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Take a look at the following lists of ingredients. They are for two confectionaries available for purchase today.

Product A Ingredients:

  1. Sugar
  2. Partially Defatted Peanuts
  3. Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel & Soybean Oil)
  4. Corn Syrup
  5. Dextrose
  6. Contains 2% or less of:
    1. Artificial Color
    2. Salt
    3. Resinous Glaze
    4. Soy Lecithin
    5. Modified Cornstarch
    6. Carnauba Wax
    7. Vanillin
    8. Artificial Flavor
    9. Milk

Product B Ingredients:

  1. Organic Coconut
  2. Organic Cacao
  3. Organic Coconut Sugar
  4. Organic Cacao Butter
  5. Himalayan Sea Salt

With just 5 ingredients Product B stands out as my preference (even if the ingredients were non-organic). The ingredients are familiar and have nutritional value. I cannot say the same for the Product A ingredients.

Product A is the famous Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. One of the most popular chocolate confectionaries in the US. Product B is the Coconut Butter Cups created by EatingEvolved. Reese's are essentially artificially flavored sugar that provide no nutritional value - even worse they aren't even empty calories, they are bad calories.

Yet why do they remain such a popular snack?

One factor is taste. Reese's taste good. Or at least people that haven't experienced an alternative think they do. But do they really? Do people truly prefer the taste of Reese's, or just the idea of it? If you give people two options: Reese's with it's current ingredients versus an alternative with two ingredients: raw chocolate and peanut butter, which one would win? Would people really prefer the taste of artificial color, corn syrup, dextrose and partially defatted peanuts?

Eating a blend of raw chocolate and peanut butter is delicious. It's a rich, sweet, and savory combination. But Reese's only delivers on this idea through marketing and product presentation. The actual product is an imposter. It's a concoction of artificial ingredients that are a farcry from the nutritional value and taste of raw chocolate and peanut butter. And for people that don't know an alternative, they believe it. They believe that Reese's is what peanut butter and chocolate is supposed to taste like.

And people know it's bad for you. Candy is bad for you is an axiom. Yet it's not the label "candy" that makes the product bad for you, the ingredients are the culprits. Raw chocolate and peanut butter has nutritional value. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and corn syrup does not. Natural ingredients versus lab processed.

Funny enough prior to writing the above paragraph I had not seen the headline EatingEvolved has on their site:

Chocolate: It's food, not candy.

I'd be curious to run a blind taste test to see if consumers prefer the taste of Reese's or Coconut Butter Cups. Ideally it would be people that have never tried either product. My hunch is Coconut Butter Cups would win easily. From my perspective they just taste better - much richer and creamier. And although this would bias the results, if you also told people that one of the products was actually good for you, the results would certainly skew towards the Coconut Butter Cups.

Another reason for the popularity of Reese's is cost. Reese's retail price is about $0.78. Coconut Butter Cups are $2.99. If you have two kids it's a difference of spending $2 versus $6 for a snack. For the majority of Americans falling into middle or lower income classes that difference is significant. The Hershey Company is able to exploit it's advantages as a corporation by minimizing the cost of ingredients which allow it to keep retail prices low. In "fairness" to them, as a publicly traded company they have a fiduciary duty to do this.

Another factor is distribution. You can get Reese's everywhere. The local department or grocery store, kiosk, movie theater or vending machine make Reese's widely available. You can even splurge on a Costco King Size bulk package (that's a lot of Partially Defatted Peanuts and Carnauba Wax!).

Add in brand recognition and marketing to low cost and distribution, and you have a ubiquitous product. According to The Hershey Company 2016 annual 10-k report they spent 60% (about $2 billion) of their gross profit on Selling, marketing and administrative expenses. For a company with already well-recognized brands (Hershey's Chocolate, Reese's) they are only increasing their advantage by investing heavily into instilling within us the desire for their products.

And so how does a company like EatingEvolved compete? Compared to the competition their product is expensive, has limited distribution and is an unknown brand. A classic David vs Goliath situation.

Some inspiration can be drawn from the automaker Tesla. Tesla launched it's first model, the expensive Roadster in 2008. At the time the electric car market was dire. Gas prices were surging and the economy was about to enter a recession. EatingEvolved is facing a parallel environment. They have an expensive product at a time when the health of Americans is deteriorating and obesity is at an all time high.

Elon Musk has often said that his goal with Tesla was never to "win" the auto market, it was to bring resurgence to the electric car. To put the pressure on other automakers to step up their game. Look no further than the announcement General Motors made regarding going all electric. This would not have happened this soon had it not been for Tesla.

Furthermore, the Tesla master plan outlined a roadmap that started with a low volume expensive car that would finance a medium volume car at a lower price, and ultimately finance an affordable high volume electric car (model 3). This could be the roadmap for EatingEvolved to adopt.

And thus with it's Coconut Butter Cups EatingEvolved may start catching the attention of The Hershey Company. As consumers get smarter about what they eat they will start to seek out alternatives to the processed products being pushed to them. As "aware" Gen X and Millenials start having kids they will raise their children with a greater emphasis on healthier alternatives and awareness about what they eat. Gone will be the generation that grows up snacking on Reese's because that's all they know. The path for EatingEvolved will not be easy, but it's necessary.

And as they say on their site, Chocolate: It's food, not candy.

Introduction

The Ketogenic diet is rapidly ascending into the mainstream. Check out this Google Trends chart for the search term "Ketogenic diet":

KetoDiet-GoogleTrends

The diet is essentially a low carb, high fat diet. The Atkins Diet is a kind of Ketogenic diet.

It's revered by those that have adopted it and the various health benefits are profound. They include: weight loss, lack of hunger, clearer thinking (no more "brain fog"), lower blood pressure, improved skin appearance and increased energy. People that go Keto continue to tout how good they feel because of the diet.

Yet transitioning to Keto from a traditional US diet can be challenging. No carbs?! What the heck do I eat? And with the increasing number of online resources and meal plans it can be overwhelming to get started.

My goal with this post is to not convince you to adopt the diet. Instead I aim to introduce you to the Ketogenic diet and document how I followed it for two weeks. I'll share links to resources and products that helped me. This will give you a starting point for "going Keto".

If you have any questions send me a note: andrei@forwardshapes.com

TL;DR / Bullets

  1. If you have a pre-existing kidney or heart condition, avoid this diet.
  2. The Ketogenic diet macronutrients breakdown is: 70-75% Fat, 20-25% Protein, 5-10% Carbs.
  3. Restrict your daily Net Carb intake to 25-40 grams.
  4. Ketosis happens by restricting Carbs. Not by eating Fat.
  5. Your choices of Fats matter. Think more avocados, less ice cream.
  6. Here is everything I ate for 2 weeks.
  7. My goal during the diet was to either maintain or gain a little bit of weight.
  8. Weigh and record everything you eat. Purchase a food scale and maintain a diet journal in a tool like MyFitnessPal.
  9. Get your Electrolytes! Maintain your levels of Magnesium, Sodium, and Potassium.
  10. I'm not endorsing the products linked in this post, they are just the ones I used. The Amazon product links are affiliate links.

Warning

If you have a pre-existing kidney or heart condition, this diet is not recommended.

Please review the "Who Should Not Follow A Ketogenic Diet" document from Ketogenic-Diet-Resource.com.

If in doubt, check with your physician.

Keto 101

The Ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet.

If followed correctly your body will enter a state of Ketosis. A metabolic state where your body switches from using carbohydrates to fats as your primary energy source. Fats are converted into Ketones which are metabolized by your cells for energy.

In order to enter Ketosis, you'll need to restrict Carbs to about 20-50 grams per day. The exact number varies by individual so it will require some experimentation. Remember, Ketosis happens by restricting Carbs, not by eating Fat.

During my two week period I was in the range of 25-40 grams of Net Carbs.

Here is the daily nutrient caloric breakdown of the Ketogenic diet:

  1. 70-75% calories from Fat
  2. 20-25% calories from Protein
  3. 5-10% calories from Carbohydrates*

*Count Net Carbs (Carbs - Fiber = Net Carbs). For example if you ate an Avocado that is 12g Carbs and 10g Fiber, Net Carbs equals 2g.

What I Ate For Two Weeks

Disclaimer: I'm a skinny and active 30 year old male living in New York City (I walk a lot). My goal was to either maintain or gain weight while on the diet. Thus my Protein intake was a bit higher than the norm. Use my meals as a starting point and adjust to your needs.

Andrei's Two Week Ketogenic Diet Meals Google Sheet

The above sheet contains a detailed Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Snacks/Supplements breakdown of everything I ate for two weeks.

Below is a randomly selected day in a simplified breakdown:

September 13, 2017:

  • Total Calories = 2,833
  • Fat = 212g (69%)
  • Protein = 173g (25%)
  • NET Carbs = 32g (5%)*

*If the macro percentages seem off, read this.

Breakfast (Calories: 1,308)

Fat: 110g /// Protein: 48g /// Net Carbs: 8g

  1. Salad
    1. Spinach (1 cup)
    2. Power Greens Mix (Kale, Chard, Spinach) (1 cup)
    3. Pasture Raised Organic Eggs, soft boiled (3)
    4. Liverwurst (118 grams)
    5. Avocado (1 medium)
    6. Himalayan Salt (1/4 teaspoon)
    7. Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil (1 tablespoon)
  2. Bulletproof Coffee
    1. Black Coffee (2 cups)
    2. Kerrygold Unsalted Grass-Fed Butter (1 tablespoon)
    3. Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil (2 tablespoons)

Lunch (Calories: 1,057)

Fat: 73g /// Protein: 76g /// Net Carbs: 14g

  1. Salad
    1. Power Greens Mix (Kale, Chard, Spinach) (2 cups)
    2. Liverwurst (88 grams)
    3. Trader Joe's Canned Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon (1 can)
    4. Kerrygold Aged Cheddar
    5. Cauliflower (53 grams)
    6. Cucumber (34 grams)
    7. Tomato (55 grams)
    8. Avocado (1 medium)
    9. Gold's Horseradish (2 teaspoons)
    10. Olive Oil (1 tablespoon)
    11. Himalayan Salt (1/4 teaspoon)

Dinner (Calories: 288)

Fat: 17g /// Protein: 33g /// Net Carbs: 6g

  1. Meal
    1. Chicken Thighs (149 grams)
    2. Steamed Broccoli (134 grams)
    3. Pure Indian Foods Grass-Fed Ghee (14 grams)

Snacks (Calories: 180)

Fat: 12g /// Protein: 16g /// Net Carbs: 4g

  1. Green Tea (2 cups)
  2. Rooibos Tea (2 cups)
  3. Pure Indian Foods Grass-Fed Ghee (14 grams)
  4. Good Karma Flax Milk Unsweetened with Protein (2 cups)

Electrolyte Supplements

  1. Potassium (1 teaspoon)
  2. Himalayan Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  3. Magnesium (300 mg)

Keto Flu & Electrolytes

The Keto Flu is a thing and you may experience some side effects from going low carb.

The side effects and their duration will depend on your unique situation (past diet, current diet, body composition, etc.). For example if you go from eating 300g to 30g of Carbs a day, you will shock your body.

The good news is our bodies are incredibly resilient and eventually adapt to the new energy source. But it will take time and some fortitude.

The side effects I experienced were light-headedness and leg cramps. The cramps came at night or early in the morning. I would also get fatigued while climbing stairs after coming home from work. My problem was I wasn't getting enough Sodium. After increasing my Sodium intake I started to feel better and the cramps went away.

In order to mitigate the Keto Flu side effects, you must maintain your Electrolyte levels.

This means everyday you'll need:

Every morning I made a cocktail with warm water, Sodium, Potassium, and Apple Cider Vinegar. I drank that with Magnesium pills. Reference my meals spreadsheet for portion sizes.

Products

Here are various random products I used that helped me adhere to the diet. I don't endorse these, but I was happy with all of them. The Amazon product links are affiliate links.

Tools

  • MyFitnessPal App: This app made it really easy to track everything I was eating. It's not necessary, but it makes things so much easier. To track Macros you'll need to upgrade to the Premium version ($9.99/month)
  • Food scale: A must have in order to weigh out your portions

Food

Resources

Websites

Podcast Episodes

  • The Tim Ferriss Show
    • Episode #117: Dom D’Agostino on Fasting, Ketosis, and the End of Cancer
    • Episode #172: Dom D’Agostino — The Power of the Ketogenic Diet
    • Episode #188: Dom D’Agostino on Disease Prevention, Cancer, and Living Longer
  • The Joe Rogan Podcast
  • FoundMyFitness Podcast by Rhonda Patrick
    • March 23, 2016: Dominic D'Agostino, Ph.D. on Modified Atkins Diet, Ketosis, Supplemental Ketones and More

Books/Documents

People to follow on Twitter

Several months ago I picked up a copy of "Perfect Health Diet" by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. The book focuses on optimizing nutrition and diet by teaching what and how much you should eat. The authors argue that the right diet can be a potent catalyst for good health.

Reading the book I've realized that I lack a fundamental understanding of nutrients. What really is a protein and carbohydrate? What is a nutrient? This post contains my notes collected from various articles and Wikipedia.

Even if you don't read the book, I believe having a basic understanding of macronutrients is valuable. Because without them, you wouldn't be alive.


Basics

Nutrients are substances needed for growth and maintaining body functions.

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide energy (aka calories):

  • Macronutrients have specific roles in maintaining our body
  • Macronutrients contribute to taste, texture, and appearance of foods

There are 3 broad classes of macronutrients:

  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats

A molecule is two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds (they do not have an electrical charge)

A biomolecule (biological molecule), is a molecule that is present in living organisms (example of biomolecules: proteins, carbohydrates, fats)

Insulin is a hormone produced by body that regulates the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats


Proteins (4 calories/gram)

  1. Molecules consisting of smaller units called amino acids (building blocks of proteins)
  2. Present in every living cell
  3. Hold together, protect, and provide structure to our body
  4. Complex molecules, body needs time to break them down
  5. Provide:
    1. Slower and longer-lasting source of energy compared to carbohydrates
    2. Energy and growth
    3. Tissue repair, immune system function, hormone and enzyme production, muscle mass and tone
  6. To make the proteins that it needs (protein biosynthesis), the body needs proteins
  7. When eaten, proteins broken down into amino acids (dietary source of nitrogen)
  8. There are 20 amino acids
    1. Body can synthesize (production of chemical compounds by reaction from simpler materials) 11 amino acids from molecules within body
      1. This is done through de novo synthesis (from scratch): the synthesis of complex molecules from simple molecules
    2. 9 amino acids cannot be synthesized de novo by body and they must be provided by diet
      1. These 9 are called essential amino acids:
        1. histidine
        2. lysine
        3. isoleucine
        4. leucine
        5. methionine
        6. phenylalanine
        7. threonine
        8. tryptophan
        9. valine
  9. Proteins from animal sources are complete proteins because they contain all essential amino acids
  10. Proteins from plants, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables are called incomplete proteins because they lack one or more essential amino acids
  11. USDA (department agriculture) recommends adults eat 60 grams protein per day (0.8 per kg of weight)

Carbohydrates (4 calories/gram)

  1. Molecule consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms
    1. Carbohydrates are a synonym for saccharide, a group that includes 3 types:
      1. Sugars
        1. General name for short-chain, soluble carbohydrates
        2. Many types of sugars are used in food
        3. Table sugar = sucrose
      2. Starch
        1. Polymeric (large molecule composed of many repeated subunits) carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units
        2. Polysaccharide produced by most green plants as an energy store
        3. Most common carbohydrate (common in foods such as: potatoes, wheat, corn, rice)
        4. Has two components:
          1. Amylose (20-30% of weight)
            1. Polymer (large molecule) made of d-glucose units, bound by glycosidic bonds
            2. More resistant to digestion than other starch molecules
            3. Preferred starch for energy storage in plants
          2. Amylopectin (70-80% of weight)
            1. Highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants
            2. Soluble molecule that can be quickly degraded as it has many endpoints that an enzyme can attach to
      3. Cellulose
        1. Polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of many D-glucose units
    2. Saccharides are divided into four chemical groups
      1. Monosaccharide
      2. Disaccharides
      3. Oligosaccharides
      4. Polysaccharides
  2. Two major roles of carbohydrates:
    1. Primary energy source for body
    2. Source of calories to maintain body weight
  3. Involved in the construction of the body organs and nerve cells
  4. Body uses carbohydrates in the form of glucose and can quickly convert simple and complex carbohydrates into energy
    1. The body stores a small amount of excess carbohydrate as energy reserve
    2. The brain uses/needs glucose as an energy source, fat cannot be used for this purpose
  5. Glycogen, is a complex carbohydrate the body can easily and rapidly convert to energy
    1. Muscles store glycogen, which they use during periods of intense physical activity
  6. Two basic types of carbohydrates (depending on their size)
    1. Simple carbohydrates (aka monosaccharide)
      1. Cannot be broken down into simple sugars
      2. Absorbed directly into the bloodstream
      3. Include various forms of sugar such as:
        1. Glucose (aka dextrose)
          1. Simple sugar, circulates in animals as blood sugar (amount of sugar present in the blood)
          2. A primary source of energy for body's cells
          3. Transported from the intestines or liver to body cells via the bloodstream, and is absorbed by cells via the hormone insulin
        2. Fructose (aka fruit sugar)
          1. Found in many plants, often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose
          2. Natural sources include: fruits, vegetables, and honey
        3. Galactose
          1. Monosaccharide sugar that is less sweet than glucose and fructose
          2. When combined with glucose, through a reaction the result is the disaccharide lactose
          3. Found in dairy products, sugar beets
      4. Fastest source of energy as they can be broken down by body quickly
      5. Absorbed by small intestine into the bloodstream, then transported to where they are required
      6. Sources in diet: fruits, berries, vegetables, honey
    2. Complex carbohydrates: larger and consist of long strings of simple carbohydrates, 3 groups:
      1. Disaccharides (two monosaccharides joined by glycosidic linkage)
        1. Sucrose
          1. Naturally occurring carbohydrate found in many plants
          2. Combination of glucose and fructose
          3. Often extracted and refined from cane or beet sugar for human consumption
            1. Refined form of sucrose = table sugar
        2. Lactose
          1. Disaccharide sugar found in milk
          2. Composed of galactose and glucose
        3. Maltose
          1. Disaccharide formed from two units of glucose joined an alpha bond from a condensation reaction (chemical reaction where two molecules combine to form a larger molecule)
          2. Produced when amylase breaks down starch
            1. Amylase is an enzyme (molecular biological catalyst) that catalyses (starts/increases rate of chemical reaction) the hydrolis (unbinding) of starch into sugars
              1. Present in saliva of humans where it begins the chemical process of digestion
              2. Why a sweet potato is "sweet" when chewed - amylase degrades some of it's starch into sugar
      2. Oligosaccharides
          1. Simple polymer containing small number of simple sugars (monosaccharides)
            1. Fructooligosaccharide (FOS)
              1. Used as an alternative sweetener
              2. Extracted from blue Agave plant, bananas, onions, chicory root, garic, asparagus, wheat, and barley
      3. Polysaccharides
          1. Long chains of monosaccharide units bound by glycosidic bonds (covalent bond that joins a carbohydrate to another molecule)
            1. Starch
            2. Maltodextrin
              1. Polysaccharide that is used as a food additive
              2. Produced from starch by hydrolysis
                1. Enzymatically derived from any starch (typically corn or wheat)
              3. Commonly used in soft drinks and candy and other processed foods
            3. Amylose
            4. Amylopectin
          2. Broken down by enzymes into smaller sugars which are then absorbed into bloodstream

Fats (9 calories/gram)

  1. A lipid (naturally occurring molecule that includes fats and fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E)
    1. Store energy
    2. Structural components of cell membranes
  2. Also know as triglyceride, an ester of three fatty acid chains and the alcohol glycerol
    1. Fatty acid: Carboxylic acid with a long aliphatic chain (saturated or unsaturated)
      1. Important source of fuel, when metabolized yield large quantities of ATP
        1. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
          1. small molecule in cells used as a coenzyme
          2. molecule that carries energy to the place where energy is needed
    2. Esters: chemical compounds derived from an acid (organic or inorganic)
      1. Usually derived from a caroxylic acid an an alcohol
    3. Glycerol: Simple polyol (alcohol containing multiple hydroxyl groups) compound
      1. Colorless, odorless, liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic
      2. Hydroxyl: chemical group containing one oxygen atom connected by covalent bond to a hydrogen atom
      3. Alcohol: organic compound where the hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to saturated carbon atoms
  3. Fats are a source of energy (slowest but most energy-efficient form of food) and protect internal organs
  4. Four main types:
    1. Saturated fats
      1. Fatty acids all have a single bond
      2. Called saturated because they are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms and cannot incorporate more
      3. Solid at room temperature
      4. Examples: butter, cheese, whole milk dairy products and fatty meats
      5. Provide source of energy, building blocks for cell membranes and hormones
    2. Unsaturated fats (molecules contain less than the maximum amount of hydrogen)
      1. Monounsaturated fats
        1. Composed of monounsaturated fatty acids
        2. Liquid at room temperature
        3. Examples: olive, peanut, and canola oil, olives, nuts, peanuts, avocados
      2. Polyunsaturated fats
        1. Found in nuts, seeds, fish, leafy greens
        2. Position of the carbon-carbon double bonds in carboxylic acid chains in fats is designated by Greet letters
          1. Carbon atom at the end of a hydrocarbon chain is called the omega carbon (last letter of Greek alphabet)
          2. Omega-3 fatty acids
            1. Final carbon-carbon double bond in the n-3 (n minus 3) position
            2. Three types:
              1. a-linolenic acid (ALA)
                1. found in plant oils
                2. walnut, edible seeds, flaxseed oil
              2. eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
                1. commonly found in marine oils
                2. fish oils, egg oils, krill oil
              3. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
                1. commonly found in marine oils
                2. fish oils, egg oils, krill oil
          3. Omega-6 fatty acids
            1. Final carbon-carbon double bond in the n-6 (n minus 6) position
            2. Found in sunflower seeds, sesame, walnuts, soybean, corn
          4. Essential fatty acid (EFA)
            1. Fatty acids humans must ingest because body requires them and cannot synthesize them
              1. Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)
              2. Linoleic acid (omega-6)
      3. Trans fatty acids (trans fats)
        1. Type of unsaturated fats, occur in small amounts in nature
          1. Widely produced artificially from vegetable fats for use in snack foods, margarine, baked goods
          2. Easy to use, inexpensive to produce, last a long time = fast foods restaurants use to deep fry
        2. Frying and baking fats (hydrogenated vegetable oils)
        3. Hydrogenation: forced chemical addition of hydrogen into omega-6 polyunsaturated oils to make them hard at room temperatures, primarily as a cheaper and less perishable substitute for butter in crispy bread products