I don’t often get into the specifics of my diet with people unless some prying occurs. I guess the shock, borderline appalled, looks I’ve gotten have led to a negative association with doing so. It comes off as extreme, that I get. What I don’t get is that people seem to rather jump off a bridge than attempt it. I get responses as if it's the most unaccessible, miserable thing in the world. This baffles me, mostly because I thoroughly enjoy it, more than any nutrient paradigms I used to follow, and it has taken little to no effort to stick with. I want to bring it up here to try and explore that disconnect by providing my take on the experience. Despite my obsessions with health, nutrition, fitness, longevity, I’ve always strayed from being prescriptive or promotional about my own fitness/diet optimizations I’ve done through ~10 years of self experimenting with training and nutrition. But I’m in a really healthy place in my life now, both physically and mentally, so it might be useful to start opening up more about it.
I follow the ketogenic diet, macronutrient profile of 75% fat, 5% carbs, 20% protein, that much has become known in this blog. What I haven’t brought up is that I also don’t eat dairy or meat. If you know anything about keto, you may associate it as the ‘cheese, bacon, steak, and whipped cream’ diet and maybe once doubted the credibility of its health benefits or thought welp, I could do that. Yep, not I. Although, my friends on keto thrive on a fully normal keto diet consisting of all that good stuff, so I don’t doubt that it can be just as beneficial if done the right way. More on that in a bit.
So how and why? Always start with why. My convoluted journey down health optimization lane began after high school, when it suddenly was up to me to control my lifestyle and stay fit. That became glaringly real when the freshman 5…10 started to kick in. I played team sports all my life—daily practices, weekly competitive games, and fueling meals were the norm. Fit was the default, it wasn’t something I had to actively think about or deploy intrinsic motivation towards. But when college came, that went away. After about 6 months of play and ignoring the biological reality that eating crap and studying and/or partying all night leads to a reduction in fitness, I kicked back into gear. Never a team sports person despite being brought up that way (will do a post on this next), I joined the boxing team. I loved the strength and power I started gaining, but a ceiling was reached in terms of physically leaning out. Next step was diet. I started eating less processed foods and thinking more about what I put in my body, step 1. I cut out meat, step 2. I cut out dairy, step 3. There wasn’t any specific reason why I cut those two things, I just stopped wanting them and thought that had to mean something. The more fit I got from boxing and weightlifting, the more I was able to listen to my cravings, my body started wanting things that would best fuel and repair it.
So that was a thing for a while. Lots of produce, seafood, protein powders/bars…very low fat, high carb. I fell prey to the Ancel Keys deception, see my post on that. After 5 years of this, I started hearing more about keto from some of the thought leaders I most trusted—Tim Ferriss, Peter Attia, David Perlmutter, Joe Rogan, and on and on. In true marketing fashion, after about 6 touchpoints I started researching it myself and eventually was convinced to reduce my carb intake drastically and up my fats. 6 months later, I went full keto.
This is a bit of a reiteration of my last post, but adds the background behind the no dairy/no meat keto masochism (friends’ words, not mine). It’s just what I’ve always done. Even if my body could physically handle it, I had no desire to bring the two back in when starting keto. I was a bit worried because I hadn’t heard of anyone keto sans meat or dairy, but I figured I’d give it a shot for a month. As Jordan Peterson said when his daughter requested he try the carnivore diet for a month, “You can do anything for a month. I could hang from a windowsill by my fingernails for a month”. I’ve now been consistently in ketosis for 6 months, no dairy or meat. Still hangin strong.
So…how? The most concise answer is consistency. I basically cycle through the same foods every day. I’ve never needed or craved diversity in my diet, I’m such a creature of habit and I love reducing the number of decisions (also represented in my Steve Jobs wardrobe) I make in a day so this was like a breath of fresh air. I track my foods on MyFitnessPal to make sure I’m on par with my macro percentages and catching my nutrient deficiencies. Any gaps I have, which are bound to occur with this limited diet, I supplement. I’ll do a post on my specific food and supplement routine at some point but that’s the gist.
Why am I baffled that this seems so difficult to people? Because it’s really simple, much simpler than the S.A.D. diet. But for those who value more diversity, there are a few paradigms that by following I think can work wonders for your health and how you feel just on its own.
Track your food to maintain the right macro percentages, keep calorie count in check, and catch micronutrient deficiencies.
Fill the micronutrient gaps that aren’t being ameliorated with food with medical-grade supplements.
Avoid processed foods/fillers/preservatives.
Have a 12- to 15-hour gap between meals every 24 hours (i.e. intermittent fasting).
Eat to live, don’t live to eat.