Monday, November 25, 2013

Dried mussels: A little plate with 160 g of protein (plus some comments on high-protein low-carbohydrate dieting)

Many hunter-gatherer groups employed various methods of drying to preserve meats. Drying also increases significantly the protein content of meats; this is the case with dried mussels. I discussed this effect of drying before here with respect to small fish (). The photo below is of a plate with about 240 g of dried mussels that I prepared using the simple recipe below.

To prepare your mussels as in the photo above, you will have to steam and then dry them. You can season the mussels after you steam them, but I rarely season mine. Almost none of the food I eat requires much seasoning anyway, because I use nature’s super-spice, which makes everything that has a high nutrient content taste delicious: hunger ().

- Steam the mussels for about 10 minutes, or until all are open.
- Remove the mussels from the shells; carefully, to avoid small shell pieces from coming off into the mussels (they are not kind to your teeth).
- Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the mussels in it (on a tray) for about 1 hour.
- Leave the mussels in the oven until they are cold, this will dry them further.

About 240 g of mussels, after drying, will yield a meal with a bit more than 160 g of protein – i.e., the proportion of protein will go from about 20 percent up to about 67 percent. In this case, most of the calories in the meal will come from the protein, if you had nothing else with it, adding up to less than 800 calories.

This comes in handy if you need to have lunch out, as the dried mussels can be carried in a plastic bag or container and eaten cold or after a light re-heating in a microwave. To me, they taste very good either way; but then again anything that is nutritious tends to taste very good when you are hungry, and I rarely have breakfast. I often eat them with pre-cooked sweet potato, which I eat with the skin (it tastes like candy).

You may want to think of dried mussels prepared in this way as a protein supplement, but a very nutritious one. You will be getting a large dose of omega-3 fats (3.11 g) with less omega-6 fats than you usually get through fish oil softgels (where n-6s are added for stability), about 1,224 percent of the recommended daily value (RDV) of magnesium, 461 percent of the RDV of selenium, 1,440 of the RDV of vitamin B12, a large dose of zinc, and (interestingly) almost 100 percent of the RDV of vitamin C.

Since mussels are very low in the food chain, accumulation of compounds that can be toxic to humans is not amplified by biomagnification (). But, still, mussels can be significantly affected by contaminants (e.g., petroleum hydrocarbons), so sourcing is important. The supermarket chain I use here in Texas, HEB, claims to do very careful sourcing. Telltale signs of contamination are developmental problems such as thin shells that shatter easily and stunted growth ().

For those readers who are on a low-carbohydrate diet, please pay attention to this: there is NO WAY your body will turn protein into fat if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, unless you have a serious metabolic disorder (see this post: , and this podcast: ). And I mean SERIOUS; probably way beyond prediabetes. Do not believe the nonsense that has been circulating in some areas of the blogosphere lately.

A high-protein low-carbohydrate diet is one of the most effective diets at reducing body fat, particularly if you do resistance exercise (and you do not have to do it like a bodybuilder). That is not to say that a high-fat low-protein diet (like the "optimal diet") is a bad idea; in fact, the optimal diet is a good option if you do not do resistance exercise, but that is a topic for a different post.


Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn said...

Hey Ned. Thanks for the blog post! The references/links seem to be missing. What I see is this:

"there is NO WAY your body will turn protein into fat if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, unless you have a serious metabolic disorder (see this post: , and this podcast: ). "

Is that what you see? I'm learning about protein intake and metabolism recently, so I'd be interested in those links.

john said...

What was the weight before drying?

johnnyv said...

Weight before drying.
67%/20% = 3.35 x 240g = 804g approx.

Ned Kock said...

The comment below apparently didn't make it through. I'll address it shortly.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Dried mussels: A little plate with 160 g of protei...":

@ zooko,

I guess you never heard of gluconeogenesis. The body can turn protein into glucose through this process, I don't think I need to tell you about how easy the body can store glucose as fat.

Ned Kock said...

Thanks johnnyv.

Ned Kock said...

The protein > fat path via gluconeogenesis is where much of the confusion lies. In LC the hormonal mix is such that it prevents the sugar derived from protein from being stored in fat cells. The fate of that sugar is to become glycogen in the liver. The hormonal mix that I am referring to includes two key hormones: insulin and glucagon.

L. Amber Wilcox-O'Hearn said...

The literature simply does not support the idea that protein just gets turned immediately into glucose. The evidence points to gluconeogenesis being driven by demand for glucose, not supply of protein. Zooko and I have written a series of posts examining this issue. See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Ned Kock said...

Hi Zooko. I think most people can see the numbers and access the links. In any case, here are the two links:

js290 said...

According to Dr. Rosedale, the problem with high protein diets is the metabolic cost of deanimation and the stimulation of mTOR.

Conversion and storage of fat seems to be misguided. The real problem is the inability to effectively use fat as fuel.

Ned Kock said...

Hi js290. The fact that protein is a “jack of all trades”, so to speak, leads to a reduction in its caloric value (bringing it below the 4 cal/g normally cited), which is a less jargon-heavy way of saying that its metabolic cost is higher than those of carbohydrates, fat, and alcohol.

And this is particularly so in LC, because the requirement of maintaining a steady supply of glucose to the brain tramps almost everything else (meaning that liver glycogen must be replenished at all costs). So protein is definitely used to replenish the liver glycogen tank.

A good chunk of all protein ingested (about 25 percent) is used to fulfill “splanchnic” purposes, such as replenishing the body’s albumin pool. This seems to be a high priority for the body as well. Without albumin, free fat acids cannot be transported to be used as a source of energy (they are not that “free” after all).

We could safely say that protein is necessary for fat burning.

Suppression of fat mobilization after protein ingestion is nowhere near that observed after ingestion of carbohydrates, because protein ingestion stimulates a hormonal mix that is very different from that stimulated by ingestion of carbohydrates.

Interestingly, even though protein is used to replenish sugar reserves in the liver, blood glucose levels normally remain stable or go down slightly after protein ingestion. Most people experience this effect. Actually, protein seems to exert this effect even when carbohydrates are also ingested.

The net result is that the insulin elevation in response to protein ingestion has a minimal effect on fat mobilization.

L. Amber Wilcox-O'Hearn said...

Except that's not true in keto dieters (or in type 2 diabetics), where blood sugar actually goes up in response to eating protein! However, it still doesn't imply that GNG is stimulated. It's detailed in part 3 above.

David Isaak said...

Speaking of sweet potatoes, have you had the Stokes Purples? Lovely. The best ones are about the color of a good Bordeaux and utterly delicious.

Here in SoCal they carry them in Sprouts markets. I've started growing them in my garden.


Jack C said...

Great post Ned

Ned Kock said...

Hi David. I think I ate that purple flesh variety in Asia, but I don’t remember where – probably Japan. Here I usually find orange flesh sweet potatoes.

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Nonsensical spam attack; five within a short time of one another! All deleted.

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