Self Help

DIET MASTERCLASS: What To Eat, When To Eat & How To Eat For LONGEVITY | Sal DiStefano

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Matheus Puppe

· 16 min read

• Obesity is a choice, but it’s not an easy problem to solve. You have to accept responsibility for the things you can control.

• The default in modern society is poor health and obesity. You have to make a conscious effort and do things differently to be healthy.

• Happiness and mental health come before weight loss for long term success. Therapy is more effective than just diet and exercise alone.

• We have an unhealthy relationship with food that is focused on palatability, convenience and using food to regulate our emotions. Food acts like a drug.

• The environment and state of mind are bigger drivers of addiction and unhealthy behavior than the actual substance itself. We have to address the underlying reasons why people abuse food or drugs to find success.

• Humans are emotional, complex beings. We can’t treat obesity like a math problem with simple inputs and outputs. There are many psychological and social factors involved.

• Success comes from empowering people, giving them responsibility and control, and addressing the emotional/mental aspects of health - not just the physical. A “machine” approach focused on diets and exercise alone does not work.

• There are many “lies and excuses” in society that contribute to obesity like diet fads, lack of understanding of health concepts, and habits from our upbringing. We have to “unwind” all of these to really solve the problem.

The key points are that obesity is a complex problem that requires a holistic solution focused on mental and emotional health, not just diet and exercise. Success comes from giving people responsibility and control, addressing root causes of unhealthy behavior, and understanding humans as emotional beings - not machines. The environment and psychology are big contributors, not just a lack of willpower or knowledge about nutrition. Solving obesity requires “unwinding” all the misinformation and unhealthy patterns in society and our upbringing.

  • Sal put lifestyle and love at the top of the list as the biggest drivers of behavior and health. Poor lifestyle (sleep, stress, sun exposure) and relationships can negatively impact health and drive unhealthy behaviors.
  • This list is interconnected, forming a feedback loop. As one area declines, it impacts the others, creating a downward spiral that is hard to break.
  • Exercise is low on the list because while important, if lifestyle and relationships are dysfunctional, being overly focused on exercise will not lead to health. Many people in the fitness industry appear healthy due to their physique but actually struggle with unhealthy relationships to diet, exercise, drugs, etc.
  • Obesity is an outward sign of underlying dysfunction, making it even harder to address. People make assumptions and judgements about those who are overweight.
  • A lot of fitness advice comes from “fitness fanatics” and “orthorexics” who have an unhealthy obsession with diet and exercise. Their advice does not work for the average person and often turns people off.
  • For obese individuals, the lies and negative self-talk they believe make change hard. While a “beast mode” mentality works for some, for most people incremental change is needed. Aiming for 2-3 days a week of exercise that can be sustained is a good start.
  • There are two ways to change sustainably: 1) have an epiphany moment of real change (rare) or 2) start with small changes to lifestyle and build from there by pulling “threads” of new habits and routines.

The key points are that obesity and health issues stem from dysfunctional lifestyle and relationships, not a lack of willpower or motivation. Lasting change happens gradually by improving lifestyle and relationships, not through extreme measures. Exercise and diet alone will not counteract the effects of unhealthy lifestyle factors and relationships. Small, sustainable changes focused on lifestyle are the place to start for most people.

  • Rarely do people have a sudden epiphany that leads to lasting change. For most, it’s developing discipline and modifying behaviors over time.
  • Aim high but take progress step by step in a sustainable way. The goal should be developing a good relationship with exercise and healthy habits.
  • Ask what’s one realistic but challenging step you can take today and build from there. There’s no wrong answer. It could be walking 5 minutes a day or drinking an extra glass of water. Build consistency and the habit will grow over time.
  • People have to want change badly enough and see results to stick with it. There’s often an adjustment period of a few weeks where you feel worse before feeling better. You have to push through that to break addictions and feel the benefits.
  • Many lose weight or get healthy but then go back to old habits because they didn’t build the right relationship with their new behaviors. If you come from a place of self-hate, exercise feels like punishment and diet feels restrictive. You won’t sustain that.
  • You have to find physical and mental strategies you genuinely enjoy for the long run. Learn to nourish yourself with healthy food and movement. Build self-care into your identity.
  • It’s not about willpower but building sustainable habits and a healthy relationship with yourself. Success comes from consistency over time, not perfection. Learn self-compassion. Every step forward matters.

The key is finding physical and mental health strategies that you genuinely enjoy for the long run. Learn to nourish yourself with healthy food and movement. Build self-care into your identity. It’s not about willpower but building sustainable habits and a healthy relationship with yourself. Success comes from consistency over time, not perfection. Learn self-compassion. Every step forward matters.

  • Initially, exercise can feel punishing and cathartic. People feel good after an intense workout because they punished themselves. But this relationship with exercise is unsustainable.
  • People need to develop a self-care mindset. They need to choose to love and care for themselves. Exercise and nutrition should be acts of self-care, not punishment.
  • It takes time and practice to develop a healthy relationship with exercise and diet. The behaviors need to come first, and the results will follow. Focus on the behaviors, not the results.
  • Rather than taking things away from people’s diets, it’s better to have them add things like protein and water. This contributes to the behaviors that will lead to losing weight in a sustainable way.
  • There is a psychological component to being overweight. Therapy and addressing emotional issues can be helpful for developing a healthy relationship with diet and exercise.
  • Compelling future goals and motivation can help propel people to make changes. People need a reason to fight for the healthy lifestyle changes.
  • When people go “off” a diet, they tend to overeat as a way to rebel against the restriction and self-punishment. The inner child breaks free.
  • It’s important for people to focus on metrics beyond just the scale. Things like sleep, energy, mood, productivity, and libido are also important. The scale doesn’t tell the whole story.

The key themes are: self-care, behavior change, psychology, motivation, and focusing on the big picture rather than just weight loss. Developing a healthy relationship with diet and exercise is a journey.

• The trainer initially thought clients were just lazy but realized successful people were hiring him. These clients were motivated in other areas of life but struggled with exercise and diet.

• He wondered why the lack of motivation didn’t carry over to health and fitness. He realized people’s reasons for exercising evolve over time from physique goals to feeling better and improving life in many areas.

• Nothing in life is unaffected by health and fitness. Everything improves with better health and declines with worse health. It’s important to look at all benefits, not just weight loss. Developing a balanced view of health and fitness leads to lifelong consistency.

• Looks fade over time but the mental and physical benefits of exercise endure. Aesthetics shouldn’t be the primary motivation. Chasing looks often leads to losing health and looks. Chasing health leads to both health and aesthetics.

• The trainer learned this the hard way, sacrificing health for looks in his early 30s. He now focuses on the psychological aspects of behavior change and motivation. This approach resonates with many people.

• Creating barriers to impulsive unhealthy behaviors and avoiding distraction while eating can significantly reduce calorie intake and aid weight loss. These simple strategies work by enhancing awareness and mindfulness.

• Avoiding highly processed foods also naturally reduces calories by up to 15% or 500 calories per day. Studies show people eat more of these hyper-palatable, engineered foods. Eating whole foods and as much as wanted works because people feel less restricted.

• There are many mistaken beliefs influencing people’s behavior and health. Identifying and addressing these can help motivate and sustain change. The truth is most barriers are self-created through distorted or unexamined thinking.

  • The speaker describes going through four stages of learning to develop healthy habits and overcome negative self-talk and emotional eating.
  • Stage 1: Unconscious incompetence - not aware of the negative thoughts and behaviors.
  • Stage 2: Conscious incompetence - becomes aware of the unhealthy patterns. Realizes they need to change.
  • Stage 3: Conscious competence - puts in effort to build new healthy habits and discipline. Has to consciously work at it.
  • Stage 4: Unconscious competence - the new habits and mindset become second nature. No longer has to put in as much conscious effort.
  • The speaker says most people get stuck at stage 3, but you have to push through to stage 4 for the changes to stick long-term.
  • Modern life defaults us to poor health. We have to make an effort to reach stage 4 competence with healthy habits.
  • The speaker describes how they overcame negative self-talk and emotional eating by creating the rule that they will only do and think things that move them towards their goals. This stopped the self-punishing loops of negative thoughts.
  • They realized their unhealthy habits were a form of self-punishment, even though it was subconscious. They had to identify this and put a stop to it.
  • The key is to start with small, sustainable changes, and stick with it long enough for it to become habitual and reach that fourth stage of learning.

That covers the key highlights and main takeaways from the speaker’s experience overcoming unhealthy habits and negative self-talk by progressing through the four stages of learning. Please let me know if you would like me to explain anything in the summary in more detail.

  • You exercise and eat healthy, which you mostly enjoy, similar to breathing and walking.
  • Being unhealthy makes people feel bad about themselves. Research shows exercise helps with anxiety and depression.
  • You believe exercise is more important for mental health than diet. Exercise leads to lifestyle changes and healthier eating. A study found exercise as effective as drugs and therapy for anxiety/depression.
  • However, diet was most important for your anxiety. Cutting out sugar helped a lot. You may have over-exercised. Diet and mindset are key.
  • It’s easier to get people to exercise a little than change diet. So you recommend that first. But mindset and biology matter most.
  • People have emotional issues and don’t love themselves, ignoring biology. Addressing mind and biology is key, though any start, like protein or exercise, helps.
  • An example: Early on, you told busy clients we all have the same time; prioritize exercise. But you learned it’s better to acknowledge their challenge, then encourage starting small. Baby steps work.

So in summary, while exercise and diet are important for health, you believe mindset and personal biology are most significant for change and overcoming emotional struggles or unhealthy habits. Starting small and building good habits gradually is the most effective approach. Simply telling people they need to prioritize better is less helpful. The key is acknowledging people’s realities and encouraging sustainable progress.

  • Start small and build up. Don’t expect major life changes immediately. Take incremental steps towards better health and fitness.

  • Be honest with yourself about your current situation and choices that led you there. Accept responsibility but don’t beat yourself up. Now make better choices.

  • Treat yourself with the same compassion you show others. Talk to yourself with empathy, encouragement and care. Fake it till you make it.

  • Do things that make you respect yourself, like exercising, eating right and practicing self-care. Self-respect comes from your actions and choices.

  • Body positivity is about accepting yourself as you are AND taking good care of yourself. It’s not about doing nothing to improve your health. Most of the time, self-care means eating well, being active and sleeping enough.

  • Motivation follows action, not the other way around. Rely on discipline to build good habits, not motivation. Do it even when you don’t feel like it.

  • For most people, a high-protein diet with limited processed foods works well. Aim for 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, using lean mass for overweight people. Animal and plant proteins are fine if intake is high enough.

  • Avoid heavily processed foods which are engineered to make you overeat. They have drug-like effects and it’s very hard to resist overeating them.

  • “White knuckling” means constantly struggling to restrict calories. It’s not sustainable. Focus on eating whole, nutritious foods instead.

• Fiber has many benefits like satiety, gut health, and microbiome. The bacteria in our gut can influence our behaviors and cravings.

• Drink plenty of water, around half a gallon to a gallon per day. This can improve energy, digestion, and healthy behaviors.

• Eat a high-protein, high-fiber breakfast. This helps control blood sugar and cravings later in the day.

• Learn to track your macros (protein, carbs, fat). This helps you understand how certain foods impact you and can lead to unconscious competence with your diet.

• Diet varies based on your needs and goals. For mental performance, eat high protein, fat and fiber with lower carbs. For physical performance, add more starchy carbs. For digestion, eat cooked veggies, fish and grass-fed meat.

• Diet is very individual. Most people do well with a balanced diet of protein, fat, and carbs. Some prefer vegan, vegetarian or carnivore diets. Emotional associations with food also matter.

• Stress can spike blood sugar like eating carbs or sugar. Cortisol release leads to glucose release. Food intolerances can also cause stress responses. Positive associations with food may increase good hormones.

• For hormonal health and testosterone, prioritize sleep, manage stress, strength train, limit excess body fat, and get sunlight. Only consider TRT if lifestyle changes don’t help and blood tests show you need it. TRT should be a last resort.

• Zinc or other supplements may help if you have a deficiency. But if levels are normal, supplements likely won’t increase testosterone. Lifestyle factors are most important.

The speaker started weight training in his youth due to body image issues and took prohormones, which were essentially over-the-counter steroids. This likely damaged his body’s ability to produce testosterone.

In his late 30s, he started experiencing symptoms like lethargy, anxiety, and low libido. He got his testosterone levels tested and found they were very low, around 240 ng/dL. Even optimizing his lifestyle wouldn’t raise them enough.

He debated starting testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) but eventually did. It led to major improvements - he gained 14 lbs of muscle and lost 7 lbs of fat over 1.5 years. His testosterone levels now peak around 900-1,000 ng/dL and trough around 800 ng/dL. He feels much better and advocates TRT for those with low T and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Testosterone levels in men have been declining for decades due to factors like diet, chemical exposure, and lack of activity. The speaker speculates it could be due to xenoestrogens, less muscle mass, and poorer diet/exercise.

He’s intrigued by the idea that Alzheimer’s disease could be “type 3 diabetes” or “diabetes of the brain.” Another hypothesis is that mitochondrial dysfunction underlies many mental illnesses. If mitochondria in the brain aren’t working properly, it could manifest as lack of energy, inability to handle glucose or store fat properly, and other issues. The speaker finds this compelling but uncertain.

In summary, the key points are:

  1. The speaker had low testosterone likely from past prohormone use and lifestyle factors. TRT resolved his symptoms and improved his body composition.

  2. He advocates TRT for those with confirmed low testosterone and an unhealthy lifestyle, though lifestyle changes should be tried first.

  3. Testosterone levels and men’s health/strength have been declining, possibly due to diet, chemicals, and inactivity.

  4. Mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain could potentially underlie many mental health issues, though more evidence is needed.

Okay, based on what I understand,

  • Having the right amount of energy in the brain is important for optimal functioning. Lack of energy can have scary consequences like Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, anxiety, etc.

  • Mitochondrial function is important for energy production. Poor mitochondrial function is linked to many brain and mental health issues. Therapies like ketogenic diets and fasting can help improve mitochondrial function by providing an alternative source of fuel (ketones instead of glucose).

  • Insulin resistance and poor mitochondrial function are closely linked. One of the most effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function is to build muscle through exercise like strength training. Muscle helps store and utilize glucose, and studies show even without weight loss, building muscle can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.

  • Exercise in general, but especially strength training, has a powerful impact on blood glucose and insulin levels. Even simple post-meal activities like walking or heel raises can help. Strength training is particularly impactful due to muscle gain.

  • Gaining muscle through hard work and consistency has psychological benefits and builds self-respect. The personal growth required to gain muscle translates to other areas of life. Muscle gain is also valuable for physical and mental health, including improving glucose control, mitochondrial function, and cognition.

  • The key takeaway is that gaining muscle through consistent exercise like strength training has transformational effects on both physical and mental health, especially related to energy, metabolism, mood, and brain function. Pushing through the challenging process of gaining muscle builds character and self-respect that translates broadly to life. Overall, prioritizing muscle gain and mitochondrial health may be one of the most valuable things we can do for optimal well-being.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points and arguments presented regarding the relationships between energy, health, exercise, and personal growth? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

  • Exercise provides a powerful opportunity for personal growth in an unassuming way. Many people start exercising just to get fit physically but end up learning and growing in so many other ways.

  • Exercise teaches you how to fail and lose, which are more important life skills than winning. We lose and fail far more in life, so learning to handle that is key.

  • Exercise teaches self-acceptance. As you age, you may not be as strong or fast, but you keep going. It helps you develop a positive relationship with pain and challenge. The ability to push through difficult reps in the gym translates to pushing through difficulties in everyday life.

  • Exercise teaches growth and iteration. You have to keep trying new things to improve, and you have to change directions when something isn’t working. It’s an ongoing journey of learning and progress.

  • Exercise at a young age, like doing a few more pushups each week, teaches kids that they are constantly growing and changing. That mindset carries over into all areas of life.

  • The quote that sums up one of the most important principles is: “Exercise provides a powerful opportunity for personal growth in an unassuming way.” The journey of self-improvement through exercise translates broadly to life.

That covers the key highlights and main takeaways from the video on how exercise fuels personal growth. The consistent theme is that the physical journey of starting where you are, setting small challenges, failing and persevering, and constantly learning and improving translates into profound life lessons that shape your mindset, resilience, and character.

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About Matheus Puppe