To be clear, the Optimal Diet is not an original idea of mine. Forty-some years ago a Polish doctor named Jan Kwasniewski came up with the diet and used it to effect (apparently) thousands of people. He claimed to have cured everything from diabetes, to obesity, and even has a worthwhile suggestion for limiting or possibly “curing” cancer.
It has been estimated that over 2 million people are on the diet in Poland, and it has been catching on in many other countries as well. In fact I originally heard about a fundamentally similar diet from Kurt Harris M.D. via his website Archevore. The basics are as follows:
Measure your height in centimeters. I’m 5 feet 11 inches and this is 71 total inches, or about 180cm.
Then subtract 100 to get your ideal body weight in kilograms. For me this means 180 minus 100 which equals 80. SO ideally I should weigh 80 kilos plus or minus 10%. Which in pounds is somewhere around 176lbs.
As 80 kilos is my “ideal” body weight, I would consume 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight, plus or minus 10%. This means on a daily basis I should be eating 72-88 grams of protein per day. There is no doubt in my mind this is a fairly accurate number, regarding protein intake, despite hearing so much to the contrary. Most diets out there would recommended eating 2-3 times that amount, or more. The idea is that because protein has a profound effect on leptin, the “hunger” hormone, and glucagon, more is better. Protein also has a very high TEF, or thermic effect of food, so ideally it takes a lot of energy just to digest it. Some estimate the effect as high as 30%.
According to Kwasniewski, it’s unwise to force the body to work harder than it has to, and doing so can have the opposite effect. By working harder than necessary, the body is forced to become more efficient, using less and less calories to do the same job. I completely agree with the good doctor, but for other, more simple reasons.
Simply stated, the body only requires a certain amount of protein to function properly on a day to day basis. Any more than the least amount required, by definition, is too much. And what happens when someone eats too much protein? Well, most of it will get turned into glucose via gluconeogenesis. The rest gets turned into various other substances, some toxic, including but not limited to urea, and ammonia. Not fun.
So after one knows the amount of protein to eat, where do we go from here? Well then there are carbohydrates. While not an “essential” nutrient, meaning no carbohydrate need be eaten by humans for life, most people would do better eating some. But how much? Since there is no actual requirements for dietary carbs, we should ideally consume the least amount possible, or zero.
The brain does require glucose, and if none is supplied by the diet, it has to come from somewhere. Luckily humans have evolved a mechanism by which we can create glucose. Remember when I mentioned that excess protein can become glucose via gluconeogenesis? Well if literally zero carbs are eaten, this is what happens. But we need that protein for other things too, like Structural components, some enzymatic needs, etc. So what to do?
Well we could just eat some carbs. That’s pretty simple. It seems the brain requires something like 40-70 grams of glucose per day, according to Kwasniewski. So that’s where we start.
But aren’t there different types of carbs? Good carbs? Bad carbs?
Yes. Although I wouldn’t classify them as “good” or “bad” per se. Because we require glucose, not fructose, or lactose, or maltose or whatever other “ose”, we should ideally eat glucose. Or eat something that readily becomes glucose. This will come mainly from starches.
Good starch sources are potatoes, bananas, plantains, rice, and other tubers and roots. These will readily be used as glucose in the body and also do not have many accompanying toxins.
Other starch sources are grains and beans, and other veggies, which in my opinion, are far less appropriate due to large amounts of fiber, lectins, phytates, and other toxins. These foods will wreck the digestive system, and immune system. Bar none, most grains and beans are the worst foods humans can eat.
Next in line there are fruits. Most modern fruits are loaded with sugar, and have far too little vitamins and minerals to make much consumption worth while. While there are some huge exceptions, it’s best to stay away from most fruit.
So that leaves us with the fat. It’s the other nutrient in the equation and arguably the most important.
I am, and have been, a huge fan of animal foods. Aside from a very short time in high school where I tried vegetarianism, I have much preferred animals as a source of food. While a full post can be written about animals vs plants as food for humans, suffice to say that Dr. K also believes animals make better fuel. Specifically animal fats.
To figure out your daily amount of fat consumption, simply multiply your protein allowance by 3. So for me, with 80 grams of protein per day, I should shoot for 240g of fat, with as much of that coming from animal sources as possible.
To be fair, the fat amount per day can be 2 times the amount of protein, while trying to lose body fat for example. In my example, I would simply reduce my fat consumption to 160g per day. Once I achieve my desired weight, I would start to add fat back into my diet until the point where I start to gain weight again. Then a slight reduction occurs so as to maintain my weight and presto, I have my days fat allowance.
So my personal ratios would be 80 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbs, and 240g of fat. This is a daily calorie balance of just under 2700, which is roughly the recommended amount for a male my size according to FDA and USDA. So this is the style of diet I prefer to follow, and one of the main reasons my site is named as such. The Optimal Diet is, in my estimation, the optimal diet. As redundant as it sounds, the implications are correct by my judgement, and as far as I’m concerned, nothing else is even possible.