This post is a complete guide to food and nutrition for the contemporary man. It is specifically tailored to young men who lift heavy weights, play real sports, and want to look like a piece of heavy construction equipment wrapped in skin.
The structure of this post is a twelve step program, ordered from the most essential actions you can take to improve your health, performance and physique, to the less essential and more difficult actions that are only required to push your body to the next level. The first five items are the low-hanging fruit, the 20% of actions you can take to reap 80% of the benefits. The second five are actions that are less essential, but will still have a huge payoff to your health relative to their cost. The final two are controversial and will induce anger from many, many readers.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in, starting with the absolute first step a man should take…
1. Cut out sugar
Sugar is terrible for you. It is not a coincidence that, as a result of an unholy alliance between American agricultural lobbies, stupid and unscrupulous academics, clueless do-gooder public health professionals, and the human species’ natural but self-destructive love of glucose – Americans are unprecedentedly fat and unhealthy.
Eliminating sugar is not easy. Anything packed in a bag or can is probably loaded with it. In general, you can stay fairly safe by sticking to the outer perimeter of the grocery store, cycling through the produce, meat, and dairy sections. The centre of the store is a great sugary black hole of diabetes.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables
A high intake of fruits and vegetables is correlated with a wide range of positive health outcomes. Whether this is because of poorly-understood phyto-nutrients or simply the high-fibre, low glycemic index, and high-vitamin nutritional profile of most plants, I can’t say. Juicing is the easiest way to increase your daily consumption of healthy green vegetables, and is a good supplement to diet that includes a wide variety of healthy fruits and vegetables.
3. Eliminate grains
Grains have a high glycemic index and promote body-wide inflammation. This is a bad thing. Take a month off bread and cookies and see what your body’s reaction is. The initiated reader can read more here.
4. Eat fat
The public health establishment has been telling us that fat is the enemy for half a century. Purely by coincidence, this has been the half-century in which Americans grew to their current elephantine proportions. The truth is, saturated fats are essential for brain function and testosterone production, among a great many other things. Bring on the whole eggs and red meat. For a detailed history and literature review of the impact of dietary fat on health, check out the excellent Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. It’s dense, but fascinating if you’re interested in the subject.
Intermittent Fasting will extend your life. It’s a great way to cut back on your weekly caloric intake if you’re trying to lose weight. It builds discipline. Once you’re used to it, you’ll grow to appreciate the mental clarity and energy boost that comes from a one-day fast. There’s probably a common sense reason why virtually every religion and tradition, from Christianity to Ayurveda prescribes fasting as part of its overall recipe for proper living.
Learn more about IF with Martin Berkhan, and read up on The Warrior Diet. If you’re a big lifter and want to reap the benefits of fasting without hurting your gains, check out the Apex Predator Diet at Chaos and Pain.
6. Choose Local Meat
Factory-farmed supermarket meat is full of artificial hormones and antibiotics confined to muscle-atrophying crates, fed a diet of shit, antibiotics and the flesh of its dead brothers – its gross, and inhumane. Look into free range and locally slaughtered options in health food stores and online.
7. Supplement With Protein
Protein supplementation is theoretically unnecessary if you eat a serving or two of quality meat five times a day. Most of us do not have this option though, so a glass of high-quality whey protein dissolved in water will have to do.
Fresh vegetable juice is good for you, and it can help young men who want to build muscle and become stronger. Read more about the benefits of juicing for young men.
9. Fish oil, Zinc, ACV, Green Tea
10. Creatine and BCAAs
Creatine not only breaks through lifting plateaus, it’s also a cognitive enhancer.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) keep you body from breaking down muscle for energy, especially when you’re training on an empty stomach.
11. Reduce alcohol
I love alcohol. Alcohol has been a major part of my life since high school. I have literally come close to losing friends over my decision to drink less over the past year of my life. But the cold hard truth is, alcohol is poison. Drinking heavily is terrible for your body.
Giving up alcohol cold turkey will be an unacceptable sacrifice for most men. Every man must choose his own tradeoff between the enjoyment of alcohol and his commitment to his health. You can make whatever choice you want, but be honest with yourself about what you’re sacrificing.
12. Hormone replacement therapy
As a twenty-seven year old with a natural testosterone level of 900+ and no desire to develop a bodybuilder’s physique, I’m not interested in TRT. But as the years go by, I’ll be watching my testosterone levels closely. I have no intention of becoming a shell of my current self in my mid-thirties.
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This guide is not comprehensive. It is not a textbook. It does not contribute to the scientific field of human nutrition.
But that is not my goal. The purpose of this guide is to give you something actionable. If you want to start eating healthier, you can start at the top of this guide and work your way down.