Before I get into the foods, I’ll describe where I am now. I weigh 180 pounds (81.6 kg) at a height of 6’2 (188 cm). I’ve now maintained a 40-pound weight loss for 4 years. Thank you, Potato Hack and Potatoes and Protein.
One concern I had after listening to Peter Attia and reading my DEXA score from 2020 was maybe I lost too much muscle during the final phase of my diet due to the lower protein levels of the Potato Diet. I was also skipping breakfast. I switched over to Potatoes and Protein, but perhaps I could have done so sooner.
This year I planned to test higher protein, keep my exercise levels the same, maintain my weight, and then get a fresh DEXA. At this time, I feel like I’ve never looked better. I suspect the protein is working, but until I get a score, I won’t know for sure.
That was the plan. Then I got a hernia and a week from now I will get surgery. This will likely negatively impact my body composition in the near term, so any DEXA scan this year will likely be junk data. But minus the hernia, I’ve never looked or felt better.
My Avoid List
- Gluten-based foods. This will probably always remain a mystery to me. When I consume gluten foods, I weigh more and my skin looks worse. Is gluten the cause or just a proxy for calorie-dense inflammatory foods? After 15 years of back-and-forth experimentation and expensive tests that have little credibility, I still don’t know. But from a risk perspective, I’ve decided to keep gluten-based foods out of my diet. I do not miss them.
- Alcohol. Instant headache. Years ago, I gave up trying to find the “safe” headache-free option. It is all poison to me.
- Cooking oils. I cook almost completely with water in my Instant Pot. No oils are needed. If I do need oil for a pan, I’ll use extra virgin olive oil (from California). If I go to a restaurant, which is rare, I try to order food that is either cooked in liquid or slower cooked (lower temp). This means zero fried foods for me. See The Seed Oil Debate Revisited for my reasons.
- Liquid calories. Except for the occasional ginger beer and my morning protein shake, I don’t drink calories. I like water drinks such as Bubly and La Croix just fine.
- Processed meats. Bacon, sausages, bologna, hot dogs, salami, etc. I also rarely consume pork.
- Most Gluten-free substitutes. When I shop for groceries, I don’t seek out or buy GF bread, pasta, or other options. There is a grocery store in Seattle (PCC) that sells a flourless cookie for $1.50. If I want one, I walk a mile round trip to get one.
- Higher fat dairy. I like a good full-fat yogurt or the occasional ice cream, but I seek out low-fat and fat-free dairy. It has more protein and fewer calories.
- Junk food. Obvious. No chips, cakes, etc.
- Nuts and seeds have moved from staples to minimized. Almonds were starting to cause me gut issues in 2021, so I swapped them for Brazil nuts. I ate too many. Now they are on the “don’t bring this food into the house” list along with cheese. It is too easy for me to overeat these foods.
- Broccoli sprouts. I make a new batch every 5 days. Is this the most healthy food on the planet? The 2022 book Life Force by Robbins and Diamandis raved about this food for its potential anti-cancer benefits. Dr. Rhonda Patrick loves sprouts as well and has several videos on YouTube about them.
- Lentils and legumes. For years after falling for the Paleo lies regarding the evils of legumes, I avoided them. Then when I reintroduced the food, I got bloated. The key to restoring the gut is to start with lentils and use smaller portions. Soak all other beans overnight. Rinse the soak water. Use an Instant Pot. Ease into beans like easing into a new workout routine. Go slow. Legumes are dirt cheap and healthy.
- Fat-free Greek yogurt. I add blueberries and a small amount of vanilla protein powder.
- My ugly protein shake with chia seeds and more. This is a nutrient-dense shake in the spirit of Bryan Johnson’s Blueprint.
- Quinoa, steel-cut oats, buckwheat grouts. These GF grains cook up great in the Instant Pot. I add veggies, lean protein, and hot sauce to the quinoa and buckwheat. I add blueberries and protein powder to the oatmeal.
- Chicken breasts. I went from consuming almost no chicken to having chicken breasts a few times a week. These are protein bombs with very little fat. Old school bodybuilders wisdom for the win.
- Kimchi. Every day.
- Raw carrots. The Ray Peat followers will approve of this.
- Tofu. Ignore the lies regarding soy and testosterone. I used to believe them myself. There are countless smart people in recent years who have debunked these myths.
- Green onions and cilantro. I cut these up almost daily and add them to my soups or “Budda bowl” dinners.
Baking chicken breasts in bulk.
- Meat. I will occasionally have extra-lean ground beef in a soup.
- Seafood. Canned salmon and sardines mostly. I’m still a peasant at heart when it comes to buying seafood.
- Pastured eggs.
- I like all fruits and vegetables. Even oranges!
- White and brown rice.
- Morning – Ugly Protein Shake
- Breakfast (gym days) – Low-fat cottage cheese or eggs over potatoes (3-4 min pressure in Instant Pot, cooled in frig overnight for resistant starch)
- Lunch – Most lunches I have are soups. Lentils, legumes, tofu, or extra-lean ground beef. I make my beef stock. Load up on veggies. Sometimes served over white or brown rice. Before the soup, I’ll eat a portion of sprouts covered in kimchi.
- Dinner – Lean protein (chicken breast) over a non-gluten grain (usually quinoa) with veggies.
My Overall Theme
There seems to be agreement in nutrition that you can have a diet higher in fat or higher in carbs, but not both. That leads to poor health outcomes. I choose carbs over fat. It’s what works best for me.
I favor foods that are higher in volume (fewer calories by weight), higher in protein, nutrient-dense, and not hyper-palatable. The foods I eat taste good, but they don’t taste so amazing that I continue to eat past satiety.
Unlike others who get fixated on a single approach for optimal health, I’m assuming I don’t know what is best. Since no single way has been proven optimal for everyone, I mix different practices that seem promising. And it is working well for me.