Hey folks, today I want to talk about food. Like I will mention from time to time, food is fuel. When you change what you eat, what your body burns changes too. To some of you that may seem crazy, how can your body get fuel from more than one fuel source?! Calories are burned as fuel, that’s it… right?
Not quite, although calories are a unit of energy consumption, they are not technically what human body burns. We can either burn carbohydrates and sugar in the form of glucose or it can use fat as the fuel source. Glucose burns fast and hot, in contrast, fat burns at a slow, consistent pace. The main thing to remember is that: gram for gram, fats provide more energy than carbohydrates.
What about thermodynamics, or calorie in calorie out? I would hazard a guess that most of us do not know what that means let alone what the laws of thermodynamics are used for. I know I didn’t until I looked into it.
Here is what the law states:
First Law of Thermodynamics states that, in a closed circuit, energy neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change form or be transferred from one object to another…When the energy transfer happens some of the starting energy is released as thermal energy. When it’s moving from one object to another, thermal energy is called by the more familiar name of heat. This does not mean that we can constantly reuse this energy because this is where the second law comes into play.
Second Law of Thermodynamics states that any process, such as a chemical reaction or set of connected reactions, will proceed in a direction that increases the overall entropy of the universe. For example, if you were to exercise, your body would convert calories of energy (glucose or fat) into kinetic or potential energy so you can the energy in your body. Your body is not 100% efficient in this which leads to your body getting hotter and in turn, you lose the heat by sweating. This is why calories in, calories out does not work because we are not a closed system, we lose energy through heat, and restroom breaks. Also, many influential LCHF thinkers have started thing less about calories and more about the hormonal effects of the foods we eat. They argue that the hormonal signaling is what allows us to utilize fat vs sugar for fuel, as well as storing vs burning food.
However, you can also check out this video where Dr. Zoë Harcombe goes into thermodynamics and debunks it if you will.
Zoë Harcombe is interested in the field of health and diet and she researches, writes, blogs and speaks to help change the health dietary guidelines to reflect the way we were meant to eat.
What does all of this science talk have to do with my philosophy on foods? Aren’t we going to talk about where you get your food from, not what macro-nutrients are in it? Well yes, but I wanted to briefly talk about the fallacy that is thermodynamics. Also, I wanted to arm you with the knowledge that fat is a friend, not a fiend. Because without knowing that, it may be hard to understand why most of my diet is made of fat.
Now onto my philosophy on the food we eat. First and foremost, I eat real foods. If you can find a Farmers Market around you then would be ideal there are sites dedicated to helping you find them (Farmers market search in the US.) I try and stay away from boxes and packages as much as possible, but when I do eat prepacked foods I get the best quality I can afford. Like Epic bars, macadamia nuts or Lily’s dark chocolate they are great if you need quick fuel. Just remember when you buy a box or package, read the ingredient label if, if there is an ingredient you are unsure of either look it up or do not waste my money on it. If yall want, I can go into further guidelines about packaged food later.
I know some of you may see a discrepancy or maybe a lack of a specific food group which is fish, that is because I do not normally eat fish. Yes, I know it is beneficial to consume it, but I choose not to. Well, unless someone cooks it for me, I don’t want to be rude. Since I know they are nutrient dense, a good source of vitamin D and are and quality source of polyunsaturated fats, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids.
Enough of my ramblings, let’s get into the main foods I eat. In no specific order, they are as follows: dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit, oil and nuts.
Let’s talk about dairy, I eat dairy because it has not done anything negative for me yet, but not everyone can handle the lactose (milk sugar). If you can more power to you, just get full-fat dairy. As a note for those who cannot have lactose but still like dairy, ghee can be substituted for butter (in some extreme dairy sensitivities it cannot) also there are cheeses that are lactose-free, cheese that’s aged four months or longer is lactose-free. For example, Finlandia (there Swiss, Light Swiss, Lacey Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone, Havarti, and Lappi are lactose free.) or Beemster (Classic/Aged, X-O/Extra Aged), Paradiso, Royaal, Vlaskaas, Farmer’s Choice/Medium, and Beemster Lite), as always though, look for “lactose free” on the label. If you have a dairy farm or farmer’s market around you it’s ideal to get dairy from there, but I’m not sure if they would offer lactose-free options. Aside from butter and cheese there is a precursor to butter and that is the holy grail of dairy herself, heavy cream (or double cream), I could chug that stuff… well, I actually have, but that’s neither here nor there. You can also make it into the fermented version of dairy, yogurt or kefir. If there is not one near you the grocery store is good too. The goal is to do the best you can with what you have. When you source your diary, raw and from a credible source is great if you can afford it (Here is a Dairy Farm finder for the US), but if you cannot afford that don’t stress about getting it there or from a farmer’s market, because stressing over that will do more harm than good. No one wants to spike cortisol by thinking about food. I somehow glazed over butter when I jumped the gun and jumped straight to ghee I cannot move on until I tell you about my favorite butter: Kerrygold salted butter, I even put it on everything from Viking Bread, coffee, ice cream and everything in between. It is amazing!
Next, let’s talk meat. You do not need to eat meat, if you don’t make sure getting a lot of fat, moderate protein, and minimal carbohydrates, that should be your goal no matter what, but without meat, it is harder to do without overdoing it on the carbohydrates. If you do eat meat or eggs grass-fed is the best option, also look for hormone free/antibiotic free, that is also a good alternative. If you cannot find it at a farmer’s market, local butcher or at your grocery store, then get the best you can afford. You can also make some kick-butt jerky at home. The meat is not the only edible part from the animal, organ meat and bone broth are another nutrient-packed part of the animal. With bone broth, you can make it from your bone scraps or you can buy it from the store, but like before make sure you look and the ingredients. Another useful byproduct of meat is the drippings or rendered fat that you can collect. For example, when I cook bacon there is always grease on the bottom of the pan, I let it cool and put it in a glass container for when I need it. The inner parts like liver, marrow, and so on are some of the most nutrient dense parts of the animal. I am still getting up the courage to try them, but when I do I will let you know. Wrapping up the meat section, remember no matter the source of your meat don’t shy away from the fattiest cuts after all: fat is our fuel.
Vegetables and fruits are next. If you can grow them in your garden that is awesome, if I cannot then try the same I mentioned above with one addition some areas may have a vegetables co-op program or CSA where you can buy a box subscription to a farm near you (Co-op Directory in the US). One downside to the box service is that you may not be in control of what vegetables you get, but other than that it’s a great thing to do. I eat a lot of veggies, but mostly:
- Brussel sprouts
- Summer/Spaghetti squash
- bok choy
- Green beans
- Carrots (less often)
- Sweet potato (less often)
In regards to fruit, I eat low glycemic fruits like:
- Apples (I love me some Opal Apples, they come out in the winter, YUM)
- Pomegranate (less often)
Lastly with fruit, vegetables, eating fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, are good for the digestive system, and it promotes good gut bugs through probiotics.
Next, I wanted to talk about the most controversial source of fuel: oils. Our goal with oils is to have healthy fats that include: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and certain types of polyunsaturated fats (mostly especially omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). Oils/cooking fats that fit that description are as follows:
- Cold-pressed Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Palm oil (not to be confused with palm kernel oil)
- Olive oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Macadamia oil
- Avocado oil.
Cooking fats include:
- Lard (pork/bacon)
- Tallow (beef/mutton)
- Fowl fat (chicken/turkey/duck/goose)
Nuts are by far the quickest grab and go food, just be careful to not eat too many of them, because most have a disproportionately high omega 3:6 ratio. However, the jury is still out on if following a healthy (Keto, Paleo, Primal, or NSNG) lifestyle that you need to worry. Just take a look at a blog from Mark Sisson where he goes into the omega 3 and 6 ratios. The best thing about nuts is all you need to do is throw them in a container and go. My go-to ones are:
- Pili nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
My favorite thing about these nuts is that they are relatively low in carbs and high in healthy fat and nutrients, while also being anti-inflammatory which makes them an amazing fuel source.
There you have it, this is my philosophy on food. If you remember nothing else remember these points: get the best quality food that you can for your budget, eat real food, and remember your body burns fat in the absence of carbohydrates. The most important thing about food is to enjoy it with friends and family as often as possible.