When determining “health”, perhaps it is better to study and prioritize our physique (body fat percentage, muscle mass).
I have high muscle mass and low body fat
I can see my 6-pack, and I have high muscle mass. I’m Asian-American with unremarkable genetics, yet I’m around 165 pounds, around 5 foot 10, and have strong weightlifting strength.
With this current physiology, I feel the most “healthy” I’ve felt in my life. The highest bodily vigor, mental concentration, focus, optimism, and joy.
Which makes me wonder:
If we want to become “happier”, perhaps we should first sculpt our body (increase muscle mass, lower body fat).
Of course without steroids, or foreign hormones/drugs. Also unnecessary to take supplements, protein powder, etc. I’ve been able to build my physique purely from eating meat, eating eggs, drinking water and coffee. Also while following a strict “ketogenic” diet, and intermittent fasting (no breakfast, no lunch). Also not eating immediately after working out.
- Meal timing isn’t that important: It seems that after working out, our body has an increased sensitivity to in taking more protein (in order to rebuild muscle mass). Therefore the notion of eating whey protein before a workout and immediately after a workout seems unnecessary.
- Muscle supplements, protein powder, is unnecessary: You can still sculpt your ideal body physique without these expensive additions.
- Genetics isn’t as important as you think: No matter how industrious I am at working out, I doubt I will ever look like Ronnie Coleman. However, I still have great potential. Genetics dictate some limits (generally people who are taller and have thicker wrists have a greater capacity to become stronger and more muscular), but perhaps effort trumps genetics. My theory is that effort is around 80% of the equation, and genetics is only around 20%. Assuming you’re not competing in bodybuilding competitions, you will still be able to create a great physique with your genetics and effort.
- Powerlifting seems to be the most effective and fun way to build muscle and lose body fat: I used to follow the “bodybuilding” style of weight lifting (4 sets of 10 reps). But this type of weight lifting is quite boring — the reps feel arbitrary and pointless. What I’ve been doing instead is the “one rep max” style of powerlifting training. Every gym session I simply try to raise the maximum amount of weight I can lift by around 5 pounds. My personal goal is to do this indefinitely. And as I’m increasing my physical strength, my body naturally puts on muscle (without trying).
- One massive meal a day (dinner): Another interesting lesson: my ability to eat a really really huge single meal (dinner) is possible via working out and intermittent fasting. We’ve been told for so long that it was best to have lots of meals a day in order to optimize your muscle mass gaining and body fat loss. But the problem with eating lots of meals a day is boredom with eating, inconvenience of schedule, annoying to have to prepare all your meals, wasted time necessary to spend all that time on eating. It seems after intermittent fasting, I’ve been able to increase my appetite by 5x, which means that my one massive meal a day (dinner) is 5x bigger than how other “normal” people eat. Which means you can still make “gains” by only eating one meal a day — given that meal is fucking massive.
Having a poor physique is a sign of poor health
Consider an individual with a high body fat percentage, with little muscle mass.
If an individual has a high bodyfat mass, it means they probably have a poor diet which is high in starches, sugars, carbs, and other foods/drinks/snacks which leads to metabolic damage (metabolic syndrome happens when you have hyper-activity in insulin signaling).
Therefore if you see an extremely over-fat person, it means they have metabolic disease, and metabolic disease will lead to a heart attack, cancer, or any other diseases which will kill them.
Having a hyper-functioning metabolism is bad— there is a current theory of the “hyper function” theory of aging, in which having an over-active metabolism leads to disease which will lead to hyper-activity in cancer cells, heart disease, etc.
Via negativa health
Nassim Taleb has it right— the best way to become “healthier” is to remove “unhealthy” things from your diet and life. For example, you can remove all of these things from your life and diet with no negative health consequences:
- No sugar
- No carbohydrates
- No starches
- No alcohol
- No smoking
Also, intermittent fasting is probably the healthiest thing we can do. Why? When we are fasting, our body turns on the genetic activity of “autophagy” in which your stronger cells eat the weaker cells, which is like a “vacuum cleaner” effect in your body and cells. The theory is that autophagy kills pre-cancerous cells and prevents hyper-activity in cells, which keeps our body in a more optimal “homeostasis” state.
Furthermore the benefit of intermittent fasting is that it causes you to have a superior fasting blood insulin level. Because you eat less frequently, you have less insulin signaling in a 24-hour period.
For example the average American probably eats 3 meals a day, 3 sugary drinks a day, and maybe 2-3 (also sugary) snacks a day. That means you got 9-12 insulin blood spikes a day. It is almost like red-lining your car engine 9-10 times a day (your motor will become damaged). Also when we have a high sugar or carbohydrate meal, we have a stronger “food coma” effect.
However if you have 1 big meal a day (no carbohydrates) which is high in fat and protein, the intensity of your insulin response will be less. This means less metabolic damage — which means that you will probably live longer (with greater health).
Death is mandatory, aging is optional
When most of us think about “aging”, we are thinking about “senescence” (gaining more wrinkles, bones become more brittle, loss of skin elasticity, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, lessened cognition, difficulty of independent living). This is different from chronological aging.
For example you can have a higher chronological age (80 years old), and be ripped like Art de Vany (he’s buff, super strong, high muscle mass, low bodyfat). In my mind at age 80, he looks like a super fit 40 year old. So physiologically Art de Vany looks around 40 years old, while his chronological age is 80+ years old.
So the goal is simple:
Maximize your life span (theoretically 120-140 years), while having the maximal physiological strength.
Most people don’t want to “get old” because of fear of loss of physical and mental faculties. Also as a side note, the theory of Alzheimer’s is that it is type 3 diabetes (metabolic disease leads to mental degeneration). So perhaps Alzheimer’s can be totally avoided with lifestyle choices.
So assuming you had an extremely sharp mind, with extremely strong bodily health and vigor, wouldn’t you want to live to be 120-140 years old? I would!
Conclusion: First focus on your physique
Anyways this essay has gotten very long winded, but the goal is to first optimize our physique. An optimal body physique is maximally high in muscle mass, and with a body fat percentage less than 10%.
To do this:
- Intermittent fasting (no breakfast or lunch, only one massive meal a day — ideally dinner. Break your fast as early as 4pm, perhaps as late as 9-10pm).
- Ketogenic diet: Eat lots of fatty meats (pork, beef, chicken), lots of eggs (including yolk), and for flavor eat lots of bitter greens, or fermented foods like Kimchi or sauerkraut. Allow yourself unlimited salt, pepper, herbs, etc with your cooking. I’ve totally abstained from all carbohydrates (complex and simple) and all starchy foods (potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, etc) with no downside (last 3+ years). My digestion is good, my energy levels are high, and my physical strength is great (I’m crushing my personal one rep max powerlifting records, currently 405+ deadlift, 315+ squat, 105+ dumbbell press). I’ve thus concluded that all carbohydrates, sugars and starches are unnecessary — because you can stop eating all of it indefinitely with zero adverse health consequences.
- Weight lifting: Lift heavy shit— ideally powerlifting “one rep max” style. Keep your workouts simple — stick to deadlift, squat, dumbbell press and chin-ups. Spend as much or little time in the gym (have fun at the gym!)
- Walk as much as possible: The more I walk, the better my posture, the more creative ideas I get, the happier I am, and the more artistic I am. I shoot more photos, and get more joy!
Physique first! ERIC