6 reasons to reduce refined carbs (Part B)

6 reasons to reduce refined carbs (part B)

Part A of this article can be found here

The majority of the population is eating their main portion of calories on a daily basis from refined grains such as pasta, cereals, bread. Is this appropriate? In the second part of the two-article series we are looking into three more 3 reasons why we need to avoid processed cards from our diet.

When eating not satiating foods it is common sense that you will end-up over-eating. Satiety is a common indicator of your body letting you know how much nutrients you are getting from your food. The most refined the carb the less satiating the food and the less nutrients it consists of. Notice where in the satiety list (in the picture above) is white bread and pasta – very low. Not far off ice-cream and I think we can all relate to eating a whole bowl of ice-cream with ease. When wanting to have a carb-load day do that with potatoes as they are the most satiating food.

Insulin and Glycemic Index (GI)

Glycemic index indicated the raise of insulin when eating certain foods. All of the refined carbs are very high in the GI with white bread hitting 100%, even higher than pure sugar (see sucrose in the provided graph). In one of the next posts we will also discussed the glycemic Load (GL) indicator but the conclusions should be already pretty clear. As already discussed insulin is the fat storing hormone and in the continious presense of insulin if it is not possible to lose weight. Additionally high insulin in foods that do not have fiber which slows down the absorbtion of sugar in the blood is the cause of the after-lunch sleepyness crash and additional cravings. We want to be able to control the insulin and let our body regulate the blood sugar levels in the absense of food. High-levels of insulin lead to insulin resistance, the main cause of diabetes and is believed to be the root cause to many other deceases.

Combining Carbs with Fats

Foods with both carbs and fats together result in much more dopamine being released from the striatum, which is the reward-center of our brain. This make fast-food very “satisfying” and it is not a coincidence why fast-food is based on the combination of both foods. When combining such foods the insulin spike is a lot higher when combining carbs and fats together which will result in most cases in a big energy crash after a couple of hours and since insulin is the storing hormone it will prioritize the fat for storing.

There are more reasons why reducing carbs will benefit you in so many ways.
This includes gluten intolerance, inflammation such as artery plaque build-up, gut inflammation

Key takaways

This article two articles (part A and B) are not intended to make suggestions as to what type of diet you should be eating, but provide a factual overview on carbs and clear-up some mis-conceptions. The key takeaway are

  • Refined carbs do not contain any essential nutrients.
  • Refined carbs can have many side effects as production has significantly changed in the last couple of hundred of years and they are not any more satiating energy sources, but inflammation and high insulin causes.
  • Avoid eating carbs and fats together.

  • Read the package ingredient labels and be aware that there are hidden sugars almost everywhere.
  • When going for carbs choose fruit which are seasonal, local and low in the glycemic index.

Further reading

About ATP

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Deficiencies of essential and conditionally essential nutrients

Lee Know, Mitochondria and the Future of Medicine

6 reasons to reduce refined carbs (Part A)

6 reasons to reduce refined carbs (Part A)

The majority of the population is eating their main portion of calories on a daily basis from refined grains such as pasta, cereals, breads. Is this appropriate? Let’s look into grains and starches a bit closer.

To avoid writing an overwelming, long, heavy article we have decided to break this down into two parts.

Times have Changed

A couple of hundred years ago production habits where different.

  • In former times grain was harvested and sheaved. The sheaves were put into shocks and allowed to stand in the field for several weeks. Then the shocks were gathered and built into stacks which stood in the field for several more weeks before threshing. During this period of weathering in the field the grain seeds were exposed to rain and dew which soaked into the sheaves. The grain could pick up this moisture, and, with heat from the sun, conditions were ideal for favouring a degree of germination and enzyme multiplication in the grain.
  • Sprouting and fermenting grains lead to many beneficial effects. It increased the amino acid lysine, reduces anti-nutrients (like phytic acid and lectins), disabled enzyme inhibitors and made nutrients more accessible.
  • When the time of milling came all parts of the grain were used. The germ and bran were left with the endosperm. This meant that flour had a six month to one-year shelf life before it spoiled.

In the Industrial age there was a need for massive production and shelf life-time

  • It was discovered that removing the germ (which is full of fatty acids) extended flour’s shelf life indefinitely. This led to an obvious reduction in nutrient density and gave refined wheat the ability to spike blood sugar very fast.
  • By the 1930s, nutrients were added back into flour to replace those lost by de-germination and bran removal. It was called enriching he flour (with iron, folic acids, B vitamins, and so on).
  • Then things kind got out of hand, as bleaching process started to achieve different goals (e.g. crusty or soft bread). Bleaching or maturing flour is achieved through the addition of chemicals like chlorine dioxide, calcium peroxide (E930 on the label), etc. Each of these agents either increases or decreases the protein and, therefore, the gluten. This is how you get Cake Flour, Plain Flour, All-purpose Flour, and Bread Flour on your grocery store shelf. Each flour has a different protein percentage with cake flour being the lowest at around seven percent and bread flour the highest at around 13 percent. This means that modern wheat can contain new “foreign” gluten proteins that the human digestive system has not adapted to properly digesting.
  • These days milling wheat means threshing (removing the hulls), and then removing the bran (outer layer of the berry) and germ (reproductive seed) which leaves the endosperm (protective tissue around the seed). The endosperm is ground into the usable flour we’re all familiar with.


Essential nutrients and carbs

Essential nutrients cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained through other means while many non-essential nutrients can be both synthesized and absorbed from food. Although you will find in some articles that carbs part of the essential nutrients this is not accurate, since carbohydrates are a category not a nutrient.

There are 9 amino acids, 2 fatty acids, 13 vitamins, and 15 minerals that are considered essential nutrients.

  • Out of the 20 amino acids (proteins), 9 cannot be synthesized by the body itself and thus need to be obtained from diet. They are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.
  • The essential fatty acids (fats) DHA and EPA are needed for development and growth.
  • Essential vitamins are Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Choline.
  • Essential minerals are Calcium, Cobalt, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc.
  • Carbohydrates and glucose aren’t essential because the body can shift into ketosis and use ketones instead. The brain and other vital organs do need a little amount of glucose for optimal functioning even after becoming keto-adapted. However, there are processes that can create glucose from dietary fat and protein intake so carbs aren’t needed. Additionally your daily vegetable consumption will provide that amount in any case.

Energy production

While glucose (sugar) is readily available for most of the general population, it’s not actually the most efficient pathway of energy production, and is not the ideal source of fuel, fatty acids are. Fatty acids are metabolized in a process called beta-oxidation, and the burning of fatty acids is responsible for 60-70% of all of the energy our cells create. The result is that each molecule of glucose forms a total of 38 ATP (ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate and can be considered as the amount of energy produced in each cell by the mitochondria) molecules but each fatty-acid molecule produces 129 ATP molecules. You can clearly see why healthy, well-functioning cells would prefer fatty acids as their source of fuel. Fat consumption will result into more available energy for the bodies required functions.

To be continued…

Is a healthy meal boring and bland?

Many of the people I discuss with ask me how I don’t get bored by having removed so many of the food choices from my diet. And my answer is that this diet has not limited me in any way, is delicious and is actually opening new paths to my tastebuds. Let’s see why.

First thing is first. What have I removed from my diet? Basically most carbs and starches. The reasons for doing so I will explain in my next post, but I am not eating bread, pasta, cereals, biscuits, etc. How can this diet not limit you, I hear you ask.

Excessive sugar and tastebuds

Even though I am generalising, I think you would agree with me, that most food you can find on a super-market shelf is over-refined and over-processed. You even find these days glycose-syrop in every ham package! Glycose syrop is the cheapest form of sugar you can find and is intended to make the products taste sweeter. This has led to our tastebuds to relate to something as tasty only when it is sweet. Excessively sweet I may add. By removing refined carbs and sweets my taste has been reset back to the norm, to the point that having a normal milky chocolate is way too sweet and can’t stand it (I usually have a 99% chocolate bar). And now I can finally understand the taste of the ingredients I am using, and preparing meals is a lot more fun and far more tasty. Would you ever think that the addition of a leek or a carrot could make all the difference to your soup or omelette? I would also not change the celery root mash for anything in the world! Reason is that most vegetables have enough natural sugar which are released when cooked that by adding them to any of your recipes will result in some very creative and tasty meals!

Intermittent fasting and meal satisfaction

By practising intermittent fasting on a daily basis you will significantly reduce the number of meals you are having on a given day. This results in less dependence from food, less need to prepare 3 meals a day and another 3 snacks. Less frequency leads to less need for huge variety and having to over-think constantly what you should prepare to eat!! And the 1-2 meals you will have in the day, will be a festivity of joy and taste. Important is to enjoy your meal together with your friends and family. Meals have been for the duration of human kind a social activity, so make a habit to eat together with your family at a least a few times a week.


Homeostasis is the state of the body and mind where you are getting comfortable with a particular stimulus and it becoming your default state. If your baseline for feeling pleased about food is to eat every day bread and pasta and sweets then you need to be eating more of those things to feel satisfied. On the other hand, you could be equaliy satisfied with healthier but slightly blander meals. The feelings are the same but different in terms of the final outcome. You’re not over-indulging on empty calories or teaching yourself to like only very rich foods. Hence obesity and metabolic diseases have become such an epidemic in modern societies. The point of-course isn’t that all pleasure and comfort should be avoided. Life should be enjoyed but we need to understand that the feeling of joy and happiness depends on our subjective homeostasis. Which means you can be as happy as you are right now by just eating for example meals with single raw fruits or vegetables (many nutritionists advocate eating only one type of food in each meal). The key is to detach yourself from the thing that you’re addicted to – and for that to happen you have to reduce your exposure to the stimulus. In this direction, intermittent fasting can help a lot and make healthy food taste amazing and you will become happier with less.

Let’s try out a recipe then.

Rib-eye stake, zucchini pasta and home made basil pesto sauce

Every recipe i will be posting is meant to be easy and can be prepared fast unless stated otherwise. This one you can prepare in under 20 minutes.

  • Irish grass-fed Rib-eye stake
  • 1 zucchini
  • 25gr basil, 15gr parsley, 10gr parmesan, 10gr pine nuts, 50 ml Olive oil, 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
Recipe Prep
  • Leave the beef to come to room temperature 2-3 hours.
  • Slice the zucchini with a piller and cut is long stripes. Width is not important!
  • Finely slice the onion and garlic.
  • Roast the pine nuts for 1-2 minutes and then blend all your ingredients for the basil pesto. Set aside.
  • Cook onion, garlic with butter for a couple of minutes in low heat. Then add the zucchini and a couple of tablespoons of the pesto.Cover and let to soften for 3-4 minutes (No more as you want it to be a bit chrunchy)
  • In the meanwhile, heat-up a a second pan. Once nice and hot put the stake. No need to put anything on it at this point.
  • Let the stake cook from each side around 4 minutes. Total cooking time should be below 10 minutes. Set the stake aside to rest for 5 minutes. Add salt/pepper/butter to taste.

Key Takeaways

  • A healthy “keto” can be easy and delicious.
  • Clean-up your tastebuds and nutrition by doing intermmittent fasting and removing refined sugars and carbs.
  • Cook and enjoy your meals with your friends and family.
  • Try out the recipe, comment if you liked it and let us know if you have any special requests
  • Subscribe to ketontrack newsletter to receive new recipes every Tuesday.

Suggested reading

Silver linings

I am now on my 10th week. Losing fat is what I care the most about, and up to now I’ve lost 8 kilos. The last couple of weeks I’ve allowed myself to stray from my meal plan, doing one or two cheat meals (actually, cheat days) in a week. I needed to break the seemingly interminable drudgery of preparing and eating bland-tasting food: it felt good (and then bad).

Weight loss had stalled until last week, and I was feeling frustrated and disappointed, with a strong sense of futility. This week I seem to be making some progress, which is a relief.

I have concluded that two meals per day work best for me, with the last one at around 14:00, followed by 18-19 hours of fasting. Rather unexpectedly, I don’t get cravings or feel hungry during fasting.

Many times during the day I get jittery, not because I’m hungry but due to the monotony of my meals. Eating has always been for me much more than nourishment: delightful food can be soothing, uplifting, invigorating. Even a humble slice of bread can offer me moments of bliss. I miss such moments, and so far they’ve been irreplaceable.

A first look at Fitness

What should your fitness goals be in terms of health?

To maintain a healthy lifestyle and promote longevity from a fitness point of view you will need to focus on two areas mainly. Strength and flexibility, which both together make-up mobility and independent of where you are in your health journey and what is your age you need to carefully look into the below tips.

Fitness principles

The below tips are just the starting point and looking at fitness from a longevity perspective. Having big bulky muscles requires more energy from the body to maintain and does not always translate to strength. We are interested first and foremost at quality (via myofibrillar hypertrophy)

  • Be active in your daily life.

Prefer the stairs to the lift, and use the bike on your everyday life. Make active lifestyle an integral part of your life. In the reading suggestions you can find some interesting information about the Blue zone areas, the areas with the longest life expectancy. There the people move around at a low to moderate pace most of the day by walking around the household, riding a bike, doing gardening to grow their own food, hiking in nature etc. It’s important to stay mobile and active throughout the day and keep your energy levels-up (which translates to having health energy producing mitochondria).

  • Maintain your muscles

The human body inevitably deteriorates with age. After the age of 30, aging is characterized by a progressive decrease in skeletal muscle. This process is called sarcopenia and it can happen at a rate of 3-8% reduction per decade. From the age 40, lean tissue and strength get reduced by about 1% per year. Keep in mind that even very athletic people’s bodies consist of 30-40% muscle, which isn’t that much. That makes maintaining your musculature an incredibly vital component of healthy aging and longevity. Additionally, when losing muscle you body you will still keep the fat.

  • Work on your flexibility, elasticity and proper posture

A lot of injuries can be a result of tight ligaments and joints as a result of our modern lifestyle. Chairs, tables, sofas and couches were not how our the earlier man used to sit. There are areas  where most of us even at young age are pretty tight and this is mainly due to the fact that we never train our fascia, the connective tissues around our muscles. This luck in movement is a great limiting factor as we age and needs to be addressed by changing some of our daily habits.

How to start?

  1. Walk around. Use walking or cycling whenever possible.Purchase a fitness wrist band and track your steps if that helps you. 6000 steps is a good measure.
  2. Incorporate 10 minutes of fascia stretching first thing when you wake-up. This will be enough to wake you up and you will very fast see big changes. Start with the hip and hamstrings.
  3. Whenever possible sit on the floor in a simple Lotus-like posture. My kids love reading and preparing for school while on the floor. Do the same, maybe even when watching TV.
  4. Start with cardio but prefer strength training.
    • At the beginning of your transformation i suggest incorporating an easy jog for 20-30 minutes to develop your cardiovascular fitness. This should be at an easy pace and while being able to hold a conversation. That’s when your heart rate is below 60-70% of your VO2 max. In this way you will be burning fat and avoid muscle breakdown because of glucose depletion.
    • Once you feel comfortable and having already incorporated walking into our life we need to start building some quality muscles. Quality is a very important word here,since quality will provide strength vs. size. Generally speaking the same advice goes for men and women alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Fitness is a lifestyle incorporated in your daily activities. Fitness will make you feel strong and confident in yourself, while being free of pain and limitations.
  • Walking during the day provides all the cardiovascular fitness you need.

Suggested reading

Starting your nutrition journey

Most diets have some signature naming. Low-fat diets, high-fat diets, meat only diets, vegeterian diets and so forth. However most of these definitions are from my perspective misleading since they make no reference to the nutrition we need nor the end-goal we want to reach.

And what is the end-goal? Health! And from a health perspective, we want to have all main health processes (digestion,absorption, utilization, elimination) working effectively. Hence, the definition I am proposing of any diet we will follow on ketontrack.com is

A healthy diet definition

A healthy diet will allow you to be metabolic flexible, get all the nutrients you need in an effortless way and bring the least burden possible on your body.

The above definition does not make any reference about any certain type of eating. So which diet should we use to start our a transformation journey. One that is supporting digestion and makes intermittent fasting easier.

  • In order to become metabolically flexible you want to be able to use all fuel sources effectively. In this context, this means being able to use your own fat as fuel by breaking them down into ketones.
  • To get all the essential nutrients you need (60 minerals, 16 Vitamins, 12 Amino Acids, 2 Fatty Acids) in a way you can absorb them effortlessly.
  • Put the least burden on the body and start addressing areas such as enzymes utilization, insulin regulation, mitochondria energy production. Of-course these are all quite complicated topics and we will address them one-by-one in separate posts.

Which diet to start with

In my opinion the best fitting diet as a starting point is doing a ketogenic diet, which is adhering to the definition above is by

  • Removing all sugar  (Cakes, sweets etc.)
  • Only black Coffee/Tea
  • Removing grains such as pasta, rice, bread, cereal
  • Increasing your salad intake to be the main portion of your meal.
  • Eating only healthy fats (avocados,  nuts, olive oil, olives, cocunut etc) and in moderation
  • Eating fatty quality meat or fish in moderation ( not every day) and not over-cooked
  • Reducing fruits (example half an Apple in salad or berries in your yoghurt)
  • Legumes are allowed in moderation

This will get you started but follow this plan after you have started with intermittent fasting for a couple of weeks and you have been logging as already suggested all your meals. In this way you will become aware of the changes in your nutritional calories and will help you effortlessly enter the next steps of your health journey.

At his point, keto is a support mechanism for doing intermittent fasting, since fat intake increases satiety and will help you go from one meal till the next without  effort. You will improve your digestion tremendously but is not the end of the journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Keto as any diet needs to help you be metabolic flexible, get all the nutrients you need in an effortless way and bring the least burden possible on your body.
  • Keto is about getting into ketosis not about eating high amounts of fat.
  • If you just started doing intermmitent fasting as suggested getting some amount of sugar from fruits maybe help you with your sweet tooth.
  • Put a tablespoon of raw honey in your salad dressing.
  • Subscribe and get your free 2-week detailed plan and consultation sessions.

Suggested reading