With All Day Awareness You Listen To Your Honest Inner Voice

I have been in the habit of cultivating All Day Awareness for many years now. It began with a technique to facilitate Lucid Dreams and I practiced it vigorously for many month. I noticed that it became a habit. I was doing it for a great length of time every day without much effort. And even though I did not keep up the practice at that level in the recent past, I still notice a high degree of Awareness for the present moment. It is grounded in my direct sensory experience. And I am pulled back to it at regular intervals without conscious effort or a reminder.

This has recently led to a profound insight. Being highly conscious of ones direct experience at regular intervals does provide a lot of opportunities to asses and reflect ones actions and situations in general. This fleeting experience of the emotional state in combination with a grounded presence often reveals raw and honest truth!

I discover emotional triggers early on in their chain of reaction. It teaches how the brain constructs it's own problems into the world. I also learn very early if something is going wrong in general in my life. Or if my actions really reflect my true inner values.

This can be difficult in the moment, when you have to face every problem. On the positive side this gives me the opportunity to stop problems before they become to big to handle. And ultimately I believe it is easier for me to become fulfilled with what I do in life through this practice. Avoiding the development of serious life-issues, negative habits and being able to listen to the guiding inner voice are among the greatest benefits of practicing All Day Awareness long-term.

To start the practice I recommend setting an alarm on your phone at regular intervals. You can find apps in your app-store that do this by searching for "reality check" for example.

In addition to a daily meditation practice this can facilitate your personal development greatly. But be warned that this might force you to drastically change your life. Even if you right now think this might not do much for you and you are comfortable with what you are doing most of the time. Any action that is not fully aligned with your true values will be openly revealed by this technique. And if you stay aware you can not act against your own believes for very long. You can only do that by listening to and being absorbed in the inner voice that justifies the action while you are acting it out. And then you are most likely not fully present.

Full Awareness of the present moment is a good guidance and probably the best we have access to.

Combining intermittent fasting with exercise and cold showers

I have so far experimented with two ways to increase the positive effects of fasting. While intermittent fasting can be a great tool to increase autophagy it can also be difficult to eat all the daily nutrition in a very short eating window.

A beautiful place to get your cold-exposure?
So I asked myself the question: How can I have a larger eating window while still getting the benefits of prolonged intermittent fasting (20-23hours a day)? I feel that protocols that implement shorter duration of intermittent fasting (16-18h) do not evoke the same metabolic responses as those longer protocols. But with short eating-windows it can be difficult to digest and absorb all the food, especially if vegetables make up a big portion of ones daily food.

Therefore having an eating window of around 6-8 hours with two large meals (high volume due to large amount of vegetables) at the beginning and the end was my goal. Without compromising the benefits of the fasting period. I found two ways in which this might be possible: exercising and cold showers during the fasting period. So far this might not be a new idea for you. But I believe the trick is to fast for several hours afterwards.

So a typical day might look like this:
·         6:30am wake up and 30 min of bodyweight workout. Alternating muscle groups daily with three different training days.
·         7:00am cold shower: 1min warm/ 3min cold/ 1min warm/ 1min cold
·         Continue fasting until 12:00am – lunch: high vegetable; high in fat, medium in carbohydrate and protein
·         6:00pm-7:00pm – Dinner: high vegetable; high in fat, low in carbohydrate and medium in protein

This gives me around 5 hours after my sport and cold showers in the fasted state. If you try this out you will recognize how much different this approach feels from normal intermittent fasting of same duration.

Exercise is known to increase autophagy and by combining this with fasting you will increase this effect even further. The body is basically pushed ahead into higher autophagy similar to several hours of fasting. You are basically jumping from the 10h to the 16h mark. (Just an idea, I have not measured it :D)

In this way you have already increased the efficacy of the fast. The continued fast after exercise forces your body to recycle everything possible in order to provide for the muscular regeneration. Stress hormones are released that not only wake you up but also increase fat burning.

If you now combine this with cold showers it will enhance fat-burning, ketone-production, GABA- and BDNF-release even further.

The cold shower should in theory have following effects:
·         Activation of heat generation in brown adipose tissue
o   This will pick-up glucose and fatty acids from the blood stream, lowering the blood-glucose spike from the exercise
·         Increase wakefulness through the release of adrenaline and cortisol
·         Lower body temperature à more calories burned in the following hours (coming from fat) as you continue your fast
·         Increase circulation (in combination with the shift to warm water) of blood and lymphatic fluids
·         Enhance recovery from the workout
·         Make you clean and leave you feeling refreshed

After following this protocol for two weeks, I found out that I can combine the benefits of high vegetable consumption and eating twice daily (an enjoyable, large meal, high in vegetables) with the benefits of a longer daily fast.

I might even go so far to say that this approach is superior to the longer daily fasts. The reason is that the huge meal (as in the one meal a day protocol) takes considerably longer to digest. That basically shortens the real time spend fasting anyways. Two smaller meals, containing basically half of the calories digest much better than the giant one meal.

The greatest advantage of this approach for myself so far is that it takes almost no will-power. Eating within a 6 hour window, it is absolutely possible for me not to get hungry.

Combining fasting and cold showers for maximum longevity

Research on mice has shown that it is possible to negate the life-extension benefits of caloric restriction if the temperature is increased. In theory this leads to less energy burned to maintain body-temperature. For caloric restriction to work it seems to be necessary to be on the lower end of the caloric equilibrium. Meaning that the body has to regulate the temperature down in order to conserve energy.
With an increased environmental temperature the down regulation of body-temperature to conserve energy is counteracted. Therefore requiring an even higher degree of caloric restriction to reach the same life extension.

This line of thinking makes sense to me. And if it is correct we might be able to say something about cold showers from it. In my last post I talked about how the combination of intermittent fasting and cold showers probably increases the degree of autophagy brought about by the fast.

If you are experienced with longer intermittent fasting periods you might know about the cold inducing effect of the fast. When your digestive system has shut down for several hours and you have run out of liver-glycogen the body down-regulates the body-temperature. This might not happen the first time with intermittent fasting but after continued implementation for several weeks I bet most people will experience it, if calories are lowered as well.

With the combination of cold showers, this cold inducing effect of the fast is brought on much earlier in the fasting period. When showering with cold water for several minutes and not showering warm afterwards the body temperature decreases noticeably. At least during winter when the water-temperature is low. This mimics the body-temperature lowering effect also brought about by caloric restriction or intermittent fasting. In the following hours after the cold shower the body has to increase the amount of energy burned in brown adipose tissue to increase the body-temperature again. Brown adipose tissue picks up glucose and fatty acids from the blood stream to burn it in it mitochondria for heat generation. Burning a higher amount of fat in a shorter amount of time makes the fasting period more effective. Especially if on exercises before the cold shower and continues the fast for several hours afterwards.

I guess we have here a tool that has the amazing property to increase longevity and it takes only a few minutes a day. Especially if combined with intermittent fasting in the way I outlined in my last post. But the benefits of cold showers go beyond the possibility to extend life-span. The greatest benefits I feel personally are psychological. As I am building the habit right now to exercise (almost) each morning and taking a cold shower afterwards I can judge the difference it has on my day. The experience of not having regular cold showers in the morning is still fresh in my mind. Cold showers are a test of willpower, no doubt. But mastering this first challenge of the day has a profound impact on how easily I can navigate challenges that come up later during the day. It becomes much easier not to give in to food temptations for example. Having what it takes for a cold shower in the morning is just too big of a contrast to giving in to unhealthy food choices for a mere few moments of perceived pleasure. This behavior would just not be in line with the outcomes I hope for when I take that cold shower. Building willpower is really a skill that can be learned. Turning down that “oh-so-delicious” mixture of high-fructose-corn-syrup, white flour, soy-bean-oil and aromas has become incredibly easy.

Secondly cold showers are the greatest natural energy-boost out there. The clarity and feeling of aliveness and freshness can just not be topped by anything I know of. Especially after exercising the increase in circulation from the cold-shower and the rush of blood to the skin and from the extremeties to the organs gives a lot of energy. One reason for that might be the increased rate of breathing the cold-shock automatically induces.

Important things to keep in mind:
After having experimented with cold showers in the past already I noticed several negative effects. After several month of daily cold showers I noticed that I just could not stand the cold shower anymore. I would not warm up at all anymore afterwards and felt cold almost the whole day. I were not aware of several things that are important. I now think that cold showers should not be combined with prolonged intermittent fast and severe caloric restriction. In the past I often did cold showers in the morning and would not eat until the evening. And also quite a restricted amount of calories due to not eating enough fat. And eating too much calorically dilute food in general.
Now I am restricting my calories not as severely and feel much better. I warm up faster after the shower. Also the fasting period lasts only 5 hours afterwards.

Other important points to take care of are stress, hormone-release, coffee-consumption and thyroid health. A cold-shower causes a natural release of adrenalin and other stress hormones. This is great for waking you up, but in combination with too much caffeine can lead to an overstimulation of the adrenal glands. But you will find that you do not need as much caffeine as before or might even be unable to tolerate it in the fasted state after a cold shower. Also make sure to take in enough iodine. I think the amount in the western diet is way too low. Even using iodized salt does not come close to the optimal dose. Either take a good multi-mineral-supplement that contains at least 100%  of the RDI. Another good option is the daily consumption of seaweeds. Nori is low, Wakame is medium and Kombu is high in iodine. Be careful not to eat too much kombu daily though. In Japan daily consumption of seaweed is the norm and in talking to several Japanese I found out, they were not even aware of the possibility that you could eat too much of them.

Iodine is important for a healthy functioning thyroid. It regulates how well your body is able to produce energy. So demanding heat-generation after cold showers from a body with a poorly functioning thyroid is not a good combination. If a lack of iodine is the issue it can easily be fixed with continued higher intake.

I hope this is helpful for you if you want to optimize your health regimen. Adding in cold showers while being aware of the “dangers” might be a wise move. I think they can replace the short term adrenalin and stress response we were used to get in our evolutionary past when a wolf, bear or tiger showed up with the intend of having human sashimi for dinner. But cold showers might as well be a joke compared to the feeling you get from such an encounter. So man up and give up that climate-change-causing warm shower of a pampered and underchallenged 21st century-human being ;)…. Have fun!

Staying Consistent And The Difficulties of Readjusting

So due to circumstances it has been too difficult for me to eat one meal a day for the past 5 weeks. I was travelling in Japan without excess to a kitchen. I had to navigate my eating between dinner invitations to restaurants I could not choose and the foods that were available at the local supermarket.

I settled into eating twice daily. Lunch and Dinner on most days. I was provided free lunch at work and had dinner at restaurants whenever I was going out, eating with colleagues.

The free lunch at work was nice but I could not eat so much that it would be sufficient for me if I ate only one meal.

Staying on track is easier than readjusting

Now I am experiencing the whole adjustment process again. I am going back to eating one meal a day and can already tell after the first few days that I have lost most of the momentum I had build previously. I do not continue where I stopped. Eating one meal a day almost takes as much getting used to as it did the first time.

And this leads me to write about the importance of positive momentum. I believe it is very important to stick with positive habits not allow any deviation. If you have found something that makes you feel good and works for you than do not change it. It will be harder to get back to it. Not as difficult as the first time when you were building that habit, but definitely some mental effort. It is like an alcoholic can never drink again, and if he has only one drink he will have difficulties again staying sober for some time.

Building momentum - also in the mental world

The second biggest reason for why one should always stick with positive habits is, that it is very easy to forget about the positive benefits one has gained. For example with the OMAD lifestyle it is easy to forget how much clarity and mental focus you gain from the fasting and how good it makes you feel in general. Just after a few days of not feeling 100% you might accept this as the norm again but wont associate the lack of energy with the different eating pattern. And then you might not get on the protocol again because you have forgotten the subtle benefits you are only aware of when eating that way. And then you forget about the positive habit until you somehow get interested in it again. Or that might not happen at all and you loose the habit permanently.

Additionally some benefits of positive habits take time to develop. On OMAD you won't feel good right away. You might even feel worse and have to exert mental energy to stay on track. Only after a couple of weeks does your body run optimally in the fasted state and your energy is high and only eating once becomes a no-brainer.

Do not make yourself go to the adjustment period twice. Stick with positive habits. I speak from personal experience here now with this lifestyle.

But I am back on it. Because the benefits are definitely worth the effort.

Too many Omega-6 fatty acids – my personal experience

Recently I am in a difficult situation in regards to eating my preferred diet that is high in vegetables, nuts and seeds. I am in Japan and do not have access to a kitchen or any of my supplements (wheatgrass powder, spirulina, spices, etc.). And I also have to limit my food choices to what can be eaten without preparation.
The biggest drawback in regards to Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio here is the unavailability of flaxseeds. I have only found a small package of roasted flaxseeds (50g) for an incredible sum of 7€. So flaxseeds are out.

I am therefore consuming the most available nuts, which are Walnuts and Peanuts. Those are relatively affordable but come with a very high omega-6 content. The body has a hard time handling an excess of omega-6 fatty acids. To generate energy from polyunsaturated fatty acids requires additional enzymatic steps to first turn them into saturated fatty acids. Therefore suddenly increasing ones consumption can overload those pathways.

The body tends to use them also in other enzymatic pathways with unfavorable outcomes. One of those pathways leads to arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is naturally found in animal sources of fat. But the body is capable of producing the amount he requires on his own. Arachidonic acid is usually associated with pro-inflammatory reactions. But it is also found in high quantities in the brain.

And this is the part I am interested in right now. With this self-experiment I am forced to conduct at the moment, I want to find out what effect high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids have on my body. And I can judge from the first 3 weeks of eating this way that it generates a mental state that is highly uncomfortable at times.
After consuming a meal high in omega-6 I feel a change in my mood. I get an overall depressed outlook on life, no matter what situation I am in. Notice that those Omega-6 fatty acids come from whole foods. Most of them from raw, soaked walnuts. But also from roasted peanuts. I would say based on other research that looked into oxidation during roasting of whole flaxseeds, which showed no oxidation, that those fatty acids where also not oxidized.
My conclusion from this experience is therefore that it is important to limit the overall quantity of Omega-6 in once diet. This is probably more important than the ratio of Omega-3:Omega-6. High amounts of Omega-6 can not be offset by increasing Omega-3. That is at least my experience.
The reason for that is also that the body can only handle a certain amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids well. Above a certain level the fatty acids might get used in unfavorable enzymatic pathways leading to inflammation. Additionally the polyunsaturated fatty acids themselves are susceptible to oxidation. So they can easily generate free radicals in the body, damaging tissues and consuming up a lot of important anti-oxidants like vitamin e.

So when I have the chance again, I am going to limit my consumption. This means eating more coconut, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, flaxseed and less walnuts, peanuts, sunflower-seeds.

Eating Meat for the first time after six years (mostly) Vegan

The Experiment:
I am still in Japan due to a business trip and am therefore regularly invited into restaurants. Most of them do not have an english menu and so therefore the other colleagues order for me what they recommend.

I said to myself I will not make my life incredible hard here diet wise and therefore I am experimenting here now with the inclusion of meat and fish back into my diet.

I call it an experiment because it challenges all my believes about healthy eating. I get major digestive issues very quickly when I eat the wrong foods. That then also leads to whole body inflammation showing itself in painful joints and skin outbreaks.

So I had bad feelings about eating meat and fish. I was thinking this would leave me with bad stomach pain and constipation. And would probably lead to indigestion and many other issues.
As I am on a low carb diet, meat and fish fit in there quite nicely, so my body was used to digesting fat and protein.

In Japan it is common to order food and then it is shared between everybody. So no individual dishes. That was good, because I was able to choose the fattiest pieces of fish and meat.

What was the outcome of suddenly eating meat and fish again?
As hard as it is for me to write this blog-post, I have to admit, that I felt surprisingly good. My digestion improved from slightly constipated to perfect, I felt mentally very good after eating animal fat and I had no other side effects.

What is strange about this experiment is that it went along with stopping muscle spasms, which I had for several weeks now. And as I was thinking I was doing every correctly on my vegan diet, I can not imagine the reason for this. Maybe there is something in fish or meat that my body was deficient in. Or I just adapted completely to eating low carb. I can only speculate. But I will keep an eye on this and once I return to eating vegan when I am back in Germany I can judge it, if the symptoms should return.

But this diet experiment right now really challenges all my beliefs about animal products and health. Especially if they are part of a low carb diet, where the body is able to utilize the nutrients and it is not blocked by the action of insulin.
Now that I am thinking about is, eating meat and fish comes very close to the fasted state. With the difference that you are not metabolizing your own body tissues (mostly fat) but that of another animal. And because fasting usually comes with many health benefits, maybe my beliefs about meat and fish are more wrong than I thought.

Once I will be back to eating vegan I am going to observe if I have any cravings for animal products. But there are so many reasons for me not to eat meat that I am most likely only going to implement organic grass fed butter as a source of fat. If I feel that does me good.

Having my beliefs about diet challenged is interesting and can only contribute to a more wholesome picture about healthy nutrition. Many studies that formed my beliefs about meat, were probably not done on people eating a very low carbohydrate diet. So the outcomes might not even be related to the properties of animal products themselves, but to the combination with foods that block the proper utilization of them.

Plant-Based Low Carb - Why It Is Better Than The Meat-Based Alternative

In my experience, eating a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet comes with many benefits. It lowers insulin levels and increases production of ketone bodies. Low insulin levels are associated with increased longevity and ketone bodies are a great source of energy after the initial adaptation phase. Being adapted to the state of ketosis leaves one feeling energized, clear-headed and after meal tiredness is not a problem anymore.
Factory farm
Cutting down rain-forest to feed animals in factories...

But many low carbohydrate diets are also heavily based on animal products. Cutting out processed or all carbohydrates while increasing animal fats and animal proteins might not be as harmful to the body as both combined. But I consider it still sub-optimal based on the research on health and longevity available today. 

Walnut tree for food
...or growing trees to get our food directly?

Methionine restriction is one intervention that can increase longevity independent of caloric restriction. And this can only be achieved if animal protein is drastically reduces. Almost all plant proteins have a lower methionine-content. And especially the foods that are part of a vegan ketogenic diet are also lower in methionine than animal products. If one aims for a total of 60-80gr of protein a diet derived from a diet of nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables and soybeans, one arrives at a total methionine content of 0.8-1.2gr per day while still keeping carbohydrate in the range of 60-80gr. This is an optimally and slightly restricted level of methionine. The same amount of animal protein contains upwards of 2gr of methionine and oftentimes more than 3gr. 

Therefore a vegan or vegetarian (only including high fat dairy products like butter) diet can combine the benefits of eating low carb with the benefits of a plant-based diet.

As the human body is capable of producing all the cholesterol required for optimal health, reducing its intake might lower heart disease risk. I say "might" because strictly animal based diets have shown to produce no arterial plaques. It seems that animal fat and protein only lead to damaged arteries in the presence of carbohydrates (and insulin).

Factory farm of sheeps
Can we be sure that animals in factory farms are not suffering?

The greatest benefits of eating plant-based high-fat compared to animal-based high fat is due to environmental and harm reduction reasons. We already see the devastating effects of more and more people increasing their consumption of animal products. Deforestation, enormous amounts of CO2 and Methane and animal suffering are only the most obvious reasons not to consume animal products. Even pasture fed animal and even wild game are a highly unsustainable source of food. The land required to produce that kind of food makes it immediately clear that eating animal products regularly is extremely harmful to nature and also humanity at large.

Compare this scenario (for which the complete list of bad outcomes would actually provide enough content to fill a book) to the scenario of feeding the world on a high fat vegan diet:
What is required for a high fat vegan diet? I would recommend mainly nuts as the healthiest source of calories. To achieve that we would convert a large portion of our current agricultural landscape. Away from highly unsustainable farming of grains (of which a large portion is wasted to feed livestock) to forests of nut trees, grown in a polycultural way that resembles good habitats for animals of all kind. 

Instead of releasing huge amounts of CO2 and Methane into the atmosphere this way of producing food would filter the air, increase biodiversity, store CO2 in the ground, safely for a long time, and release oxygen into the air. From practices of permaculture, we already know: we would be able to produce a lot more food per acre and with much less effort than we do today. No need for fertilizers and the quality of the surface soil would increase dramatically. Perennial plants (trees) are able to access nutrients from much deeper layers and transport them to the surface. The prices for nuts and seeds would drop drastically and are therefore affordable to a large number of people.

This would require a change in our lifestyle, because these farming methods are not very suitable for mass-production and the use of heavy machinery. More people would need to live closer to nature again and directly work in the sector of food picking and care for the environment.
Maybe this is more of a cultural change that is required and therefore a huge shift in global trends is required. Away from living in large cities, where people live without their own gardens, to a society build around communal living, where everyone can easily derive their food directly from nature.

Even this short presentation of the most obvious outcomes of a permacultural way of growing food in a forest should be enough to convert one from eating animal foods to eating plant foods. Even today, buying nuts and seeds in stores has probably a huge positive environmental effect over eating animals day in and day out. The more nuts that we consume, the more the farmers will plant those trees.

Circumstantial Diet Experiment and the One Meal A Day Diet

I am currently in Japan for a three week business trip. Therefore eating only one meal a day and also eating a high fat low carb diet is close to impossible. I am invited to mutual dinners regularly and have to eat in restaurants that do not provide my preferred food items. Needless to say that Japan is a country of high rice consumption and very low fat consumption. They seem to fear fat more than people in Germany. So the options are very limited. Olive oil for example is only available in plastic bottles (not good).

Only thing that comes close to being high fat and that is plant based are soy products. But you can only eat so much soy before also that becomes unhealthy. So I am currently on a diet experiment, even though unwillingly. But it is interesting nonetheless.
I eat higher carb at the moment and also twice a day. I thought that eating rice and higher carb again would not be so much of a deal. But this is more of a problem than eating twice daily. I now experience again why eating plant based low carb feels so good. Compared to carb meals I do not get so tired afterwards.

I have days here where I have to eat carbs for lunch and the afternoon tiredness is very bad and I also get hungry again pretty soon. My legs feel heavy and even walking around becomes too much of an effort. The only thing I want to do after eating carbs is lie down and take a nap. Whenever possible I now try to avoid the rice and go with veggies and tofu. But that is not always possible. So on a daily basis I can now evaluate the differences in those two approaches (LCHF and HCLF) as I am switching between them regularly.
Outcome: I am always feeling better after a LCHF meal. But sadly enough my energy levels are not as high as they were before when I was consistently eating high fat. So I lost some of that fat adaptation and deeper ketogenic status, because of the regular carb interruption.

Also Japan is a difficult place for eating a plant based high fat low carb diet. Nuts and seeds are either not available or around 4-5times more expensive than in Germany. For example I have not found any flaxseed here so far. And they have been a regular part of my diet in Germany. Only thing that is comparable in price are avocados. And I will incorporate more of them into my diet during the rest of my stay.

With the drop in fiber content my digestion took a hit and stools are harder to pass and are not as regular. On the other hand Shirataki-noodles (from the cognac-root) are widely available in japanese grocery stores. They have almost no calories and provide soluble fiber which seems to keep me full and provides some fermentable food for the microbiome in the large intestine.

Our Mind Is Really Our Biggest Challenge

It cannot be stressed enough how much our mind really distorts reality and therefore causes our suffering. To experience reality as it is, one first must master the filters of the mind. And this process takes time. Serious questioning and deliberate exposure to the fallacies of the mind will reveal one filter after the other. Every illusion needs to be lifted separately.

That is why enlightenment is always a long and hard process. The dropping of all ideas is not a state one can achieve in an instant and remain in such a state permanently. Our minds will always bring up filters and ways in which it distorts reality.

If we want to achieve anything great in the world and in our lives we first must learn how to see reality clearly for what it is and not what remains after we have measured it against all of our past experiences, wishes and projections.

To walk along this path of self-discovery is a very interesting journey. Even though it requires the giving up of what one thinks of as the self. All the ideas that you think construct the core of what you are, will ultimately have to take a backseat and be replaced by a more accurate picture of reality. And this process is what makes it so challenging.

Facilitate mental and spiritual growth by eating one meal a day

I would say I am observing now the second phase of eating only one meal a day.  The first phase was physical adaptation. Hunger outside of the eating window took some time to decrease in that first phase. I feel strong and well now again and am physically able to perform during prolonged fasting.

But the mental adaptation that happens afterwards takes much longer for me. And by mental adaptation I mean the uncoupling of content and pleasure from eating. Whenever I would want to feel better in the past I would eat something. It would usually be something natural and healthy, therefore I never gained too much weight. But it stilled served to distract me from closely observing what caused the slight unhappiness and emotional struggle in the first place.

But with a very small eating window of only 1-2h you are no longer able to cover feelings and craving with food. When you have covered your nutritional and energetic needs the eating of food never comes from a true physiological demand. It is triggered by emotional and environmental factors.

I am eager to see how I adapt to this very strong urges to just snack something whenever I want an emotional pick-up. At the moment I am confronting many of those opportunities with a moment of becoming fully present and observing my inner emotional state. This usually teaches me a lot through direct insight. But at other occasions I still fall short of my ideal and loose that presence and have a snack outside of my one meal. It is a steep learning curve and habits are harder to break than I thought.

I try to push through it and see how my habits have changed in about two month. How will the urges have changed? How much opportunities to learn about myself will I be presented with?

Two cheat days and why OMAD becomes difficult without spiritual practice

I recently had two days where I was eating two meals a day and also above my set caloric intake of 1500-1600kcal per day. This intake now seems to maintain my weight if I eat it in one meal and make sure that it is assimilated optimally.

But the last two days OMAD seemed somehow really hard and I gave in to eating lunch. But I guess I have learned a valuable lesson from this. The week leading upto those days I was not able to follow my meditation schedule. I had to start working much earlier than usual and did not meditate for my usual 60 minutes in the morning. And in the evenings I somehow did not have the motivation to do the full session.

So I ended up meditating for only 15-20 minutes a day and those sessions did not really get me into the desired zone of stillness, centeredness and clarity.

And now that I was able to meditate for longer again on Saturday, I could feel the full power again of a good meditation session. I put me right back into the content state of mind where I am not looking for the next thing to satisfy my longing and feeling of emptiness inside.

Therefore I think it is only possible for me to live on OMAD long term when I also stay in that mental state of inner content with what I have. Only then do I not want to seek satisfaction and numbing of my feelings through food.

I also experienced many of the bad side effects again of eating too many calories. I know those side effects well. As I have basically been eating a caloric surplus for many years. Even on a high carb whole foods vegan diet. Because I wanted to gain weight and build muscle I was always eating massive amounts of food. Comparing that to the amount I eat now, that seems enormous and totally unnecessary and possibly unhealthy.

So the bottom line is: to live on OMAD without any feelings of deprivation and suffering you have to grow mentally and spiritually. Therefore I think it is precious to have a daily meditative practice set in place that is followed with rigidity and if possible without deviation.

In my experience, skipping the daily meditation quickly sets one back into a state of restlessness and unhappiness which creates suffering if one cannot immediately stop small feelings of hunger one perceives on OMAD.
Especially temptations become harder to resist as one is not in a centered state of mind. Thoughts amount uncontrolled to a "rational" conclusion why it is okay for one to deviate from the protocol of eating one meal a day. With enough mindfulness gained through daily meditative practice one can see the root and beginning of those thoughts. And see that they are ultimately groundless.

How caloric restriction can make you feel more energetic

It might sound strange at first: consuming fewer calories leading to a feeling of increased energy. But there is scientific evidence showing that a lower caloric intake optimizes the mitochondrial energy production. That increase in cellular energy efficiency is caused by two factors, which are known today. For once the heat that is a byproduct of ATP production is reduced through an altered gene expression and modulated enzymatic reaction. This is elaborated in detail in AIR Volume 1 by Dr. Amen-Ra.

Secondly regenerative and restorative processes known as autophagy are increased. On the one hand this saves energy through a lower amount of inactive and damaged cellular components that inhibit an efficient conversion of food energy to ATP. On the other hand this increases the life span of individual cells and their components and at the same time renewing them more efficiently with a higher recycling rate.

Through those two mechanism and probably more that have not yet been discovered, a lower energy intake can yield the same amount of cellular energy with less resources being utilized.
In my own experience this leads to a greatly increased feeling of energy and mental clarity. But it took a considerable time to adapt to a lowered caloric intake in order to feel these changes. But in combination with intermittent fasting and a high fat plant based diet, the human body can feel truly efficient and adequately fueled without the feeling of deprivation.
Even though the adaptation to a very short eating window (1-2h) is not easy, it has led to a great change in how I approach food and how much satisfaction I derive from it. While resisting all the food temptation during the fasting phase, takes some initial discipline, it slowly transforms into a feeling of superior fuel utilization. That is the utilization of stored body fat to fuel all energy-requirements in the most efficient way during the fasting period. After some time all tissues adjust with an adaptation on the cellular level. They increase enzymes to utilize fat as fuel and become less dependent on glucose as fuel. Even the brain can derive a large portion of its energetic needs from ketone bodies and can reduce its glucose demand to a minimum. I think this is what most noticeably increases the feeling of energy.

The Perfect Vegan OMAD Meal

What should a meal consist of, especially if it's the only meal of the day? To augment the purposes of the one meal a day protocol, the meal needs to be designed in a certain way. It needs to be easily digested to allow for quick and efficient assimilation of nutrients.

What is the best One-Meal-A-Day?
Only in that way is the metabolism able to switch back over to fasting quickly. Which is the purpose of an intermittent fasting protocol. In the fasted state the body uses stored fat for energy. This allows for increased autophagy: the regeneration of proteins that lost their function. This process increases the robustness of the organism on a cellular level. Increased health and longevity is the intended outcome.

In order to achieve this I think the one meal of the day needs to fulfill following requirements:
  • limited in calories, as to not exceed digestive capacity
  • foods are to be consumed in the order of their digestion-time
  • to be eaten in a relaxed state and with full appreciation
  • no strenuous exercise after the meal, but moving the body is optimal for digestion
The order of the meal is in my experience also important:
  1. starting out with a nutrient dense liquid drink/smoothie (raw leafy greens and powders, limited fruit, multivitamin and -mineral supplement, ginger, enzymes, sweetener)
  2. taking a short break to allow for full emptying of the stomach (20-30min)
  3. consuming a calorically dense (raw) vegan meal high in fat and moderate in protein and carbs
  4. unblended nuts and seeds should be eaten at the end, as they take the longest to digest

What my meal looks like:

First I prepare a green smoothie. For example:
200gr Spinach
100gr Kale
10gr Wheatgrass powder
10gr Spirulina
100gr Banana
300ml Water

After slowly drinking the smoothie I start to prepare a salad which I start eating about 30min after finishing my smoothie. By that time I can feel that my stomach is empty again. If not, I will try to wait a little more.

The salad might look like this for example:
1 small zucchini, 1 tomato, 1 bell pepper, 1 onion, green leaf lettuce, 4-5 olives (everything cut in very small pieces, the overall quantity is not very much)

Blended-Nuts-and-Seeds-Dressing: (main source of calories)
  • Sprouted Seeds and Nuts or at least soaked (changing daily between a mixture of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, coconut, cacao-powder, peanuts, almonds)
  • Avocado
  • salt
  • sweetener
  • spices (also changing daily)
This meal absolutely satisfying even though I restrict my calories to about 1300-1500 per day. I often find it difficult to finish the meal because of complete satiety. Something I do not experience on a high carb diet.

Here you can read an update on what and how I eat now.

The Switch back to Dinner as my OMAD-Meal

After my two week trial with the breakfast OMAD Regimen I switched back to eating Dinner as my one meal of the day. I immediately noticed how much easier this is to implement into my day. I just have more time to exercise and prepare a good meal in the evening.

I was concerned to get hungry now in the morning. But my digestive system is not looking forward to food in the morning as I have thought. I enjoy fasting again throughout the day. Being more productive and in a clearer mental state throughout the working hours. No thoughts of food interrupt my day and I am not bothered by a lot of food being digested in my stomach.

The downside of this dinner regime is that I do not have an empty stomach when I go to bed. That has a recognizable effect on my quality of sleep. I do not sleep as deeply and do not feel so nicely rested in the morning as I did on the breakfast regimen. Therefore I am experimenting at the moment with different meal compositions and ways to prepare my food with the goal of shortening the time of digestions and assimilation. My theory is that consuming a calorically dense drink at the beginning of the meal and then waiting before eating vegetables might optimize digestion time. In that way the calorically dense foods at mixed with the most digestive enzymes first and leave the stomach faster. The calorically dilute vegetables then have more time to digest, do not dilute the digestive enzymes and do not affect the fasted state as much when they leave the stomach a couple of hours after the meal.

I will post updates on how this affect digestion time and my quality of sleep. The calorically dense smoothie consists of a mixture of soaked nuts and seeds (100-150gr in total), 5gr spirulina, 20gr soy protein, 10gr wheatgrass powder, 100-200gr frozen spinach, 200ml soy milk and sweetener (I recommend stevia or sucralose).

After that smoothie I wait around ½ hour before consuming a variety of vegetables and legumes which change daily.

Addressing what should be our most urgent question:

Why aren't we able to change our global environmental behavior in spite of the consequences?

We humans are social beings. We like to be part of a group of people that are behaving in the same way and have more or less the same values. And I think this is part of the root cause of all the environmental issues we see today.

In the 20th and 21st century we have gained enormous power fueled by fossil energy to shape the environment to our greatest comfort. Along with that we have gradually lost leaders in our society with highly developed consciousnesses and a deep understanding of our human nature (or psyche, psychology). What we now know about human psychology is far more impractical than the insights gained by deep and thorough introspection. The kind of introspection that you can only achieve through regular and long-lasting concentration on the present moment. Serious meditation is today practiced only by a small minority of people.

We lack to understand our own psyche on a global scale. Therefore we missed the opportunity to use the outcomes of our gain in scientific understanding in our favor. This can be seen directly if one compares western societies to the traditional middle eastern societies. Communities, still grounding their behavior on the active exploration of the human psyche, have a far greater understanding of how outer circumstances lead to inner happiness. Their way of life, sustainable intertwined with natures processes, lead to happiness without all the inefficiencies and destructive outcomes of "modern" western societies.

Why is it than difficult for people to behave in an environmentally sustainable way, in spite of understanding the consequences?
It is difficult because of our underdeveloped understanding of mind and psyche. Most people today are in a fragile psychological state. And in my experience this becomes only obvious after you have had some "enlightenment" experiences in the context of exploring your inner psyche with meditation. And it is therefore difficult to convey to people without such insight. But being in such a fragile (childish) state, every action taken serves the purpose of increasing feelings of well being and social integration. Even little tragedy can produce great fear and unhappiness. Many people have basically zero happiness routed in their own being. Clinging to the outer world and seeking for happiness outside of ones own mind. Lack of even the most basic understanding of the mind (e.g. that happiness is a product of the mind) leaves the human population without direction and desperate on the search for happiness in places it cannot be found.

Coming back to the original hypothesis. The feeling of social integration is what produces a high degree of safety and comfort. Being part of a larger group of people and mimicking their behavior is what covers the feeling of being lost.

Therefore we are unwilling of change to an environmentally sustainable way of living on a broader scale. Fear of being different and loosing this comforting behavior is what keeps people unconsciously from changing. On the conscious surface this is explained with rational arguments. But ultimately they are all grounded in a deep existential fear. And that is, as I already explained, coming from a lack of understanding our human nature.

In order to conserve our the natural environment we therefore must begin with clearing the fog inside our global consciousness. This starts with individuals exploring and understanding our inner psychological workings and teaching and spreading this way to other beings.

Adjusting To The OMAD - Breakfast Regimen

I have now been eating the one meal a day diet for about two month. I feel better on this eating-regimen than on any other I tried before. And I tried many: Alternate Day Fasting, 16-18h-Fasting, 3 meals a day, 5 meals a day, etc.

But with this one meal a day diet in combination with a high fat diet, I feel my best mentally and physically.

For 10 days now, I have been eating the one meal in the morning between 7am-9am but within one hour.

If you switch over your eating times, be prepared to be hungry for a couple of days. Because your body will expect food at your usual eating times. After a couple of days this should not be the case anymore. You wont really be hungry outside of you one eating window of the day. Usually hunger should start maybe an hour before you are going to eat. That way you know that you body is ready to process the upcoming meal.

I now enjoy the "only eating breakfast"-pattern because of the following reasons:

  1. Not hungry for most of the day (in fact I am so satisfied I do not even want to eat until very late in the day)
  2. Having fully digested the meal when it is time to exercise in the evening (around 5-6pm)
  3. The workout blunts any hunger (if there is any at all) and I can go to bed without having been hungry.
  4. Going to bed on an empty stomach seems to improve the quality of my sleep. I feel incredibly rested when I wake up in the morning. And because insulin is very low at this time and fat burning high, the hormones that are associated with fat burning are also high. That means cortisol is produced in higher quantities at this time. This is especially helpful at the moment because it is still dark when I have to wake up.
  5. Motivation to get up and going is high, because after a short workout (sprints or body-weight exercises) it is time to eat again.
  6. By the time I have eaten my one meal, I have a whole day in front of me where I do not need to spend time on food. No need to think about it or prepare it. I can focus on work and pursue my own goals in the evening when I come home from work.

Downsides I observed now after trying it out for 10 days:
  1. Socially difficult, as eating dinner is the main meal for most people.
  2. If working all day: looking forward to dinner at the end of the day can be motivating. (First the labor then the reward ;)
  3. Fasting and having an empty stomach during the day, in combination with drinking tea all day long can also be a nice experience. 
  4. Fasting after a hard workout might not be optimal for muscle synthesis.

I am thinking about switching back to the night-time eating pattern next week. I want to experience how my hunger adjusts back to the night time eating. Because right now I get really hungry in the morning. We will see if this changes again if I eat only in the evening for some time.

How to judge the quality of your consciousness

You can judge how developed your consciousness is by observing yourself throughout the day. In this post I will explain how you do this.

Your degree of happiness can easily tell you how far you are on your quest to increase the quality of your consciousness. Residing with your awareness in the present moment throughout every action you do will not allow unhappiness to develop. Being fully present lets you see reality more clearly with little room for unhappiness. The direct experience of the present moment is so rich that after some time you will find out that nothing is missing. And that way, if you are unhappy you know that the quality of your consciousness can still be developed further.

It is easy to go through your day almost unconscious. Always thinking a few second or minutes ahead, planning the day, the week or your life. Interacting with people but at the same time having your own projector running and overshadow what is actually going on. We do this automatically and it is mostly unconscious. We only feel it as unhappiness when our projections and ideas about how the world should be do not match up with reality.

To solve this issue and accelerate your progress, extend your meditation practice to every moment of you life. Find an anchor in the present moment that you can easily concentrate on. It will remind you to stay present. Automatically you will also observe your other thoughts and feelings. This anchor can be a body sensation for example. Or even resting your awareness in your body as  a whole, trying to observe everything that is going on.

Over time you should observe that this practice grounds you so powerfully in the present moment that you will not be truly depressed or unhappy anymore. Try it out and it might become a life long habit for you. One that changes your whole outlook on life for the better.

Sample day of my vegan one meal a day diet - high fat

I started my meal today with a small apple and a small fresh fig. Those are so delicious. But compared to my diet before where I would it massive amounts of them until I was full, now fruit tastes even better and I can enjoy it in smaller quantities.

Then I cooked spinach, green peas, onion, garlic, cucumber, carrot, curry powder and salt. All together in one pot. After it was done I added coconut cream (which I make from shredded coconut in the blender) and peanut butter. This soaks up the remaining liquid and makes the meal look like spinach with cream. It was very delicious. I ate that with some mustard and some further coconut-flaxseed yogurt. 

I noticed this meal was not so optimal to have as the one meal of the day. Mainly because it was to high in water content and I could barely eat it all. Next time I will go back to cook this kind of meal in a pan and let the water evaporate slowly. 

At the end of the meal I felt more then 100% satisfied. No more food for the day. I ate this meal between 9am-10am.

Morning Sunlight Exposure

With an increased interest in developing an optimal morning routine (which I will share in the future) I found out about the benefits of early morning sunlight exposure from a podcast by bengreenfieldfitness.com.

After I learned from his guest Dr. Mercola about the benefits of early morning (real) sunlight exposure on our circadian rhythm I experimented with it myself for some time. It is supposed to regulate the wake-sleep cycle, give you natural energy throughout the day and make your sleep more restful.

Since then I incorporated a short run into my morning routine, where I intentionally look up into the bright sky but of course not directly into the sun. Just so that I can get as much sunshine onto my eyes as possible.

I can now confirm the above mentioned benefits. I felt very awake afterwards and generally more balanced, calm and happy. And this with such an easy and free technique that takes almost no effort and no motivation to do. Just spending several minutes outside looking into the bright sky. It seems to be effective.

Therefore I recommend this simple and free technique to everyone. Especially in the wintertime it is important to catch the little sunlight that there is. Try to spend some time outside just after sunris

All Day Awareness – A Spiritual Pratice to Enjoy Life

I first heared about All Day Awareness (ADA) as a technique to increase the chance of having a lucid dream. It is used to develop a particular mindset where you are constantly aware of your sensory input in the present moment. This should help with recognizing the dream-state because this mindset is supposed to carry over into the dream. But for ADA to work for lucid dreaming, one has to combine it also with the awareness of the nature of the state one is in. It is not enough to be only present in the moment, but one has also to be aware of the quality of the state: namely is it the waking state or the dream state. This will over time develop the ability to distinguish the two and become aware in ones dreams that it is in fact the dream state.

The second use of ADA can be seen as a spiritual practice. It is the extension of the meditative practice into ones daily life. Integrated into every aspect of life, it serves as the perfect basis from which to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness of the present moment develops over time a deep understanding of ones own inner psychological workings. Observing the present moment means observing the mind. You will recognize the reactions of the mind as they arise. And not, as with most peoples perception, much later in the train of thought. It is normal to perceive reality not directly as it is, but as it appears to be after it is filtered through the mind. And this leads to most of the unhappiness.

And the practice of ADA is really a long term practice. It takes a lot of time to develop the mental ability to stay aware of the present moment. And here is how I recommend to go about this practice:

  • Choose one sense you want to start with and focus only on this. For example, chose the feelings of the body. For several weeks you will try to always feel your body. Besides everything you do try to be simultaneously aware of the sensations throughout your body. This is a vast field. You will have many different sensations. Focus on the most prominent ones first. After some time this presence will become automatic. At least partly. You will come back to this more often and easier over time.
  • After you feel comfortable with one sensory input, choose a second one that you try to be aware of at the same time. I would recommend sound, as sight is to complex in the beginning. For sound the procedure is the same as for the body sensations. Constantly remind yourself to focus on all the sounds around you.
You can stay at this stage for a long time. Practice two senses at ones for several month until you have mastered them. Simultaneously you will develop the ability to recognize every thought that arises because you are forced to be present by this practice. And thoughts usually distract you from this goal. Thinking unconscious thoughts (monkey mind) will be a distraction while thinking consciously can be done simultaneously with this practice. After some time you mind will quiet down the unimportant mind chatter. Your quality of thought will increase because you have more room for conscious decisions and your reasoning will be grounded in reality.

Try this practice and let me know how it worked out for you after you gave it a serious try. 

OMAD: Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. Which is best?

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner? Here is my list of advantages and disadvantages for all of them when you eat one meal per day.



  1. Not "hungry" for long times of the day afterwards
  2. Combined with a high fat diet, it should not leave you tired after the meal
  3. Feeling warmer during the day in winter times
  4. going to bed on an empty stomach increases night time HGH, probably better regeneration, increased muscle growth 
  5. deeper sleep which leads to less sleep needed
  6. movement of the body after the meal aids digestion
  1. difficult for some people because of social circumstances
  2. naturally less hunger in the morning
  3. some do not like to sleep on an empty stomach
  1. Same positives as with Breakfast
  2. only short time of "hunger" in the morning 
  3. socially more feasible
  4. best of both worlds: food is digested by bed-time - good HGH release
  1. difficult as well for some people because of social and work circumstances
  2. many people are working during that time and need to prepare food to eat an optimal OMAD-meal
  1. "Reward-Meal" at the end of a productive day to look forward to
  2. feeling cold during hot summers during the day
  3. after a workout: increased nutrient absorption and favorable nutrient partition
  1. Being hungry or rather "empty-stomach-feeling" for many hours of the day
  2. Going to bed on a full stomach might impair HGH release during sleep
  3. More sleep needed than compared to lunch or breakfast as OMAD-meal
  4. feeling hot during the night as the body processes the food
  5. feeling cold during the day in the winter
I have the most experience with the dinner routine so far, as I was eating the one meal a day mostly at night. And I only experimented for a couple of days with eating at different times of the day. But in the future I am going to try out the breakfast and the lunch eating pattern. I feel they have specific benefits in and of themselves.
About the dinner regimen: I really liked the idea of being productive during the day and having that reward meal at the end of the day.  But I really disliked my body having to process all the food during the night. My feeling is that food is processed better when the body also moves and one can make direct use of some of that energy. Whereas heavy workouts shortly after the meal are probably not ideal.

(edit: I no longer eat a high-fat vegan diet and not a lot coconut-fat anymore. You can read about why here.) From a high fat meal I also get a great energy boost which is more important in the morning or afternoon, rather than in the evening. With the high fat diet I do not get tired after the meal so I can eat that OMAD-meal also for breakfast or lunch.
I still want to workout before the meal, so I have to figure out how I can do that. I will post updates about the breakfast regimen in the future.

The Pros and Cons of drinking green tea while fasting

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of green tea during intermittent fasting which I observed during many month of omad and 16/8 time restricted feeding.  Here I will explain them based on my understanding of the research behind caffeine and fasting.

Let me begin with a short introduction of the effects of caffeine on the human body that are relevant to fasting. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to release  cortisol and adrenaline. Those two small glands above the liver will be forced to produce more than necessary for the moment. This causes a rush of energy above normal levels. A good feeling of arousal and alertness is the result. Free fatty acids are increased in the blood to be oxidized for energy. So far so good. The fasting energy state of the body is enhanced in the short term.

But in the long term, an adaptation to the intake of caffeine will take place. Habitual consumers of caffeine have been shown to not have an increased release of cortisol anymore. That is actually a good adaptation. You would not want to have high levels of cortisol in your body in the long term.
This also means though that your body will become dependent on caffeine to a degree in order to release those "normal" levels of hormones. Your body strives for homeostasis.

And caffeine causes a constant low level of stress for the adrenal glands. And so they will compensate with lower levels of cortisol and adrenaline without the stimulation of caffeine. This results in a disruption of the circadian rhythm, result in tiredness in the morning and arousal late at night. And in my own experience this leads to a low level depression or uneasiness and tiredness.  Whenever I am through the caffeine-withdrawal symptoms, I feel much more stable in my mood. No green tea high, no green tea low.

With further experimentation I have found out that I was consuming the green tea wrong though. Because cortisol is not constant in the body throughout the day, it follows a curve. Right after waking up, the release of cortisol reaches it's peak. And if you want to avoid most of the negative side effects of caffeine, it is best not to take first thing in the morning. So I guess most people consume it wrong.

As you can see in the graph below, it is best to wait about two to three hours after waking before starting to consume anything with caffeine. That is when your cortisol has started to drop again and caffeine will not cause the peak to be even higher. Increasing the cortisol level beyond that natural peak is just causing you to feel fatigued in the long-term and become dependent on caffeine to wake up in the morning.

Cortisol Curve
Don't drink that coffee right after waking up!

Fasting itself raises cortisol. So be careful here and closely observe how you feel and react to caffeine in the long term, if you are eating only one meal per day or use extended intermittent fasting. In my experience I do best while I consume 2-3 cups of green tea and on cup of decaf coffee per day. I usually consume the green tea between 9am and 1pm and the decaf coffee before my workout. That gives my body enough time to clear the caffeine from my system before I go to bed.

In addition, green tea contains an amino acid called l-theanine. This amino acid has been shown to have amazing effects on the brain. You can watch this video for a summary of the research results.
L-theanine counteracts some of the effects of caffeine. Green tea therefore makes you calm and focused at the same time. Compared to coffee, which usually only makes you more alert, but also leaves you feeling a little jittery. 

Be aware though that you will also develop a dependency towards green tea. If you start consuming it daily, even in the optimal window, you will want to consume it daily to reach your normal levels of energy. But as there are only positive side effects to green tea consumption, there is no reason to not consume it on a daily basis. Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person. But in my experience they are quite strong and I have a bad headache for 2-3 days and also feel quite low in motivation and even depressed for a couple of days.