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April 23, 2023 | Max Jenkinson

Nutrition Advice No One Gives - That Every One Should Follow

For the past six years, I've been deep in the jungle of nutrition. I started off on the well-trodden paths. Eventually, I was led off the beaten track by someone who promised to show me something different.

That's how I ended up in the world of alternative health. Learning from experts like Ben Greenfield, Dr Rhonda Patrick, and Dr Matthew Walker.

As I delved deeper into this jungle, I discovered that there was an even wilder, more untamed part of it. The "alt-alt" health space, where people like Jack Kruse, Morley Robbins, and Ray Peat live.

The real radicals. The ones who challenge those who challenge the mainstream and offer unconventional insights.

Over the years, I've become more and more comfortable forging my own path through the jungle.

I've developed a way of thinking about nutrition that is simple, practical, easy to implement, and independent of context.

This means that the ideas I'll share with you in this post have the potential to transform your life.


The three most important pieces of advice I have for transforming your relationship with food:

  1. Eat real food.

  2. Prioritize protein.

  3. Stop eating when you're satisfied, not stuffed.

Simply doing this will cause a dramatic shift in your approach to nutrition. Not only will it change the way you eat but it will give your body what it needs to stay lean, energized, and healthy.

1) Eat Real Food

If you have spent any time in the health jungle you have come across something like this advice. You probably thought it was solid. To comprehend why this is such great advice we need to turn to the Zoos of the world.

While I was listening to a podcast the speaker said something that to me was profound. He said:

If we are both the animals that live in the zoo and the designers of the zoo why not design it better?


Now that is the question.

Imagine you work at a zoo and you're responsible for designing enclosures for the animals. A group of school kids visits.

You explain that the enclosures are designed to mimic the animals' natural environments as closely as possible.

You give the example that you can't feed lions' leaves or giraffes' meat, because it wouldn't be healthy for them.

One of the kids asks, "Why?"

You answer, "So that the animals are as healthy as possible."

"Why?" the kid persists.

"Because the animals are evolutionarily adapted to a certain environment and diet," you explain.

"Aren't humans animals?"

"Yes," you reply, a little taken aback.

"So then what is the human's natural environment? What diet are we adapted to eat?"

At this point, you realize that you've been taking care of all the animals in the zoo, except for the one you live in. You don't have an answer to the kid's question.

You realize that figuring out the answer to that question could solve some big problems. It could be the key to understanding how humans can be as healthy as possible.

From that day on, you read everything you can find about human evolutionary history. You try to mimic our natural environment as closely as possible. Because you now understand that humans are animals too.

So, why is it important to eat real, whole foods? Well, it all comes down to evolution.

Evolution forces animals to optimize for survival and reproduction, because those who don't die off.

Health can be defined as an organism's capacity to survive and reproduce over time. Health is thus adaptive, and disease or poor health is maladaptive. Organisms thus also optimize for health.

As biological organisms, our bodies are always striving for health. In the context that our bodies evolved, it's relatively easy for them to maintain good health.

This is evident in today's hunter-gatherer populations. They don't suffer from any of the major killers in Western society - what we call modern diseases.

Let's apply this concept to nutrition. Think of the things you put into your body as:

  1. Fuel that can be stored or used as energy.

  2. Building blocks that are used to build and renew structures.

  3. Nutrients that ensure trillions of internal processes run smoothly.

Now, think of the fuel, the building blocks, and the nutrients as letters, words, and sentences.

If the sentences are structured in the wrong order, it would be very hard to understand this article.

If the words and sentences are in the wrong order, it would be even harder.

And if the entire article is written in a language you don't speak, it would be impossible to understand.

This is what food processing does to your body's ability to understand what you're eating. The more processed the food is, the harder it is for your body to understand what it's consuming.

Eating foods we are not adapted to eat makes it very difficult for the body to regulate the trillions of internal processes.

All of the internal processes are trying to maintain health.

We need to give our body the fuel, building blocks, and nutrients it needs.

They also need to be in sufficient amounts and in a form it can understand.

This allows the body to regulate all its internal processes and thus maintain health.

Don't think about eating real food as something you "should" do for your health. Think about it as giving your body what it wants and needs to not be confused - because a confused body is a sick body.

2) Prioritise Protein

We undereat protein

In the world of evolutionary health, there's a concept called evolutionary mismatches.

The idea is based on the fact that animals are healthier when they live in environments that resemble the ones they evolved in. The greater the mismatch, the harder it is for the animal's body to maintain health.

When it comes to nutrition, we have a few major mismatches to deal with. One of the biggest mismatches is our intake of omega-6 fatty acids, primarily from seed (vegetable) oils. I know a lot of nutritionally savvy folk would be screaming if I did not bring this up.

I have written a lot on the omega-6 subject and even wrote my bachelor thesis on it. This mismatch is taken care of when we stop eating processed foods. Unless we cook in them which we definitely shouldn’t.

Even though limiting omega-6 is important, I think protein has more leverage.

There are three macronutrients, carbs, fats, and protein. During evolution, it seems as if the macro composition of the human diet has varied a lot.

The ratio of carbs to fats changes depending on the location where groups of humans evolved. Regardless of locality, calories from protein seem to be consistent.

Today's hunter-gatherer populations consume 20-35% of their calories from protein. Although this number may have been even higher in the past. In modern society, we only consume about 12-17% of our calories from protein.

To get to evolutionary consistent intakes of protein most of us need to double it.

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient & protein-rich foods are usually more nutrient dense

Protein is a complex macronutrient that plays a vital role in the body's complexity and satiation.

In fact, there's something called the protein leverage hypothesis. It suggests that humans will eat until their protein needs are met. Rather than until they've consumed enough energy in the form of calories.

You are what you eat, literally. 

Every single molecule that you are made up of was either consumed by you or built with building blocks you ate.

We work on the same operating system as other mammals. We also seem to have consumed ruminants throughout our entire evolutionary history. This suggests we are highly adapted to the molecules that constitute ruminants.

The nutrients we need to thrive are high and in a form that makes them easy to absorb, also known as bio-availability, in animal products. This makes protein-rich foods often denser in nutrients. Here is a great study on the most nutrient-dense foods.

To increase your protein intake and get closer to the 25-35E% range, you'll need to eat more protein than you might think.

Start by familiarising yourself with the protein content of different foods. Then begin prioritizing protein-rich options on your plate. Give it a try for a while and see what happens.

Let's make it even more clear:

  • Get a grasp of how much protein there is in foods

  • Then aim for 30-50g of protein per meal

The main problem with the standard dietary intake today is the lack of nutrients along with a surplus of calories. Increasing protein fixes both of these issues. It creates a more nutrient-dense diet and leads to fewer total calories consumed.

3) Stop eating when you're satisfied, not stuffed

If you can follow the first two steps I've outlined, you'll reach the holy grail of a sustainable relationship with food.

Few people get to this point because most of us have a destructive relationship with food.

I do not recommend you start here.

Getting to this point will take some time. Depending on how bad you have eaten in the past and for how long, it might take half a year or even three.

Ease into it. Start getting a feel for what true satiety feels like. In a year or two you might be a rarity in our modern world. Someone who eats what they want, when they want, and still maintains great energy, a great body, and impeccable health.

Remember, your body wants to be as healthy as possible because it increases the chances of survival and reproduction.

Appetite regulation is a real part of your physiology. When it's functioning well, it keeps you eating the right amount to handle the demands you put on your body.

Now, you might be thinking that it would be evolutionarily adaptive to gorge on surplus energy and that that's why we're so fat today.

The truth is, both under-eating and over-eating can be stressful for the body. The body would only "think" gorging is a good idea if it “thinks” starvation is around the corner.

Creating an environment that signals "good times" causes the body to optimize for health. Chronically gorging is not an effective strategy for survival and reproduction.

It's arrogant to assume that humans didn't have long periods of surplus energy during evolution. We're clever creatures, and if the environment was stable enough, we would have figured out how to maintain a surplus of energy over time. Despite this, I believe, these humans were actually healthier, not unhealthier.

Eating in a way that signals "good times" allows your body to regulate your appetite and adapt to incoming stress.

You already know what you should be eating to signal good times: real food, lots of protein, and eating until you're satisfied.

I could go on and on about the specific foods that signal “good times” and why, or delve into the topic of the species-appropriate diet for Homo sapiens. But, if you can master these basic principles, you'll be well on your way to improving your health.

From here, you can start experimenting with the details. Like your carb-to-fat ratio, micro-nutrient needs, potential plant toxins, and which foods are easiest for you to digest.

This should be the foundation for any human's diet. Once you have this down, we can get into the nitty-gritty details.

The most important thing is to create a solid foundation. A foundation that gets you out of the way and allows your body to do its job to maintain health.

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