In this article I’ll tell you about my six-week long experience of doing the Ultramind diet. I’ll tell you about the results it gave me, as well as my conclusion and some takeaways both from the diet and the book.
The conditions of this diet (from the book The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman) prohibited me from eating:
- – Gluten
- – Dairy products
- – Sugar (such as candy, sweets, cookies, cakes etc).
- – Coffee and caffeine mostly (Green tea allowed at most twice daily)
- – Trans-fats (pretty much anything that says “hydrogenated” in the label).
- – Processed foods
-I was supposed to stay away from alcohol by the book, but I modified it to not drinking any alcoholic beverages containing gluten. That limited me to drinking beverages such as tequila, wine and rum. And I only drank moderately 3 times.
Since I went all out for this diet I ate 5-6 meals a day during these six weeks and stopped my habit of doing intermittent fasting and only eating 1-2 times per day (if at all).
It’s Hard Not to Eat Gluten
Beceause you always run the risk of consuming a cross-contaminated product, but I think the chances were minimal for that to happen given what I ate.
I stayed away from beer as most of it is brewed from non-whole grains such as wheat or barley and thus contain gluten. In any way beer contains a lot of calories and empty carbs, so it’s a lose-lose situation in the first place – one that I usually avoid.
What I did eat was whole grains (mostly brown rice and quinoa), eggs, soy and almond milk, meat (preferably grass-fed organic), a lot of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, almond & coconut butter.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale.
A gluten-free diet allows for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and many dairy products. The diet allows rice, corn, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff, Montina and nut flours and prohibits the ingestion of wheat, barley, rye and related components, including triticale, durum, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, malt, malt flavouring or malt vinegar.”
Special care is necessary when checking product ingredient lists since gluten comes in many forms: vegetable proteins and starch, modified food starch (when derived from wheat instead of maize), malt flavoring, including maltodextrine, dextrine, unless specifically labeled as corn malt. Many ingredients contain wheat or barley derivatives. However, dextrose is gluten free since it is highly modified, no matter what the source.
–Wikipedia, gluten-free diet
I stayed away from oats as well just to be sure. While oat doesn’t pose any threat to a person who is gluten-sensitive, it is dangerous to a person who is gluten-allergic.
This is due to the protein avenin, which oats contain, that has been found to give very similar allergic reactions (such as inflammation, runny nose etc) to gluten.
In either way I wanted to be absolutely sure not to consume any gluten – and it was pretty damn hard at times!
Supplementation & Meal Plan
Here is what I supplemented with:
– Vitamin B6, 75 mg (pyridoxine HCL), B12, 150mcg (cyanocobalamin) and folate, 800 mcg (folic acid). Once in the morning.
– Selenium. 200 mcg twice daily. Once at breakfast and once at dinner.
– Magnesium. 250 mg twice daily. Once at breakfast and once at dinner.
– Zinc. 30 mcg (Zinc citrate) twice daily. Once in the morning and once by dinner. (Don’t get
– Vitamin D. At first I took 2000 IU per recommended in the book. Then I realized I was slightly deficient in it and upped the dosage to 7000 IU/day taken in the morning. (To not cause sleeping problems)
– Omega 3 fish oil. 1 g omega 3 (EPA + DHA) per capsule. I take 2-3 per day with meals.
– Glutamin. Around 2.5-5g doses once or twice a day. Good for the stomach and for recovering from workouts.
– Milk Thistle. 150 mg once per day.
– Norwegian kelp. Taken once per day (455 mcg of iodine).
– Maca with ginseng (not required by the book) I might add that I felt nothing special from religiously taking 3 pills of maca & ginseng per day for 30 days.
– Melatonin. 1 mg for sleep. I took 1-2 pills about twice a week 1-2 hours prior to sleep due to living in an environment with absolutely terrible sleep conditions and it was helpful.
The two picture in the top of the post show all the supplements I used (except the melatonin) and also my daily breakfast/morning dosage.
I had at least one protein shake per day, usually two. It’s bothersome to get up to 5-6 meals a day without it.
(Yeah, I did all of this stuff every day for six weeks. You may want to enlarge the picture.)
Symptoms that Appeared or Went Away
- My breathing has become slightly better, especially through the nostrils. After reintroducing gluten back into my diet for 6 days (I ate it at least 3 times per day) I found that gluten makes me really slow while I digest it, almost a comatose condition, and my breathing gets worse. This was probably the most positive effect.
- I had less mood swings. I experienced a more stable emotional baseline and it made me feel more even-keeled. This, as well as the improved breathing, are probably the two biggest positive changes that I have experienced by reading and applying all of this stuff.
- More on gluten; I actually got sick with a cold on my fourth day of reintroducing gluten into my diet again once I had finished the six-week diet. While I can’t attribute the cold solely to eating gluten, I do believe it played a significant part in it. It probably gave rise to inflammation and reduced the extent to which my immune system could function properly. (remember – around 70% of the immune system is located in the gut)
- My muscle twitching and cramps in legs and especially my hands have entirely stopped. This is likely (but not certainly) due to increased intake of zinc and magnesium. That was nice.
- Due to stopping intermittent fasting I felt intense levels of hormonal hunger from insulin spikes and cravings for food, sugar, and snacks! By eating six meals a day I gained 3-4 kgs of unnecessary weight and added excess skin on my stomach which made my abs look less shredded. I am in the process of fixing this now.
- I’ve had more bowel movements (1-4/day) compared to 0-2 than prior to this because of all the new fiber in my diet from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. My stools have been firmer.
- Better quality of sleep – now feeling less tired than earlier and more well rested. Sometimes only sleeping for 4-6 hours but still feeling OK enough to function throughout the day. (Again, note that I was in a horrible environment for sleeping when i did this experiment)
- Not being as tired in the morning as earlier (but still a bit). Probably due to more consistent circadian rhythms, eating and sleeping on regular times etc.
- Increased mental clarity and ability to concentrate throughout the day, especially in the morning. I became much more active at asking questions during my classes and felt genuinely interested. I rarely feel that way the first 2-4 hours after waking up usually. You could say it gave me a higher baseline of mental focus. I would guess this came mostly from the increased intake of vegetables as well as the green tea.
- When I ate sugar/candy after finishing these six weeks, it made me a bit runny in the nose. It also gave me a slight rush like a drug, very short-term, but euphoric and a lot of energy and positive. Then I got tired and had trouble focusing and could feel a slight buzz in my brain. I started having trouble focusing my vision, so as to lock onto an object and had a hard time looking away for a while.
A lot of times it was extremely hard to persist with the challenge for the entire six weeks – gluten and dairy are everywhere!
There were also several opportunities for free food, cookies, liquor etc that I would normally have jumped right at, but now I had to restrain myself and exercise discipline. Especially hard to do post-workout, when you want to stuff yourself and they offer you delicious free food twice that you have to turn down…
Mark Hyman writes in the book that you should eat every four hours to maintain steady levels of glucose and insulin. This is why he recommends snacks.
Personally I think it’s complete bullshit (for someone as fit as myself).
However I committed fully to the program and snacked, but I believe this was completely unnecessary and only led to me craving and eating more food, which is probably the reason why I bulked up so much during this period compared to when I was intermittent fasting. This is what happens when you raise your insulin levels unnecessarily by snacking, you get more hungry, instead of full.
Also, I believe that his advice of maintaining steady glucose and insulin levels are directed at his target audience – a typical American consumer of the SAD (Standard American Diet) with poor general health, high insulin resistance, and a lousy physical constitution – thus highly likely to get low blood sugar and “crash” unless he snacks.
For me it was a different situation as I’ve been eating healthy for a while and doing IF. This means that whenever I consume sugar or snacks etc. it fuels my hunger further due to what is referred hormonal hunger. My body is highly susceptible to the effects of sugar due to having very low insulin resistance.
I think there’s a lot of good (practical and theoretical) information in the book. However, I feel he could’ve done a much better job of being more specific about his target audience as it is easy to get quite paranoid when you read the book, especially when doing the tests on the different keys to health.
Pretty much anyone will notice a bunch of bogus symptoms there. Hypochondriacs should NOT read this book!
Another very important thing to note about this book is that even though there is a lot of interesting information about supplements in the book, I really think that his advice is a bit excessive unless you are a real hard case when it comes to managing your diet and health in general. As long as you maintain a healthy diet you will have very little or no use for 90% of those supplements.
The only really important supplements are omega 3, vitamin D, and perhaps vitamin B6, B12, folate, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
The last three minerals are recommended if you work out regularly.
I’d give the book a 4/5.
Conclusions & Takeaways
- Intermittent fasting may be a much more appropriate diet for me, especially because I don’t feel the cravings for food and sweets/unhealthy snacks all of the time (due to the insulin spikes that trigger hormonal hunger). For me it’s either all or nothing. I either eat a lot of candy or I don’t eat at all, same with snacks, junk food and sometimes alcohol. I guess I have an addictive personality – though it’s more likely that a better explanation is that I have to expend less willpower NOT to eat it than to resist the temptation of stopping. I also like eating A LOT in a single large meal, it’s definitely a more satisfying culinary experience plus I feel a lot more full.
- During this time my urine was almost always bright yellow, which indicates an excess of vitamin B and perhaps other vitamins. Therefore I will not continue with the B-vitamin supplements.
- I weighed 67 kg before doing this experiment while my diet routine was based on intermittent fasting. After this diet I weighed ca 71 kg.
- Eating many small meals sucks. It made me think of food constantly whenever I wasn’t eating – and when I WAS eating I just wanted more.
- I found out I am mildly sensitive to gluten if I eat it during a few days in a row, but one day is fine. I see no reason to continue eating gluten except in cookies/cake during social events. Pasta and bread is something I will avoid eating the rest of my life as it makes me bloated, sometimes gives me minor stomach aches, and makes it harder for me to breathe through my nostrils. There simply aren’t any health benefits to eating gluten products except for the taste.
- I found out I am very mildly lactose intolerant, which isn’t very unexpected statistically. I will go easy on the dairy products from on, especially when I get older. It’s very nice to know that I’m NOT highly allergic/sensitive to dairy products, because I was afraid I might be.
- I will keep supplementing with zinc, magnesium, and selenenium on those days that I work out and multivitamins on the days I feel I don’t get enough vegetables & fruits.
- My overall quality of sleep has improved.
Update and Reflection: 2014
In hindsight I can say that it was extremely idiotic for me to go on this diet (of course, I didn’t know that at the time). The reason I did the experiment in the first place, along with other dietary and health-related experiments, was because I suffered from symptoms like:
- Brain fog and poor concentration
- Mood swings and headaches
- Congested nose
- Diarrhea and bloating (I’d go from having a six pack to looking like I was fat)
It turned out I suffered from (an almost) severe case of candida (yeast overgrowth in my gut).
The candida feeds on sugar and carbs and it is extremely tricky to rid yourself of. My high intake of protein shakes and fruits weren’t helping — mango in particular. The coconut fat and L-glutamine were essential however.
There is no standard solution for curing candida. But I found a way that worked really well for me. . .
Here’s how I cured myself (see the bottom part) from the candida infection in just 6-12 months, which is considered a very fast and smooth recovery.