My Diet

diet-main-pictureOver the last couple of years I’ve covered a wide range of nutrition-related topics, both here on the blog and on other health-oriented websites, and I’ve repeatedly highlighted the important role diet plays in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. I also write about a wide range of other topics, such as sun exposure, sleep, stress, physical activity, exposure to harmful substances, and microbial exposure, but as the quality of our diet is largely what determines our health and body composition, I tend to give the food we eat a little extra attention.

Perhaps needless to say, I don’t just advice and help others on how to eat, I also practise what I preach. I thought it was time I did a post describing my own daily diet. I’ve done this in the past, and not a whole lot has changed since then. However, I’ve made some slight adjustments. Also, some new readers have probably come on board, so I thought it was time for an update.

Hopefully this can give you some tips on what types of food you should put on your plate!

Some of my typical meals

The Diet

  • General info: I eat a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet that is primarily composed of meat, seafood, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. Occassionally I also consume some whole grains, fermented dairy products, and alcoholic beverages (usually wine). I’m not 100% strict with the diet, and I’m not afraid of the occasional cheat. I mostly cook my own meals at home. If I’m on the go I might bring some hard-boiled eggs, cooked tubers, etc.
  • Food quality: I eat almost exclusively organic, wild, and/or grass-fed foods.
  • Lately, these foods have been the main components of my diet:
    • Animal source foods: Eggs, canned tuna, mackerel, reindeer liver, and beef.
    • Fruit: Bananas and apples
    • Vegetables, herbs, and spices: Onions, sauerkraut, fermented root vegetables, garlic, turmeric, ginger, basil, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, broccoli, and rutabaga.
    • Dairy: Butter.
    • Oils: Extra virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Daily caloric intake: Depends on how active I am. I don’t count calories. I kept a food journal a while back, and it showed that I took in roughly 3000 kcal/day. I weigh a little less now, so my total calorie intake is probably a little lower.
  • Macronutrient distribution: 20-40% carbohydrate, 35-55% fat, and roughly 25% protein. My carbohydrate intake is usually closer to 20% than 40%, but if I do a lot of high-intensity, prolonged endurance work (which I rarely do), I usually eat more starch and the percentage of total calories derived from carbohydrate may end up approaching 40%. If I don’t do a lot of strength training, the percentage of total calories derived from protein might end up being a little lower than 25%, while if I do a lot of lifting I might go a little higher.
  • Number of meals: 3-4
  • Meal timing: I eat when I’m hungry. I usually don’t eat my first meal of the day until about 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and I try to avoid eating right before I go to sleep.


Now I want to hear from you:
Do you need any help with adjusting your own diet so it better supports your health & fitness goals? What does your diet currently look like? Do you stick with a strict Paleo diet, or do you adhere to a 80/20 or 90/10 rule? Or perhaps you eat a completely different diet…? Let me know in the comment section below.

Comments

  1. I don’t follow a paleo-based diet per se & learned the Precision Nutrition way to roughly measure my portions & adjust my portions based on daily exercise/activity—protein intake is the size & thickness of my palm, healthy fats are the length & thickness of my thumb, carb portion consists of my cupped hands. I eat 3-4 meals/day breakfast – either plain greek yogurt with berries, oats & flax/hemp/chia seeds in it or eggs, non-starchy veg (onions, tomatoes, kale, spinach, sweet peppers, zuchinni, etc) & sometimes bacon. Lunch is usually more non-starchy veg mix & protein (meat, fish, pork or chicken) with either avacado, seeds (pepitas, sunflower, etc.) &/or nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.). Dinner is usually meat/poultry/fish/pork, non-starchy veg, & small amount of starchy carb (quinoa, rice, potato/sweet potato, etc). On the days I workout, my post workout meal is usually protein powder (I vary the protein source–whey, hemp, plant based, etc.) &/or hard boiled eggs & a banana or apple. I usually eat breakfast around 10-12 & dinner around 7-8 pm. I usually workout later in the day, either at lunch &/or after work taking weekends off or do active rest (walk, yoga, stretching etc.).
    Unfortunately, I never did lose my ‘sweet tooth’ & still struggle with the late night sugar/carb cravings at times….but I’ve learned to swap a lot of stuff (hummus, dark chocolate, almond butter, air popped popcorn) & deal with it as part of my 10-15% ‘cheat’ or ‘breaks’…I’m human not perfect. I also enjoy 1-2 glasses of red wine on the weekend.

  2. I usually eat two meals a day, breakfast around 10 am and a dinner around 6 pm. I eat all types of vegetables; a moderate amount of fruit (although not necessarily every day); healthy protein that includes various meats, eggs, and fish; and healthy fats (mostly olive oil, butter, and bacon fat for frying). I don’t snack much but do enjoy a handful of nuts occasionally. My drink of choice is water with a slice of lemon or iced tea with lemon. I can’t do much wine or beer since I’m histamine sensitive, but I do enjoy a gin and tonic now and then.

    I’m usually 90/10 Paleo and happily so. It’s really my preferred way to eat. I keep sweets to a bare minimum and don’t really miss them. My favorite “cheat” is a slice of homemade or bakery French bread, toasted and dripping with good butter, but I try not to do that very often. Another fave is guacamole with corn chips, but we mostly eat avocados just lightly salted or in a salad.

    • Hi Shary!

      I really like your diet. Sounds like it’s pretty similar to what I eat/recommend.

      What are your current health & fitness goals?

      • Hi Eirik,
        I’m currently dealing with some musculoskeletal issues that make exercising painful. I try to walk as much as I can, and I do easy stretches. My only goal right now is to get better. Physical therapy and a healthy diet are helping.

        • Sorry to hear about your musculoskeletal issues. Let me know if you need any tips or pointers on exercise form, treatment protocol, etc. I’ve trained many clients with various musculoskeletal problems over the years so I may have some insight.

          • Well, right now I have three problems with my left leg. I have tendonitis in the foot (as per a foot and ankle MD who took xrays). I also have a recurrence of meniscus pain in the knee, and something is going on with the hip that is causing pain in the groin crease. Probably all three are related somehow.

            I had a slight tear in the outer meniscus a couple of years ago. It healed and was fine for a year or so, then the knee began to swell and bother me again. I had xrays and an MRI done initially, but decided to forego the hassle this time. I’d rather not submit to any invasive surgical procedures if possible.

            These things seem to be taking forever to heal, and some days I can barely walk. This is mostly because of the groin-crease pain, which causes a burning pain to radiate down the inside of my thigh. Any tips at all would be appreciated.

          • That doesn’t sound like fun at all.

            Given the complexity of your situation, I don’t feel like I can give you any good tips over the web. As a couch/trainer I’ve learned that to give out good, personalized exercise/training advice, you really have to observe how the person moves and performs exercises. That’s why I’m not a fan of online training, but rather prefer to coach/train people in the gym.

            Good luck with resolving your issues!

  3. Erik-

    What is your take on the efficacy of probiotic supplements? I can’t seem to find much clinical support for them, either for or against. They seem like a good addition for the western diet if they are effective.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Jim!

      Great question. This is a topic I’ve been considering doing a post on for a long time. Your question really deserves – and needs – a lengthy reply, as it takes time to explain why my stance on probiotic supplements is what it.

      The short answer is: Most probiotic supplements on the market today have several drawbacks that limit their usefulness. That doesn’t mean all probiotics are a waste of money, and in the future, advanced probiotic supplements and microbiome modulators will probably play an essential role in the treatment of a wide range of health conditions. However, it’s safe to say that for most people, diet and lifestyle are the key things to consider.

      In a recent article I mention two probiotic supplements that you might find to be effective. However, when put up against traditionally fermented vegetables, they don’t stand a chance.

    • Being histamine intolerant, I can’t eat much fermented food so I take a probiotic once or twice a week. The best probiotic I’ve ever found is VSL#3. It was recommended to me by a physician a few years ago for some GI issues I was having. It’s available in the pharmacy at some drugstores in the US and also on Amazon. The main drawback is the price, which is quite expensive.

      BTW, probiotic lozenges that you dissolve in your mouth are also good for the teeth and gums. A brand I like is Udo’s Choice Super 5 Lozenge Probiotics (available on Amazon).

      • What kind of symptoms do you get when you eat fermented foods? I strongly believe the adverse effects a lot of people report from eating fermented foods are not due to a histamine intolerance (a word that seems to be thrown around a lot lately). Rather, a lot of people experience adverse effects (e.g., fatigue, bloating and other IBS-related symptoms) when they eat sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables because they have a dysfunctional gut microbiota. In these cases, a sudden influx of lactobacilli can cause some intitial “die-off” symptoms.
        MY two cents: Start with 1 teaspoon of fermented vegetables and slowly work your way up.

        As for VSL#3, it’s no doubt that it is an effective probiotic supplement, and contrary to a lot of other probiotics, there are studies looking into its effectiveness. Here’s the problem. While the lactic acid bacteria in VSL#3 – and many other probiotic supplements – can temporarily provide some of the functions of healthy gut microbiota, they don’t provide a permanent fix. Also, VSL#3 only contains a couple of strains.

        That’s my quick thoughts. Keep me updated on your healing progress.

        • I agree that VSL#3 doesn’t provide a permanent fix. It works well on a temporary basis, but like any probiotic supplement you have to keep taking it.

          Anything really high in histamines, such as wine or some vinegars, give me a headache and stuffy nose when consumed very often. For instance, drinking a glass of wine every day would make me sick as a dog after 3 or 4 days.

          Regarding fermented foods, you could be right about die-off symptoms. I will try starting with a teaspoon. I love kimchi and sauerkraut, but they give me diarrhea if I eat much. I don’t know whether any of that is due to high histamine content.

  4. Hi Eirik,

    I’m full paleo/ancestral. No cheat days for me.

    Breakfast- chicken drumlets, lettuce and a fruit. I alternate the drumlets with fried frozen fish fillet every other day.

    Lunch- half a roasted or broiled chicken with liver or braised fatty pork or coconut or boiled tapioca egg n whichever permutation that fills me up.

    Dinner- steamed whole fish, boiled veggies sometimes with mussels or pork belly strips, kimchi and cashews. Some days I sub the steam fish with beef soup, lamb soup and chicken soup each once a week.

    I snack on cashews and occasionally cheese and fruits as and when I like.

    I fast for about 20 hours twice a week. On my fasting days I break it with a very heavy dinner.

    Took me a while to build up this eating regiment.

    • Thanks for sharing, Sam. Looks like a very healthy eating regimen! However, I understand that you’re looking to add more fiber to your diet (in reference to your previous comment), as it looks like you may be coming up a bit short on that front at the moment.

      • Thanks!

        Yes.. I do add onions and ginger in my meat soups and am going to start adding leeks and onions with my steamed fish.

        However I understabd that these are considered more of the prebiotic fermentable fibers rather than the bulk fiber of which contemporary foragers ingest about 70g/day?

        I’m quite tempted to add a cup of boiled black beans per meal (each cup has 20g fiber) but the paleo community seems to be quite adverse to regular ingestion of beans.

        The fiber content of other foods are dismally low compared to beans and need to be ingested in insane quantities to reach 70g/day.

        I’ve also started adding steamed yams and sweet potatoes to my dinners and breakfasts but they are more to increase my calorie intake because I’ve started losing some weight since I doubled my IF. They do provide some fiber but not enough to reach 70g/day.

        Barring getting indigenous USOs from hadzaland and kitava, do you have any ideas how I can get to the 70g/day?

        I do note that you are not promoting an RDA for fiber but I’m a purist that way in that I want to emulate the typical forager as much as I can.

        Thanks!

        • I really like that you’re a purist and stay true to the Paleo philosophy.

          I agree that it can be difficult to get 70-100 grams of fiber through a contemporary Paleo diet, as cultivated fruits and veggies tend to be markedly lower in fiber than uncultivated varieties. However, it’s not impossible. One way is to add more jerusalem artichoke, chicory roots, and other plants that are particularly high in inulin-type fructans to your diet. Slowly increase the amount, as it will take some time for the gut microbiome to adapt.

          • “I really like that you’re a purist and stay true to the Paleo philosophy.”

            Interesting that you would say that. I would think it’s more important to stay true to the individual needs of one’s body rather than to religiously adhere to Paleo philosophy just for the sake of doing so. Lifestyle and dietary changes often need to be tweaked to some extent for optimal individual functioning.

          • Here’s how I see it:

            Humans differ very little in our genetic make-up (Your genome and your neighbour’s genome are 99%+ identical). Certain genetic adaptations (e.g., lactase-persistent alleles) have equipped some people with the ability to digest foods that others can’t. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that milk is a healthy food for those people with a lactase-persistent genotype. Remember, natural selection doesn’t select for health, but for reproductive fitness.

            If someone asked me how they should eat to achieve the best health possible, I would recommend some version of a strict Paleo Diet.

            However, that doesn’t mean that a strict Paleo Diet is a good fit for everyone. Some people find the Paleo Diet to be too restrictive for them to follow over the long-term, which is why I often recommend a 85%/15% or 90%/10% approach. Others find that their life become more pleasurable if they include smaller additions of kefir, butter, cheese, dark chocolate, and other similar items in their diet. The downsides of consuming some of these non-Paleo foods every now and then is usually quite small, so it’s not really worth stressing about.

            Also, as I’ve highlighted on the blog before, certain groups of people (e.g., athletes, people with certain diseases) sometimes have to make tweaks/changes to the Paleo Diet to get the results they are looking for.

          • Thanks Eirik for the suggestion.

            Am currently reading up on inulin type fructans. These are categorized as soluble fiber.

            Are these the type of fiber that ancestral health proponents advocate getting 70g/day? My understanding is that the pristine forager ingests more insoluble fiber rather than soluble fiber. Can we compensate the lack of insoluble fiber by increasing our soluble fiber intake?

            Shary, in my opinion, ancestral health can be emulated to various degrees. For me, I have no idea what my individual needs are and I can safely say that most post industrialized people have lost that knowledge.

            The typical dysbiosed individual has a dysfunctional feedback system. Take Leptin resistance for example. It makes a fat person feel he needs more food. He is listening to his body but his body is giving him bad feedback.

            Knowing that I might not be able to listen to my body when my body is dysbiosed. The next best thing is to emulate populations who have excellent health. Hence my puritanical approach.

            And it has served me well. I’m in my best shape ever though I exercise much less compared to my “wilderness” days.

          • As you’re undoubtedly aware, there wasn’t one universal Paleolithic diet consumed by all preagricultural humans. The diet varied depending on geography, climate, etc. The average intake of fiber, as well as the types of fiber consumed (e.g., insoluble vs. soluble), varied greatly between different forager communities (both ancient and contemporary). I don’t suggest that you should rely exclusively on inulin-type fructans, although they are certainly important.

            Here’s an abstract from a study I think you may find interesting:

            Archaeological evidence from dry cave deposits in the northern Chihuahuan Desert reveal intensive utilisation of desert plants that store prebiotic inulin-type fructans as the primary carbohydrate. In this semi-arid region limited rainfall and poor soil conditions prevented the adoption of agriculture and thus provides a unique glimpse into a pure hunter-forager economy spanning over 10 000 years. Ancient cooking features, stable carbon isotope analysis of human skeletons, and well-preserved coprolites and macrobotanical remains reveal a plant-based diet that included a dietary intake of about 135 g prebiotic inulin-type fructans per d by the average adult male hunter-forager. These data reveal that man is well adapted to daily intakes of prebiotics well above those currently consumed in the modern diet.

            My main points/suggestions:
            – The most important thing is that you harbour a gut microbiome that is adapted to your diet.
            – A high microbial biodiversity is a good thing.
            – Include several different species of fiber-rich plants in your diet. This will provide you with a good dose of many different types fo fibers.

  5. Thanks for the study and the suggestions!

Trackbacks

  1. […] moved away from my old way of doing things. The grain-centered, low-fat diet was replaced by a Paleo-style diet, and the bodybuilding-type training split was abandoned in favor of a more balanced training […]

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  3. […] having worked out on a regular basis for so many years, my dietary habits are so ingrained that I sometimes forget that diet is often the most difficult thing for people to […]

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