I’ve been listening to a lot of pod-casts about the Perfect Health Diet. The diet is written by an astrophysicist from Harvard that sought out the best human diet to avoid disease and maintain health. He talks a lot about the most optimal foods and I agree with a lot of what he says. He also mentions how when either gaining or losing fat certain dietary thresholds must be met in order to adequately feed the body.
Most of the information deals with health and not necessarily body composition, but the diet can absolutely be used for enhanced body composition. John Meadows seems to write about the same topics that this author talks about.
One thing that surprised me was that protein has a lower point of diminishing returns than I thought. Basically once you get around your lean body weight in protein, any more can actually cause problems. The author states that once protein is met you are MUCH better off getting your calories from carbs rather than overdoing protein.
He also mentions that dietary fat must always be kept in the diet. I’ve written many posts about the benefits of fat, but the way the author describes it in the book really shocked me. Dietary fat should be the dominant macro-nutrient in the diet for most people. I’ve always been guilty (and still do this due to bad habit) of making protein the dominant macro-nutrient with veggies a close second. The author recommends fat-carbs-protein-veggies (in this order) Vegetables are very healthy, but shouldn’t be eaten in excess. Vegetables should compliment a meal not overpower it.
The split he recommend is 50% fat / 30% carbs / 15-20% protein for a sedentary individual. Sources of dietary fat are very important it should primarily be saturated fat.
The two of the most interesting things I got from it, was when he mentioned how the diet can be manipulated to burn fat and build muscle.
To build muscle: you need around 1200 calories from glycogen. He recommends about 150 grams of carbs and 150 grams of protein. The rest comes from monounsaturated and saturated fat. He cited a really good example of how breast milk is made up of mostly saturated fat and in order to grow new tissue most efficiently, you need to feed your cells saturated fat. (That means butter, whole eggs and red meat all day long) He also added that for each hour of exercise you only need to add about 25 grams of carbs to cover your needs. So NO need to overdue carbs and ignore fat. It sounds like to make the healthiest and leanest muscle gains you need a healthy does of saturated fats.
To lose fat: you still need a certain threshold of each nutrient to maintain health while burning fat. The author states that if you eat right when on a calorie deficit you really shouldn’t be hungry. Calories obviously need to be reduced but eating enough of each macro-nutrient will ensure you don’t suffer when dieting.
The minimum amounts needed to burn fat
- Fat – 500 calories – 55 grams (cell metabolism, joints, hormones)
- Carbs – 500 calories 125 grams (glycogen, brain fuel, thyroid health, gut bacteria)
- Protein 300 calories – 75 grams (muscle, organ health)
- Total Calories – 1300 calories
Basically if you eat these ratios of healthy food, you should be able to take off fat very effectively while avoiding health problems, metabolic slowdown and rebound weight gain.
I’m still learning a ton from this book, but just wanted to share some of the most interesting things I picked up from the book.