A Sample Meal: Salmon and Mashed Sweet Potato

Marla is having trouble visualizing a 70% fat meal, and asked for a sample meal plan. I don’t have meal plans at the ready, but I do have some random food pictures, and this one shows a typical meal at our home. Click to enlarge:

The meal is salmon, vegetables (spinach, bell pepper, onion, carrot, and lemon slices), and mashed sweet potatoes. The salmon and vegetables were baked together with butter, because that’s an easy way to make vegetables. The sweet potatoes were mashed with butter and coconut oil.

Overall this meal is light in carbs: this is a reasonable amount of meat for a meal (we tend to the low protein side of the diet), but has only about 100 carb calories, so lower in starch than we like. But it is at least 70% fat, probably closer to 80% fat, in terms of calories. So it gives a reasonable idea what our meals look like.

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43 Comments.

  1. Hi guys,

    You mentioned off hand in one of your posts that sufficient starch calories protects from glycoprotein deficiencies that can lead to stomach, intestinal cancers etc. I think the perfect health diet is a great idea, but I’m still concerned by anecdotal reports of increased incidence of these kind of cancers (the president of the optimal diet society recently died at 64 from stomach cancer) and was wondering whether you could elaborate.

    Thanks,

    Simon

    • Hi Simon,

      Yes, as I mentioned on Peter’s blog, I’m planning a post on risk of gastrointestinal cancers from extreme low carb diets. Kwasniewski’s Optimal Diet is about 100 carb calories per day and they might count vegetables; we are 200 to 600 carb calories per day and don’t count vegetables. The 200 I think should be enough to protect against the gastrointestinal cancers, especially if you eat coconut oil and adequate protein. I find I sometimes get dry mouth at less than 100 calories per day, but never at 200 calories, and saliva should be a good proxy for gastrointestinal mucus.

      Now that the book is finished, I should be able to get to that post within a few weeks, depending on how my research goes. (Sometimes the literature is less conclusive or more complicated than one would like, and it takes time to piece together a good story.)

  2. Hi Paul,

    (loved the e-book.. anxiously awaiting the final version)
    Since switching to a paleo type diet 2 years ago, (with varying levels of carbs), I’ve suffered from dry eyes for which I haven’t been able to determine the root cause. Since reading your e-book, it seems logical that I may have been eating too little glucose to create enough tears and/or mucous. (I’ve since increased my daily glucose intake, as per your diet and am hoping it solves my problems)

    I was wondering if you’ve come across any research on diet and tear production that would explain my current dry eye problems?

    thanks,
    DancinPete

  3. Hi DancinPete,

    Yes, I had the same problem. On low carb diets I think the most likely culprits are glucose deficiency or vitamin C deficiency, you need both. Try taking vitamin C, 2 g/hour, until you start feeling queasy, then 1 g/day thereafter. Also, start getting 400 calories carbs per day from safe starches. When your eyes have recovered their moistness, experiment with lower carb levels, but stay above 200 per day.

    If those don’t work, write back, but I bet they’ll fix it. Note that you may have to overeat these things for a bit to make up for long-standing deficiencies — many tissues may be competing to consume glucose and ascorbate. But if you do the above you should see results within 2 weeks.

    Best, Paul

  4. Hey Paul,

    I hate reading e-books but can’t wait to see what you’ve written, did I hear you mention that all ebook customers will get the hard copy when it is published?

    Best,

    Simon

  5. Hi Simon – Yes, that’s right. I haven’t advertised it too loudly because I’d just as soon have Amazon do fulfillment, but yes, we’ll send all e-book customers a free hard copy as soon as it’s available. So e-book customers will get a searchable early draft and their hardcopy probably 2 weeks or more ahead of availability at Amazon.

  6. Simon, Do you have any links to articles about the stomach cancer death? I saw a mention on Peter’s Hyperlipid blog, but I never found the original references.

    Paul, By carb calories are you counting fructose in the count of daily carb calories? For example, your recommended half pound of strawberries a day has 72 calories (NutrionData) but 24 calories are from fructose. Should I count a half pound of strawberries at 48 carb calories or 72?

    Jeremy

  7. Thanks for the sample meal!

    I’m curious though, why is there no salmon skin? I find the skin and the fat just under the skin to be the most delicious part.

  8. Jeremy –

    That’s a bit tricky. When liver glycogen is depleted some fructose can be converted to glycogen, where it substitutes for glucose. In this case it should be counted as a carb. When this pathway is unavailable, fructose is converted to fat. On high-carb diets, fructose is a fat calorie, on low-carb diets it can be either fat or carb.

    I would keep fructose down and not worry about it, but for safety I would not count fructose toward the lower carb limit of 200 calories/day, but would count it toward the upper limit of 600/day.

  9. Hi Happy,

    We do cook and eat the salmon skin. I guess it just didn’t make it from the casserole dish where it was cooked to the plate in this photo.

  10. thanks so much for the illustraton…the meal looks great. I guess I would have thought of this as quite heavy on carbs, but I realize the veggies other than the sweet potatoes are not counted. And of course you have to add lots of fat while preparing the meal…yummy actually! what kind of breakfast do people on this diet usually eat?

    another question: I am wanting to try your methods for treating bowel disease, but am wondering about some of the supplements. First, iodine: I have read that iodine supplementation can be a problem if there is a Thyroid issue. I have a goiter, and my sister had thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s, so I want to be a bit careful around the thyroid. e.g. see the section on iodine excess:

    http://thyroid.about.com/od/newscontroversies/a/toomuchiodine.htm

    and here is a concerning article about danger in excessive iodine for babies when mother is taking iodine or seaweed while breastfeeding:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/03/3028204.htm?section=justin

    I realize these are not scientific articles, but wonder if you have taken these concerns into account?

    also, a group of questions/reflections about minerals: I have to supplement iron due to chronic anemia. I also take zinc occasionally when I notice my sense of smell/taste is dulling, so I guess this is due to poor digestion. But you mention that these mineral supplements can be used by pathogens in their biofilm. Is there a timing strategy to use in this treatment? Finally, re copper, we have quite a bit of green staining from our tap water, which I believe is copper…we drink filtered water. hmmm If the water was not filtered, I am afraid it would have too much copper, but am I now running short of copper, since I am drinking only filtered water?

    thanks so much!
    best regards, marla

  11. When will the final version of the e-book be ready? I can’t wait!

  12. Todd – Printer approval usually takes 2 weeks. I’ll do a post when I have an ETA. You’ll have it in your hands before the month is out, unless some disaster strikes.

  13. Hi marla,

    I guess I have to do a post on iodine … too much for a comment.

    A lot of small intestinal disorders, especially Crohn’s or celiac, lead to nutrient deficiencies from malabsorption. These are some of the most difficulty diseases to deal with. Definitely you have to give up grains and legumes, if you haven’t already, and vegetable oils too.

    I would rather filter the water and take supplemental copper or beef liver so you know how much you’re getting … but do you know the filter removes copper? And do you know you’ll absorb the copper with your bowel disease? It’s a tricky situation.

    I am not sure if there are commercial tests for copper status. You might ask your doctor about that.

  14. Do you have any recommendations for someone trying to heal an injury? One is to the bone, related to blood supply, and the others just a sprain. I’d heard that very low carb could slow healing, so safe starches are probably good.

    • Nutrition is very important for wound healing. Yes, on very low carb it’s easy to get nutritional deficiencies that slow wound healing, especially in the C/selenium/glutathione axis, or potassium/electrolytes. Immune cells orchestrate the healing process and consume a lot of glucose, I would definitely try to get 400 carb calories a day mostly from the safe starches. Potassium rich sources like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and bananas are good choices.

      For bone you should definitely be supplementing vitamin C, vitamin K2, magnesium, and optimizing D. The others on our list — selenium, iodine, copper, chromium — will help with the vascular issue. You might also benefit from collagen-rich foods, e.g. gelatin, or oxtail soups.

      Having developed a vitamin C deficiency on a very low-carb diet, I can tell you that the best way to recover is to take vitamin C to the point of bowel tolerance on the first day. I took just 2 g/day and it took me two months to get back to normal C status. In retrospect I should have taken a lot more the first day, whatever it took to reach bowel tolerance. Collagen formation is the first step in wound healing, and you need C for collagen cross-linking.

      Good luck Abby!

  15. i cant wait for the book 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Hi Paul,

    Just about to purchase the e-book to secure a hard copy; will shipping to the UK be handled OK?

    WP

  17. Thanks for the response.
    How would those imbalances affect healing exactly?

  18. Hi Abby – Most of them are discussed in the book, if indirectly. Vitamins D and K2 are needed for bone formation, A for bone destruction during remodeling. Vitamin C is needed for collagen formation which is needed for all tissues to form — e.g. skin scratches won’t heal without C — and collagen is the basic framework for bone which is later mineralized by bone cells.

  19. Except for the cooked spinach, the veggies seem minimal in volume–just a sliver of onion and a few slices of carrot? Is the amount nutritionally significant?

    I usually steam 1/4 onion, eight baby carrots, a few broccli florets, and more, and it would fill up the entire plate–although I do eat less veggies after reading Ray Peat on toxicity.

    But it looks very appealing, especially considering the high fat content!

  20. Hi Bill,

    We basically advise eating to taste in terms of veggies. The science isn’t really conclusive about benefits, though they probably are beneficial. There is a risk of toxicity, but it should be very small if you (a) cook them, and (b) vary the species you eat. I don’t worry about toxicity from commonly eaten vegetables since we vary the species.

    Cooked veggies shrink considerably. In this case, I filled a ceramic casserole dish with chopped veggies, then put the salmon, butter, and lemon slices on top, and put it in the oven. The vegetables shrank to maybe 20% of their former size.

  21. Our mind also reflects the physical condition od our health.If our mind get tired quickly it shows ill health

  22. For dinner today, I’ll shred some leftover salmon, mix it with leftover rice top it off with leftover broccoli/cauliflower florets add some pats of butter and nuke it.

    A perfect virtually no-cleanup meal that’s tasty and healthy.

    Doesn’t get better than this.

  23. Paul,

    Do you count the total calories of a starch (ex: sweet potato), or do you only count the calories coming from the carbs?

    For example, 220g of sweet potato cooked is ~170 calories total (total calories from protein, carbs and fat). But if counting only carb calories from that sweet potato, it’s 160 calories.

  24. Hi Joao,

    For purposes of avoiding a glucose deficiency, only count the carbs. For weight loss purposes, count all of them.

  25. Thanks for the quick answer Paul.

    Since my free T3 values are low, I’ll go with the safe side of the glucose deficiency and start having 500-600 calories of carbs of day.

    Reminds me of another comment on another post where you mentioned 200 calories from starches per meal that you eat. With 3 squares a day it’s perfect.

    I usually have my fruit in the morning, 100-150 calories from fruit carbs, and then at least another 400 calories carbs for the rest of the day.

    I suppose fruit is better to eat fruit in the morning or earlier in the day at least (like I’ve read in the book)?

  26. Hi Paul,
    I’ve found your answer Re: bone healing very interesting. I have an ongoing problem with tendinitis (golfer’s elbow), might a deficiency in Vitamin D & C be part of the problem?

    If I understand correctly, Vitamin C is important in collagen formation, so supplementation with vitamin C might help, right?

    Any other thoughts about tendon/ligament healing? Anything in particular I should pay attention to?

  27. Hi Dimi,

    It’s possible.

    For collagen, you need: (1) bone broth or gelatin, preferably made from bones with lots of joint material; (2) vitamin C; and (3) sulfur – MSM is a good supplemental source, or Epsom salt baths. Also general nutrition, minerals, vitamins. Vitamin K2 is good to prevent calcification of joint tissue.

    It wouldn’t hurt to take vitamin C to bowel tolerance (first sign of queasiness) for one day and then 1 g/day thereafter.

    Sometimes joint tissue can become infected, creating chronic issues. Then antibiotics might help. Usually however that is not only one joint.

    Another idea is mobility exercise (search mobilitywod.com for elbow).

  28. Thanks Paul!
    Where would you topically expect bowel tolerance? (I have a pretty strong gut :)) 10g/day? Should I take it all at once or throughout the day (say 1g/h)?

    Thanks for the mobilitywod.com link, I’ll check it out tonight.

  29. It depends on how deficient you are. If you need it you may not reach bowel tolerance until 100 g, which might take several days. If you don’t need it, maybe as early as 4. More commonly, 10-15 g.

    I would just take maybe 2 g an hour until you start feeling queasy.

  30. Just finished reading your excellent book. What would you suggest feeding an 8 month old baby? And what foods would you avoid?

    thank you,
    sandy

  31. hi there,

    i’m still in progress with reading the book. i’m finding it fascinating and informative.. i have a quick question about bread..i know it’s a big no-no and so your sample meal plans don’t ever mention it.. however, i have 3 small kids and sandwiches becomes a bit of a staple at times (for time reasons as well as kids loving them)… so i wanted to know how you feel about breakfast of gluten free toast with vegemite/cheese. i try and give them avocado and tomato on gluten free toast but 2 out of the 3 don’t want to eat it.. before school/work is usually a very fast production line of eating and getting everyone dressed and packed ready to go so eggs tends to be a weekend deal.
    quick breakfast ideas that you might suggest for kids would be SOOOOO appreciated.
    many thanks for all of your information.
    evonne.

    • Hi Vonnie,

      Gluten-free breads are acceptable though not encouraged. The kids should drink water with a sandwich as the flour-based foods have too little water to support proper digestion.

      Breakfast ideas — you want protein (eggs, yogurt, cheese, meat, fish) and potassium (tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, berries). Arrange in any combination.

  32. hi Paul,

    wow.. you’re super fast!!

    sorry to be a pest… one more question about breakfast… as an alternative, i make them a smoothie… milk, naturalyoghut, one egg, honey, tablespoon of linseed oil and a banana.. i fill a blender and pour out 3 breakfast shakes.. do you have thoughts about this for breakfast, and in particular the linseed oil.. i’m just starting to move over to coconut oil for my cooking needs and have gone back to butter… but am not sure about how flaxseed sits with the vegetable oils… indeed all of the seeds, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin??

  33. Thanks a guzzillion Paul. yes they eat Salmon (though mostly smoked salmon.. i’m hoping that suffices).
    happy weekend one and all.

  34. Paleo Roasted Cauliflower Recipe - pingback on March 17, 2013 at 6:09 am
  35. Paul,
    I have been reading your blog comments and have to say it is sooooo refreshing to see you answer many questions. I see many blogs in which people never get their questions answered which has to be so frustrating for them. I know how busy you must be so I’m sending you “kudos” for all that you do!

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