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Diet Evaluation

June 16 - July 15, 2014

by Gary F. Zeolla

I hadn’t kept track of and evaluated my diet since my God-given Foods Eating Plan book was published in February of 2007. And even then, I only kept track of it for a week. But this time, I kept track of it for a full month, using my Diet Power program. And I think the evaluation and samples of my daily eating plan will be of interest to the reader, as they show what an “A++ diet” looks like (more on that grade later). 

 

Diet Evaluation

 

Below is the evaluation of my diet from June 16 to July 15, 2014.

Calories – 2203

Macronutrient – Grams – % of Calories (see Comments):
Fat – 80 – 32%
Carb – 244 – 42%
Protein – 149 – 26%

Saturated Fat – 18 – 7%
Polyunsaturated Fat – 20 – 8%
Monounsaturated Fat – 34 – 14%
Trans Fat – 0 – 0%
Sugars – 72 – 13%

Nutrient – Amount – % of PDA (see Comments):
Cholesterol – 348 mg – 116%
Sodium – 1896 – 146% (see Comments)
Potassium – 4,072 – 87% (see Comments)
Dietary Fiber – 37.7 g – 126%

Vitamin A – 1021 mcg – 114%
Vitamin C – 190 mg – 211%
Calcium – 1237 mg – 103%
Iron – 18.2 mg – 227% 

Vitamin D – 233 IU – 58%
Vitamin E – 21.7 IU – 99%
Thiamin – 1.8 mg – 154%
Riboflavin – 1.8 mg – 143%
Niacin – 24.2 mg – 151%
Vitamin B6 – 2.6 mg – 155%
Folate – 4.0 mg – 101%
Vitamin B12 – 6.7 mcg – 278%

Phosphorus – 1,754 mg – 251%
Magnesium – 552 mg – 131%
Zinc – 14.7 mg – 134%
Copper – 2.2 mg – 243%
Manganese – 5.9 mg – 258%
Selenium – 154 mcg – 280% 

Water – 103 fl. oz. – 83% (see Comments)
Alcohol – 0 – 0%

Nutrition Quotient = 95, A (see Comments)

 

Comments on Evaluation

 

Calories:
When I did the analysis of my diet for my book almost seven years ago, my diet averaged 2551 calories, and I was maintaining weight at around 123 pounds (I’m 5’1”). So I was a little surprised by the 2203 calories here, especially since I gained 1.8 pounds during this month, going from 120.2 to 122.0 pounds. I thought the calories would be a little higher.

But maybe now that I’m 53, my metabolism has slowed. This would make sense as I should only need 1,800 calories according to Mayo Clinic’s Calorie Calculator. And that “extra” 400 calories would account for the weight gain. It is also possible I was underestimating my serving sizes since I was not actually weighing or measuring anything. But if you want to be exactly accurate, that is what needs to be done.  But whatever the case, I was working out harder during this month than I had been doing in quite some time, so that gain is mostly muscle, so it is not problematic. 

Sodium and Water:
“PDA” stands for “Personal Daily Allowance.” This is the amount of each nutrient Diet Power recommends consuming. For vitamins and minerals, the PDAs follow the US government’s Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for a man my age, so those should all be accurate (see Recommended Daily Intakes and Upper Limits for Nutrients). But I think Diet Power is wrong in its recommendations for a couple of the items without RDAs.

The PDA for sodium is 1,300 mg.  But, “The Institute of Medicine recommends 1500 mg of sodium per day as the Adequate Intake level for most Americans and advises everyone to limit sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day, the Tolerable Upper Limit” (CDC: Americans Consume Too Much Sodium). So I am well under the CDC’s upper limit.

Moreover, what matters most is the ratio of sodium to potassium. A less than 1:1 ratio of sodium to potassium is considered protective against heart disease (Sodium/Potassium Ratio Important for Health). I am consuming less than half as much sodium as potassium, or a 1:2 ratio. So even though Diet Power is telling me my sodium level is a little too high, and my potassium is a little too low, the ratio for the two is actually excellent. And so is my blood pressure, which was 100/ 72 at my last doctor's appointment.

The PDA for water is 125 fluid ounces. But, “The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day” (Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?). Doing the math, the AI for men is 104 fluid ounces and 72 for women. And that level for men is about what I am consuming.

In addition, such blanket recommendations do not take into account individual differences. A more logical recommendation would be based on bodyweight, activity level, and environmental temperature. Taking those factors into account, my recommended intake would be just 86 ounces, which I am more than consuming (see Human Water Requirement Calculator).

In addition, my doctor has been telling me for years to consume more sodium and less water. The reason for this is I have chronically low sodium blood levels. So I add some salt to my food, but not too much as any more and it makes me thirsty, and thus I drink more and urinate more, so it doesn’t help the sodium blood levels. And I have reduced my water intake considerably over the last few years, but that hasn’t helped either. And reducing it further would leave thirsty all of the time.

But whatever the case, despite Diet Power’s percentages, my sodium, potassium, and water levels are actually just fine.

Macronutrient Proportions:
Diet Power recommends the following macronutrient proportions, meaning the percentage of calories coming from each item. These calculations are based on each gram of carbohydrate (carb) and each gram of protein containing four calories and each gram of fat nine calories.

Fat: 25%
Carb: 60%
Protein: 15%

However, my experience has shown me that I am better off with the following:

Fat: 30–35% 
Carb: 40–45%
Protein: ~25%

Fat helps to increase testosterone levels, as discussed in my book. But 30–35% seems to be the optimal level. Less than 30% and I feel like my testosterone levels suffer, but more than 35% does not provide further benefit. In addition, fat provides satiety. If my overall diet or any given meal has less than 30% fat, I feel hungry much of the time or shortly after eating, but again, more than 35% does not provide further benefit.

I put an emphasis on monounsaturated fats as I believe they are the healthiest type of fat, increasing both HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and testosterone levels, as discussed in my book. I have verified these effects on myself via blood tests.

40–45% carbs provides me sufficient energy for my workouts and otherwise. If I get less than 40%, my energy levels suffer. But if I get more than 45%, it doesn’t give me more energy. In addition, more than 45% would play havoc with my blood sugar levels due to my reactive hypoglycemia (see Hypoglycemia, Diabetes, and the Glycemic Index).

Diet Power says my sugar intake is a little too high. But the sugars are mostly from naturally occurring sugar in fruit and yogurt, which I do not think is at all problematic. These are very healthy foods, as discussed in my Eating Plan book. A distinction should be made between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. This is actually being proposed for the next update of the “Nutrition Facts” on food labels.

As for protein, I have always believed strength training increases protein needs. And by experience, I have found I make the best progress with 1.0–1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight. For me, at about 120 pounds, that would be 120–180 grams. And getting approximately 25% of calories from protein puts me in the middle of that range. For further details, see the "Experiment" update at the end of Natural Whey and Natural Casein.

What this means is, I am consuming the amounts of these macronutrients that I know are best for me, no matter what Diet Power might say.

Grading my Diet:
The Nutrition Quotient (NQ) is Diet Power’s “grade” for my diet. The “95, A” grade is using the default PDAs and macronutrient percentages. But if I change them in accordance with the above comments, then the NQ would be 120, A++. But whatever the exact grade, I am doing very well on my diet. I am getting more than my PDAs for all nutrients, except as noted above and for vitamin D.

But it is hard to get a full day’s supply of vitamin D from food alone. But I am getting additional vitamin D from sunshine, since I am now walking outside regularly. And my *CVS Daily Multiple Tablets For Men, has 700 IUs. In fact, it is for vitamin D that I mainly take the multi.

But the grade is what makes imputing each day’s intake a little bit more difficult as it requires imputing my water intake, and that is easy to forget. But if I forget it, it will hurt my grade. It should be noted the indicated water intake includes not just glasses of water, but also water contained naturally in foods and water added to foods, such as the water used to make my morning oatmeal or to reconstitute my protein powders. 

 

Selenium Lesson

 

Diet Power’s PDA for selenium is 55 mcg, and that is the RDA. But at one time many authorities believed 200–300 mcg would help in preventing prostate cancer. Rather than taking a separate selenium supplement to reach this level, I got in the habit of consuming one large or two small Brazil nuts on most days, as I figured that would be more natural. One large Brazil nut contains 95 mcg. With that, I am averaging 154 mcg, or 280% of the PDA. Add in the 110 mcg in my multi, and I average 264 mcg, what I thought was a beneficial level.

However, Diet Power is telling me, “Easiest ways to improve [the NQ]: Get less selenium.” At first, I assumed this was because Diet Power was not taking into account the prostate cancer benefit of higher amounts of selenium. But to be sure, I did some Googling and found newer research shows that not only does supplemental selenium (of 200 mcg) not decrease the risk of prostate cancer but it actually increases it (as does supplemental vitamin E of 400 IUs, see Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial). 

However, this research is about supplemental selenium, not selenium naturally found in foods. So I’m not sure if the selenium in Brazil nuts is problematic or not. In addition, this newer research came out after Diet Power was last updated, so that is not the reason for my high selenium intake hurting my NQ. That is probably due to the Upper Tolerable Limit of selenium being just 400 mcg.

But whatever the case, I learned something as a result of keeping track of my diet with Diet Power. And if I were to remove the Brazil nuts, my NQ would be even higher. But I like them, and for some reason, I feel better if I eat the one or two nuts a day. I tried stopping them a couple of times, but each time, after a couple of weeks, I began to fatigue more easily. But when I began eating them again, my energy levels came back up. Of course, that could just be placebo effect, or something else could have been happening. But one or two Brazil nuts only costs pennies a day, and I doubt there's a prostate cancer risk with nuts, so I see reason no to eat them.

 

Sample Daily Eating Plans

 

My diet differs somewhat between workout days and non–workout days. So below is a representative intake for each of these days. The links are to where the items can be purchased from iHerb or Amazon. For iHerb, use coupon code HOP815 to get $5.00 off your first order.

Workout Day: 

Breakfast:
Oatmeal (quick) – 3/4 cup (dry)
Salt – 2 dashes
ON Natural Whey (chocolate) – scoop
ON Natural Casein (chocolate) – scoop
Peanuts (unsalted, dry roasted) – cup
Cherries (frozen, thawed) – cup
Mangoes (diced, frozen, thawed) – cup

Water – 12 ounces

Mid–morning Snack:
Salmon (canned) – 2.5 ounces (1/3 can)
Peach –1 medium
Oat cookie (Nairn) – 1 

Water – 12 ounces

Lunch:
Sandwich:
Ezekiel Bread – 2 slices
Ground turkey – 2 ounces
Cheese – ounce
Salsa – 2 tbs.

Stir Fried Vegetables:
Sunflower Oil (high oleic) – 1 tsp
Cabbage (green) – cup
Cabbage (red) – cup
Carrots (diced) – 1/3 cup
Zucchini (diced) – 1/3 cup
Kidney beans – cup
Minced onion and garlic – 1 tsp 

Pistachios (salted, roasted) – 2 tbs.

 Pre–workout snack:
Barbara’s Morning Oat Crunch Cereal – 1 cup
ON Natural Whey (vanilla) – scoop
ON Natural Casein (vanilla) – scoop
Raisins – cup
Pecans (raw) – cup
Brazil Nuts (raw) – 2 small
UN Creatine – 6 grams 

Post–workout:
UN Glutamine – 6 grams
Water – 12 ounces

Dinner:
Steak – 4 ounces
Baked Potato – 1 medium
Butter – 1 tsp
Collard Greens – 1 cup

Salad:
Leaf Lettuce – 1 cup
Radish (sliced) – cup
Grape tomatoes – 4
Olive oil – 1 tsp

Bedtime snack:
Yogurt (plain, low–fat) – 1 cup
Almonds (raw) – cup

 

Non–workout day:

Breakfast:
Oatmeal (quick) – 3/4 cup (dry)
Salt – 2 dashes
ON Natural Whey (chocolate) – scoop
ON Natural Casein (chocolate) – scoop
Cashews (raw) – cup
Banana – 1/2 medium 

Water – 12 ounces

Mid–morning Snack:
Hard–boiled egg – 1 extra large
Salt – 4 dashes
Nectarine – 1 medium
Dark Chocolate – 2 small squares

Water – 12 ounces

Lunch:
Stir–fry:
Sunflower Oil (high oleic) – 1 tsp
Beef stew meat – 3 ounces
Cabbage (green) – 1 cup
Cabbage (red) –1cup
Carrots (diced) – 1/3 cup
Zucchini (diced) – 1/3 cup
Cauliflower – cup
Pinto beans – cup
Minced onion and garlic – 1 tsp
Spaghetti Sauce – cup
Brown Rice – cup

Water – 12 ounces

Afternoon Snack:
Sardines – 1 can
Plum – 1 medium 

Dinner:
Chicken, dark and white meat – 4 ounces
Sweet potato – 1 medium
Broccoli – 1 cup 

Salad:
Leaf Lettuce – 1 cup
Radish (sliced) – cup
Grape tomatoes – 4
Flax seed oil – 1 tsp

Bedtime snack:
Turkey thigh (heated in pan) – 3 ounces
Sunflower Oil (high oleic) – 1 tsp

 

Comments on Sample Daily Eating Plans

 

All of the foods are all–natural. Most of the plant foods are organic, with many of the vegetables coming from my dad’s organic garden. All of the animal foods are hormone and antibiotic free, with some being organic. 

The creatine and glutamine are supplements not foods. But they are included here as I mix the creatine in with my pre-workout cereal and the glutamine in with one of my glasses of water. For details on these supplements, see Creatine and Glutamine.

For details on the pre–workout cold cereal, check back on this site as I will be posting a detailed article on that subject shortly.

The consumption of cooked tomatoes products is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer, possibly due to them containing the most absorbable form of the antioxidant lycopene. That is the reason I incorporate salsa or tomato sauce into my diet on most days (see American Cancer Society: Lycopene). 

High oleic sunflower oil differs from regular sunflower oil in that regular sunflower oil is mostly polyunsaturated fat, while high oleic sunflower oil is mostly monounsaturated fat. And the nuts, fish, olive oil, and high oleic sunflower oil provide much of the healthy monounsaturated fats in my diet. For details on the fish and flax seed oil, see Omega 3s Supplements and Foods

For details on the protein powders, see Natural Whey and Natural Casein.

For more details on my weight gain plan, see Regaining Muscular Bodyweight and Strength.

For honesty's sake, a few brands of items I use are different than the links, since they are not available from iHerb, but I have included equivalents that are available at this excellent online store. I use Green & Black's Organic 85% Dark. It is the best tasting and highest cacao content chocolate I have found. I use Muir Glen's Organic Garden Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce and various version of their organic salsa, as they are best tasting such items. And I use Brunswick Sardines, packed in water, as that is the only brand I have found to not just be tolerable but to actually taste good. These are all available from Giant Eagle. But the rest of the links are to what I believe are the best brands of each item. Again, use coupon code HOP815 to get $5.00 off your first order.

For much more on my dietary ideas and all of these issues, see my God–given Foods Eating Plan book.

 

Comments on Diet Power

 

I’ve been using Diet Power for over a decade. And it is a very easy to use and helpful program. It already has thousands of foods and recipes included in it, and it is easy to add foods and recipes. The latter is useful as commonly eaten food combinations can be added as recipes, so I only have to impute the recipe each day, instead of each individual ingredient. So I added my oatmeal and protein powders as “recipes” (including the water), along with the stir fired veggies, the dinner salad, and a few other items to make adding them each day easier. 

Unlike most diet analysis programs, Diet Power adjusts its recommended caloric intake based on your actual caloric intake, bodyweight progression, and bodyweight goals. You can also manually adjust the PDAs, if you prefer values other than the defaults. And an interesting feature I just recently noticed, on the "Nutrient History" screen, if you click a nutrient, it will give you the best sources of that nutrient in your diet.

After this month, I might continue keeping track of my diet. Since I now have all of my “Favorites” picked out and any needed “User added foods” or “User added recipes” imputed, it really only takes a few minutes a day to enter each day’s foods. 

But the problem with Diet Power is it is an older program. The last version (4.4) was released in 2007, and it was last updated in 2011. I’m using Win7, and it is a little unstable. It crashes occasionally. And it keeps trying to update itself, even though there are no updates. This causes my computer to wake up if I have put it to sleep, so I have learned to shut the program down at the end of each day. But in a way that is good as it reminds me to back–up my data. I have no idea how it would run on Win8.

Doctor's Appointment

I gave up on doctors actually helping me with my health problems years ago, but I still think it is a good idea to get a basic physical and a flu shot once a year. The former to be sure nothing new has cropped up that I need to be aware of (also my insurance company strongly recommends it); the latter as a case of the flu way back in February 2001 started my current health problems. So I did that on Halloween, 2014.

My blood pressure was 104/ 64 and resting heart rate 64. The latter seemed a little high for me as when I check it myself with my Galaxy S5, it ranges from 46-56. But whatever the exact number, those numbers are very good for someone in their 50s.

The most important numbers from the blood test are (with desirable ranges in parentheses):

 

Total Cholesterol: 189 (<200)
LDL: 112 (<100; Mayo Clinic: <130)
HDL: 69 (>39)
TC/ HDL Ratio: 2.74 (<5.0)
Triglycerides: 40 (<150)

Na: 135 (134-142)
Cl: 100 (98-107)
K: 4.4 (3.5-5.2)

Creatinine: 0.8 (0.7-1.5)
PSA: 1.2 (<4.0)
Bilirubin:  1.8 (0.2-1.2; NIH: 0.3-1.9)
Protein: 6.6 (6.2-8.0)

My blood lipids are perfect. The lab’s range for LDL was <100, but Mayo Clinic says, “Most people should aim for an LDL level below 130 mg/dL.” The LDL only went up 2 points since my last blood test even with eating more whole eggs (now 1/day). This makes sense as some recent studies show eating up to three eggs (about 600 mg of cholesterol) a day does not significantly increase cholesterol levels (Eggs and Cholesterol - How Many Eggs Can You Safely Eat?) Furthermore, "The recommended daily allowance has sometimes come into question. The reason for this is because dietary cholesterol is only responsible for about 15 percent of total blood cholesterol. The rest is manufactured by the body. Other factors that contribute to blood cholesterol levels include smoking, obesity, physical activity and the consumption of saturated fat" (Livestrong).

Moreover, I learned back at Penn State when I majored in nutrition that the body will decrease its production of cholesterol when dietary cholesterol is raised. At that time, the professor was not sure how much the body could down regulate its production. But "Your liver can produce about 1,000 mg of cholesterol a day." A little more is added by the small intestines" (HowStuffWorks). So there is a limit, but it is far more than the generally recommended 300 mg. As such, I will be increasing my PDA for cholesterol to 600 mg in my ongoing diet evaluations. Maybe someday I will write a full article on this subject.

The electrolytes are important as my sodium and chloride levels had been chronically low. But I’ve been using more salt lately, and I think that got the levels up. My blood pressure is low, so I think I’ve been in err following a low salt diet for as long as I can remember.

I was interested in the creatinine level, as that is a by-product of creatine digestion. At one time when I was supplementing with creatine as I am now, it was high. But now it is just fine, so the dosage I am now taking is probably just right. For details, see Creatine.

The PSA is very good, so all those tomato products I eat are probably doing me good.

Bilirubin, a liver enzyme, was off according to the lab’s numbers, but with the NIH’s range, it is within normal. And this test was done the day after a hard deadlift workout, which might have affected it. And my other liver enzymes are fine, so my doctor was not concerned about it. Adding in that my protein blood levels are within normal, and that means my high protein intake is not adversely affecting me. In fact, it would appear my exercise and eating plan is working very well for me. For much more about my eating plan, see my God-given Foods Eating Plan and Creationist Diet: Second Edition books.

For an ongoing follow-up to this evaluation, see Diet Evaluation Logs - 2014.

Diet Evaluation - June 16 to July 15, 2014. Copyright 2014 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article was posted on this site July 17, 2014.
The "Doctor's Appointment" section was added November 8, 2014.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: My Diet/ Eating Plan

Nutrition
Nutrition: My Diet Evaluations

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