My Diet (aka Mastering Metabolism and Preventing Disease)

I’m writing this post because someone close to me was recently diagnosed with a common and treatable form of cancer.  My hope is that these thoughts are helpful for them, and others, as they reexamine their diet and lifestyle that may have contributed to their condition.

My opinions on diet change – rather, are refined – constantly.  This is what I find works for me now, as I spend more time tuning into my body and correlate my body’s response to different stimulus, whether diet, exercise, mental health and more.

I have to mention, that working with my wife’s healthcare company, Parsley Health, can help provide a framework, data and clinical support for making critical changes in ones diet and lifestyle.  I’ll also include some links below that I found helpful in my early education.

Some Basic Truths (As I See Them Now)

  • Sugars and its more complex form, carbohydrates, are generally unhelpful. Unless you are living a hyper-active lifestyle (rare in the modern age).  Carbohydrates can be helpful if aggressively training, doing physical labor or want a few extra hours of pep once in a while but otherwise, they cause more harm than help.
  • Eating a high protein / fat / veg diet is generally a good fit for our predominantly sedentary (office work, driving, instagramming) lifestyle.  Historically speaking, we should probably be eating more aligned with ‘famine’ than ‘feast’.
  • Reducing sugar consumption reduces inflammation.  Inflammation, for me, reveals itself as a testy mood (and biting humor!), bad skin, depression, and joint pain.  Inflammation generally leads to really bad things, including in theory, cancer.

What I Eat

What I Eat, Anytime

Caveat: fat is more caloric than carbohydrates so you can’t go apesh*t with this stuff.  If you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight. The good news is that generally, a high fat diet is more sating and you’ll have less of an urge to binge.

  • Avocados
  • Eggs
  • Oily Fish (canned sardines, smoked whitefish, cured salmon are my favorites)
  • Low Sugar Nuts (macadamia, walnuts, almonds – cashews and other ‘sweeter’ nuts are out)
  • Tart, organic berries (blues, black, straw)
  • Healthy Fats (olive oil, grass fed ghee, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil)
  • Organic, Grass-Fed, More Expensive, Hard to Find, Elitist-Unless-You’re-A-Small-Farmer, Meat (85% ground, bison, pastured happy bacon, dark meat poultry, low-mercury fish, etc)
  • Plant Based Protein Supplements (pea protein is a good additive to shakes)
  • Salt
  • Spice (cumin, coriander, curry, etc)
  • Heat (fresh chilies, no-sugar hot sauces. Heat becomes a very good friend when you cut our sweetness)
  • Leafy Greens (kale, chard, etc)
  • High Acid, Low Sugar Citrus (lemons, limes, but not oranges)
  • ‘Filler’ Vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, summer squash, brussels. These guys are saviors – low calorie and often low nutrient, but terrific ‘bases’ to dishes to absorb fat and flavor and keeping you full / busy eating)
  • Coffee / Tea (blend in some MCT powder or cacao butter in the AM and you’ll find it easy to delay your first meal and stay in a ‘faux fasted’ metabolic state until 11a or later)

What I Eat, Once In A While

  • No-Sugar Alcohol (dry natural zero-residual sugar wines, clear liquors like tequila mezcal vodka and gin)
  • Organic Seasonal Fruits (tomatoes, apples, peaches, etc)
  • Rice and Other Unsweetened Gluten Free Carbs (so, I love Schezuan food, and I will half a half-helping of white rice when eating that food, but generally speaking this is a total cheat and should be done on rare occasions.  French fries also fall into this category. I’ll have them when they’re good, but mostly not. Fun tip, french fries + mayo >>> french fries + ketchup. The addition of fat to the carbs helps mute your glycemic response. That response is a double negative when you add super sweet ketchup to the potatoes.  Again, pick your spots for this stuff – maybe 2x a week)

What I Eat, Basically Never

  • Sweet Alcohol and Other Beverages (all beers, all ciders, aperitifs, sweet vermouth, tonic water, sweet industrial wine, aka most wine)
  • Breads / Sweets / Ice Cream / Dessert (this goes out the window when I travel to France, but I absolutely feel it on the flight home)
  • Gluten Free Breads / Sweets (to be clear, these are metabolically disastrous in the same ways as gluten-full breads would be.  Avoid)
  • Sweet Veg with Hidden Starches (corn, bananas, sweet potatoes, sweet winter squash)

Things That I Also Avoid For Other Reasons

  • Gluten. I’ve testing removing this on and off over the past 4 years and am clear that I generally do better without it. I bring it back in the fold on special occasions, with good results, and I have a hunch that a low carb diet helps me manage the occasional high quality gluten feast.
  • Dairy. Correlates with acne, so I avoid it.
  • Mid / High Mercury Fish. Large fish like tuna, mackerel. Heavy metals stay in your body indefinitely and removing them through chelation is a pain.
  • Processed Foods. Generally speaking, there are almost always nasties hidden in here.

Example Meals


  • Nothing.
    • I don’t want to side track us here but your body is probably designed to thrive fasted for upwards of a week, so skipping brekkie is no biggie.
    • Don’t sweat hunger.  A 3 day fast is a good way to get on terms with this feeling.  It’s really not a bad skill to master, and I don’t want / mean to sound like a sadist.  Hunger pangs pass quickly and I don’t find them to be a big deal.
    • A fatted coffee (above) can help you feel like you’ve eaten while tricking your body to think it’s in a fasted state
    • Counter point #1: Humans are almost certainly better designed to fast at night than the morning.  Moving your metabolic clock off your circadian clock is generally a bad idea. That said, evening fasting is much harder to do socially, so I think a AM fast is better than nothing — anything that limits your digestive period is probably a good move.
    • Counter point #2: Per the circadian point above, fasting / low carb probably makes more sense in the winter than summer (fewer available natural carbs, less sunlight)
  • Bacon & Eggs.  Pastured bacon cooked without draining the pan with absorbing veggies (cauliflower, kale, onions, summer squash), fresh chilies, garlic and topped with two pasture eggs
  • Whitefish Omelette.  Veggies cooked with a bunch of ghee, 3-4 quality pasture raised eggs, whitefish, sage.
  • Protein Shake.  I like Parsley’s Rebuild shake but actually find it a bit too sweet for me, so I’ll make it 50% rebuild and then doctor up the fat (MCT, coconut, cacao butter) and protein (naked pea protein) content


  • Organic Buffet.  There is a conscious Korean buffet near my office that offers a bounty of healthy, low carb options.  I’ll often go with greens (both collards w/ garlic and kale with pepitas), baked salmon and some chicken salad
  • Nopal Taco Plate.  An awesome taco shop opened in midtown, even more awesome is that they offer a cactus based plate with salsas, beans, guacamole and meat.  I alter my order by skipping the cheese and tortillas
  • Chinese.  Schezuan dry pot.  Tons of flavor, mystery ingredients and very little sugar / carbs outside of the rice which I eat sparingly and sometimes not at all.
  • Baked Chicken, Rice & Beans.  Ok, so this is cheating, but intentionally so.  Sometimes my body NEEDS carbohydrates and I give it some good one.  This is a rare occasion, but perhaps: I had a bit too much to drink the night before, I have a big evening ahead (physically, socially) where I know I’ll use the extra energy, or I’m simply feeling depleted and I know my fix.


  • Cauliflower and Ground Meat Stir Fry.  Cauliflower, summer squash, okra, onions, cumin, cardamom, salt, fresh chilies, a little fresh tomato if summer, ground meat.  Sometimes a bit of well sourced chorizo goes in to the pan first to add additional flavor. Top with parsley, lemon and sea salt.  I could honestly eat this everyday.
  • Baked salmon and a ton of veg.  Enough vegetables and you don’t miss the starches
  • Seafood curry.  Full fat coconut milk plus quality curry powder and whatever vegetables and seafood look good that season.  Cauliflower or cabbage can add filler to replace rice.


  • Ha, made you look.  Help yourself to a second glass of residual sugar-free wine instead.

Thoughts?  Disputes? Want to fight about nightshades?  Great recipes to share?  Shoot me a note.

Additional Reading

My ketogenic experiment, aka ’empty is the new full.’

I celebrated my first Father’s Day last weekend with a 48 hour fast.  I still know how to party!

My goal was to experiment with the ketogenic diet, which is said to have numerous benefits including weight loss, inflammation reduction, cancer management / prevention and improved mental clarity / performance.  I am lucky to not suffer from any major known ailments, but I wanted to give it a try as I’ve learned deeply over the past few years that I am truly what I eat and the idea of a “self clean” cycle is quite appealing.  I cut out gluten in 2014, dairy in 2016 and, well I guess now “food” in 2017.  I kid, a bit.

Ketosis or “keto” is a metabolic state where you body turns fat > ketones > energy, instead of the more modern use of carbohydrates > energy.  You can enter a ketogenic state by either truly fasting or tricking your body into thinking it’s in a fasted state.  You do the latter by consuming ~75% of your calories from fat, ~20% from protein and ~0-5% from carbohydrates.  With these macro ratios, you can stay in a state of ketosis indefinitely. 

Proponents of ketosis argue that the human body evolved – and thrived – in a state of feast and famine, which is quite opposite to today’s super consistent / available / non-seasonal calorie bonanza. 

Gentlemen, Stop Your Engines

Test strips – doing well

I prepared for my keto experiment by enjoying a low carb, high protein, high natural wine dinner on Saturday.  On Sunday and Monday, I treated myself to a few coffees blended with coconut oil and medium chain triglyceride (MTC) oil.

The fast went surprisingly well.  Only at 4p on day two was I slightly bothersomely hungry, and that passed within an hour.  I limited my physical activity, but felt good and slept well.

I entered at ketogenic state (as measured by urine test strips) mid-day day one, with my ketone levels increasing throughout the fast.


For day two dinner, I broke my fast with a dinner of fatty bacon, mixed in with summer squash and mushrooms.  Not bad at all.  I thew in a ‘ dessert’ of coconut milk, avocado and a half packet of stevia (gross by darn my sweet tooth).

Chicken Wings + Cauliflower. Awesome.

My break-fast mealThe amount of fat required to maintain keto is daunting.  Especially as our modern western brains attempt to unpack all of the “low fat” marketing that clogs the airwaves.  As I entered ketosis, I became keenly aware of all of the high sugar products marketed to us – ice cream, burgers, breads.  I wanted them badly!  I think the key is maintaining a diversity of lipids.  Olive and coconut oils are saving my ass, especially as I find ghee a turn-off (must be from my dairy-free palette).  Nuts – macadamias are the best combo of fat minus carbs – also help out a bunch.  And the coffee delivery method is key – my morning recipe is 1tsp MCT oil, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tbs ghee and a pinch of cinnamon.  Delicious.

I began exercising day three and felt great.  A short HIIT run felt better than average.  There is research indicating that oxygen efficiency is boosted in keto.  Divers particularly enjoy keto as it greatly increases their dive and breath holding times.  Strength training felt good, perhaps because it felt good to move after a few days of fasting.

Early Outcomes

It’s been a less than a week, but here are some of the notable takeaways:

  • I feel pretty fantastic.  Euphoric really.  That’s awesome
  • My energy has been very good, and constant throughout the day
  • My skin has improved.  Sugar starvation is great for inflammation, including breakouts
  • I’m rarely hungry

However, it’s nearly impossible to eat out (“I’ll have your fattiest steak please, with a side of olive oil” has been said more than once this week) and my cooking options are quite limited.  As some of who loves food / cooking / taste diversity this is a problem.  It’s also a bit painful to remove even more from my diet, especially after already maintaining a gluten and dairy free lifestyle.

Next Steps

All in all, I’m super pleased with this experience – both the fasting and the state of nutritional (non-fasting) ketosis.  I’d like to continue to experiment and practice both in the future and add them to my toolset when I need a boost or change of pace.  I’m already thinking about the following regimens:

  • Keto Mornings: eat early the night before (6p) and mini-fast until lunch the next day, with only a MCT/coconut oil coffee in the AM.  (2x a week)
  • Keto Quick-Weeks: fast Sunday PM – Monday AM, and then do strict keto through Wednesday / Thursday.  (1x a month – 1x a quarter)

My thinking here is that a break from our carb driven diets has to the a helpful change of pace for our metabolisms.  The euphoria is a nice bonus too!

This meal meets the appropriate ratios.  Watch out for those tomatoes! Carbs are hidden everywhere, sigh.


  • Dr. Dom on Tim Ferriss.  Even though Dr. Dom’s built like a linebacker, he’s done some of the most thorough metabolic research in the business.  The links in the podcast’s ‘show notes’ are excellent.
  • Carb Counting Spreadsheet.  Good reference.  You will google a lot on ketosis, and often find yourself disappointed.  “brussels sprouts have 1.8g net carbs!  man!”)
  • Ruled.Me.  Great overall resource, including this veggie guide.
  • Keto SubReddit.  Dig carefully.
  • Eating Academy.  The hard science.