Dr. Chris Masterjohn talks about What I've Been Eating, and How I Get It

Mastering Nutrition Episode 4: What I’ve Been Eating, and How I Get It

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Dr. Chris Masterjohn talks about What I've Been Eating, and How I Get It
I'm often asked what I eat, and here I answer the question. In addition, I describe how I have been getting my food and arranging my meals to meet my goals of productivity, fat loss, and good nutrition.

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You can find this on the Podcast app in an iPhone, and if it isn't already it should be available in the Android app soon. I have an application for it to be listed in Stitcher under review. If you want to see it listed in a different app that I haven't mentioned, please let me know in the comments.

Read on for the show notes

Show Notes for Episode 4

This is the first in a series of episodes sharing practical tips that have helped me solve problems or meet specific goals. As such, they are more anecdotal than data-driven, but I'm hoping that the things that have helped me most will also help others. So, let me know in the comments how you like the next few shows.

One thing I forgot to mention in the show is that I eat a few servings of raw fruits and non-fermented vegetables (mostly lettuce) a day, which are not a major source of calories but are an important source of some micronutrients.

Here are links that are relevant to this episode:

  • Thrive Market, where I get most of my non-perishables, including Kettle and Fire broth.
  • Instacart, which I use to get most of my non-perishables delivered from Whole Foods (depending on where you live, Amazon Fresh may be an equivalent or better option).
  • MyFitnessPal, which has helped me not only lose 30 pounds since mid-December, but also to sleep better (I exclusively use the iPhone app and never use the web site).
  • Epic Liver Bites, the one essential non-perishable not currently sold by Thrive.
  • My favorite bread that I don't eat right now because I'm not sure how to get it locally.

Update 5/7/16: This is a major addition to my making-things-in-batches-to-save-time program. Inspired by the recent Thrive Market article on how to make cold brew coffee, I have started making my own as my default form of coffee (see my pic on Instagram). It is less acidic than hot-brewed coffee and can be served both hot and iced. Compared to hot-brewed coffee (including iced coffee) I find that it tastes much better with less sweetener. I typically use about 5 grams of honey or unrefined sugar in regular coffee but I use zero sweetener in cold brew. One batch makes a concentrate that can be diluted to 13 12-oz cups of coffee, so making it in batches that can be kept in the fridge is an enormous time-saver. The Thrive article was inspiring, but the idea of using its suggestions to buy individual pieces of equipment (ball jars, mesh sieve, cheesecloth, etc) was thoroughly uninspiring, so I bought this simple kit from Amazon.


Update 6/3/16: As described in episode 11, after trying it at Paleo f(x), I intend to soon replace the Epic liver bites with US Wellness Meats liverwurst.

What about you? What have you been eating, how have you been getting your food, and how has it helped you meet your goals?

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  1. Do you recommend ginger for my 12 yr old son? I doubt he would go near the fresh ginger so is a capsule an acceptable substitution?

  2. I've been enjoying US Wellness Liverwurst (20% liver) and Braunschweiger (40% liver) for some time now. I find the Braunschweiger more delicious. Here are details from US Wellness: "Our liverwurst and Braunswieger are made in 100 pound batches.
    Below is the meat break down for each of the organ sausages.


    15# Kidney
    20# Liver
    20# Heart
    45# Beef Trim


    40# Liver
    60# Beef Trim"

  3. Thank you for sharing, our diets are very similar.

    Any chance you could elaborate on how you consume/prepare the Ginger pre meal? Also how much have you found effective? Thanks

    1. Evolutionarily,

      I cut off a chunk of the fresh raw root, peel it, dice it or slice it, chew it quickly, and quickly wash it down with water. The amount depends on the variety of the ginger. With an intense variety, a half an inch; with a weaker variety, an inch or so. I don't measure it. But if it wasn't at least slightly unpleasant to consume, it wasn't enough.


  4. Chris,

    LOVING the podcast! Thanks so much for putting this out. Keep up the good work! I'm with you 100% on the homemade bone broth. Although it's not that hard to make, I found it to be incredibly cumbersome, which was a barrier to keeping me from consuming it regularly. The solution for me was to roast a whole chicken in the crock pot every Sunday. It makes the juiciest most tender chicken you've ever had. And as an added bonus, it creates its own broth, which I call "accidental bone broth". It makes about 2 cups of super rich and gelatinous broth after I scrap off the layer of fat the next morning. Without any extra effort, I get at least 2 servings of broth for the week. Total win!

    Thanks, Tracy

    1. Yes, you can do the same in the pressure cooker/Instant Pot in only an hour 🙂 So good! Sometimes add in extra necks/feet (pre boiled to clean them) and celery, carrot, onion for flavour. Easy! If anyone tries this, just make sure to let the pressure release naturally (10-15 mins), or you may end up with broth all over the kitchen 🙁

  5. Hi Chris!

    I cannot tell you how happy I was that you addressed the connection between losing body fat and not sleeping. Obviously I'm not happy that you don't sleep, but I finally feel like i'm not crazy. I decided to start a 'cut' at 1800 calories, and it only took me about 2 weeks before I stopped sleeping almost entirely. If I fell asleep at all, I would be awake at 3 or 4 am STARVING. I increased my calories, but it is such a delicate balance trying to be at a deficit but also eat enough to get a good night's sleep. I currently find it's between 2150 and 2200 where I feel sane. Sometimes it's still hard. Anyway, thanks for being honest about that. Do you know the mechanisms behind loss of sleep? I'm assuming it's the cortisol/stress response that happens when a body is underfed. Do you know if this connection is greater for men or women? And why some people can eat at a deficit and report sleeping better?! I'm just baffled.


    1. Hi Kira,

      I think a hypercaloric diet is a stress, and whether a stress is positive or negative depends in part on the type of stress and in part on the coping skills of the person (which may vary according to different types of stress) but is also determined by whether the cumulative allostatic load (total amount of stress pushing one out of homeostasis) exceeds the person's threshold. So, if the cumulative allostatic load is higher in person A than in person B, person B can accomodate a caloric deficit that person A cannot.

      In particular with sleep, there are many other determinants. So even if person A and person B have the same allostatic load and the same cumulative tolerance, persona A might have other factors predisposing to insomnia and will thus not tolerate the caloric deficit that B can tolerate.

      I don't know if there is a gender difference. Many have said there is for intermittent fasting but I have not looked into it closely. So, if that's true, I don't know if it is because on average women have a different tolerance for cumulative allostatic load, or if it's because women tend to have a greater cumulative allostatic load on average than men.

      Finally, not all caloric deficits are equivalent with respect to sleep. A caloric deficit that cuts carbs is more likely to produce insomnia than one that cuts fat because carbs promote sleep and lower stress hormones when they are tolerated well and don't promote reactive hypoglycemia.

      I think obesity causes a lot of metabolic disturbances. So, weight loss itself should improve metabolism, but the stress of the caloric deficit may have short-term effects that outweigh these in some people.


  6. Hi Chris, great podcast!

    Will try the ginger root, and see if it has any effect on my digestion, for me drinking bone broth prior to meals helped a lot.

    I always wondered what is your diet like, I eat very similar to you, just recently found out I do better with less fat, so I only use as little as I need for cooking usually butter or coconut oil, sometimes none.

    Meals are usually potatoes with some meat or fish sometimes I add vegetables or fruit. Only eat liver once a week or 1-2 eggyolks a day along with minimal aged cheese for my last meal as a fat and fat soluble vitamin source.

    Thanks for the podcast

  7. Hi Chris! HUGE fan of everything you do – I'm super stoked about your new podcast.

    What would you advise (food-wise) for those looking to GAIN healthy weight? (Assuming heavy lifting is already in the picture.) Nutrient density is a given. But what about macros (specifically carbs and fat)? Metabolically, is there a reason to avoid "sweet fat" (i.e. natural carbs paired with fat)? A nice big sweet potato slathered with coconut oil with some cinnamon and sea salt or rice cooked in bone broth with a generous pat of butter is sure a good way to "force" over-eating if extra calories are needed… I'd love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi Megan,

      Apart from nutrient density and the right training program, I think it is overwhelmingly a matter of protein and calories. So, 1 gram protein per lb target bodyweight, 200-500 kcal per day over requirements, bias extra kcal toward carbohydrate. Follow Brad Schoenfeld and Alan Aragon.


  8. What's your opinion on using purified gelatin (like the Great Lakes brand) instead of bone broth to fulfill the glycine requirement? That's the only glycine source I've had the wherewithal or time to acquire/prepare on a daily basis. A couple of tablespoons in boiling water with lemon or lime juice is palatable and easy to prepare in a minute or so. It's been working well for me, but I'd be interested to know if I'm missing anything essential by substituting purified gelatin for bone broth.

    1. I think it's a useful supplement, and I do use that sometimes, but I think it is preferable to get the whole food. You get trace minerals, flavor, and who knows what else. I think because of the uncertainty of the complexity of foods, it is preferable to use whole foods when possible.

  9. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your amazing podcast! I heard you on the fatburningman podcast and was hooked. You make learning about how the body works so interesting.

    FYI – French Meadow Bakery is a Minneapolis, MN based company with the original café located right down the street from where I live. I'm planning on stopping by there to see what shipping options are available and I'll let you know!


  10. As an addendum to my earlier comment, liver can easily be made in 2 lb batches with onion, and then put in the cuisinart with hard boiled eggs to make chopped liver. That can be frozen in single serving aliquots, the perfect protein for a meal!

  11. Lots of work went into getting these podcasts up and running – wishing you success.

    It always feels good to have a handle on your eating – allows you to make sure you reach your nutritional goals – mine include eating for myself and eating for my microbiota. So fermented foods are a daily feature, but also lots of prebiotics, both as food choices and as supps. No counting of calories or macros, just a general sense that all of the bases are covered, nutrient timing plays an important role, coordinated with my exercise routine.

    All the best Chris!

  12. Your idea of titrating calories to prevent insomnia is a profound observation. The body knows after a couple of meals whether it is being underfed or overfed and sets the hormonal milieu appropriately. I don't know why obesity and diabetes researchers don't use this effect rather than their calorie deficits, which may offer faster weight loss, but would more likely lead to rebound eating.

  13. You said you take bone meal. I thought calcium supplementation was always bad if not contained in the natural vitamin k containing package? What is it about bone meal calcium that makes it ok? Is it because it is in the form of calcium phosphate?

    1. Dried and crushed up bone is a traditional food. I don't see much difference between that and powdered bonemeal.

      It is important to get vitamin K, that doesn't have to come from the same food as the calcium or even be part of the same meal. What is important is that you get enough calcium and enough vitamin K when averaged across meals.

  14. Excellent Podcast Chris – Long overdue.

    You have not mentioned any fresh fruit intake on a regular basis – Is there a specific reason for this.

  15. Cool podcast.

    The extra 250cals that you need a day is half a bottle of wine, just sayin'.

    I chucked my eating manifesto up here: what I eat and why

    Basically I'm bored of orthorexia, and my diet is largely proscriptive as I avoid seed oils/sugar/grains/trans fats as much as I can, so 90% of my meals are simply some kind of fatty meat without much hoo-haa production value, usually either beef ribeye steak, lamb chops/offcuts, salmon, or bacon and eggs. Also try and eat lamb/chicken liver a couple times a week, the taste of which has now gone from "ugh, well it's good for me" to "mmm, the flavour actually makes me feel good".

    Plants only really make it into my meals as a source of flavour/texture, so mostly just garlic/chilli/onions/broccoli, and I love mushrooms. But I often go for weeks/months eating just "boring" surf'n'turf as basically every meal, veggies only really make it into my food in social eating, and I definitely feel better when I've gone weeks without them in any significant amount.

    I did MFP catalogging of EVERYTHING I stuck in my facehole for 13 months straight, it was interesting, but it took me nearly another year to stop "counting" everything on my plate (going carnivore/zero carb makes this part easy), and even now I still photo basically every meal. But at least some of it makes for good food porn, and somewhat better than your average FFQ if ever I'm queried on what I *actually* eat:

    food logging

  16. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for these excellent podcasts!

    I wonder if you have any view on phosphorus in the diet being linked to increased mortality (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24225358), or if phoshphorus is okay if balanced with enough calcium (and vegetables). If you eat a lot of meats and lentils, the phosphate intake is going to be sky high, and if you add whole grains, especially soaked, it´s going to get even higher.

    Worth noting that some of the countries with the highest number of centenarians per capita (as of 2015) and the highest longevity overall: Japan, Spain, Italy and France, eat only refined grains. Their macronutrient composition is quite different from each other, very low fat in Japan, very high vegetable oil intake (sunflower and olive) in Spain, more butter in France, more refined wheat (pasta) in Italy etc. They all eat much vegetables, and probably obtain much vitamin D from sunshine.

    My question is really if a diet has enough fruits/vegetables/potatoes/tubers (say 1.5 kg/day – 1/4 each of (1) potatoes/tubers, (2) raw salad veggies, (3) fruits and berries, (4) cooked veggies, including some greens), and include some animal foods (say 200 gram meat, 2 egg yolks, 30 gm cheese, 1 tsp gelatine), if it matters if the rest of the calories is just butter, cream, olive oil, pasta, white rice, white bread, sucrose and honey. I mention these figures because I eat something like this right now. I also supplement coral calcium powder and acerola cherry powder mixed in a glass of water taken for breakfast and dinner, to supply about 600 mg calcium and 500 mg vitamin C per day, and I take 400 IU vitamin D.

    I am also thinking about following a traditional Christian lifestyle of fasting – meaning reducing calories by about 50% – on Wednesdays and Fridays plus the period of lent and some other days, and obtain most of my protein then from lentils and fish. How much would you recommend eating of those to prevent muscle loss on these days. Are lentils inferior to fish for this purpose?

    1. I will try to address the balance of calcium and phosphorus in a future podcast.

      The best way to preserve lean mass in the face of a caloric deficit is to eat at least 1.2 g of protein per day per kilogram of lean body mass, and to engage in resistance training to provide an anabolic stimulus. If you double that amount of protein, you could even gain lean mass and a caloric deficit. The exercise part of the equation is absolutely critical. You cannot preserve lean mass in a caloric deficit without the anabolic stimulus of resistance exercise.


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