The Elements of a Healthy Diet

According to government guidelines, the average 180-pound man should consume about 2,160 calories daily, comprised of about:

125 to 160 grams of protein

less than 60 grams of fat

less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium

250 to 270 grams of carbohydrates

My health coach, Dr. Al Sears, recommends more protein and fewer carbs. For me, for example, he recommends at least 180 grams of protein and keeping my carbohydrates to about 50 percent of my daily calories (which would equate to less than the government’s guidelines).

Because carbs are the body’s main fuel source, Dr. Sears says that the amount you need depends on how many calories you burn. He tells me he’s seen athletes consume 5,000 calories a day and maintain 5 percent body fat because they burn off so many calories with their training.

The essential difference between the government’s recommendations and Dr. Sears’ is that he places more confidence in our prototypical norms than on current theories of nutrition.

“We are well-adapted to live on foods routinely available in our native environment,” Dr. Sears explains. “When we examine this diet, we find it to be higher in protein and fat and lower in carbs than our current modern diet. “For instance, we Americans get about 35 percent of our calories from fat, while surviving native hunter-gatherers average closer to 40 percent of their calories from fat. They also eat relatively more protein, at about 30 percent of calories versus our 16 percent.

“The thing we changed the most in the modern world? We dramatically increased our carbohydrate consumption from 31 percent to 49 percent of total intake. The sad fact is that following our government’s recommendation would worsen this most important deviation from our native diet. My theory is that this would further fuel the largest epidemic in human history – the current epidemic of obesity.”

Bottom line: To keep your weight down and your body healthy, eat “good” fats and lean protein, and decrease the amount of carbohydrates in your diet.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]