Monday, April 7, 2008
My Take on Diet
One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is, "What do you eat?" People wonder how I manage to keep my body fat at about 6% year round. Further, I've remained youthful in appearance (and behavior) which I attribute to my daily regimen.
There are dozens of theories about the best way to eat. One thing that everyone agrees upon is we all need a certain amount of calories, water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Then the lines rapidly delineate when it comes to proportions of macro-nutrients and meal frequency. Food quality is a whole other issue... Let me preface the following by saying that this is only an accounting of what I do--and I'm not saying what I do is for everyone! The topic of food consumption and nutrition is a very emotional subject for some people. Some of the most vicious arguments I've ever witnessed were nutrition-based. Much like politics or religion, it's a loaded, fully-charged gun waiting to go off. You must be careful with these things, treading between people's confusion and emotions. Once someone "settles" in with a dietary program, they want to believe in it. They begin to self-identify with it. If another diet is touted as good/better/best, their belief system is challenged. Either they are wrong or the other guy must be wrong. Most people won't allow themselves to be wrong and this is the basis of the nutrition wars.
My own diet has evolved over decades. I'm an experimenter, willing to use my body as a laboratory to test any intriguing theories I might encounter. I was raised on a mixed, American diet, typical of the 1950's and 60's. I went lacto-ovo vegetarian; vegan; raw-food vegan and macrobiotic. I followed Arnold Erhet's Mucusless Diet System; Herbert Sheldon's Food Combining system; the Hunza diet; Paavo Airola's diet system; The Gracie family diet; Ori Hoffmeklar's Warrior Diet; the Atkins diet and Dr. Ellis' Diet Solution. I've run the gamut of high-carb/low-fat to high-protein/high-fat; I suspect I've tried about every combination. I've read a lot on the subject and further had the opportunity to observe my clients' responses as they've followed me on my diet journeys. I've been on the same diet now (and still evolving) for 15 years. I finally settled on a low-carb diet, with about 20% of calories coming from carbohydrate. When I need to lean out (from over-indulgence) I go ketogenic (very few carbs) for a few days to a week. I feel my very best on this diet, compared to all of the other diet strategies I've tried. Once I went low-carb, I stopped searching elsewhere because I began feeling and performing better than ever. With lower carb and higher fat, my satiety level went up, inflammation went down, mood improved and I became noticeably leaner and more muscular. I eat the following foods in various proportions throughout the week: jerky from grass-finished beef; pemmican (beef jerky and rendered tallow 1:4); cheese (raw milk Swiss); chicken; hard-boiled eggs; cottage cheese; 25 Greek yogurt; whey concentrate powder; rice bran; unpasteurized pickled vegetables and a variety of cooked green vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, kale and collards. I eat when I'm hungry, drink when I'm thirsty and eat little, unless my appetite is especially voracious. I play a game with myself to see how little I can eat and still perform at a high level in my chosen activities. I space meals out over the day with at least three--usually four--hours between feedings. I prefer to fast during the morning hours, though lately I've begun taking a spoonful BCAAs when I wake up. Here's a typical menu:
05:30 -- supplements: aminos; BCAAs; glutamine; tyrosine and creatine
09:30 -- pemmican bar (USWellnessmeats.com)
10:00 -- coffee with cream or half & half
14:00 -- yogurt/whey shake (double serving Fage yogurt with 2 T. whey concentrate, sweetener and mineral water 1:1)
17:00 -- 8 oz. package of beef jerky (USWellnessMeats.com); 1/4 lb. cheese; 2 hard-boiled eggs
21:00 -- supplements: nighttime sleep stack
If I'm still hungry, I'll have a light snack in the evening. I like low-fat cottage cheese right now with a teaspoon of some super food fruity/greens powder. Sometimes a bag of pork rinds is a nice treat and for franken-food, I like Metabolic Drive chocolate chunk bars as a light meal replacement. Occasionally I eat movie popcorn with butter and here in San Francisco they provide nutritional yeast flakes to sprinkle on top. That's pretty much it. When I eat out, I like soups. i enjoy fried calamari as a special treat from time-to-time. It pretty much comes down to that. I eat to live, not live to eat. I enjoy my food, but it's no big thing. I feel good, appear young and stay lean and muscular. I'm never sick, have no health problems and am happy 90% of the time. This works for me.