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How would you optimize this diet?


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These past few days, I've been working hard on rebuilding my diet and this is the final result.

The composition in terms of types of foods and calories is the following:

  • Fruit - 36%, 818 kcal
  • Nuts and Seeds - 25%, 555 kcal
  • Whole Grains - 15%, 338 kcal
  • Vegetables - 11%, 249 kcal
  • Legumes - 11%, 242 kcal
  • Healthy Sweetener (Blackstrap Molasses) - 2%, 46 kcal
  • Spices - <1%, 3 kcal (will be more in the future, I just haven't decided which ones I like the best)

And in terms of macronutrients and calories:

  • Carbs - 69%, 1559 kcal
  • Fat - 21%, 463 kcal
  • Protein - 10%, 228 kcal

(The percentages add up to 105% instead of 100% like they should, because Cronometer is being weird, but you still get the idea. I've already sent them an email about it. Update: They replied that not all carbs and proteins have 4 kcals per gram and not all fats have 9 kcals per gram, so their calculations are correct. I adjusted the percentages)

With this diet, I am trying to achieve several different things at once.

  • Follow Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen (I haven't added any exercise to Cronometer because I am still not sure about the right duration and frequency, but the best type seems to be swimming due to it being low impact, placing only minimal stress on your joints)
  • Have my protein intake as close to the 0.8 g/kg RDA as possible (I am 22, 183 cm/6 feet and currently weigh 61 kg/134 lbs so I should be eating 49 g of protein).
  • Have my leucine and methionine intake as close to the RDA as possible.
  • Not eat too little fat. I consider anything below 10% as too little.
  • Get 125-150% of my RDA for zinc, because I'm vegan and bioavailability of zinc from plant foods is low.
  • Get at least 100% of RDA for all the other vitamins and minerals (I take the B12 supplement only once a week, the other three are taken daily).
  • Get most of my vitamins and minerals from whole plant foods.
  • Not eat too many oxalates to avoid kidney stones.

However, as you can see from the first screenshot, I wasn't quite able to bring my protein to less than 69 g (which in my case is equivalent to 1.1 g of protein per kg of body weight) and something similar happened with my leucine and methionine, they are sitting at 179% and 162% RDA respectively. Here is a detailed breakdown of foods that contribute to my higher-than-I-would-like intake of protein. I honestly don't know how I am supposed to optimize this diet. If I eat less fava beans (which have the lowest leucine and methionine content of all legumes as far as I know) I won't get the benefits that Dr. Greger talks about here. If I eat less pumpkin seeds, I won't hit my 125-150% RDA target for zinc. If I eat less rye, which is the only whole grain in my diet, I won't get the benefits he writes about here. So I guess I should cut something from the bottom of the list, like walnuts (even though there's this article), probably not kale, sweet potato, red cabbage, dates, bananas or kiwi and replace them with some protein-free alternatives (which will be hard).

Another thing you probably noticed is that my sodium intake is pretty low. I changed the default sodium target in settings from 1500 mg to 500 mg based on this Wikipedia article (and its source) but I'm only 95% there. Do you think it's necessary to reach the 1500 mg? When I researched it, it looked like 1500 mg was the upper limit more than an RDA.

Also note that I am eating all this food in OMAD (one meal a day) as breakfast to reap all the benefits that come with TRF (time-restricted feeding). I'm open to all suggestions on how I should optimize this diet. If you noticed that I am doing something wrong, like eating too much of a certain vitamin or mineral or, on the contrary, eating too little of something, please let me know. If you know some really cool spices that I should include in my diet, I'd like to hear about them. The same goes for supplements and beverages (I need some that won't break my fast though). Thanks for reading 🙂

Edited by Lucius
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Lentils are quite favorable for getting protein and minimizing methionine. Personally I wouldn’t obsess too much with protein totals as Getting most of it from plant foods like Legumes especially lentils. Also decreasing the whole grains which tend to be higher in methionine

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1 hour ago, Mike41 said:

Lentils are quite favorable for getting protein and minimizing methionine. Personally I wouldn’t obsess too much with protein totals as Getting most of it from plant foods like Legumes especially lentils. Also decreasing the whole grains which tend to be higher in methionine

I carefully went through all common (and uncommon) whole grains and picked the one that had the lowest combined content of leucine and methionine. The winner was rye. It has actually 10% less methionine than lentils. But then lentils have more than twice as much protein, so you are right that they are a great source of low-methionine protein. The reason why I want to eat at least some grains is this study from 2015 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4429593/.

Conclusion: These data indicate that higher whole grain consumption is associated with lower total and CVD mortality in U.S. men and women, independent of other dietary and lifestyle factors. These results are in line with recommendations that promote increased whole grain consumption to facilitate disease prevention.

Though it is obvious that I won't be able to follow all these recommendations at the same time. I don't know which is going to more negatively affect my longevity, eating more leucine and methionine or eating less whole grains and beans? Another thing I could do is stop eating pumpkin seeds altogether (they are responsible for 41% of my leucine and 48% of my methionine intake but also for 63% of my zinc intake) and just take a daily zinc supplement. This might be the best way to solve this dietary puzzle and I'm going to go do some research on zinc supplements right now.

Edited by Lucius
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On 10/22/2020 at 1:08 PM, Mike Lustgarten said:

Trying to optimize your diet based on the published data is obviously better than doing nothing, but a higher level is blood testing to see how it individually affects you. Do you have recent blood test results?

I don't, but I have been on this diet for only a few days. I don't know much about blood testing, how often do you think I should wait before taking a blood test and what specifically would you recommend me to get tested for?

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15 hours ago, Lucius said:

...how often do you think I should wait before taking a blood test..

Whatever tests you decide to get,  it wouldn't be a bad idea to get tested now to get a baseline that subsequent results can be compared against.

Edited by Sibiriak
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Update on my diet. I wasn't happy with how much leucine and methionine I was eating, so I've made a bunch of adjustments. As you can see in the screenshot in my first post, my leucine intake was 179% of RDA and methionine intake was 162% of RDA. I've been able to bring leucine down to 148% of RDA and methionine down to 120% of RDA while eating the same amount of calories (it was really hard to accomplish). This is my new diet. Total protein intake obviously went down as well, and now sits at 61 grams. Since I weigh 61 kg, it translates into 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight which I'm very happy about 🙂 The perfectionist in me has already been trying to figure out how to bring both leucine and methionine down to 100% of RDA but as it turns out, to be able to do that I would have to cut foods that are considered very healthy for a variety of reasons and replace them with something like apples, which are an amazing source of low-leucine low-methionine calories. Because I'm not sure which would be healthier, bringing my leucine and methionine even further down or eating a lot of foods considered to have longevity benefits like fava beans, rye, walnuts etc. I will leave things as they are right now and only adjust my diet after I will gain more information.

Edited by Lucius
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