Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What I Eat

People often ask me what I eat.  I've been reluctant to share, because it feels egocentric and I'm a private person by nature.  I also don't want people to view my diet as a universal prescription for others.  But in the end, as someone who shares my opinions about nutrition, it's only fair that I answer the question.  So here we go.

In my food choices, I try to strike a balance between nutrition, cost, time efficiency, animal welfare, pleasure, and environmental impact.  I'm the chef of my household of two, and I cook two meals a day, almost every day, typically from single ingredients.  I prefer organic, but I don't insist on it.

Eggs from my hens
My diet changes seasonally because I grow much of my own food.  This started out with vegetables, but recently has expanded to staple foods such as potatoes, flour corn, and winter squash.  I also have a small flock of laying hens that turn table scraps, bugs, grass, and chicken feed into delicious eggs.

The primary guiding principle of my diet is to eat somewhere between a "Paleolithic"-style diet and a traditional agricultural/horticultural diet.  I think of it as a broad ancestral diet.  Because it's partially inspired by agricultural/horticultural diets, starch is the main calorie source.

My meals are organized around three food groups: a protein, a starch, and vegetables/fruit.  If any of those three are missing, the meal doesn't feel complete.  I'll start with those categories and move on from there.


I eat some form of fresh meat about every other day, most often poultry or fish.  Lately I've been eating deer from my chest freezer (my hunting season was unsuccessful, but I got meat anyway because my hunting partner was successful and I helped him butcher).  My meat portions are usually modest, and I often put it into stews and other such dishes to extend it.  I also tend to buy whole animals or cuts with bones, so I can make bone broth, which I use to pep up soups and stews.  For example, I often roast whole chickens or fish.  I rarely eat processed meat.

When I'm not eating meat, I'm usually eating beans, lentils, or eggs.  I eat a lot of beans and lentils because they're healthy, environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and don't raise animal husbandry concerns.  There is abundant evidence that humans have been eating legumes since long before agriculture, and historical hunter-gatherers also relied on a wide variety of legumes.  I buy dry beans in bulk and soak them overnight before cooking.  It's so cheap, it might as well be free.  I eat 1-2 eggs per day.

In addition to eggs, I also make my own yogurt from whole milk.  I go through about a pint of it a week.  Eggs and yogurt keep me satisfied on days when my meals would otherwise not contain any animal food.  I love cheese, but I don't eat it very much because I don't usually have bread around.

I eat a lot of unsalted roasted nuts and peanuts, and a fair amount of peanut butter.  I keep a giant bag of unsalted, roasted in-shell peanuts around in case I want a snack.  Because I have to shell them individually and they aren't salted, I don't overeat them.  I also usually have a jar of raw almonds on hand, which I use for snacking, for almond milk, and as an ingredient in stews.  Unsalted nuts and fresh fruit are typically the only visible, immediately edible foods in my kitchen.


Potatoes reign as my single largest source of calories from September through March.  We harvested 800 lbs of potatoes from the garden last season, and we've already gone through most of them.  Contrary to claims that the quickly-digesting starch in potatoes makes you hungry and fat, I find that potatoes keep me full for a long time, and I certainly haven't gained any weight.  I usually bake or microwave them whole, and eat them plain as part of my meals.  I also sometimes toss them in a little oil and turn them into oven fries for a treat.  The skins go to our hens.
Our potato field.  You can see some corn on the top right.
I eat a variety of grains and pseudograins, particularly corn, rolled oats, brown and white rice, and buckwheat.  I eat oats with mineral-rich yogurt to make up for its high level of phytic acid.  I also make popcorn sometimes.  I don't eat much wheat, but I do eat whole grain bread from time to time, and white bread or pasta on special occasions.

I often use buckwheat, rice, and chickpeas to make a sort of starchy "pancake".  I soak the ingredients overnight, rinse well, grind it all into a fine batter in my Vita-Mix with salt, and then use the batter to make thick, savory pancakes onto which I put other foods.  I invented this recipe, but it's inspired by the practices of many traditional cultures.

I grow flour corn (Painted Mountain), and use most of it to make masa.  This involves the traditional South American method of nixtamalization, which makes corn more digestible and nutritious.  Nixtamalizing and grinding the corn is labor-intensive, but it results in satisfying, hearty tortillas and tamales.  I also use the corn to make make hominy and flour.

Painted Mountain flour corn
Homemade tortillas from PM corn. Note the purple color,
which results from the corn's high polyphenol and carotenoid content.
I grow a large amount of sweet and starchy winter squash.  We eat it fresh over the course of about 6 months, and put a lot of cooked squash into the chest freezer for the rest of the year.  I grow gourmet varieties, such as 'delicata' and 'Oregon homestead sweet meat', which don't require added sugar or fat to taste good.  I either roast them and serve them plain, or use them in soups and stews.  I feed the skins and small seeds to my hens, and the big seeds to myself.

Vegetables and fruit

Me 'n my giant broccoli.
Most of the vegetables I eat come from my garden.  Since I live in the Maritime Northwest, conditions are favorable for cool-weather crops 8+ months of the year.  Some hardy plants, like kale, can survive year-round, and even be somewhat productive in winter.  I tend to eat a lot of lettuce and kale because they're usually abundant.  Broccoli also thrives here for most of the year.

Garden tomatoes
In summer, we eat a lot of green beans, tomatoes, and summer squash.

I supplement my garden produce with store-bought onions, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, avocados, and occasionally other vegetables.  I eat a lot of onions.  I buy 10-lb bags of yellow onions, put them in the garage, and we don't have any trouble going through them before they spoil.

I make my own sauerkraut, which we eat raw because we like the crunch.  Overall, I probably eat about 3-5 servings of vegetables per day.

I love fruit and I eat a lot of it.  I'll eat any fruit, but I eat apples, bananas, and blueberries the most.  I harvest a variety of berries from my garden in summertime, and put some in my chest freezer for fall and winter.  I probably average about 3-5 servings of fruit per day (keep in mind that a medium apple is about two servings).  Fruit is the only dessert I eat, with rare exceptions.

Fats, salt, sugar, and other flavorings

I use the minimum amount of added fat I need to make my food palatable.  I don't measure how much I use, but it's not a lot.  Most of my added fat is extra-virgin olive oil, but I also use modest amounts of grass-fed butter and high-oleic sunflower oil.  I use olive oil, cider vinegar, and mustard to make big batches of vinaigrette dressing that I keep on my counter for use on salad and other vegetables.

I use salt in my cooking, but again only the minimum required to make my food palatable.

I almost never use sugar in my food, except occasionally when I'm entertaining and I decide to make a fancy dessert (e.g., flan).  I use a little bit of honey here and there, but not often.  I don't use other added sweeteners.

A variety of herbs and spices make their way into my food, but the most common are bay leaf, chili pepper, rosemary, garlic, and thyme (I grow the last three in my garden).  I use soy sauce and sriracha sometimes.

I tend to cook simply, focusing on the satisfying flavors of quality ingredients rather than relying heavily on added fats, sugar, salt, and flavors.


My primary beverage is water, either straight from the tap, or carbonated from my keg (usually with a little added flavor, like grapefruit rind and citric acid).

I average about 5 alcoholic drinks a week, typically hard cider or wine, but sometimes also beer or spirits.  I make my own cider, wine, and beer.  I much prefer my own dry cider to the alcoholic apple juice that's sold in the US.  I generally avoid drinking alcohol two nights in a row.

I drink black tea on most mornings, with nothing in it.  Sometimes I'll have half-caf coffee, with or without a splash of milk.

I can't remember the last time I drank sweet soda, and I don't even enjoy it at this point in my life.  I do occasionally drink Gatorade on particularly strenuous cycling or backpacking trips.

Junk food

I eat junk food sometimes.  By that I mean highly palatable, calorie-dense, nutritionally questionable foods.  Pizza and ice cream are two of my favorites, but I also sometimes eat tortilla chips, bacon, French fries, or other goodies.  When I eat junk food in public, I make jokes about looking out for paparazzi.

Honestly, if I were to add it all up, including when I go to restaurants and have dinner with friends, I probably eat some kind of junk food at least once a week.  I don't feel guilty; I just enjoy it.  It's all part of the plan.

I eat at a restaurant about twice a month, which isn't necessarily junk food, but is rarely as healthy as what I cook.  Most of us tend to overeat at restaurants, and I'm no exception.

I buy 25-pound bags of white sugar at Costco.  I use it to make (dry) fruit wine, but it sure does look bad!  If you see me on the cover of a tabloid magazine, clutching a giant bag of sugar with a crazed look in my eye, you'll know what happened.


The only supplement I take is vitamin D3 in winter.  My goal is to take 1000 IU per day, but I usually forget.

A day in my life

Now you know what ingredients I use, but not how I use them.  Here are a few examples of typical meals.


I alternate between two breakfasts: a plain (baked or microwaved) potato and a fried egg, or oatmeal, yogurt, and blueberries.


Lunch is usually catch-as-catch-can.  Typically, I'll eat dinner leftovers with a potato or tortillas, and a piece of fruit.  Sometimes I'll crack open a can of salmon or sardines (canned in water).  Nuts are usually involved.


My most frequent dinner is some kind of thick stew made with meat or beans/lentils, plus onions, other vegetables, and a couple of herbs or spices.  The base is usually bone broth or diced tomatoes.  I also roast whole chickens, turkeys, and fish, and I poach salmon steaks.

I also often make a bed of cooked vegetables in a sauce made of stewed tomatoes, olive oil, and herbs, crack two eggs into it per person, and cook with the lid on.

I eat the main dish with a generous helping of potatoes, rice, tortillas, or my savory grain "pancakes".  There's also typically a side of vegetables: most often some kind of salad with homemade vinaigrette, steamed broccoli with vinaigrette, roasted squash, or sauerkraut.  Dessert is a piece of fruit, or, from time to time, dark chocolate.


Newbie said...

You are a farmer - my dream for retirement!You live the perfect climate for it. I am so impressed that you find the time with your thriving career.
Good luck with all!

thhq said...

Having lived in the Northwest most of my life, The Paleo Diet interests me, but more as a list of suggestions than as a guidebook for life. I did a work stint out on the Washington coast for three years recently. I got more adept at foraging and cooking mollusks and berries. Langdon Cook's book The Mushroom Hunters describes my range, though I was after the red huckleberries, Olympia oysters and clams (razors, softshells and big hardshell quahogs). Beyond chantarelles and morels, I don't trust myself collecting fungi. The farmers markets were good for the wild mushrooms, but more so for the local cranberries, yellow Finn potatoes and dried hazelnuts.

thhq said...

I wouldn't call the PNW perfect climate. You have to pick your battles, especially with tomatoes and melons.

Michael Chastain said...

How are you grinding the nixtamalized corn? I've read this is difficult to do without commercial equipment.

Bebidoo said...

lol@Costco scandal

Thanks for this, this answers all my questions. The honesty is refreshing, no orthorexia here. You must be really busy (wine, cider, sauerkraut, yogurt, gardening, cooking, etc) - scientist by day/subsistence farmer by night!

glib said...

It looks like a low fat diet. No lard, avocado, grass fed butter, olive oil?

But I concur that beans, well sprouted (up to 4 days) and cooked in a pressure cooker, are in fact quite light. There are some significant papers to be had for scientists who would be willing to study which classes of toxins are eliminated by which preparation technique. We do know that enzyme inhibitors are gone when you soak, and phytates when you ferment, but since the biggest toxin are lectins it would be great to find out if a pressure cooker can eliminate all of them at least for certain grains or beans.

Sharon said...

This is awesome. Thank you for overcoming your hesitation and sharing this with us. You have pretty much my ideal diet except perhaps I would sub rice for potatoes as I am Asian and come from a very rice heavy culture

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Newbie,


Hi thhq,

You're practically a hunter-gatherer! I collect geoducks and horse clams sometimes. Geoducks are the best because they contain so much meat, but horse clams are easier to get and taste just as good (great raw too). I also go squid fishing sometimes, although I usually don't catch enough to make a meal.

I agree that you have to pick your garden battles here. I feel pretty good about my gardening opportunities here, but there are some things I miss a lot, like big fat slicing tomatoes. I'm going to try cucumbers again this year, but more out of stubbornness than anything.

Hi Michael,

I use a cast iron molino to grind the corn. It's not that hard but it takes a long time and gets the heart pumping. For tortillas you have to grind it twice.

Hi glib,

I do eat olive oil, avocados, and butter-- as mentioned in the post. It's probably lower in fat than most peoples' diets, but I wouldn't call it a low-fat diet.

Tim said...

Thanks a lot for sharing, Stephan!

I have somewhat of an off-topic question, but I have been wanting to ask it for a while and I think this is one of the more relevant posts to ask it on. My question is: How would you recommend increasing your intake to gain weight in the “safest” way. Ultimately, I want to add muscle, but I am sure there will be some fat gain with this. Assuming I am meeting my protein needs (~1g/lb of LBM) and meeting my needs for glycogen replenishment is there a “safer” macro to increase? For example, from my understanding, Paul Jaminet recommends about 150-200ish grams of carbs (depending on strenuous activity) and then adding extra calories through dietary fat. He claims this is less stressful on the body.

On the other hand, I have seen claims that keeping dietary fat fairly low and increasing carbs will lead to better portioning to muscle. Just curious if you have any thoughts. And, if you do think fats are a better choice, would you rely more on mono, saturated, or poly?

Thanks! Sorry for the long question

glib said...

sorry, it is difficult to keep track of everything in a post when it is not in the same page as the comments. still, 800 lbs of potatoes is impressive. Over how many sq ft? do you do any cover cropping to keep the soil fresh and let the fungi knit again? or any crop rotation? I make a lot of large veggies, but not potatoes (alkaline soil and some diseases at my site).

Daniel said...

I've been following your blog for years and have for a while now been curious why you don't more significantly limit polyunsaturated fats. Even if the case isn't closed, don't you agree that there's reason to be cautious about eating much of them? I obviously don't know what quantities of nuts, poultry, eggs and avocados you eat but if a big part of your diet you may get, say, 6 or 7% or more of your calories from polyunsaturated fats. Why not limit that to something much less, even if just out of caution?

Thorgal Aegirsson said...


Surprisingly, you can add muscle mass and lose fat at the same time but it ain't easy:
- you have to pound the proteins, something like 2-2.5g / kg body mass (I did not say LBM, and I used kg, not lb)
- you need a caloric deficit and obviously, it would be better to eat carbs than fat for energy because ...
- you need to work out hard (HIIT, weights) like 5x / week

There is a study that came out recently. It was demonstrating exactly how the prescription above works. They had a control group that only had 1.2 g/ kg of proteins per day. They did not lose muscle mass but did not gain either. The high protein group lost more fat mass but gained lean mass.

Here is an article for laypersons:

davidjhp said...

Hi Stephan,
Curious what is the reason for growing your own food? To save money, or because its healthier?

DezentKeck said...

Hey there Stephen,

you stated that you eat most of your nuts roasted. I am a little cautios about heated plantfats and Im sure you know plenty about this topic as well.
Since I acknowledge what you researched over the time I wondered if you see a benefit in roasting nuts over soaking and dehydrating them (but peanuts obviously)besides the flavor.
I somehow expected to find more fat in your diet. If people have a high exercise level do you see problems in consuming high amounts of raw dairy fat daily?In form of butter, milk,cream and cheese.

I really enjoy what kind of information you give here and the way you share it. Im also glad to now know that you live up to your findings in an authentic way.
Thanks from Germany!

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Tim,

If you're after muscle, then the safest way is probably to train hard, eat a high-protein diet, and follow your appetite. Anytime you're eating more than your body needs to maintain itself (and build muscle), you are most likely straining your metabolism. Years of that eventually causes metabolic disease in susceptible people. That's of course less of an issue among bodybuilder types who are exercising a lot and have a lot of lean mass. I suppose a good way to assess the situation is to determine whether or not your'e gaining fat. If your diet is causing you to gain fat, it's probably not as safe as it could be (assuming you're not abnormally lean to begin with).

Hi glib,

No worries. We grew 800 lbs in 1,000 square feet of land (including paths between beds). I was blown away by the yield. The soil and light conditions where we grow are great. I also did a soil test and amended accordingly. That was our first year of growing in that location; it was previously pasture. We did plant cover crop after harvest, and we have a 3-year rotation planned between potatoes, squash, and corn.

Hi Daniel,

I've become fairly agnostic about PUFA. Some of the arguments I used to find convincing have fallen apart (e.g., the idea that high n6 increases inflammation). I do choose added fats that are lower in PUFA (olive oil, butter, high-oleic sunflower), but I don't worry about PUFA in whole foods. All available evidence suggests that nuts are healthy, regardless of PUFA, so I don't worry about it too much. I do try to eat n3 PUFA regularly from seafood.

Hi davidjhp,

Mostly, I grow my own food because I enjoy it. Or perhaps more accurately, I have a strong compulsion to do it. I've loved growing food since I was a kid, and that has only intensified over time. I guess you could call it a hobby. I also like saving money, eating the healthiest food, and connecting with the lifestyles of my ancestors. But I don't think you need to grow your own food to eat a healthy diet. Honestly, for most people it probably doesn't make sense to garden like I do. The savings (maybe $2-3k/yr) aren't worth the effort unless you really enjoy it.

Hi DezentKeck,

I do eat most of my nuts roasted. It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, roasting makes them more nutritious by unlocking calories/protein and reducing phytic acid. On the other hand, roasting creates chemicals that might be unhealthy (AGEs, oxidized lipids, etc). I don't have a perfect answer but here is why I eat them roasted: 1) I prefer the taste, 2) most traditional cultures roasted their nuts.

Regarding your dairy fat question, I suppose it depends on your current weight/health and your goals. I think the main issue here is calorie density. Calorie-dense foods tend to lead to eating more calories, which leads to fat gain and metabolic problems. So although I eat dairy fat, I typically eat it in the context of yogurt rather than butter and cheese. I tend to think added fat is best minimized unless your goal is weight gain. Added fats have very little nutritional value, and we know they can increase calorie intake without a proportional increase in satiety.

William Gillean said...

Why do you not eat much wheat? Thank you for sharing your menu.

thhq said...

@stephen a couple more comments on the PNW; can't resist...

I grew up with horse clams and goeducks on the lower sound. My dad held horse clams in low esteem and we always used them for crab trap bait. Geoducks required a very low tide and a deep pit to get, but they are some of the best clams for cooking without getting tough. They're also a good sushi.

I consider beets to be a wonder food. They grow easily under PNW conditions, the yield is high, and the tops are better than the beetroot IMO.

I've made yogurt for decades in an old Salton. I mix a half cup with 2T of dry muesli, a handful of berries and a little maple syrup in the evening. By morning the muesli softens and thickens the yogurt to the texture of soft cheese.

glib said...

Incredible yield. You have certainly been helped by a mycorrhizal network that was undisturbed, it having been pasture. A grain/legume cover crop is all you need to maintain it, so long as you plant as soon as you harvest and you know how to terminate it (youtube has several videos on cover crop termination).

Art Alenza said...

Hi Stephan,

I know you are a big fan of potatoes, so in case you haven't seen this yet, a man in Melbourne, Australia is eating nothing but potatoes for the entire year.

This reminds me of Chris Voigt who did the 60 day potato diet.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi William,

A couple of reasons. Flour foods are one of the more calorie-dense and palatable foods in our typical diet, so they tend to promote overeating (that's more true for pastries and such, but also bread to a lesser extent). I also feel better when I eat starches besides bread. I recognize the possibility that it's all in my head, since I did a blinded challenge a while back and noticed no difference between regular and gluten-free bread (both white). But I nevertheless feel better without it. Actually, I seem to handle white bread a lot better than whole wheat bread, ironically. That, coupled with the question marks that remain about gluten, is enough for me to avoid it most of the time. I eat it sometimes anyway because I like it and it's the way of my people (half French).

Hi thhq,

Nice! Most people have a low opinion of horse clams-- I find them to be delicious both raw and cooked. I usually either slow cook or pressure cook to get them tender. Makes a killer chowder.

Hi glib,

Yeah, I was shocked by the quantity of taters we were digging up. I remember digging up a single plant that had about 5 lbs under it. It was either Red LaSoda or Chieftain. Many of the tubers were abnormally huge too (unfortunately, hollow centers were common). And that's despite the fact that the plants were ravaged by cucumber beetles early in the season.

70 of the 800 lbs came out of a single 4 x 8 raised bed. That's more than 2 lbs per square foot! Conditions were optimal in that bed though: it was double dug, amended based on soil test, planted with a high-yield variety (Cal White), and well cared for.

The cover crop isn't going to be optimal because we planted a mix of vetch, clover, and rye. Rye can be tough to terminate with hand tools on a large scale, and vetch doesn't germinate completely so you get seeds persisting and germinating. I'd like to just do crimson clover next year. Maybe I'll check out the videos you mentioned.

Hi Art,

Nice! Thanks for passing that along.

glib said...

I am so jealous of these yields. I have lots of gardening and farming friends, and no one gets 2 lbs per sqft.

Use oats, fava, and daikon. They die in winter, at least here. White clover is ideal and probably even better because it prevents small seed germination while letting potato, squash and corn shoots through. And clover fixes an amount of nitrogen that is unbelievable given how small the plant is, comparable to the much larger vetch or fava.

Yep, rye is amazingly tenacious and has made me pull my hair in the past. In practice, i think it does not work in Michigan, our season is too short. You need to let it go to flowering before it can be killed efficiently, and that will cut significantly in our growing season. Vetch is tenacious too, but you may consider tolerating some vetch weeds, root continuity is important to soil fertility, in fact it is one of the five basic principles of healthy soil: have live roots in the soil at all time. Your mycorrhizae will thank you with highly mineralized crops which definitely are a Whole Health Source.

Ned said...

Thanks for taking the time to share, Stephan.

I understand your reluctance, but it's nice to have your knowledgeable and pragmatic perspective.

Arthur Bezerra said...

I'm Brazilian and my food is meat and rice. Half kilo of meat per day. I'm 51 and 20 years without see a doctor.

CoryCK said...

Hello Stephan,

You say that you drink water mostly from the tap. Do you have any opinions about water fluoridation or about drinking distilled water? Also, what is your view on BPA?

Thank you for all your hard work! Can I preorder The Hungry Brain?

Kate said...

Curious - How do you store your potatoes to keep them from sprouting? Or do you just cut out the sprouts.

Year44 said...

I love this post so much! Thank you for being so real and sharing with us what you eat.. makes me feel so normal! Our diets are similar. When friends ask me how I do it, how I eat so healthy, I blink and stare. I tell them what I eat and they can't believe it. Keep it simple, people! Keep it simple!

Jamie Koonce said...


Please do a post on how to make hominy and your "pancake" invention!

Also, do you ever test your blood glucose when you eat potatoes and other starches? I'm curious whether there is any validity to the glycemic index argument against eating potatoes.

thhq said...

@kate, the farmer I buy from uses cool dry dark storage and leaves the dirt on the potatoes. He warehouses sacked potatoes for 4-5 months.

CC said...

After see-sawing from no-fat vegan to low-carb, higher fat paleo, I have ended up with pretty much what you describe. Good to get confirmation from someone with more knowledge than me. Funny – the protein/starch/veg, fruit meal combination is what my mother taught me way back when (‘60s), and after years of chasing after the nutrition recommendation de jour, I’ve ended up where I began. Minus the less memorable mid-century quasi-food products (e.g., Kraft mac & cheese).

Ramjeev said...

Hi Stephan
Nice read indeed. Through your post, I could peep into my future plans of settling down in the hills of northern India, where we have bought a piece of land to pursue our farming cum leisure aspirations.
Enjoyed your post. Thanks

Aaron said...

Stephan, I'm interested that you eat so many peanuts regardless of the fact that they have a lot of omega 6 and that aflatoxins can def be present in them. Also, I see you don't try extra hard to obtain omega 3s and just try to eat natural foods. Would you have a comment on this? Thanks for showing your diet.

Peaceful Pony said...

Five years from now you'll be on Dr Oz promoting your cookbook. I'll still buy it..

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Aaron,

I've become fairly agnostic about dietary omega-6 found in whole foods. I still probably eat less n6 than most people because I don't eat much seed oil. Peanuts are about 20-25% PUFA by calories, and I probably get less than 10% of my calories from peanuts. So that's only 2% of calories as n6 PUFA from peanuts.

Regarding aflatoxin, I know it's a nasty carcinogen but it is regulated to an apparently safe limit in the US food supply. As far as I know, there has never been a correlation found between peanut intake and liver cancer in the US, although it does happen in some places where aflatoxin isn't regulated (e.g., parts of Africa).

Behopeful said...

Great post as always! I'm curious do you do much snacking or try to stick with eating at meal times only?


Unknown said...

Hi Stephan,

Your article says you cook two meals every day from scratch, Wouldn't it save time to cook in batch, and then later reheat leftovers from that batch? Do you feel eating leftovers is not as healthy?

Justin said...

Hello Stephan,

Thank you for sharing. To get into the weeds just a bit, I have always wondered how you cook the savory pancakes and pull it off without having them stick to the pan ? I have had this question this since you first published your original buckwheat crepe recipe years a go in 2010(!). Would you be able to share any tips or tricks ?


Jo said...

Well, now that I've gotten back onto the chair that I fell off I will go read this through again. I took a break from reading paleo and health blogs for a while, they fuel my anxiety. I can't help but check back in with all of them when I'm pregnant for some reason though. I peruse some Mark's Daily, Perfect Health blog, and a few others. Then I start to get overwhelmed and start to wonder if beans and wheat are really the poisons that so many paleo guru's state them to be.

So thank goodness I remembered your blog, my old favourite and always the most reasoned. I am shocked and relieved to see you mention beans, peanuts, oats. My family will soon have 5 members and I no longer feel that it's healthy to push steak and bacon all the time. And I was overjoyed with my first year of a big garden, even up here in Canada :) I too will stubbornly try again with cucumbers this year. I probably use more added fat than you do. And I have a love for gourmet cooking much like I notice Melissa McEwan does. Anyways, enough of my rambling, just want to say thank you for being a voice of reason in the sea of orthorexia that the paleosphere has become.

Jo said...

I do have to say that even with the refreshing findings of most reasonable people, that "Eat Real Food" for example is the best diet

I am still at a bit of a loss as to the advice on "whole grains"
They are still recommended everywhere. Even in the advice recommending "Eat Real Food" I've seen recent studies both supporting whole wheat bread for preventing alzheimers and the well known arguments by Dr. Perlmutter et al blaming all carbs and most specifically wheat for alzheimers.

I personally can't even decide if it's better for my family to have white rice or brown, let alone whole wheat, white sour dough or no bread at all. Whole Grain advice, it hasn't gone away the same way that "eat only lean meats" has.

DezentKeck said...

Hey there Stephen,

I really enjoy reading your blogg and thank you for the all the information you gathered and published about traditional diets.
Your knowledge is about nutrition is amazing and I liked to read that you apply it to the reality as well.
I just wondered if you see benefits in heating nuts (besides peanuts due to their leguminous traits) over soaking and dehydrting them?
Personally, i can eat anything without problems really but with big amounts of the peanut lectins my body seems to have a little trouble. F
rom your dietary preferences I suspect you are bloodtype A? If it is to personally you dont need to answer.
Do you think there is anything about the bloodtypediet which suggests different sensitivity to certain lectins ?

Greets from germany

XenoLith said...

Thanks for sharing. I find other people's food choices very interesting. I share your focus on unprocessed or minimally process foods, though the details are different in my case.

thhq said...

I don't know where to put this, but I thought it was a fascinating read. I was looking for some hard evidence that implicated salty snack foods as a main cause of the rise in American calorie consumption. What I found was far more interesting. A discussion with Alan Levinovitz on the religious nature of dietary restrictions.

There's a lot here to think about. For instance, as a retired research scientist one big frustration I have with the quasi-religious dietary promoters is their inability to write like research scientists. They never offer abstracts, present their outrageous myths as unquestionable facts, and appear to be completely narrative driven. Levinovitz has observed this too:

Interviewer: "But it’s a lot harder to get a good story out of something like, “Eat a lot of different things in moderation,” even if that’s probably better advice."

Levinovitz: "Science is not great at constructing narratives. That’s its virtue and its downfall. Scientific inquiry has to divorce itself from what makes the best story, and science writers, myself included, are in the business of making science compelling by telling stories."

Interviewer: "It’s true: we report scientific findings in a narrative form."

Levinovitz: "One important point: science is filled with conditionals and religious literature is not. Any religious literature, any revealed scripture, doesn’t have lots of mights and coulds and maybes and further revelations are needed. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of certainty in religious texts, though some people might argue that there is. But when you bring that kind of certainty to science, you end up lying about the certainty of the science, you end up exaggerating the scope of the claims. In science, exaggeration is just deception."

Levinovitz's comparison of the Paleo evolution narrative with the Garden of Eden creation narrative is priceless.

Nick said...

Could you post your recipe for savory pancakes? Thanks!

Mikko Järvinen said...
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kem said...

Kia Ora

Thanks for that. We grow about 200 kg of spuds and they last till the Jersey Bennies are ready at xmas. We have a similar climate to you (mid Canterbury NZ) so we have tho greenhouses and produce a lot of frost tender veggies inside. We keep a quarter of one of our steers each autumn and I just killed and butchered two lovely lambs. That'll get us through till next autumn. Our two dozen chooks are not keeping up! My beautiful wife and I eat six a day and we are only getting 3 or 4 of late. I

It is really nice to read about someone else that is producing a large fraction of their food. I might have to have a look at the corn thing. We grow heaps of sweet corn (can't keep up and feed some to the cattle for treats).

Ta for that kj

Bonnie Souter said...
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Bonnie Souter said...

Apologies for deleting my previous comment, I wanted to edit it but wasn't sure how. The main point was that pregnancy got me into bad habits, I was nauseous and so gravitated towards highly palatable foods as a way of being able to eat enough calories. Unfortunately it was a very difficult habit to get out of and foods I used to avoid became difficult to resist, but after reading your site and watching some of your videos I'm starting to understand where I went wrong and what I can do about it. I've taken the first step by cutting out all added sugar, and going back to eating whole unprocessed foods. The only processed food I'm eating right now is wholegrain bread, I think that is something I could do with less of too. It's been about a week and I've already noticed that removing added sugar (and I wasn't eating a lot of it, just the stuff that is hidden in foods like breakfast cereals, sauces, cereal bars plus dried fruit and treats like cookies and cake a few times a week) has reduced my appetite and between meal cravings, so that is a good start!

eurovisie2010 said...

Hey Stephen,

I cannot believe that after reading your post and all the comments... One BIG THING is missing..

How many calories do you eat a day !! ????????????????

It's unbelievable that you do not have a calculations or diary for a number of days/weeks. After reading the first part of your writing I read that you eat this and that and many other different things.. But then looking at the last part in bringing it to the table in breakfast, lunch, diner... It looks very meager.. and very low in calories. And I can read that you mention that you consider overeating above maintenance is a stress on the body.

SO, I hope you can tell us more about this. I also do not eat too many calories.. Calories rule in my body.. And I think with most of the people as a law> Although there seems to be a big dream in everybody to overome this law with speial diets. Different diets.. No carbs. High protein etc. etc.

Please tell us ! Or, I the only one ?!!

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi eurovisie,

I don't count calories, so I don't know exactly how many I eat, but probably around 2,500 kcal/d. That's just a rough guess. I have a big appetite and I tend to eat a fair amount of food. I need it to fuel my relatively high level of physical activity.

eurovisie2010 said...

Stephan, I cannot agree with your answer. It's too easy. It's not fair !

You are a scource of scientific truth in the very unclear talk of health of food. Your audience is coming to you for clear answers..With right of speaking by referring to the science. So..., bluntly saying, I don't ount calories is so an unfair answer from a person like you. It's very disapointing..

Esspecially because you make a point that overeating is a burden for the body. So knowing the numbers should be important as a guide. Because otherwise everybody has an opinion on nothing. YOU would need to be the first to count calories and have a tool of counting expendire of calories by how much energy you spend in maintenance and working/exercising.

Sciene is a matter of facts and numbers. The opposite of your thinking about food is the lowcarb-group.. And they always make the point that calories are not the culprit but Carbs are... Insulin... You go agaisnst that normally. And they always say... waaahhhh I don't count calories.. !! I don't eat those fattening carbs !!!! So I don't need to count.. And hey now YOU are talking the same..

I don't mean that you need to count every day.. But you as a eating/food-scientist should have your numbers CHECKED. Like a bodybuilder who has his numbers.

But okay, 2500 kcal's. With a high level of physical activity.. BUT>>>> Reading the last part of your writing.. gave me a picture of only 1000 calories..! As you wrote for breakfast : A(1) plain baked potato and a(1) fried egg !! That's all ?! Must be a giant potato.

Lunch : leftover with a (1) potato and some fruit... Oeps,.. 200 kcal ??!

And you wrote : I love fruit and I eat "" A LOT"" of it !!!! A LOT> Then you write : I eat probably 2 - 4 servings of fruit a day... AND THEN : "keep in mind" a medium apple is about two servings !!! OOOhh my god..! SO, it means you eat between 1 or at the most two apples a day.. And that's a lot of fruit !! 1 apple total for half of the days !!

Come on.. What a translation.. from words to actual numbers of fruit and take the calories.. 75 per apple.. Wholy smoke.. My mother eats a coffee cake at her coffee with 329 kcal's... two sweetened coffee with milk makes 2 x 33 kcal + 329 kcal is 400 kcal's..

So if you are a very active 2.500 kcal's a day. That means that a normal desk-bound man.. Should eat less then 2000 calories.. I think that's right.. But I never get these facts in most of the readings about diet !!

So you should tell your readers too immedialtely start counting calories to become aware of calories. And tell that most men do not need more than 2000 calories..

So my 2000 calories for a male of 1.87 m and 82 kg's is allright. I was thinking I ate too less..

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi eurovisie,

The point I've made many times is that the human brain (in most cases) regulates energy balance appropriately and without mental effort if you give it the right inputs. I have nothing against people counting calories if it helps them, but you must recognize that counting calories is not the natural way of interacting with food for a human. My philosophy is to provide energy homeostasis systems with the right signals and let them do the work. This is how most humans maintained an appropriate weight for hundreds of thousands of years prior to the 20th century. Hence I don't count calories in my personal life. I only use calories as a tool for doing research and understanding obesity physiology, and for that it is very useful.

eurovisie2010 said...

Okay, Stephen. I can agree with you. If you would just talk for yourself..
But, having a blog as an "obesity research neurobiologist".. you cannot talk from that opion in your talks.. Beause then there would be no field of research for you.. !

Because in obesity brains do not listen to energybalances.. For sure not in the environment the human brain is our world at this time.. SO I think on a blog about obesity of food... Awareness of counting calories is important.. Not for everyday.. But just to have the numbers.. And people know where you're talking about.. My mother (knows nothing about anything) wanted to diet beause she got some extra weight beause she got bad knees and back so automatically she is not able to move as much as she used to do... So now she wants to diet down.. But very strange, she stopped drinking tea beause she hates tea without a little suger lump of 12 kcal (3,1 gram) But as I told you.. then she eats a coffee bagel of 329 kcal's.. Because "sugar"is all the bad stuff in de media..
So, I think for obesity in real world with """normal"" people that are not living with reason like you and I do... It would be very wise that you would put calories as a guide on top of your blog. With instructions.. And your calculations. As a stimulans for everybody for knowing their numbers of intake and a goed calculation of how many calories they use with a good instrument of how much calories they spend.

Very important.. Obese people that read your blog.. will probably be insulin resistant. And that will mean that they will be somewhat resistant in the brain also for detecting energybalance I think and you will know.

I think that most obese people have NO idea how many calories they eat.. Or how many calories are in cake !?? SO, it would be the first step. Counting calories..
I think our brain is not suited for energybalns in these times. With snacks being the norm.. everywhere. Loaded with a combination of carbohydrate, drenched in fat and protein. SO easy to get... That's completely not in balance with our brains that developed in digging up or hunting.. for calories. What made the balance. That's lost now.
COunting or being aware of calories is leading.. You cannot speak from yourself as a very knowledgeable scientist with great awareness..

Or you must start from the conviction that every reader at your blog is your equal..

Unknown said...

Hello Stephan

I followed your blog very frequently few yeears back and now after few years I was suppressed reading your eating routine is not based on broths, fish oil, liver, brain, marrow, butter, tongues, fishes, shellfish, eggs etc, but rather vegetable based food.

What am I missing?


All best

Unknown said...

*suppressed = surprised :)