Monthly Archives: July 2010

Nutrient Density vs. Caloric Density

As many of you health conscious folks know, there’s a big difference between the nutrient density and caloric density of foods.

Unfortunately, many dietitians, doctors and nutritionists don’t seem to consider this difference – not fully at least. They’ll say that they want you to eat a nutrient dense diet and at the same time hand you a leaflet for the USDA food pyramid where grains are at the bottom (eat the most of) and meats and eggs (eat less of) are nearer to the top. This ranking would suggest that grains are the most nutrient dense of all the food groups. But are they?

And what precisely is meant by “nutrient density?” As I see it, its the total amount of micro and macro nutrients within a given caloric amount of food. For fun, let’s do a simple food comparison.

If you compare (calorie for calorie), meats and other animal food sources to whole grains by themselves (meaning unfortified), grains actually come up wanting for many nutrients (fiber is not a nutrient by the way). Using an online nutritional database called Nutrition Data, let’s compare a single egg (80 calories) to a third cup of oatmeal (100 calories). Oatmeal is generally considered to be among the best grains money can buy.

If you open up the links in separate windows to compare, you’ll see that the egg is far more nutritionally dense than the 1/3 cup of oatmeal. (And the egg has 20 less calories!) If you compared the same amount of egg calories as the oatmeal, then the egg would be ahead in virtually every category.

Now, look at the top middle of each page on the ND site where the site ranks the foods in terms of optimal health, weight gain and weight loss. Oatmeal has a better score than eggs for optimal health yet, doesn’t hold a candle to an egg in terms of nutrient density. Why would the folks that run this site rank oatmeal over the egg? Oatmeal is also ranked higher than eggs for weight gain but equally for fat loss! Go figure.

Many experts argue that the USDA food pyramid is just a grain-based, agriculturally conceived pyramid which is not supported by good nutritional science. I happen to agree. In thinking about this blog on the Log Flume at Great Adventure on Sunday, I thought of a good way to look at this issue. (Fear sometimes does wonders for one’s thinking process.) We can indeed safely assume that the USDA food pyramid is agriculturally driven because grains are at the bottom of the pyramid, meaning, they are what the USDA says we should eat the most of.

But any registered dietitian or doctor worth her salt would tell you that fruits and vegetables are far more nutrient dense than breads and cereals and contain all of the vitamins and minerals that grains do as well as have far more fiber. No nutritional expert would ever suggest that a whole wheat bagel is healthier for you than a mixed green salad. If the pyramid is supposed to reflect how humans should eat to obtain optimal health, why at least aren’t fruits and vegetables at the bottom?

Food for thought.

What we want to eat the most of are the foods that are the most nutrient dense – not the most calorie dense. I urge everyone to think in terms of nutrients first when it’s time to eat and feed your family. Use the ND database to compare the foods you enjoy eating. I think you’ll be surprised what you’ll find out.

Wheat Cheats

Wheat. It’s bad news. Not just for people who are gluten intolerant but for everyone.

That goes for your pets too. I agree with Dr. Barry Groves that one of the cruelest things you can do to your beloved pet is to feed them commercial pet food. It’s poison. Really it is.

So please – get off of the wheat train ASAP. It’s like a slow poison. Trade in your Raisin Bran for eggs. Swap your pancakes for sardines. You’re body will reward you for it.

Sorry for the quickie post. As you all know, I usually post multiple links to research in order to support my contentions. It’s just that I’ve bene reading so much on this lately that I felt the need to just shout this out immediately.

No wheat-cheats now!

Swine Fattening or People Fattening

In one of the on line groups I am honered to be included into, a physician pointed out something very interesting on how swine were fattened back in the old days.

It appears that skim milk plus grains contribute to obesity in swine so sayeth The Farmers Cyclopedia of Livestock.

pig-corn

Skim milk is one of the most valuable adjuncts of the farm for fattening swine. Used with corn, kafir corn or any of the common grain by-products an almost ideal ration is formed. Hogs like it, and relish rations mixed with it. As a result of five years’ work in feeding skim milk at the New York station at Cornell, it is concluded that the most economic returns are secured when the milk is fed with corn meal.

And by returns they mean the much desired hog fat.

As we all know, the American food supply is riddled with corn and skim milk, meaning starch and sugar. In fact, the 2010 USDA nutritional guidelines are essentially hog fattening guidelines. Corn and sugar – all part of a nutritious breakfast!

Not!

Keep Your Protein Meals Fatty

And your protein shakes too.

It’s important to understand that both protein and carbs, increase insulin secretion. Excessive insulin secretion can lead to diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders commonly referred to as “metabolic syndrome” especially if you are under stress, don’t sleep well, are taking certain meds, as well as a host of other metabolic disturbing circumstances.

Of course, if you are on a real food, low carb diet that is rich in nutrients, chances are you’ll sleep fairly well, be able to handle stress, won’t need your meds, and will be able to handle most other issues in your life pretty well.

When you look at the research on what foods do what to your blood sugar (insulin regulates blood sugar), when fat is aplenty the insulin response is generally, if not always, lowered. Think butter on bread, a well marbled steak, chicken with the skin, etc.

In this studythe researchers took a look at the insulin responses to different foods. Over all, the more sugary the foods the higher the insulin response. But interestingly enough the beef had a higher insulin score (IS) than pasta. But there are a few caveats with this finding:

1. The beef was lean and trimmed
2. The energy density of the beef was higher than the pasta
3. The pasta had a good deal of fiber which lowers the effective carbohydrate content. Beef has no fiber.

If you take a look at the eggs however, the eggs had one of the lowest insulin scores second only to peanuts. (And we don’t want to eat peanuts because they are legumes not nuts and thus are riddled with those nasty little proteins called lectins.)

An egg has a good deal of fat. The fat in the yolk helps keep the insulin response low (so stop eating those egg white omlettes).

And as for protein shakes – get some fat in them. Add some fish oil, a raw egg or two from eggs you trust, coconut butter or oil, etc. Keep the carbs low and the protein adequate. By adequate I suggest 1 gram of protein for each pound of lean body weight. This is a good rule of protein thumb. So for example, if you weigh 200 but should weigh 150, strive to take in ~150 grams of protein per day – fatty proteins of course.

Yes my friends, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can have your fat and eat it too!

All Mammals Eat A High Fat Diet

Gorilla

So you think a gorilla’s vegetarian diet is low fat? How about a cow?

In this video Dr. Barry Groves explains why all mammals require mostly fat to survive. And you’ll see why a pure vegetarian/vegan diet for humans can be devastating to one’s health. If you have a friend or family member who is considering going vegan, implore them to watch this video. (Note: You might need earphones or an external speaker if you’re using a lap top. The sound is very poor.)

Dr. Groves book Trick and Treat is an excellent treatise on how humans should eat based on our “design.” What I find most interesting is that he points out that all humans are, well, humans and do not require different types of foods or diets. We are not all unique. This is something I have been saying to my clients for years and it’s great to hear someone of Dr. Groves caliber confirming this with hard data.

Dr. Loren Cordain author of The Paleo Diet wrote an excellent piece on the myths of eating for your blood type – a concept popularized by Peter D’Adamo. Here is an excerpt:

So Peter has got all of his blood group origins messed up, his dates wrong, and the evolutionary splits incorrect. Why does this matter and how does it affect his dietary theories? To begin with, even if we were to believe in Peter’s underlying assumptions that diets should be prescribed upon blood types, he would have to completely revamp his original recommendations. Type A’s should be eating a high protein, meat-based diet rather than the vegetarian fare he suggests. But what about type O’s? With the correct evolutionary information, should they now be eating a vegetarian menu? And what about type B’s and type AB’s – what should they now be eating? Most telling of the logical failings of Peter’s blood type diet is the observation that all four of the major blood types had evolved almost 250,000 years before the coming of the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago. Yet Peter would have us convinced that three of the four major blood groups only came into existence slightly before or after the Agricultural Revolution, and as a direct result from dietary selective pressures wrought by Neolithic food introductions.

Dr. Cordain explains that the reason so many people do well using Dr. D’Adamo’s ideas is that about 60% of the people who pick up Dr. D’Adamo’s book remove wheat and other grains from their diet as well as a lot of junk “foods.” So the eat right for your blood type diet does not work for the reasons people think it does. The same goes for Dr. Dean Ornish’s severely low fat diet. People who adopt Dr. Ornish’s brand usually stop eating all the garbage they were eating before, start eating real foods and their health improves. But not necessarily because of the veggies and low fat fare. That’s faulty logic.

Research and anthropological facts presented in Dr. Groves presentation shout out loud and clear that all humans would be healthier if they increased their fat intake mainly from animal origin and decreased the amount of carbohydrates mainly from refined sources.

We know that saturated fats are not the cause of heart disease and never were. And we now know that the bad fats are trans fats as well as the fats made from seeds and vegetables. Sally Fallon, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation discusses this issue as well as how biased the USDA is when determining our dietary guidelines on Robert Su M.D.’s podcast. It’s a real eye-opener folks.

So remember – you are not necessarily what you eat. To quote Dr. Jeff Volek:

You are what your body does with what you eat.

And so is every other animal on this wonderful earth.

Fat is the most valuable food known to man. –Dr. John Yudkin

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