By Rob Shaul
Over the past 10 years I’ve been following consistently the nutritional recommendations we have published at mtntactical.com. These are simple and direct. These diet recommendations come from Gary Taubes’ book, Why We Get Fat. He’s a journalist, not a scientist, and in putting together this book and his other, Good Calories, Bad Calories, took a look at all the nutritional research and saw where it pointed.
Current MTI Nutritional Guidelines
- Eat only … Meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, cheese
- Don’t eat … refined sugar, wheat, bread, grain, rice, potatoes
- Drink only … coffee, tea, water, zero-calorie drinks (bubble water, diet soda, etc.) Don’t drink sugar and drastically restrict milk/cream. No alcohol
- No caloric restriction. Eat to saity. No need to count calories or ever be hungry – just eat “clean”.
- Do this 6 days/week, then Cheat Like A Mother one day/week.
This is the diet I recommend for the majority of the athletes who contact me asking for advice, and literally hundreds, over the years, have reported losing fat eating “clean” as described above, 6 days/week.
However, as I moved into my 40s and now into my 50s (I’m 52) my metabolism has slowed and eating clean as described above 6 days/week has still left me with 5-10 pounds of fat regardless of my training at the time. This is one of the changes that comes with age.
Over the past several years I’d go through periods of skipping the “cheat day” and this would help, but I wouldn’t drop the extra weight I wanted.
Understand my interest in losing weight is not primarily appearance-driven. I’ve had foot fusion surgery, hip replacement surgery, and suffer from some fairly severe knee arthritis. Being “lighter” will significantly help with these issues.
My adult “natural” weight has been 160-165 pounds. I’m 5’7″ (on a tall day) … and have a mesomorph build – naturally muscular – which adds to my weight. I’d love to get down to 145-150 pounds as my “natural weight.”
Taubes recently published a third nutrition book, The Case for Keto“and I’ve been doing mostly following his recommended Keto diet for the past 4 weeks – and I’ve shed 5-10# pounds of fat in that time. I’m significantly leaner.
Below are Taubes’ Keto Diet Guidelines:
- Eat only … Meat (beef, pork, poultry, fish), veggies that grow above ground, berries in season, cheese, unsweetened cream and yogurt, eggs, avocados, tomatoes
- You can eat this stuff in moderation – low sugar chocolates, nuts and nut butters (no peanuts), seeds and seed butters
- Don’t eat … refined sugar, grains of any type (rice, wheat, oats, corn, etc.), no sauces that use corn syrup/sugar, no veggies that grow below ground, fruit except avocados, tomatoes and in-season berries, no beans or legumes, sweetened yogurts
- Drink only … coffee, tea, water, zero-calorie drinks (bubble water, diet soda, etc.)
- Don’t drink sugar/calories, including fruit/vegetable juices, milk
- No caloric restriction. Eat to saity.
- Do this 7 days/week
There are two main differences between Taubes’ Keto diet recommendations and the current MTI nutritional guidelines:
- Taubes’ Keto diet recommendations significantly restricts all types of carbs – not only “bad” carbs like bread and sugar, but also vegetables and fruit. The goal is to try and to reduce your carb intake to 20-30 grams per day. Vegetables are okay – but only if they are grown above ground … no potatoes, carrots, etc. Also, no beans, including soy and peanuts.
- Increase in fat consumption. Based on my age/bodyweight, the recommendation is that I eat 165 grams of fat per day. Sources of fat are limited – avacodos, olive oil, butter, nut butters, etc.
Over the past 4 weeks, while I haven’t been strictly counting my grams of carb intake, I have been watching it closely. To put his in perspective, a single apple has 25 grams of carbs, and prior to dropping in to Taubes’ Keto diet, I was regularly eating 3-4 apples/day, plus berries, oranges, etc. So… a major difference for me has been an almost total elimination of fruit from my diet.
I haven’t done a good job tracking fat intake and I doubt I’m achieving the 165 grams/day. I found this olive-oil based pesto and lather all my meat in it (chicken, etc.) to bump up my fat intake. These last couple mornings I’ve choked down the “bullet proof” coffee – coffee with an added tablespoon of butter and artificial sweetener. And I try to eat 1-2 avocados day. But to put these in perspective, a tablespoon of butter only has 12 grams of fat, a single avocado only 21 grams … so I doubt I’m getting in the 160-170 grams/day I’m supposed to be getting and I’m not sure I’m in ketosis – where my body burns fat for energy all day. For breakfast I’ve been scrambling up 3x eggs and topping them with butter – again to help increase my fat intake.
Taubes’ Keto approach recommends eating to satiety and I do this. I don’t count calories or restrict food – I eat when I’m hungry and just eat what’s on the menu: meat, veggies, fat, nuts. I do drink no-calorie, diet soda to give me a break from coffee and water. For “sweets” I eat dark chocolate – which has very few carbs.
I’ve experienced no negative side effects – training is as normal, no headaches, etc. One thing I have noticed is that I’m much less hungry. My food consumption has decreased significantly, and I eat less at meal time. I’m eating my breakfast later in the morning – 10 or 11am, and then skipping lunch because I’m not hungry. I’m pretty much down to 2.5 meals/day, and not hungry at all.
Again, I’m not doing this on purpose …. I’m never hungry. I just don’t eat as much, snack much less, and am don’t have the hunger I did when I was eating more fruit and less fat. This has been a welcome change.
I do drink alcohol 2-3x/week … but limit it to hard seltzers or hard liquor – which both have very few carbs. No beer or wine.
Below is what I ate/drank yesterday:
1 Cup “bullet proof” coffee – coffee, 1 tablespoon butter, zero-calorie sweetener
1 Cup black coffee (no added butter)
Breakfast @ 1000
- 3x Scrambled Eggs mixed with 1.5 slices of cheddar cheese, topped with butter
- 1/2 Avocado
Lunch/Snack @ 1400
- 1x Chicken Thigh topped with olive-oil pesto sauce
- Handful of almonds and square of dark chocolate
- Salad topped with fish
- Square of dark chocolate
- Can of hard seltzer
Other … 1 can diet soda, 1 cup “bullet proof”, water/bubble water,
Will this lead to a change in the current MTI nutritional guidelines?
I’m not sure yet. Our athlete target group is in their 20s and 30s and the current guidelines work fine for them. What I’ll likely do is create a second set of guidelines for athletes 40+ and move in this direction. Older athletes need more restrictions to stay lean.
The one concern I do have with Taubes’ Keto approach is its sustainability. I’m not having any issues with it so far, but again I’m not sure I’m meeting the fat intake recommendations and honestly don’t know if I can eat enough avocados per day to get there.
While I’m pretty happy with this diet, my partner isn’t happy. I was fairly strict on what I could eat before and this adds restriction, which limits dinner and breakfast choices significantly. This has caused tension with her.
Questions/Comments? Please add yours below.
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