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Major III: Nutrition and Supplementation
Dial in what you eat to live smarter and stronger for longer
Diet is simple, but everyone wants to make it hard.
We all know that sugars and heavy starches and poor quality fats are bad for us. We all know that protein helps us build muscle. We all know we need to drink more water.
By embracing those simple diet truths, the Highlander can achieve the four major goals of our nutrition program:
Achieve a positive body composition with low body fat.
Ensure sufficient protein intake for recovery and muscle building/maintenance.
Control glucose spikes to improve metabolic health.
Maintain hydration for physical and mental performance.
If you can do each of those things, you will look great, feel great, and perform great even as you age. That’s the ultimate point of all nutrition.
The Highlander uses four powerful tools to meet nutrition goals:
Adhere to the Three Strikes Diet (TSD) weekly.
Aim for at least 0.7g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
Aim for at least 80oz of water per day.
Take universal supplements daily and optimize over time.
Three Strikes Diet
Diets are religions.
Keto, Carnivore, Vegan.
The common theme is they are so extremely restrictive that you have to have a religious belief in the viability of the diet to adhere to it. The diet must be your religion if you are going to eat no carbs, only meat, or only plants.
The Highlander avoids diet dogmatism in favor of pragmatism (Rule #4).
The best diet is not necessarily the most efficient one or the most restrictive one. It’s the one you’re able to stick to for the rest of your long life and still meet the goals of the Highlander.
That’s our Three Strikes Diet.
Definitionally, a diet must restrict something. That’s the point of the diet. Diets primarily restrict one of two things: calories or certain foods.
The Three Strikes Diet restricts the certain foods that most interfere with the Highlanders goals for longevity. Those foods are:
Fried foods/french fries
Note: It doesn’t matter if it's a Keto/Vegan/Carnivore/whatever cookie or ice cream. It’s still a strike.
We all know these are “bad” foods, bad meaning that they provide poor macronutrient profiles. These foods are largely deficient in protein, high in carbohydrates — especially sugar, and have minimal vitamin or antioxidant content. Even worse, these foods generally contribute to higher spikes in blood glucose levels, making us insulin resistant on the path to diabetes and metabolic dysfunction.
Most diets eliminate these foods completely (except maybe the Vegan diet since these things can all be marketed as “Vegan”…don’t get me started).
The Three Strikes Diet is more practical.
The Three Strikes Diet works like this: Eat less than three servings of the restricted foods per week. Don’t strike out.
That means you can have a piece of bread and some ice cream during the week and still be within diet. You can have one soda and a glass of wine. Still in diet. Sometimes we want a little bread or a dessert, and that isn’t going to kill us. It’s probably not optimal for health, but allowing for minor flexibility in restriction make the diet optimal for sustainability. Some weeks, like holidays, we might strike out. Just get back on track.
The Three Strikes Diet may sound easy as I present it. For most of us, it’s not. We don’t realize how much bread and pasta and sugar we all consume until we get strict about it in our diets. Try it. Just don’t strike out.
The typical American eats too many carbs and not enough protein. The Three Strikes Diet helps take care of the carb problem. Protein must be made a separate focus.
You may be familiar with RDA recommendations that suggest protein consumption of around 0.4g/lb of bodyweight per day, but this is a minimum recommendation.
Minimums do not provide an environment to defy age. The Highlander must consume enough protein to support muscle building in response to our training program.
This means the Highlander should consume at least 0.7g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. The old rule of 1g/lb of bodyweight may be even better for the hard-training Highlander.
Animal-based protein sources generally provide more bioavailable protein than vegetable-based sources. This means the body is able to absorb more of the protein. As a general recommendation, if you eat a lot of non-animal proteins, you may need to consume more of those foods to get sufficient protein relative to high quality animal sources.
Hydration is another thing we all know is important but often forget to do in the course of a busy day. Hydration helps with exercise and brain function. Aim to drink 80oz of water per day.
You can monitor your hydration levels via the color of your urine:
The sports supplement industry is huge. In America, we spent $17 billion on supplements in 2021.
Everyone wants a solution in a bottle. The Highlander knows that there is no supplement that will magically make us fitter or slimmer or live longer.
But supplements can help.
The reason certain supplements work is because they fix a deficiency. That’s why something like DHEA can boost one person’s testosterone and provide real physical effect for one person and do nothing for another. The latter person didn’t have a DHEA deficiency.
To optimize your supplement program, you should do a broad blood panel to test for deficiencies.
Absent a blood test, the Highlander Program recommends a handful of supplements that should come with fairly universal effect:
Collagen. Collagen is good for skin, hair, nails, and joint health. It can even improve arthritis symptoms. Highlanders take 10g per day. I recommend mixing it in coffee with heavy cream. Buy a nice brand. I’ve found cheap sources here can have an unpleasant taste. Good brands are tasteless.
Creatine. Creatine may conjure images of bodybuilders, but it has just as much power a cognitive enhancer. Studies show creatine may enhance short-term intelligence/reasoning, memory, reaction time, and avoid mental fatigue. Creatine is safe and widely used. Highlanders take 5g per day. You don’t need to take it with sugar. Just put it in a protein shake or water. Don’t pay up for anything special. Just plain creatine monohydrate works.
Multivitamin. A basic multivitamin is like a cheap insurance policy against vitamin deficiency. Most of us are deficient in something, and a multi can take care of that with minimal effort. Aim for one that has vitamins A, C, D3, E, K1/2.
Magnesium. Magnesium is hard to get through food sources, and I’ve not found a multivitamin with any substantial amount of magnesium. I recommend a serving each of a high-quality source like Slow Mag, a lower quality blend, and Magtein before bed.
Fish Oil. Omega 3s can help reduce triglycerides and provide joint support. They may also help reduce eye disease. Bottom line — they’re worth taking as a supplement because most of us don’t eat enough fish to get them naturally.
Calcium. Calcium is important for good bone mineral density, one of the long-term standards for the Highlander. Women in particular should take calcium, but it wouldn’t hurt men, especially those who don’t consume a lot of dairy. About 1,000 mg a day is a good target from a good source.
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