As mentioned before, insulin is a huge factor towards managing inflammation and disease. Essentially, you want to spike insulin as little as possible to be healthy. To effectively control insulin, there are two things one must do. First, one must learn to eat less frequently. Eating less frequently will minimize the amount of insulin spikes throughout the day. Second, implement a high fat diet while eating the right kinds of foods. Instead of eating 5 to 6 meals per day, make it 2 to 3 bigger meals of nutrient dense, whole foods. As a result, you will be more satiated, less obese, and less inflamed.
1) Become “fat adapted”: This can take a few months. The purpose is to get your body to utilize fat as a fuel source instead of glucose (carbohydrates). To do this, you need to eat a high fat, low carb, and moderate protein diet. Essentially, you need to eat with purpose as opposed to pleasure. You can eat fruit in moderation and some vegetables too. But you need to have the mindset that food is fueling your success instead of disease. Having control of your insulin will yield more fat loss and less inflammation. The process of transitioning your body’s fuel source is relatively difficult in the short term, but is incredibly worth it in the long term. When your body is running off of fat, it creates ketones in the bloodstream. Ketones are known to regulate appetite, decrease inflammation, improve focus, and other benefits. Another bonus is that your overall caloric intake will most likely increase. You probably can eat an additional 500 to 1000 calories daily due to regulated insulin levels. I absolutely eat more calories than I used to. And I don’t have to deal with post-meal fatigue!
2) Start intermittent fasting: From an evolutionary perspective, humans were designed to feast and famine. It is a modern practice to be eating as frequently as we do in America. As discussed earlier, frequent snacking results in chronically high insulin levels throughout the day, which can lead to inflammation and obesity, especially if carbs are in the equation. The purpose of fasting is to increase the health of our cells through a process called autophagy. Once the human body is done digesting food, it enters autophagy. Autophagy is where the body recycles old, diseased cells and regenerates new, healthy cells. Good mitochondrial health makes a huge difference when it comes to preventing disease. For beginners, I recommend the 16/8 method of fasting. It involves a daily fasting of 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours. When you combine a good diet with intermittent fasting, your health begins to regenerate like crazy. At first, you may experience detox symptoms and maybe get a rash. But as you stay consistent, your skin will regain its natural complexion, your energy levels will increase, and you will be at a healthy weight.
How much fat should I eat?
For fat intake, I’d recommend to eat roughly 70-80% of my calories coming from fat. But not just any fat. You need to eat more monounsaturated and saturated fat to minimize inflammation while maximizing energy levels. There will be a chapter dedicated each kind of fat (polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fat) and I will explain which anti-inflammatory foods to consume. Healthy fats will not only feed your brain and body with fuel; it will satiate your appetite and keep you satisfied.
What fat should I avoid?
The wrong kind of fat to eat would be vegetable oils like: soybean oil, rapeseed/canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, rice bran oil, rapeseed oil, and others. These fats are mainly polyunsaturated (omega 6s) and are depleted of any nutrients due to the refinement process. Instead, they contribute to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. If you don’t know, insulin resistance is when the body’s cells don’t respond properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance is the main contributor toward type II diabetes. To avoid inflammation and disease, its super important to have a healthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Due to the overconsumption of vegetable oils in America, the average ratio is 20 to 1. That is why Americans are up against all of these new “modern day” diseases. This type of fatty acid imbalance has been shown to promote the growth of cancer cells, increase risk of stroke, and increase feelings anxiety & depression. Along with refined sugar consumption, this is a huge reason why Americans are so obese and face so many health issues.
Another kind of fat to avoid would be factory-farmed animal fat, especially from pigs and poultry. These animals are fed feces, genetically modified soy, antibiotics, and other despicable types of feed. Animal fat is rich in saturated fat, but with factory fed animals, it’s a slightly different situation. Factory farmed animals (like chickens and pigs) tend to contain higher levels of polyunsaturated fat in the form of omega 6 fatty acids. These are the same type of oils found in vegetable seed oils.
For ruminant animals (like cows and lamb), they have the ability to ferment fiber so they store less polyunsaturated fat. When it comes to grain-fed versus grass-fed cows, I do think the benefits of grass-fed cows are marginally more superior than grain-fed cows. If you’re on a stricter budget, I would highly recommend buying either one. Both should impact your health positively.
How much protein should I eat?
For protein intake, I recommend you eat about 20% of your calories in the form of protein. The best sources of protein will be coming from pasture-raised eggs, wild caught fish, 100% grass-fed beef, organic turkey, pastured pork, lean chicken breast, and other ethically raised animals. As emphasized already, it’s important to eat ethically raised animals. But if you’re truly in a financial bind, I would recommend buying the leaner cuts of a factory-farmed animal. The point of buying a leaner cut of meat is to avoid the additional polyunsaturated fat that gets stored. So lean cuts of beef, turkey, chicken, etc are all affordable ways to minimize inflammation when on a budget. It is essential to get adequate protein for multiple reasons. Not only will it help with build/maintain muscle, it can facilitate the fat burning process and improve overall energy. A healthy amount of protein per day would be no less than your bodyweight (in pounds) multiplied by 80%.
Why is protein important?
When you’re fat adapted or in the process of becoming fat adapted, protein is essential. If you stop consuming dietary fat when fat-adapted, you’ll burn stored body fat. If you stop consuming carbs, you’ll burn through glycogen which will result in less water retention and burn more fat. When there is less water retained, hydration becomes super important. Electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium help immensely. Whether your getting electrolytes from whole foods or supplements, they are essential to energy levels. Back to the main topic: protein. If you stop consuming protein, your organs, muscles, and bones will atrophy. Another reason protein is important is that protein contains essential B vitamins that promote cellular health. Protein is the foundation to every good diet. Moderation is key.
How many carbohydrates can I eat?
For carbohydrate intake, I recommend eating about 5 to 10% of your calories from a nutritious carb source. As your body gets more fat adapted, you can slowly add carbs back to the diet. This takes months of discipline and consistency, but is 100% worth it. Essentially, your body can utilize both energy sources (carbs and fat). I think it’s smart to eat fruit and raw honey cyclically. For example, I like to eat seasonal fruit and honey everyday of the week. Generally, I eat anywhere from 50 to 150 grams of carbs per day. I’ve been doing this way of eating for a few years now so my body is fairly good at using both carbs and fat for energy. But if you’re in the early stages, I recommend having 2-3 days out of the week where you implement carbs.
Why eat raw honey as a carb source?
Raw honey is an incredibly unique kind of carbohydrate. Unlike most carbohydrates, is unpasteurized and probiotic. It has live enzymes and bacteria that are healing to the gut. In addition, raw honey is known for it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties. Since bees make honey internally, there is zero fiber and a minimal amount of antinutrients; so it is perfect for those who suffer from IBD. What is really cool is that a tribe in Africa (the Hadza) thrives on a diet of predominantly game and raw honey. They are known for having little to no disease.
Why eat mixed berries as a carb source?
My favorite form of fruit to include in an anti-inflammatory diet are organic mixed berries. I recommend organic to minimize the amount of chemicals sprayed on the fruit. My favorite fruits typically consist of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Blueberries are rich in soluble fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and have been historically known to heal the colon. The other berries have similar properties and are great for a nice dessert to keep the diet sustainable and exciting! Overall, these berries are a great source of vitamin C and contain healing properties if consumed in moderation. I recommend consuming berries to keep the diet interesting and sustainable.