Most techies in Silicon Valley devote their lives to developing a new code or app. But Dave Asprey, a former Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur, spent the last 15 years hacking something far more complex: his biology.
Asprey's new book, The Bulletproof Diet (out tomorrow), details what he learned over this time, during which he shelled out $300,000 to visit private neural activity-reading facilities hidden in a Canadian forest and remote monasteries in Tibet to answer the question "What are the simplest things you can do to be better at everything?"
"If you want to have the energy to do the things you want, you have to get your biology in order," Asprey explains. "It starts with eating the right stuff and avoiding toxins." The foundation of his diet is now grass-fed meat, high-quality fats, and tons of veggies. (Plus, this butter-boosted coffee which made "Bulletproof" a healthy-household name.)
You may be tempted to call it Paleo, but Asprey begs to differ. "There's more of a focus on fat and naturally occurring ingredients," he says. "We're also paying attention to cooking methods. Tons of people on Paleo are eating kale and not understanding what happens when you eat it uncooked, or overcooking meat and eating way too much protein."
In addition to food choices, Asprey emphasizes other lifestyle habits, like what he calls "actively managing your stress response" using basic breathing techniques and a heart rate monitor app, and improving the quality of his sleep.
Now a resident of Vancouver Island in Canada, he lives with his wife and two kids on a 32-acre organic farm, where he let us get a sneak peek inside his family's diet—from eating 20 avocados per week to serving his kids coffee and salmon for breakfast.
I'm not seeing a hint of alcohol in here. Do you drink? If I am going to drink, it's distilled spirits. Beer and wine are unfiltered, so you get a substantial amount of mold and other chemicals that are bad for you. Distilled vodka is definitely the least harmful, but if you are trying to lose weight, I would recommend steering clear of alcohol.
Do you have any indulgences, like chocolate? Chocolate is not an indulgence, it's a food group for me. I get the highest end, 85-percent-cacao chocolate, which is not bad for you. Cheap chocolates commonly have contamination.
Agreed. Now what are all those gorgeous carrots for? We eat carrots as a source of moderate carbs at dinner, where they'll be in a salad or in a soup. All of our produce comes from the local farmers market or from the garden. It saves money and everything is very fresh. At a grocery store, you pay more and get older produce.
Interesting point. Tell me about the meat in your fridge, and where do you get it from? So there's grass-fed lamb, grass-fed beef, and pork belly, which we make bacon out of, all from the farmers market. When you feed an animal corn and soy, the animal gets super fatty, but the fat is inflammatory. A cow who eats grass has fat more similar to what a salmon or a fish would have. There's fewer toxins and it has a better fatty acid profile.
And how much meat do you eat at a typical meal? A typical dinner plate would be 3/4 veggies, 1/4 healthy protein, and a just a touch of carbs, like butternut squash or carrots, or we might have fruit after dinner. Then there's a fat source on all of that, like grass-fed unsalted butter or guacamole.
That must be what all of the avocados are for, then. Yes, we slice them up and put them on top of meat and veggies. Or, we'll get 20 or 30 avocados and mash them up with lemon and have it on top of our meals for the whole week.
Wait, 20 or 30? Wow! Now, what are all of those crazy oils in the bottom of the door? Well, one is collagen. Some mornings I'll add it to my Bulletproof Coffee. By the way, the kids do drink one ounce of Bulletproof Coffee in the morning, so they get the energy- and mood-boosting benefits, but it's not enough caffeine to affect them. We also give them a little fish oil in the morning for energy, and they eat smoked salmon with poached eggs and sometimes leftover veggies and meat from the night before. Kids need clean protein, veggies, and fat in the morning. A bowl of cereal cannot maintain behavior and energy.
That's amazing. What about you? Are you eating anything in the morning other than Bulletproof Coffee? When I have Bulletproof Coffee, I could go until 5:00 p.m. without anything. I'm not going to deny myself, but I don't need to eat. I usually have lunch because the kids are home. It will be a vegetable-based soup with a protein and a ton of veggies cooked in fat. It's very satisfying. —Jamie McKillop
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