People often ask me what I eat. In this article, I describe what I eat, how I get it, and how I prepare it in order to meet my goals of good nutrition, good body composition, and saving time and money to maximize my productivity.
Please note that this is the general pattern of how I usually eat and not a rigid system of rules.
How I Get My Food
In order to save money, save time, and boost my productivity, I buy most of my non-perishable food through Thrive Market and most of my perishable food through Whole Foods via Instacart.
Using Thrive allows me to save an average of more than 30% off the retail price without spending time price-shopping or coupon-clipping. Using Thrive and Instacart together frees me from the need to interrupt productive projects by going grocery shopping. I still go shopping at my local food coop and farmers market, but it never interrupts my productive time because I need to do it – I just do it in my leisure time when I want to do it. If you share these goals, I recommend signing up for a 30-day free trial of Thrive and looking to see whether Instacart or Amazon Fresh will be able to deliver perishables from your favorite local grocers.
The one product that I consistently get elsewhere is US Wellness Meats liverwurst, which I order directly from the company.
Although I buy most of the linked-to food in this post from Thrive, I’ve also provided Amazon links for those who do not have a Thrive membership. Check out the price differences, though, and you’ll see how much you can save with Thrive.
Prior to each meal, I consume about a half-inch cross-section of peeled, raw ginger root. I do not expect most other people to do this, and most people would find it unpleasant. But I have found that it is an unparalleled – and incredibly inexpensive – stimulus to my digestive system.
I also include a fermented food. I put these on rotation. They include a shot glass of kombucha, a lacto-fermented pickle, or a tablespoon of any other lacto-fermented vegetable.
I aim to eat 130-150 grams of protein per day. I have been focusing on improving my lean muscle mass at the expense of body fat, and if this were not a specific goal I would aim for about 80 grams of protein per day.
I do not pay much attention to my total carbs or my total fat. I had been eating ~2150 kcal per day and lost 30 pounds over the course of a few months. I now eat ~2600 kcal per day, which keeps me at a consistent body weight. In the fall, I plan to increase this by several hundred calories a day to put on muscle more rapidly.
At breakfast before I work out, I try to hit 100 grams of carbs. If I experience any symptoms I associate with insufficient carbohydrate, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, peeing too much at night, or rapidly losing weight overnight, I increase my carbs. Otherwise, I ignore the balance of fat and carbs. During my period of rapid fat loss, I tended to eat 17-36% calories as fat. Right now I am eating at the upper end of that range and often a little higher than that range.
To be clear, I did not restrict fat during my period of weight loss because I think that restricting fat is superior for weight loss than restricting other calories. I focused on restricting fat during that period because I found that my CrossFit workouts were causing me to need an amount of carbohydrate that I would not be able to get while restricting calories unless I biased my restriction of calories towards restricting fat.
Food Made in Batches
My go-to batch food is a combination of TruRoots sprouted lentils (Thrive|Amazon), sprouted brown rice (Thrive|Amazon), peeled and diced potatoes (I rotate the variety), Kettle and Fire bone broth (Thrive|Amazon) and a dark green vegetable (I rotate a different dark green veggie each week).
I combine one package of lentils, one package of rice, about 500 grams of peeled and diced potatoes, two packages of bone broth, and four to five handfuls (measured raw) of dark green veggies. I may also randomly put in diced garlic, carrots, or whatever veggies I happen to have at hand. I top it off with water if needed and cook it in my Instant Pot for 20 minutes. I then cool it and store it in the refrigerator.
Each time I use it, I reheat it with whatever amount of water gives it the best texture and whatever spices I feel like tasting. I currently use Simply Organic spices from Thrive. Common ones include small amounts of black pepper (Thrive|Amazon), turmeric (Thrive,|Amazon) and ginger (Thrive|Amazon); and large amounts of garlic powder (Thrive|Amazon) and Italian seasoning (Thrive|Amazon) I may also add meat and/or cheese for variety.
My protein includes a diverse rotation of meats, with beef, chicken, and fish being most common. I eat beef because I enjoy it, but I am currently biasing my diet toward other meats because I have a genetic tendency to accumulate too much iron.
When I eat chicken, I cook a roast chicken in my Instant Pot for 45 minutes with zero preparation except putting a cup of water and the meat rack in the bottom. I separate the meat from the bones and cartilage. I store the meat for the week in the refrigerator. I take the meat rack out of the Instant Pot but leave in the water used to cook the chicken. I put the bones and cartilage in, and top it off with water. I cook this for two hours, and it produces a very well gelled stock. Whenever this stock is available, I use it to cook my starches instead of Kettle and Fire’s stock. Kettle and Fire’s is far more delicious and crafted; mine is easy, practical, and comes free with my roast chicken.
I really enjoy the taste of coffee and cream, and I find that caffeine greatly improves my mood. I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine, so I tend to consume it once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
I alternate between using a Chemex to make hot-brew and a simple kit to make cold brew. I was inspired to try making cold brew by this Thrive Market article. Since cold brew goes for $4/cup in my neighborhood, making it at home saves incredible amounts of money. I also love that I can make 13 servings of coffee in a batch. Although I think cold brew tastes much better than iced coffee, I think Chemex-brewed hot coffee tastes much better than reheated cold brew. So I use both, depending on whether I want my coffee cold or hot.
I sweeten my coffee with a teaspoon of this specific honey (Thrive|Amazon) (I find that different honeys taste radically different and some can ruin the taste of coffee) and add two tablespoons of Organic Valley lactose-free half and half.
I find that I zip into an alert, productive mode most quickly if I get at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. More often than not, I get this from US Wellness Meats liverwurst, which provides me the incredibly nutrient-dense and balanced combination of liver, kidney, heart, and muscle meat. This is a new addition to my diet but I expect it to stay for a long while.
I find that I need some carbohydrate to best put me into an alert state, but if I have no plans to work out, this could be as low as 20 grams. If I am working out that morning, particularly if I have a strength goal to meet, I make sure to get 80-100 grams of carbs. Otherwise, I just aim for 500-800 kcal and let the balance of macronutrients fall wherever it falls.
By breakfast carbs usually involve fruit and the batched lentils/rice/potatoes combination I described above, but some days also include bread or bagels (generally made from sprouted or soured whole grains).
I find that I best ride through an afternoon slump in mental energy if I eat a meal that is relatively small, low in carbohydrate, and high in protein. Since I aim to eat at least 30 grams of non-collagenous protein at every meal to reap the anabolic stimulus provided by the leucine content, lunch is not that much higher in protein than my other meals (breakfast and lunch are both in the 30-50 range; dinner more consistently close to 30). Compared to my other meals, my lunch is typically distinguished by being lowest in carbohydrate and highest in fat.
Here is an example:
Four pastured eggs cooked over-easy with a sliced tomato and 50 grams of chicken folded into the middle. I use a half tablespoon of butter or ghee to coat the pan. A giant salad with enough raw salad greens (I rotate different versions each week) to make a huge pile filling a large dinner plate, topped with two raw, chopped Brazil nuts, a tablespoon of sauerkraut, a tablespoon of fermented ginger-carrots, and a half ounce of shredded raw, aged, cheddar cheese. I don’t use dressing (though I would if I were serving guests). An orange.
I would usually add some carbs to this if it were coming after an intense workout.
Dinner tends to be whatever meat is in my rotation plus my batched starch. I will often substitute Eden 100% buckwheat soba noodles (Thrive|Amazon) as the starch. Typically, I add an additional huge salad as described for lunch.
Dinner is where I check my caloric intake and make sure I’m close to my protein and calorie goals. If I’m not, I look in my fridge and eat whatever food seems to provide the easiest path to getting there.
Since I am usually done working when I eat dinner, it’s where I put anything labor-intensive and it’s the most subject to spontaneous change. However, spontaneity and amateur chef night are much more common when I’m eating with friends or guests, in which case most of my rules go out the window.
One of my go-to desserts is raw cheese (anything aged 60 days or more will do, but most commonly this is cheddar from grass-fed cows) topped with Really Raw raw honey (Thrive|Amazon). Typically this is 2.5-3 ounces of cheese and 20-30 grams of honey.
I may add something packaged. Most commonly this is coconut milk ice cream, but occasionally it’s a different snack.
For the sake of stress-free productivity and enjoyment of life, it’s important for me to be able to deviate from my daily norm and to have a stash of food that can be eaten in a snap.
If I’m rushing out the door in the morning or I’m deep in a project and cannot afford to interrupt my train of thought to spend 20 minutes with a meal, my go-to foods are whey protein and Exo bars. I would consider one scoop of whey protein and two Exo bars a sufficient replacement for a meal when I need something quick.
Currently I buy Jarrow whey protein (Thrive|Amazon) and the apple cinnamon Exo bars (Thrive|Amazon). I like the quality of Jarrow but the main reason I use it from among a broader selection of whey proteins I like is the cost.
My favorite drinks are red wine and pale ales. I usually limit my alcohol consumption to 1-3 drinks when I am out with friends who are also drinking. Occasionally, after several months of working hard on something or being strict with my diet, I will relax this rule and consume 1-2 drinks per night for a week even if I am alone. However, I find that I feel the best when I have the least alcohol.
I hope this inspires you with some practical examples of how to make a nutrient-dense and balanced diet that works with some basic principles of saving time and money. But your diet is for you. So take what you like from this, leave what you don’t, and add your own.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that, at no cost to you, I may receive a commission if you choose to purchase something. The small commissions I may receive help to support the work I do on this site, which I try to make very rich in highly valuable things that are distributed freely to all those who need or want them.