Monthly Archives: July 2010

Let’s talk numbers

You know what… forget gluten, forget lectins… let’s assume that grains and beans have no detrimental effects. With this assumption let us compare the nutritional content of grains, beans, vegetables, fruits and sugars. There’s actually very little I want to write in this post because I did a fair bit of research or data collection or whatever you want to call it and  have gathered some numbers which I’m sure will be very useful to you. So without further ado let’s just jump right in.


1. 200 calories of each food item is taken into account.

2. Carbohydrates, fiber and protein are in grams.

3. Vitamins are present as %DV i.e. Percentage Daily Value = Recommended Daily Amount. Find more information here.


Cereals and Grains:

– About 1 cup of grains/cereals will result in a calorie in take of ~ 200.

– All grains and cereals have a high carb load and contain little to no fiber and protein.

– Vitamins are available… but in trace amounts.

Beans and Legumes:

– About 1 cup of beans/legumes will result in a calorie in take of ~ 200.

– Beans and legumes have a high carb load but contain decent amount of fiber and protein.

– Moderate quantities of vitamins are available.

Starchy Vegetables:

– Each medium sized potato/yam will provide you about a 100 calories.

– Starchy vegetables are carb heavy and contain less fiber and protein (similar to grains)

– Moderate quantities of vitamins are available.

Fibrous Vegetables:

– Each cup of fibrous vegetable will result in a calorie intake of only 40 calories!

– Fibrous vegetables are not carb heavy and contain enormous amounts of fiber and protein!

Monstrous quantities of vitamins are available!


– Fruits could be calorie dense or not depending on their type. Berries are generally super low calorie.

– Fruits can be carb heavy, again depending on choice, and can have insane amount of fiber (berries) or not.

– Protein content of fruit is generally very low.

– Moderate quantities of vitamins are available (mostly vitamin C).


– 1/4 cup (or less) of sugar will result in 200 calories!

– They have a very high carb load, no fiber and no protein.

– Sugars have little to no vitamins to offer.

– Honey and sugar ain’t too different.


Now that you have seen the data let’s throw in some graphs, pictorially represent them and put things in perspective.

1. All these foods offer pretty similar amount of total carbohydrates to provide a total of 200 calories.

So no big deal here. Let’s chill.

2. While we are looking at the carbs offered by these foods let’s see how much fiber each of these offer.

Oh wow! Now here’s something worthwhile.

– While sugars offer zero fiber and grains offer just about 4 grams/200 calories, fibrous vegetables offer a whopping 21 grams/200 calories!! That is 85% of your DV for fiber!

– Fruits offer a significant amount of fiber too and if all your fruits are berries… my oh my… you’re getting ~ 30 grams of fiber/200 calories! That is 120% of your DV of fiber!

Clearly from a fiber perspective (which is important for all this)… fibrous vegetables and berries kick some serious ass! So brown rice eaters… please quit being proud! The 2 grams of fiber/200 calories ain’t no thang!

Net carbs in any food = Total carbs – Fiber and this is the number of carbs that actually count and the lower the better. So net carbs for these dudes?

Seriously… check it out! Fibrous vegetables have more fiber than net carbs! Wicked! Show me one product in the market today that does this! Fruits don’t compare too badly either and if I make a column for just berries… that would be very similar to the fibrous vegetable column.

3. What about protein now? These things should come with some protein too right?

Hells yeah! Once again… fibrous vegetables top the charts with an average of ~ 17 grams of protein/200 calorie! Compare this to the 6 grams from grains and 0 grams from sugar (obviously!) Now let’s compare the amount of carbs to the amount of protein these foods offer.

Well… of course sugars have no protein and grains have a meager 4 grams of protein for every 40 grams of net carbs. But our awesome fibrous vegetables have 17 grams of protein for every 16 grams of carbs! Did you read that? Yes? Now read that again! Fibrous vegetables provide you with more protein than carbs.

4. Last but not least… satiety.

200 calories = 1 cup of grains/beans Or 6.5 cups of fibrous vegetables Or 3.5 cups of fruits Or 1/5th a cup of sugar. You can get all your calories from just one chocolate bar and stay hungry for the rest of the day or you can throw in a bunch of vegetables and fruits… eat till your full and realize you’ve eaten only 1/4th of your calories for the day.


Calorie for calorie…

– Fibrous vegetables provide more fiber and protein than sugar, grains, starchy vegetables and even beans.

– Much higher quantities of fibrous vegetables can be eaten without piling on the calories (as opposed to sugar and grains). This helps in satiety when on a diet especially.

– Fruits (especially berries) provide crazy amounts of fiber and vitamin C compared to grains and sugars.

– Starchy vegetables offer a high carb load with minimal fiber and moderate vitamins which make it an awesome candidate for post-workout meals.

– Fibrous vegetables offer insane amount of vitamins compared to any other food source that exists.

– Sugars have zero nutrition. Period. Honey is no better than sugar.

– I haven’t even discussed the gluten issue. You can read here about the havoc they wreck.

– If this is not enough information and analysis for you to base the bulk of your diet around vegetables and fruits… then you’re just an idiot (and will be a fat idiot  soon and will most probably be a fat diabetic idiot soon after.)

Once again… you don’t have to change your diet to eating just fruit and vegetables and nuts and lean meats all the time. Base the bulk of your diet on these things and have the occasional dessert or grain based meal.


Cheat to Win – The 85/15–>95/5 Rule

Perfection is the enemy. This is true with whatever that is that you do… but I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Just here to tell you how to eat (and how not to).

I go on and on about eating clean, giving up sugar, eating only the good fats, cutting out grains, increasing vegetable intake… but… let me ask you this… assuming you make a dietary change, are you going to do this all your life? Hell, am I going to do this all my life?? What about the donuts? The cakes? The pizza? The burger? The Indian food? The unlimited sushi? The Chinese food? My oh my! Truth is… life is more than just eating clean and staying active. Make no mistake… life is mostly about eating clean and staying active… but there is a little more to life. Read on.

Q. What is a diet?

Ans. A diet is what you eat and drink any day, everyday. But the diet we’re talking about is ‘going on a diet’. Going on a diet is either reducing the sheer quantity of the food that goes into that pie hole i.e. calorie restriction or banning certain foods (which results in restriction of calories).

Q. Why would you go on a diet?

Ans. Possibly one or more of the following reasons.

1. You’re fat and you would want to lean out to look better.

2. High risk of CVD (cardiovascular diseases) or diabetes could force you to eat clean and not eat junk.

3. You might be an athlete and losing some body fat (or even body weight in some cases) might benefit you in your sport.

4. Other reasons which aren’t critical for this post.

Q. What is the best diet?

And. The Ultimate Diet 2.0 by Lyle McDonald? Or The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordian? Or The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier? Or The Cookie Diet by Dr. Siegal? Or The Fruit Diet? Or one of the other hundred diets available?

To be honest with you all these diets work and produce the results they promise… IF you stick to the prescribed diet for the prescribed period of time. Let’s say I give you a diet which is so miraculous that it would reduce your body fat, make your lipid profile shine, improve athletic performance and extend life. But what good will come from that diet if you can’t stick to it?

The best diet is the diet you can stick to for the prescribed period of time.

Q. How do I stick to a diet?

Ans. 85/15 –> 95/5 rule

In short…

Don’t eat clean all the time. Have a reasonable planned cheat meal every once in a while.

In other words…

Dieting is psychological as much as it is physiological. I’ll spare you the crap and get directly to the point because neither you nor I have time for crap. Dieting is hard. Period. Whatever diet you are on… you are allowed certain foods and you are banned from eating certain other foods. The way your brain works is that it eventually craves the stuff you can’t have! And the worst thing you can do at that point is to force your brain to suppress the craving and tell it that you can never eat that chocolate cake again.

Never… deprive yourself of the little pleasures. I don’t care what the ‘purists’ say.  From a general health and fitness stand point you need to ‘give in’ every once in a while.

This is where the 85/15 –> 95/5 rule comes into play. Let’s assume you are a first time dieter and that you eat ~ 20 meals per week.

– During your first month of dieting, plan on having 3 cheat meals per week. This will result in eating clean 85% of the time.

– From the start of your second month reduce the number of cheat meals to 2 meals per week. This will result in eating clean 90% of the time.

– From the start of your third month reduce that number to 1 cheat meal per week. This will result in eating clean 95% of the time.

Once you are in your third month of dieting successfully it is assumed that you have reached a stage where you have the capability to practice portion control or ingredient control without insurmountable cravings.

So your goal should be to get to a 95/5 diet plan (which is 1 cheat meal per week). Plan for it. Choose a day… choose a meal… choose your favorite food item/entree/dessert… enjoy it! And please … do not feel guilty about it! You are merely rewarding yourself for having eaten clean throughout the week (and hopefully for having exercised the required number of days that week). Even better… for most folks a cheat meal can bridge the gap between plateauing and success.

Cheat Meal Rules:

1. Do not regret a cheat meal. Do not fear it.

2. Plan for it during the week. Look forward to it. Enjoy every bite of it. Love it…!


3. Make sure the cheat meal doesn’t derail the rest of the week’s clean eating. E.g. Don’t walk into a dessert shop/burger joint and roll out on a wheel chair.

4. Remember… it is a cheat meal… not a cheat day! One meal… reasonably sized.

5. Reasonably sized = 30-40% of your allotted number of calories for the day.

Probably not such a great idea.

6. For some people a cheat meal is a step in the wrong direction. It makes them go completely out of control and they never return to their regular diet. If you are one of those people…. be extra careful and don’t fall prey.

7. The higher the number of cheat meals… the more careful you need to be to ensure you don’t go overboard.

To Sum Up…

What is better… a 85-95% clean diet or a  100% clean diet? The 100% clean diet.

What is better… a 85-95% clean diet lasting 6 months or a 100% clean diet lasting 1 month? The 85-95% clean diet.

– Peace.

Q & A – 1

Q. Why do you not recommend working out first thing in the morning?

Ans. Working out first thing in the AM is just fine. One reason I do my training in the evening is that suits my schedule better. The other reason is that if I’m doing strength training (any kind of heavy lifting – which is relative mind you) I am better off in the evening because the day has warmed me up and I have some food inside me which gives me more energy. Any kind of conditioning first thing in the morning is just great from a fat loss perspective.

Q. If I ate all the cheese/oil you recommend, I feel like I’ll be the size of a house.

Ans. You will be the size of a house or even bigger if you eat all the cheese/oil I recommend IN ADDITION to your grains and starches and sugars. Whatever be your diet (high fat low carb or low carb high fat) the most important thing to consider is the energy balance equation – caloires in Vs calories out. If you are comsuming more calories than you burn you WILL put on weight/fat. Period. So while you include these fats (which are super good for you) you are dropping your carbs down. As long as these add up to a number below your maintenance calories you will lose fat.

Q. My body doesn’t seem to function well without carbs (whole grain bread/whole wheat roti/brown rice etc.), do I really HAVE to get rid of fairly “healthy” carbs?

Ans. As much as I recommend the high fat low carb diet I will be the first one to admit that a low carb approach is not for everyone. Some people are more insulin sensitive than the others and feel better with more carbs in them. If you feel light headed/groggy/less energy when you drop carbs then just increase carb intake by 40-50 gms and see how you feel. Iterate till you find your sweet spot. As long as these carbs are the good ones like vegetables, yams, potatoes, fruits you are good to go. The one thing about carbs that I will hang my hat on is that the normal person gets WAY more carbs than required (especially in India where 80% of one’s diet is grains/cereals/starches).

As for ‘fairly healthy’ carbs… grains don’t belong to that group. Fruit perhaps belong to the fairly healthy carb group.

Q. What is the logic behind your recommendation of a low carb approach?

Ans. All my recommendations for fat loss are with two things in mind…

1. Create a calorie deficit without compromising health and nutrition. Though you will be eating lesser calories than is required to maintain your current body weight I want to ensure that your body gets all the goodies (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids/protein, fiber etc.). Bascially ‘healthy dieting’ as opposed to ‘crash dieting’ where you do whatever it takes to lose weight as fast as possible even at the cost of compromising health and longevity.

2. Induce fat loss without the complications of calorie counting and obsessing about how much to eat when. This is achieved by allowing certain foods and restricting certain foods. Why ban carbs? Most people tend to overdo carbohydrates easily. Think about every junk food you know – donuts, pizza, french fries, cake, dessert. What do all these things have in common? They all have simple carbs (sugars) and/or processed carbs with/without fat. By removing the common ingredient from your diet (sugar and grains) and basing your diet around vegetables, meat, nuts, some fruit and some unprocessed dairy we are addressing the fat loss problem in a healthy way. FYI – The greater issue with the sugar in junk foods is that the more you eat them the more you crave them (genius!). So including these as a part of  your daily diet is a sure fire way to obesity.

Common knowledge would say that the best way to satisfy BOTH these points is by including the healthiest of foods in the ‘allowed foods’ list and the foods with sugars, anti-nutrients & empty calories in the ‘restricted foods’ list.

Q. What fall under the ‘healthiest foods’ group?

Ans. Vegetables, fruits, the good fats, unprocessed dairy, grass-fed organic meats/seafood.

Q. What are the foods that add empty calories?

Ans. Sugars and grains which show up in a million different forms (think bread, rice, junk, candy etc.). The ones with gluten (wheat) are not just empty calories but they are also harmful to your digestive tract resulting in auto immune diseases like leaky gut.

Q. Why is whole wheat bread not healthy?

Ans. Like I said… the gluten.

Q. Why is white/brown/wild rice not healthy?

Ans. Though rice doesn’t contain gluten and is not particularly harmful to you… it provides empty calories. Compare any rice (or any grain for that matter) and vegetables calorie for calorie. You will see that vegetables kick rice’s ass big big time with respect to micro nutrients, fiber, protein, satiety and digestion. So when you’re creating a calorie deficit in order to lose weight you want to ensure that your body is well fed and the only way of doing this is by using up all your carbs for vegetables (and little fruit).

Q. What about Quinoa?

Ans. Better than wheat. Contains a complete protein. But still a grain which means 90% of calories from it are empty with no nutritional value.

Q. Does the term ‘healthy carbs’ exist? If yes, what are they?

Of course it does! All kinds of vegetables and berries will fall under ‘healthy carbs’. Other high glycemic index fruits will fall under ‘fairly healthy carbs’.


Sample Fat Loss Diet 1 – Vegetarian

For the past two months I have been saying pretty much the same thing over and over again.

Eat clean, quick and tasty meals three to four times a day –  Include lots of vegetables – Drop the grains – Increase the good fat intake – Have a cheat meal once a week – Workout 3-5 times a week.

Now from a nutrition/diet stand point how does all this come together to form a days worth of food? Here is an example.


–       Goal: Fat loss, improved endurance & strength maintenance

–       Trainee is male, between 17-35 yr old, 185 lbs, 5′ 9″ and wants to lose ~ 15 lbs. Body fat percentage unknown.

–       Trainee works out 4-5 days a week with 2-3 days of weight training. Training is done between lunch and dinner.

–       Trainee is vegetarian. Eggs and dairy are OK. No meat, no poultry, no seafood.

General Notes:

* Women can use the same diet. Calorie intake should be reduced based on body weight. More tofu can be included.

–       3-5 meals a day. Portion control is recommended. Calorie counting is not.

–       1900-2100 total calories per day (= Body weight in lbs x 10-11 calories)

–       Protein

  • To be included in every meal. A total of ~ 150 gms per day.
  • Sources: eggs, whey protein powder, cottage cheese, cheese, milk

–       Carbohydrates

  • To be kept to bare minimum. A total of < 100 gms per day.
  • Sources: vegetables, fruits (only post workout), milk

–       Fats

  • To be included in every meal. Should account for ~ 50% of daily calories.
  • Sources: Olive oil, coconut oil, shredded coconut, macadamia nuts, almonds, avocado, egg yolk, flax seeds, walnuts, whole milk, butter, sour cream

–       One moderately sized cheat meal per week (< 600 calories). Cheat meal should preferably be immediately after workout session.

–       2-3 liters of water per day. More if possible.

Meal 1: [Breakfast]

–       Cocoa-Coffee Almond Smoothie

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • ¼ cup dry roasted almonds
  • ½ tbls cocoa
  • 1 tsp instant coffee


–       Banana Walnut  Smoothie

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1 ripe banana


  • ~ 500 calories, 35 gm protein
  • 5 min prep time

Meal 2: [Lunch]

–       Monster Veggie Omelet

  • 3 whole eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup cut mixed vegetables (spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers etc.)
  • ½ avocado
  • 2 slices cheese (or 2 ounces if weighing)
  • 1 tbls olive oil


–       Scramble de Amigos

  • 2 whole eggs + 3 egg whites
  • ½cup salsa vegetables (onion, tomato, jalapeno)
  • 2 slices cheese (or 2 ounces if weighing) as topping
  • 1 tbls sour cream, ½ cup beans & ½ avocado on the side


  • ~ 650 calories, ~45 gm protein

Meal 3: [Post-workout meal]

–       Post-workout shake

  • 1 scoop whey protein powder in water
  • 1 medium fruit or 1 cup mixed fruit


  • 25 gm protein
  • Should be consumed within 60 min after workout.

Meal 4: [Dinner]

–       Asian Vegetable Stir-Fry

  • 2 cups cut mixed vegetables (peppers, green onions, scallions, red cabbage etc.)
  • ¼ cup cashew nuts
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 2 tbls soy sauce

–       1 cup cottage cheese (preferably the unsalted kind)


–       Chili Paneer with Mixed Vegetables

  • 2 cups cut mixed vegetables (peppers, green onions, scallions, red cabbage etc.)
  • ¼ cup cashew nuts
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • 3-5 ounces paneer


–       The Big-Ass Salad

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup vegetables sauteed in butter (peppers,  scallions, red cabbage etc.)
  • ¼ cup mixed nuts (dry roasted is fine)
  • 2 ounces shredded cheese
  • 2 ounces grilled tofu/paneer
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1 tbls olive oil + 1 tbls balsamic vinegar (dressing)
  • Top with fresh blueberries or strawberries


  • ~ 600 calories, ~ 30 gm protein


  • 1 scoop whey protein powder in water


  • 2 strings/slices/ounces of unprocessed cheese


  • Snack only if required.
  • Stick to protein rich sources.


–       This diet is just a sample. Increase or decrease total calories depending on activity level.

–       These recipes are just basic ideas. Please modify based on what is available in your pantry and what is considered awesome by your taste buds.


PS: Photo taken from this website. No idea where they got it from.

Spicy Coconut Curry & Dark Chocolate (Tea)Cupcake

Spicy Coconut Curry (with Tofu)


Garlic – 2 to 3 cloves

Green Chili – 2 to 3 little ones

Ginger paste – 1/2 tbls

Red Bell Pepper – 1 big

Vegetable broth – 1/2 cup

Vegetables – 1 lbs (This one has mushrooms, red peppers and green onions)

Olive oil – 1/2-1 tbls

Coconut milk – 3/4 to 1 cup

Cayenne pepper – to taste

Soft Tofu – 8 oz (or any other protein you prefer)

Sea salt – to taste


1. Blend the following – garlic, green chili, ginger paste, red bell pepper, vegetable broth, salt (if required).

2. In a bowl lightly saute vegetables in olive oil (in low heat). Say ~ 3-5 mins

3. Add blended paste from step 1. Bring to boil.

4. Add coconut milk. Bring to boil.

5. Add tofu (or whatever protein you’d like). Simmer until you get to the consistency you desire.

6. Eat by itself or with cottage cheese on the side.


Calories ~ 700 calories; Protein ~ 30 gm; Fat ~ 50 gm; Carb ~ 30 gm

Finish off this awesome meal with some of this all protein dark chocolate goodness!

For the recipe check out…

Slightly high in fat maybe… but how often do you get a dessert which has ~ 35 gm of protein and less than 5 gm of carbs!

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