which are considered "incurable"; diabetes, buerger's disease, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis as well as gastrointestinal disorders. The diet is most commonly used for its purported weight loss benefits.
The book's publishers claim that two million people worldwide use the diet. In Poland there are approximately 30 health clinics and 300 doctors that practice according to the teachings of Kwasniewski. However, although this diet has been claimed to be very effective by various doctors and researchers, this has not been documented in any peer-reviewed journal.
Nature of the diet
The Optimal Diet has been used in Poland since the 1970s, but has gained a broader popularity the last decade with the publication of several books by Dr. Kwasniewski.
Kwasniewski has based his theories of ideal nutrition on animal experiments (feeding different proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates), religious and historical scriptures (such as the Bible), the diet of traditional people past and present, human biochemistry, the composition of human milk as well as decades of personal experience as a doctor.
The diet shares some characteristics with other popular low carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet. But it also implements ideas based on the diet of humans in the stone age, and several traditional diets. A main difference is that Kwasniewski's diet is higher in fats and lower in proteins.
Kwasniewski would claim that his diet is more fine tuned and sophisticated than other low carbohydrate diets, and therefore has a greater potential for success where others fail. Each of the macronutrients - proteins, fats and carbohydrates - should be consumed in an ideal quantity and they should be in the ideal balance with each other.
Another characteristic of the diet is its emphasis on food with the highest possible biological value, with ready-made "spare parts". For example, it is beneficial to eat animal fats instead of carbohydrates, because two thirds of the carbohydrates most people eat are converted to fats. Furthermore, animal fats are composed of a range of semi-essential fatty acids and other components not found in plant fats, therefore it is beneficial to eat animal fats instead of vegetable fats. Some foods, such as egg yolks and liver, are particularly rich in complex building blocks the body needs, and are therefore emphasized.
The diet does include only as much carbohydrates the body needs to function optimally, usually about 50-100 grams daily. Starchy carbohydrates (which are composed of glucose molecules) are preferred to fruit and milk carbohydrates (which are composed of fructose and galactose) as it saves the liver extra work.
All the extra effort the body saves in constructing complex building blocks, turn carbohydrates into fatty acids, or fruit carbohydrates into glucose, allows for energy to be spent doing tasks such as repairing the body or fighting off disease. Kwasniewski even claims that the follower of the Optimal Diet will develop a "correct brain function" and become a member of the human species with yet unknown and unfulfilled potential. This individual will be less driven by anxiety and insecurity, be more peaceful, have higher moral standards, but also be much more difficult for government, media and large corporations to control and deceive.
In his books, Kwasniewski discusses how various proportions between proteins, fats and carbohydrates impact human health. In his view a mixed diet which is composed of about 35-40% of energy as carbohydrates, is the worst of all diets because the body works best on either fats or carbohydrates. He believes that a high carbohydrate/low fat diet, such as the Japanese diet rich in seafood, rice and vegetables, can work quite all right, if sufficient animal proteins are provided to burn off all the carbohydrates.
Implementing the diet
When first implementing the diet, it is normal to start with a specific weight ratio of 1:2.5-3.5:0.8 between proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This works out to about 12% protein, 80% fat, and 8% carbohydrate in caloric percentages. People with ideal weight are advised to use a 1:3.5:0.8 weight ratio, while those that are overweight should use a 1:2.5:0.8 weight ratio.
The ideal quantity of proteins is typically 1 gram per kg "ideal body weight" (IBW). An indication of IBW can be found by subtracting 100 to oneâ€™s height in cm +/-10%. A 170 cm individual, requires approximately 70+/-7 g proteins. He or she would then need about 175-245 grams fats and 55 gram carbohydrates.
IBW is based mainly on body shape (skeleton), a slender 170 cm individual could require 63 grams of protein, while a stocky individual could require 77 grams. Only animal proteins are counted as "proteins".
It may be stressful to adjust from a high carbohydrate diet to a high fat diet, particularly for a diseased and aged individual. But Kwasniewski does not recommend the transition be done gradually. It usually takes about 2 weeks for the body to adjust to the diet. However, the time required for complete adaption, may be between 2 months and 2 years.
In cases of overweight, it is sometimes necessary to use even less fats and carbohydrates - a 1:1.5-2.0:0.5 weight ratio between proteins, fats and carbohydrates, the first 3-4 weeks, to encourage the body to start fat burning.
Long term phase
As an individual gets adapted to the diet and his health improves, it is recommended to reduce the intake of proteins and fats. The body now runs much more efficiently and requires less work for repairs and disease fighting. According to Kwasniewski, the energy requirement on the Optimal Diet is about 25-40% less than on the average diet.
The ratio on the long term phase is typically 0.8:2.0-2.5:0.8, although this varies with the individual.
In some cases, such as diabetes or liver diseases, proteins need to be reduced down to about 0.5 g/kg IBW. This is possible when using proteins sources such as egg yolks and organ meats exclusively.
The need for carbohydrates varies significantly from one individual to another. Some individuals with certain diseases should keep carbohydrates at 0.5 g /kg IBW for the rest of their lives, while others may require 1.2 g/kg IBW to function optimally. A state of ketosis is not recommended. Therefore it is advisable to increase carbohydrates to the point where no ketone bodies are present in the urine (this can be checked with a ketostix, which is available from drug stores).
Kwasniewski says up to 100 gram carbohydrates daily are okay. However, if more than 50 grams are used, it is very important to use mainly starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes and grains.
Note that it is very important to see the diet as a whole. Using only the suggested ratios without simultaneously adopting the proper food choices - e.g. animal proteins, mainly starchy carbohydrates and animal fats - may have deleterious long term effects. Foods of vegetable origin have a much lower bioavailabiliy and requires a lot of extra proteins, minerals and vitamins to be transformed into the building blocks the body needs.
Dietary choices and meals
Daily, the diet can typically include about 20-40 grams organ meats (liver, kidney, brain etc), 50-150 grams muscle meats, 4-8 egg yolks and 2-4 egg whites. Fatty cheeses, cream and marrow, provides some additional proteins. It is recommended to use pork meat instead of fish, chicken, lamb, beef or game, as pork is the animal closest to humans biochemically. To achieve an ideal balance between omega-3 and omega-6, it is important to choose animal foods from free range animals on their natural diet.
Recommended fats include butter, cream, lard and marrow. Other animal fats such as duck fat, goose fat or beef tallow are also considered good fats. Nuts, particularly hazelnuts, and oils from palm, palm kernel, olive and coconut can be included in small quantities.
For carbohydrates, potatoes and vegetables are recommended. They can be supplied with small quantities of grains, berries and fruits. Kwasniewski claims that more than 300 grams of vegetables daily are unnecessary.
Salt should be strictly reduced on this diet.
Most people start off with three meals per day â€“ breakfast, lunch and dinner. But after some time on the diet, they usually skip the lunch and eat only breakfast and dinner. Because the diet is low in fiber and carbohydrates and high in fats, it is possible to eat large quantities of calories at one meal. As fat is more slowly absorbed than carbohydrates and does not influence blood sugar levels, the feeling of hunger is significantly reduced, even after many hours without food. In fact, some people eat only one meal per day on this diet.
The proportions between proteins, fats and carbohydrates may differ from one meal to another, but it is recommended that the proper proportions be consumed within a 24-hour period.
Some people prefer to eat the majority of their carbohydrates for dinner, while others prefer to eat their carbohydrates alone as an evening snack (e.g. a bowl of soup with potatoes).
It is common to eat an egg yolk rich omelette fried in lard for breakfast, often accompanied with a low carbohydrate bread (made out of egg whites and hazelnuts, or eggs, flour and butter). Sausages, patÃªs (containing liver and other organ meats), bacon, a piece of butter plus some vegetables may be added. For dinner, a soup made out of bones and marrow, can be served as the first course, while the main course may consist of meat, a gravy rich in fats, plus potatoes and vegetables. Kwasniewski recommend about 100 grams meat per day, and one serving of organ meats per week. When suffering from certain diseases, two or three servings of organ meats are sometimes advised.
Below is a breakdown of the typical average consumption of various foods on The Optimal Diet. Kwasniewski does not give any detailed recommendations for the exact quantity of various food items. However, when following the recipes given in his books, the daily consumption may be similar to what is listed below.
Sample for the initial phase for a 175 cm individual with an ideal body weight of 70 kg:
6-8 egg yolks, 4 egg whites, 30 g organ meats, 100 g meat, 15 g cheese, 100 g full fat cream, 50 g butter, 50 g lard, 30 g bone marrow, 15 g hazelnuts, 150 g potatoes, 1-2 slices of bread/25 g flour, 150 g low carbohydrate vegetables and 2 cups bone stock.
Proteins 70 g, fats 210 g, carbohydrates 55 g. Ratio = 1:3.0:0.8. Energy = approx 2400 kcal.
Sample for the long term phase for a 175 cm individual with an ideal body weight of 70 kg:
4 egg yolks, 2 egg whites, 25 g organ meats, 100 g meat, 15 g cheese, 100 ml full fat cream, 30 g butter, 30 g lard, 15 g bone marrow, 15 g hazelnuts, 150 g potatoes, 1-2 slices of bread/ 25 g flour, 150 g low carbohydrate vegetables and 1 cup bone stock.
Proteins 55 g, fats 140 g, carbohydrates 55 g. Ratio: 0.8:2.0:0.8. Energy = approx 1700 kcal.
Kwasniewski believes that The Optimal Diet is the best possible dietary model for the human being and therefore simply following the diet will by itself offer the best possible chance for the body to heal any disease. The philosophy of The Optimal Diet is to give the body the right nutrients and in the right proportions, and then let the body distribute them as necessary. The exact need for proteins, fats and carbohydrates, may differ somewhat from one disease to another, however.
Diabetics on insulin, for example, need to follow a specific preliminary protocol when implementing the diet. They may also need to permanently keep carbohydrate consumption lower than others following the Optimal Diet. People with liver problems need to reduce proteins significantly.
Sometimes special foods that provide "spare parts" connected with a diseased organ, are recommended. People with multiple sclerosis may be recommended to eat brains several times per week, while those with osteoporosis need larger quantities of bone stocks.
Religious and philosophical aspects
In some of Dr. Kwasniewskiâ€™s books, certain religious and philosophical ideas are presented.
In the book Homo Optimus, for example, Kwasniewski suggests that adherents of the Optimal Diet, will be superior to other humans and have "correct brain function". They will have higher moral capabilities, be peaceful, never get divorced and so forth.
People on unhealthy carbohydrate rich diets, however, tend to literally have more sheep-like personalities due to a dominance of the parasymphathetic nervous system. They will be driven by anxiety and insecurity. Dr. Kwasniewski believes these people are more easily controlled and deceived by the government, media and large corporations. He uses several examples from the Bible to back up his ideas.
He also offers speculative ideas of how to change and construct an ideal model of society in line with some of the principles of the Optimal Diet.
Criticism and discussion
As with other low carbohydrate diets, this diet has been criticized. It is based on assumptions that are widely disputed by mainstream medicine.
There are several anecdotal reports of the efficacy of the diet, for example, Dr. Przemyslaw Pala has written that:
Over the period of 5 years I have analyzed more than 6000 cases of patients who adopted the ON. Not a single one of them showed a negative effect in their health, but most had a significant improvement or a complete recovery from their disease including those, which up to now are considered incurable. For diabetes type1 of a reasonably short duration, abatement of symptoms occurs in a matter of a few days, or up to 2-3 weeks in 100% of cases. For a complicated, long-duration diabetes type1 and type 2, the â€œcureâ€ rate is close to 90%, and in the remaining 10% of cases significant improvement is achieved between 3 weeks and 3 months for most patients. Asthma in children is normally cured only within 7 days, and in adults within 2 weeks. Rapid improvements are observed in patients with Buergerâ€™s disease or atherosclerosis of lower limbs, with some showing up to 500% increase in the distance of lameness within 2 weeks of starting ON. The most rapid improvements are achieved in digestive tract ailments; there have been many cases of a â€œcureâ€ or a significant improvement in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
Kwasniewski has also undertaken studies showing the efficacy of the diet together with electromedicine, at a health clinic in Poland.
However, no studies or reports have yet been published in any peer reviewed journal, so these reports have a very limited value.
On the other hand, the diet has been severely criticized by several professors and doctors in Poland.
Kwasniewski has published nine books in Polish. Some of these books have been translated into German and Russian, and two books, Homo Optimus (2000) and Optimal Nutrition (1999), have been translated into English.