I have updated this post on June 22, 2018. Older versions are available at the bottom.
In early 2017, I had a health crisis that involved exposure to indoor toxic mold and exposure to toxic levels of barium from paint dust and makeup that I was using for shooting my videos. I spent the first half of 2017 resolving this crisis, and in the process lost much of my muscle mass. As my health improved, I shifted my focus in late 2017 to gaining back the muscle mass I had lost as quickly as possible. In January of 2018, I had achieved that, and I shifted my focus to leaning out in the first four months of the year, and now I have switched my focus to retaining all of my health gains, supporting my athletic pursuits (weight lifting and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), and slowly putting on muscle.
Since 2016, I have been optimizing my food procurement and preparation for efficiency. By saving time in these areas, I open up time to work on my business, to pursue my hobbies, to rest, and to spend time with family and friends. This year I continue to hold this as a goal, but I have relaxed my pursuit of this goal enough to obtain higher quality food. The sections below on how I procure my food and have it prepped reflect this balance of concerns.
How I Get My Food
All of my non-perishable foods and household items are auto-shipped from either Amazon or Thrive Market.
In the case of Amazon, subscribing and saving to more than five items earns me 15% off all of them. I then pay with an Amazon Store Card, which earns me an additional 5%, bringing the total savings to 20% (this is set up for the balance to be automatically paid in full every month; otherwise the interest would negate the savings).
In the case of Thrive, auto-ship offers efficiency but not additional savings. Nevertheless, Thrive's prices are generally lower than Amazon's. So, I look up first whether the item I want is auto-shippable from one or the other. If it is auto-shippable from both, I look up what I would pay at Amazon and what I would pay at Thrive and subscribe to whichever is cheaper.
For fresh foods, I mainly shop at my local farmers market and buy whatever I cannot obtain there at Whole Foods.
For frozen meats, I have been ordering from North Star Bison. I buy frozen seafood at Whole Foods.
When I need the extra efficiency, I have food delivered by Amazon Fresh.
How My Food Gets Prepared
Last year, I hired someone to do a variety of work for me that includes making me fresh juice every morning, preparing my starches, vegetables, and soft boiled eggs in large batches, and cooking meat for the day in the morning. This has made it far easier for me to rely less on convenience foods and to incorporate more vegetables into my diet.
The juice is made with this Omega juicer, and all the vegetables and starches are cooked in an Instant Pot. Eggs get boiled on the stovetop, meat is usually cooked in a pan, and fish gets baked in the toaster oven.
I make my own meals by piecing together things that have already been cooked in batches and reheating them. I also make my own salads. When I am eating fish, I cook it myself because I don't like reheated fish very much. For meats, however, I either reheat meat that has been cooked beforehand or I put it cold on my salads.
Why I Eat the Same Thing Every Day
One of the key features of my diet right now is that I eat the same thing every day.
Well, almost: certain specific foods rotate within their categories, and I add more calories on certain days because of my activity level.
The reason I started doing this is that I wanted to lean out, but I didn't want to spend time tracking my calories, which is the way that I've found most effective for leaning out in the past. So I reasoned that I could just eat the same thing every day, in which case my calories would be consistent, and then just subtract a portion of the food to create a consistent caloric deficit. It worked. Between January and April, I lost 13 pounds, one inch off my waist at its narrowest point, and two inches at its widest point (in my lovehandle region). I dubbed this “The Robot Diet.”
Now, I eat similarly from day to day for much the same reason, only I want a gentle caloric surplus to build muscle. The principle is the same: I just tweak my portion sizes according to what happens to my body.
Another side benefit of this approach is that it has made it a lot easier to test the effects of specific foods. For example, I can introduce or eliminate a single food to see how it impacts my digestive health and optimize my diet around foods that are most compatible with my digestion.
Over time, I can figure out some caloric equivalencies. If I want to try a new fruit or a new starch, I can just see what it equates to in what I've been eating and put it into the rotation.
When I'm out with family and friends, I throw all my rules out the window and just go on my own hunger signals. I'm not absolutist about the diet described herein; it's just my default operating mode.
An Outline of My Diet
I typically consume 3500 to 5000 Calories per day, depending on my activity level (I hit 5000 when I stack Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and strength training into the same day). Because I eat a lot of cooked and cooled starches, my diet is high in resistant starch, which is starch that goes undigested until it reaches the colon where it feeds the gut microbiome. My diet is also almost exclusively whole foods, which require twice as much energy to digest as processed foods. Therefore, my actual caloric yield when compared to someone eating a standard modern diet is going to be lower than these numbers, but this is what Cronometer, a food tracking app, tells me I am eating.
To support building lean mass, I aim for 1 gram of animal protein per pound of body weight, and at least 30 grams of animal protein per meal. I generally get about 150 grams of animal protein and another 100 grams of protein from plant foods, to yield about 250 grams of protein. My animal protein comes from two scoops of whey protein, four whole eggs, and two servings of meat or fish, each weighing five to eight ounces. I am currently experimenting with adding a third serving of meat or fish. Most of my plant protein comes from legumes.
I do not aim for any specific fat intake, but I rarely add fat to my food. Most of my fat comes from whole eggs, meat and fish, whole olives, and Go Raw sprouted cookies that provide fat from of whole coconut and sprouted sesame seeds. Overall I derive about 27 percent of my calories from fat.
The remainder of my diet is carbohydrate. Most of my carbohydrate comes from sprouted legumes and sprouted brown rice. The Go Raw cookies also add some carbohydrate, mainly from dates.
The rest of my diet provides few calories but a lot of nutrients: I mix tomato sauce (or salsa) and steamed vegetables into my starches at every meal; I drink fresh juice at breakfast; I eat an apple and a large salad at lunch; I have a bowl of mixed berries and another large salad at dinner.
Wherever possible, the foods are organic.
I mostly drink still water filtered in my Berkey, but when I crave carbonation I drink Gerolsteiner. In the summer heat, I will probably start drinking Gerolsteiner more often and adding lemon to it.
For spices, I use Flavor God. Usually their pizza, but sometimes their taco or ranch, and every once in a while their habanero. I also salt my food to taste.
Meal Size and Timing
I feel best when I eat breakfast like a prince, lunch like a pauper, and dinner like a king. Big meals make me sleepy, so they are terrible at lunch when my biologically driven siesta time creeps in, but they are great at night when sleepiness is my goal. At breakfast, though, a medium size meal wakes me up. If my breakfast is too small, I don't fully wake up, and I wind up getting much hungrier at lunch, when a big meal will just put me to sleep.
I find carbohydrate to have a similar effect as meal size. So, I eat moderate carb at breakfast, low-carb at lunch, and high-carb at dinner.
When I first ended my caloric deficit, I was eating 2400 Calories on rest days and 2800 on days where I worked out. However, I had to increase my food intake several times to prevent myself from losing weight and having trouble sleeping, and this accelerated when I started stacking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on to weight lifting in the same day one or two days week. Now that my Calories are 3500 or more, I've split the three meals into four, two of which are small, low-carb lunches.
I usually space my meals at regular intervals, roughly four hours apart, and I place my workouts so they occur within two hours of eating on both ends to ensure protein and other nutrients are circulating at high enough concentrations to start building muscle as soon as my body is ready.
On the one or two days a week where I do weight lifting and BJJ, I eat carbohydrate-rich meals or snacks every two hours between the two workouts to help replete my glycogen levels before I start BJJ. This also ensures that I find room within my stomach to get all the food in. If I get behind on eating on these days, I won't have room at dinner time to fit all the food I need in, and I'll wake up hungry in the middle of the night. No bueno.
While I was leaning out, I cut out cheese. Through trial and error, I learned from this that when I cut out cheese, I lose two pounds of weight that cannot be explained by calories. It takes two days to come off, and it comes back as soon as I reintroduce cheese. I tested dairy in several forms and so far whey protein is the only thing that doesn't do this. I seem to feel a little better cheese-free, with less vulnerability to pollen allergies and reduced puffiness under my eyes. So, for the time being I am dairy-free apart from whey protein. I will try to find healthful ways of reintroducing dairy in the future.
A Break From Fermented Foods
This year my allergies were bothering me more than they usually do. The two things that helped were drinking coffee and working out. This made me think my cortisol is running low, which I haven't tested yet. I eliminated the tablespoon or two of fermented foods I had been eating at every meal — which gives me no problems outside of allergy season — and my pollen allergies disappeared. My guess is that they were elevating my baseline histamine levels to the point where the histamine provoked by the pollen would cause a reaction; by eating less histamine, my baseline levels are lower, and the histamine provoked by the pollen doesn't cause a reaction. I will try to find healthful ways of reintroducing fermented foods in the future, but for the remainder of allergy season I'm keeping them out of my diet.
Coffee and Alcohol
I have experimented in the past with the caffeine-free and caffeinated lifestyles. Even going six months without any caffeine leaves me feeling depressed, anti-social, and unmotivated. Caffeine lifts my mood, makes me more personable and social, and makes me more motivated to succeed. So, I drink coffee.
I make most of my coffee at home in a Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. I water a double shot down into an Americano and sweeten it with a few drops of Now Better Stevia and flavor it with a few shakes of Simply Organic Cinnamon. I also purchase coffee at the local hipster coffee shops sometimes when I'm out and about. Now that it's warm out, that's usually cold brew, which I drink black. Although my favorite way to drink coffee is with Sucanat and light cream, I find the stevia and cinnamon to be better on my oral microbiome, digestion, and waistline.
I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine, so I space my coffee out through the day. In total, I drink coffee two or three times to yield a total of six to eight espresso shots, which is like drinking two or three tall (small) coffees from Starbucks.
I drink alcohol occasionally for fun. I find that the fun itself has a positive effect on my health by lowering my baseline anxiety levels, but that ethanol is mainly negative for me physiologically at anything above three half-drinks per week. So I generally avoid drinking on most days because I feel better overall. All in all, I might have two to four drinks two or three times a month.
Some of my favorite convenience foods have been Ample and Paleo Valley Beef Sticks. Although I still think these are great products, I have reduced my consumption of convenience foods to the occasional level. For example, I recently spent a day shooting videos and lived on Ample K until I was done, but it doesn't have a place in my daily routine right now.
Specific Foods in the Rotation
The coffee I make at home is with Cafeto dark roast 5 bean espresso.
The following foods make it into my morning juice:
- half of a freshly squeezed lemon
- a handful of parsley
- 6-7 carrots
- a handful of chopped celery
- an inch of ginger
- usually a handful of wheat grass
- sometimes a handful of dandelion greens
Meat and Fish
I have been buying bison, elk, and beef from North Star Bison, and wild salmon, cod, and haddock from Whole Foods.
My starches include sprouted legumes and germinated brown rice. The legumes in the rotation are lentils, adzuki beans, mung beans, white northern beans, navy beans, and pinto beans. The brands I use are Tru-Roots, Bio-Bud, and Food to Live. The Food to Live beans get sprouted at home. The brands of rice are Thrive Market, Tru-Roots, or Bio-Bud.
Mushrooms and Cooked Veggies
Mushrooms get thrown in with the veggies that are destined to be cooked in batches. Those in the rotation are shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, red onion, green beans, zucchini, and garlic. Bell peppers, usually destined for salads, sometimes make it into the cooked veggies.
I buy my salad greens from Two Guys from Woodbridge at the farmers market. I mainly buy butter lettuce, mesclun greens, and microgreens, including micro broccoli, micro watercress, micro scallions, and micro parsley. My salads also include tomatoes from the farmers market, Whole Foods brand garlic-stuffed and red pepper-stuffed olives, and every color I can find of bell pepper.
For fruit, I am mainly eating organic honeycrisp apples and Wyman's triple berry blend.
A Day in the Life
This is what I eat on a standard rest day.
Upon waking, I mix together 150 grams of beans, 50-100 grams of tomato sauce, 100 grams of cooked veggies, 300 Calories worth of rice, and any spices I want.
Then I go outside and drink a cup of coffee in the sunshine. Getting early morning sunshine is a key component of my routine for getting healthy sleep.
I come back in, drink two scoops of whey protein mixed with my creatine supplement, take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to blunt the blood sugar rise from the rice, then eat my bowl of reheated starches and veggies on my tiny balcony, where it is easier to eat than outside but where the sun isn't as strong. I bring my fresh juice out and drink it while eating breakfast.
Once I finish I go outside and drink a second cup of coffee.
In both of my lunches, I eat the same bowl of reheated starches and veggies as I eat for breakfast, but without the rice.
At one of these lunches, I eat four soft boiled eggs for protein; at the other, I eat 5-8 ounces of meat or fish.
At one of these lunches, I eat an apple (two if they are very small); at the other, I eat a salad.
I do not weigh anything in my salad. I put as much salad greens as fit on a large dinner plate, and top it with microgreens. Then I add eight slices of tomato, eight slices of bell pepper, and eight stuffed olives. Oh, how I wish there were feta cheese here. But alas, even my salads are dairy-free.
In the afternoon I will usually have a cup of coffee, occasionally two.
At my dinner, I have 5-8 ounces of meat or fish, 300 Calories of rice, a salad made the same way as at lunch, and a large bowl of mixed berries.
I may or may not take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before the meal to blunt the glycemic response like I did for breakfast. I don't worry about it as much here since my body seems to be primed to soak in calories and carbs at the end of the day.
For dessert, I consume two bags of Go Raw Sprouted Cookies.
Modifications for Workouts
Right now, I add 600 Calories per workout as a carbohydrate-based food. Most commonly, this is more rice. It might also take the form of Food for Life 7-grain Sprouted English Muffins, toasted and buttered, or dark chocolate.
If I only work out once in a day, I try to add this in a way that doesn't increase the glycemic load of any given meal too much. For example, I might move the beans of my second lunch to my dinner and split the extra rice across my breakfast, second lunch, and dinner. This way I go into my workout with some extra carbs at breakfast, I avoid eating too many carbs at my first lunch when they're most likely to make me crash, I avoid increasing the size of my second lunch very much by moving the beans, and I avoid a giant whopping of rice at any one particular meal by splitting it up.
My approach is very different in the one or two days a week where I do my weight lifting in the morning and BJJ at night. There, I will add 1200 Calories and I'll make the feedings frequent between my two workouts. For example, I add some extra rice to my breakfast, but then when I finish my workout I have some extra rice before lunch, then I eat my first lunch, and then I eat my second lunch early before BJJ. Even eating all this food I am voraciously hungry soon after BJJ, so I usually have a post-BJJ snack and then a big dinner.
Here is my Cronometer report for a sample rest day.
According to this report, I consumed 3850 Calories. This broke down into 246 grams of protein, 381 grams of net carbs, 116 grams of fat, and 106 grams of fiber. As a percentage of calories, my diet was 24% protein, 27% fat, and 49% carbohydrate.
As I noted above, the net caloric yield of my diet is lower than the report suggests, because my cooked-and-cooled starches are high in resistant starch, which has maybe a third the caloric yield of regular starch, and because whole foods require about twice as much energy to digest as processed foods (20% versus 10%). I do not know what the actual caloric yield is.
The report says I am exceeding my needs for all vitamins and minerals, usually by a factor of three to six. It has me in the red as getting “too much” niacin, folate, iron, manganese, selenium, and sodium. In some cases I am exceeding the requirement by much more and Cronometer is unconcerned — for example, I am getting almost 15 times the daily requirement of riboflavin, but it has me in the green.
Of these nutrients, I trust the selenium content the least, because selenium varies wildly and randomly in soils, but this makes me want to measure my selenium status, because the selenium it lists is definitely above what I would recommend.
My iron intake, 46 milligrams per day, is almost six times my needs, but I know my iron status is perfectly fine because I had it measured recently and it is on the low side of what I consider optimal.
I'm certain that my folate, estimated at almost 1500 micrograms, is an underestimate, because all of my legumes are sprouted and sprouting increases their folate content by several-fold. It is above the Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) upper limit, but the upper limit only applies to supplemental folate.
My niacin is above the tolerable upper intake level set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), but the upper limit for niacin only applies to fortified foods, supplements, and use of niacin as a medication.
My manganese intake (13 mg) is above the upper limit (11 mg) as well, largely due to the coffee and spices in my diet. The discussion of the upper limit in the IOM report does not convince me this is a concern. They cite one study showing that vegetarians can have intakes as high as 11 mg, and another that vegetarian intakes are between 13 and 30 mg. With no adverse effects identified in either study, they arbitrarily chose 11 mg as the level at which no adverse effects are observed. They set the lowest observed adverse effects level at 15 milligrams, on the basis that a study showed a supplement with this amount increased serum manganese levels and the activity of an antioxidant enzyme known as superoxide dismutase in the mitochondria of the subjects' white blood cells. I'm not sure why that is an adverse effect since I would expect it to protect against mitochondrial damage. Moreover, the 15 mg supplement was over and above the subjects' intake from food, so their total manganese intake was likely at least 20 mg. Overall, then, I am not worried about my manganese intake and suspect it will help protect my mitochondria, which is a good thing.
Cronometer has my sodium in the red at 3.3 grams per day. I did not put my salt intake into Cronometer, so my real intake is likely a gram or two higher. Sodium mainly causes harm when added to a potassium-deficient diet. With a potassium intake over 10 grams and over twice the amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine, which only two percent of Americans obtain, I'm not worried about my sodium intake.
What surprised me the most about this report is that, despite being on a dairy-free diet, I am getting 1500 milligrams of calcium. I did not expect this and I have actually been adding bone meal to my food to make up for being dairy-free.
A third of my calcium is coming from the cookies, mainly from the sprouted sesame seeds. A fifth of it is coming from whey protein. The rest is spread among the spices, fish, lentils, cooked veggies, and salads.
Plant foods vary widely in the absorbability of their calcium. In cruciferous vegetables, it is more absorbable than in milk, while in legumes and seeds it is less absorbable. Sprouting increases the availability of minerals in legumes and seeds, though. Since my legumes and seeds are all sprouted, the calcium availability might be rather high. This makes me want to measure my calcium status to see whether I really need to supplement with bone meal.
Although my vitamin A is listed as quite high in the Cronometer report, most of it is coming from vegetables, and I know that I am bad at deriving vitamin A from plant foods. I supplement with vitamin A and cod liver oil, however, so I have that covered.
I will write more about what I take for supplements in an updated version of “Nutritional Supplements I Take” soon.
Overall, my diet is very rich in vitamins and minerals, providing a large widow of safety over my basic requirements. This window can account for poor absorption from some of the foods or periods where my needs may increase.
Many people would eat half as much food as I do or even less. Someone who modeled their diet after mine but ate only a third of what I eat would still be meeting their needs for most vitamins and minerals, and could fix any shortcomings with a few tweaks.
Moving forward, I have a few directions I'd like to take my diet in:
- I'm going to experiment with replacing some of the rice with protein-based foods to see if it benefits my body composition.
- I'm going to find ways to start working more organ meats into my diet, including the US Wellness liverwurst that I've had on hiatus lately.
- I am going to start incorporating Orthodox Christian fasting principles along the lines I described in “How to Eat Well During an Orthodox Lent.”
- I bought some of this natto and have it sitting in my fridge. I'm going to try replacing some of my usual beans with it as a source of vitamin K2. I'll have to see if I can tolerate the texture and make sure it doesn't impact the freedom from allergies I've been enjoying since eliminating fermented foods.
- I'm eventually going to try to find a healthy way to reintroduce dairy.
And that's it!
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Right now, my diet reflects what I've learned over time about meeting my own nutritional needs, as well as three goals that are important to me right now:
- Saving time and controlling my schedule to block out time for analytical and creative work remains my top priority. I get most of my food delivered partly because it saves time but mostly because it reduces interruptions in my schedule. I like shopping, but I only go out shopping because I want to and never because I need to. This allows me to focus on work projects without interrupting my “flow.” Since not all foods are equally available with the delivery methods I use, this priority influences not only how I get my food but what I eat as well.
- I'm currently recovering from illness related to indoor mold toxicity from my old apartment. For reasons I don't completely understand yet, I have an ongoing tendency toward acidity and require a small amount of supplemental bicarbonate and a large amount of dietary potassium to neutralize some of the symptoms. I'll write much more about this in a future post, but suffice it to say here that my current diet is largely constructed around obtaining large amounts of potassium.
- The mold-related illness led me to spend months out of the gym, during which I lost quite a bit of muscle mass. I've started to work out again over the last two months but only in the last week have I optimized my nutrition to allow me to thrive while working out several times a week. Beginning this week, a top priority of mine is to put on muscle mass. For this, I'm eating a lot of calories and protein.
Why I Switched From Instacart to Amazon Fresh
Last year I used Instacart as my primary means of saving time and maintaining control of my schedule. I had experimented with Amazon Fresh, but stuck with Instacart instead for several reasons:
- The yearly membership fee was about half the price.
- Instacart could often deliver within 2 hours of ordering, whereas Amazon would typically require ordering a full day ahead of delivery.
The indoor mold issue led me to move neighborhoods, and Instacart suddenly became less attractive. I no longer had access to Whole Foods, so my selection became more limited. There are also fewer Instacart shoppers in my new neighborhood, so there are fewer delivery options. I began testing Amazon Fresh against Instacart and have now overwhelmingly settled on using Amazon Fresh for three reasons:
- Better selection.
- Fresher food.
- Bringing customer service from “good” to “great.”
The first is unique to my circumstances: without access to Whole Foods via Instacart, my selection is better on Amazon. The second is an intrinsic property of Amazon's delivery model:
Amazon “Fresh” lives up to its name.
Instacart is like Uber for grocery shopping. The app hooks the customer up with shoppers and drivers who work as independent contractors. They shop from the store the same way anyone else does, and they drive your groceries to you just like you would drive them home if you bought them yourself. The only difference is they are shopping for many people, so the goods are in transit longer.
Amazon keeps everything in a central warehouse. One of the deliverymen told me the warehouse is ridiculously cold, 50F even in the dry food section. If you buy something refrigerated, it comes loaded with ice packs. If you buy something frozen, it comes on dry ice. Not to worry, though, the deliverer will take the bags, ice packs, and dry ice from away on the spot.
The big test is triple-washed greens. When I buy they from Instacart, they start going bad within two days. When I buy them from Amazon Fresh, they last almost a week.
The third reason I've landed on Amazon Fresh is that Amazon has ridiculously great customer service and can afford to appease me endlessly. Amazon has given me refunds on food I ordered by accident when I admitted it was completely my fault without asking for the food back and refunded my order in full when the driver was an hour late, again without asking for any of the food back.
If saving time and preventing interruptions is important to you, I still recommend checking out Instacart. It served me well for a full year. The deliverers are pleasant and the company has good customer service. Still, check out Amazon Fresh too. It's serving me far better in my current situation, and the same could be true for you.
Other Delivery Methods I Use
I've been getting my coffee through Stay Roasted, a coffee delivery service. If you use coffee regularly, it’s really cool. You log in to the web site, tell the system your coffee preferences and how much you’d like delivered per week, and then pick from a lineup of roasters. They pick out beans that suit your preferences from your roaster lineup and mail them to you. It’s a mix of automating your coffee supply and getting pleasantly surprised by the specific beans that come in each week. The only downside is if you're picky you risk getting surprised by a coffee you don't like.
I also order the following foods directly from the companies that sell them (these companies sponsor my podcast, I'm an advisor to Ample, and I offer discounts on their products):
- US Wellness Meats liverwurst, which remains my go-to source of organ meats.
- PaleoValley beef sticks are one of my snack foods.
- Ample Meal, which I use when I'm crunched for time.
Finally, I continue to use Thrive Market. I use them less than I used to because Amazon gets me my goods much faster and the price savings are not always that steep. I tend to place a Thrive order because of their selection more often than their price these days. Still, I love what they do, recommend them, and encourage you to look at their prices and see how much money you can save by using them.
Making Food in Batches
In addition to having food delivered, much of which requires very little preparation, I make food in large batches during my downtime. This allows me to consolidate my food prep time so I can consolidate my work time more effectively.
The major batched food I make is my starches. I combine one bag of sprouted lentils, one bag of sprouted brown rice, five peeled and diced potatoes, and two cartons of Kettle and Fire bone broth. I cook this for 20 minutes in my Instant Pot, then cool it and refrigerate it in two half-gallon Ball jars.
I also cook whole chickens in the Insta-Pot. I put a cup of water at the bottom and put the chicken in for 45 minutes, then take it out and separate the meat from the bones and refrigerate the meat. Depending on how pressed I am for time, I sometimes cook the bones for 2-4 hours in the Insta-Pot to make stock.
To round out my strategy for staying productive, I try to maintain a constant supply of quick calories. This helps me stay ahead of the game rather than slipping behind and can actually help me find more time for cooking. Here are my current go-to's:
- Ample Meal. Ample is a meal-in-a-bottle that takes a total of two minutes to prepare, consume, and clean up. It's made from whole-food ingredients and is designed to be nutritionally replete. Ample sponsors my podcast and I'm an advisor. I use this to replace whole meals when I'm extremely crammed for time.
- Food for Life Organic 7 Sprouted Grain English Muffins. These are fairly nutritious for a calorie-filler and easy to eat a couple of. I don't use these to replace meals and I try not to use them as a default food, but I keep them on hand as calorie fillers when it would be otherwise hard to meet my goals.
- Anthony's Organic Unsweetened Shredded Coconut. A whole food full of good fat and fiber, this really packs in the calories. I'll eat 30-40 grams, whatever I need to meet my calorie goals, add 10 grams of maple syrup and one or two grams of Simply Organic Cinnamon, mix it together, and eat it up with a spoon.
- Fat can be an easy way to adjust my calories upward when needed, provided it goes well wi th something else in my meal. When I was in the height of the mold crisis I was often using Jarrow MCT Oil for its anti-fungal properties, though now I'm mostly adding Organic Valley European-Style Cultured Butter, Pure Indian Foods Organic, Grass-Fed, Cultured Ghee, and Pure Indian Foods Primal Oil.
My Potassium Strategy
During the height of my mold-induced illness, shortly after starting an antifungal medication, I developed severe twitching problems that I 80% resolved by eating large amounts of potassium. The other 20% fell into place by avoiding grains and carbonated water, and eventually supplementing with a small amount of bicarbonate. Currently, I use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda at least 20 minutes before breakfast and dinner on rest days. On workout days, I use 1/2 teaspoon before breakfast, and then I work out in the late morning with an additional 1/2 teaspoon in my workout water. I track my potassium in the Cronometer iPhone app and aim to eat 6-8 grams per day.
Here are the basic strategies I use to get my potassium up:
- I use potatoes and lentils as my main starches and eat a diet low in grains.
- I add tomatoes to everything.
- I eat a lot of pumpkin, a diversity of plant foods in general, and a lot of spices.
- I eat less fat, which dilutes potassium.
Calories, Meals, and Macronutrients
I'm finding that I currently need about 3200 kcal/d on rest days and 3600 kcal/d or more on workout days to feel satiated and sleep through the night. I will be testing higher calorie amounts soon to see what allows me to gain the most muscle without gaining much fat.
I aim to hit at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, which would be about 150 g/d for me right now, but Cronometer tells me I'm hitting closer to 250 g/d, with about 100 grams of fat and 3-400 grams of carbs. The high carb-to-fat ratio is driven mainly by my potassium strategy. I'm probably hitting higher protein because I'm eating plant foods like lentils that are fairly high in protein and ignoring them, but I'm fine with that because I think it will help me build more muscle.
I always eat breakfast. I used to practice intermittent fasting twice a week, but I lost my ability after the cumulative sleep deprivation of graduate school got the better of me. I find that eating breakfast proactively helps me jump start my morning, gives me smoother energy levels through the day, and helps ensure I've eaten enough when it's time for bed.
I generally eat four meals a day, sometimes five. I could eat three, but I don't like cramming 11-1200 kcal into a meal.
I really enjoy the taste of coffee and I find that caffeine greatly improves my mood. I'm a slow metabolizer of adenosine, which caffeine opposes, and I think that's a big part of why I feel much better when I'm caffeinated. I love the taste of cream in my coffee, but right now I'm drinking it black with a teaspoon of honey from the Madhava honey bear. I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine, so I tend to consume coffee once in the morning and once in the afternoon, occasionally a third cup but rarely after 4:00 PM.
I buy most of my coffee from Stay Roasted and make my coffee in a Chemex.
I bought my Chemex from the coffee shop across the street from me when I lived in my old apartment, and the owner told me to weigh the coffee and water and to make sure I got a kettle made for pourovers. I already had a food scale so I weighed my coffee and water from the beginning, but I waited over a year before getting the kettle and spent that year using a small saucepan.
Getting the kettle was life-changing. I realized this after I bought my mom this kettle for Christmas. The saucepan was heavy, unpleasant to pour from, and made it difficult to spread the water evenly. The kettle was light, easy to pour from, and made it incredibly easy to spread the water consistently.
I then bought this more sophisticated kettle for myself. It has a built-in thermometer with a green zone that tells you exactly when the water is the perfect temperature to pour. Although I like that feature, it requires a lid that is difficult to press shut, and the nut that holds the thermometer to the lid is constantly coming loose. If I were to buy another kettle I'd get the simpler one I had gotten my mom.
My goal for breakfast is to get at least 30 grams of protein, about 800 kcal, and for it to require zero thinking or planning and very little time to prepare. I also prefer it to be modestly palatable and easy to eat.
My most common breakfast right now is this:
- 2 containers Siggis 0% fat plain yogurt
- 100-150 g Wyman's Triple Berry Blend mixed into the yogurt
- One of my calorie fillers, such as English muffins or coconut, to bring this up to 800 kcal. I may also use my batched starches to bring my calories up here.
The yogurt, berries, 2 muffins, a 25 g coconut/10 g maple syrup/1 cinnamon dish provides about 800 kcal and 1.4 grams of potassium.
About once a week, my breakfast is Ample.
Many of the other meals listed below may make their way into my breakfast on occasion as well.
On the average day, I'm eating for myself in a largely utilitarian manner, and I'm eating four meals rather than three, so I see my other meals as largely interchangeable unless I'm spending time with friends and family.
Here are some example meals.
- 350 grams (cooked weight) of my blended starches.
- 100 grams of roasted chicken.
- 1 tomato.
- 2 grams each of Simply Organic garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.
- Salted to taste while eating.
This smells like pizza, provides 1.5 grams of potassium, and still allows 200 kcal of a calorie filler before reaching my 800 kcal target.
- 3 ounces US Wellness liverwurst.
- 4 Vital Farms eggs cooked over-easy in about 8 grams of butter or ghee.
- 200 grams of potato, simmered in water until soft, eaten with salt.
This provides about 750 kcal and 1.5 grams potassium.
- 6 ounces of grass-fed hamburger, purchased locally (I buy it every once in a while when craving it).
- 1 box of Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin.
- Mixed into the pumpkin, 30 grams coconut, 10 grams maple syrup, 1 gram cinnamon.
This provides a little over 750 kcal and 1.5 grams potassium.
Salads and Fruits
I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but when cooking for myself I find this means lots of fruits that require little more than peeling, lots of salads, and veggies thrown into my starches when they cook in the Insta-Pot. I'll often throw some broccoli, kale, or other dark greens into the starches. I'll generally rotate through certain fruits, like apples or oranges, till I get sick of them and want something else (except the berries that always go into my yogurt).
I generally eat 2-3 large salads per day. I rotate through many different types of triple-washed greens to get a diversity of vegetables. I pile them onto a large plate, which generally fits about 60 or 70 grams worth. Then I throw in a diced tomato and something crunchy like Go Raw Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds or diced Now Organic Brazil Nuts.
Depending on time and my mood, I might get all gourmet on the salad and add bacon and strawberries, but that's a rare treat. I've been avoiding cheese and fermented foods while recovering from mold (though I'm not sure that helped anything), but I'm starting to add them back in now. Depending on my calorie needs, I may eat the salad with no dressing, or with Primal Oil.
I generally get plenty of protein from my food, but I keep Jarrow whey protein on hand to add protein to a meal if it's otherwise difficult to pull something with protein together.
Snacks and Dessert
For a savory snack, I love PaleoValley beef sticks. Honestly, these are nutritious enough to be considered more as a meal replacement.
When I'm feeling naughty, or just in desperate need of calories, I eat some Jackson's Honest chips. Hey, potatoes are high in potassium even as chips!
My coconut calorie filler also doubles as a desert.
I spent most of this year completely abstaining from alcohol during the mold crisis, but now I have one to three glasses of wine once or twice a week.
Last year I ate fresh ginger root with every meal as a digestive aid. This year my digestion has been in much better shape and my priorities have shifted, so I cycled off the ginger. Currently I'm using less for my digestion, though I still use ginger occasionally and will probably cycle back onto it as I start putting way more food into my digestive system. I'll be adding fermented vegetables back into my diet soon as well.
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.
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
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.
[…] Masterjohn, a PhD in Nutritional Sciences, aims for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, as a man with the goal of building lean […]
Hey Chris, is there a 2019 update in the works?
I’d really like to hear how your going about your diet (and supplements and exercise for that matter).
Thanks Chris for all the great information. I’ve been battling a lot of issues both mental and physical my whole life. I recently did a deep-dive into my genetics and found that I’m a low COMT producer as well as MAO-A, probably the worst case scenario. I’m trying to wean myself off most of the dairy and grains and focus on a keto-like diet and eat a lot more cruciferous veggies while taking DIM, liver supplements, cod liver oil, eggs, bone broth soups, etc. and eating sprouted grains aka nourishing foods. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Sally Fallon but she’s always been my North Star as far as eating. It’s funny how so many years later after searching high and low for a reason for her to be wrong the facts stay the same. I’m also a big fan of Paul Jaminet who I know you’ve mentioned several times. Best wishes and luck to you!
Hi Chris, thanks for the amazing info as always. My comment is that I know you’re not a keto guy exactly, but I”m a 40 yo male and my body composition quickly whipped into the best it’s ever been, and it’s with less training. I was truly astonished at how muscle mass went up and body fat down (fat was never and issue but I was finding it harder to put on muscle). I’m not strict keto, and eat loads of veggies and play around with some delicious sweet potatoes/squash/etc… a few times a week, I also incorporate if and exercise to burn it off pretty quickly. Anyway, ketones are there regularly (I test with the blood strips). I would say that my diet most resembles Mark Sisson’s idea of staying in the keto zone. Anyway, always kind of curious why you don’t stay more in the keto zone? Thanks again, and not expecting an answer 🙂
Hi Chris, thanks for this informative article.
I tried every possible whole grain or pseudo-grain as a starch staple, and they all give me horrendous abdominal pain, even after a long adaptation period.
I know that potatoes are great, but they fill me up very fast and at the moment I need to gain back all the weight that I lost due to digestive problems.
Is organic white rice a decent alternative, provided that it is complemented with plenty of veggies, fruits and organ meats?
For the natto, try adding coconut aminos to it. It sweetens the flavor and reduces the stickiness. Then again, I like natto. 🙂
To be fair, I think there is some evidence that there is a relationship between prostate cancer and casein. I am not particularly concerned with it at the moment and am not interested in debating The China Study, etc but would like an answer to my question 🙂
Really interested to read why you aim to eat organic produce over conventional in certain instances. Have you discussed this on your site in the past?
Two scoops of Naked Brand Casein plus a handful of other foods brings my manganese intake to 35.8 mg daily. Is that too high?
Are you aware that casein is the protein used to give rats tumors in the China Study?
Yes, but the validity of The China Study is seriously in doubt.
Are you not aware that Chris DESTROYED that whole hypothesis? As did Denise Minger. Google it and see how Campbell tortured the data…
To be fair, I think there is some evidence that there is a relationship between prostate cancer and casein. I am not particularly concerned with it at the moment and am not interested in debating The China Study, etc but would like an answer to my question 🙂
Hi Chris, very interesting update. In terms of you re-introducing dairy have you considered sheep or goats milk yogurt? For example I know Robb Wolf suffers with cows milk but is fine with sheep or goats milk – I guess because it is A2 casein not the A1 casein found in most cows milk. Also lactose is very low in yogurt as opposed to milk, plus you get the benefits of it being fermented (thus killing 2 birds with 1 stone?) as well as the live bacteria it contains. Personally I love goats milk yogurt, much nicer than Fage Greek yogurt in my opinion – and also does not cause me congestion as does cows yogurt. I’d love to hear your view on that!
Any physiological explanation for the weight gain with cheese? It seems to happen the same with me, I suppose because I eat it with bread and thus I am increasing carbs intake… Nonetheless you say you maintain calories, so is the gain weight because you are substituting more fibrous food with cheese that is more easily absorbed? What about fat/calcium content? Are these significantly contributing to the weight gain?
Many thanks Chris!
This updated version is fantastic and comprehensive. Do you plan on doing something similar for the supplements you take? I also notice your fiber intake is 105gm per day. Although some fiber intake is important, is this not an excessive amount?
Fascinating read Chris. Thanks for sharing.
I was wondering whether you worry at all about arsenic in rice.
Appreciate so much your efforts on this blog and especially where you find the things you believe are good to eat. Saves us a lot of time. Do you ever concern yourself about LDL-P1 levels? I think I read that saturated fat makes it worse and it is highly associated with cardiac issues (bad stuff). Thanks again for your time and effort. I never miss reading these.
What does Cronometer say your dietary fats consist of in terms of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 6, and omega 3?
Hey Dr. Masterjohn,
Awesome stuff! Out of curiosity, how do you eat so much fiber and not have bloating, gas, etc. When I was gaining weight myself at 3600 cal, I was consuming about 50g fiber and did not enjoy this much at all. I felt distended much of the day. Is it because you are sprouting your food? I guess you do well with resistant starch as well.
My thoughts exactly!
Oh, one more quick question: no more Baking soda??
Chris, these posts of your are imensely valuable, thanks you so much. Very quick question: what do you thing of regular potatoes for the bulk of carb requirements (as opposed to the sprouted starches you currently use), as per Paul Jaminet suggestion? Thanks!!
Hi Chris. Thanks so much for updating us.
Regarding fish, do you aim for a specific omega 3 intake per week? I gather supplementation is somewhat dubious, but I can’t parse out what a broadly healthy intake would be in the context of a low/moderate fat whole foods diet.
With all that in mind, would you consider canned fish a viable option? I’m concerned about nutrient retention and endocrine disruptors present in the can lining.
Thanks so much for your time.
This is great! I love seeing what other nutritionally-dedicated people are eating!
Fantastic Chris – thank you for sharing! I like how you prep food ahead and then recombine proteins, carbs and so forth to form meals – me too. I’m a chef by trade, but enjoy the healthy simplicity of my home diet. I’m definitely going to check out the Flavor God spice blends. Thanks again!
I find that high achievers nowadays in times of stress often get what they call “mold poisoning” but is actually just a psychosomatic signal the subconscious is giving to slow down and look after yourself. That is, it is nothing to do with mold. What makes you think you have/had “mold poisoning”?
Hi Chris, I was looking for your story about leaving veganism behind, all your health woes due to those years, etc. Can’t find it, but found this. So now I’m curious, why zero fat Siggi’s? I’m currently enjoying Triple Creme Siggi and am confused…
Also, it has been brought to my attention that in Dr. Price’s research, most indigenous people only ate about 10% protein daily (of course, it varied between cultures); what then is the justification for consuming a much higher intake of protein? I’m guessing it is for building muscle mass but would like to hear if there is more to it than that.
Love your work…..Can you please expound on your reasoning for eating “less fat due to it diluting potassium”?
I’m trying to eat more potassium too, but I’ve never heard that eating fat dilutes it. This may explain one of the reasons I had trouble with eating a fully ketogenic diet. That and scarfing waaaay too many nuts/nut butters. And not getting nearly enough calcium. And ingesting too many oxalates. And….yeah, no wonder I felt like crap on keto.
Hi Chris, really enjoy watching and reading your material.
With regards to your daily calorie consumption, how consistent you are at consuming a daily amount? Are there days when you don’t feel as hungry and might only consume 2500 Kcal/d? Also, have you found that you’ve had to allow your system to adjust over a period of time as you’ve increased your calorie consumption in the past?
I was wondering what your take on caffeine timing before a workout is? I have done a quick and dirty google search and it looks like genetics and intake form (capsule vs. drink) seem to influence peak saliva measures.
Thank you for all your amazing work!
New to your blog but love your work 🙂 Chris Kresser goes hand in hand with lots of your recommendations so that’s why I definitely enjoy reading both blogs.
Regarding gluten and wheat, you eat the food for life english muffins as part of your diet… what are your thoughts that wheat (and in general grains) are overall inflammatory? I know you’ve written a few articles about it, but just wanted to get the latest advice from you and what your thoughts are as of today! Thanks!
I actually had the same question. Does the organic sprouted wheat in these muffins contain gluten. The packaging does not say gluten free. I heard it did. Dr. Tom O’Bryan says it does as well and according to a lot of health experts – gluten is bad for everyone. The human body cannot break gluten down which in turn causes leaky gut, etc.. etc.. I know that I feel a lot better when I keep gluten out of my diet. What is you stance on gluten Chris?
This is all very interesting, but I was hoping to read the story of how you ruined your health as a vegan, since that seemed to be promised when I clicked on the link and came here from http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/index.html. Is your old intro/story still archived somewhere?
Do you time any of your meals differently on workout days (i.e., do do you do a specific post-workout meal)?
Also, do you just use whey when you need extra protein or for workout recovery (just curious — my food habits have been fairly stable for a couple of years but I recently started working out and I’m still trying to figure if I really do need a proper post-workout meal and/our whey to build muscle).
hi chris! just curious to see how you cook US Wellness Meats liverwursts. thanks!
I follow your work very closely and believe that somewhere buried in your phenomenal set of articles is the answer. Ha ha… to everything! It feels that you are practising what you preach and I don’t get that feeling from everywhere. Thanks for the/your journey.
Not sure if this has been answered but when I practice low carb my joints feel better, less throat mucus issues and an improvement in other issues but then sleeping goes to pot. If I increase carbs sleep improves and other marker a little better but joints seem worse.
All my blood markers are decent except low zinc which I supplement now in small doses throughout the day.
I have been eating Perfect Health Diet for many years, following intermittent fasting as he calls for as well. Over time I have become insulin resistant although I am very active. What would you do to fight this issue?? Do you think less fat and more carbs without fasting, or would you go lower carb? Thanks so much
Love your work! Can I know your take on intermittent fasting and dietary fructose’s metabolic effects in our body?
Thanks Sapna I’ll consider it for the future.
Paleo valley snack sticks are shockingly high priced. Over $2 an ounce and that’s without shipping, tax, etc. Surely the slightly elevated omega-3 levels aren’t worth THAT much.
They are processed in a time-consuming artisinal way. You’re not paying for a multivitamin.
I ordered Liverwurst and Braunschweiger from US Wellness Meats. It got from the mainland- Canton, MO all the way to Hawaii and it was still FROZEN. Unbelievable!
It is better than the Liverwurst and Braunschweiger I remember from my childhood – when we used to eat it regularly. Haven’t had any for years – hadn’t thought of it and when I tried to find it, couldn’t find organic. I am beyond pleased. Thank you Chris Masterjohn for reminding me to eat this.
You’re welcome Julia!
You said you eat 2-3 large salads a day, but is there any benefit to this besides fibre? I was told that humans can’t digest and assimilate the nutrients from raw vegetables?
You need to read The Wahls Protocol to see how valuable raw greens are to you. Written by an MD who changed her life and her medical practice because of a diet that alleviated all her MS symptoms, it explains the science. And the diet is now in stage 2 trials.
Usually have 2 meals, 1:30 and 7:30.
Meal one is usually 24 oz of cooked greens (kale, collards or cabbage) and 1/2 lb of a beef roast. Every other day I’ll lower the meat a bit and add 2/3 lb of white potatoes.
Meal two is always 1 3/4 lb sweet potatoes, 10 oz of cooked crucifers (broccoli, caulifower, brussels sprouts) and 1/4 lb crumbled beef or bison.
Once a week my breakfast meat will be 1/3 lb beef or bison liver. Once a week it will be 1/2 lb beef tongue. Once every two weeks I’ll have 2/3 lb beef heart in place of the usual beef roast.
Any thoughts Chris?
Do you buy organic fruits and/or vegetables? I noticed the link to the frozen berries you posted were not organic so I was just curious.
Charles, yes, but not exclusively.
Based on what symptoms/tests did you determine you (currently) tend towards acidity?
Sorry, I see now it was twitching. Pls ignore.
I’ll explain more in future posts on the mold saga.
Hi Chris, excellent post.
I am a recently graduated PhD myself who was getting really into health/nutrition in grad school, as well as tradeoffs in nutrition, time, money, taste, etc. It’s an interesting and never ending balance that gets more complex the deeper you go.
We have a lot of commonalities: emphasis on bone broth and leafy greens, lentils and starch sources with minimal antinutrients, pro- and pre-biotics for gut flora, etc. There are also some interesting new tidbits I’ve learned from here and am excited to test: emphasis on K2 rich foods, correlating mood and energy with macronutrient ratios (how reliable is this? any sources?), pre-meal ginger, and liver.
I also noticed some interesting differences in your approach relative to some of my stuff, and just wanted to confirm: I feel like you are optimizing for TIME and NUTRITION, with taste and money being secondary. This is based on buying prepared foods (sprouted etc) and having WholeFoods delivery to your home, which are likely outside of my budget, and also your sort of “throw everything into a batch and worry about taste later” approach to preparing meals. Does this sound right? My newer approach optimizes taste and money a bit higher than time, so I end up doing more grocery shopping on the cheapest raw ingredients, preparing them myself, and exploring delicious stock/soup/stew approaches that I can make in large batches but still taste amazing. This does add a little bit more time, but slashes pricing considerably, and makes me excited to eat my own food and clean out my fridge instead of going out and letting things go bad 😉
When you think about it, sprouting your own lentils doesn’t cost any time, it’s not like you have to sit there watching them! Time management maybe, but not time ;).
You mention oxalates. I have began upping my greens intake again here and spring, and have noticed some slight pain in my knee (which could come from other factors), but is it possible or likely that certain leafy green contribute to joint pain?
Also, I have a life long history of peeing multiple times a night and needing to drink water. Could that be related to sub optimal carbohydrate intake?
When it comes to carbs, do you think it is negative to get a good dose of them from sugar? Specifically honey, maple syrup and molasses?
Also, I live at high altitude and have done some research on it, and it seems like carb intake needs increase at altitude, do you happen to know anything about that? I do not train at high intensity, but have lots of moderate intensity activity including my own training and lots of walking (including walking wolves).
Thank you sir for everything you do!
Any chance you would be willing to do an update on this post as to how you are eating now and what your goals are?
Also, do you pay much attention to the ratios of SFA, PUFA, and MUFA you are getting? I have seen some claim that these should be in a close balance, but haven’t seen the evidence.
Ordered some liverwurst and braunschweiger, what do I do with it? Just slice and eat? How do you prepare yours? Thanks!!
Kelly, I just thaw it and eat it.
Also, I forgot to mention, the same thing happened when I used to take desiccated liver capsules–super dry eyes about an hour after taking them.
Hi Chris–stumbled upon this today and found it very helpful. One question: every time I eat liver (grass-fed, from a single cow on a local farm) my eyes get crazy dry and I feel kind of “off”. It’s supposed to be so good for me, but I can’t help wondering whether my body can’t process it for some reason. Any ideas you might have? I’ve honestly been avoiding it even though I need all the nutrition I can get (postpartum fibromyalgia diagnosis). Thanks!
Hi Darlene, I am not sure. What I would do is try to replicate it with some of the nutrients that are most likely to be found primarily in liver. For example, perhaps you have an intolerance to vitamin A. If so, a vitamin A supplement should produce the same symptoms. If that happens, I would investigate what is causing that.
Do you meet your magnesium requirements through the large salad?
Also, when you increased your calcium (like when taking bone meal), did you have to increase your magnesium intake? Or during periods that you have taken cod liver oil, did you notice an increased need for magnesium?
I’m trying to understand that relationship in regard to my own health (and particularly, insomnia, since I increased dietary calcium).
Hi Holly, magnesium is very important to calcium metabolism, but I’ve never seen any evidence that they need to be coordinated in some kind of ratio. I do not know how much magnesium is in the salad, but I would think that the magnesium content of my total diet would be the relevant factor.
Thanks for all you wok and info.
How many hours do you recommend to eat before you train
Jacinta, if you eat every four hours and place your workout somewhere in between two of those meals, that will be fine to maintain you in anabolic mode.
Why do you peel your potatoes? For health reasons or taste?
Hi Chris, thanks for your public service. You seem to be in the very rare position of having switched from veganism to omnivorism, yet without losing the ethical perspective of the former. I’ve studied the diets of supercentenarians as recorded in various sources, from a wide variety of countries. One thing that has become clear is that the ketogenic diet is superior — but only by a few years with low statistical significance — to “smart” veganism for supporting longevity. (By “smart” I mean without all the fake processed garbage that most vegans consume, and surely contributed to your own negative experience. I thinking of raw organic nonsterile foods, or even hardcore juice diets featuring veggies moreso than fruits.)
I have reached a dilemma of sorts requiring expertise from someone with your background. Perhaps you can enlighten everyone with a reasoned reply. First, allow me to explain…
The keto nerds seem to know metabolism inside and out, as best as anyone can. They drone on and on about how sugar is damaging but fat is so much safer. To read their commentary, one would think that orange juice would kill within minutes. They seem to marginalize the benefits of various phytochemicals, which, ironically, are most concentrated in fruit and vegetable juices rich in harmful fructose. Meanwhile, a quick survery of YouTube reveals some exceptionally healthy juice-o-holics, perhaps most famously Charlotte Gerson, now well into her 90s and quite cognitively intact.
Then on the other side, you have the usual vegan extremists who claim that animal products are harmful. If you read between the lines of their arguments, it becomes clear that they believe this, above all, because killing animals or raising them in pens is unethical. It’s a typical ethical fallacy: just because a certain behavior is unethical, it must necessarily be harmful for those who engage in it. Meanwhile, they extol the benefits of phytochemicals at length without bothering to mention how harmful fructose is.
I’m not here to debate the very serious ethical question, because it really comes down to whether one would rather die in middle age of predation (say, by space aliens who eat humans but think they are somehow more worthy of living because they’re smarter and less lazy) or live well into senescence and old age. Except to say, the question must be asked from our own perspective as prey, and not what we think is best for animals, because we’re biased by the desire to eat them.
What I am here to ask is whether both groups might have half the answer. This has everything to do with FGF21 and Laron syndrome, both of which strongly suggest that protein — and especially methionine in the presence of sugar — is worse than sugar itself. Put another way, what if we consumed a juice diet (with more healthy veggies and less sugary fruits) in the presence of high amounts of healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.), but with as little protein as possible?
Specifically, FGF21 is raised in late stage fasting in response to protein restriction. Genetically jamming this switch to the “on” position at birth results in more life extension in mice than caloric restriction (CR) — even in the absence of CR! What this suggests to me is that protein restriction is more important than caloric restriction; furthermore the latter might just be a poorly targetted proxy for the former.
Secondly, Laron syndrome involves the inability to produce more than tiny amounts of IGF1. Laron sufferers end up with stunted growth as a result. However, their cancer rates are nearly zero (100 people over 20 years resulted in just one nonaggressive tumor), despite smoking and being overweight in many cases. IGF1 is stimulated by protein intake. Researcher Luigi Fontana expressed frustration that human CR failed to significantly lower IGF1. This suggests to me that lowering protein to bare minimum levels might have succeeded in this regard, because CR does not necessary restrict protein intake apart from what overall calorie limits allow.
Now, finally, here’s the problem: because the keto and vegan camps generally hate each other, there seems to be essentially no research into protein restriction in the presence of high fat and veggie juice intake. So… if there’s not much protein circulating around to get glucosapane-crosslinked by fructose, should we expect this to work? (The point is basically to get enough phytochemicals to be beneficial, yet supplant some of the sugar calories with safer fat calories. It would also solve the difficult hydration issues with keto, not to mention the sheer boredom of eating fat blobs all day.)
For those of us that don’t like the taste of live, is there a downside to getting organ meats by taking desiccated liver pills over eating actual liver?
Also, what is the purpose for taking raw ginger prior to a meal?
The ginger is for digestion.
The main downside to using dessicated liver is you have to use a huge amount to equal the amount of liver you would eat. I’m not sure if dessication has a negative effect on some of the nutrients. They are probably more stable to dessication than sitting in the fridge for an extended time.
I am following your site and weston price and trying as much as possible to eat the wapf diet. But I am on a tight budget and finding organic meat is very expensive in my country. I use organic grains and milk more easily. So can one eat wapf style using non organic meat/ meat products or it is not good idea?
I think it’s important to try to get high-quality meat products, but it’s also important to get the nutrients you need. So if you can’t afford higher quality meat, I think eating lower quality meat is something you should include.
Hi Chirs ,really loved this article.I am eating similar to phd and have lost too much weight .I feel a bit thin .What could you suggest as snacks at 4 pm and about 9 pm .I was having milk at them times but seems to cause constipation and bloating.phd basically means no food in evening but If I have milk I get up to pee .if I have nothing then get up hungry.should I just take coconut oil off the spoon to add calories.I have found that following phd ( now no sugar) has warmed my body up.thanks for any help.
The digestive issues are probably caused by lactose intolerance and the peeing is probably caused by water intake. So, milk is a bad food because it has so much lactose and water.
I would recommend eating solid food rather than drinking your snack, and eating something that doesn’t have lactose.
What is considered one serving of liver? 6oz? Also, do you include more nuts than just the 2 Brazil nuts in your diet?
I do sometimes eat other nuts but the Brazil nuts are the main nut staple in my diet.
I think of 100 grams of liver as a serving.
Do you happen to have a reference you can point me towards for this statement…
” 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.”
No, but you may find it useful to review the physiology of cortisol, its relationship to gluconeogenesis, its suppression of vasopressin, and its potential effects on sleep.
I limit my liver intake as recommended by the Perfect Health Diet. I believe the reason is to limit copper intake. You don’t seem to have this concern. Maybe I also get a shot of copper from the 50g of 85% cacao chocolate I eat every day. I supplement with zinc, 25-50mg per day, to try to balance this out.
Also, what are your thoughts on drinking reverse osmosis filtered water with Concentrace Trace Mineral Drops?
I have to eat five servings of the liverwurst to get one serving of liver, so I probably consistently eat no more than two servings of liver per week from it.
But no, I don’t share that concern. First of all, I have reason to suspect that a high copper requirement runs in my family. Second of all, unless we’re talking about some industrial accident or chronic overexposure from your pipes, it is much more concerning that supplementing with zinc could induce a copper deficiency than that copper can induce a zinc deficiency. It is biochemically backwards to be more concerned with the opposite because there actually isn’t a biochemical mechanism that I know of where copper would cause a deficiency of zinc in ranges at which people would encounter in the diet.
In any case, it would probably be reasonable for both of us to have markers of copper status measured instead of guessing, like both of us seem to be doing right now.
Honestly, the much safer bet is for you to supplement with copper to balance out that zinc. If your zinc to copper ratio is between two and 15 in favor of zinc and your zinc is under 40 mg per day, you can consider that the more or less safe zone.
Hi Chris, I’m trying to work backwards to calculate your average net carb load in the meals. If 2600kcal brings you to energy balance with an 80g protein goal and a fat range of 17-36% (avg. 27%), this comes out to around 398g net carbs per day — roughly 400g+ total carbohydrates. You mention breakfast can be as low as 20g of carbs, and lunch is usually very low in carbs (in the example picture, it’s basically a pile of leaves.) Dessert is usually cheese and maybe 1 tablespoon of honey…. So, does this often break down to a huge 300g+ carbohydrate dinner when insulin sensitivity is at the lowest?
I’ve been trying to decide whether I’m better off with 2x meals per day (roughly 150g net carbs per meal), or if I’m better off doing 3 or 4 meals per day at around 75-100g net carbs per meal (if not closer to 50g carbs with snacking throughout the day.) I’ve also had some success with just eating 1 large meal, but this seems to have pro-inflammatory potential with the large volume of food + fat + carbohydrate being ingested all at once. I’m not sure if it’s smartest to put me carbs right before my exercise (for lowering the post-prandial glucose excursion), or if it’s smarter to put my carbs right after exercise (when MPS and GLUT4 are activated for building muscles / disposing glucose.) I’m curious if it’s more ideal for me to consume carbs together with fats (to lower the post-prandial glucose peak), or to consume these in the absence of fats (to decrease fat storage and increase insulin sensitivity.)
I’m curious to hear your thoughts! Thanks!
On a practical level, I don’t really care about the carb load or its timing, except that I find it beneficial to bias carbs toward the evening for sleep promotion.
Breakfast is not usually 20 g carb. It is just that I only *need* about that to feel good in the morning if I get 30 g protein. But I still aim to get 500-800 kcal for breakfast, so it is highly unlikely that the remainder is all going to be from fat.
You seem to be applying a massive amount of theory to what is fundamentally a practical question. Did you measure the pro-inflammatory potential of the one meal a day in your own body? If not, did you pay attention to how you feel? At least how you felt is actually taking place in your own body, whereas reading about the pro-inflammatory potential is taking place on the Internet.
Perhaps you actually measured the pro-inflammatory markers, but it sounds to me like you are producing lots of different (and often conflicting) theoretical constructs around the question of meal composition and meal timing with very limited measurement. It would be great if you could measure reliable biomarkers of all of these things, but if you don’t have the resources (most people, including me, don’t) to do that, I think you will get more bang for the buck by measuring things you do have the resources to measure in your own body. Exercise performance, body weight, waist circumference, mood, energy level — some of these are subjective but some very objective and all of them provide important feedback about what is actually happening in your individual body.
Great points! I’ve only measured hs-CRP once looking at inflammation, fairly recently. During this time I was eating ~45g net CHO/d from nuts+veg+seafood with ~60g fiber across two ~1,100-1,400kcal meals in a 5-6hr window. Occasionally, this was just one very large 2,400kcal meal (mostly MUFA-heavy plant fats, with PUFAs coming along for the ride.) SpectraCell labs measured glucose @ 69mg/dL, insulin was listed as lower than the detectable minimum (<2 lU/mL), C-Peptide was 0.24 ng/mL, Leptin was lower than the detectable minimum (<0.8 ng/mL), and hs-CRP was at the lowest detectable minimum of 0.2 mg/L. A1C measured 4.9%. Checking ketones, I recorded serum BHB in the late afternoon ranging from 1.2-2.4mmol/L. Perhaps this is indeed not very inflammatory way for me to eat on paper, though it was occasionally "uncomfortable" into those *huge* fiber-rich meals. I didn't have much carbohydrate in these fatty meals.
I've done a few advanced lipid tests and a bit of continuous glucose monitoring, trying to make sense of different dietary strategies (particularly looking at higher fat intake / higher carb intakes.) I'd like to look closer into consistent higher carb intakes with fatty meals (eg. the "Perfect Health Diet") vs high-fat/low-carb and high-carb/low-fat cycling around exercise (eg. the "LeanGains" diet) — the latter seems to offer the most benefit for me in terms of body composition, but in theory I could see this providing the worst attributes from both the ketogenic low-carb and the low-fat diet camps.
I have noticed that a higher intake of SFA increases my LDL-P, while restricting SFA and consuming MUFA/PUFA/CHO in its place drives it down. A higher amount of CHO seems to improve exercise performance without negatively affecting lipids, while a higher level of ketones seems to improve productivity / energy / mood. I am currently experimenting with C8 MCT oil to see if I still get that LDL-raising effect with smaller chain lengths, although perhaps this needlessly increases methylglyoxal production.
Perhaps simply going by feel is the most logical approach, while occasionally checking basic lab work for any red flags. There is a little "Mood" metric on cronometer that I could probably put to good use.
Thanks again for your feedback and the great information you provide through your articles and podcasts! (My bad for the long comment thread =])
I don’t know how reliable those test results are, but if they are reliable, and I had them, I’d be trying to increase my leptin and insulin. I can’t imagine that having levels below a good detection limit is desirable.
I would think that the ketogenic effect of MCT oil added to a mixed diet would be much less likely to cause MG accumulation than the ketogenic effect of carb restriction, because you have insulin. MCT oil gives you ketones independent of insulin, but that insulin, even though it doesn’t lock C8 and C10 FAs in adipose and even though it doesn’t suppress their entry into the mitochondrion, it DOES suppress CYP2E1, the enzyme that converts acetone to MG, and it DOES stimulate GAPDH to prevent glycolytic generation, and it DOES stimulate GSH synthesis to promote MG detoxification.
I’m curious if your productivity is maintained with MCT supplementation. I would think this relates to ketones getting into the brain, and with MCTs, carb restriction is not needed to get that benefit.
Very interesting, I’ll have to experiment with combining MCTs + carbs and increasing my CHO intake (as well as maybe increasing the size of my eating window?) Eating ~ an 18:6 to 16:8 IF window, it seems as though insulin levels are likely to still remain on the lower side.
I’m curious if the insulin produced via protein consumption (like insulinogenic whey) or supplemental insulin mimetics (like alpha lipoic acid) provides a similar MG-lowering mechanism as compared with sugar & starch consumption.
I’ll be interested to see if any of those experiments have results that are worth noting.
No, the insulin from protein will not have that effect. Protein stimulates glucagon, which opposes almost all of the actions of insulin including stimulating its synthesis of glutathione.
The rule is protein does not stimulate the downstream effects of insulin because it also stimulates glucagon. There are exceptions to that rule, and if there weren’t, there would be no point of protein stimulating insulin. But protein primarily stimulates insulin because insulin brings amino acids into cells, and it stimulates glucagon because if it stimulated insulin without stimulating glucagon then you would get low blood sugar from eating protein. As a rule, I would assume that protein does not stimulate the effects of insulin unless evidence clearly establishes otherwise.
Think about how bizarre it would be, for example, if protein stimulated glycolysis, or if protein inhibited gluconeogenesis from acetone. That would be a recipe for protein causing a deficiency of glucose. That protein opposes most of the actions of insulin prevents you from getting what would otherwise be a quite profound metabolic dysfunction.
So, I’ve been trying mixing C8 MCT with carbs for ~ the last month while increasing my eating window up from 4-8hrs across 1-2 meals now to ~9-12hrs over 3 meals and 100-150g net carbs/d. I’ve tried MCT+CHO with various morning shakes (eg. ice, frozen steamed collard greens, ginger, turmeric, half an avocado, 1tsp fish oil, some frozen berries, a little hydrolyzed gelatin, and whey or hemp protein with some almond, hemp, or macadamia milk, and stevia.) I’ve also tried this mixed in with boiled sweet potatoes and with hummus / lentils / beans as part of mixed meals.
Just going by feel / n=1 data, these carbohydrates *do* seem to block a lot of the productivity boosting magic (unfortunately) of a HFLC diet (30-50g net carbs/d) + MCT oil, or unsweetened black coffee with 2tbs of C8 MCT.
If an A1C test remains in the mid-low 4%’s while on a HFLC diet, would that be an indication that methylglyoxal glycation is under control? (Is there a better test?)
A1C, no. There’s no commercial test for methylglyoxal. It would probably be useful to look at glutathione, from this test: https://www.hdri-usa.com/tests/methylation/
What fish do you eat most often / like best? And what form do you get it in? Fresh? Canned etc?
I bias towards lean white fish but also eat salmon.
Generally I opt for fresh or fresh frozen.
Giving blood is a great way to get rid of excess iron!
Interesting. Figuring out how some of this might apply to my own situation will take some time, but I’m sure that you’ve decided that whatever you’re ingesting will aid your quest for a productive healthy state. Updates from time to time would be interesting.
Somewhat in that regard, I notice you’re still eating four eggs a day. Obviously, you haven’t been influenced by the continuing work of Hazen et al. They’ve developed a blood test for TMAO, and most recently they’ve been claiming a gut-microbome atherosclerosis connection. They still are antibeef, and as far as I can determine, they haven’t mentioned that it might be wise to avoid fish, especially halibut and cod (LOL).
In case you haven’t come across the relevant publications, here they are (some at least):
Would love your commentary on this issue with these latest developments. There’s now a blood test for TMAO patented by Cleveland Clinic, and anti-biotic to kill our MB’s TMAO nasties is in sight.
Interesting to note that Hazen’s single-minded pursuit of this could be because of his financial interest in compounds and processes related to TMA0.
I’m guessing you’ve already read what I’ve written on the subject, but in case you haven’t (and for the benefit of others reading this), here they are:
Has Hazen ever addressed the “fish problem”? To be honest, I don’t see the point in keeping up with his research if he isn’t going to address such an obvious issue. The fact that fish is inversely associated with heart disease means either we throw out all the observational data including their correlations with choline intake, or we through out the mechanistic hypothesis. If they aren’t going to address the tough questions this strikes me as more noise than anything else.
What are Hazen’s financial interests in TMAO-related compounds?
Thank you very much for sharing with us what you usually eat.
I just want to ask you a little thing about your high fat meal (lunch): do you eat eggs every single day to achieve that goal? And, if yes, how much would be the recommended dose?
I’m asking this, because if one person is trying to do a high fat meal and being casein free, it seems quite impossible… I mean, dressing the salad with lots of olive oil/coconut oil could be a solution, but these are completely devoid of nutrients.
I am a newbie in this world of Health & Nutrition, so I’m still on a learning process. However, hearing and reading things from you is really helping me ‘grow’. I really appreciate it!
I eat four eggs per day on most days.
To be clear, it is not my aim to make the meal high in fat. It is just to make the meal relatively low in carbohydrate. So it typically contains at least 30 grams of protein, sometimes up to 50, and it contains some added fat. For example, I cook the eggs in 8 grams of butter, and that’s pretty much the only time I add fat through my food during the day. I do eat carbs, but it may be a piece of fruit instead of 50-100 grams of starch. So compared to my other meals, it is different in being higher in fat and lower in carb, but by some people’s standards it would not be considered that high in fat.
Some added fats *are* nutritious. For example, butter is very nutritious.
Hi Chris! Thank you so much for this informative post. I am wanting to try experimenting with macro- counting as I am also a CrossFitter and have some aesthetic and performance goals I’m after. I listened to your podcast episode where you spoke in detail about adjusting your overall macronutrient ratio (mostly focusing on the increase in protein) to meet your weight loss goals, and I really love your approach. I do not agree with the “if it fits your macros” mentality, and love how you have provided real life examples of how to do it keeping nutrient density in mind! THANK YOU. Quick question – when you were counting your macros did you use My Fitness Pal or an app to help you keep track of them (you mention keeping fat between 17 – 36 % and also keeping protein at 130-150/day)? Or what methods have you used for keeping track of it all? Also, did you/do you change your ratio on non-workout days?
Thank you in advance!
I tracked my calories and protein with MyFitnessPal. This is is the only user-friendly app I am aware of.
It also tracks fat, carbs, and a selection of micronutrients. However, I never cared that much what my fat and carbs were in total. I do shoot for more carbs before a workout, but other than that, I ignore the fat and carb ratios unless I have symptoms of not getting enough carbs. So, I “track” them, but I don’t pay much attention to the data.
I didn’t change my calories or protein on non-workout and workout days.
Now that I am no longer in fat loss mode, I find that my body wants a little extra food on workout days. So, right now I aim for 2500-2600 kcal but if I feel hungry when I get that and I did a hard workout, I add a little food and don’t worry about it.
Chris, do you find the ratio of carbs and fats to not matter much once you meet a minimum threshold? Does it mainly come down to personal preference?
If so, what would you consider those minimums for someone who is at your activity level – 3-4x/week strength training with mostly walking outside of that?
You mentioned upping carbs when you go into a gaining phase. Is there a reason for this over fats if you are meeting that minimum?
It is partly preference and partly what is available. The time lost in micromanaging carbs and fat is much more valuable to me than any marginal benefit of trying to micromanage that ratio.
Probably 200 g carb is minimal for someone with my activity but it depends on the individual and other contextual factors.
I don’t recall saying I up carbs during a gaining phase. I up calories, and some of that is carb.
The value of carb over fat in that context is that carb spares protein and fat does not, though this is not important if protein is high enough, and that carb repletes muscular glycogen, which can help both aesthetically if you are bodybuilding for that goal, and can help performance in weight training.
Very cool post Chris! I just discovered your blog and podcast and its very refreshing to find someone taking more of an academic perspective on these issues. I’ve worked in epidemiology research for most of my career, and its hard to find good scientists that are able to communicate clinical and research findings in a practical way. Too much of the podcast and blog space is saturated wit ‘health coaches’ or people with ‘integrative nutrition’ certificates making overarching nutrition clames based on irrelevant studies (like an in vitro animal studies from the 90s).
In terms of your post though, I’m interested in the inclusion of brown rice, lentils, and greens. I hear a lot of anecdotal discussion about avoiding legumes altogether, as well as potatoes, and conflicting views about brown vs white rice.
Do you exclusiely eat sprouted legumes and sprouted rice? If so what are the reasons and benefits?
Do you soak legumes and nuts before eating them to get rid of phytates? I’ve seen some conflicting research about phytates as well, as being both harmful as well as beneficial.
What about oxalates in greens? I like to eat a mix of raw greens (usually in smoothies and salads) and cooked greens, but I don’t ever pre-cook them to remove oxalates. Haven’t seen much in terms of evidence that they are harmful, but its something I hear a lot in the paleo/primal nutrition world.
Lastly what do you think about fat in coffee? I do the bulletproof coffee often, although not as a meal replacement, but I’m trying to cut out dairy (i have bad allergies) and am usure about continuing to spend so much money on coconut and modified MCT oils.
thanks for all you do!
Thanks for your kind words.
For a while I was using white rice because my local food coop does not carry sprouted brown rice and I didn’t have time to go to the nearest Whole Foods. Then, Thrive came along but didn’t carry sprouted brown rice. Now they do. So now I am back to using sprouted brown rice.
I think fully unprocessed brown rice is harder to digest.
If you want to learn about the case against brown rice, I recommend looking at Perfect Health Diet material.
I do not soak anything. Unless I give up trying to accomplish things in favor of a 40-hour-a-week job and marry someone more ambitious than me, or I switch niches and build a career out of cooking at home and sharing it on Instagram, I do not foresee soaking anything myself. I get the sprouted legumes and rice because someone else did it, then dried it. Sprouting should reduce phytates.
Oxalates are not just in greens. Sweet potatoes are loaded with oxalates. Oxalates are not high in all greens. They are pretty low in crucifers, and I don’t think lettuce has much. I would argue that my diet is pretty low in oxalates.
If I eat sweet potatoes multiple times a day for a week I will get joint problems that I believe are related to oxalates.
I’m not sure what you are asking about the coffee.
Do you think that taking ginger before meals can give the same or similar benefits as betaine HCl?
How do they compare?
Betaine HCl reduces my digestive symptoms. I don’t know the root cause. I am in the middle of testing ginger.
I don’t know that they have anything to do with one another. Betaine HCl is used as a source of HCl, which provides acidity that can overcome low stomach acid, though it also provides betaine which itself is an unrelated nutrient. I honestly don’t know much about ginger’s mechanism of action but I don’t think it is primarily or exclusively by stimulating stomach acid.
I enjoyed reading this post. Any particular reason why you go brown rice over white rice?
Ginger promotes motility.
Don’t understand what you mean by “you’re acidic” You would be in an ICU near death or dead if your blood ph was less 7. This is basic physiology. You body works very hard to keep your blood ph normal around 7.35 – 7.45
The rest of this post sounds like a commercial.
I like a lot of posts but not this one.
You’re exactly right. I really value Chris’ insight and deep understanding of physiology and such. But he has turned into a walking ad. Sorry Chris, linking everything (Amazon, USWellness, and that drink with protein, etc. especially the kettle, that made me laugh.) 🤑
But if that’s what it takes to get the amazing knowledge you have for free, I am okay with that. As long as you’re one of us🤞🏼 And you don’t give in. Love your info on YouTube.
I appreciate that he does this. Heck…I had no idea I could save 20%. Thanks Chris!
As a nutritionist I will come to his defense. People are always asking me what brand I use, where do I buy my stuff, what am I eating, etc. So…if people are going to ask anyway..and going to most likely buy it anyway, why not take part in the transaction. Especially when it takes hours of your time to write a post like this? If you don’t want that product don’t buy it. Chris pours his heart and soul into all the info he provides us…. let him make a few cents for it.