Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Nutrition Debate #91: Low-Carb Breakfasts (and a No-Carb Lunch)

Chances are you will reject these meal suggestions out-of-hand. Especially lunch. That’s okay. All I can do is “put it out there” for you to consider. It’s your choice to accept it or not, right? But I gotta tell you: what I am doing, and what I am suggesting you try, really works. It works for me, and I think it would work for you too. But you have to try it to find out.

If you eat as described here, as/when you adjust to it, here’s what will “work” for you: 1) You will not be hungry, either before or between meals – breakfast, lunch or dinner, if you eat a small dinner that basically follows the same principles; 2) you will lose weight, typically 1 to 2 pounds a week, depending on how much you have to lose; 3) the weight you lose will include abdominal weight – the central obesity or omental adiposity that is so bad for your cardiovascular health; 4) you will “feel healthy,” have lots and lots of energy, and an elevated mood; 5) as you lose a lot of weight, any weight-related hypertension will improve; and 6) your lipid panel will definitely improve, perhaps not your Total Cholesterol and LDL lipoproteins but your HDL will increase (up to double) and your triglycerides will decrease (up to two-thirds).

Do all these things seem like worthwhile and beneficial outcomes? If you’re not sure, ask your doctor – not about how you intend to achieve them, but about the outcomes themselves. Your doctor, if he or she has been paying attention to the latest developments in CAD and CVD health, other morbidities, and all-cause mortality, will recognize how important all these outcomes, especially the lipid panel and central obesity, are. Weight, blood pressure, glucose metabolism and blood lipids are all interrelated. Collectively, when “out of whack,” they comprise what is known today as the Metabolic Syndrome (see #9, here, for the parameters). It is a direct outcome of the Westernized diet that we (most of us) have been eating for the last fifty years, also known as the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is still recommended by government and public health officials, and SADLY, still advocated by most health associations and practicing physicians.

The breakfast I am suggesting you try is designed to provide healthy protein and fat, with a minimum of carbohydrates. I will provide four or five examples. You can vary them, or eat the same one every day as I do, except on Sunday. (On Sunday I make a brunch of veal or lamb kidneys with mushrooms and onions, cooked in coconut oil, and then a little Marsala.) Each of these can be preceded or accompanied by coffee or tea, with half & half and a no-calorie sweetener.

·         Two eggs (any way – I eat them fried in bacon fat) with two strips of bacon. Nothing else, except the beverage.

·         Three eggs, scrambled, with a little full cream and some shredded mozzarella cooked in. Good and gooey.

·         Three eggs, scrambled, with some smoked salmon “tidbits” mixed in. Great protein and Omega 3s. Delicious!

·         Three eggs, scrambled, with pulled bacalao (shredded dried salt cod), onions and sliced black olives. Very tasty.

At present, we are eating the 2 egg breakfast, but occasionally we make one of the three egg breakfasts. They appeal to me for several reasons: 1) it omits the bacon, which many people will want to do to avoid the nitrate/nitrite issue; 2) the egg preparations are all delicious and full of flavors; 3) three egg yolks a day is the recommendation of the Jaminets in “Perfect Health Diet,” in part for the choline content; 4) salmon and cod are both cold-water fishes with good Omega 3s, and cream and cheese and olives are all good food. You can add fresh or dried herbs if you like.

Do not be tempted to add any bread of any kind, or any whole fruit or especially any fruit juice, or any “natural” sweetener (i.e., honey), or any cereal, hot or cold, or any milk (just full cream or a little half and half). You don’t need it, and this program won’t work if you don’t follow it. So, don’t be a baby about it. Suck it up and just do it. Try it for awhile.

Then, when you have tried it for awhile, and you realize how good you feel while eating this way, and how you are not hungry and you are starting to lose weight, you might want to try “my perfect lunch.” Not many people do, but then that is their loss. My “mentor” (aka my online editor) practically gags at the idea, but I think she believes, and she has me believing too, that this is part of the reason for the very dramatic improvements in blood lipids (↑HDL) that I have experienced since I started eating this way. Okay, hold you nose. Here it is:

·         1 can of King Oscar Brisling sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Double Layer (avoid any packed in soy bean oil).
I eat this straight out of the can 5 to 6 hours after I have breakfast, whether I am hungry or not. I am actually not hungry, but I want my body to stay in ketosis from the food I eat and the body fat it burns, not from the breakdown of any of my muscle fiber. Breakdown of body fat, yes; breakdown of muscle fiber, no; so, I eat protein (with fat) three times a day at regular 5 to 6 hour intervals, then fast for 12 to 14 hours to give my body a chance to just burn body fat. That way, it will remain in a “happy” state of low-level ketosis – the state of harmonic homeostasis that it is designed to be in. Your body will be “happy” if fed protein with fat in small, well-spaced meals and then, while you fast (and sleep), it is allowed to feed on your fat reserves. That’s what those calories you ate years ago and stored (both carbs and fat) are there for!


  1. Dan, what kind of dinner's are you eating?

    1. Hi Laura,
      Protein and a permitted veggetable only. The protein could be 2 lamb chops or half a small filet mignon (rubbed with a Montreal Steak Seasoning and grilled), or one chicken thigh w/ skin on, or short ribs in a special sauce. These are all my wife's favorites. I would have fish poached with veggies (cauliflower or celery or fennel). I like halibut, cod, etc, which she tolerates once in a while if I make it. I also make a mean cubed veal with mushrooms and sour cream with local veal. I brown the meat in coconut oil, of course. If I am on my own for dinner, and I am hungry, I now eat a 3.75oz can of Trident Royal Red Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon, with a Tbs of coconut oil on top since it is packed in a little water. I would also prefer, to cut down further on Omega 6s, that my meats be grass fed-grass finished (which I can get locally), but she won't have it, so we have a problem there. I am working to get my HDL back up (the last was only 58, down from an average of 75).

      The permitted veggies are green beans in lots of butter (my wife's favorite), or cauliflower or Brussel sprouts or asparagus tossed in oil and roasted, or broccoli sauted in a garlic.

  2. I think the idea is you don't eat dinner because you aren't hungry and don't really need it.

    1. Right, except with a caveat. I want, and I want you, to THINK about Why We Eat (the subject of next week column). The key word in your statement is, of course, 'need.' Hunger is signalled by low blood glucose, but if you don't eat sugar (carbs), your blood sugar is going to be stable and you are not going to feel that you need to eat.

      Of course, your body is going to sense that if you are not eating anything, you are 'starving' and is going to go into 'starvation mode' in which the metabolism slows down. It is also going to catabolize (break down) protein in muscle tissue for some of its energy. You want to avoid this as much as possible, of course, so I have been eating (as a rule) 3 small meals a day, mostly protein and fat, spaced 5 hours apart. Exceptions are 1) when I forget to eat lunch because I am not hungry (this happens a lot, with the result I am not getting my sardines!). I also sometimes skip lunch and dinner when I need to jog my metabolism into 'burn mode.' I think that this need to be done occasionally but probably infrequently.

      Remember also (and I don't say this entougn), I do not exercise in the sense most people use the word. I do not do a regular routine of machines or even walking. All my exercise comes from my activity level, which is fairly active. In Florida, I go kayaking several times a week. It is a pedaling kayak so it is like going for a 3 or 4 hour walk. In New York I garden for 4 or 5 hours 4 or 5 days a week until mid-summer. So, I do not need to eat protein and carbs for this aspect of my life. My diet is sans replenishment of muscle destroyed by 'overwork.'