What is your strategy for fitness and nutrition?

I don’t have any craving for candy at the moment. I don’t eat any refined carbs, except for one time when I got stuck without food before a meeting and only had time to get some avocado rolls with white rice. I think that the white rice was my only “cheat” in several months, and only because I had to keep my brain working for the meeting – otherwise I would have gone home for food.

When I was 18, I was living off of Taco Bell and junk food. I was able to eat at MacDonalds. These days, I would rather go without food for a day than eat it.

I think that industrial scale fast food is engineered to be addictive, but that it only becomes tolerable if you eat it a few times. If one can stop for a period of time, the cravings will turn into aversion. Sense of taste will return. Learning how the food is made helps too (sawdust, chemicals, animal abuse, etc.).

My next food project is to figure out how to be sure that I’m getting the recommended daily intake of calcium without eating dairy.

You can use nutritiondata. Just search for the foods you currently eat, add the right amounts and put them in your tracking list (you have to be registered for that). It calculates everything - total calories (and shows cals in each food independently), cals in [protein, fat and carbs], vitamins, minerals, amino acids…I discovered my diet lacks in some vitamins.

I looked up chopped garlic, and Wikipedia has some information on the allicin page. I eat a fair amount of garlic every day. Maybe I should let it sit for a little while after chopping.

I just registered for the nutrition data website.

It seems tricky to get 1,000mg of calcium per day just from minimally-processed vegetables, though the first 3 items have more calcium than milk:

Collard greens, cooked 1 cup 357 Tofu, processed with calcium sulfate* 4 ounces 200-420 Tofu, processed with nigari* 4 ounces 130-400 Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 249 Tempeh 1 cup 184 Kale, cooked 1 cup 179 Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 175 Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 158 Mustard greens, cooked 1 cup 152 Okra, cooked 1 cup 135 Tahini 2 Tbsp 128


I found another interesting list here:

Almond butter (2 tablespoons contains 85 mg) Broccoli (1 cup contains 95 mg) Raw fennel (1 medium bulb contains 115 mg) Oranges (1 orange contains between 50 and 60 mg) Figs (1/2 cup contains 120 mg) Amaranth (1 cup contains 275 mg)

One of my favourite things in my kitchen is a little garlic plate. You drop a little oil on it, then grate the garlic, then use a little brush to get the grated garlic into your pan.

I find it gives an almost purer flavour of garlic than by chopping. I’ve often thought that I’d like to prepare a couple of dishes in exactly the same way with the exception of the garlic method and see if it makes a difference.

There isn’t a “best” nutrition for everyone. However, there are some guidelines.
About 1/4 of us can have all the flour, sugar, fruit we want and handle it just fine. It’s a genetic accident, not a sign of superior character!

The rest of us will generally do better eating a lot less carbohydrate. There is a full spectrum of carb-related abnormalities all the way from a little plump around the middle all the way to frank type 2 diabetes, and eating less carbohydrate works very well for almost everyone.

I personally follow “The New Atkins for a New You” by Eric Westman MD, a Duke medicine professor. NO, Atkins won’t kill you; that is a persistent myth! Many recent studies past fifteen years; it is an excellent way to eat.

For exercise, I personally like “Body By Science” by Doug McGuff MD. It is once a week, weightlifting on machines to momentary muscle failure over about 1:30-3 minutes per exercise. It’s really intense but with machines it is very safe and there are studies that whether you use free weights or machines makes little difference. It’s 30 minutes per week; highly efficient. I’m 60 and pushing over 330 lbs on a Nautilus Leg Press for over 2 minutes; it’s a real workout. McGuff claims that is all the “exercise” a person needs and the rest of the time just “be active.”

For brain and memory, there is an additional “tweak” you might consider, and that is nutritional ketosis. When you go low carb and eat enough fat, your metabolism switches from glucose-dependent to a more flexible ketone burning, and there is some evidence that you get mentally sharper in ketosis. (Note that this is NOT ketoacidosis, a medical emergency that diabetics occasionally have; they are completely different despite the similar names.) You can also get into ketosis by addition of coconut oil or MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil to food. Best intro is probably Jimmy Moore, who has a book called ‘Keto Clarity’ and a website called “LivinLaVidaLowCarb.com”.

Good luck. Lots of links to all these on my website, PaleoPathologist.com. And I’m not selling anything there.

Doc Jim

Various ways of eating probably work differently for people. I was into a book called Nourishing Traditions for a while (lots of meat and dairy), but I gained a lot of weight and didn’t feel well. High-protein, low carbohydrate diets don’t seem to work for me. I know that some people have success with it though.

I was a vegetarian until I was 12, so maybe I didn’t develop the microorganisms required to easily digest a lot of meat. I also didn’t eat much sugar and never drank a soda until I was about 17. That surely must affect gut bacteria.

I looked into the Paleo Diet a little bit when it first became popular, because I had a strong interest in hunter gatherer cultures for many years. The way I eat is partially based on my research from that time, but I came to some different conclusions than the authors of the Paleo Diet. (E.g., I eat significant quantities of whole grains and whole vegetables but not a lot of meat.) I’m definitely not an expert on nutrition though, and consider all of it to be self-experimentation. :slight_smile:

I think I finally solved my calcium problem. I ate a lot of Napa cabbage today, along with salmon, tahini sauce, and tofu. I also picked up some collard greens (giant nutritious broccoli leaves) for tomorrow. Definitely made it past 1000 mg.

Yes, allicin, that’s it.

Good info on ketosis.

The thing about using free weights is you also build balance; you learn to control the weights, keep them from moving left and right, up and down. This involves a lot of small muscles that are not necessarily activated when using machines.

I’ve looked into MCT oil [http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/mct-oil-vs-coconut-oil-the-truth-exposed/] recently, and it looks like a marketing scam(by dave asprey).


The “small muscle” and “stabilizing muscle” theory may not really be true. Free weights are fine as long as you have perfect form but they are higher risk for injury especially if you do fast/ballistic movements. Look up Drew Baye, Body By Science, and Fischer and Steele’s articles online. The latter two are exercise researchers who found NO DIFFERENCE in strength gains between free weights and machines (good machines of course; bad ones are, well, bad ones.) There was a difference in injuries.

As far as MCT oil goes, it’s like everything else. Does is cause ketosis? Yes. Do you have to buy the gold plated brand? Probably not. There are MCT’s in coconut oil (I put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee with heavy cream this morning.)

I saw someone talking about “Low carb high protein.” That is NOT a good plan. What most of us need is low carb, MODERATE protein (maybe a gram per kg of body weight per day) and make up the difference with FAT.

Doc, are you NUTS? Fat kills, doesn’t it?

Nope. Fat is actually the cleanest fuel there is, especially saturated fat. Seed oils (soy, corn, safflower, etc) are full of polyunsaturates which oxidize and become unhealthy very quickly. Butter! Coconut oil! Some olive oil! What makes most of us fat is actually carbohydrate consumption, not eating fat.

But there is way too much here for a quick post. Basically we have been taught that a healthy diet is “lots of complex carbohydrates, low fat, lots of protein.” That turns out to have no scientific validity for most of us. One charismatic guy inflicted this whole mess on us.

If you want the real science, look up Volek and Phinney who have been doing low carb research since the 80’s, read Gary Taube’s books, as I mentioned previously Eric Westman MD’s “The New Atkins for a New You”, etc.

Doc Jim


Great to have a doctor here. Doctor, if you wouldn’t mind, could you create a post on an optimal diet filled with nutrients? Understand if you are too busy to do so.



But the issue raised is balance, not strength. I find it hard to conceive that professional athlete, who values balance, would choose a machine over free weights. The injury issue is valid for the rest of us. I wonder if a compromise is best, something involving pulleys like the Total Gym endorsed by Chuck Norris.

The low fat trend seems to have been a complete mistake.

I eat a reasonable amount of fat with every meal (avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish), and still lost a lot of unneeded weight.

I used to make coconut milk from scratch, which is far better tasting than the canned stuff. A machine like this could be useful for coconut eaters:

Related post: the effect of sugar on the brain and memory.

Related to earlier comments about the human microbiome, I thought this was interesting: Oral Immunotherapy Combination Of Peanut Protein, Probiotics May Cure Peanut Allergies.

After several months on my restricted diet (partially to test for difficulties with certain foods), I’m expanding it a little bit. I’ll post an update in the blog post soon. Lost almost 40 pounds and got rid of some other heath problems. The expanded diet is just as health-oriented, but just adds back the rice, wheat, oats, limited meat, yogurt, and nightshade vegetables.

I just saw this article about how emulsifiers in processed foods might negatively affect gut bacteria. See also the Nature.com page. It’s interesting how small amounts of common food additives might have such a large effect on health.

To answer the question on strategy for fitness and nutrition:

Fitness: I used to be into heavy weight lifting, but then I started to travel for 3 years. Nothing as bad for your fitness schedule as constant travelling… Now that I’ve settled down again I started with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) running. So far, so good. I’ve gained a couple of kg’s in muscle and my stamina is getting pretty good. I will probably add heavy weight lifting after I reached my goal of running 2400m in 8m20s, just to see what results I can get with only that exercise.
I recently added 3 abdominal exercises (2 exercises for the ‘4h body’ from Timothy Ferriss, the other one is just as much regular crunches as you can do in 1 minute).

For diet: I’m vegan/vegetarian. Vegan when I cook, vegetarian when I go out. Lately I’m trying to cut out sugar and try to eat as local as possible (no exotic fruits/veggies and such). I’m getting there, but it’s quite the adaptation.

Related to the baking vs. steaming of sweet potatoes: Is reheated pasta less fattening?

A rapid rise in blood glucose, followed by a rapid fall, can often make you feel hungry again quite soon after a meal. It's true of sugary sweets and cakes, but it's also true for things like pasta, potatoes, white rice and white bread. That's why dieticians emphasise the importance of eating foods that are rich in fibre, as these foods produce a much more gradual rise and fall in your blood sugars.

But what if you could change pasta or potatoes into a food that, to the body, acts much more like fibre? Well, it seems you can. Cooking pasta and then cooling it down changes the structure of the pasta, turning it into something that is called “resistant starch”.

It’s called “resistant starch” because once pasta, potatoes or any starchy food is cooked and cooled it becomes resistant to the normal enzymes in our gut that break carbohydrates down and releases glucose that then causes the familiar blood sugar surge.

So, according to scientist Dr Denise Robertson, from the University of Surrey, if you cook and cool pasta down then your body will treat it much more like fibre, creating a smaller glucose peak and helping feed the good bacteria that reside down in your gut. You will also absorb fewer calories, making this a win-win situation.

I didn’t read this one yet, but it might have more info: The Factors that Modify Glycemic Indexes.

Resistant starches are apparently very good for the intestines; they’re not digested in the stomach, and thus give food to the bacteria in the intestines. Green bananas, rice, some other foods contain many resistant starches. It is not that well studied as of yet though. Here’s an intro.


Interesting article. I cook for a few days at a time and store the food in the refrigerator, including the sweet potatoes, so I’m probably okay. My sourdough bread is cooled, sliced, and frozen.

I’m not sure if I posted this one yet: Artificial Sweeteners May Change Our Gut Bacteria in Dangerous Ways

Here are some more articles that I’ve been reading:

How the bacteria in your gut may be shaping your waistline:

One debate concerns the villainy of glucose, which is found in starches, and fructose, found in fruits, table sugar and, not surprisingly, high-fructose corn syrup. Diets with a high “glycaemic index”, raising glucose levels in the blood, seem to promote metabolic problems. David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital has shown that those on a diet with a low glycaemic index experience metabolic changes that help them keep weight off, compared with those fed a low-fat diet. This challenges the notion that a calorie is a calorie. Others, however, blame fructose, which seems to promote obesity and insulin resistance. Now a study published in Nature Communications by Richard Johnson, of the University of Colorado, explains that glucose may do its harm, in part, through its conversion to fructose.

I haven’t eaten sugar since last year, and I’ve kept most of the weight off without much effort, despite changing other things in my diet. I also still avoid things like refined grains and juice whenever possible.

I also eat a lot of fermented food whenever possible, so this is interesting:

One examined bacteria in nearly 300 Danish participants and found those with more diverse microbiota in their gut showed fewer signs of metabolic syndrome, including obesity and insulin resistance. The other study put 49 overweight participants on a high-fibre diet. Those who began with fewer bacterial species saw an increase in bacterial diversity and an improvement in metabolic indicators. This was not the case for those who already had a diverse microbiome, even when fed the same diet.

Jeffrey Gordon, of Washington University in St Louis, says these two studies point to the importance of what he calls “job vacancies” in the microbiota of the obese. Fed the proper diet, a person with more vacancies may see the jobs filled by helpful bacteria.

For bodybuilding purpose I do have way more strength on a high carbs diet.

I am not a scientist but what makes us fat is not carbs or fat but simply eating too much calories.
If your body needs 2000 kcal to function normaly then if you eat 1500 calories of fat or 1500 calories or carbs, you will lose weight.

And 30 mins of workout once a week… this is maybe enough for the average Joe but not for fitness.
Even 1h twice a week in the gym is just enough to keep your gains but you won’t get better with that… unless you are just a beginner who just started lifting…