Andrew Huberman is a Stanford Professor of Neurobiology and a popular figure in the world of health and longevity.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details behind his diet and routine. Beginning with a summary of his key routines:
- Intermittent Fasting – Andrew has consistently practiced intermittent fasting or a time-restricted eating window for at least ten years. He fasts for 12 – 16 hours, usually consuming his first meal six to eight hours after waking up.
- Hydrate in the Morning and Delayed Caffeine Consumption – Andrew sticks to water and coffee in the morning. He states that adding salt to his first drink of water can help stave off hunger – due to sodium deficiency being more prevalent in people who consume lower carbohydrate diets. He also delays any caffeine intake by 90 minutes to 2 hours because it may help avoid any caffeine crashes later on.
- His First Meal is nearly always Low Carbohydrate – Andrew usually consumes a meal low in carbohydrates first. This can be in the form of steak or ground beef, as he finds he has more mental clarity this way and avoids dips in energy throughout the day. There is a caveat here, as he also notes that if he has exercised particularly hard, he’ll consume rice or oatmeal. The quantity of the meal is dictated by appetite.
- Afternoon – Andrew keeps his intake very light in the afternoon. For example a protein shake or some nuts.
- Dinner Focuses on Starchy Carbohydrates – Andrew might include a small amount of fish or other proteins in his evening meal, but for the most part, he bases this meal around carbohydrates such as pasta. He states that this helps with his sleep quality and refills his glycogen stores for exercise the next day. He notes that eating too much meat in the evening meal reduces his sleep quality.
- Supplements – Andrew regularly takes a number of supplements, including a multivitamin, vitamin D and fish oil. Jump to this section for the full rundown.
^ Andrew discusses his diet and routine on the More Plates More Dates interview, which forms the backbone for the content of this article.
Intermittent fasting is a health and diet strategy that is steadily increasing in popularity. It’s a way of controlling calorie intake but comes with some potentially potent benefits.
In Andrew Huberman’s case, he has practiced intermittent fasting for over ten years and has an in-depth video on the health effects of fasting and time-restricted eating.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The most commonly known and understood benefits of Intermittent fasting are as follows:
- Fasting can boost working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans (source).
- Fasting helps with metabolic disorders especially type 2 diabetes (source), and can potentially help obese humans lose weight (source).
- Fasting helps improve health markers associated with the heart and blood pressure health while improving resting heart rate (source).
Mark Mattson, who has researched the effects of intermittent fasting for over 25 years, believes that our bodies have adjusted and evolved to go without food for hours and even days at a time.
Andrew’s IF Routine
Andrew has consistently fasted for over ten years.
He cites research and writing by Satching Panda (author of The Circadian Code) and Ori Hofmekler (author of the The Warrior Diet) as motivation.
Andrew is fairly consistent with his time-restricted eating protocol, the steps he takes can be summarized as follows:
- Upon waking, he drinks water with salt and lemon juice – this can counteract hunger because he states people on low-carb diets can have sodium deficiency.
- He tends to exercise towards the end of his fast – and his exercise regimen includes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, cardio, and weight training.
- He consumes a low-carb meal, usually consisting of meat and veggies. However, if his exercise is very strenuous or includes cardio, he also might include some carbohydrates like rice or oatmeal.
- He eats light in the afternoon, consuming nuts or drinking Athletic Greens or whey protein.
- His evening meal is higher in starch (he states it’s not “huge bowls of pasta.”) He might include some protein in this meal.
- He prefers not to eat too much meat before sleeping because of its long gastric clearance time – which can disrupt sleep.
- He recommends eating the final meal of the day 2 to 3 hours before sleep.
- Generally speaking, Andrew follows his appetite when deciding on food portions.
Morning – Hydration, Caffeine, and Exercise
^ Andrew discusses with Lex Fridman the benefits of fasting – source
Andrew adds salt and lemon juice to the water he drinks in the morning. Based on his own experiences and research – people on lower-carb diets can be sodium deficient. This may be due to multiple reasons such as:
- People on lower carb diets tend to be consuming less processed food – thus limiting their intake of salt.
- Lower carb diets keep insulin low and low insulin decreases your kidney’s ability to reabsorb sodium.
- People on lower carb diets are sometimes more active (often due to being more interested in health and weight loss), as exertion and perspiration will deplete your body’s sodium reserves.
Andrew doesn’t consume caffeine first thing in the morning. Instead, he recommends waiting for 90 to 120 minutes before ingesting any. Caffeine is completely absorbed by the body within an hour and has a half-life of around five hours. Peak concentrations of caffeine can occur within 15 to 30 minutes.
Waiting to consume caffeine until this time could be the most optimal way to use it for Andrew. He’ll get the most benefit out of caffeine during the period when he exercises (later in the morning towards the end of his fast). He comments that consuming caffeine this way seems to avoid the crash many of us are familiar with.
^ Andrew and Lex discussing the finer points of BJJ
It’s known that Andrew engages in Brazilian Ju Jitsu, cardio, and strength training. These are all intense forms of exercise that are going to deplete glycogen stores. Training on an empty stomach comes with a lot of health benefits.
- Training fasted over the long term trains the body to better utilize fats for fuel. (source)
- Fasted endurance can improve insulin sensitivity and generally leads to favorable metabolic adaptations (source)
However, you might have noticed that Andrew doesn’t stick solely to a low carbohydrate diet (we’ll go into the reasons later on). While fasted training has potent health benefits, there are some negative effects on performance.
- In this study, subjects were told to cycle to fatigue. The fed subjects could cycle for longer and at higher intensities. (source)
This makes sense – it’s an undisputed fact that the human body needs glycogen at higher intensities of exertion. If you’re glycogen depleted you just don’t have enough in the tank to perform at your best. While there are long-term benefits to training fasted – it’s not something to do on race day.
^ Andrew getting tips on how to improve his bench press – source
First Meal – Low Carb
Andrew’s first meal of the day is usually low in carbohydrates. He states that a lower carb meal gives him greater mental clarity but states that it’s important that glycogen stores are replenished (see the Evening Meal).
This meal usually consists of meat (such as steak) and vegetables. He also states that he likes butter and will sometimes add a small amount to food (butter has a host of different beneficial fatty acids like CLA and Butyrate. It also contains Vitamin A in its most bioavailable form).
There has been a tremendous amount of literature detailing the benefits of low-carbohydrate diets but in case you’re unfamiliar with this way of eating, we’ll outline some of the key benefits here:
- Low carb diets practically eliminate refined sources of sugar from the diet, and high levels of fructose consumption are some of the greatest contributors to chronic disease in the 21st century.
- Sugar contributes to anything from diabetes, and high blood pressure to accelerated aging.
- While every cell in your body can utilize glucose, only your liver can metabolize fructose.
- Low carb diets increase insulin sensitivity – this makes your energy feel stable throughout the day. When your insulin levels are out of control, you’ll experience continuous dips and crashes. Chronically elevated insulin level has far-reaching effects on all sorts of hormones in your body.
- Low Carb diets tend to be higher in protein – which greatly affects satiety and can help in weight loss.
However, like fasting, low carbohydrate diets are not a panacea. Studies have been conducted on the long-term consequences of sticking exclusively to this kind of diet (source). Andrew does say that on particularly hard training days, he’ll include carbohydrates like rice or oatmeal in his first meal.
Generally speaking, Andrew keeps his caloric intake light in the afternoon.
He states that he consumes nuts like Almonds or Brazil nuts and uses supplements like Athletic Greens, or whey protein.
His first meal is the largest meal he consumes, and Andrew frequently states that he doesn’t measure food portions – he lets his appetite dictate the amount, as this is what’s worked for him consistently.
Evening Meal (Final Meal)
Andrew states that he focuses on starch for his final meal of the day, as this allows him to “sleeps like a baby.” The maestro also demonstrates his expertise in human physiology here. Having starchy carbohydrates (pasta, potatoes, rice, etc) 4 hours before sleeping can decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and boosts levels of serotonin and tryptophan (source).
- Serotonin, which is sometimes referred to as the hormone of happiness or contentment, is a mood stabilizer/booster and is intimately involved in sleep quality.
- Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and is used in all kinds of essential functions. Tryptophan is a precursor for many kinds of hormones, including melatonin and serotonin.
In addition to starchy carbohydrates, Andrew will sometimes include tuna or salmon/some form of lean protein if he feels like it. He also includes all kinds of vegetables but is not particular about what they are; things such as tomato, avocado, broccoli, and spinach. Generally aiming to eat a variety and good quantity of vegetables is a foolproof health strategy – as we all know by now that these foods are full of water-soluble vitamins and various phytonutrients.
- He also states that if he’s not training as much he’ll reduce the number of carbohydrates by half – but these aren’t precise measurements.
- He says that eating too much meat before sleep seems to negatively affect his sleep quality and states that meat has a long gastric clearance time – which could contribute to poorer sleep.
Andrew has regularly taken a number of supplements over the years. He tests his blood regularly and uses this to guide his choices.
Andrew takes the following daily (mostly sourced from the MPMD interview, and then I’ve mentioned if the info comes from elsewhere):
- Multivitamin – specifically one called Opti-Men which he states is a habitual thing and he has taken it for years.
- Omega-3 Fish Oil – Andrew aims for 2 grams of EPA per day. The brand he uses is Thorne Super EPA – a couple of capsules. He also puts a tablespoon of Carlson’s Lemon fish oil on oatmeal (which he asserts is delicious).
- Vitamin K2 – he has been taking this since a recommendation from Derek of More Plates More Dates. Saying that his HDL cholesterol value improved since taking. He doesn’t mention a specific dose.
- Vitamin D3 – he mentions in his interview (at 1:25:30) with Rhonda Patrick that he takes 5,000 to 10,000IU of vitamin D per day, and says his vitamin D levels are within range on blood tests.
- Magnesium – Andrew supplements magnesium, using the types bisglycinate (also referred to as glycinate), malate and threonate. He doesn’t mention a specific dose here, but has previously mentioned taking 140mg of Threonate or 100-200mg of glycinate before sleep.
Then, less regularly he will take:
- Boron – 2 to 4 milligrams. It is a mineral that is involved in bone health, helps build muscle, and may enhance testosterone levels – at least over the short term.
- Green Tea Extract – It can aid metabolism and can potentially boost cognitive function (source).
- CLA – Conjugated Linoleic Acid (say that three times fast). This is a fatty acid that can lower blood pressure, help with fat burning, and aids the immune system.
- Garlic extract
- Vitamin E – a potent anti-oxidant, it is especially good for skin health.
Other food products he takes are:
- Athletic Greens – he has been using these for over 12 years. It’s a powder-based supplement that you can mix into a liquid. It’s purported to contain 75 vitamins and minerals and can help optimize nutrition and support the immune system.
- Whey Protein – this is a supplement with well-known benefits. It can help with muscle protein synthesis and can promote feelings of satiety.
- EAA’s – essential amino acids. These are known to help reduce fatigue and enhance recovery from exercise. Presumably, he only takes these on days he trains.
Beyond the supplements mentioned above, Andrew also regularly mentions other supplements that may be of use. This article covers them in detail.
^ Andrew discusses testosterone boosting supplements – source
Tracking & Measuring His Health
Andrew explains that he tests his blood twice per year in order to track and monitor his health.
This helps him to monitor the effect that his diet and supplements are having on him. Including the effect of any changes he makes.
One company he has specifically mentioned for blood tests are Inside Tracker – who are also a show sponsor of his podcast.
InsideTracker offer 2 main blood tests:
For 25% off their blood tests, use this discount code.
Overall, Andrew Huberman’s diet and routine are full of insights we can learn from.
He makes sure that his nutrition is suited to his performance needs.
Andrew makes it clear he doesn’t obsessively count calories, measure or weigh food, but more intuitively lets his appetite guide him.
He states that he’s not ripped to the bone (hovering around 12 percent body fat).
However, his routine has kept him healthy and in shape but is enjoyable enough to follow for over a decade.
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