at first but still cling on to that belly fat. I, too, seem to be able to eat endless amounts of cheese.

Genetics and age most likely have some effect here also; at least in women, insulin sensitivity partly determines whether they gain more weight eating carbs or eating fat.

"My question is should I lower dietary fat to make the body consume adipose body fat? I have the idea that eating fat will make the body chose it in preference to body fat. Is this valid?"

I don't know all the biochemical details to answer this properly, but it's certainly not my personal experience and not what I've seen in people around me. For me, eating more fat and less carbs results in reduced adipose fat. Besides, if you eat carbs instead of fat, then the body will choose to use that energy instead of body fat.

Your estimate of protein intake varies greatly; if it's only 15% on some days, perhaps increasing it to 20% would help. Also, have you tried drinking green tea with meals? That should help if insulin is a problem.


Alan March 4, 2010 at 9:16 AM  


Thank you for a very quick and helpful reply. If I may pick your brain a bit more to fill in some gaps. I love your idea of adding fat as I really enjoy it. What would you suggest tho, increasing cream, (which I love but this adds carbs too) or maybe butter?

"I can really only speak for myself, but increasing fat intake (sometimes to ridiculous amounts) and cutting back on carbs decreased my bodyfat significantly.I was lean before, but now it's 6-8%."

I would love to see 8%.
I'm interested in what constitutes a ridiculous amount. I'm not asking for a diet but what would you suggest I include? Thanks again.

JLL March 4, 2010 at 10:01 AM  


I've personally cut back on cream and butter because of casein (which is potentially pro-aging and seems to block the absorption of polyphenols) and switched to palm oil, coconut oil and coconut milk. I do use butter for cooking sometimes, however. But back in the day I just drank heavy cream from the carton.

I can push my fat intake pretty high with dark chocolate, preferably 85% cocoa. They do have some carbs, of course, but I can still easily stay under 100 grams carbs if I want to. I wouldn't be surprised if there was something in cocoa polyphenols that helps keep weight down.

I also use olive oil for just about everything. I don't get sick of it the same way as I do of coconut oil. Have you tried medium-chain triglyceride oil? I've heard good things about it (seems to increase metabolic rate), but they don't sell it where I'm from.

Do you exercise while fasting, by the way?

Alan March 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM  

I always workout fasted. I find I get a better stronger workout. I usually don't eat until afternoon or evening. I am presently experimenting with 19/5 or 20/4 fast/feeding but occasionally go for 24h or 48h. Thanks for the recommendation, I don't eat much coconut oil but I might try a switch from cream and see how it goes. Not as nice to drink from the carton tho. Have you tried clarifying your butter to remove the casein?

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