PUFAs = much better ketosis?

Omega-6 “BAD” PUFAs = much better ketosis?

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This was completely unexpected. Having read this study over the last few months led me some serious re-questioning on my current perception of Omega 6 PUFAs. How or why that study has not been picked up by any wider Keto or ZC /LC / IF communities, is beyond me.

I’d like to thank Peter @ Hyperlipid to have brought this firstly up for discussion. Despite my unfamiliarity within the comments’ intense discussion surrounding all possible causality (from mitochondrial structures and superoxidations) I’d wager anyone with a grip on Biochemistry to please consider sharing a thought or two over there.

I very seldom express my “opinion” on any journals or research papers of controversial reception. But this particular study? Is just unmissable. So, what’s in it?

The study recruited ten healthy males and females, free of diabetic or suspecting renal damage or CVD risks divided into two groups – one as PUFA group using predominantly walnuts  and (undisclosed) soy products – pitted against the SAT fats group on cheese, coconut creams and animal fats. Five day clinical trial . Goal = examine any differing metabolic markers between the two groups.

Feast your surprising eyes to the result charts below.

Preposterous, Truly?

Yes, I am shocked. The notoriously “bad” PUFAs group – won favourably in all metabolic markers. Much higher beta hydroxy ketones. Much lower glucose readings. Least LDL. Lower Trigs. Plus surprisingly – much higher – Insulin Sensitivity. In other words? Flawless victory.


Some bullet points below do raise some question marks:

  1. “Twenty Young Healthy Subjects” – “Young” – wasn’t disclosed as to what age specifically.
  2. “Crystal Light” (presumably a beer but unsure), “potato sticks”, “frittos corn chips”, “turkey with gravy”, “soy crisp” were put on the PUFA fats Group of foods. 
  3. “WASA Sourdough Rye Crackers”, “Crystal Light” (presumably a beer), “Ice Cream”, Ham and cheese “Wrap” (could be anything – corn wrap tortilla?) were put on the SAT fats Group of foods.
  4. “Oil and vinegar” appeared on BOTH GROUP’s diet. It is very unclear as to what oil and vinegar they’re talking about.
  5. Interestingly, the PUFA group uses relatively lean meats – chicken and turkey. Whereas the SAT group? Beef, cheese, pepperoni, the works…..except – Bacon. There was no bacon on the SAT menu. But ironically – there were “bacon imitation strips” on the PUFA group menu. What that consists of is a mystery…

From the above foods: could these (the crisps, the Crystal Light, “gravy”, etc) actually SKEW their reportedly faithful 70/15/15 Ketogenic ratio? I’d say more than possible. Because very-low carbohydrate interventions, politically speaking – mainly revolves on restricting to less than 50 grams per day. Even if participants were to include those things – such amounts MUST HAVE BEEN VERY low to the point of no more than two or three small bites and prohibited from there onwards.

Interestingly, side effects wise – the PUFA group experienced more Nausea than the SAT fats group. Otherwise, remarkably during 5-day period of fat chomping – no significant adverse effects were noted.What is even more startling (to me at least), there was seemingly no reported evidence of Keto-flu or side effects we commonly expect during transitionary carbohydrate withdrawals. From headaches, palpitations, and (specifically as stated in the study, page 3) “Change in ability to concentrate” – were all returned as “non-significant”. 

Lastly – a subtle yet noteworthy concern – the study was done completely by in-house , in-University – grants, volunteers and members.

Think about this. The opening paragraph of this study was to “hypothesize” that PUFAs may offer a more beneficial route to Ketosis. So already, we have an expectation out of an existing, speculative hypothesis. If the “student” subjects noted adverse reactions which counters this expectation, which then also consequently to that of their very own existing Institution….then hopefully, you get my concern.

Are “Universities” really that neutral? All academia institutions tell us only “What to think” in text book terms. First and foremost – if dieticians are taught specifically telling people what to eat, then their licenses are most likely revoked immediately upon prescribing anything against what’s been internally taught, correct?

….But what about “How to think?” Well, you will be likely challenged and externally moderated against others correctness hierarchy. Namely – everyone else outside and beyond your expectations.

Patrick Tomasso @ Unsplash.com

Has this outcome been succesfully replicated elsewhere?

My existing reference source of all things Keto – Lyle McDonald’s Ketogenic Diet – did nevertheless briefly mentioned a study (Page 115) upon determining various forms of fats for their thermogenic potential – between olive oils, butter, safflower oil and corn oil; whilst also – keeping close to Ketogenic parameters.

The winner? Corn oil, surprisingly. Considering that it is just slightly behind the world’s highest and notorious source of omega 6-oils – Safflower oil. 

Even though that study is old (1974) – it was nonetheless noteworthy as it tracked throughout a period of 40 days. Two groups of subjects (men & women) – one group as lean and the other – obese. Both groups were instructed to eat a range of daily calories from 2100, then increased gradually to all the way up to a monstrously (as recorded) 6800. Per day. Yes, in kilocalories. From the study’s own conclusion: “It was striking to observe that the weight gain did not correlate with the caloric intake. Particularly if fat was given in the form of corn oil, a distinct discrepancy between the caloric intake and the response of the body weight was detectable.” (Kasper, H., et al, 1974).

Fast forward today’s pedestrian normalcy, with all my efforts of searching sadly – nothing else I could find comparatively of a similar analysis between PUFA vs SFA or MUFAs within Ketogenic contexts or parameters.

What about anecdotal source/s?

Very few…. but nonetheless notable mainstream media texts and books – disclosed similar prescriptions and convictions.

The first belonged to one of (perhaps earlier) books on Cyclical Keto interventions – “BODYOPUS”. The author, Dan Duchaine (whom unfortunately passed away due to hereditary polycystic kidney disease) – preached and fervently recommended Flaxseed PUFAs above all other source of fat intakes (Chapter 15).

…He even as so far stated that monounsaturated sources (Olive oils) – was “unessential” (Chapter 16).

Amidst today’s glorifying prescription of Flaxseeds, they still remain open to debate. First obviously being the seemingly difficult metabolic conversion from ALA to EPA/DHA. Then, there’s the Flaxseed = not-as food debate but as an expensive wood varnish. Next – many would dispute flaxseed is low in Omega 6, but still, it’s of relevant concern considering the N6 component is just behind canola oil. Lastly – yes – I am aware over its extremely estrogenic yet confusingly – a viable protection against prostrate cancers (but Genetically factorial!). 

Call me guilty – I myself praised Flaxseeds/Linseeds as part of any Ketogenic intervention due to its pragmatic affordability. With its interesting macro nutrient of fats, fibre and believe it or not – up to a good 22% makeup as protein. However with the above lingering concerns led me for years to pragmatically (thus far) include them only as small but not major source of O-3 to my own diet.

A second possible source would be Schwarzbein Principle by Diana Schwarzbein. I unfortunately have not read the book (but the program seems derived from the familiar Atkins induction, then followed by gradual re-introduction of carbohydrates), the author reportedly advocates canola oils (as well as soybean oil) as fat source intakes, at least as accordingly from the Weston A Price Foundation’s review on the book. But what about the reviews from real readers? Apparently, at least a 3.75 to five stars were a common sight on Amazon, and Goodreads . Nothing thus far comes up on Google that I have seen as real, journalling accounts. 

But…then again, relying on “book reviews” are inaccurate as evidently it is hard distinguishing the real authenticity whether the readers have truly experienced the program itself.

Third and last – although not “textbook” based – is an anecdotal web forum source. Whereby a monodiet (singular focused diet, think ZC Carnivore) was seemingly preached around only on almonds, peanuts, walnuts and seeds-alike intake. Closely resembling to zero carb but vegetarian. But I have to warn all readers however that it is a public forum. Whatever comes, whatever goes. I will not share my thoughts on this as 1) It runs for a lengthy 35+ pages, and that 2) any insights exchanged especially out of from wherever “forums” are involved – would readily invite all sorts of Internet SJW pitchforks at the doorstep.

*** Update 22nd September 2018***

Chris Bair @ Ketochow; posted his N=1 experimentation focusing on individual type of fat source intakes, one week at a time lasting throughout four week period (“Week 0” as the baseline). The timeline were as follows:

  • (Week 0) SAT fats – heavy creams (as baseline)
  • (Week 1) Omega-6 rich PUFAs (specifically Grapeseed oil – also high in Vitamin E)
  • (Week 2) SAT fats again (but without any MCTs)
  • (Week 3) MUFAs predominantly macadamia nut oils and avocado oils.

The findings were interesting. During the PUFAs week – Lowered LDL-C and P variants cholesterol. “Good“; under the eyes of nodding dogmatic institutions.

The “Bad” effects however, were concerning. The Triglycerides increased considerably. Both HDL-C and HDL-P decreased unfavourably. What’s even more surprising – LDL and Triglycerides were also increased on the MUFAs week (#3).

Please note that this n=1 experiment is part of his 42-day plan on using no whole-foods but Keto Chow; an all in one meal replacement as his main wholefoods intake. People may be quick to criticise the validity of this against “real-life” wholefoods and proteins. But we must consider and remember – the cost to factor in all that blood tests; is outside the range of most people can afford (unless if they go on holidays, Iphone® #10, 11, 12, 13 as “excuses” on $65,000 p.a. income). Other “desireable” tests would also cholesterol particle breakdowns (including the rare and highly sought after LDL-P / LDL-C with particle sizing analysis) and then the glucose, Haemoglobin A1C % and insulin.

The long list of charts  he posted as results does not justify any quick summary. A thorough reading and visit to his blog is well deserved. 

Tom Hermans @ Unsplash.com

Walnuts – could this be the reason?

These, after all – seemed to be the predominant ingredient on the winning (PUFAs) group’s menu throughout the entire experiment. Studies showed various benefits; evidently ranging from it being anti-oxidative, helps alleviate lipid-peroxidation, and (most recently published study) improves gut macrobiota with associated increases of butyric acid production. Coincidentally – “Butyrate” is closely implicated from Ketone production in the liver, and thereby both presence seems highly correlative and synergistic.

Are walnuts the invincible food for all, then? Sadly perhaps not.

I’ve found one study within contexts of Metabolic-Syndrome’d mice alongside with high APO-E carrier/s (a genetically predisposition towards CVD risk) – walnut intakes actually INCREASED the level of triglycerides, as well as surprisingly – many pro-inflammatory liver gene expressions  (“TNF”, “Ptpn22″, and “Pparg”, to name a few). I shall leave you to read more within that study – a few other collected insights all of which highlighted similar mixed results to walnuts’ supposed immutable reputation. More over, the Omega-6 content to O-3 ratio in walnuts is still quite high. Though not as hilariously high as “dry roasted” almonds (I’ll leave the moment of shock to yourself!).

Back to the study we’re analysing at hand for this article. The PUFAs  group were eating soy products ON TOP of any other (assuming) vegetable “oils and vinegars”. That no doubt plunged the Omega 3 intake down to the toilet even more. This to me, is enough to assume that the study tried to illustrate the evident strength of OMEGA-6  as more potentially Ketogenic than Omega-3.

Even if Omega-3 ALA praised canola oil (just as a guess) being used for the PUFA group – they are still not immune from the lowered 50% ALA to LA conversion efficiency even in the most “healthiest” human. Even if we rule out that the possibility of the SAT group eating both economy / soybean & grain fed  beef / pepperoni or meats- the question still remains why then – the outcome still favours the PUFA group. This boggles the mind.

What about mainstream medical literature/s?

The next thing/s I have done below is curating all relevant studies purportedly which are all in favour of PUFA’s over SFA’s in all metabolic markers. Despite all my efforts again, I have not been able to find anything of any studies exclusively within Ketogenic parameters…

  1. A study on rats; in conjunction to what we’re reading at here concluded again that PUFAs from flaxseed oils induce greater BOHB readings than either lard, or butter fat intakes. CONS: Food test macros were not published.
  2. A study found that PUFAs (within it defined as Linoleate and Alpha Linoleates) are “moderately ketogenic”; in the context of rats. Unfortunately, study’s is restricted from public access without purchase. 
  3. A study examining already-insulin resistant 10 individuals and obese (bmi >30) senior aged individuals (aged 61 on average) – found PUFA intakes to improve all metabolic markers. The diet test macros were 61% fat, 33% carbs and only trace amount of protein (I’d wager close to zero protein diet), CONS: Unrealistic in my opinion, as this ratio does not often relate to the more fitness oriented audience emphasizing higher protein intakes.  
  4. The (allegedly) famous PUFA muffins versus SFA muffins study results in greater lean muscle mass, and less liver fat accumulation in PUFA muffins group. PUFA = win. Another study using the same muffins approach (NOTE: DIFFERENT authors) – also found the same thing – overfeeding PUFA = greater lean muscle mass than. That study uses Sunflower Oil versus Palmitic acid as the comparison.CONS: Food test macros were not published on the first study (Bray A, G. & Krauss, M R.). But published on the second study as 51% fat, 45% carb, 4% protein aka. almost zero protein. 
  5. A study on children amongst 7 to 12 years found that higher PUFA intakes = less total fatty adiposity, greater muscle growth.  CONS: Food test macros were not published. All food tests were self-questioned and self-submitted (inaccuracies galore; considering they’re still kids).

My efforts to search for more studies pretty much ended there. My 200+ existing journals, papers, articles saved is already stuffy enough as is.

Roman Mager @ Unsplash.com

“Why” > “How”.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” –  General McChrystal.

My comprehension on all there is to nutrition thus far are yet to match such a level without succumbing another $30,000 debt in pursuit of career expansion. The word Frugality after all, reside in my book’s title for a pragmatic reason.

Ultimatley, the understanding of “why” in all of these is completely beyond my comprehension as I am ill-equipped to opinionate. Except only on the basis of past experiences, account/s and self-challenges. within the realms of SKD, CKD, and now – Cylical Keto + IF.

Bad PUFAs = good for Ketogenic interventions, after all? I do not know. Everything remained elusively unexplained. But nonetheless – the many comments I saw in Peter @ Hyperlipid’s blog there may attract further interest amongst anyone with an already adept view/s in biochemistry.

I cannot help but nevertheless believing that a possible, brewing debate – is due to happen. But let us not start a civil war amongst ourselves but rather – to remain open over accepting that “Interpretations” alone are nonetheless valid decision making criteria; over simply observing and (convinced)-nodding towards “Facts”.

Thus, how everything currently sits at the moment – I’d remain pragmatic. (Mine’s) or Your Mileage/s May Vary. Everyone should reconcile their own Interpretation of what Science means to them.

Whether you are for or against PUFAs, Ketogenic or non-ketogenic do you think we still have a long way to go in understanding the different effects of lipid metabolism? Have you seen any other similar finding that support the above metabolic outcomes? I would love to hear them below.
Gelatin: recipe, essentials and history

Gelatin: recipe, essentials and history

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Amidst all worsening stress I am increasingly convinced for that one inevitability of metabolic failure – starting from gut permeability or deterioration of the digestive lining (dubbed as “Leaky Gut”). I am yet to be clinically defined or diagnosed yet as such, despite many dispelling such condition as myth.

But I can at least testify; from having incorporated Gelatin amongst my meals, postworkout shakes as well as refeed day/s – few things already improved. Digestion notably becomes more “settled” down that much sooner. Rather than later. On refeed day/s I find that I feel more comfortable and confident to eat more than without it. Subtly but surely – connective tissue resilience have improved. 

If there is a particular type of proteins able at treating two birds with one stone – from maintaining joints with a historically proven overall gut + digestive support/s and also within powder form itself – as another viable source of many other conditionally essential amino acids, including Arginine…

…Then it has to be Gelatin. One may argue Hemp as a worthy match. But $60 per kilo? No, thanks.


Le Viandier de Taillevant / the earliest terminology usage of “Aspic”- before “Gelatin”

The forgotten essential.

Fascinatingly, an archaeological evidence suggested that humans were already using animal tissues as glue – to adhere various parts and components for ornaments, crafts and pottery.

Before “Gelatin” was called as such – the very first printed record out of a French recipebook “Le Viandier” in 1305.  suggested that “Aspic’; was thought to be the earliest embodiment of jelly-like food/s.

Fast forward today, we have found even more uses. Unbeknownst to many of us that gelatin paved the way for everything from our wallpapers. To our kitchen and all the way to cleaning-wares.

Unfortunately – “politics”, this “ism”, or that “ism” gets in the way. I implore thus we accept that “morality subscription” = reality compromises. Because few would willingly accept this reality – that we all play some role towards Ecological Martyrdom.

The future however looks promising. R&D surrounding cardiac & nerve tissue modelling, and “Bio-Ink”organ 3D printing, all based from the very essence of life itself – the humble Gelatin.

Nevertheless, not here trying to copy and paste or reword what the experts already knows. Ray Peat’s page on Gelatin, Skin and Stress – details the relevance of Glycine / Proline amino acids within gelatin towards overall liver health.

Some concerns on the Methionine balance from excess muscle meats versus Glycine from arguably more important gelatins from connective tissues – seemed plausible. Prolonged Methionine intakes over lean meats it seems – has been reputably linked to accumulate homocysteine (a genetics-determinant, suspecting yet undecisively convincing inflammatory marker). Yet dietary institutions kept pushing us towards low-fat dogma and lean muscle meats; further compounding this fear of imbalance. How ironic.

Even whey proteins seems suspect. But I am not about to willingly part from them over pea protein isolates; just for the latter’s lower methionine content. Both casual and habitual moderation inbetween these two – I feel is still a pragmatic necessity.

Methionine is still after all an inseparably critical amino acid for the synthesis of other essential aminos – Cysteine, and Taurine, to name a few. All contributes to the production of master anti-oxidant Glutathione. Worse still – methionine cannot be resynthesized in the body.

But one other aspect unique to Gelatin as a protein source is its impact on leptin & insulin mediator; which reportedly helps prolonging satiation and fullness.

But now to the important bits. A recipe.

Gelatin: recipe, essentials and history

How to set gelatin.

Generally speaking to “set” a gelatin powder you need a warm liquid source and few hours of cold storage. The premium and much higher priced brands claims they do dissolve completely in cool water; though I cannot testify this in person as obviously – they are far too expensive for regular usage. 

Gelatin can also be incorporated into savoury dishes. Though beware that if it’s to be submerged in any liquid or heated stocks it may “set” to gel – for which is its physical intent nonetheless anyway. I have nevertheless indeed tried adding it in some substitute amounts for my previous Pea Protein Meat Loaf recipe. It turns out just fine and baked without any problems.

I may not be an accomplished cook or a baker, but this page sets out a detailed explanation on what to do and what not to mix it with.  As a note for all you high fructose / fruit lovers – the bromelain enzyme content of many sour / tarty-tropical fruits such as pineapples, papayas – may prevent the gelatin to sets in. More within that page as recommended reading.

A quick Gelatin Whey Jelly recipe.

Humility-budget approved for that last solid meal of the day. Next to protein fluffs, I think I may have found my go-to dessert alternatives. Whilst protein fluffs (just requiring half glass of soda water, and 15g of WPC + sweetener)  may edge in terms of cost per serving, the jelly edge it out in terms of overall nutritional value.

Gelatin: recipe, essentials and history


Aeroplane Jelly® 2 paks. Half a satchet.
At $1.50 (average pricing) for 2 paks each carrying 9g of the powder – it’s already sweetened although beware that much of this is actually not the gelatin but added sulfurs and the swetener and colouring. However with its built in sweetener – to my palatability – even 2brothersfoods’ unflavoured whey protein concentrates is sufficiently flavoured by just HALF a satchet. So in one purchase of 9g worth you’ll get up to four (4) serves.

Additional (unflavoured) Gelatin powder. Up to 10 grams per supplementary amount.
Now this is where of course the real gelatin comes in mind. Common retail online street pricing is at least $40 per kilogram. The most affordable I found was at just under $25 delivered at 500g worth. My first few weeks have been reliant on using $3.70 storebought Mckenzie’s brand for a 100g supply, which unfortunately last only up to three days of use. Their “leaf” versions turns out at $5 for mere 20 grams, hardly worth it. Alas, what can I do? Frugality pushes you to the limits of accepting only what is bare-“bone” essentials of life.

(Obviously) the protein source of choice. I still am preferring the good old cheap Whey Protein Concentrates (unflavoured mixed with existing flavoured supply)
Use anywhere between from 15g to 20g. Though I’d warn that if you are using exclusively Pea Protein Isolates beware that its’ earth / “clay” like palate is still going to be embedded in the final product. No way of avoiding it unfortunately unless if you are willing to mask it with even more “earthy” spices – cinnamon and raw cacao powders both comes to mind.


Hats off with gratitude first of all to Simon @ cutandjacked to have shared the best ratio of hot & cool liquids for the recipe.

Have 150ML water and mix in 15 to 20g of whey concentrates or pea protein isolates. Get a bowl and pour in ALL gelatin powders FIRST. Boil the kettle pour it at about 150ML. Pour in the other 150ML shake mix of the protein powder + water. Gently but just briefly – stir it around to disperse any excess clumps.

Fridge it for at least two hours. The more protein powder you use I find the quicker it sets. Otherwise realistically by about third or fourth hour – things should be set rigidly. Mine sets in usually at around one & half hours. It would already by this time reasonably firm yet at jelly-like consistency. Serve with 30 or 40g or so worth of (full fat of course) greek yoghurt. That’s it.


This is assuming you are using the minimum 15g of protein amount, and using a minimum 4 grams amount of gelatin powder. Also here I am using ALDI Lyttos Natural (not light) Greek Yoghurt, 35g amount on top of finished product.

calories 129
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g 6 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 14 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 78 mg 3 %
Potassium 1 mg 0 %
Total Carbohydrate 4 g 1 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0 %
Sugars 4 g
Protein 19 g 37 %
Vitamin A 0 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 10 %
Iron 0 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

To up the fat content – I would add coconut creams (though beware from experience it may impact sleep quality at night), dollops of sour creams or sparing sprinkles amount of linseeds. Also, works well with frozen berries.  Explore other different recipes, uses and cooking methods if you think you can afford more ingredients.

But how to use these gelatin powder outside of this recipe? Simply sprinkle as you would as condiment to existing post workout shakes or as first break-fast meal of the day. The grainniess will take some time getting used to, but we are all here for the benefits and sustenance, not complaining about elitist “taste” or “consistency”. On my refeed days I sprinkle randomly on rice puffs, oatmeals, and inbetween shakes.

Questions and concerns.

Paul Wong @ unsplash.com

1/3 “Gasp! Sulfur dioxide! Bad! Bad!”

I knew someone will complain about this. Cheaper gelatin powders such as in store household names (here in Australia we have McKenzies) – are often laden with sulfur dioxide as an added sulphite. Concerns seen amongst the Internet with this additive (coded as E202 or dubbed as SO2) seemed originated from its reputation as a poisonous gas; if inhaled directly.

Understandably, its allergenic potential to people with Asthma, seems warranted to suggest that SO2 intakes may need to be limited to select population. Coincidentally, a study found it to be damaging at the mitochondrion level, as well as observed association with arrythmias and heart disturbances. 

With anything “Bad” there is “Good”. Nature is confusing. SO2 is an antioxidant and blood-pressure lowering agent; in the context of hypertension. Any ill-informed pedestrian are readily quick to point that MSM and SO2 are both the same thing, yet biologically differ in their metabolism and interpretation. Irrespective, “sulfur” is believe it or not, the third most abundant mineral makeup of any entire human body itself.

So what do I make of this? Yes, all those concerns on the industrial counterpart SOseems very bad, indeed.

Hence why I am willing to spend even more money from my overdraft on proper Gelatin without additives. That study above  on heart disturbances symptom thankfully was intervened by the widely available N-acetyl-Cysteine supplement (shortly abbreviated as “NAC”).

Hence, this suspects the need for maintaining liver health. Although I am never simply “suggesting” to go out and buy NAC supplements as a permanent band-aid.

At some stage, you may have to beg or steal whatever necessary to ensure you get the proper gelatin.

For those who are nosy enough poking around and ask incessantly what “I would do” – I remain pragmatic to keep Milk thistle, taurine, and MSM. Milk Thistle; with or without Taurine; both remain as my further digestive aid on top of betaine HCLs and pepsins. Multiple studies examining liver damage, especially on alcoholics seems attenuated with Stevia as sweetener. I myself, would continue supplementing with Organic MSM throughout my fasting days upon waking up (1 tsp shot with water), but since many days recently – forego without it altogether as I feel the most benefits of fasting without taking any supplements at all in the morning.

Phan Đức @ Unsplash.com

2/3 What about vegetarians? Agar-Agar?

Note: I have not personally testified or used these alternatives. Why? Because of oppressed financial liberty. Take all this research as is to your interpretation and experimentation.

Agar-Agar (short for agaropectin), a gelling agent derivative out of red algae seems promising, perhaps less as a viable source of amino acids but more on the minute micronutrients (some magnesium, calcium and manganese) and a source of fermentable fibre. I am however hesitant to use it. My reasons for this? Are two-fold.

Firstly anything labelled as Agar-Agar is likely to be no different than a carageenan; an additive despite its natural origin from the same edible red seaweed species that Agar is made from. Carageenan unfortunately may impose adverse undesireable effects to some people. I certainly do. Personal exploration and journalling remains critical. Furthermore, many instore household Gelatin replacement brands have all sorts of corn derivatives.

Secondly, Agar/s are NOT WITHOUT carbohydrates. They have a substantial caloric response with as much as 81 grams of usable carbohydrates per 100g. Hence, they’re 80% carbo-loaded. A teaspoon worth of powders will net about 8 grams worth of carbohydrates.  Not a problem if you’re a carb-munching pedestrian. Not good for us LC/Keto folks.

Coincidentally on a side note – I may have to re-evaluate my prior praise on dairy-free alternative milks bearing the above additive. Almond and/or coconut milks – any symptom ranging from stuffiness, “food-just-sitting-there” sensation and noticeably – diarrhoea and “burning”-like stool symptoms.

For many years I am still aware of Konstantin Monarsky’s “Fibre Menace“. To this day – there is still lingering confusion on fermentable fibres association with colon cancer. Unfortunately, amongst the suspecting gum products in my pantry – guar gum and pysllium husk included – belong to this risky category. Whilst I never consume copious amounts, I’d still practise cycling in different “pseudo” gelling agents – between Xanthan gum, Guar’s (although I do not feel well on it at times) and onwards of course from now – regular Gelatin. 

Another alternative is Locust Bean Gum.It might be the most expensive out of all gums. Whilst I have not personally tried or incorporating this in any margins – there is some concern on its prevention of mineral uptake; particularly Calcium, Zinc, and Iron. Not good news, but that study uses quite a high amounts (9g per every 1000 daily calories). The only way pragmatic advice if only readers were to accept it is to perhaps cycle it out inbetween other gums.

This leaves us only one last option. Be a (somewhat flexible) octo-vegetarian. If you can at least allow yourself seafood intakes – marine source of collagens are available, but are likely to be even more expensive. Expect to pay twice over beef or chicken sources premium labels. Good to know that collagens derived from Salmon at least – caused a favourable decrease of triglycerides in one rats study; despite having no differences to any other physiological or metabolic markers.

Gelatin: recipe, essentials and history

3/3 Gelatin or Collagen Hydrosylate / other alternatives?

Collagen hydrosylate is the more premium and upmarket term reserved amongst the much higher priced version of the same thing. Gelatin.  Think $40 upwards for only HALF a kilogram (454g to be precise). They claim and promise a much better solubility / mixability and quality of outcomes due to grass fed / grass finished sources. Of course, I would not deny nor refute these confident claims anyway as they are beyond my affordability range.

What about Glycine or Proline by themselves? Glycine by itself is in my opinion from affordability standpoint – not worth getting at in isolation. Unless if you know what you’re really looking for (do your own research beforehand), alongside with money to burn then go ahead. I consider Gelatin itself as as a unique, synergised group of amino-acids to be consumed as they are in whollistic form.

Much akin to BCAAs supplements – I would NEVER bother getting only Leucine. Or only IsoLeucine. Or only Valine. In isolation.

Many such chained amino acids – seemingly best to work together in natural synergy. Likewise I have been recently surprised – for finding out that even as simple Creatine Monohydrate itself – has plausibly been studied for leaky gut syndrome. Coincidentally its perfect make up of Glycine, Methionine and Arginine – proves it all succinctly.

Otherwise all we have left accessibility wise – is bone broths, and regular beef / chicken stocks. They DO have some of those constituents, but perhaps less so in concentrated amount. Considering that gelatin itself is a protein tissue, if you can actually chew the actual thing – then that wins my conviction as the more authentic go-to source. But I would still keep drinking the stocks warmed with ACV’s, nonetheless.

And There you have it. Another recipe article plus good amount of insight/s done and dusted. Many things demand personal exploration at your circumstances. By all means if you earn a comfortable expendable income – Collagen Hydrosylate should be ranked highly in your pantry.  Comment your thoughts below.
The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

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Welcome to The Guide series of blog posts; a repository guidance based on many year(s) from me since starting this initiative – on purchasing your foods sensibly.

The most relevant criterias surrounding the selection of these foods are (1) first and foremost – pragmatically accessible pricing; and (2) with the least heavy added industrial processing. Macros and ingredient profiles will obviously be discussed in detail.

A consistent disclaimer must however be adhered – such as that these are curated from my own observational and self-accounted experiences, which thus may not constitute a universally sound “buyers guide” to everyone’s minute expectations nor minute nutritional sensitivities or intolerances. As much as this initiative concerns upon the nutritional affordability costs in Australia (and potentially abroad); trade offs and sacrifices between industrially processed foods against the much more “bespoke” labels / quality wholefoods – are bound to overlap.

…And no, I am not paid nor sponsored by any brands or companies mentioned throughout the life of each and every one of these posts’ existence.

The Guide Attributes.

The first of this series revolves around soy sauces. Perhaps the most accessible condiment/s available for consumptive longevity next to condiment powders and sauce/s. Throughout my year(s) of my own accounts and nutritional journalling the following have made me convinced to be enlisted down to my shortlisted choices.

To be considered pragmatically sensible for human consumption – soy sauce should ideally possess the following attributes:

  1. Least amount of preservative.
  2. Cost per usages.
  3. Low carbohydrate friendly.

A 500ML bottle of soy sauce theoratically accomodate up to eighteen (18) meals alongside with meat-marinating duties (though of course dependant on personal taste and batch size required). Generally speaking (only under my experience and usage) – 25ML per any given meal as a condiment, and up to 40ML for a good 500g to 800g batch of meat protein batches – generally suffice for taste; with usual complementary additions of  peeled / crushed garlic and/or ginger powder to finish.

I have had some success in combining two or three drops of liquid stevia, alongside with natural peanut butter, ginger, turmeric, lime and  cayenne pepper (very small amount)  to produce low carb version of satay sauces.

However, I would suggest not to cook or overly heat the liquid stevia. Gently cook (covered) on a small stove top first. Then drop in no more than three on any finished dish. Mix and serve. Whilst soy sauce generally speaking are low in carbohydrates; beware that much cheaper, household brands you see around you be it from ALDI® or Fountain® – have hydrolysed proteins or worse – added fructose corn syrups. Even if you did buy one of these – the taste is somewhat “off”. As in just artificially “off”.  Avoid.


Kikkoman (regular/original soy sauce).

The best and most obviously – expensive. Full bodied without artificial sourness / aftertastes that many would find with faux / cheapened soy sauces from Fountain® brands.

I’ve grown accustomed upon trying a few soy sauces over the years and nothing quite come closely to the well known benchmark most people are familiar of. The Kikkoman. Posed in multiple varieties, from reduced salt to gluten free versions (look for the Organic Tamari version should you indeed have very noticeable gluten sensitivity, but beware of its highly inflated pricing) – there are further myriad of other versions which I am yet to sample – of which many of these can only be found within the big Asian groceries stores).

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

Unless if you can spend more $$$ one condiment after another – I would not recommend buying their “Teriyaki” marinade sauces (distinguishable by the newer label image print with orange ribbon).

In my opinion even in the context of carb re-feed days –  they (“The teriyaki range / orange ribbon”) taste somewhat too watered down, despite giving that familiarity of “teriyaki” palate. But to me and my own taste buds – they are still somewhat lacklustre. The 250ML bottle would have you guzzling it all over in no time. So don’t let the low carbs (<15g per 100g) fool you – you will be brainwashed to actually using it more blindingly.

My recommendation? Is to keep things clean, clear, slate. Buy the original if you can. Add ginger, lime and garlic separately with drops of stevia if you’d like things sweeter. Case closed.

Kikkoman® remains, in my opinion and experiences – assuredly the safest of all ingredient profiles. No benzoates, no potassium sorbates or added MSG analogues (#600s). The only thing that may be of concern is the natural preservative evidence of Alcohol, this is Nature’s effect and repercussion behind all process of fermentation and thus unavoidable. The Alcohol % are well below any standard drink concentration ranging anywhere between 4.9% to 7% by volume.

This is where it is at the most disadvantage. It may be prudent for one to consider purchasing a big bottle, however, it is such a hefty investment in one amount for such a condiment (anywhere between $8 to $10) – your purchasing opportunity towards other necessities such as proteins, fats or greens sources (especially during Keto/LC + IF days) are going to be severely limited.

Widely available. Interestingly also that you will find other varieties of Kikkoman (“Sukiyaki” and “Shoyu”) ONLY within Asian grocery stores that neither Coles or Woolies stock them. For one to consider a soy sauce without budget constraint or to think price tags don’t exist – this is a no brainer choice. Recommended.  The only downside is that I find smaller bottles almost unjustifiable for their high price tag, and thus would at least consider a 500ML a good starting off / prudent initial purchasing investment.

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce


Yamasa Japanese Style Soy Sauce

Second to the list is the Yamasa® branded Japanese style soy sauce. This is more or less from my witnessing experience gets slightly more chances of being rated / sold on specials.

Yamasa® assuredly again discloses no visible artificial additions. No benzoates, no potassium sorbates or added MSG analogues (#600s). Like Kikkoman® the only thing that may be of concern is the natural preservative evidence of Alcohol but this is again unavoidable and bound to occur as part of fermentation process. Get over it.

More accessible as it is priced slightly more frequented towards specials amongst large Asian grocer stores.

Now this is where it gets tricky – Coles and Woolies do not stock Yamasa® soy sauces. From my experience only Asian grocery stores do stock them , so some scouting around some suburban shop centres would be worth it.

The Guide: Choosing a Soy Sauce

3/3 Last but (dubious) choice for long term use.

Pearl River Light Soy Sauce

Note that there is another version which comes as “dark” or “mushroom flavoured sauces”. Beware that the dark / Mushroom flavoured version (indicated by gold foil print as opposed to silver) – do contains some carbs (3.2g total / 1.3g net carbs per 15ml). Hence why I recommend the “Light” soy sauce version. But an added caveat – within this a preservative Potassium Sorbate or coded as E202.

The “Light” version actually tastes remarkably pleasant and enjoyable enough to be used straight as is for dipping on salads, cauliflower rice or  premarinating the shaved / julliened daikon noodles on the stove.  My hunch suggest – people first and foremost likely associate their expectation of (any) soy sauce to taste sharp yet with a “clean” aftertaste. Hence the “Light” soy sauce are more likely, as I suspect – may serve as the better recommendation.  The “Dark” version on the other hand is more “weighty”, though others may consider it too “bean-ey” in flavour.

Left: Light Soy sauce. Right: dark mushroom flavoured soy sauce

Acccordingly to Wiki® – Potassium Sorbate (E202) is widely used to inhibit moulds and yeast overgrowth. Now whether that yeast is of “good” or “bad” variety remains an unanswered question. I’d wager that all “yeast”, whether “good” or “bad” should be allowed to naturally mature as is by the mercy of time. And thus let our sense of (smell) dictate whether it is still viable for consumption, should its expiry dates become close to concern. 

…That is only if of course – if you actually leave your soy sauce that long in the fridge.

Used on cheese and wine produce – some health concerns seem to emanate from E202’s genotoxicity in-vitro (isolated cell experiment). Such concerns start to emanate on intakes higher than what is thought as maximal (25mg per kilogram of human body weight). For a 65kg adult, that would translate to 1625mg. I am yet to experience any adverse effects from consuming it; either gently cooked or fresh straight on as is.  I do not think; we should all be concerned ever to reach that chronic amount of 1625mg.

Although to address all readers anxiety (as a pragmatic N=1 thought only)  – what would I do pragmatically then to counter the above fear/s, should I were to consume these additives regularly? Considering its effects presumably on the gut ecosystem (as would anything to do with yeast implications suggest)-  I would never neglect daily probiotic rich foods from full fat yoghurt, sauerkraut, and (this is something I must admit I lack) – Gelatin / collagen proteins. Additionally, heated beef / chicken stocks and broths mixed with warm Apple Cider Vinegar between meal/s (but WITHIN feeding window) would likely something to remain as long term practise within all Keto/LC+IF day/s.

Regularly witnessed pricing of $2.50 per 500ML would last you ages.

Widely available. From your nearest Asian shop groceries, IGAs to Woolies and Coles.

“But,but,but…what about salt intakes??”

(rolls eyes).

Marvel at this historical tradition:

” In the past, what was not consumed immediately was salted, wrapped in straw and stored in ceramic jars and crocks, or hung from kitchen rafters. The fatty parts of the flesh were turned into lard and stored in oil vessels known as anda-chibu, while the crispier residues were roasted, combined with vegetables and used for miso soup or in a pork miso dish known as anda-insu. Mixed with starch and salt, the blood made a tasty seasoning.”

Do  you know where these comes from? The Okinawan diet.

Yes, pork. Even snakes.  What a contradiction from mainstream journals.

Oh well, we’re not here trying to statistically coerce ourselves in a debate arguing what “healthy” means anyway.

Provided you have diligently provided yourself all micronutrient and mineral balance intakes from greens, Keto or not Keto,  – acquaint yourself with more pragmatic ‘science’:

  1. Before there was “medicine”. Salt was used in almost…anything. Even as monetary currency. So precious that nomadic tribes are willing to trade entire (animal) yaks.
  2. With little or no salt, humans would not have  had the means to cure or preserve meats for survival. Before we even have bacterial / nutritional yeast (as isolated ingredients) what else could we have used to preserve foods?
  3. With little or no salt, fermentation of almost anything carbohydrate would be next to impossible. That includes kimchis, cabbages, etc.


One thing for sure. What is food without salt?… Is food without taste. And no I wouldn’t skip the greens.

Be pragmatic. Salt to sufficient taste. End of story.


There you have it. Nice and simple post for a change. Obviously there are many, MANY other bottle brands that offers such claims as “NON-GMO” or “Organic Certified” labels, but the truth will always prevail on the ingredient list. Exercise your inquisitive sensibility. If the ingredients list more than one (1) synthetic number which you cannot ever pronounce in your head. Look elsewhere.