The best diet, like life itself, is best approached with a Zen mind. That is, with a beginner’s mind.
Be open to trying new approaches and strategies, tracking your key stats, and seeing how your body feels after some amount of time. Audit your physical and mental states.
I’ve just developed an equation, based on the latest nutritional knowledge and 1,000s of anecdotal client cases, to help you. It identifies 4 core variables that determine your diet’s outcome.
Pillars (P) + Calories (C) – (Sugar [S] x Vegetable Oils [VO]) = Outcome (O)
The highest P, the right amount of quality C, and the lowest S and VOs will have the best O–the best outcome for your dietary health.
This article explores calorie counting, explains the pillars of the Human Diet in broad, layman’s strokes, and concludes with why cutting out vegetable oils and sugar is the quickest way to improve your nutritional health.
Are All Calories Created Equal?
Over the years I’ve heard a number of trainers tell clients and make the case to peers that all you need to do to get in shape is count calories. That a calorie is a calorie.
This is NOT true.
Micro- and macronutrients, for one.
Your body needs specific vitamins and minerals in certain proportions in order to properly function. 2,000 calories of sugar would not provide your body the raw materials it needs in order to go on in a healthy state–if at all–for very long.
Sticking as close to the Human Diet as possible, on the other hand, would do most people marvelously on the same amount of calories.
All calories are not created equal; paying attention to the quality of your calories is just as if not more important than watching the quantity.
What Gets Measured, Gets Managed
As Peter Drucker, author of the amazing The Effective Executive, said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” This timeless truth is why I am a fan of tracking your calories.
MyFitnessPal and similar apps let you set a goal weight based on your height and current weight and gives you a good number to aim for, + or – 200 calories.
Please note I do not agree with the majority of the dietary notifications that come built into these apps, especially regarding healthy fats (which we’ll get back to later in this guide). Use these apps to track your calories, sugar, and carb intake–not as a nutritional guide.
Most of these apps have a barcode scanner and food database that contains tons of foods and food-like substances, making tracking a cinch.
Watch what you eat while you track how many calories, sugar, and carbs you consume and you’re on your way to effectively managing your weight.
Eating the Human Diet
Catherine Shanahan, M.D., lays out the pillars (P) of the Human Diet in her meticulously-researched book, Deep Nutrition.
Until the last couple centuries people of all colors and locales abided by these 4 pillars to keep themselves and their babies healthy and beautiful.
By getting back to these 4 pillars–at the same time cutting out genetically toxic vegetable oils and sugars–Dr. Shanahan believes we can enjoy the amazing health and beauty our ancestors did.
Diving deep into the pillars is beyond the scope of this beginner’s guide. I may do a follow-up article on the pillars, or Human Diet recipes–so stay tuned.
Here are the 4 pillars and a brief explanation of the benefits of each:
4 Pillars of the Human Diet
1. Meat Cooked On the Bone. Eating meat cooked in this manner has a host of benefits, most notably promoting healthy joints and connective tissue.
2. Organ Meat and Offal. Traditionally these foods we “modernized” folk throw out were fought over–for good reason. Organs offer the most nutritional bang for your buck, calorie for calorie. Main benefit: a bunch of healthy, anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s in every serving.
3. Fermented and Sprouted. Dr. Shanahan maintains that these foods are better than fresh. The main reason is because of the immunity-boosting benefits they offer by cleaning out and strengthening your GI tract.
4. Fresh, Raw Food. Eating raw vegetables (the only pillar most people on SAD diets hit at all) fortifies the consumer with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The more you eat according to these pillars, the stronger your dietary health will be.
Nix the Vegetable Oils and Sugars
Vegetable oils have been being linked–consistently and convincingly–to most if not all major diseases when being objectively studied. (Source: Deep Nutrition, again.)
Worse: Vegetable oils and sugars are rampant in the modernized diet. Especially the sad Standard American Diet.
The majority of items you find on supermarket shelves have been doped with either vegetable oils and/or sugar. This makes reading ingredient lists on products an imperative for your health.
Like the Plague
My recommendation as your coach is for you to avoid these destructive foods as much as possible. You’ll feel better physically–right down to the cellular level.
Eating in accordance with the 4 Pillars will naturally result in a big reduction of these toxins.
It’s important to get enough healthy fats while you’re weaning your body off these addictive substances. Replacing bad industrial-era bad fats (vegetable oils) with good fats when we cook is also important.
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Organic butter
- Macadamia nut oil
- Virgin coconut oil
- Animal fats (lard, tallow)
- Any artisanally produced unrefined oil
- Canola oil
- Soy oil
- Sunflower oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Corn oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Safflower oil
- Non-butter spreads (including margarine) and the so-called “trans-free” spreads
Sugar has many aliases. Many times it can be hiding in your food without you even knowing it. It’s important to stay vigilant.
- Evaporated cane juice
- Corn syrup
- Corn Sweetners
- High fructose corn syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Malt syrup
- Barley malt syrup
- Barley malt extract
- Maple syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Beet juice
- Turbinado sugar
- Invert sugar
Avoid the bad fats and replace your sugar with healthy fats to greatly improve your O.
Adding it All Up
The 4 Pillars are the common nutritional foundation all societies and tribes have used and perfected over millennia to keep themselves and their children genetically healthy.
These Pillars are highly compatible with some of the most popular and promising diets, including the Keto Diet, Perfect Health Diet, and the Ancestral Diet.
Ditch the SAD for one of these and you’ll be glad.
Tracking the quality and quantity of your calories with a free app is the perfect way to manage what goes into your mouth.
Opposing these 4 Pillars are 2 highly harmful and addictive variables: vegetable oils and sugar. Both wreak havoc on your body, down to a genetic level.
The lower you can get vegetable oils and sugar in your equation, the more positive of an outcome you’ll have. Same for your children, your neighbors, and every human you’ve ever met.
It’s that powerful. I strongly recommend you try it, even for a 2-week trial. Consider it an experiment.
Pillars plus calories, minus the product of vegetable oils times sugar, equals outcome.
P + C – (VO x S) = O
I’d like to close by saying, Thank you, Dr. Shanahan, for writing Deep Nutrition, which clearly inspired this equation, and has paradigm-shifted the way I view nutrition. I believe if it were taught in health classes (and more importantly lunchrooms) it could positively change a generation.
Sincerely, thank you.