Fernstrom Ratios

DrJ

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Jun 16, 2015
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I have been reading @Travis posts and found the whole idea of the Fernstrom ratio (basically, a measure to aim for tryptophan depletion) pretty interesting. I've been experimenting with trying to keep tryptophan lower, which I took to mean reducing muscle meats based on what I've read. Once I started plugging the numbers, I realized I have no idea what I'm doing or what a 'good' Fernstrom ratio is, but obviously lower is better. Maybe @Travis can weigh in on that.

Using my good friend, nutrition.self.com, I started a spreadsheet of a sampling of foods to see what I would find. I go there, plug in a food, set the serving size to 100g so I can get an idea of what I'm getting per 100g of a food for easy conversion calculations. But note: the ratio is constant per unit of serving size. I was thinking chicken wings (which I love) would be good as I thought they would be more gelatinous with the skin, and I know a few places to get them fried in beef fat so think of them as a decent 'eat-out' option. They turned out not so great!

I did notice that nutrition.self.com actually pulls all that data from a database produced by the USDA (called SR-21). One day I will get the time and write a script to scrape the database and calculate the Fernstrom ratio for all the things in there, but until then, this is limited list I've produced so far to try to get a handle on the situation with my apologies for the formatting as I couldn't figure out if it's possible to make a table in here...

FOOD : Fernstrom Ratio*
Chicken breast, boneless skinless: 0.046
Ground beef, 80% lean, 20% fat: 0.019
Cheese, Gouda: 0.041
Cheese, Parmesan: 0.041
Milk, 2%: 0.038
Apple, raw w/skin: 0.026
Beef, top sirloin: 0.027
Beef, ribeye lean and trimmed: .030
Egg, whole: 0.044
Banana, raw: .045
Shrimp: .056
Chicken wings with skin: .046
Peaches, raw: 0.101
Watermelon, raw: 0.088
Bread, wheat: 0.062
Spinach, cooked: 0.05
Orange juice, raw: 0.044

So from that short list, ground beef seems to be the best! To my surprise. I thought fruit might do better. Cheese doesn't even seem so great. And forget raw peaches! Feel free to add!

*Calculated as Tryptophan/(Tyrosine + Phenylalanine + Valine + Isoleucine + Leucine)**
** Hopefully have that right!
 

olive

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May 17, 2018
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I appreciate what you’re doing but I think this can lead to orthorxic eating patterns for minimal benefit. Looking at these ratios in isolation doesn’t paint a very good picture of what the response would be in a mixed meal. Ie; egg whites on their own have a “bad” fernstrom ratio but no one really eats egg whites by themselves. Well maybe some bodybuilder types but they’ve got bigger issues than elevated serotonin.
I think, if you were concerned enough to care about the fernstern ratio, a better idea might be to simply supplement with BCAA’s as previously recommended by @haidut IIRC.
 

Cirion

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Sep 1, 2017
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St. Louis, Missouri
Nice plot.

Yeah gelatin (and BCAA) are both perfect for bringing down Fernstrom ratios. Ray peat right again. Haidut also right, since he discusses BCAA's and their beneficial effects.

Beef, being lowest on the list, is now my staple protein =)

Yeah Gelatin (and BCAA) are the only two "Negative" fernstrom ratio foods.
 

Amazoniac

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Sep 10, 2014
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Not Uganda
Nice plot.

Yeah gelatin (and BCAA) are both perfect for bringing down Fernstrom ratios. Ray peat right again. Haidut also right, since he discusses BCAA's and their beneficial effects.

Beef, being lowest on the list, is now my staple protein =)

Yeah Gelatin (and BCAA) are the only two "Negative" fernstrom ratio foods.
For example..
Potato, broccolo, cod: 6%
Potato, broccolo, cod, and gelatin: 5%
 
Last edited:

Cirion

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Sep 1, 2017
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Location
St. Louis, Missouri
Just had a look at that plot again. Wow, potato is high on the list. This probably explains why over-doing potato can be very detrimental. For a brief time I was playing with a vegan experiment and having LOTS of potato a day and not doing that well. I have cut my intake down a lot now. Plus its a starch, which can come with its own problems. Double whammy.
 

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