I talk about diet a lot on this show, but sometimes it’s important to back up a few steps from dealing with all the nuances, deep research, and total immersion that I’ve had for the past few years and just offer some basic (but important) big-picture insights.
This show is for everyone, regardless of where you’re at in your dietary journey—as you will hear, I felt really inspired after my interview with heptathlete Chari Hawkins, one of the greatest female athletes in the world, to share the principles and guidelines that I am currently following that help me stick to my current diet. My current diet, by the way, is not keto, paleo, or straight carnivore, but category-less—the only thing I am concerned with these days is nutrient density—that is my true goal. Get ready to hear the 13, crucial insights that have become the centerpieces of my current, nutrient-dense diet, and send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org!
The main dietary message from Brad is a nutrient-dense diet is the way to go. [01:00]
Brad is discussing major recalibrations he has made in his diet, changing from fasting to eating more calories. [03:49]
A nutrient-dense diet helps you perform, recover, and maintain good hormone and immune status. The restrictive diets create extra stress. [08:17]
Ditch processed foods, especially vegetable oils. [10:49]
Toxic modern foods include refined grains and sugars and all the processed food and beverages that are made with these items. [12:58]
What about the leafy greens and other vegetables? [15:05]
Prioritize protein. We will continue eating calories until we get protein our body needs. [17:47]
Meat and fruit are the most easy-to-digest foods and the best source of protein and other micronutrients. [23:27]
Red meat is the most nutritious type of meat. [24:41]
High levels of plant toxins are often correlated with what is considered to be nutritious. Learn the difference. [32:08]
It is important to be selective on the animal-based diet, trying to acquire the best within your budget. Pasture-raised eggs are what to look for. [36:16]
Practices like keto, low carb, vegan, strict carnivore, intermittent fasting, time-restricted feeding are stressful by nature to the human. [40:06]
Many of the diets are successful because of what you eliminate rather than what you do eat. [45:22]
Strive for maximum cellular energy at all times by eating nutritious meals. [48:22]
We want all our dials turned up full. Females, especially, must look at this concept. [52:14]
Cellular energy production is diminished most likely from over-training or consuming the wrong foods. [57:54]
Liver and other organ meats are the number one most nutritious food on the planet. [59:31]
Brad’s morning smoothie, honey snacks and approved beverages are the way to start the day. [01:01:26]
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Hello. You probably know I talk about diet a lot on this show, but sometimes it’s important to back up a few steps from dealing with all the nuances and the deep research and the total immersion that I’ve had for many years. Writing books and making podcasts and interviewing experts. Uh, it’s important to back up and just have some basic important big picture insights that I could share with a new listener or new acquaintance to familiarize them with the principles and the guidelines that I’m currently following. And you want to ask me what dietary camp I’m in? Is it primal, Is paleo, Is it keto? Is it carnivore? And I now prefer to describe my highest goal is to follow a nutrient-dense diet. That is the biggest goal, arguably a great goal for all of us to share and putting together the bulleted insights about what that really describes and what it’s all about in practice.
Uh, I have to say I was inspired by my interview with Team USA Head Chari Hawkins, one of the greatest female athletes in the world who excels at the extremely difficult grueling seven event track and field competition known as the heptathlon. So we have throwing the javelin. We have shot put, we have high jump, we have sprinting, we have hurdling, and it takes place over the course of two days. Had a great interview talking about all aspects of her lifestyle as a professional athlete. And then as we got to talking, we talked a little bit on the show, but she’s very interested in learning more and more about dietary optimization.
And interestingly enough, the great professional athletes in individual sports are pretty much on their own for everything. Like finding a place to train, finding a coach. She talked about those difficulties that she had just lining everything up after college to pursue her dream of becoming a professional track and field athlete. Much unlike the team sport athletes where you go to the training center and the football players get serve their meals. The basketball team is traveling on road trips and the meals are delivered to the locker room. Dr. Cate Shanahan was in charge of, uh, lining up the Lakers diet for their road trips and strategizing the best foods to eat. But those individual sport athletes are entirely on their own. And so it was really a wonderful opportunity to connect and try to, uh, provide some support for an elite athlete. So I said, Look, I better put together some thoughts here, and it was a great exercise for me too because, you know, you gotta have your elevator pitch ready sometimes if someone asks what it’s all about.
I’d like to present in an organized manner some of the key points. So in this show, you’re going to get a wonderful package of 13 different insights that are centerpieces of my current nutrient-dense diet. And if you’ve been listening to the show frequently, you’ll know that I’ve had some major recalibrations in recent years, especially early this year, 2022, being exposed to the energy balance model with Jay Feldman Energy Balance Podcast and many other, uh, leading experts who are rethinking the best use and practices of restrictive dietary strategies such as fasting, time restricted feeding, low carb keto, and how these might be best optimized, especially in a healthy, active person by minimizing the stressors that come from diet and instead pursuing this goal of maximum cellular energy nourishment at all times. And so that was what inspired my experiment to go and consume more calories, more food, stop fasting, and instead, nourishing myself with nutritious foods only, uh, as much as I need during the day.
And the experiment has been a great success so far, not a radical transformation and rejecting everything that I’ve been writing about and talking about for years. But basically what I did was, instead of my historical pattern of fasting in the morning until starting out with a major midday meal or perhaps just nibbling on dark chocolate during the morning hours, not really worrying about going and preparing a big meal. I wasn’t hungry. I was, uh, banking those fasting hours, which are so highly regarded. So I made this switch to say, You know what, I’m gonna start my day with a huge bowl of easy to digest nutritious carbohydrates in the form of fruit and a giant protein smoothie with all kinds of performance agents and additives in there. So I have frozen fruit, I have chunks of frozen raw liver, couple scoops of the very best protein in the world that I’m about to launch, and very excited about that.
And then other performance agents like creatine, glutamine, a couple dozen ancestral supplements pills, including MOFO and many others. And so this very filling and nutritious protein smoothie, large bowl of fruit, and that characterizes my morning Now instead of waiting to consume calories, and the thinking there is that that is going to provide optimal cellular energy and minimize the stress impact of tapping into the hormonal processes that allow you to, uh, sustain energy when you’re not eating. And that was the big one. And then back in 2019, as I talked about frequently, my exposure to the animal based diet message and the idea that the natural plant toxins, uh, could be causing problems and are certainly unnecessary when compared in light to the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, which are largely found in the animal kingdom. And that’s what my Carnivore Scores Food Rankings Chart is all about.
I urge you to go to my website homepage. scroll to the bottom, click the button and download the pdf, which you can print out this wonderful colorful chart that has a tiered ranking system of the most nutritious food. So the top tier category, the global all stars things like liver, oysters, salmon, eggs, and then we go down to red meat and we go down to eggs. And so it gives you kind of a, at a glance idea of where to, um, emphasize your meal planning in order to get maximum nutrition. So very proud of that. I’ve designed it to be the definitive guide to navigating to the most nutritious meals and staying away from the potential concerns that we have with consuming processed foods and also the natural plant toxins and some of the plant superstars that we’ve been highly regarded and lauded to be a necessary centerpiece of the diet.
And that’s really been strongly refuted. And that’s my two major dietary shifts over the last 15 years was that animal based idea and then the energy balance idea. So now we kick off the list of 13 insights. And the idea here is that if you can grasp each one of these, you are now armed with the big picture philosophy to help you execute a winning strategy to emphasize nutrient-dense meals and get rid of the crap.
And so the item number one I’ll call nutrient-dense diet. And here the goal is to strive for maximum nutrient density with your food choices. This helps you perform, recover, and maintain good hormone and immune status. What that entails is an animal-based diet with sufficient amounts of nutritious, easy-to-digest carbohydrates to fuel performance, recovery, and optimize hormone status. So a nickname is meat and fruit.
And I think this represents the next evolution of healthy eating. And it addresses many of the concerns that we’ve had with restrictive diets where especially when carbohydrates are restricted or long periods of fasting are put into practice, uh, you have to tap into stress mechanisms, um, to, for example, make the carbohydrate or the carbohydrate replacement ketones. And there are, again, there’s wonderful health benefits that come from fasting that come from following a ketogenic diet for a a brief period or even a longer period. But they are nevertheless stress mechanisms and we have to respect that. So that’s this nutrient-dense diet, and we’re not talking about overeating and, uh, gaining weight because you’re just have free pass throw down food. And now that I’m eating in the morning instead of fasting, uh, of course nothing has happened, but my body composition remains at the desired level.
And so what’s happening when I’m consuming more daily calories, more nutritious daily calories? Where are they going if they’re not going onto my spare tire? Arguably what’s happening is I am optimizing an assortment of metabolic and hormonal functions such as reproduction, repair, growth, and locomotion, as you hear me talk about frequently and reference my interview with Ryan Baxter, Primal health coach, where he detailed an experiment that was highly quantified. So he measured his food intake, and he has been doing so for a long time. And he did an experiment where for one year he ate an additional 700 calories per day beyond his historical average. And at the end of the year, he had not added any body fat. He was eating exclusively nutritious foods, of course. And so arguably what’s happening there is he’s becoming a more active, energetic human by virtue of obtaining maximum nutrient density, maximum cellular energy. So, that’s number one nutrient-dense diet.
Number two is ditch processed foods. So it’s really the dead-end stopping point for any conversation. You don’t need to talk about anything else until you clean up your act and eliminate all these toxic nutrient deficient foods that represent the centerpiece of the e standard Western diet these days. Number one on the list, the number one public enemy, public health enemy are the refined industrial seed oils. Things like canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, oils in the bottle, or the many frozen package, processed foods that are made with these refined industrial seed oils, also known as vegetable oils. And of course, when you’re dining out, whether it’s fast food on the roadside or medium chain dining, or even fine dining, your meal is very likely cooked in these offensive oils. So that is the number one thing to, to do a cold turkey total elimination, as much as you possibly can never consume these again. They inflict immediate damage at the cellular level.
They interfere with mitochondrial function. They interfere with fat metabolism. And therefore, if you compromise your ability to burn cellular energy internally, you are dependent upon outside sources of calories to sustain your energy. So it’s a vicious circle where if you consume junk food, you become reliant upon more junk food because now your body is junked up with these horrible industrial seed oils. Dr. Cate Shanahan cites a shocking study, memorable insight that smoking a cigarette is known to disturb healthy arterial function for around eight hours. And, uh, consuming a nice dose of industrial seed oil, such as a serving of french fries is found to disturb healthy arterial function for 24 hours. So on a short-term, acute level, you’re worse off eating french fries than smoking a cigarette. If that doesn’t change your appetite for the fries, I don’t know what will.
Okay, so also in this list we call ’em the big three. Toxic modern foods are refined grains and sugars and all the processed foods and beverages that are made with these items. Now, of course, uh, sugar is not as offensive as a refined industrial seed oil because sugar you can go burn off at the gym or on the roads. But when we’re talking about all these processed products where you have refined sugars, refined grains put together in your pop tarts and your snacks and, and many energy bars, the typical American breakfast of pancakes and waffles and muffins and oatmeal throwing on some brown sugar and the sweetened yogurts that go on top of whatever. These things are going to also interfere with cellular energy production. They prompt the release of endotoxins in the gut. Those are internally manufactured toxins. And this is just by virtue of the body having difficulty digesting, uh, this highly processed source of calories.
And so when you have this endotoxin running around, you also interfere with cellular energy production and become reliant upon more processed food to sustain you at 10:00 AM when you start feeling droopy after your high sugar, high carbohydrate breakfast. So when we use the term carbs and I’m cutting out my carbs, uh, we have made sort of an egregious error by grouping all carbs into the same category and contending that if you simply limit your carbs down to 50 grams a day and go keto, you’re gonna have a health awakening. And in many cases, that’s true. That’s why keto is so popular. But it’s by virtue of eliminating the processed carbs, which are the, by and large, the main source of carbs and the main contribution to calories in the diet are the crap. And so when we toss out the nutritious, easy to digest carbs such as fruit and, and honey, Paul Saladino’s two favorites. The huge adjustment that he made to his strict carnivore diet to bring back the nutritious carbohydrates, that’s when you start to get optimal.
And then what about vegetables? The highly regarded leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables and all the thing that have, we’ve been told to be the centerpiece, especially in the plant-based movement. Well, in many cases, these can cause problems due to those natural plant toxins. We have plenty of shows, plenty of content on that, but it really is an awakening too, for me anyway, look at my wonderful midday salad that was the centerpiece of my diet for so many years, and my pension for buying huge piles of produce and making these wonderful stir fries with spices and, uh, delicious olive oil drizzled on top or butter, and that was some of my go to, uh, nutrition thinking I was doing myself, uh, the optimal as far as dietary nutrient density. But when you look at it, um, from an unbiased perspective, we’re talking about a nutritional profile of four ounces of liver contending up against your big salad or your stir fry or your stocks of broccoli.
There’s no comparison. So you’re not getting a massive nutrient density from vegetables and you potentially getting problems with natural plant toxins, especially when you consume the vegetables in a difficult to digest format such as raw. So when we have to cook, soak, sprout and ferment vegetables in order to make them not only palatable, uh, but edible, that’s when we start scratching our head going, Okay, so I’m going to great lengths to buy all this colorful food at the farmer’s market or at the nice grocery store and bring ’em home and chop ’em up and steam ’em and cook ’em and so forth. When in comparison, again, a nice grass-fed steak, uh, pasture raised eggs, oily cold water fish, the organ meats, the nose-to-tail strategy of consuming bone broth and organ meats, things that are often discarded, pushed aside.
You’re getting way more nutrient density than a super duper vegetable intake, and you are minimizing your exposure to plant toxins, which can cause problems with autoimmune inflammatory and also interfere with digestion and nutrient assimilation. So please listen to my show with Dr. Paul Saladino, where he talks about the various agents that are contained in natural plants. Natural plant toxins that are contained across the vegetable kingdom and why they can, for example, the phytic acid will bind with important minerals micronutrients and take them out of your digestive tract. That’s why we don’t wanna get too carried away with consuming excess fiber. The fiber is cleaning you out, but it’s also taking away some good things. Okay, a little bit of a side to add some more color to, uh, bullet number two of ditching processed foods. But plant toxins has its own bullet point coming up.
So number three is prioritize protein. So when you are doing meal planning, when you are envisioning your winning diet, you wanna put protein front and center. This is by far the top dietary priority. Uh, we have an intense biological craving to consume sufficient amounts of protein to survive and to thrive. And in fact, our appetite and satiety hormones are highly calibrated to prioritize protein and achieve that satiety when we get enough protein. Dr. Ted Naiman, who is on my show with a great concept, uh, the protein leverage theory, or the protein to energy ratio, that’s the title of his book that he wrote with William Shewfeldt. And what this contends is that we will continue consuming calories until we get our protein needs met. So if you’re consuming a lot of processed food like ice cream, potato chips, things that have, you know, three, four or 6% protein, and the rest of it is carbs and fat, usually carbs and fat together to make it hyper palatable, what’s gonna happen is you’re gonna have this biological craving.
These appetite hormones will direct you to continue chowing down on those potato chips or continue to finish up that pint of ice cream in a desperate and futile attempt to get the protein calories you need. So if priority, if protein takes center stage and you are basing your meals on your protein source, so that might be eggs in the morning and a steak in the evening, and protein supplements when you are trying to meet this goal, but it might be a little inconvenient at times, and you wanna always stay ahead the game, that’s when your appetite and satiety start to regulate. And then you will, of course get the incidental levels of fat and carbohydrate you need from choosing those types of foods. A lot of times protein comes hand in hand with natural nutritious sources of fat as the example of the oily cold water fish or the ribeye steak, the organ meats, all kinds of stuff.
Now, another, uh, bold and, uh, wildly uh, controversial statement, the best protein source is from animal foods. Now, you will go to the market and find the preponderance of all these plant-based protein products. Uh, those who are following a whole foods plant-based diet, understand the importance of getting protein. Cuz when you get insufficient protein, you very quickly start feeling like absolute crap. You become emaciated, your hair’s gonna fall out, your gums are gonna recede, and you’re gonna have intense cravings for high protein foods. So, we know we have to go get our protein. And so that’s why the vegans put the, uh, rice and beans together because together they form a complete protein. They have all nine essential amino acids. But the other thing we have to respect and appreciate is the bio availability of your protein source. So biologically, we are animals just like the foods that we consume from the animal kingdom.
And so these protein sources are by and large, vastly easier to digest and assimilate than a plant based source of protein because you have to undergo a complex chain of chemical reactions to, assimilate the protein in your protein supplement, uh, to make it work. And there’s some contentions, bantered about, like, you have to consume 17 times more, 17 times more, uh, plant-based protein just to get what you get from the superior sources of protein like meat, eggs, fish, and whey protein for a supplement. That’s of course coming from the cow. So anyone that wants to argue that they’re doing fine with their protein because they’re getting it from plant-based sources, that’s gonna be a big challenge just due to the amino acid profile. So you can put under a microscope and look on the internet and read the report for how rice and beans compares to a steak.
And it’s a big challenge. Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible, and it certainly is possible. I’ve had experts on my show that are highly devoted to plant-based eating and get their protein needs met. However, and this idea keeps popping into my head over and over lately. We have to distinguish between what’s possible and what’s optimal. So humans are extremely resilient creatures. We’ve proven this by being able to colonize every corner of the globe. And the people up near the arctic eat a lot of this type of food. They’re not eating a lot of plants, and the people at the equator are living on whatever. And this primitive population is eating a lot of corn. And this primitive population, the Messiah, are drinking a lot of blood and eating a lot of meat, and all things are possible. And today it’s possible to live a long life consuming a bunch of junk food and having your, your cigarette and your alcohol and all these wonderful folksy stories we get from centenarians that enjoy their scoop of ice cream and all those kinds of things.
Um, people can get away with a lot for years and decades until oftentimes the hits the fan later in life. But in general, humans can handle a lot of abuse in terms of suboptimal dietary patterns, uh, excessive exercise, insufficient exercise, whatever it is. But there’s a huge distinction between what’s possible and what’s optimal. So hopefully, if you’re listening to the show, I know I’m very much interested in pursuing optimal rather than just getting by. And so when it comes to protein, we’re gonna put in a huge vote here to get your protein from animal sources.
Now, next item on the numbered list. Number four, meat and fruit. These are the most nutritious, easy to digest foods on the planet. Meat is the best source of protein and contains across the board micronutrients. These are things like vitamins, minerals, things besides the actual caloric energy.
And these are the centerpiece needs of anyone who wants to live a long, healthy, active, energetic life. When it comes to fruit, fruit has those, uh, wonderful nutritional benefits, right? Undisputed that has great micronutrient profiles. It has a good source of fiber. It’s giving you a lot of hydration and satiety accordingly because of all the water content and fruit. And, also very important, it contains little or no plant toxins. Minimal concerns, of course, there are some in any plant, but fruit is the most digestible of all the foods in the plant kingdom, and that’s a centerpiece role for fruit. So when I reevaluated and published a new carnivore scores food rankings chart, I moved fruit all the way up from the bottom, the commentary about the various plant food options up into the highly regarded category of the global Allstars.
Number five, red meat. This is by far the most nutritious type of meat. By contrast, conventional sources of chicken, turkey and pork are vastly inferior in terms of fatty acid profile and nutritional profile to red meat. So we have to turn that quip on its end and actually do backwards from what most people banter about for years and decades, saying, Well, I’m improving my diet and I eat chicken and fish, but not red meat. And everyone says, Oh, good, that’s wonderful. You should actually want to state the opposite if you wanna make a dietary improvement, let’s consider ditching or particularly avoiding the conventional sources of chicken, turkey and pork in favor of red meat. Now, in comparison to a conventional cow, obviously grass fed is gonna have a higher ranking than a conventional cow. But cows and other ruminant animals, such as lamb, buffalo bison, deer elk, things like that, these are ruminant animals.
That’s their category that implies that they have multi chambered stomach and they digest food differently than a monogastric animal, which is an animal with one stomach. Raise your hand if you’re in that category. Yes, humans and chicken, turkey and pork are monogastric. And so a ruminant animal can much better handle the suboptimal nutrition from a feedlot diet. So when they’re fed grains, they can handle that nutrition and deliver a appropriate end product that’s high in saturated fat. In contrast, chicken, turkey and pork are fed these grains and they transfer, uh, this high level of polyon saturated fats that came from the grains into the end product of the meat. So you have what’s called a high polyunsaturated fatty acid profile in the meat of a conventionally raised fowl. And in contrast, the cow is going to give you a lot of saturated fat, which is greatly preferred to the polyunsaturated fats that we really wanna minimize in the diet for all kinds of reasons.
Jay Feldman talked about that a little bit during his show, and many other people are in that game. These are unstable fats and can cause, um, oxidative stress in the body. Okay, so also to note, if you’re into what would you call it, animal humane concerns, sustainability concerns, cattle live 80% of their life out on the open range in a grass-fed existence, and then they move them into the feed lot. When you’re talking about a conventionally raised cattle, when you’re talking about a 100% grass-fed cow, they live their whole life out on the open plains or the buffalo, which is such a wonderful choice because it’s not as mass produced. So you’re getting a 100% grass-fed slash grass-finished animal. That’s the gold standard. But even a feedlot cow is going 80% of the time open range grass fed, and then they go into the feedlot and they fatten up in the last months of their lives.
They fat up dramatically gaining hundreds of pounds chowing on that feed. But it’s generally, or, or in comparison, a much more humane existence, even though it’s no picnic to finish off in the feed lot and get slaughtered in that environment. Oh my gosh, the chicken and the pig live a nasty, brutal, painful life from the very beginning. And so the chickens are oftentimes constrained into a small area. They’re fed all kinds of hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics in order to survive that cramp conditions they blow up to be gigantic. I just saw an image on Instagram where they were comparing the chicken from the 1940s era before we started to get into mass production. And I think that chicken weighed, I believe it was around a thousand grams, a little over two pounds, and today’s chickens are somewhere around 10 pounds, the same species, right?
But we just fatten the heck out of them and do genetic modifications to yield maximum meat, maximum profit in the shortest possible time. Same with the pigs if you’re into those documentaries and see the poor animals waiting around in their own waste and being treated poorly. And when you go to the store and get a mainstream bacon product, you’re seeing those strips of bacon that are mostly fat. And there’s nothing wrong with saturated fat, but that pig, uh, that nasty bacon from, uh, mainstream sources is going to be, uh, high percentage of poly unsaturated fat making bacon real thumbs down if you’re trying to optimize your diet. But if you can go find heritage breed bacon from heritage breed pork, you’re making a much better choice. So I guess the essence here is that red meat is better all around.
And if you, you insist on adding chicken, turkey and pork to your diet, by all means, uh, insist on organic pasture raised humanely raised. It’s called heritage breed pork is the preferred variety of pork and don’t eat the conventional offerings in those categories. But then with red meat, of course, um, if you can’t do better you’re gonna be much better off eating a conventional cut of steak than you are of the other animals. Yeah, that’s funny about the chicken and fish. You listen to Dr. Saladino talking about the high concerns with pollutants among more and more fish from the ocean and also from the farm environment. It compels you to be highly selective with fish and perhaps, uh, using a little bit of restraint so that fish is not your main go-to meal. And you can go over to red meat if you’re interested in maximum dietary nutrient density.
Yeah, flip in the script pretty crazy. And you think about what we picture to be a health conscious eater. I was reading a, uh, food diary from an elite athlete, and they were talking about how, you know, they’re, they’re paying a lot of attention to this. They know it’s important to fuel optimally. And they were mentioning things like a morning oatmeal with some toast, uh, a snack of an energy bar. Uh, lunch was a spinach salad with chicken, almonds and dressing probably made with industrial seed oils. Dinner entrees, things like chicken pasta with broccoli and asparagus. And then enjoying a little ice cream for dessert because they burn so many calories as an elite athlete. And if you go over what I just mentioned, almost all of it is complete shit. It gets zero point score on the, uh, food rankings chart.
And so now it’s time for all of us to expand our consciousness and integrate things like liver bone broth, oysters, sardines red meat and things like that as the centerpiece, and forget about the oatmeal and the toast and the energy bars. And, even the spinach salad with chicken and almonds. Uh, I talked about the chicken. And when you take spinach and almonds, these are two of the highest oxalate foods on the planet. And those have all kinds of concerns in the body, stressing the kidneys and also inhibiting nutrient absorption from what good nutrition that you consume.
So that takes us to number six, plant toxins. I mentioned those a little bit when discussing the importance of eliminating toxic processed foods. And we now have to increase our appreciation of this fact of botany plant physiology, that they all contain these natural toxins that are designed to ward off predators so the plant can survive on the evolutionary model.
And we’re all familiar with gluten as the number one offender that comes from the grain category, the grain family. But it’s an eye opener for many people to realize and appreciate that there are also high levels of these natural toxins in the so-called, super food categories like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nightshades, nuts and seeds. And interestingly, the higher levels of plant toxins are often correlated with what’s considered to be the most nutritious plant foods. So when I rattle off leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nuts and seeds, these are indeed, um, scoring highly when it comes to delivering antioxidant benefits and all those things. But the real, uh, education for me came when Dr. Saladino described that when you consume a handful of blueberries or cut up your broccoli stocks and chew them and digest them, you’re not really consuming antioxidants in the berry and swallowing these wonderful super foods and getting the benefits.
What’s happening is your body is reacting to the natural poisons in these foods and mounting an internal antioxidant defense response. So when it’s exposed to the sulforaphane in broccoli, it starts to up-regulate production of the master internal antioxidant known as glutathione. So you get an antioxidant response, an antioxidant boost, but it comes indirectly from the body’s internal response. And I was like, Wow, I’m embarrassed. I didn’t know that. But that’s pretty wild. And then as you continue to think along this line of logic, uh, you realize that you can get antioxidant boosts, uh, in a variety of ways. This is called redundant pathways that my guest, Dr. Casey Means talked about at length. But when you jump into the cold plunge and get some therapeutic cold exposure or go into the hot sauna, you are also getting a similar antioxidant response as you would from consuming the broccoli.
And so then, that warrants the consideration that maybe I’m better off, uh, trying for my plant hormesis, they call it, uh, with environmental hormesis. So hormesis being the, uh, exposure to a stressor that, uh, is intended to deliver a net positive benefit. Now if you’re not sensitive, like I’m not terribly sensitive. I think I have good gut function. I don’t, uh, have big trouble digesting broccoli or a breakout into a skin rash if I have a spinach salad. I never did. But that idea, again, back to the starting point of pursuing maximum nutrient density and realizing that the salad is unnecessary and potentially harmful, that’s a real eye opener. And you’re not missing out if you cut back on your consumption of kale smoothies, salads, and stir fries. On this note. I love that clever, uh, scoreboard that Brian Sanders came up with.
He’s the host of the Peak Human Podcast, uh, great guest on our show, producer of the Food Lies documentary. And he, he looks at food with this simple scoreboard of minus one for processed foods, right? Anything that I, I mentioned on the list, that’s definitely a minus one. Uh, he puts the vegetables at zero, so not, certainly not a minus one to have a kale smoothie or a salad, uh, but they’re not a plus. And the plus one comes from the nutritious animal foods of the planet. So, kind of a quick takeaway there. Very handy.
So number seven is about selectivity. So when we’re talking about emphasizing the animal-based diet, you definitely want to choose the best sources of meat that you can budget for. And that would entail grass-fed beef, pasture raised eggs. That’s the distinction that’s important.
That’s ranked higher than organic eggs. So when you see terminology on the egg carton, the organic refers to the feed, and not necessarily that the egg was afforded its natural diet of roaming around and consuming grass, insects, worms, things like that. And so a pasture raised egg, again, this terminology is not iron clad. There’s minimal regulation on it, but when you see that distinction on the box, it’s a good sign that these eggs, these chickens had a superior lifestyle to a feed lot chicken that was stuck in a cage for its entire life. They turn the lights on 24/7 because the chicken won’t go to sleep if the lights are on. And so it grows faster because it’s being shot full of steroids and then lay in a bunch of eggs. And when you crack these eggs and you see the watery, kind of opaque yolk that doesn’t have a lot of it color intensity, and you crack the egg of a pasture raised animal, and you see that bright, vibrant orange that indicates that the beta carotene level was higher in the diet, uh, hopefully due to, uh, natural sources, but now they can put,beta carotene rich agents in the feed.
And so you can get a nice bright orange egg, which has always been distinguished as an awesome, awesome source but might not be as perfect as getting the eggs from your local farmer. Or even better yet, a hobbyist who’s got eggs running around the backyard and they lay some eggs. You can grab those, and those are one of the best, most nutritious foods on the planet. For me, I really love the Butcherbox operation because they do all the hard work for you, and everything on their menu is from the very best food sources, and they bring it directly to your door, ship it directly to your door, so they eliminate the high markup necessary when you’re going to, for example, a premium superfoods market and trying to navigate to a hundred percent grassed steak, I’m, I’m too nervous to buy a $33 steak because I don’t wanna screw it, it up when I take it home and cook it <laugh>.
But butcher box, you’ll find the prices very reasonable for a monthly shipment. Or you can actually set the frequency any, uh, frequency you want, and you can compile the desired cuts of meat. So in my monthly box, again, you can do it every six weeks, you could slow down, you can pause if you’re going out of town, whatever, You’re not gonna get inundated like you do with those Amazon orders of Ziploc bags that you somehow mistakenly put on recurring delivery, right? So you can go on there, you can change the composition of your box, but I have this custom box where I get a bunch of ribeye steak, I get a bunch of ground buffalo meat, I get some ground hamburger, and maybe throw in some frozen scallops, wild caught. And it has just allowed me to eat this maximum nutrient density diet, uh, without even having to go to the store.
So please, if you do nothing else from listening to the show, go to butcher box.com/brad Kearns. And when you sign up, and again, there’s no commitment, you don’t have to go for a year or something, you can try it out for one month and then put your membership on indefinite pause. But I’m sure that you will be a regular, once you get your first shipment, you go to that link, the Brad Kearns link, and there’s a wonderful promo to entice you to join Butcher Box. And I think right now it’s like two pounds of chicken drumsticks for free for a year. And again, these are pasture-raised chicken, the very highest caliber without the objections that I mentioned earlier.
Number eight, here’s some commentary about restrictive diet. So practices like keto, low carb, vegan, strict carnivore, intermittent fasting, time-restricted feeding are stressful by nature to the human. And they prompt stress mechanisms, which are the way that the desired benefits are realized. So if you fast every morning, you kick in to gear, uh, hormones such as glucagon, adrenaline, and cortisol, to liberate energy from storage and give you the energy you need to feel alert and energized all morning long. And when you get good at fasting, when you get metabolically flexible, they aren’t that stressful. Mark Sisson makes an excellent counterpoint to my, uh, contention that maybe I’m better off just eating food as soon as I wake up and not worrying about these fasting periods. And so that’s a nice distinction to point out that if you have done the hard work over the years to rid your diet of toxic processed modern foods, and you’ve put into practice things like fasting or periods of ketogenic eating, followed by perhaps liberating with a little more intake of nutritious carbs and on a good groove and your digestion’s working well, your cellular energy production is efficient, uh, of course these things can be helpful and it can help you stay aligned with, uh, optimal level of caloric intake rather than the slippery slope into excess caloric intake.
But by and large, we have to recognize that these are still stress mechanisms. And so my decision is that I want to prioritize my stress to performing and recovering from workouts, and I want to maximize my cellular energy production at all times by fueling myself appropriately. And so even the controversial stuff that Jay Feldman talks about in our two interviews, like, yes, uh, we recommend people have some dried fruit to keep energy levels going. It’s like dried fruit. We don’t want people to touch that stuff because you’re taken out the water and the fiber, so you’re getting just a dose of fruit sugar. But again, these are natural, nutritious, easy to digest sources of carbohydrate. And so I’m even dabbling in my beloved dried mangoes that I’ve sworn off for many years in the name of not eating too many calories or whatever my rationale was, and now they have an appropriate role in my life to minimize my reliance upon stress mechanisms to get energy.
And again, I was talking to the athlete Chari Hawkins about these topics, and she was saying that she’s been dabbling in keto. She’s always on an exploration to, to optimize and try different things and be open-minded. And I will make a strong contention right now that an elite athlete has no business doing anything relating to fasting, keto, or carb restriction. They also have no business consuming crappy food. And unfortunately, even the highest level performers still have a long, long way to go to clean up their diet. As I read from that diary where, uh, the athlete is eating toast and oatmeal and a chicken salad with a Caesar dressing and all that horrible garbage, really. So the, the high performing elite athlete is gonna want to emphasize nutrient density to the nth degree because they need that nutrition more than someone who’s not asking that much of their body, but certainly doing nothing that resembles restrictive.
And interestingly enough, there are very few examples. Lindsay Brera, my former podcast guest who hosts The Food of the God’s Podcast, tagline is how elite athletes feel and train for peak performance. And so she asks all of her guests about diet and across a variety of sports from auto racing to PGA tour golfers to NFL football players, baseball players,, there are very few, if any, examples of restrictive dieting among elite performers, despite what you may have seen on propaganda style documentaries where they’re trumping out these, uh, plant-based, fueled by plant-based elite performers. There might be a small handful of them who were discovered across the globe and featured on the documentary to make that point. But we’re talking about a tiny fraction of people, and again, what’s possible and what’s optimal, and for Usain Bolt to break the world record that is an optimally performing human.
But his memorable story from the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he said he loved the Olympic Village because they had unlimited quantities of Chicken McNuggets. Yeah, that’s not optimal. That did not help him break the world record. Perhaps it didn’t hinder him because he still broke the record, but when you imagine a potential for further performance, if a top athlete were to go to the next level and clean up their diet, that would be super awesome. And there’s great anecdotes from Cate Shanahan when she started working the Lakers and got Kobe Bryant and his private chef to start considering some of these things, Bringing these athletes up to the next level when they’re already at the highest level.
Okay, the number nine on the list is this concept that I call backdoor benefits. In other words, indirect benefits from doing these popular strategies, but it’s not the strategy itself. So when you’re fasting or you’re doing keto, low carb, primal, paleo, carnivore, even vegan, what’s often happening is you’re gaining tremendous benefits from what you don’t eat, uh, from what you went away from, rather than the own magical inherent benefits of skipping breakfast every day or limiting your carbohydrate intake to ketogenic levels. So if your foray into keto is keeping you away from pasta, granola bars, spinach salads, almond milk smoothies, and so forth, you start feeling better and you attribute it to your ketogenic diet. But it’s not because of cutting out all forms of carbohydrate. Well, arguably, right? I mean, some people just swear that they do better, uh, with a very low carb intake, and that’s fine, and maybe that is optimal for certain people. But it’s always important to keep an open mind, reflect, recalibrate, experiment, and see if maybe it might be helpful to, for example, Brad Kearns, eating a bowl of fruit in the morning rather than, uh, waiting around and nibbling on chocolate before I go to a big meal.
And yes, thank you for pointing that out on your email messages, and I’m sitting here admitting, yeah, this is a heavy message coming from the New York Times bestselling co-author of the Keto Reset Diet, right? Ouch. However, I am committed to critical thinking, maintaining an open mind, experimenting, refining testing. And that’s not a huge overhaul of all the things we’ve written and talked about for years. It’s just an effort to fine tune. And yes, I’m active and energetic, so those extra calories I’m eating are getting burned off. And if you are in a category where you’re not moving enough, you still have a bunch of crap food lingering in your diet here and there, um, guess what? Eating more food might not be a winning strategy. It might be getting up and moving more and cleaning up that diet, and then trying to optimize caloric intake with natural nutritious foods.
And speaking of the Keto Reset Diet, I’m really glad that we, uh, called it a reset and what the centerpiece of the book is to present this 21 day journey to become keto-adapted and then going, for up to six weeks after. So we always presented it as a short term strategy, and if you hear Mark Sisson talk about keto, which he does frequently on videos, podcasts, he always references it as a tool rather than something to adhere to for a lifetime.
That gets us to number 10. We’ll call this the bio Energetic Model of health. That’s what Jay Feldman calls it. And it’s sort of the counterpoint to a restrictive diet. And this will be the concept of striving for maximum cellular energy at all times by eating nutritious meals that contain maximum nutrient density during your waking hours and not worrying about compressing your eating window.
So if you wanna go binge on the first seven shows of the Jay Feldman Energy Balance Podcast, you’ll get a lot more content here if you wanna listen to my shows that are now a few years old. But Dr. Tommy Wood has been talking about this for a long time, and I love his one-liner that I think about all the time when he said, What I do is I counsel my healthy active clients to consume as much nutritious food as possible until they gain a pound of body fat and then dial back a little bit. And that’s when you know you’ve reached optimal. Isn’t that a clever strategy to counter the obsession with fasting and calorie restriction? And speaking of that, a lot of the research that we point to with calorie restriction is done with rats, laboratory rats who are fed in by virtue of all their studies, a shitty rat feed junk food diet.
And so guess what? Rats who consume fewer rat crappy junk food diet, uh, far better than rats who consume more of their crappy rat junk food laboratory diet. That doesn’t have a lot of relevance to me and my desire to live a long, healthy, active, energetic life. So Tommy Wood major credit there also is, uh, other equipped that going along with it. He goes, You know, and look at these food diaries from the athletes, and they’ll write in breakfast, two eggs, half an avocado, blah, blah, blah. And he goes, Man, eat a real breakfast. How about six eggs and a full avocado? There you go. And also for people that struggle, Mark Bell Power Project, the shows we’ve had together, and a lot of his content, he talks about his battle, uh, as a former fat guy trying to keep things together and keep his caloric intake under control and admitting that he could go hog wild on pizzas or bagels or whatever.
Imagine if you increased the intake of nutritious foods like I have been doing for the past five months with that huge morning load rather than fasting period. Guess what? I have much less occasions of spinning out and doing these indulgent evenings of excess calories, possibly driven by and contributed from the morning of not getting a lot of calories. So when I have these nice loads of nutritious high satiety foods, I’m not inclined to go and binge on anything else. That’s a big one. On this same topic, uh, Jay Feldman had a good quip when we’re striving for cellular energy status every day, and someone counters and says, You know what? I feel better when I don’t eat in the morning. I’m not hungry. I have energy, I’m alert. And Jay says, You know what? If you claim to feel better from skipping breakfast, we need to take a close look at the crap you’re eating for breakfast.
Okay? That’s not a entirely 100%, ironclad law. And some people will have an assorted reasons for feeling better skipping breakfast, especially if you’re getting busy and you have a high stress existence where you’re not really in an optimal time to digest and and assimilate calories in a relaxed setting. Yeah, you’re gonna find opportunities to eat when you can unwind and, uh, take it down. And so I know a lot of athletes who like to work out on an empty stomach claim they perform better. All that’s fine and dandy, but in the background, we’re going for maximum cellular energy and maximum nutrient density at all times.
And that brings us to number 11. I’ll call this full dials. We want all our dials turned all the way up. Remember the quote from Dr. Herman Pontzer, reproduction, repair, growth and locomotion, or a zero sum game, Borrow too much from one and the other dials turn down.
The same thing goes if you don’t optimally fuel yourself. So if you are trying, like many, especially females have crashed and burned horribly when they are combining things like ketogenic diet with ambitious CrossFit training regimen. And the most extreme example we have here of about the dials of borrowing from each other and the dials turning down if your energy level is not in balance, is what they call the female athlete triad. Where the hard-training female in things like endurance sports or in, uh, whatever elite competition they’re in, uh, they get their body fat levels too low and they stop menstruating. It’s called amenorrhea. That’s the ultimate example of turning down the dial. So their reproductive function goes down to nothing because they are cellularly deprived via excess exercise and or insufficient nutrition. The male example would be a loss of libido while you’re getting fitter and fitter and performing better in the gym or on the roads.
And so, again, it’s not optimal lifestyle in many cases. These examples are best handled by turning down the training volume but they actually go hand-in-hand with optimizing your nutritional status and your cellular energy available. That’s why the dried food comes into the mix. And I’m not claiming to be an elite athlete anymore. I was at one time pushing my body to the very limit of human endurance, but I’m trying to do ambitious athletic goals at an advanced age. So I’m kind of like a person who’s right on the edge, like an elite athlete because, uh, it’s very difficult for me even to have some semblance of high level training at age 57. So I am a great candidate to strive for maximum cellular energy at all times and not fool around adding another card to the deck like keto or fasting.
And this is definitely a recalibration and a reawakening when I look at the stress scoreboard. And if you get out a piece of notebook paper and drawing line down the middle, and you can put stressors on one side and replenishing restoration on the other side, right? So we have a good night’s sleep on one side and then on the stress side of the scoreboard, for me, I’m writing down my age, my workout pattern that maybe not as aligned with my age, right? Maybe I shouldn’t even be doing this stuff at this age. And then if I’m writing in, oh, I also fast, I also dabble in keto. This just becomes too much. And a lot of people have been rethinking this in recent years. Robb Wolfe has been talking about this for a long time, where he’s ambitious performer in Brazilian jujitsu, a very strenuous sport, uh, that tends to be glycolytic quite frequently.
That means a high sugar burning demand. And I love his quote from our interview that I repeat over and over, If you want to live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein. Mike Mutzel High Intensity Health. He has wonderful programming on his YouTube channel, very science minded. He’s an athlete himself, interviews many of the world’s leading experts, puts together great presentations, trying to walk you through the science. He has a recent video called Why I Stopped Fasting. And What I’m doing instead, I believe is a title. And he’s talking about rethinking that need to eat in a compressed eating window when he has performance and recovery goals. Uh, Thomas DeLauer, my new neighbor in Lake Tahoe. What are the odds? This YouTube sensation with, millions of followers on YouTube and wonderful, uh, production value videos talking about all aspects of keto and fasting and ancestral eating.
He’s a person who lost over a hundred pounds using the wonderful tool of the ketogenic diet to get his health under control and his dietary habits locked in. And now he’s Mr. Rip City with his physique and his high performing athletic goals. And so he, too, is rethinking the strategy and how he uses fasting and keto. Um, so I think it’s an awakening that’s occurring, uh, a grounds while is happening, especially people who are interested in peak performance and maintaining that functional muscle strength throughout life. You need to lift more weight and eat more protein if you wanna live a long time. Love the recent, uh, strong assertion from Dr. Peter Attia, one of the world’s leading longevity physicians and experts in all things. He said, You know, there’s no drug, there’s no strategy, no diet, nothing compares to exercise as a number one longevity tool.
And in particular, maintaining that muscle strength. We also have that obligation for aerobic conditioning, and we also have the balance and mobility and things like that. But when you are maintaining muscle mass from whatever your chosen workouts are, you’re also getting great aerobic conditioning there. So I see this as the obligation to walk and stay active. That’s also hitting your aerobic goals. And then to put your body under resistance load and perform brief explosive activity that is the path to longevity and to health span rather than just lifespan. So that was number 11. Full dials,
Number 12, cellular energy production. If you have issues with balancing your blood sugar crashing and burning in the afternoon, bonking during, or right after workouts, these are signs of diminished cellular energy production. And I’ve talked through this on a few of the other items.
But the cause is most likely over training and or consuming too many process foods. Remember I said that the industrial seed oils, the processed fats hamper mitochondrial function and inhibit fat burning. And the processed carbohydrates produce endotoxins cause the production of endotoxins in the gut that cause inflammation and hampered cellular energy production. So the first objective get that stress load under control, and that’s where the other lifestyle objectives come into play. So you wanna get your sleep dialed. You wanna get your overall stress handled with your relationships, your career, uh, the various aspects of your life that are causing chronic stress, and also optimize your nutrition at the same time. And again, we’re not distinguishing between positive and negative stressors. So you might have a high stress lousy job that you can’t wait to get out of, and you bust out the door and head straight to the gym to go throw around some plates or jog on the treadmill.
These are all stressors, even though one you enjoy more than the other. And that’s where the restrictive diets fall into the mix. They are also stressors, especially before you get highly adapted.
Oh, number 13, I just wrote liver because we’re getting this great popularity thanks to Liver King, the Instagram sensation, my main man, Brian Johnson, uh, that I co-promote MOFO with ancestral supplements, and he’s touting liver as the number one most nutritious food on the planet. Same with Dr. Paul Saladino. Dr. Cate Shanahan’s been talking about the nose-to-tail strategy and the pillars of human nutrition for a long time. Uh, highlighting organ meats, meats on the bone, fermented foods and fresh foods are her four categories, the top categories that you want to optimize. And if you can do something simple and easy to flip a switch right now, it’s to try to integrate liver into your diet.
And you can do that by many means. You can get the organ supplements in a bottle if you’re not interested in going and buying some and cooking it, you’re going to integrate slowly into that. Um, if you don’t love the taste when you cooked it up and tried it, you can consume the liver in frozen little chunks. That’s what I do. I chop it into chunks and I put the chunks into my smoothie or I just eat it raw, frozen, and boy, the potential to replenish, depleted cellular energy from a true nutrient-dense super food. And, in concert making a concerted effort to move up on the food rankings chart with all your meals in your overall diet. So you’re throwing around eggs and oily cold water, fish, and, uh, grass fed beef and eating the, uh, most nutritious and easy to digest plant foods like avocados, uh, other fruits, things like that. That’s when you can get out of this hole, get more energy and leverage it into, uh, better performance. Okay, people, guess what? That’s 13. That’s what I promised you, but I’m gonna give you a bonus.
Number 14. And this is a hypothetical recommended diet for an elite high performing athlete or anyone who is working hard and wants to manage all the stress factors in their life. So morning, hint, hint, how about trying a huge bowl of fruit and a huge smoothie? My smoothie contains bone broth as the liquid base. And so I’m getting my bone broth dose every day. Whey protein of the very highest quality. More news coming on that soon. Full fat yogurt, couple spoonfuls going there. I got frozen fruit chunks. I got frozen liver chunks I put in creatine and other performance agents like the organ pills.
And that is a nice start to the day. If you’re training hard and busy, you can do things like enjoy, that dried fruit or a spoonful of raw honey. I like to buy the honey comb and take a spoon and like chew on the honey comb after I’ve consumed the honey. And it’s a nice little snack. When it comes to beverages, we wanna stay away from those sugary processed beverages. So on the list, and this is on the new carnivore scores food rankings chart, I have the approved beverages like mineral water, coconut water, the nature’s number one natural energy drink with all the electrolytes and things you need. Kombucha, homemade kombucha is my preference. Um, and if you are looking for that electrolyte balance, of course the L M N T electrolyte powder is a great choice and you can mix that into your mineral water, shake it up.
And I love the delightful, some of them very strong, potent, spicy taste, uh, to get you to consume more fluid. Cuz if you’re drinking plain water, sometimes, you lose your natural inclination to drink more and more. So I’ve been hitting those lm t packets just to kind of mix it up along with my other choices. And yeah, mineral water important. Um, Ben Greenfield, put that on his top 10 list of health practices that you can do to add more mineral water because it’s a good source of the missing minerals that you know from the depleted soil. We know we’re all depleted in magnesium these days, and that’s a great choice for, for the authentic glass bottles bottled at the source. Things like Pellegrino and the rest that you can find. And I know it’s a big ask to increase your carbon footprint with those big, uh, recyclable bottles piling up.
But again, it’s a great source and vastly superior to let’s say, filtered water, um, which is superior to tap water. But I’ve made a considered effort to go and buy the glass bottles and include them because it’s so important. Then that’s, that’s, uh, I talked about beverage, talked about snacks if you’re really training hard, whatever. And the centerpiece meals would feature things like egg, steak, fish, you can put avocado in there. Fruit sweet potatoes is also another favorable choice for easy to digest minimal toxin concerns, especially when you peel the skin off. Cause that’s where the toxins are concentrated in sweet potatoes. And how about to wrap up the day, if you’re looking for a little dessert, you go back to fruit and it’s a super enjoyable treat at the end of the day. I also make a big plug for dark chocolate, especially when you source the very best bean to bar dark chocolate at ha cow percentage. And that wraps up the big picture insights about eating a nutrient-dense diet.
Thank you so much for listening. I’d love to hear your thoughts about, uh, what you think about this show. And I’d also love for you to recommend this show, forward it to others because it really is a great starting point to, uh, grasp all these important points and then go shopping and then clean out your cupboards. Right. Thanks for listening. Listen in. Listen in. Thank you for listening to the show. I love sharing the
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