Protein Cycling Diet: 24

Low Protein Foods



Chapter 24
General recipes for low-protein food substitutes.

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Low Protein Foods

The food table presented in an earlier chapter guides us in planning our low protein meals. It should re readily apparent that meat, cheese, eggs, beans and milk are off the table so to speak. We instead concentrate on the calorie-dense low-protein items.

One goal of the protein cycling diet is to minimize the disruption to our normal eating patterns. Ideally just the protein portion of the diet is replaced by starch. To achieve this, we look for starchy substitutes for the high protein items in our diet. Of course the low calorie-dense items, fruits and vegetables, can be consumed in any quantity desired. Their bulk alone can make a low calorie meal satisfying. Watermelon works well for this purpose.

Starch is a polymer of glucose just as protein is a polymer of amino acids and they thus share some physical properties. Starch can be purchased in many forms, as cornstarch, tapioca, potato starch, manioc flour, sweet manioc starch, sour manioc starch, or arrowroot. They have minor differences in chain lengths and degree of branching, but all behave similarly and can be used to make substitutes for meat, cheese, eggs, bread and milk.

Or the starch can be in the food itself.. A meal of just rice or potatoes and vegetables can be quite satisfying when autophaging. After all, you are the entrée! Remember that if you autophage 20g of your own protein per day you also get 180 calories from the 20 grams of fat that accompany it and you will find that your hunger is easily satisfied. My experience has been that, if I feel hungry, anything I put in my stomach including water stops the sensation.

Finally if you have not already, you should discover cassava root (yuca, yucca) the third most common human calorie source76. Boiled it produces a very tasty vegetable similar to potato but with zero protein.

Now for some recipes. Since the goal of protein cycling is to be unobtrusive on your normal routines, so should be the recipes. For that reason they are presented in their most basic forms to be elaborated to your tastes.


You can thicken the fat or drippings from meat with starch to make a gravy. Eat over thin-sliced toast with mushrooms and onions. Save the meat for the next day and consider meat substitutes that have the mouth feel of meat without the protein.

Commercial gravies are available, some with protein and some with none. Check the label.

Microwaved frozen spinach flavored with any kind of vinegar provides a calorie and protein free dish with the warmth and chew of meat suitable even for ADCR. Other frozen green vegetables work too.

You can use the gravy from meat instead of vinegar with microwaved frozen spinach as well. It then has calories and can no longer be used for ADCR but is still suitable for protein cycling.

Black olives likewise can provide something of the texture of meat with the calories but none of the protein. Chopped olives can make a satisfying sandwich spread.

A microwaved slice of eggplant can fill a sandwich and give something of the shape and texture of alunch meat.


Cheese is very protein dense. A protein-free imitation of sliced cheese can be made by mixing cheese flavor powder (available in many flavors and forms on the Internet if not locally) with starch, a little oil and just enough water to make a fluid batter. Pour thin on a griddle and apply medium high heat. It will immediately set up and form a dry opaque or translucent top depending on the amount of oil. When the edges begin to curl up, flip it over. The revealed side may be somewhat gummy. Fold it so that the gummy side is on the inside and you have something with the shape, texture and taste of a slice of American cheese (yum!).


Egg yolk and egg white are both very high in protein. If egg is being used as a binder in a recipe, try starch instead and save the eggs for the next day.


Manioc flour is made from cassava (yuca) and is available in the Latin foods section of supermarkets or in tropical markets generally. Quick breads can be made from it that are virtually free of protein.

A flat bread called ‘casabe’ can be made as follows: Make a paste with a quarter cup of flour, a pinch of salt and about a half cup of water and immediately spread it to an 8 inch circle on a frying pan or griddle over a medium flame. When the edges brown, flip it and cook the other side for the same amount of time as the first side. The result will be a cassava tortilla that can be used like any other flat bread. If it turns out gummy, you have made it too thick, added too much water, not cooked it long enough or have waited too long between mixing and cooking. If you add other ingredients, the gelling of the starches may be disrupted and less water may then be needed.

A quick and dirty way to make casabe is to spread the dry flour in a fry pan and then spray with a water mist and heat. For my breakfast, I have a mix of equal parts oat bran and manioc flour with some salt and pepper. I wet a fry pan with a water sprayer and dust on a tablespoon of the mixture. I then spray it until it is thoroughly wet and then heat it until it is dry. The entire outer edge will curl up slightly as heat is applied. When this happens, the casabe releases from the pan and I flip it and turn off the heat. I then spread the casabe with apple butter and eat with tea. Tasty yet zero protein.

A leavened bread can be made with manioc flour by adding baking powder to the above mixture and baking instead of frying.

Wheat bread can be used if it is thin sliced and toasted to destroy its lysine as described in an earlier chapter. Dilute its protein calories further with butter and other no-protein spreads.


Milk is a mixture of cream (fat), lactose(sugar) and protein with significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, citrate, potassium, etc. It is often fortified with vitamin D.

A simple substitute is cream (not half and half) for coffee or tea. To get closer to milk, dilute with water and add starch, about 2 tbs per quart.

Rice milk is a protein free milk substitute now commonly available in supermarket; likewise coconut oil as a cream substitute.

Lacking protein, all these milk substitutes last longer in the refrigerator before souring or otherwise degrading.


Beans and peas are fairly high in protein and cannot be eaten in the protein restriction phase of protein cycling. If you need a substitute and have considerable imagination, you can substitute spheres of cassava starch called tapioca pearls. They are a staple of tropical cuisine and are available in a wide range of sizes and colors. When soaked or boiled, they absorb whatever fluid they are in and expand into somewhat transparent spheres. You may be familiar with them if you have ever had bubble tea.

All meals

The target of all your meals in the protein restriction phase of protein cycling should be 5% of calories from protein. Protein digestion is not 100% efficient and a meal that is nominally 6% or 7% likely would be sufficient.Unfortunately, short of biopsy, there is no direct test to know if autophagy isoccurringin the neurons and we are left with subjective measures. From my experience, if autophagy is happening, you will know it. I have gone for a week with virtually no protein.The sensations I got of calmness and tightness in the gut are the same sensations I get from a single day of calorie restriction. You might try a multiple day extreme no-protein fast yourself to determine your own sensations when autophagy is sure to be happening. After, if you feel those same sensations with a one day fast, you can have some confidence that your low protein meal is sufficiently low in protein.

We use a one day minimum for protein fasting in the protein cycling diet since that is what is used in the ADCR diet. There is positive data for that diet that a 24 hour fasting period is sufficient. However it has not been ruled out that some value less than 24 hours might work as well. 12 hours is obviously too little as that is the normal overnight interval but 18 hours might be enough, especially if you are on a low to moderate protein diet. If so, you could achieve protein cycling simply by skipping evening snacks and eating a low protein breakfast. Or you could extend a 24 hour protein fast to 32 hours in the same way. Experiment.

In protein cycling, the protein restriction phase is always followed by a non-restriction phase so that the cell proteins (and fats) lost by autophagy are replaced. Since Western industrial diets are already so high in protein, usually no special efforts are required for non-restricting meals though your overall protein consumption should at least meet the WHO recommendations of 140 to 280 grams per week for adults ranging from 100 to 200 lbs.

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