This year will be remembered for the raising in popularity of two bizarre phenomena who are linked together.
I'm talking about Bitcoin and Carnivory (aka Zero Carb diet).
Now, how is that even possible that something related to money, financial institutions, and banks has any relation with a meat only diet?
Carnivory or Zero Carb (which sometimes is abbreviated ZC) is a diet which has been going around for a few years now and counts numerous supporters and believers that can swear by its "miraculous" benefits.
In a zero carb or carnivore diet, you only eat meat. That's it.
Some people have eggs and dairy too but the main dish here is meat.
Somehow, what one eats, in this day and age, becomes parts of his/her personality.
It's not called a diet anymore but "lifestyle".
As in the past years veganism has become very mainstream and all the rage, it created a vacuum in the opposite polarity that soon has been filled by a meat-only diet.
As marketer and copywriter myself, I got intrigued by this trend I have been spotting throughout the year which seemed to be often associated with the Bitcoin crowd.
Most of the people involved in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies seem to be on the carnivore diet. They completely shunned anything green off their plates.
Why is that?
On the surface, it can be easy to say "well, they are radical people anyway so a radical diet that breaks all the norms is what suits them naturally."
This isn't far from the truth I give you that but I think there's another reason why all these Bitcoin folks are into carnivory.
First of all, a meat-only diet is simple.
Like really simple.
To quote Borge Fagerli from its latest book "The Zero Carb Diet: The ancestral way to lose weight, increase libido, improve physical and mental performance, and forget cravings":
Norwegian Bodybuilding Coach
So what’s for breakfast?
Ok, and what’s for lunch?
How about dinner?
And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
The people involved in Bitcoin are usually guys passionate about computer and technology.
They don't have the time to cook nor they do enjoy it.
Think about it, these are the same people that a few years ago were into Soylent like crazy.
(Soylent is a powder that supposedly contains all the nutrients one needs so you just dissolve it in water, drink it, and that's it, you don't need to eat for the rest of the day).
These people love practicality.
What is more practical than a diet where:
Reducing decision overload in an already very busy world is the key here.
I get you, I was skeptical about this myself.
Is a zero carb diet healthy?
Is a zero carb diet dangerous?
How early are these people going to die since they have a diet without "healthy" veggies?
Don't even start these people on veggies!
It turns out that they might not be that helpful for you after all...
These are some of their points about not needing veggies to survive:
You can do a lot of research about it yourself and try to come up with your own conclusions.
I was skeptical.
Especially when it comes to a topic so polarizing as a diet, you can read a lot of bullshit about it.
What got me convinced about this diet as a valuable lifestyle was seeing one of the people I respect most in the evidence-based fitness world jump on it: Borge Fagerli.
Borge is a Norwegian bodybuilding/powerlifting coach well established and respected in the field.
He has coached thousands of athletes (even celebrities!) and he is famous for having invented some of the most revolutionary concepts in the field (Myo-reps, biorhythm diet, etc.).
Borge tried the Zero Carb diet on himself and on his clients and the results were astonishing:
Well now, when I read things like these online I always scoff and think..."pff, another con man trying to sell me his magic pill."
But I know and respect Borge. He is one of the most honest and modest people out there, especially in a field so crowded and full of crap like the fitness industry.
So I didn't hesitate to check Borge's latest book on the Zero Carb/Carnivore diet.
If you want to know more about this diet and see all the rationale behind it, how to use a carnivore diet for bodybuilding/powerlifting, how many grams of fats and protein to support fat loss and to build huge muscle, I recommend you to check it out.
The book is called "The Zero Carb Diet: The ancestral way to lose weight, increase libido, improve physical and mental performance, and forget cravings" and it is the most complete resource on the zero carb diet for bodybuilding.
You will find the only rational and well-thought take on the Zero Carb diet — together with Borge's telling you his and his clients' experience with the diet.
The Zero Carb book is bundled with the famous book on Myo-reps a method developed by Borge to get big muscles in 70% less time. I use the method myself and I can vouch for it!
You can get both of them together with a simple Zero Carb cookbook by clicking here.
Based on Robb Wolf's Wired to Eat, I decided to create an automated version of the Food Matrix he proposes in the book.
I added more Paleo friendly foods to his original list to make it more complete.
With one simple click, you can generate hundreds of thousands possible Paleo meal combinations. Talk about getting bored with the same food every day, eh!
I also added an option in case you are trying to lose weight or if you want a meal particularly rich in carbs (such as a pre- or post-workout Paleo meal).
Click ahead and enjoy countless Paleo meal ideas!
I would highly appreciate feedback on how to improve this. Feel free to send me a message clicking here.
Feeling overwhelmed trying the Paleo diet?
Bored to have eggs every single day for breakfast?
It doesn't have to be this way...
The Paleo Hacks Cookbook will show you plenty of easy, quick...and DELICIOUS Paleo recipes that will make you fall in love with this way of eating once more.
Never eat a boring mealover and over again!
Check out these resources:
Disclaimer: The following post does not express the opinions of Dr. Stephan J. Guyenet. What follows are my opinions which I extrapolated and inferred by reading the book "The Hungry Brain". Be careful messing with this stuff as you might develop an eating disorder or worse, you are warned. I am not a medical doctor nor a registered dietitian hence this content is intended only as entertainment. I do not hold any responsibility for the use you are going to make out of it. As usual, be critical, use your brain, and don't screw things up.
If you want to increase your strength and pack some muscle you need to eat enough to allow your body to recover from a hard weight-lifting session by repairing your muscles and connective tissue.
Especially if you are skinny, getting enough food is pivotal for being able to add weight to the bar and get bigger and stronger over time.
Clearly, eating isn't the only part of the equation since stress and sleep also play a very important role in the process. In this post, we will focus on strategies to increase your appetite and allow you to be able not only to handle more food but also to want to eat more in general.
I always had troubles figuring out why people cannot eat too much.
If there is one thing that should be difficult in this in this day and age is to avoid to overeat.
We are constantly bombarded by advertisements promoting delicious and high-reward foods, high-calorie and highly-palatable food is at hands reach, recipes websites are exploding on the web with mouth-watering recipes to die for.
Yet, some people just can get themselves to eat and remain forever skinny.
First of all, let me congratulate you. You have no idea how many people would kill to have your genetics. Those of us who struggle with the opposite problem look at you in awe and tremendous jealousy.
Interestingly, the tactics used to prevent "normal" gainers from overeating and become obese can be effectively used for hard-gainers like you to make you want to eat more without feeling "fatigued" and even revving up your appetite.
I recently finished reading an eye-opening book called "The Hungry Brain" by Stephan J. Guyenet, a neuroscientist specialized in obesity research. In this book, the author describes why people tend to overeat and become overweight/obese in today's environment.
It all has to do with the brain.
You see, wanting to eat and accumulating fat was pivotal to our survival during the stone age. Food was scarcely available and its provision required hard work (burning calories). We hence evolved to prefer high-calorie and higly-palatable food which requires the least amount of work possible to procure and which provides us with a lot of energy that we can store for times of famine.
You can imagine how this clashes completely in today's environment where highly-palatable and high-calorie food is at hands reach everywhere at any time.
While this is a problem for "regular" people, for you, this is an advantage.
Let's have a look at what strategies you can use to eat more, extrapolated by the research on obesity which is masterfully reviewed in the book "The Hungry Brain".
If you have a small appetite and feel full already after a few bites there's a strategy to make each bite count.
Have calorie-dense meals. This means that you should create meals that give you the highest amount of calorie per volume of food. Here a visual representation of what I mean.
Practically this means that you should avoid (or drastically limit):
Your meals should include:
Fruits and veggies are the most important foods one needs, PERIOD.
The problem, if you are trying to bulk and gain mass, is that they have a high-fiber content and low-calorie density which will make you feel full faster and more easily. This is why a diet rich in fruits and veggies is naturally leaning.
While there are some fruits which are naturally rich in calories (dates, avocados, grapes, coconuts, mangos, bananas) most fruits and veggies are low in calories and high in fibers making them a "disaster" when you are trying to bulk.
How do we combine our need to increase calorie intake without feeling overstuffed?
I have two suggestions:
Satiety is sensory specific. This means that when you have a savory dish and you feel stuffed, "magically" there is still room for dessert. This is because your sweet taste "hunger" has not been satisfied. This is great news for hard-gainers who want to put on muscle mass!
At the end of every meal, have a generous bowl of fresh fruit by itself or, for extra calories, topped with dressing or sweetener of your choice (more on this later).
This will accomplish two goals: make sure you have enough fruit in your day, getting in extra calories when you thought it wasn't possible.
The Smoothie Solution
Rhonda Patrick's trick to get all her vitamins in a single serving is by blending tons of veggies with fruit and chugging that all down in a smoothie of more 1000kcal!
You can do exactly the same!
Take the most nutritious veggies in season where you live and blend them all with fruit, honey, peanut butter, avocado, and a protein source you like (examples are whey, yogurt, eggs or egg whites, cottage cheese, quark, ...).
Getting all your micronutrients and tons of calories can be easily accomplished this way.
Sometimes you just don't feel hungry at all. Food doesn't look like something you are interested in right now.
Here is where you can unleash the chef in you or if you don't like to cook, use amazing tricks developed by chefs to make you want more and more of a meal!
You need to make your food appetizing, highly palatable. There is a ton of research (all mentioned in "The Hungry Brain") showing that our brain would make an appetite even if you are full of food that is calorie dense and that tastes great.
When you eat a high-calorie highly palatable food, your normal hunger signal is sort of hijacked and you will keep eating way past your normal level of satiety.
This doesn't happen with bland food, which is why it's pretty difficult for you to overeat chicken and broccoli.
To get you started making your meals more appetizing, either try any of the Naturally Strong recipes or use the tips below.
How To Make Food Taste Better
Still struggling mounting an appetite?
It's time for you to literally surround yourself with food, especially high-calories one.
You want to place "ready-to-eat" food in every possible location in your room that makes it easy for you to access it and eat.
By "ready-to-eat" I don't mean junk/processed food. I mean that if you place nuts, remove them from their shells; peel fruits; place a teaspoon next to the peanut butter jar, etc.
You want to make it very easy for you to access food so that should you have even the slightest hint of hunger, you could just go grab and eat it.
This approach works well with snacks. Some "healthy" ideas are:
To bring it to the extremes, you could attach photos of food and appetizing recipes all around your apartment... (a suggestion would be to start looking at the hashtag #foodporn on Instagram).
As you see, eating above your maintenance in a bulking phase is easy, even if you think you are an hard-gainer.
It all comes down to 1) increase the caloric density of your meals, 2) make your food highly palatable, 3) stimulate your brain with food cues.
In a future post, we will have a look at other strategies (not coming from the book "The Hungry Brain") that can help you eat more when you are trying to put on some muscle mass.
If you are interested in more tips specifically aimed at hard-gainers or if you just want to know more about gaining muscle mass while limiting fat gains, I am starting a bi-weekly newsletter in which I will give you tips, tricks, and recipes to make your muscle gains easier. You can sign up here.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick was recently on Tim Ferriss podcast with a more than two hours long episode in which she discussed in painstakingly detail various topics including what she eats in a typical day, which supplements she takes, and what kind of training regimen she adopts.
I couldn't find the transcript of the episode that's why here I'm giving you the transcript of the part that would interest most the readers of this blog: what does Rhonda Patrick eat, what supplements Rhonda Patrick takes, what kind of exercises does Rhonda Patrick do.
A word of caution: Rhonda Patrick cites a lot of scientific literature in the podcast but, because of the podcast format, she clearly can't reference the exact papers. I didn't verify any of her claims so take this post at face value, sort of a transcribed version of the Tim Ferriss podcast she was guest in.
Rhonda Patrick seems to be following a Paleo diet. This is one of the best diets to maximize the amount of nutrients and to live a healthy and productive lifestyle. If you are interested in a big selection of healthy, mouthwatering, very easy Paleo recipes, I recommend you check out the Paleo Hacks Cookbook.
Rhonda Patrick always eats breakfast and early in the day as the practices time-restricting eating as she discussed here.
Her typical breakfasts rotate between the two following meals.
The first breakfast is scrambled eggs with tomatillo salsa, sauteed kale and garlic in avocado oil topped with olive oil, salt, mustard powder, grapefruit on the side.
She breaks down the reason for each component in her breakfast. Let's have a look.
Eggs are a source of choline which is used to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine but it is also a source of methylation which affects epigenetics.
Tomatoes contain tomatidine which has been found to boost muscle mass in mice by reducing activity of ATF4 which inhibits muscle protein synthesis.
Avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and contains not many polyunsaturated fatty acids which can be easily oxidized hence harmful to consume. Furthermore, avocado oil has a high smoking point, making it resistant to high heat.
Mustard is a source of myrosinase which speeds up the conversion of precursos in kale into isothiocyanates.
Among all the copious amounts of minerals and vitamins, kale is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin.
These molecules protect the eyes and brain from radical oxygen species. Furthermore, high plasma levels of these molecules are associated with neuroefficiency (memory recall requires less brain power), improved neuroprocessing speed, higher volume of gray matter, improved crystallized intelligence (ability to use skills and knowledge that one has accumulated over a life time).
Futhermore, the eggs in this meal increase absorption of lutein and zeaxanthine up to 4-fold.
Grapefruit contains ferulic acid which seems to be anti-carcinogenic and to inhibit proinflammatory molecules such as TNF-alpha and prostaglandin H2. Furthermore it provides naringin which as a wide array of health benefits.
The second breakfast recipe that Rhonda Patrick eats consists of a nut and berry cereal with hydrolized collagen powder and coconut milk. Let's see what it's made of!
The cereal contains a wide array of chopped nuts including walnuts, pecan, macadamia nuts.
Blueberries are rich in Pterostilbene which is similar to Resveratrol but is 4-times more bioavailable. In mice it has been shown to improve brain function, prevent heart disease, and to ward off some types of cancer.
Blueberries are also rich in Anthocyanin, a molecule that has been shown to lower DNA damage which would cause cancer.
One of the compounds in pomegranates is transformed by the gut microbiome in Urolithin A. This molecule causes mitophagy, a process in which defective mitochondria are removed. It has also been shown to improve muscle function and endurance in mice by up to 42% and to increase life span by 45% in worms.
For extra ALA and fiber.
For MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) . She doesn't consume dairy milk because it contains salivary protein which binds to Anthocyanin and polyphenols, limiting their bioavailability.
They have plethora of polyphenols, including EGCG which activates many anti-oxidant genes and kills cancer cells. Check it on Amazon >>
For proline which accelerates wound healing and for glycine which is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter. Check it on Amazon >>
Occasionally, for extra protein and to make it delicious.
Occasionally. Here the VSL #3 on Amazon.
Often she has one of her favorite smoothies for lunch.
The smoothies have all in common the same base:
Below, the exact smoothie recipes she uses.
The total volume size is ~64 fluid ounces (1.9 liters) and the all ingredients are organic.
Here is the vitamin and mineral content breakdown as reported from her video. The asterisk indicates whether the 64 fluid ounces meets or beats the recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
Note: in practice, she drinks about half of this in a given serving.
magnesium 588 mg*
calcium mg 2,116 mg*
potassium 5,883 mg*
vitamin K 5,239 μg*
vitamin C 630 mg*
vitamin E 9 IU
vitamin A 4,530 μg*
vitamin D2 600 IU
beta carotene 53.5 mg
vitamin B6 3 mg*
pantothenic acid 4.4 mg*
vitamin B12 1.8 μg
thiamin 0.6 mg
riboflavin 0.9 mg
niacin 10 mg
folate 480 μg*
manganese 9.6 mg*
phosphorous 700 mg*
zinc 4.5 mg
copper 1.9 mg*
selenium 10 μg
iron 10.8 mg*
sodium 985 mg
lutein + zeaxanthin 390 mg
ALA 4,684 mg*
fiber 49 g*
Occasionally she has avocado with lemon juice and wild Alaskan salmon roe with a side of sauerkraut. She breaks down the reasons for each components as we shall see below.
Avocados are rich in potassium and both forms of vitamin E (from supplements you usually only get one single form while from food is balanced). Furthermore, avocados are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Salmon roe caviar is a good source of omega3s which are found here in high amount. Furthermore, the omega3s in caviar are in the phospholipid form which is better for their bioavailability. Phospholipids omega3s are more easily transported into the brain and a correlation has been found between omega3s levels and brain volume.
Salmon roe caviar is also a good source of Astaxanthin which protects from oxidation both the omega3s and the neurons.
Sauerkraut is a good source of fermentable fiber aka prebiotics. These stimulate proliferation of good bacteria and strengthen immune system. Sauerkraut is also good source of probiotics, mostly lactobacilli which might be helpful in cancer prevention.
For dinner, Dr. Rhonda Patrick has vegetables and protein.
As vegetables she has them either cooked or in a big salad of greens.
As for the cooked vegetables, she often has sauteed spinach.
Spinach are rich in folate which precursor of thiamine (DNA base). Folate has been shown to increase growth of stem cells which normally deplete with age being the main source of aging and organ dysfunction. Furthermore, folate protect telomers.
Instead of spinach she usually sautees:
These contain isothiocyanate. Research has shown that the top 20% consumers of cruciferous vegetables have 22% reduction in all cause mortality.
She sprinkles these with with mustard powder on top for an additional source of myrosinase.
Rich in omega3s and low mercury content.
In addition to protein, they provides cartilage which is rich in prolyne and glycine.
Furthermore, chicken is high in selenium (cofactor for all glutathion related enzymes) and contains modest amount of zinc, copper, iron.
Sometimes she makes a broth with bones to get same benefits of hydrolized collagen.
A few times per month she consumes grass-fed fillet which is a good source of vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
She doesn't define in the podcast when she consumes this but I assumed she eats it sort of as a snack. I'm ready to correct this as soon as I know her timing better.
Three times per week she consumes a smoothie with broccoli sprouts (100g if fresh weight, less if frozen since freezing increases sulforaphane content).
Here is the supplementation regimen of Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
She takes the Multivitamin by Pure Encapsulations because it covers the basis for many micronutrients and has some trace elements including boron. Boron has been shown to reduce double strands breaks in the DNA, to accelerate wound healing, to increase plasma free testosterone, and to increase the half-life of vitamin D.
She takes 2000 IUs of vitamin D daily. If she doesn't get enough sun, she supplements with extra 2000 IUs.
She tries to get enough magnesium from foods which indirectly is the measure of how much greens she's getting.
Normally found in fermented foods (e.g. natto) and in organ meats.
With vitamin D, vitamin K-2 is involved in calcium homeostasis.
She takes 100ug daily in metaquinone form (aka MK4).
She takes 2 capsules of Omega-3 Phospholipids by Nordic Naturals. This form is is isolated from herring roe. The phoshoplipid DHA is in the form uptaken by the brain best and it's the same form that you get if you take krill oil. Check it on Amazon >>
Either once a week or once every 2 weeks she takes a sachet of VSL #3 probiotics.
She takes the one from Thorne Research. This is a form of vitamin B3 that gets converted in NAD and in mice has been shown to improve metabolic function.
She takes the formulation Meriva of curcumin.
She exercises daily, even if for only 15 minutes.
She combines a mix of aerobic, high intensity training, strength training, yoga, and ballet.
She runs 3 miles 3x/week. Especially when she has a big decision to make or something is causing her anxiety since running offers her a cognitive boost.
She performs squat jumps
She focuses on lower body muscles with weighted squats and lunges 2-3 times per week in order to maintain muscle mass
3-4 times per week to increase flexibility and tone specific muscle groups.
20-30 min sauna session 3 times per week. Here she explains why.
Rhonda Patrick eats for health and longevity and she does it very mindfully and using science to do so.
Personally I would have more protein throughout the day but we have different goals.
Also be aware that she relies a lot on animal research (being the field very cutting edge) and the findings in animals not always translate to humans.
But she always states when findings are results of animal research and never tries to deceive you.
Finally, it's clear that her eating habits are not for every one, budget wise. Many items indeed are very expensive such as the salmon rod and all that amount of veggies.
Regardless, if budget is not a concern for you, go ahead and be inspired by her healthy way of eating!
If you liked this post, share it on Facebook!
You will never say it in public but we both know it's true.
Every day almost the same bland food.
It makes you healthy and strong, sure...but how long are you going to last on this lifestyle?...really...
It doesn't have this way.
Making a meal healthy AND delicious at the same time IS possible.
The Paleo Hacks Cookbook will give you the freedom of not having to think "how can I make these boring eggs interesting again?".
Rhonda Patrick follows a Paleo diet and this book will give you the possibility of eating as healthy as her all year around with lots of easy yet mouthwatering recipes.
Forget another day starting with hard-boiled eggs!
Before you go, could you give me 30 seconds of your time and let me know why are you interested in Rhonda Patrick's way of eating? Just answer in the form below. Thank you in advance!