Macro Nutrients; Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates; even these seemingly common dietary elements spur debate in some circles. I TRY to balance each meal at about a 1/3, 1/3 & 1/3 respectively. Protein gets the most attention only because it is more difficult to work into a diet than the ubiquitous carbohydrate. Fiber, the arch nemesis of high protein diets, never seems to come in large enough supply – psyllium husk fills the gap.
I view macro nutrient management as an endocrine challenge, the insulin – glucose axis is better regulated when protein is both present in sufficient quality and at the right time so as to “anchor” carbohydrates. The book the Zone addresses macro nutrient management in detail with a fairly complex block system for ensuring the right combination of each, I find the 1/3, 1/3 & 1/3 easier and I believe it achieves about the same thing. One concept from the Zone I like, is the Glycemic Index ascribed to each food type, with white bread as the benchmark at 100.
Once the macro nutrient mix is in place, then I turn to managing the “micro” nutrients; thinking about how to get the right amino acid mix, vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants etc… I attempt to reduce fruit intake relative vegetables in view of the Glycemic Index realities. When I am serious about getting the right balance I avoid bread altogether, all grains are rich in readily digestible carbohydrates so I look to other sources for the “B” complex – I do find a small amount of grain seems to help with “B” absorption, I’m guessing there is some sort of a synergy there in the uptake.
Protean I get primarily from Meat (New York Strip, paired with a robust Syrah), Chicken and Fish. I am a red meat advocate and I view it as an important part of my diet, as I do Chicken and Fish. I also eat eggs, too infrequently, more regularly would be better; and then there are lintels and beans when I am looking for a fiber augmentations, normally try to add a more dense protean to the mix – tuna etc.
I drink whole milk, I leave a little fat on my steaks and I buy full fat yogurt – I am less afraid of saturated fats than I am Carbs. There is clear evidence that trans fats are unhealthy so I avoid them, except for the odd sausage roll the farmers market – and the blueberry basket thing – one needs one’s vices. I supplement for all the healthy oils, supplementation here is imperative from my perspective – unless you are a member of an traditional Inuit Band and you eat mountains of raw fish, whale blubber etc. you will never get enough essential oils. Cooked fish fails to provide help here, once you heat unsaturated oils to cooking temperature there is a molecular change and they become saturated.
Carbs are a bug bear, as yet, I’ve been unable to find a protean balance for my nightly bump of Rum or Scotch, I like to point out to the nutritional puritans out there, that rum is not only a source of carbohydrates but an excellent source of Alcohol as well. For the most part though, veggies are the carb focus. As a rule, one wants the upper digestion to go slowly and lower work to happen quickly.
To supplement or not to supplement – SUPPLEMENT. Firstly, it is just easier, secondly, there are nutrients that just fail to come in sufficient volumes for optimal health – essential oils for example. Yes there are issues with “unknown” synergies with respect of absorption, or synergies that only whole natural food can supply – so eat what you can and supplement the rest. The anti-supplement movement seems to forget we want to seek optimal health; no single population’s natural diet has filled all the gaps.
I always like to point out that Winston Churchill saved the free world on fat food and a near constant flow of various types of liquor, incurred massive stress, went six years without sleep and I lived well into his eighties. He once quipped “Stilton and Port, what god has brought together let no man tear asunder”. If you were to listen to the nutrition puritans you’d find these facts impossible to believe. Perhaps liquor offers a mitigating effect against the rigors of the traditional English diet. The key is to think about what works and eat accordingly, and exercise – the modern complex of media and the overwhelming need to for people to ask their doctor about everything has many fretting instead of living.