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Step 1: Maintain Your Body’s Hardware: Bulletproof Your Diet

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I’m not going to write about every microcosm of dietary advice or debate every aspect of nutrition.  In this article, I’m going to lay out a simple “do this-not that” plan for people who want to live as healthily as possible.

Before I do this, you need to understand one simple fact:

Biohacking starts with diet.

This may seem like hyperbole, but diet is almost magical.  Going from a low-fat, high carb, whole grain, plant based diet to the Bulletproof Diet has made amazing changes.  I’ve lost weight, increased my IQ, and reduced my risk for almost every known disease.  Diet is the foundation for upgrading your IQ, managing stress, preventing disease, and optimizing physical performance.

There are five things your diet should do for you.

  1. Provide nutrition.
  2. Feed your brain.
  3. Fuel your body.
  4. Optimize physical performance.
  5. Keep you satisfied.
First you’re going to learn what each of these steps involves, then you’re going to learn how to accomplish them.

1. Provide nutrition

To paraphrase Michael Pollan, the world is becoming overfed and undernourished.

A good diet should provide all the nutrients your body needs to perform basic functions.  Many people think of food just in terms of calories or macronutrients, which overlooks the most important part.  Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, cofactors, and other micronutrients can’t be obtained from any source except diet.  Your body can’t magically convert Cheerios into a source of real nutrition.

The first priority of eating well is eating what your body needs.  This involves balancing macronutrients and micronutrients for optimal performance.

2. Feed your brain

Your brain is an organ like any other.  It requires specific nutrients for optimal functioning, and doesn’t perform well when it’s malnourished.  Malnourishment comes in many forms.  It could be from a low calorie diet or from overeating the wrong foods.  In order to have a high performing brain – you need to eat the right kinds of food.

3. Fuel your body

Imagine trying to write a book, negotiate a business agreement, or think of a new invention when you’re body feels like it’s been inside a cement mixer for a few days.  I had this problem for years.  I never thought of business as a physical stress, but it is.  Just like an elite athlete needs the right food, businessmen need to keep their body ready to handle the demands of their job.  If you’re like me, your job is a 12 month tour de force of (enjoyable) work.  Getting sick, tired, and weak from your job is not an option.  The solution is to keep your body impenetrable, be able to identify problems as they occur and account for weakness that may be specific to you, by understanding your body and taking care of it properly.

4. Optimize physical performance

Many of the people I work with are busy entrepreneurs who also love sports.  While I don’t personally exercise on a regular basis, I understand the value of smart exercise and sports.  Even though the Bulletproof Diet is designed for people who don’t necessarily want to exercise, there are very simple adaptions that can turn it into the perfect nutritional formula for anyone from Ironman athletes to power lifters.  With a few simple tweaks, the Bulletproof Diet can become your secret weapon for high octane fueled sports performance.

5. Keep you satisfied

Bad food tastes like crap.  Enough said.

There are many other things a good diet should do, but those are the top five.  So how do you accomplish all five with the least amount of work?

Enter The Bulletproof Diet

The Bulletproof Diet took me 15 years of research and self experimentation.  It’s so effective, some of the most well known bloggers have even tried to copy it.  Not only is it easy to follow, it allows for experimentation and variation.  It’s not a “diet” in the way most people think of it.  The foods are arranged in a spectrum so you can choose how bulletproof you want to become.  The more you eat on the green side of the spectrum, the better you’ll feel and perform.

I’ve tried everything from strict vegan diets to eating almost 100 percent fat.  The following is what has worked the best, and as new information comes in, I continue to modify the diet.  Since I’ve already created an entire infographic, I’ll make a few points for you to remember.

Low calorie diets are bad for you.

Your body is designed to eat satisfying amounts of food.  Low calorie diets can produce weight loss, but they ruin your cognitive function and are very difficult and often painful (to you, or those around you) to maintain.  Don’t be scared by all the high calories foods on the Bulletproof Diet.  They won’t make you fat.

Eat happy things that ate healthy things.

Large animals should be your main source of calories.  Cows, sheep, bison, and other large ruminant animals are food.  Optimally, they should be raised on their natural diet (grass) for their entire lives.  They should also be treated humanely.  If you can’t find grass-fed meat, conventional meat is better than nothing.  If you’re eating conventional meat, pick the leanest cuts you can find since most toxins are stored in fat.

The reason I say “eat animals” instead of “eat meat” is because eating the whole animal is good for you.  Despite what you may have heard, fruits and vegetables are not the most nutrient dense foods – organ meats are.  Eat organ meats such as liver, heart, and kidney at least once a week, preferably more.

Fat is your friend.

The idea that fat makes you fat is archaic, pathetic, and childish.  All nutrients are converted inside the body before being used.  Fat is a clean burning, nutritious, and satisfying energy source that will keep your brain and body functioning at maximum capacity.  Vitamins like A, E, D, and K are all fat soluble, meaning they need fat be to be absorbed by the body.

Animal fat is preferred.  Grass-fed butter is an easy source, but rendered animal fat (grass-fed) is even better.

Grains are evil.

Wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, corn, millet – they are all making you sick, weak, and fat.  Some are less damaging like white rice and buckwheat, but they don’t provide any real nutrition.  Grains are a high toxin, low nutrient, cheap source of sugar that is better left for rats and birds (the only animals that preferentially consume grains over other foods).

Remove toxins as you go.

This will occur naturally without the need for advanced supplementation if you follow the Bulletproof Diet.  There are some more advanced detox methods I will be discussing later in the series.

 

If you are still confused about how to implement the Bulletproof Diet, stay tuned for a future article which breaks it down into 14 easy steps.

 

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  • HorpelKrufkin

    Dave,
    I just subscribed to your blog and received the BulletProof diet PDF.
    There is one major issue I have right off the bat. I’m vegan, and I do not stray. I find the diet and the science interesting, but what do you suggest a vegan do in light of the fact that you recommend against eating Soy and recommend eating Grass-fed animal meats?

    I simply cannot do that. I have considered eggs, but I am committed to avoiding animal products all together. This can’t be the first time you have heard this dilemma. Advice?

    Thanks

    • Zorica

      Ouch. You’re hurting yourself! I wonder if you can use whey (the one from Bulletproof) or hydrolized collagen (probably the Bulletproof is best quality). ?

      • HorpelKrufkin

        I won’t say that I know all of the facts. But “hurting” myself is a bit strong. I’m quite healthy as it is. Rich Roll doesn’t seem to have a problem building muscle or maintaining health on a plant based diet. I exercise regularly and my food intake is varied, vegan-wise. I’m just interested to hear Dave’s response to such a situation.

        Whey comes from an animal, and I realize that you know that, but with that, it is not an option. The answer may be that there is no alternative for vegans on Dave’s plan.. I can live with that.

        • JofJLTNCB6

          I don’t know how old you are or how long you have been on a strict vegan diet and “quite healthy”, but…

          …when this is no longer the case for you and you are ready for a solution, remember Dave’s plan.

        • Ml1947

          Please, what about people who went from eating animals to grains and had there health improve dramatically. There are some “”very”” reputable people who would debate what is proposed here, as well as the opposite, as Dave does. See what works for you as we are all different. Personally, when i switched to a plant based diet, (eat very little fish and meat–no dairy, rarely an egg) my #’s improved immensely, lost 40 lbs. without even trying (i’m 6’4 and 175 now-65 yrs. young)so i was not grossly overweight, plenty of enrgy, etc. That works for “”me””.if not gor you, fine–just don’t go preaching that this is the only way–that is pure baloney. McDougal-esselstyn–bernard–fuhrman–etc.would debate this way of life–as well as would Dave, who is his own guinea pig–gotta like that.

        • JofJLTNCB6

          No doubt, when people replace “unhealthy” foods with “healthy” foods like more veggies (and in cases, even less processed grains), they will see improvement in their health. This is true even if they also eliminate meat at the time. The problem is, they correlate the elimination of meat with the improved health. The issue is, without exceedingly careful supplementation, a diet without meat is almost never optimal…for anyone…even the special snowflakes.

        • Mike

          That gate swings both ways doesn’t it ?

        • Mike

          Supplementation ?? Save your money, just eat clean and
          you’ll get what is needed. B12 only one needed, unless
          levels checked for others (vit D) and are deemed low.

        • Jacob Haskins

          Horpel,

          This is why they are worried for your health: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/carl-lewis-vegan/.

          This is why they think eating meat is more humane to animals that veganism: http://letthemeatmeat.com/post/6822461573/veganism-is-not-the-lifestyle-of-least-harm-and

          I agree with them and think meat is delicious. I recommend reindeer. They’re both cute and make great steaks.

        • http://armilegge.com Armistead Legge

          Being vegan isn’t Bulletproof. Avoiding soy, millet, wheat, and some other foods will help, but you’ll still be at a handicap. It would be wise to do some thorough blood testing, as nutrient deficiencies are almost guaranteed on a vegan diet. For instance, B12 is only found in animal products – period. Whether or not Rich Roll maintains muscle mass or doesn’t collapse is not a good indicator of optimal health. I hope you can benefit from the Bulletproof Diet, but being vegan is not going to make it easy.

          Thank you for being more open minded than most other vegans on the site. I’m glad you’re at least interested in opposing views, as we are. Let us know if you have any other questions.

        • http://twitter.com/Jsun07 Jsun

          I have been mainly vegetarian for the last 8 years now and tried going vegan. Couldn’t do it. I saw a dietitian to make sure my diet was acceptable but yet i kept losing weight and had low energy levels. I also developed a condition similar to hemorrhoids. 2 weeks after I reduced my fiber intake and started incorporating some fish into my diet all problems were solved. Some of the links to the studies backing your ideas were interesting especially the one on increased fiber intake. Glad I found this site, I learned something new

    • Mark Demma

      Horpel,

      I was curious if you’d read “Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability” by Lierre Keith? Lierre tells her own compelling story of how after being vegan for many years she started eating animal products again vastly improved her health. Perhaps you have health concerns that has lead you to seek out websites like this one to find a way to improve it? You may perhaps find that eating things like locally sourced grass feed beef is actually a superior choice if you care about our mother earth. Dave also has had Joel Salatin on his podcast recently and he’s a great resource of information about sustainable farming.

      • HorpelKrufkin

        Thanks Mark.

        I’ve not read it but I’ve seen several references to it and read a few excerpts. I might check it out if I can find it. But as I’ve already stated, my health vastly improved once I went vegan. This works for me and I do not intend to change it as it is not only about my health.

        I don’t have health concerns so much as I seek to always improve myself physiologically and psychologically. If I didn’t have such desires, I could probably change nothing about my lifestyle and diet and still remain vastly more healthy than the average American. My health screenings over the last few years have shown evidence that my recent choices have been beneficial – at least for me.

      • veggiedude

        I don’t understand how she called herself vegan if she admits to sneaking in meat every now and then.

    • Fredrick Dominy

      It seems like you have your diet fairly bulletproof to begin with. If you can’t get the appropriate nutrition from plant matter, then you either have to consume supplements or animal matter. Pretty straightforward.

      BTW isn’t this like asking a corn farmer what to do if you absolutely refuse to eat grains?

      • HorpelKrufkin

        My question was purely curiosity. I read a lot about different plans, not in an attempt to find the fountain of youth, but to learn and tweak my own diet through testing. I fully intend to stay vegan as it’s helped me tremendously in improving my health. But I am always willing to learn new things.

    • Guest

      Did you read about the shocking case of the vegan woman who solely breastfed her baby. The baby died at 11 months suffering from severe nutritional deficiencies- because the mothers milk was not nutritionally adequate due to being vegan. The mother got 5 years in jail.
      Each to their own but this is a stark example to me about why veganism is naturally not as healthy a choice.
      http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/baby-breastfed-by-vegan-mother-dies/

      • HorpelKrufkin

        Good Work. :/

        The child passed away for reasons well beyond the fact that the mother was vegan. One case does not suggest anything other than the fact that these people were completely lacking proper knowledge regarding their own nutritional needs.

        My son is 2.5 years old and has been vegan since day 2 of his life (Formula caused bleeding in his stool). His mother was strictly vegan as well and he was breastfed only.

        I have maintained veganism for 18 months and I feel better today than I have in years.

        Dave’s site is jam-packed full of ideas concerning supplementation, nutritional and physiological adjustments to the traditional western diet. If one can get high quality supplementation from good sources that are not animal based, how is that any different than the concepts behind Dave’s plan?

        I don’t use the Bullet Proof philosophy, but I gather info from this site and hundreds of others in order to test things and find what works for me.

        I continue to be vegan and have designed a supplement stack that has me flying so high, I feel like I’m 20 again. I’m 37.

        The answer is: NO PLAN works the same for everyone – And a closed mind is a horrible start to any plan.

        • Naomi

          As a former vegan, I understand your concern to uphold your views. The term “closed mind” is what I often most common in the vegan/vegetarian community to be honest.
          18 months is not a long time to realize the potential health ramifications of an animal-free diet. The initial high-flying feeling from a clean [raw] vegan diet is indeed wonderful, but it is generally due to cutting out so many toxic, processed, and/or cooked foods. Once the body goes through its cleansing process, severe nutritional deficiencies do indeed start to show up, and it takes a long time to undo the potential damage.
          I know you will likely stay firm to your values, but I sincerely would highly encourage introducing some bulletproof animal products into your child’s diet before developmental issues begin. 2.5 years may have gone OK thus far, but the long term risks may cause serious regret.
          Just my 2 cents based on experience and research. My best to you! :)

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  • Geoff P Welch

    Hi Dave,

    “Animal fat is preferred. Grass-fed butter is an easy source, but rendered animal fat (grass-fed) is even better.”
    Do you suggest rendering suet into tallow is healthier than grass fed butter?? Could it be used as a substitute for Butter and ghee?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1665295711 Sebastián Restrepo Morales

    Is there a Kitchen/Food scale that you would recommend for daily use?

  • Elle

    Ok, so I just watched Food Inc and it made me wonder………. is it really better to eat meat; any meat including supermarket meat then to be vegetarian; or perhaps we should just eat eggs when giving the choice instead of grain fed beef? I was really bothered by the high chance of e coli contamination they talked about……..what are your thoughts on this?

    • Dave Asprey

      I never eat grain fed or corn fed meat because it makes me feel less bulletproof than grass fed. I’m probably more sensitive than many people, but I got tired of eating sub-par tasting meat from tortured animals and then feeling tired. ?

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  • Kevin

    Marks & Spencer do an unsalted butter that mentions being grass or pasture fed,Is that all that needs to be stated or is there something about the Kerrygold and Yeo butters that makes them more recommendable?

    • Dave Asprey

      That is probably good enough. Cultured is even better.

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  • Sara

    Hello,

    I’ve been abiding by the bulletproof diet pretty strictly for a couple of weeks now, and so far, feel very satisfied. However, I do have one diet question: do you guys approve of any type of alternative breads on the market? One of my favorite morning meals, before starting BP, was toast. It’s something I would still like to eat, especially since it’s such a great base for grass-fed butter! I’ve looked at the ingredients in various types of gluten-free breads (rice, tapioca, etc), but am having a hard time deciphering the pros & cons. Is there any one type you would consider the best choice? Or, should I learn to live without it?

    • Dave Asprey

      Carbs in the morning are baaad news. If you want carbs, have them at night for dessert. Mochi cooked in a waffle maker is the best bread substitute; nothing in it but rice!

    • Ml1947

      Hi Sara,
      I’m not a bulletproof person, i’m on the other side-lol-so don’t know how bread would fit in–but if o.k. i’d take a peek at Eziekel,
      they make sprouted breads that taste quite good (imo) and ingredients all good–again, imo.
      best to you

    • Jody

      I know I am late to the party, but there are some pretty good bread recipes made from strictly nut flour or nut butters. Check out “stop the vicious cycle” – it’s a book to help people with various digestive ailments but the diet recommended is zero-grains and the bread recipes are decent and full of good fats. Their program is “specific carbohydrate diet” or SCD – you can look up recipes on the web that way.

  • Jerryjohn

    One part of this diet is really not making sense to me. I’m a bulletproof vegan, and I know that doesn’t hold weight to eating a slab of cow, it is the cleanest way to live, by far. Being vegan and extremely liking bulletproof coffee, I still have a lot of problems getting enough protein. I used to be pretty big as a weightlifter, and when I became vegan about 8 years ago, I found that muscle memory, like Swartsenhagger studied, is truely their. Not lifting in a few years I started just doing upper body with barbells, but the trick has always been for weightlifters to put enough burn into your sets, so in doing that I was able to get back to the same size arms, chest, sholders and in keeping the muscle on takes a lot of protein, I get from a 50 gr. shake of whey isolate, but afternoon dinner is hard to get something filling, and grains are a no no, but doing whole wheat organic penne rigate allows me to feel full after eating. So I was wondering if one meal a day with organic whole wheat is ok, and can be moved out of the body with two large tablespoons of ground flax seed on the pasta,vege’s soup is eat. Just curious if this still fits the bill.

    • Chris

      How is consuming 50 gr. shake of whey isolate consistent with a vegan diet?

    • Jamie Carlyon McNally

      You’re consuming whey protein every day, how are you calling yourself a vegan? And the diet you just described… how exactly do you think you’re bulletproof? Because you drink coffee? and you don’t understand how you aren’t getting a lot of protein? Hun i really think you’re kidding yourself…

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  • Sean

    Hey dave. Been on the BPD for a couple weeks and am feeling great but I have a question. I am a bodybuilder and need to stay on a calorie surplus. Im finding it very hard to keep my calories high even in an 8 hour intermittent fast. Im being very strict and keeping to only “green” sided foods. I also noticed that most of these organic whey products are only around 80 cals a scoop rather than 200 a scoop in what im used to. Any help with some high calorie foods that go down easy? I don’t have access to non-pasturized dairy so i completely avoid it. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jkmetzjr John Kmetz

    But if Protein turns to the sugar to keep your brain from going into a hypoglycemic paralysis, why denigrate sugar so? Just think your ruling is little harsh, that’s all. Though in helping the lay find good nutritional hygiene, it may in fact be quite proper and needed. And I agree with you that the blood sugar impact is not optimal, that people are cerebrally calibrated towards an addiction to these sorts of things and that currently it is difficult to access grain products that are as optimal as your animal food products.

    I think Sprouted grains and if possible sprouted and fermented grains, carefully done, could at some point possibly be a way to feed this planet to some degree without the losses in the functional, cognitive and longevity attributes that is possible in eating high amounts of animal product. It would have to be done with a certain laboratory like sterility, analyzing the process with utmost scrutiny and diligence. Surely, I have had some fermented grain products and vegetable products in the past that seemed to be quite an upgrade and I think with modern technology we can do even better, if it is so desired.

    I would agree completely in the functional inaccessibility of this sort of product, except for perhaps a few products that still have questions as to the quality or among geeks that specialize in this sort of thing. Its hard to imagine 6 billion people living “high on the hog” so to speak of animal products… Though with modern Permaculture practices who knows? And it is a big world to cultivate and terraform! Perhaps we could indeed create a world like that! Perhaps you aren’t into these sorts of idealistic notions, but I can’t help but feel a certain moral need to want to live in a world where nutritional abundance is available to everyone.

    In other quandaries, I don’t know if you have checked out John Doulliard’s work or Ayurveda in general? It seems to me, there may in fact be a certain wisdom to living by the seasons. Certainly winter is a great time for a high ketogenic, high animal fat sort of diet where we are using an excessive amount of calories to feel comfortable (heated). Or in Tibet, perhaps their full year is more or less that way. One question for you. How do you feel in the summertime on this diet? Are you ever uncomfortably warm of overheated? Obviously modern technology has created the ability to circumvent the seasons completely with its air conditioning, but perhaps you could see the logic in eating a highly wet meal of cooling fruits and vegetables in the heat of the summer.

    Loving your work! The Bulletproof Coffee IF protocol with half a stick of Kerry Gold is working great. My mind is changing. Will try the full form notion of the protocol at some point as well. I do understand that your goal in your work is to optimize performance above all things and is not necessarily to help society in shifting towards an integrated and genuine relationship with Nature. Irregardless, with all the upgrades your suggesting, we certainly have a fighting chance at becoming cognitively aware enough to make impactful decisions in regards to sustainability on this planet, so that we may become a race of people that can sustain here for millennia and beyond.

    Many Blessings Dave!

    -John

  • Amanda

    I have read a lot on this site and I have yet to see anything about water intake. Any suggestions about how much water to drink every day on this diet, especially with all the supplements?
    Also, and more importantly, there is nothing about chemicals that people dump on their bodies every day, such as that in soap, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, makeup, etc. Is there safe soaps or shampoos you would recommend? Or even just a list of chemicals to completely avoid? The skin is the largest organ and what we put on it does get absorbed. It seems like this should be a pretty large concern in living a bulletproof life.

    • Hello

      Dr. Brongers Magic Soap. It is wonderful

      • Kay

        I have started using coconut oil soap and my skin has greatly improved.

    • rose

      I use Cleure’s soap, because every other kind bothers me (I’m sensitive to chemicals).
      Even scents bother me (so I buy their unscented/oatmeal type).
      http://www.cleure.com

  • Cotabug

    Hi,

    I’m a newby to this blog but was wondering if people get sick from eating the raw eggs in the “get some” ice cream? It sounds good but I’m not sure I can bring myself to eat it.

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  • Fred Krueger

    I don’t believe in this “miracle cure” .

  • kytenn

    Is this future article which breaks it down into 14 easy steps around somewhere?

  • Boston Danny D

    I’ve been on paleo for over a year. I have some autoimmune stuff. I’ve listened to hours and hours of podcasts and years of news and npr. Honestly, right when I heard you on THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE I knew you were the real deal. Your basically like Tony Stark aka Iron Man. You were rich, and instead of just being rich you learned a ton of stuff and are now trying to better humanity. He built Iron Man, you are biohacking your body. I love the term Biohack, I feel I’ve been doing it myself since I was a lil kid, just trying everything. Keep up the good work IRON MAN.

  • Karon Reiter

    I thought eating liver was one of the most unhealthiest foods there is. Doesn’t the liver filter out all the toxins in the body? Aren’t you eating an organ that is filled with those poisons? Please explain.

    • Flass Maximus

      if the ex-owner of that liver wasn’t fed on things its body wasn’t meant to digest (grains in case of ruminants) any toxins processed by the liver is sent to the kidneys to be excluded in urine. a Self Cleaning Filter of sorts. Liver’s cool as long as its not from a sick sad cow/lamb/whatever.

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