Optimal Meals For Fat Loss

Optimal Meals For Fat Loss




Who
Someone who wants to lose body fat and has good blood sugar control, i.e.:
  • HbA1c < 5.4mmol/L
  • fasting blood sugar < 5.0mmol/L (90mg/dL)
  • average blood sugar < 5.4mmol/L (100mg/dL)
  • post meal blood sugar < 6.7mmol/L (120mg/dL)
If you don’t yet have optimal blood sugar control start here.
How
  • This weighting is balanced to prioritise high fibre, low calorie density meals with excellent levels of vitamins, minerals, and protein with a lesser emphasis on insulin load than the other scenarios.
  • If you don’t have great blood sugar control, then you should start here.

The highest ranking meals using these weightings are shown below. Click on the image to see more details.

Learn more about weight loss in this article. See this article for details of the basis of the ranking of the meals.

See optimal foods for weight loss here.

List of meals below. Click on the images to take you to the details

List of meals below.

Click on the images to take you to the details

Terry’s Wahls’ lamb skillet meal

Baked creamed spinach

Steak, broccoli, spinach & halloumi

Spinach, cheddar and scrambled eggs

Bacon, eggs, avocado and spinach

Baked eggs with sardines

Spicy fish tacos

Beef heart chili

Spinach, egg, cheese and cream

Sardines, oysters, eggs and broccoli

Slow cooked pork with veggies

Low carb breakfast stax

Greek lamb salad

Egg, spinach, avo and tomato


List of meals


Terry’s Wahls’ lamb skillet meal

I’ve been intrigued with Terry Wahls’ approach to intentionally maximising nutrition.

By following a highly nutrient dense ketogenic diet Dr Terry Wahls claims to have reversed her Multiple Sclerosis and is undertaking experiments to verify that this high nutrient density approach works for others with Multiple Sclerosis.

Her Mind your Mitochondria TED talk has hit more than two million views!
The aim of the Wahls Paleo Plus, as detailed in The Whals’ Protocol, is to achieve nutritional ketosis, while maximising nutrients as far as possible with non-starchy vegetables as well as coconut oil, coconut cream and MCT oil which help facilitate nutritional ketosis with a higher level of carbohydrates.

Whals’ approach aims to not just meet, but exceed the recommended nutrient intake levels as shown in the comparison of both the Wahls Diet and the recommended US dietary daily intake for a range of key vitamins below.
While supplements can still be useful, it is ideal to obtain all your nutrients from real food as they are usually better absorbed in their natural form and with fats (fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K) than in tablets and isolation.

Eating real food also ensures you get a wide range of nutrients that can be found in plants in nature rather than just the limited number of vitamins and minerals on the recommended daily allowance checklist.

I ran the number on lamb skillet meal and it went extremely well! With the broccoli, garlic, kelp, and spinach the nutritional completeness is off the chart!

The insulin requirement of the protein is high, although this is not really a problem as protein is digested much more slowly than carbohydrates.
If you’re interested in checking out more highly nutrient dense meals I highly recommend reading The Whals’ Protocol.
fat
protein
7g
36g
20%
41%
41%
16g

Baked creamed spinach

This baked creamed spinach recipe is from Carrie Brown’s Maramalade and Mileposts blog.

I sort of feel like I know Carrie after listening her host the SANE Shown with Johnathan Bailor.

Even though I’ve analysed nearly 200 meals, anything with spinach in it seems to keep coming to the top.

This one involves spinach, coconut oil, coconut milk, eggs and cream.

This recipe is unique in that it also includes konjac flour or glucomannan flour which has been shown to be an effective prebiotic fibre which fills you up by expanding significantly in the stomach while involving very few calories.

If you wanted to reduce the carb content further you could reduce the onions and coconut cream, though this would likely affect the palatability and enjoyment of the meal.

We haven’t tried this one at our place yet, but I think it looks like a nice change from the typical low carb fare.
fat
protein
17g
22g
76%
70%
8%
11g

Steak, broccoli, spinach & halloumi

One of our go to meals is steak on the BBQ with halloumi cheese with veggies.

We have a solid serving of steamed broccoli and beans with some butter on top to make sure all those good fat soluble vitamins get digested – and the butter tastes amazing.

Being the inquisitive type I wondered whether it would be better to have more steak or more veggies in this meal.

After running a few scenarios what I found was that, while it’s hard to get B vitamins and an excellent protein score without eating some meat, the best score actually came when you max out the veggies and keep the meat reasonably low.

Piling on the veggies and decreasing the meat can increase the total carbs, but at the same time you’ve got heaps of fibre, which mutes the insulinogenic effect of the carbs in the veggies. By maxing out the veggies you’re also reducing the protein which requires insulin.

The best balanced nutritional profile between the meat, cheese and vegetables is achieved with 150g steak, three cups of beans, a full head of broccoli, and 200g of broccoli.

You’ll notice in the NutritionSELF plot below that I’ve used liberal amounts of butter to make the veggies go down and increase the fat content and taste sensation of the meal.

So the learning is, if you’re looking to maximise nutrition while getting adequate protein, then eat as many veggies as you can fit in and keep the meat and cheese servings moderate.

I’m not, however advocating for a vegetarian diet as the meat and the cheese will give you things like vitamin B12 that the spinach won’t by itself.
fat
protein
6g
25g
24%
56%
28%
14g
Once you’ve mastered maxing out your veggies, the next step is to try organ meats. The best nutritional score came when I dropped out the steak and subbed in liver. You get a much better bang for your buck if you eat organ meats instead of the veggies and the normal muscle meat.

We’re still working up to that, but in theory it’s amazing!
fat
protein
6g
22g
29%
64%
24%
18g

Spinach, cheddar and scrambled eggs

This breakfast idea is spinach and cheddar scrambled eggs from the ketogenic recipe site Ruled Me.

Incredibly simple, nutritious and yummy all at the same time!

The ingredients are simply spinach, cheddar, eggs, olive oil and cream.

I highly recommend this style of meal as a quick and simple, no fuss meal option regardless of whether your goal is weight loss, normalising blood sugar, or nutritional density.
The nutritional analysis below shows that this recipe scores very well in both the nutritional balance and protein quality while still only having 6g net carbohydrate for a 500 calorie serving.

Bacon, eggs, avocado and spinach

This is a pretty incredible combination of superfoods and a taste sensation in your mouth.

As you can see from the NutrientData plot below the nutrients are spectacular with every nutrient and mineral covered and the amino acid score is also very high.

Even though there are 13% carbs most of them (12g out of 17g total carbs) are fibre from the spinach and avocado.
fat
protein
4g
18g
35%
83%
66%
12g

Baked eggs with sardines

This recipe for baked eggs with sardines is from Pete Evans‘ cookbook Paleo Everyday.

Pete has teamed up with Paleo guru Nora Gedgaudas and has become a bit of a love / hate sensation in Australia lately. The had a great TV series The Paleo Way and have been touring Australia doing cooking demonstrations and TV show appearances.

Pete’s Facebook page has nearly a million followers so he’s a force to be reckoned with, even if the media love to hate him.

This recipe from the book was posted online here. We have the book and enjoy lots of meals from it, though they do take some prep time and the long list of ingredients aren’t always easy to find at the supermarket.

Sardines have a fantastic protein profile, heaps of vitamin D, and B12 and selenium. They also have a low insulin load being 50% fat and 50% protein. Sardines are up there with organ meats when it comes to their nutritional profile and a bit more palatable.
The base recipe does very well on the nutrient and protein scores, however the net carbs are a little high for a diabetic at 19g per 500 calorie serving. As a reference, Dr Richard Bernstein recommends that type 1s keep their carbs to 6g at breakfast with 12g at lunch and dinner.
fat
protein
19g
35g
56%
53%
23%
11g
A diabetic may wish to reduce the number of tomatoes as shown in the analysis below which reduces the net carbs to a much more ideal 12g per 500 calorie serving. With the reduction in tomatoes, we get a small drop in the nutrient score from 80 to 73, although the amino acid score increases from 125 to 129. Tomatoes can also be something to watch out for if you have autoimmune issues.
fat
protein
12g
29g
42%
59%
25%
8g

Spicy fish tacos

This spicy fish tacos meal from Dr Amy Myers MD gives you a solid dose of omega 3 from the fish along with a good range of fats and fibre from the avocado, and other micronutrients from various vegetables and spices.

Seems there is increasingly more research coming out on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA for a plethora of health benefits including improving brain function and slowing the ageing process by slowing reduction in the length of your telemeres.
fat
protein
10g
31g
31%
50%
32%
13g

Beef heart chili

This Beef Heart Chili recipe is by Kathleen Guertin from Robb Wolf’s website. It ranks really well in the weight loss and athletic / metabolically healthy meal rankings due to it’s high nutrient density and low calorie density.

Organ meats top the list when it comes to nutrient density, however, I haven’t found a lot of recipes using organ meats that rank really well. Perhaps it’s because people feel they need to put a lot of not so healthy things with their organ meats to drown out the taste?

This recipe uses heart, ground beef along with a range of spices to build a solid nutritional profile.

If you look closely at the chart below you’ll see that I’ve used pork heart as there is no data for beef heart in the NutritionSELF database.

Robb has had a massive influence on my thinking, along with many others. I like the way he brings everything back to evolutionary principles that need to make sense in the broader context rather than just looking at isolated studies. I also like the way he promotes quantifying nutritional density as a way to beat the nutritionists at their own game.

Robb believes that Mat Lalonde’s nutritional density work will show the nutritionists that Paleo is better than the recommended western diet using their own system!

I’m hoping that nutritional density combined with the insulin index component will take things one step further to provide a quantitative basis to demonstrate that one meal is better than another.
fat
protein
20g
40g
50%
49%
28%
9g
If you are insulin resistant or are sensitive to tomatoes, you may want to reduce the tomatoes. I’ve re-run the numbers with 5 ounces of tomatoes rather than the 26 ounces in the original recipe. Still not perfectly diabetic friendly, but an improvement and slightly closer to the Bernstein target of 12g carbohydrates per meal.
fat
protein
15g
36g
42%
53%
30%
6g

Spinach, egg, cheese and cream

My nine year old son was asking what he could have for breakfast that would be healthy.

This is pretty much the simplest and healthiest recipe that I could design that a nine year old can put together unsupervised.

I’m teaching him to just put some frozen spinach, eggs, cream and cheese into a microwave bowl.

Eggs are a wonderfully complete protein. Cheese and cream, add to the taste as well as adding in other proteins and fat not in the eggs.
Spinach is such a great superfood with so many micronutrients while being low in net carbs due to the high fibre content.

You can add coconut oil or butter to get extra good fats into your meal to create something wonderfully indulgent, nutritious and that will be gentle on your blood sugars.
If you’re short on time frozen spinach is quicker than using fresh spinach. I figure if you’re going to skip the spinach because it takes too long to fry up, then it’s better to go with the frozen option. I will use frozen kale, sometimes too, which gives a slightly different taste and texture.

If I’m cooking for the family and have bit more time I’ll do the fresh spinach in the fry pan. If I’m putting this together for the family before we run out the door in the morning I will use some frozen spinach or kale.
With only 7g net carbs and heaps of well rounded nutrition (in terms of both vitamins and minerals and amino acids) it’s pretty hard to go wrong with this for any meal.
The stats for a 500 calorie serving are shown below. The net carbs are low, the fibre is fairly high with the spinach and most of the insulin requirement is for the slower digesting protein rather than the carbohydrates.
fat
protein
7g
25g
19%
66%
27%
7g
The more spinach the better if you want to maximise the nutrition. The highest overall score occurs when we we use 700g of spinach. Though this may be pushing the limits of optimising nutrition, not necessarily palatability or eating pleasure.

If you found 7g of net carbs raised your blood sugar, you could certainly reduce some of the spinach, although most people find that counting net carbs in real food (rather than processed / manufactured foods) are OK (see the article fibre… net carbs or total carbs for more info)

Since working through the nutrition analysis comparing different meals, this meal has basically become our preferred go to meal, which you can make as simple or as complex as you want. If you’re an insulin dependent diabetic, you could use this as a regular meal and refine your insulin dosing based what you see on your BG metre after the meals.

I’ve run the analysis below with the kale rather than the spinach. As much as people rave about kale, it actually does not do as well on the nutrient balance score as spinach! Spinach scores better in both the nutrient completeness and the amino acids. Kale also has more total carbohydrates and less fiber, which makes less diabetic friendly.
fat
protein
11g
28g
39%
62%
25%
5g

Dom’s breakfast of sardines, oysters, eggs and broccoli

At first, it sounds like a bizarre combination, but when the smartest guy in keto says that he has sardines, oysters, eggs and broccoli as his regular breakfast I wasn’t surprised to find this diet scored highly in the nutritional analysis.

Image result for King Oscar sardines
Before he started saving the world by developing Warburg’s mitochondrial theory of cancer and oxygen toxicity seizures for DARPA Dominic D’Agostino studied nutrition and is rumoured to be able to do a 500-pound deadlift for 10 reps after a week of fasting.

Both physical and mental performance are undoubtedly critical to Dom, so it’s not surprising that he is very intentional about his diet and what he puts in his mouth to start each day.

As you can see in the plot from Nutrition Data below Dom’s breakfast scores a very high 93 in the vitamins and minerals, score and a very solid 139 in the protein score.

You could say this meal was high protein (44%), low carb (10%) and moderate fat (46%), although his fatty coffee and high-fat desserts would boost the fat content to make it more “ketogenic”.
Dom’s breakfast scores well against the 250 meals analysed to date in the meal rankings for different goals coming in at:
  • Therapeutic ketosis – 176
  • Diabetes and nutritional ketosis – 87
  • Nutrient density – 9
  • Weight loss – 16
I’ve heard Dom say that he aims for a ‘modified Atkins’ approach with higher protein levels rather than a classical therapeutic ketogenic diet, which is harder to stick to and might be used for people with epilepsy, cancer, dementia, etc. It was intriguing to see that Dom’s standard breakfast ranks the highest in nutrient density rather than therapeutic or nutritional ketosis.
Dom first mentioned his favourite breakfast concoction in his first interview with Tim Ferriss (check out the excellent three-hour podcast here). You can hear the shock and slight repulsion in Tim’s voice in the sound check as he responds with
I        “Do you blend that up in the Vitamix?”
But now Tim, rather than following his own slow carb approach, has made sardines and oysters a regular breakfast staple and mentions it as one of the top 25 great things he learned from podcasts guests in 2015.

The stats for a 500 calorie serve of Dom’s breakfast are shown in the table below.
I was aware that broccoli, eggs and sardines are nutritionally amazing, but then the oysters fill out the vitamin and mineral score to take it a little bit higher. Dame obviously understands the importance of Omega 3s, which are hard to get in significant quantities from anything other than seafood.

I was surprised to see that oysters can be ‘carby’ (at 23% carbs) which is apparently due to their glucose pouch which varies in size depending on when they’re harvested.
If you wanted to skip the oysters due to taste or cost considerations, the combination of sardines, egg and broccoli still does pretty well. This option gives fewer carbs, a slight decrease in the vitamin and mineral score with a small increase in the amino acid score.
The ranking for the sans-oyster option is:
  • Therapeutic ketosis – 159
  • Diabetes and nutritional ketosis – 67
  • Nutrient density – 11
  • Weight loss – 20
The stats for a 500 calorie serving are:
fat
protein
3g
30g
10%
48%
44%
6g
The combination of nutrient-dense seafood with nutrient dense vegetables is hard to beat. The chart below shows my comparison of the nutrients in the various food groups in terms the proportion of the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) from 2000 calories (click to enlarge).
I couldn’t get any photos of Dom’s breakfast, but I did get a picture of my current go to lunch. Each weekend I get a bunch of quality celery and chop it up into tubs to take to work each day. I have cans of mackerel and sardines in my drawer at work.

Celery does really well in terms of nutrient density per calorie and sardines and mackerel are high on the nutrient density lists without being outrageously expensive (e.g. caviar, anchovy, swordfish, trout).
When I feel hungry, I might start munching on the celery, which is pretty filling and hard to binge on. Then, if I’m still hungry, I’ll have as many cans of mackerel or sardines as it takes to fill me up (which is usually 2 to 4).

At around 2 pm this is my first meal of the day (other than espresso shots with cream) at around 2 pm. If I start to feel hungry before then I might check my blood glucose to see if I really need to refuel or if I think I’m hungry because I’m bored. I’ll then go home and have an early dinner with the family around 6 pm.

I’ve been known to indulge in some peanut butter with, cream, Greek yoghurt or even butter if I’m still hungry (e.g. if I’ve ridden to work) but I try to not overdo it as I’m not as shredded as Dom yet.

The simple combination of celery and mackerel also does pretty well in the ranking of 250 meals and aligns well with my current goal of maximising nutrient density and ongoing weight loss now that I’ve been able to stabilise my blood glucose levels.
  • Therapeutic ketosis – 137
  • Diabetes and nutritional ketosis – 36
  • Nutrient density – 16
  • Weight loss – 8
fat
protein
8g
33g
25%
51%
35%
6g

Jimmy Moore’s slow cooked pork with veggies

Jimmy posted this meal on his Facebook feed a while ago.
I
Slow cooked pastured pork Boston butt cooked in @BareBonesBroth, local organic kale, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, home garden zucchini, local organic squash, home garden herbs (cilantro, dill, basil), local Garden blend sauerkraut, avocado, grass-fed butter, sea salt, and pepper. #lowcarb#highfat #ketogenic #realfood #howireallyeat
The meal does really well in both the nutrient balance score and the protein quality score while still being fairly high in fat.

The total carbs are up a bit but you’re only looking at about 15g net carbs per 500 calories which is pretty good for most people unless you are really insulin resistant.
It would be interesting to see how Jimmy does with his ketones and blood sugars after eating something like this. Over the short term he might see a rise in his blood sugars, however, over the long term the reduced calorie density, higher nutrient density and higher fibre might work really well for him.

As always, if you’re struggling with blood glucose control you should ‘eat to your meter’ and make sure the foods you eat don’t drive up your blood glucose levels too much.
fat
protein
15g
39g
39%
64%
18%
14g

Low carb breakfast stax

I’ve run the nutritional analysis for nearly two hundred meals and starting to notice a cluster of meals at the top of the list that consist of spinach + egg + something else yummy.

This indulgent one is the low carb breakfast stax from the ketogenic recipe site Ruled.Me.

As shown below, this combination provides a great range of micronutrients and protein while staying quite low in net carbohydrates.

[The nutritional analysis below is for the whole recipe which would serve two or three. The table at the bottom shows net carbs, insulin load and fibre for a 500 calorie serving.]
Spinach really is a “super food” with a very rich nutrient profile and a solid array of proteins in its own right.
Eggs have a fab protein score, and the egg yolks are even higher in fat and more complete in proteins than the whole egg. It’s so sad that these little gems have been demonised because of their wrongfully alleged “artery clogging saturated fat” content for so long.
Egg yolks have the same nutritional balance score but an even better amino acid score than the whole egg in spite of having a lower percentage of calories from protein. They are also higher in fat which is great from a diabetes perspective.
fat
protein
5g
22g
23%
66%
25%
6g

Greek lamb salad

I recently came across this Greek lamb salad recipe on the Diabetes Queensland Facebook page.

The puzzling thing was that it included two slices of bread and low fat yogurt. It seemed bizarre that this meal would be recommend for diabetics who are effectively intolerant to significant amounts of carbohydrate.


The analysis below shows that this meal would have 22g of net carbs for a 500 calorie serving and a total insulin load of 51g which is significant.
fat
protein
22g
51g
43%
36%
43%
5g
So I ran a comparison to see what would happen if we dropped the bread and used full fat Greek yogurt instead of the low fat option in the original recipe.

The result was that the insulinogenic percentage dropped from 41% to 34% and lo and behold both the nutritional value and amino acid score on NutritionSELF improved, without the “healthy whole grains”.

It is interesting to see how much the nutritional value improves when we remove the bread, even though we’re told that we need grains for nutrition.

As you can see below we get a massive drop in the net carbs from 22 to 10g when we drop the bread.

There is still a substantial insulin load, however this is mainly from the protein which would cause a much gentler blood sugar rise.
fat
protein
10g
42g
25%
42%
47%
3g
But how could we improve on this recipe even further?

I tried adding a smidge more olive oil, dropped the lean lamb protein back a bit and added a couple of boiled eggs which gives us an even better nutritional profile as shown below.

More fat. More fibre. More nutrition. More taste!
fat
protein
12g
36g
34%
49%
35%
8g

Bruce’s breakfast - Egg, spinach, avo and tomato

This is a picture of a typical LCHF breakfast of a mate of mine who has managed to lose about 12kg over the past few months by eating this sort of fare for breakfast.

He says if he has this he’s full for the morning and is much less likely while driving to pull into a servo to buy junk. It takes a little bit longer than a bowl of cereal to prepare but it’s part of his meditative morning routine that he’s grown to enjoy.

A good range of nutrients and amino acids even though the protein is quite low.

It’s got 16% insulinogenic calories, which is pretty good.

If you wanted to reduce the insulin load further you could cut down on the tomato, but at the same time there are only 12g net carbs per 500 calorie serving, and the tomatoes do provide some good vitamin C and other things. Tomatoes are also typically a good option for weight loss as they have a low calorie density.
fat
protein
12g
20g
57%
73%
13%
6g