B. Safe Carbs

I’m excited to share with you how to get into a FLOW with Safe Carbs:

  • With eating Safe Starches that allow you to feel yummy & comforted...while helping you to burn fat & have good energy…

  • Plus how to strategically plan your Veggies to get max Veggie Power benefits…

  • And how to enjoy Fruit too…

In this fabulous Safe Carb module. Let’s get started with this yummy Macronutrient...

Our natural appetite for Carbs:

Carbohydrates are the least satisfying nutrient (meaning if you eat a bunch of them, you’ll still feel hungry)…

However, carbohydrates may be the most emotionally satisfying & comforting nutrient instead! Potentially because the Jaminets suppose that as Paleo peeps, we had to put extra work into finding them & digging them up--we have a built-in reward system for them.


Reward system…

The thing is though—Carbs have been demonized as of late with the rise in popularity of Keto, or fat-focused, diets as a purported way to lose weight.

The thing is—going Too Low Carb is very stressful on your body.

We need Carbs—the right kind of Carbs—to fuel our brain, give out muscles energy, repair our joints & gut lining, and help create good daily cortisol rhythms...

So that we can burn fat, sleep well and feel GOOD in our body, mind & spirit.


Why we NEED Carbs

In a fantastic article for the Weston A. Price Foundation, Dr. Chris Masterjohn details that our bodies break down Carbs:

“...into two-carbon units known as acetyl groups that then enter the pathways we use to break them down fully into the carbon dioxide that we exhale and the hydrogen ions and high-energy electrons that we use to synthesize ATP.”

And this process helps bring oxygen to our cells and tissues…and it provides ATP energy, even when there isn’t oxygen available (like during anaerobic exercise), which makes Carbs more valuable for athletic performance, than good fats.

Eating Carbs/glucose (instead of relying on the process of glycogenesis) helps keep cortisol levels from spiking and helps our thyroids function optimally, as well.

Plus, there are many valuable Micronutrients founding Good Starches, Veggies & Fruit…that you just can’t get by skipping them and focusing on loading up on Fats. These Micronutrients are essential to supporting all of the body processes you need to thrive.

And timing your Carbs over the course of the day can help you feel energized during the morning & afternoon…and help you sleep well at night, too.

All good things, right?


Our Paleo genetic expectations

So here’s the thing that we can learn from our Paleo ancestry/current biology—we’re built for Carbs--including daily servings of Fruit, plenty of Veggies--plus a whole category of Carbs called Safe Starches that are both super emotionally satisfying AND they help build strong digestion, tendon & joint health & solid energy, too! 

When it comes to Starchy Carbs--as Paleo people, we mainly ate tubers and starchy roots…and we did eat them consistently! So we do have a natural craving for Carbs, that gets strongly rewarded by *pleasure* when we eat them (bc of that extra work of finding them & digging them up).

And there was a big variety in how much Safe Carbs people ate, in different Paleo cultures around the world, suggesting that we too can function on a variety of different Carb intakes.

Carbs...and feeling rewarded by eating them...is in our cellular biology. And there is absolutely no need to give them--you just may have to change up the type of Carbs you're getting your comfort from.

Since processed foods contain ingredients that can cause inflammation, leaky gut & fatigue…

It’s truly powerful to get into a FLOW with making your own Whole Food Safe Carbs…that:

  • help boost your serotonin & manage your daily cortisol flow & your ability to deal with stress
  • strengthen & repair your Gut Lining
  • maintain & repair your Joints
  • give you good Energia...especially energy for Athletic activity & your Brain

Safe Starches (and fruit & veggies) are the second thing to plan with your Daily meals:

—making sure you’re getting enough protein each meal (and optimizing your Omega-3 & 6 intake with the Protein that you choose…plus getting in essential micronutrients with liver, collagen/glycine, egg yolks, shellfish & the like!)


—AND, in this module we'll also delve into how to ENJOY & optimize your Fruit, Veggies & Safe Starches (and making your Safe Starches even stronger by creating Resistant Starch, too!)

Yay...yumminess, comfort & ALL of the benefits listed above.

the PHD plan, shared from perfecthealthdiet.com

Here's a brief overview of the 3 types of Carbs you want to eat & plan:

1. Watery Veggies.

And you don't really need to track them--although I do recommend eating a serving of a variety of raw or gently cooked Veggies with each meal--to get micronutrients like potassium...fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria (who in turn make vitamins for us!)...and to nourish your methylation (cellular energy & detoxification) system with each meal (hello folate).

Veggies are basically "free" and you don't have to count them in your Safe Starches category. They're their own thing--and you can eat them *to taste* with meals.

Ideally you would want to go for eating 3 - 6 cups of dark green vegetables a day…as steamed/water-sautéed OR raw…

With each meal this would look like a half-moon of Veggies on your plate.

Bitter watery veggies (like asparagus, kale, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, arugula and many more) are also really great for stimulating bile flow too, and helping to improve your digestion.

The Dr. Jaminet's recommendation is to eat up to 1 pound of fresh veggies every day…and NOT add any additional fiber like fiber supplements or stuff like that (we don’t want to over-feed the bad bacteria in our guts with fiber supplements…you can get what you need from water sautéed, steamed or raw/fresh veggies :))

Plus, 1 - 2 tablespoons of fermented veggies (like sauerkraut) can be powerful for building good gut flora & aiding with digestion.


2. Fruit & Sugary Veggies

In The Perfect Health Diet, the Drs. Jaminet share that Fruit & Sugary Veggies get their own 1 pound a day allotment--yumm! You want to mix & match all kinds of fruit with sugary veggies (like carrots & beets) to achieve that 1 pound a day allotment. 

This allows you to optimize your Fructose consumption—which actually helps protect and manage blood glucose levels—having this controlled amount of Fructose each day.

Fruit can be eaten as a snack or with meals...and it's fabulous that a little fruit goes a long way in helping to manage good blood glucose levels.

Dr. Paul Jaminet writes on their blog that:

"Fruit has a low glycemic load even when eaten alone, thanks to its fructose content...fruit can be eaten any time."


3. Safe Starches

And last but not least—you want to go for eating 1 pound a day of Safe Starches...and "cycling" the amount you eat over the course of a day (to strengthen your daily cortisol rhythm & support your adrenal health):

Essentially you would have 1/4 cup of Safe Starches at Breakfast…

1/2 cup of Safe Starches at Lunch…

and 3/4 cup of Safe Starches at Dinner.

Super yumm AND satisfying!


But wait...aren't Carbs "bad"?...

Here’s the thing with Carbs & their recent “demonization” with the rise in popularity of Keto pop diets…

A lot of people think that a “Very Low Carb” Diet is the ideal way to lose weight—but in fact this has been shown to raise glucose levels, and deplete the mucus systems in your body—causing gut inflammation, dry eyes…and ligament & joint weakness too.

Our bodies are optimized for these Safe Starches—and eating them actually helps us feel emotionally-satisfied and cellularly nourished.

Plus, there’s a way to turn these Safe Starches—like white rice, sprouted lentils, yams & sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro, plantains—into Gut/Micronutrient powerhouse foods, by creating Resistant Starch...

And resistant starch creation, gentle cooking methods + methods to combine Safe Starches with other foods ALL help manage blood glucose levels too (more details as we go).

We do well with a Range of Carb Intakes

With our Paleo ancestry, different groups of people ate different amounts of Carbs…proving that we too can thrive on a variety of intakes of daily Carbs…

It is important to plan the level of Carbohydrate that works best with any health conditions you may be experiencing, too….and please work with a medical doctor if you have diabetes or a brain condition that would warrant lower Carb intakes—that is beyond the scope of this guide.

I will just mention here though that Dr. Paul Jaimnet recommends eating 30% or potentially a little less, if you’re managing diabetes (more info here).

Well-Rounded Macros for Energy:

30% Safe Carbs:

If you’re following the more well-rounded Macros for longevity, fertility, losing weight while building muscle…then the Perfect Health Diet outlines how to easily achieve 30% Safe Carbs (as a baseline amount) on daily basis...

In summary, each day you want to plan to eat:

PHD calls for 1 pound of starches (preferably tubers, white rice is also good), 1 pound of sweet plants that mixes & matches fruit and sugary veggies, and 1 pound of watery vegetables:

  • About 3 pounds of plant foods per day, including:
  • About 1 pound of safe starches, such as white rice, sprouted lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains and taro;
  • About 1 pound of sugary in-ground vegetables (such as beets or carrots), fruits, and berries;
  • Low-calorie vegetables to taste, including fermented veggies and green leafy veggies. Ideally go for 3 - 6 cups steamed/water-sautéed OR raw a day.



This ends up being a little more than 150 grams of Carbs—which does equal out to 30% Carbs on a 2,000 calorie diet, just so that you can see this math fleshed out. And I’ll share more below about why Drs. Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet explain in their book The Perfect Health Diet, that this amount does match the body’s uses for Glucose too.

Ok, so this is not a “Low Carb” diet as it’s traditionally defined…because the Perfect Health Diet encourages you eat a pound of Safe Starches (plus fruit & sugary veggies like carrots) a day. So I would call it a “Moderate Carb” diet. Compared to the American SAD diet, it’s still pretty low-carb…but compared to Keto & Low-Carb definitions…it is certainly Moderate Carb, and delicious! 🙂

Ok, now that we have the classification/naming labels out of the way…here’s the thing:

A Moderate Carb diet is one in which the body:

--doesn’t need to make more glucose from protein…

--and doesn’t need to store excess glucose as fat.


Dr. J calculated the body’s optimal glucose needs by measuring what the body creates during fasting (so smart, right?)…and you can get to a very similar number by totaling the body’s uses for glucose (so cool) and that equals out to 160g or 640 calories per day.

Mitochondria prefer to burn Fat, except in certain special cells and certain circumstances:

—Glucose as a fuel is used by the brain, so eating starchy carbs can really help your brain and alleviate depression, too. The brain uses a mix of glucose and ketone bodies.

—Glucose is used heavily during endurance exercise. So if you want to have the ENERGY you need to exercise (and get into a FLOW with your workouts)…you want to eat your Safe Starches! 🙂

—Also, if you have certain infections, you may need extra glucose to FUEL the killing cells in your immune system.

"Cutting Carbs" for Weightloss? Nope

Plus, I did mention how exciting it is that Safe Starches are *essential* for protecting & nurturing your *Gut Health* too:

And you might assume, because of the popularity of “low carb” diets…that you would need to Cut Carbs in order to lose wight…and that's not actually true. Yes, you want to cut out *empty carbs*…or foods that have little nutrient content, or are high in substances that are toxic to the body (i.e. grains, added sugar, etc…)

But your Brain…and your Gut...need Safe Starches. Dr Jaminet has found compelling data that suggests:

“a ketogenic diet [without Safe Starches] is more likely to cause autoimmune disease than cure it, due to the depletion of the mucus layer of the intestine, which puts bacteria directly into contact with immune cells.(Carbohydrates are necessary to maintain this protective mucus layer.) For example, there's a theory that connects a bacterial infection with a low carb-diet and high mammalian meat consumption, leading to Hashimoto’s.”

*more here about how to use a Ketogenic version of the PHD diet to help with brain & autoimmune conditions (keto + safe starches, yumm)

Narrowly defined “Low carb” diets can give short-term Weightloss benefits…and be therapeutic for epilepsy and brain cancer…but again your Brain, your Gut Health, your Mucus systems & Joints…and having great energy…all rely on the glucose & fabulous Resistant Starch found in Safe Starches/Carbs….

So Moderate Carb for the delicious win!

And the well-rounded Longevity, Fertility & Losing weight while building muscle recommendation for Safe Carbs is essentially 30% of your daily calories…

Cut Plant TOXINS, instead

What you do want to cut though are the things that your body treats as TOXINS...essentially Plant Toxins. As Dr. Paul Jaminet contends that it's *plant toxins* that make us fat...not different percentages of macronutrients.

In his post "Why We Get Fat," he writes:

"Certain toxic foods seem to be very effective at causing obesity:  vegetable oils, fructose, and wheat.

Along with malnourishment (for instance, by choline deficiency) and infectious disease, food toxins are why we get fat.

The first step in any weight loss effort, therefore, ought to be removal of these toxic foods from the diet. Removing these toxins may not cure obesity; but without this step a cure is unlikely."

If you are already Very Lean (you don't want to lose weight) and instead build muscle & get into a consistent FLOW with working out:

Why you would want to eat Higher Carb...if you're already Lean:

So if you currently don’t want to lose weight and are already Very Lean (which if you do, I would work on helping this first with key micronutrients & eating moderate Safe Carb (see above))…AND you're looking to have solid energy with Lifting Weights…then I do recommend not fearing the Carbs & getting into the moderate (and potentially higher) daily amounts to have good energy.

I'll share a bit more as to WHY...

Eating higher Carb/Lower Fat can support increased athletic activity…and help you build muscle when you are already very lean.

Dr. Chris Masterjohn estimated the body’s uses for glucose a little lower than the Drs. Jaminet…

Dr. Chris Masterjohn writes, in “Why We Need Carbs:”

“Carbohydrate demand is going to vary from person to person and is going to depend on physical activity level, but we can derive some general guidelines. The liver stores about 90 grams of carbohydrate, skeletal muscle stores 300 grams, and bodily fluids contain 30 grams. A completely sedentary person will primarily be tapping into the liver’s glycogen stores in order to stabilize blood sugar between meals. In the absence of physical activity, then, it makes sense to use about 100 grams per day as an initial target.

Someone whose physical activity is no more intense than walking is unlikely to begin tapping into their muscular glycogen supply. Greater intensities, however, such as running or weight lifting, will do so. It is almost impossible for someone to more than guestimate how much muscular glycogen they would burn through with any particular physical activity pattern, but it is reasonable to say that a very active person could add another 300 grams of carbohydrate on top of the initial 100 grams. In fact, the primary metabolic consequence of consuming 500 grams of carbohydrate in an otherwise healthy person, regardless of physical activity, is to shift that person’s metabolism almost entirely toward burning carbohydrate for energy.”

According to Dr. Chris Masterjohn, you would want to experiment and try adding 100 calories a day in Safe Carbs to the baseline (see graph above)…

And Jason Ferruggia suggests adding more protein first (until you max out at the upper recommended amount (more info in the Protein module)...and then add 2g to start, up to 3g, of Safe Carbs/per pound of bodyweight...and then if you max that out, add additional Good Fats after that.

What does "Safe Carbs" mean exactly?

So at this point you may be wondering about the use of the words “Safe Carbs.” This is a term that the Drs. Jaminets coined to describe *Carbs that don’t hurt your digestion*...

And instead *improve your digestion.*


Safe Carbs are essentially….Gut-friendly Carbs. And these include ones that don’t have added sugars as well.

There’s no need to give up the Comfort and Pleasure that eating Un-Safe Carbs like wheat, corn, grains (white rice is good, as a standout grain exception) give you…

when you can experience Comfort, Pleasure, Satisfaction…and help build healthy Gut Flora and a strong Gut Lining…from Safe Starches instead.

Satisfaction, Comfort…PLUS good digestion/improved absorption of what you eat. Feeling good, feeling happier, feeling more energized.

You just need to Trade Up the foods that you’re getting your pleasure & satisfaction from…and there are certainly ways to make them convenient too! 


Safe Carbs = Plants!

  • Safe Starches
  • Fruit (and sugary veggies)
  • Veggies

Let’s talk about how much…hand how to optimize your best choices with each of these categories! 🙂

Let’s talk Veggies first—bc they're the simplest to put into action, for sure.