Eating an intuitive low carbohydrate diet is just the beginning. There are 10 Best Practices that are easy to adopt and integrate into your life. We’ll talk about time restricted eating and why it’s good for you, the perfect drink to start your day, and why you need fiber in your diet. We’ll discuss inflammatory foods to eat less frequently, tricks to boost weight loss, and a challenge for when you want to zone in hardcore on your fitness and weight loss goals.
You know that great health starts with the foods you eat. We don’t take this lightly; we’re constantly reading studies and trying new ideas to make sure you have the best information available.
We keep our recommendations as simple and easy to implement as possible. We all have busy lives and if it takes too much time or there are too many steps to remember, we’re not going to do it either. Eating should be largely intuitive and any practices around eating should be easy enough that you can do them every day without taking up too much space in your brain.
This Best Practices guide is the levelled-up version of the basic eating plan. If you, like us, want to do the best you possibly can for yourself and your family, keep reading. These 10 best practices are what we do every day to keep ourselves in the best shape possible.
No, you’re not getting tipsy first thing in the morning. Instead of liquor, you’ll be enjoying an electrolyte packed beverage to get you ready for your day. You’ll have more stable energy, clearer thinking, and smoother digestion. It only takes about 30 seconds to prepare, and it tastes good. The drink is:
12oz water (at room temperature) + the juice of ¼ an organic lemon + a pinch or 2 of sea salt
This combination does some really great things for your body, and you want to drink it on an empty stomach. Yes, even before coffee. When you wake up in the morning, you’re dehydrated. You exhale a lot of moisture in your breath when you sleep. This morning cocktail will help you stay hydrated better than water alone.
Lemon helps to stimulate digestion and is great for the stomach. Lemon juice decreases inflammation in the gut and can improve immune function because of the vitamin C it contains.
Salt is an essential electrolyte. A high fat or Ketogenic Diet helps to flush excess water from our bodies, and it takes this important mineral with it. Starting off your day with a little salt in your drink will ward off the headaches, give you energy, and prime your muscles for a day of activity.
All you need to do is about 10-15 minutes of high intensity intervals in your own house, no gym fees necessary. Just a few dynamic movements help you need to maintain strength and flexibility. These short, high intensity bursts preserve muscle mass, help to burn excess body fat, and increase the density of our mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell.
If you have a regular exercise practice, that’s great! If not, it’s something to consider. This morning workout routine should be done by everyone, whether or not you have another workout planned later. You can scale it back if you’re not up to it yet, but it won’t take long to work up to this level.
Dedicate about 15 minutes to the workout. Start with about 5 minutes of stretching and bouncing to get warmed up. If you have a trampoline thats perfect. If not, just a light bounce is perfect. Add a jump rope for a more intense start. Bouncing is great for draining the lymph-nodes of toxins. Follow this with downward dog and lunges for a full body stretch.
Next do 5-20 push ups followed by 10-20 squats, then rest. Your rest should be between 30sec and 2 minutes. Then, do 10-20 burpees, and recover again. I like to end with bridge and a few dozen leg raises.
This Tabata-style morning workout maximizes mitochondrial biogenesis, which is a fancy way of saying you make more, and more healthy mitochondria.
This is important in maintaining muscle health, blood sugar regulation, and aging as slowly as possible. The more efficiently your mitochondria can produce ATP (the unit of energy our cells use) the healthier you’ll stay.
You can learn more about exercising for mitochondrial density here:
Or these handy references:
Restrict your eating window
If you’ve ever skipped breakfast or lunch, you know a little bit about time restricted eating or intermittent fasting. Instead of accidentally missing a meal, we plan our meals to fit into a shorter eating window. Some people are able to eat only one large meal a day, while others prefer 2 or even 3 in a shorter space of time.
Eating in a time restricted window allows your gut to heal. When we’re constantly digesting, our bodies are focused on the work of breaking down and absorbing food, eliminating toxins, and other active processes. Giving your gut a rest allows your stomach and intestines to repair themselves. More than that, the rest of the cells in your body can do the important cleanup work that can’t get done when being bombarded with new nutrients. The process of autophagy removes old and damaged cells so they can be replaced by healthy cells, keeping all of your tissues healthier. To learn more, visit Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s site.
When you get started, you will have to deal with a little more hunger than you’re used to, so have a strategy to deal with this. Whether it’s immersing yourself in work or getting outside for a walk, do what you have to so you can shift your patterns.
Aim for a 12-hour eating window, which is 12 hours where you can eat and 12 hours of fasting. Most people find this easy enough, and for most of the 12 fasting hours you’ll be asleep. If you stop eating at 8pm, you can plan breakfast for 8am, or a similar variation.
You can work your way into a 16/8 fast, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8 hour window. For example, if you stop eating at 6pm, you can eat again at 10am. This allows you to have 2 or even 3 meals, and any snacks, while still being able to eat with your family or at social events.
Being in ketosis 100% of the time isn’t realistic for the vast majority of people. The smartest approach is to plan your cheat days. Having higher carb days can give your metabolism a jump start and improves long term metabolic flexibility.
Having a planned cheat day every 7-14 days keeps you in a cycle of refilling and burning off your glycogen stores. This is often necessary to keep burning off excess body fat. If you find you get stuck at a certain weight while staying in ketosis, incorporate a cheat day every week or two. You’ll bump up in weight the next day, but 3 days later you’ll drop down again, and continue losing.
Cheat days let you look forward to special carby treats. Plan your cheat days so you can include birthdays, holidays, or other gatherings where you know you’ll want to enjoy some much deserved sugary treats.
Cheating doesn’t translate to gluttony, so stay smart about your choices. A piece of cake is fine. A whole cake will have consequences. You’ll still want to aim for whole foods as much as possible, so fruit ranks higher than pizza.
But, if some real pizza is what you need once every two weeks to stick with your diet plan for the rest of the time, do it!
What gets measure, gets managed.
We live in an age where we can test and track pretty much everything about our bodies. If you don’t know what your metrics are, you can’t improve them. You’ll want to keep your measurements in a journal or some other easy access format so you can see how you’re progressing.
This gives you valuable information for what is working in your plan and what is holding you back. It’s also a powerful motivator. You can look back where you started and see how far you’ve come.
Some of these measurements are easy, and you can track at home. Others will need some blood tests, so work with your doctor to get your exact values. If you want to go all out, take a look at the tests recommended by Ben Greenfield, one of the most knowledgeable biohackers in the field. For now, we’re just going to look at the essentials, since most people can reasonable fit these into their lives.
- Sleep and Stress
Sleep cycles have gotten far easier to track at home, and devices such as a FitBit or Oura ring are accurate at reporting your sleep metrics. These kinds of devices will tell you how much time you slept total, your deep sleep, light sleep, and rem sleep, and how many times you woke up through the night. When you compare this to how you feel the next day, you’ll have a better idea of how much sleep you personally need. To monitor stress, heart rate variability can tell us if we are in fight or flight mode.
Why track your sleep and heart rate variability? If you want to push yourself to new heights personally and professionally then you’d best be prepared.
If you combine this information with a journal where you save your activities and food for the day, you have a powerful tool to improve your sleep dramatically. Since sleep is so important to good health and a long life, stay mindful of how you’re sleeping.
- Cognitive function
This can be as simple as journaling on how well you feel like your brain is working that day, or as complex as taking cognitive performance tests online. Write down each day how your head is doing. You feel like you’re on fire and can think quickly, getting a lot of work done, or it feels like your head is full of jelly. Compare this to your journal or tracker on sleep, foods, and other factors like caffeine consumption or exercise, and you’ll have a reasonable picture of what does good things for your brain and what hurts your performance.
- Lipid panel
When you get a complete lipid panel, it is data that can help you specifically tailor your diet to what your body needs based on how it’s reacting to your current diet and lifestyle choices. It will show you how your body processes the different kinds of fats that you’re eating.
A pro tip: decreased triglycerides are going to be seen if you’re actively losing weight.
Triglycerides are how human bodies store fat, and this means your fat cells are giving up this fuel to be burned in the body for energy.
For more detail on what your lipid panel will ideally look like and why, head to Dr. Andeas Eenfeldt’s Diet Doctor page.
- C-reactive protein
C-reactive protein, or CRP, is a measure of inflammation. You’re probably already doing things in your life to minimize inflammation, and choosing a High-Fat or Ketogenic Diet is one of the best things you can do to reduce inflammation. Knowing what your inflammation levels are will let you know how effective your current plan is, or if you need to ramp up your efforts.
- CAC scan
This test measures Coronary Artery Calcium and is also called a calcium score. It’s a newer test and it’s far more accurate at predicting cardiac risk than other available testing methods. This scan looks at the deposits of calcium on the walls of the coronary arteries. This is a very early sign that heart disease is developing, so it gives you time to use targeted nutritional therapies to reverse the damage.
It’s also one of the easiest and least invasive tests you’ll face. You lay in a scanner for roughly 10 minutes and a detailed CT scan is taken of your chest. The images that are returned will let your doctor know the condition of your arteries. Since it’s newer it isn’t yet covered by all types of insurance, though if you have additional risk factors your doctor may order this scan anyway.
This is information worth having at any age, since it’s an accurate picture of your own condition, not a guess based on risk factors and blood values.
When you can literally see what’s happening in your body, you’re more empowered to make smart decisions regarding your health now and in the future.
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is designed to tell us how much lean body mass (muscle, bone, organs) and how much fat we have on our frames. The easy way is to plug your height and weight into an online calculator and it will guess based on averages in the database.
There are a few better ways to get this information. The easiest one is to talk to a personal trainer. They’ll use calipers, which are like gentle oversized tweezers to lightly pinch your skin in several areas of your body. Measuring this skin fold thickness gives an accurate picture of how much fat versus lean mass you have. Another way is by being submerged in a tank of water to see how much mass you displace.
The gold standard is a DEXA scan, which is available in most cities and accurately measures the composition of every tissue in your body.
If weight loss is your goal, the easiest way to measure at home is with before and after pictures. Take a photo in the same outfit (think underwear only) at the same time of day, in the same room, with the same lighting, on the same day every week. When you compare your first pictures to where you are later, you’ll want to keep going since you can clearly see success.
There are always more tests that you can do, so choose the ones that are the most relevant to your life and your goals. There’s no need to get obsessive or go overboard. Focus on the essentials and you’ll see the best results.
Eat fiber, it’s not optional.
It’s easy eat a lot of eggs, fatty meats, fish, and other protein rich foods. They’re delicious and fast to make. If you stay stuck in this phase you’re missing tons of micronutrients, and the all-important fiber you get from vegetables.
Fiber is necessary for optimal digestive health. Virtually eliminating fiber leads to one of two things, and they’re both gross. Either you barely poop at all and it hurts when you do, or you poop all the freakin time and it burns.
Insoluble fiber feeds the microbes in your gut, which help to keep things moving along. These intestinal bacteria are needed so you can absorb nutrients better. Some of these little guys produce butyrate, a fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation and increase feelings of satiety.
Fiber helps you to feel fuller longer since it isn’t fully broken down. It confers resistance against chronic diseases like heart disease and metabolic syndrome, as well as neurodegenerative diseases.
The best sources of fiber are green leafy vegetables, and you can make a non-sucky salad by using a variety of these greens and other vegetables. Top it with your favorite protein source, some pickles, and your favorite keto dressing and you’ve got a meal packed with fiber and nutrients.
Are you hungry, or just thirsty?
Sometimes when we think we want a snack, what we really want is water. We can feel the signal for thirst and think it’s a trigger to consume anything in front of us, when we need hydration.
A high fat / low carb diet increases your need for water anyway, especially when you’re losing body fat. Focus on your water intake before grabbing snacks. Some snacks even increase thirst, which can lead to a vicious cycle of wanting to snack more. You wind up over-consuming calories and not feeling satisfied because you still need water.
If you feel like you want a snack, have a small glass of water instead.
If you still want a snack in half an hour, go for it. Everyone has slightly different hydration needs, and a sedentary person is going to need less than an active person.
30 DAY CHALLENGE
Our 30 Day EATFAT-GETFIT challenge is designed to break through plateaus and jump start excellent habits so you can enjoy your best health! It’s more hardcore than the rest of our best practices, and you’ll want to take the 30 days of this challenge to focus on your fitness goals.
Your meal timing, nutrient balance, workout plan, and sleep schedule will be on point. After this challenge, you’ll feel like a whole new person. We encourage you to keep as many habits from this challenge as possible, since they are extremely beneficial to your long-term health.
We dive deep into targeted strategies for fast fat loss and muscle building and drive down inflammation with food choices and supplements.
You should have some experience with the EATFAT best practices before getting into the challenge, though we will guide you and support you at each step.
Reduce inflammatory foods
Inflammatory foods are a problem when they’re the base of your diet. If you’re consuming primarily inflammatory foods every day then you might see some weight loss but your health might actually decline.
Inflammation is at the root of almost all chronic disease. It causes damage to tissues and ages you faster. Inflammation that persists for a long time, like when we habitually eat foods that cause it, puts us at risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Refined carbohydrates are a massive source of inflammation so cutting those out is a huge step in the right direction.
To enjoy your best health, level up your food choices to reduce your inflammatory response.
Bacon, sausages, and cheese are, unfortunately, inflammatory. These aren’t heavily processed foods, but they cause measurable inflammation when you eat them. When you do crave these foods, look for the most natural versions without added ingredients like nitrates, which can trigger migraines and are listed as a carcinogen.
Vegetable oils are also highly inflammatory. Vegetable oils are in lots of packaged foods since they’re cheap for manufacturers to use. Fried foods and many sautéed dishes in restaurants are cooked in vegetable oil. Aim for products made with coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or macadamia oil, since these are less inflammatory. If it’s liquid at room temperature, it’s best for cold applications like dressings. If it’s solid at room temperature, it’s best for cooking.
A Healthy Ketogenic Diet is naturally anti-inflammatory. The key is to focus on whole foods and limit the processed foods in your plan. Limit does not mean eliminate, since we all need treats and sometimes getting packaged food saves more headaches than it causes. Bacon every day? Not the best idea. Bacon a couple of times a week? Go for it.
JUST ADD BUTTER
Most of us were raised, and our culture still pushes that adding bread or fruit is the healthiest choice. Lots of people take this approach and see their waistlines expanding each year as a result. Skip the bread and fruit and just add butter to your meals. It’s easy to cook with and adds flavor to everything.
Butter is full of the kinds of fat we can easily use as fuel. It’s anti-inflammatory and helps digestion. It contains butyric acid which can improve energy, nutrient absorption, and speed weight loss. It assists in healing IBS, Crohn’s, and other digestive issues, and it may even reduce the risk of cancer. Plus, it’s healthy for your heart.
Grass-fed butter contains higher amounts of vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as CLA, a fatty acid that is highly beneficial to your body. Conventional butter from industrial farms still has these vitamins, though in far smaller quantities. Grass-fed butter also tastes better, so if you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a treat.
Butter does add calories but isn’t associated with weight gain. It also helps to reduce appetite, so you won’t feel the need to eat as much when you get plenty of buttery goodness.
These are our 10 best practices, and each of us at EATFAT keeps these in mind every day. We teach them to friends and family members because we care enough to want to keep them healthy. Some of these might be bigger changes for you than others, so start with the ones that seem easiest for you. Many of these principals can be incorporated into a healthy daily habit, and I recommend the use of a whiteboard in clear view for daily reminders of your exercise, meal window, and when your next cheat meal is.
You’ve made it here so you care enough about your health to arm yourself with the best information so that you can take positive action.