Cook right, eat right; a nutritional biology primer
Over the past few years, so-called ‘fad diets’ have started to make more sense to follow. As a person, shouldn’t we eat like people? Thats where the ‘fad diet’ term goes out the door. What I’m talking about are the Paleo and Keto diets. Science says that members of these diet groups are eating properly because they’re eating more evolutionarily appropriate diets. The diets are similar in that they both shout “low carb, high protein and high fats”. I could write an entire post on the similarities and differing mantras of these two diets, but the main deviation is with Paleo we exclude dairy- and with Keto we increase our fat intake even more than with paleo. Also in Keto, our fruit intake is limited to keep our carb intake to less than 15% of our daily calories.
Paleo diets tout that we should not eat anything that our ancestors 10,000 years ago would not have been able to eat (refined sugars, abundant amounts of complex carbohydrates, excess dairy..) and the Keto diet (high fat!) makes use of our liver and it’s ability to produce ketones. Ketones are an energy source produced when our body is in the state of ketosis. Ketosis can be brought on by a low carb, medium protein and high fat diet. Fasting is also a major component of the Keto diet. To make the most of ketosis we only eat in an 8 hour (or smaller) window of time each day, usually between noon and 8pm.
Breakdown of Energy efficiency
The traditional American diet contains a smorgasbord of different carbohydrate sources. These include but are not limited to: fruits, starchy vegetables, sucrose in sugary drinks, grains and some dairy products. In this typical diet the bodies main energy source is glucose (broken down carbs). When in the bloodstream, insulin needs to be produced by the pancreas to transport glucose and break it down into energy. When not used, glucose is stored as fat (lipogenesis). To use these stored fatty acids they need to either be broken down into simpler fats for energy, or into glucose through gluconeogenesis (the more complicated route as you probablu guessed).
Ketosis is encouraged though a high fat, moderate protein and very low (to no) carbohydrate diet. The lack of glucose (low or no carb intake, and an exalted bodily store) in the bloodstream signals the liver to produce enzymes which break down stored fat, producing fatty acids and glycerol. From here the glycerol goes through the previously mentioned gluconeogenesis process to become sugars and the fatty acids become ketones.
Ketosis and the Brain
Both sugars and ketones are available energy sources for our brains, as well as other cells in our bodies. When our bodies are out of sugars, we rely on fat stores and consumed fats (circulating in our blood to be either used or stored) to power our bodies. 10,000 years ago we didn’t have access to sugars all the time to power our brains so ketones were the original brain power backup molecules. Without ketones and ketosis, we would be in a stupefied state when we had low blood sugar. The saber tooth cats of millennia past may well have wiped us out!
What does this have anything to do with sous-vide?
Ah, back to everyday life and what you’re doing here. It never hurts to learn a little but cooking sous-vide is the #1 topic on this page so I apologize for the biochemistry class flashbacks I’ve put you though.
Since sous-vide is moreover a method of cooking primarily used with meats, and the Keto diet is high in meat and fat, the overlap makes sense.
KETO APPROVED FOODS for SOUS-VIDE LIVING:
Red Meats: Lean cuts can be cooked with high fat butter or bacon grease. Marbled meats often have enough intramuscular fat sources. Beef, lamb, venison are great meats to cook sous-vide.
Poultry: Duck and Chicken are usually fatty birds. Turkey is often leaner so think about cooking with some bacon grease in the bag to up the fat content and add a little of that bacon zest.
Bacon: Enough said. Eat it up! But eat some other stuff too. A 100% bacon diet would be fun for a while but not long. Probably?
Fish: High in good fats and protein. The oilier the better!
Butter: Use it with vegetables and/or meats.
Nuts and Cheese: Fats and oils, people, good stuff.
Non-starchy Vegetables: Carrots, Brussel sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green beans, Mushrooms, Peppers, Zucchini, Radish, Okra, Onion. Help round out your meals with some extra healthy veggies.
Eggs: Good with or as any meal!
Give Keto a Chance
Look at this post as an encouragement to those on the Keto (and/or Paleo) diets to start thinking about sous-vide when preparing meals. In as little words as possible, eat foods that are high in good fat (saturated fats). Fatty meats, and meats topped with butter post sear. Aside from high fat meats eat leafy vegetable greens and eggs. If it’s on your list of target foods and needs cooking – try sous-vide, there are many sous-vide’able foods that are perfect for the Keto diet!
That being said, if you’re a sous-vide home chef, nows a great time to think about trying the Keto diet. Give it a go for 3 or 4 weeks (30 day challenge!). You’ll likely lose some extra weight, feel less inclined to eat or snack all day, you’ll have more energy and you’ll have one more reason to cook sous-vide!