Healthy Diet!

People often ask me what I do to keep so thin.  Part of it is my daily swim.  Part of it is the physical activity that goes with working in a vineyard, winery, and farm.  But a big part of it is my diet.

In the early 1990s with little responsibility aside from a full-time job, I somehow became a nationally ranked triathlete.  That followed high school cross country which preceded cycling in college.

I’ve always been fit.  When I raced, I found my sweet spot to be in the mid-1980s with a 6’4″ frame.   When I backed off training to focus on the winery in the late 1990s, my weight shot up to the high 190’s then capped at about 205.  When I traveled in the corporate world, by 2009, I shot up to nearly 230.  Though not so heft by today’s standards with my height, when my fit physician said that I, I, me, had to lose some weight and that I, me, may need blood pressure medication, I was insulted!  Already on allergy medication, I decided I would “show up” to that doctor.  That was June 2009.  By Thanksgiving 2009, I just with a simple increase in exercise, I dropped 2 pounds.  Yes, 2….2,  not 22, or 12, but 2, just 2 stinkin’ pounds!  I was furious!  Pass me the chips!  I just need more exercise!

Then a friend of mine challenged me to weight loss.  Then I remembered those customers telling me that they could drink our sweeter wines and they were diabetic.   Then I remembered my triathlon training diet of 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat.  Then I remembered the lack of processed foods in that diet.  Could going natural do things for me?  What is diabetes and is it a new phenomenon or something we’ve been dealing with for centuries?  How does the body process sugars, and are all sugars alike?  How do artificial sweeteners affect our bodies and subconscious responses?

To keep this story from going on too long, I delved into all things about modern diseases, food history, modern foods, previous health habits, compared to today’s health habits, etc.  Many books were read, such as The China Study, building a foundation for more research.  The additional research from the book Missing Microbes, by Martin Blaser, about the over-consumption of antibiotics, pretty well set me sailing.  Below is a diet I carefully constructed, re-constructed, fact-checked, double-fact-checked, and ran by a whole host of folks.

Today, I swim 5-6 days a week and run the other 2.  I don’t overdo it, though I do lots of interval work in the pool.   I drink wine daily.  My blood is absolutely perfect, and I take no medications, including no allergy medicines.  My body fat is around 7% and I am back in the mid-180’s.  You can do it.  It takes time, but this diet works because it feeds the body what it needs, or at least what mine needs.  If there is any change I am looking at, it is reducing the number of carbs.   And best of all, I have lost the craving for fast food, processed foods, and all that.

I also take zero vitamins and zero supplements.

I wrote this diet for my swim team.

Peak Performance Diet – Jim Pfeiffer  

For:  My High School Swim Team

Ninety percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.” – Victor Lindlahr in 1923

 In 1958 less than 1% of the US population had Type 2 Diabetes.  It is estimated that by 2020, more than 25% will- Center for Disease Control

Go to

Eat Natural Foods: Absolutely!!!
Research from Washington University St. Louis ties natural food consumption to healthy gut microbial activity to a very healthy human body, eliminating many of the causes of today’s bad health.



Diet Soda Anyone?  NO!!
Just drinking one diet drink a day was enough to create a significantly heightened chance of developing one of these disorders, the researchers found.

Artificial sweeteners were also shown to activate different patterns in the brain’s pleasure centers that normally correspond to sweet tastes. This may mean that these products do not satisfy our sweet tooth as much as natural sugar. One study found that non-caloric sweeteners made animals eat increased amounts of calorie-rich sweet tasting food.



Is Honey mixed with Water Perhaps the Ultimate Sports Energy Drink?  And Workout Recovery Drink?
Here is an interesting article to read about the positive effects of honey.




Water Anyone?  YES!!!!
Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance.




The dangers of simple carbohydrates.  Are they natural?  Hmmm…
The above article also slams aspartame very, very hard.  Lots of diseases are listed from the overconsumption of simple sugars and aspartame.

Here’s something to think about.  Did you know that if you increase the amount of protein in your diet, the cravings for sugary items will diminish?




Successful Diet to Increase Energy, Speed, Endurance, and Decrease Recovery Time.  The Zone Diet 40/30/30 by Barry Sears

  • A Balanced Diet:  40% Carbohydrates, 30% Protein, 30% Fat
  • Fat: Fat in food aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Very Best Sources for athletics:  Fish, Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Nuts, peanut butter, and butter. I am not keen on margarine at all.


Protein:  Basic Building Blocks of muscle. 

  • Very Best Sources for athletics:  Beans and Legumes plus meats and fish!
    • Black beans, Pinto Beans, Red Beans, Lentils, Kidney Beans, and Black Eyed Peas are some examples.
    • Fish, Chicken, Turkey, and Venison are second
    • Eggs are third
    • Pork would be a fourth choice, as it’s a little higher in fat. Buffalo is a better forth choice
    • Red Meat is my 5th choice.  Simply put, unless the cow lived its life in a pasture, I don’t think it packs the nutrients, especially omega 3.  Loaded with saturated fats, and hard to digest.  And Milk.  Here is a strong study about avoiding today’s milk.  Ovarian cancer, testicular, prostate, and breast cancer.  And due to pasteurization, the enzymes used for digesting milk are flat-out gone.
    • Many of us lack the gene which enables us to digest cow’s milk, anyway.  And should we be drinking another animal’s milk?

Carbohydrates:  Basic building blocks of energy.

  • Best sourced from grains, vegetables, and fruits.  Very best sources:
    • Oatmeal, Barley, Brown and Wild Rice, Quinoa.  Secondary Choices:  White Rice, potatoes with skins.
    • Vegetables:  There are no bad vegetables!  Period!  The very best is Spinach and Broccoli. .  Carrots are an excellent source of energy.
    • Fruit:  Tomatoes, Oranges, Grapes, Apples, Pears, Peaches, Tangerines, Avocadoes, Cherries, Raisins.  Eat the fruit and not just drink the juice, as the juice has no fiber.
    • Cereals. Try to find those that have less gluten and sugars.  Avoid those that are loaded with sugars.
    • Pickles are generally good for you, though I can’t stand them.

Great Snack Foods:

Nuts, Triscuits (they have only 3 ingredients in them), most soups, especially those with beans and lentils, peanut butter, raisins, apples, bananas, oranges, popcorn (not the microwave kind), celery, and carrots.  If the food has few ingredients in it, and you like it, it’s probably a good snack food.  Notice how everything I picked was a natural food or very minimally processed?  Here is a trick that works great to making foods more palatable — dip them in olive oil with spices.  Olive oil has lots of savory umami notes which most people love to eat.





When To Eat and Other Tips:

  • Eat Often, in smaller portions, and never eat until you are full!
  • When taking vitamins, take them during or right after a meal.  You need to trick your body into thinking those vitamins came with the food and thus won’t be processed out of your body quickly.  Two other great times for vitamins are after practice and before bed.  Yes, before bed!  As your body slows down during the sleep mode, vitamins will stay in your body longer and thus provide more opportunities for your body to use.  Take Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zink to ward off sickness.  Though I would rather you get them from food!!!
  • Here are some interesting studies on vitamins:  I take none whatsoever and am fine:
  • If you eat processed foods high in sugars or drink soft drinks, fruit juices, or “energy drinks”, consume something good with it to slow the processing of those sugars, especially the glucose in the blood system.  Or get some quick exercise in to avoid those easy energy sources from becoming stored energy (fat) and making you hungry.  Also, the over-consumption of sugars leads to inflammation (the source of many ailments), and insulin resistance by cells, For instance, if you have to have a soft drink, have nuts with it, or Triscuits, just something with fiber.  Foods with fiber may hopefully slow down the absorption of sugars into your blood system.  Really though, don’t consume very simple carbohydrates unless you plan on exercising—NOW!  Not an hour later.  Like, NOW!
  • You are really much, much better off avoiding sugary drinks anytime.  I think pure sugar is worse than tobacco.
  • Be careful with consuming too much sugar:  Cancer lives on it, specifically the glucose molecule
  • Sometimes on the way to the YMCA, I will eat something light for energy.  I never eat/drink simple carbohydrates afterward, though as the sugars destroy any gains you made working out.
  • My children love banana bread.  So do I.  But I always add peanut butter for three reasons.  First, peanut butter adds essential minerals, protein, and fat.  Second, that protein and fat slow down the digestion process so the sugars from the banana bread do not absorb into the blood system as fast (at least I think so).  Third, I eat less because the proteins and fat from the peanut butter create a more full sensation in me.
  • Do not eat meat or eggs or any other high-protein food soon before exercising.  You will go slow because the energy that should go towards exercise performance is going to be used instead to digest those foods.  Additionally, you might get sick.
  • It’s always, always good to eat complex (not simple) carbohydrates and proteins after practice.
  • A good snack for energy before a Saturday morning race is some whole grain bread, some olive oil, spiced how you like it.  I do find some energy bars to be fine too.  I do have one better though.  Keep reading.   And honey!!!  Enjoy honey!
  • If I have a can of Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch, I may add a little Olive Oil, to get it into the 40-30-30 diet.  Olive Oil adds essential fat.
  • Avoid Trans Fats.  However, don’t think that a box labeled “low in Trans Fats” is good for you.  They probably replaced the fats with processed sugars which aren’t needed and can lead to Diabetes and Obesity
  • If you can’t understand the words on the food labels, those words indicate that the foods are processed.
  • V8 is a great, great beverage. THE BEST!  Lots of vitamins and minerals, minimal extra calories, and V8 has a lot of fiber in it.  I drink it before races (Hint!).
  • And the most controversial tip I have is this.  Meets are long and hot and thus draining.  A trick I used to get hydrated the night before a big triathlon or bike race was to add some extra salt to my food.  Salt holds moisture, makes you thirsty, and thus allows you to hydrate more with it than without it.  Additionally, salt provides good mineral content, and allows your body to process vitamins and minerals more efficiently. Salt gets a bad rap because most people consume way too much and it, like sugar, leads to inflammation.  However, in athletics, it’s essential to have enough salt.  A really, really good breakfast food before a meeting is a banana with salt or a banana with salty peanut butter.  With a glass of V-8, you will be flying!  This is my number 1 recommended 2-hour before a meet formula for lots of efficient energy. Forget about cramps! By the way, a banana with peanut butter and V-8 is perfectly balanced 40-30-30.  And not all salts are the same.  Try Iodized salt or sea salt which should contain iodine.  Iodine is a great, great immune system booster.

What foods and beverages to avoid:

 Highly processed foods. 

  • If you can’t pronounce it or know what it is, it’s processed.
  • Avoid eating your “toes”, foods ending in “Toes” or “Tos”,
  • 95% of all crackers on the market I think, are highly processed
  • 75% of all cereals on the market I think are highly processed
  • 100% of all cakes and pies on the market, I think, are highly processed
  • Sugary drinks, soft drinks, and ENERGY DRINKS,  Only consume before an event.  Their sugars easily convert into fat and they can make you hungry.  And, they are strongly linked to Type 2 Diabetes
  • Diet drinks especially!  Strongly linked to Type 2 Diabetes and they will make you crave simple carbohydrates.
  • Chips.
  • Margarine or any other processed fat.
  • Desserts
  • Salad dressings!  A great way ruins a good diet is salad dressings.
  • Red Meat
  • Candy
  • Fast Food!  Except for Subway!

Final Recommendations and Thoughts

  • If this diet becomes tough, try mixing in some things you like to make it bearable.  If you have to have that Diet Soda, have it with some of the foods I recommend.
  • There is a lot of dietary fiber in this diet.  It may take some time to get used to.
  • Tomato sauces are your friend.  I consume them often.
  • This diet seems to be more expensive than most foods on the shelf.  It is, but you’ll end up eating less and thus the cost difference will be minimal after a while.
  • Frozen and canned vegetables and beans are as good for you as fresh ones, so you can save money this way.
  • You will start feeling the benefits of this diet within a week.  You will have more energy and you will feel better.  You will have fewer tiring days in the pool.
  • The 40/30/30 diet was conceived in the early 1990s and was the basis for many of us racing at that time.  I would suggest it is probably in use today by many athletic programs.
  • More fruits, more vegetables, and more grains will equal more energy.  More processed foods will equal lethargy and upset stomachs before races.
  • This diet will help you keep your body toned up and looking good.
  • If you have a sugary drink, you must, must, must have it with other complex foods unless you are getting ready to exercise.  Sugar before exercise and during exercise is fine.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Water suppresses hunger, surprisingly.
  • You simply cannot get Type 2 Diabetes with this diet.  It’s not possible.
  • You simply cannot develop Obesity with this diet.  You really have to overeat.  Simply put, it’s not comfortable to overeat on this diet.
  • Eat after you exercise.  It is the basis for recovery.  Nearly every morning, I fix myself something in the balance after leaving the YMCA.
  • Mix it up!  BE WEIRD and PROUD OF IT!!  This morning, before typing this, I mixed Turkey slices into my Oatmeal, which was cooked with a teaspoon of Olive Oil.  YUCK, huh?   Not really.  Oats are fairly bland.  So are mashed potatoes.  So I ask you, why can’t you substitute oats for mashed potatoes especially if you add spices?  And oats have more fiber than potatoes.  Unconventional?  Yes!  Healthy?  Oh yes!!!
  • And lastly, in 1958, the average grocery store was no bigger than the pool area at the YMCA. Simply put, there were hardly any processed foods.

In summary, I mentioned several things over and over.  I’m not a perfect eater, but I am careful.  Yes, I treat myself to some cake, pies, etc on occasion.  You need to enjoy life, right?  If you give this diet a try, you will be amazed at how much better you may feel, and how much energy you have.  Then after going on it for a while, indulge in some fast food and soft drinks and see how you feel.  The drop-off from those processed and fast foods is quick and dramatic.


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