The Jaminets' Perfect Health Diet recommends 400 calories from carbs a day. They also say that, for the purpose of calculating carb intake under their diet, only calories from tubers and other 'safe starches' like white rice should count as being carb calories. Carbs from other vegetables don't count - you can eat as much as you like as far as they're concerned.
I eat a lot of root vegetables (carrots, beetroot, parsnip, swedes etc) which are fairly high in carbs. So if I eat 400 carb calories of sweet potatoes a day, plus my usual helping of root vegetables, I can't help but feel this would push me over what the Jaminets would consider an optimal about of carbohydrates, despite what they say. Is my concern unfounded or not?
I'm especially thinking about how root vegetables carbs affect the ketogenic version of their diet (which involves 200 carb calories rather than the usual 400). Surely being carefree with root vegetables will significantly undermine ketosis?
UPDATE 1: If vegetable carb calories do count to some extent, then I'm very interested in whether, on the normal non-ketogenic version of the Perfect Health Diet, I can get all of my PHD-prescribed daily 400 carb calories from root vegetables, and ignore tubers and white rice altogether?
UPDATE 2: I found some relevant figures on http://lowcarbdiets.about.com which I thought might be helpful to others viewing this question. Here's the amount of effective (net) carbohydrates you get from 1/2 cup of different veg: Sweet potato (cooked): 18g Potatoes (raw): 12g Parsnip (raw): 9g Butternut squash (raw): 7g Beetroot (cooked): 6g Onion (raw): 6g Rutabage/swede (raw): 4g Carrot (raw): 4g Kale (cooked): 2g
This may help, its Paul's answer to a similar question over at his blog.
Paul Jaminet: "It takes about 40 calories of glucose to digest a pound of vegetables. Leaf vegetables have less than that and so are negative contributors to glucose balance. But most squashes, root vegetables, etc have more than that, often around 80 calories per pound. Carrots are around 200 calories per pound, beets even higher. Potatoes closer to 400.
So, a simple way would be to subtract 40 calories per pound from everything. Another way is just to ignore most vegetables that are not “safe starches,” tubers, corms, sugary vegetables, fruits, or berries"
you can find the question & answer here: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=5528#comment-54224
& Darrin added his interpretation of Paul's answer further down the post here: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=5528#comment-54384
Darrin: "Paul sums it up by suggesting 2 options for counting carbohydrate calories in veggies & fruits. I have slightly re-worded that hopefully makes it clearer;
1. subtract 40 calories (or 10 grams) per pound (450 grams) from everything.
2. ignore vegetables that are NOT tubers, corms, sugary vegetables, fruits, berries or safe-starches.
So in your examples, you can ignore leafy greens. But count Carrot (sugary vegetable) & count Tomato (fruit). Onions look to have similar sugar & cals to carrots (sugary vegetable), so you can probably count them as well if you eat a lot. & of course count the yams (tuber) & potatoes (tuber)"
I would take that to mean green leafy vegetables. I would count everything. For ketosis you will need to count them for sure. Ketosis is not a huge focus of their book.
Remember that Paul's focus is health and longevity. I know he points out the at higher protein and higher carb will increase athletic potential and sex-hormone production to some degree, but at the cost (probably) of longevity. I do something very close to the PHD and I hate count stuff. So I just aim for the lower end of his carb spectrum from starch and enjoy my carrots without fuss. :D
Green leafy vegetables, nightshades, and crucifers are pretty much universally declared safe. Fruits are a bit of a grey area, as they provide vitamins, but also have more sugars than vegetables. If you're counting carbs seriously, don't forget about them. Tubers and root vegetables are all starchy, and while this isn't inherently bad, it does mean they put more load on your digestive system than other vegetables. I don't know the details for the specific vegetables, but I would err on the side of caution and group all tubers together. Try keeping strictly to the plan (eliminating starchy vegetables) for two weeks, then reintroduce them one at a time. If you see undesirable results, take it back out.
I keep fruits to 1.5 cups a day or less, preferably for breakfast. I eat about 1/2 - 2/3 sweet potato a day or some comparable volume of other root veggies or squashes. There are some exceptions to these rules, like summer squash and cucumber, which have virtually no glycemic load. Sometimes I may add small amounts of carrots or plantain chips to a salad but since the quantity is low I generally ignore it. Aiming for average recommendations probably makes more sense than daily unless it's easy with routine.