Why Conscious Exploration Entails Suffering

"The magnitude of the benefits of spiritual and personal development are equal to the suffering it causes."

This is the beauty of personal development. You become free to choose the degree of your happiness. If you are not yet fully present and content with existence, you are not enlightened yet. Than you know you have not yet gone through enough spiritual suffering. The suffering on the spiritual path usually comes up during meditation as distractions in the form of memories of your life.

In meditation you want to still the mind and turn awareness in on itself.

Step by step you are discovering that non of those things were ever actually you. You continuously detach from the identification with the illusory self. That means to dis-identify with what you previously thought was you. That is painful as it can feel like you are step by step dying. But at the end of that process or in an instant you will realize your true self and die into the whole of existence.

That process has an in-flexion point, where the emptiness inside turns into all of existence. A realization will happen where you see that you are in fact larger than the entire universe. But until then, the spiritual journey can feel painful, because it is a process of continually letting go of false believes, which make up who you currently think you are.

How can you enjoy this process of self discovery, if it entails so much suffering? 
Because suffering is the byproduct of discovering your own delusions, that are actually the root cause of your suffering. A deep interest in the truth will over-shine the falling away of attachments to the illusory self. Pulling out the illusions reveals their full depth. It will reveal to you how you are pushed around by their emotional force.

But, because delusion is what the false self is at it's core, discovering those very deep truth is a painful process of self-transformation. The self wants to remain as it is. You right there, you want to maintain the status quo of who you are. Revealing the delusions in yourself is like cutting away parts of yourself, with the intention to discover that you never were those parts to begin with. Or rather that you never were those parts exclusively. Finally you will come to understand that your illusory self is part of the mind of god, which is the unchanging ever present emptiness that you are. 

The Irony of Reasoning

The irony of reasoning is hidden in its own blindspots. Every line of reasoning has its origin in faith.
Maybe you remember the time when you were a child and it seemed appropriate to always continue to ask "why?" no matter the reason your parents told you.

I remember having that period in my childhood, where I wouldn't spot asking why and probably driving my parents crazy. I just never stopped asking for a deeper meaning and why things are the way they are. But at some point we stop and usually settle for some answer.
An answer that usually explains how some event is caused by some other thing.
To be practical we have to stop at some point of abstraction that is appropriate for the situation. We don't dig deeper. In our daily life, we usually settle for very shallow answers.
We settle for one or two levels of reason. If it fits into our model of the world, we are happy with the answer. Therefore reasoning is rarely practiced consistently to the deepest levels and is instead based on faith. One thing is caused by another and that is enough to satisfy our curiosity. But what is the consequence of this? 

I suppose that we hide deeper, uncomfortable truth about reality from us. To be a philosopher in the truest sense of the word means to be committed to the truth on a deep level. To love truth for it's own sake. To be a philosopher also means to be an advocate of reasoning, but not only at the shallow levels of daily discussions. Exercising it on the deepest levels is instead the way to apply reasoning in order to obtain true insights. 

This is self-inquiry. The exercise of applying curiosity and reasoning to one's own self. This can lead to interesting experiences and I find it worth exploring.

The Survival of the Mind

Psychological survival has become more important than physical survival and is the reason for most things we do. 

Modern times make it harder to become enlightened. Distractions are plentiful.

This is the hypothesis we are going to explore in this article and discover why survival is still the driving force behind most of our actions. Consumption, travel, entertainment and most forms of distractions beyond that which is demanded by physical survival is a direct extension of this drive to survive. Our need to survive indeed extends beyond securing physical survival. You might wonder what I mean by this and why this is the case.

If we dig deeper into the nature of reality, we find that all experience is an illusion. Including our physical body and the sense of separation between us and the world. By definition an illusion needs to employ some mechanism by which it becomes invisible to the one who is deceived. We could think of this illusion as a metaphysical entity with it's own drive to survive. In eastern traditions this illusion is called ego and is the center of our being. We are literally deceiving ourselves into being. How marvelous is that?

In our modern world, most work and most activities are far removed from immediate survival. And even though we have to earn money to survive, this is only partially true. Much of what we work for is not contributing to this end directly. Only to the degree that it feeds our own self-deception. 

But with that deception comes also a lot of trouble, suffering and the covering up of Truth. This illusion has an easier time to maintain itself when we are distracted of course. When we are not even asking any suspicious questions. When we are so caught up in what life presents us with that we are not bothered to take a closer look or become serious about discovering Truth for ourselves. From this point of view, all action could be considered distraction. There is nothing wrong with that, but we have to be aware that is also the root of all suffering in the world. With a firm realization of Truth there is no suffering. Fully realized beings perceive all experiences of life as the perfect manifestation of the infinite nature of reality.

To solve this issue I recommend following the practice of all-day-awareness. Training the mind to be fully present in every moment. With the full spectrum of sensory experience, without slipping into conceptualization and thoughts our mind is constantly coming up with. Over time this will quiet the mind and facilitate the state of no-mind. A state where the joyous nature of reality shines through in every moment. Beware though, there will be no you anymore. But then, you could say, there was no you to begin with. The veil of illusion will have been lifted.

Characteristics of a Total Illusion

In this article we are going to explore the psychological process of an Illusion. We will discover how Self-Deception works in everyone of us and how it arises from deep underlying mechanisms that are interconnected with reality itself.
With that understanding we will be able to make the connection to spirituality and what are the difficulties that make true enlightenment so rare.
And in the end we will see why this is ultimately a good thing and how we can use this knowledge to our advantage.

The deception in video games

Let's take a look at the shallow illusion of video games. This technology offers an experience that many of us today can relate to. To discover the characteristics of a total illusion we will first have to define what make an illusion shallow and obvious. The historic development of video games reveals that the illusion becomes more realistic the closer it is to what we are used to experience in real life.
Game-Designers work very hard at giving characters more life like movements and the overall behavior of real humans.

It is also easy for us to imagine that at one point in the future video games will have surpassed the resolution of our senses, eventually becoming indistinguishable from our real sensory experiences.
So what else would it take to make us believe in the illusion? If we might join with all of our senses into such a game of the future we still bring with us our memories. From that we can conclude that a total deception must also include our own memories besides a perfectly simulated sensory experience.

If we ask what makes videogames so popular, we reveal another interesting aspect of psychology. What benefit do we get from spending our time in those virtual realities while obviously achieving nothing of value in "real" life?
Their appeal may lie in their ability to trigger our reward centers without requiring exertion of physical effort. They reward/cost relationship is high.

On another level they have become so good at presenting a life-like scenario that some people may be able to completely forget about their life. Usually only for a limited amount of time though.
An additional aspect of the illusion of video games is their story telling. Great games not only have great graphics but also a great story. Some goal is presented to the player that seems to be of value to achieve within the game world. The background of the characters become ever more complex. For the players to identify with them even more, in-game decision influence the development of the story and it's outcome.

If all these aspects seem to you as representative of real life, than now you can contemplate the difference between an obvious and a total deception. You may want to ask yourself the question: What is missing in these perfect game scenarios that we can still distinguish them reality? 


In order to make the illusion whole and difficult to uncover, all of our own being must be included in it. Which, again, doesn't mean that this is a bad thing. It just means that reality does not work the way that materialism makes us believe. The very mechanism by which reality comes into being is through an illusion. That is how it works. So in a sense we could also say that it is real. Just not in the way we previously believed.

In order for the self-deception to be completely convincing, our own thought process is part of it. If you tend to disagree with me here, than ask yourself, what are you listening to, when trying to find out about the illusion? The answer is likely, that you rely on your own reasoning and your own thoughts. But beware that you have no "objective" background against which you could compare your thoughts and then say that they match reality.

This is why waking up is so tricky. It is a long and difficult process to reveal all the self-deceptions of the ego. But the reward is incomparable joy and bliss that exceeds all human expectation.

Why would we lie to ourselves?

I want you to think about a past experience when you lied. What made you use a lie in that situation?
It's purpose was likely to serve you in some way. You felt threatened by something and lying seemed to be a solution to avoid that thread. So it served you or your agenda.
So why would we deceive ourselves?
First, who is deceiving who if the individual we thought we are does not exist? We could answer, that only god exists and therefore god is deceiving himself.

Similar to the Movie "The Game", we might say God became bored with resting in it's own infinite existence and wanted to feel what is it like to be a part instead of the whole. To have a limited existence and feel what it is like to identify with a part of himself.
So the ego came into existence and believes to be limited to the human body. That very thing, the ego, must be deluded in order to become a limited thing, when in reality there is only one infinite whole. If that thing wants to survive, it has to feed the lie and keep deluding itself to stay alive... 

The Philosophy of "To Have or to Be" by Erich Fromm

How is it possible that some people in our society feel an emptiness inside of them? Or a frustration with their life circumstances? That some are not happy?
Most of us don't have to struggle for survival. We are blessed to live in a rich world in which we have access to great experiences, technology we never had before and own better products than even the richest people could dream of only 100 years ago.

Erich Fromm - "To Have or to Be"

"To Have or to Be" by Erich Fromm

can give us insight into why that is.
On one level of abstraction, all experiences, whether through the use of some product or through a relationship with another person, are inherently unable to satisfy our deepest desire for unity and happiness.

Through a life-long conditioning we have been programmed to seek experiences to elicit the emotions we like and numb the ones we want o avoid. This misconception leaves us our ability to Be underdeveloped. While some people are naturally more present and in the moment, others are constantly caught up in mental stories, desires, fears and hopes. And therefore living disconnected from the only thing that is actually true. Direct experience. That doesn't mean, thoughts are not part of direct experience, but giving too much meaning to the realm of thought and concept can leave our ability to be present underdeveloped.

What does it mean to Be? 

Does that mean you have to become a monk and leave your life behind? No, that's a complete misunderstanding of what being present means.
Living in the Now, means to become a super-conductor for your experience. It means to grow your consciousness of all aspects of human experience. Including all of the negative emotions and experiences. Being completely present in each and every Moment without resistance is the ultimate goal. Life will then have become a seem less flow of experience in which nothing is inherently good or bad. No pain without resistance.

All day awareness

is the habit I have picked up years ago. The gaps in my ability to experience the richness of life has been growing over the years. Slowly but steadily. It is a skill. That sill, over time, lead to deep enlightenment experiences. Concepts about yourself and the world are slowly starting to fall away. They move from the center of your attention to the edges. And with this steady increase in consciousness and presence, a natural feeling of calmness and happiness seems to arise. Without it being the primary goal.
Setting long-term goal can and will still be part of your overall existence. But your happiness is no longer outcome dependent. Being is the state from which you can truly fulfill your Life-purpose. Indepence from outcome will become your new definition of freedom.

"To Have or to Be" will no longer be the question

At a certain level of consciousness you will clearly see that those are two different things. Whereas you were chasing waves before, you now have become the water. Waves and changes in what is going with the water are still nice, but can't fundamentally change what water is. So is happiness a quality that is on a fundamental level independent of any experience.
Which doesn't mean that your current manifestation as a human being doesn't have certain needs. In fact, those basic needs will have to be satisfied before your mind will even be able to transcend them and open up for higher States of consciousness. The model of Maslows hierarchy of needs still applies.

How to do a prolonged water fast

After having fasted for 7 days twice and once for 10 days, I became obviously very interested in the topic and studied the benefits and what it does to the body.
After having read several books on the topic and countless articles on the internet, here is my summary of how to approach water fasting to get the most benefits and make it as easy as possible.

Reines, stilles Wasser ist die Grundlage für das Fasten.

The Preparation:

A preparation is not essential but it can make your fasting experience much easier. The best tip I can give to anyone planning ahead for a water fast, is to eat a very low carbohydrate diet leading up to the fast for at least 5-7 days. During that time the focus should be put on protein intake and low carbohydrate vegetables. This will pull your metabolic shift from carbohydrates to fats ahead and out of the fast. That way you go into the fast somewhat adapted to ketosis. Of course not all cells have switched fuel sources, but wasting of lean muscle mass is greatly reduced in this way.

The water fast:

During the actual fast, it's best to consume only pure water. No salt, potassium or any minerals. Of course, depending on the length of the fast, you have to look out for any symptoms of electrolyte imbalances after a longer time period. But for hunger and the actual purpose of the fast, autophagy and to rest the bowels, you want to consume nothing that could stimulate digestion. Drinking herbal teas actually makes the fast more difficult instead of easier. The flavor signals the body to start the digestion process and it makes you more hungry rather than less.

You can decide if you want to use something like enemas or salt water flushed to "clean" out the bowels at the beginning of a fast. I have done with and without it, and both ways I had no issues. But I have found the salt-water flush to be uncomfortable and you run the risk that it does not work, which leaves you bloated and your electrolytes out of balance. Enemas are the most pleasant way to empty the bowels. If you had a lot of fiber in your last meal, an enema is a good idea, otherwise the stool might become hard over the fast if you were not able to completely pass it during the first days.

If you do the fast because you are sick and want to heal something specifically, you should rest and abstain from heavy exercise. I have found though that at least some outside walking daily is very beneficial. I have also exercised (running) during another fast and found it to be no problem. But you can only do that if you have enough fat mass and do not intend to fast as long as possible.

Drink according to your thirst. I actually found that to be difficult, because most of my life I drank a certain set amount per day. Therefore I have found the optimal amount to be when the urine remains only slightly yellow. This gives the kidneys enough water to deal with the increased elimination.
In case you experience pain in the kidney area, first increase your water intake and if that does not help, you can take half a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. This helps the kidneys buffer the acids.

Breaking the fast:

Breaking the fast can be done in several different ways. But in general it is important to start with a reduced amount and eat slowly. Expect to be back to full digestive capacity in about a third of the amount of time that you fasted. If you fasted for three weeks, slowly bring back up food intake over the course of one week.
Most fasting practitioners recommend to start with vegetable and fruit juices. I would only stick with low sugar vegetable juices as the sugar content of fruit juices can overwhelm the body. After vegetable juices I would go to steamed vegetables and whole fruits. After that cooked grains and lastly legumes and nuts.
Depending on which diet you want to follow after the fast, it is also possible to break the fast with high-fat foods. Starting with an avocado or raw nut butters is a good idea.
I have tried both approaches and both of them worked.

Interesting benefit of short 7-10 day fasts:

I have found that the greatest benefit of a 7-10 day fast, in practical terms, is that is completely resets your taste buds. That gives you the opportunity to follow any diet you want after the fast and if you consequently stick to the new diet, you can taste and enjoy foods you didn't like before.
For example, after one of my water fasts I chose to eat the diet recommended by Dr. Esselstyn. A low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet, without oil, sugar and salt.
For most people that diet is very difficult to stick to in the beginning. But coming from a water only fast, the taste buds are so sensitive that it is easy to avoid all oil, sugar and salt. You basically compress the adaptation period of about a month down to one week of fasting.

From Vegan To Carnivore And Back - What I Learned

Yes, after more than six years of eating a mostly vegan diet, I have experimented with eating mostly meat. Why did I go from one end of the dietary spectrum to the other? Why not just eat a balanced diet?

To be honest, I would like to have some of this carnivore-stamina.

In my past, I had to deal with some digestive issues and cured them through a primarily plant-based diet. But I still had some areas that I was not totally satisfied with. I like to experiment with my diet and see how different foods make me feel. That way, I ate a low-carb vegan diet for a long time now. I am generally doing some form of intermittent fasting too. Among all the vegan foods and supplements that are supposed to improve health, I was attracted and may be blinded by the simplicity of the carnivore diet. Eat meat, drink water.

As it turned out, while working on a free-range cattle farm in Denmark, I had access to a lot of meat, which otherwise would have been thrown away. In this case, I had no moral or environmental issues with eating a lot of meat. Let the meat feast begin and my experiment with the carnivore diet.

I had no issues adopting this diet coming from a low-carb vegan diet. In the beginning, I was still eating a green leafy salad every day. But I reduced it over time. And for a few weeks, I ate almost exclusively meat, still including some coconut and olive oil, but basically no fibre.

I was very surprised to learn that this did not cause any constipation. Stools were of course considerably smaller, but easy to pass. My digestion felt good all the time. Basically, the feeling is similar to water fasting, pretty much empty all the time. Something to get used to, as there is no more being "full" after a meal. Satisfaction still set in though, just through a different mechanism it seems. Instead of the stomach being stretched it is more a signal coming from the brain.

I also did some blood-tests during this time. And this is where the diet became really concerning to me. Before the test, I rode my bike for 15 minutes at a moderate pace. I say that because it might explain the high triglycerides because I haven't eaten anything for more than 12 hours.

I am particularly concerned about the high cholesterol in combination with the CRP value being on the upper end of the spectrum. This means I fall into the high-risk category for heart disease. But according to some of the keto advocates I would be classified as a "lean mass hyper responder". Which means that lean and athletic people tend to experience the highest increase in LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol. As the body as little other reserves and no glucose available it has to be able to quickly mobilize a lot of fat when exercising. To do that, the body produces a lot of cholesterol.

But I am concerned that this cholesterol is just not good for my arteries in the long run. Based on all the best available evidence, the overwhelming amount of research shows that is saver to have lower cholesterol levels. The whole foods plant-based low-fat diet is the approach with the most scientifically sound data backing it. Taking into account research funding by the industry it is clear that most of the low-carb and ketogenic research might be biased in favour of restricting carbohydrates.

Additionally, during some days on the carnivore diet, I experienced some intense chest pain, increased heart rate and blood pressure. I never had this happen before. Not even on a high-fat vegan diet.

Here is what I am going to do:

I have ended my carnivore diet around a week ago and started a water-only fast. I want to extend the fast to 14 days. Coming from a ketogenic diet is a good way to start a water fast as the body does not have to switch fuels from carbohydrates to fats. The transition period was easy.
After that, I will go back to the diet which I think is the healthiest in the long run: a whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat diet. Will I eat completely vegan? Probably not. On certain occasions, where the best quality meat is available, maybe a handful of times a year, I will eat meat. But that will still make my diet 99,9% plant-based.

This is the diet that has healed my digestive issues and has kept me feeling very good for the majority of my vegan period. But my experimentation with the low-carb approach was definitely interesting and has me taught to understand people eating carnivore. There are definitely benefits to this way of eating. But overall and for the majority of people, the whole-foods plant-based approach is by far the better option. And for the environment, it is anyways because even totally free-range raised meat requires much more land and resources than sustainably farmed plants. Not to mention that most people can't or won't afford the cost of this meat and instead by lots of factory-raised meat products.

Decision Fatique - Not Another Piece Of Information

You came across this blog looking for an answers, right?
You opened up your browser because you had some kind of question?
Your curiosity led you to search for experiences of others on the www, experiences you can relate to and learn from.
You want to reach a desired outcome by implementing what worked for others.
This is probably not the first time you use this method. This might have become your new normal.
You have a question or a problem? It surely is already out there, somebody has already lived through it and has come up with a solution. So, clearly, the most efficient way is to look it up.

Information overload? How confusion can help us see more clearly.

This is in fact not only you who I describe, but myself.
I grew up with the internet and with google. When I was younger I still had to use a computer every time I wanted to look something up and do it at home, but it was not so much different than asking google through a smartphone.

What is this new environment doing to the way we think and especially to the way we come up with solutions. How is our creativity influenced and has it changed our decision process?
How can we know what is right for us? Among all the different ways people life their lives and have made it visible through social media?
When do we reach the point where we can say we have read enough in order to make a decision?

How do we discriminate the honest from the dishonest?
Who is stuck in his story because he has created a product around the information he provides?
What resources are worth taking into account?
Can we judge the value of the information by how we feel about the person that is providing it?

You probably think that all of these questions make your decision more difficult instead of easier.
You are right and wrong at the same time. Because the resources, to deal with any deep and meaningful problem in your life, lie mostly within yourself. So you are right in the sense that the search for deep and meaningful answer from others are never going to fully apply to your own situation and is therefore highly confusing and very complex. And you are wrong because you can rely on your own insights to be fully applicable to your current situation.

I guess by the end of this you have noticed what I did here. Instead of giving you another answer or another personal life story you can compare your own to, I leave you with open questions. I hope that you embrace uncertainty and let yourself be guided again by your own creativity. I hope that, the next time you want to look for an answer on google, you pause for a second and remind yourself to tap into intuition and inner intelligence that lie already within you.
That is all we are doing here in all the blogs and videos anyways, we inspire each other and help each other learn faster and to avoid mistakes. But in the end, everyone has to craft his own unique path with it's own unique challenges and solutions. I guess that's why it's called Life.

Insights On How To Act And Achieve Your Goals

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have an easier time to challenge themselves than others? Why can some people stick to their exercise routine and others not? Why do some people take risks and work on actualizing a vision they have in mind and others stay stuck where they are?

Maybe wakeboarding is your goal

During meditation and contemplation I have gained some insights into how the mind works in this regard. At least how it is in my mind, and maybe you will find some of these to be true for yourself. 

Envision these following steps with me here to arrive at these insights for yourself.

  1. Feel what you basic mood is right in this moment.
    1. What is on your mind when you try to be as neutral as possible?
    2. Are you generally in a positive mood or a negative one?
    3. Is something bothering you right now?
    4. Get a general picture of your current emotional situation without reference to one particular situation or object.
  2. This is your baseline happiness. Research shows, no matter what happens in your life, you tend to always come back to this baseline level of happiness.
  3. Now think about some project, some goal, something you would like to do, but are not currently doing because something holds you back.
  4. Now that you have this vision in your mind, notice how the baseline mood which you identified before has blended in with this vision. 
    1. They are not separate
    2. It would take an enormous amount of imagination to actually elicit the feelings that come with that action you envision
  5. What can we take home from this observation? 
    1. It is not possible to judge any of our visions by how we feel when we think of it.

You have the goal of doing exercise first thing in the morning. You want to go for a run. Now you woke up and you feel tired and not yet energized. Exercising seems like an impossibility. You tell yourself that exercising now will feel way to hard and difficult. How do you come to this conclusion? By observing your current mood. Notice that thinking about exercising didn't give you the same mood as actually exercising does. If you actually end up going out and start exercising, you will feel the outcome of that vision after maybe 10 minutes. 

We can see from this simple example that our visions happen in a completely different state of mind than the actual lived reality of these visions. 


I think that people who have an easier time acting on their goals and actualizing their visions, have a greater ability to imagine and evoke the feelings they associate with their vision. In this way, when they think about their goal, they actually get a little boost in how good they feel and that motivates them to achieve it as well. Whereas someone who has little imagination will not have an emotional response to his visions, and that leaves him with no reason to achieve his goals. 

You can take this insight and test it for yourself. Try to infuse in your vision or goals as much emotional power as possible. Thinking about it rationally from your current level of happiness won't really motivate you. But actually connecting to the emotional level of your goals will give you a boost.

On the other end of the spectrum, I think it is important to mention that this can be taken too far. I have found that overly indulging in positive emotions associated with a certain goal can be so pleasurable that it seems unnecessary to put some actual effort in its realization. Just something to keep in mind.

Vegan Keto: Most Important Problems You Have to Avoid

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids:

The biggest problem I observed with the vegan ketogenic diet is the distribution of fatty acids. If not taken care of, the omega-6 content of the vegan keto diet can get excessively high. And this becomes a problem, because omega-6 fatty acids tend to become inflammatory if eaten in excess.

Walnuts are healthy only in limited quantities on vegan keto.

To reap the anti inflammatory benefits of the ketogenic diet, it is important to keep a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. The ratio should ideally be kept between 1:1 and 1:4 of omega-3 to omega-6.

From my personal experience I have found that it is also important to keep the total amount of omega-6 as low as possible. It does not help to try to compensate a high intake of omega-6 with a high intake of omega-3. Those fatty acids are essential, but only in small amounts. Any excess exceeds the bodys capacity to handle them properly.

What amount is too high? I have found intakes of omega-6 below 15gr per day to be okay.

This means the following nuts and seeds need to be resitricted: walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. But also almonds and peanuts to a lesser degree. This makes the vegan ketogenic diet even more restrictive to some people.

The focus should be put on coconuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocados, olive oil and high oleic varieties of peanuts and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds should be added to the daily diet in amounts of about 20-30gr per day.

I have recently found a source of high oleic peanuts and added them to my diet. They have made this diet a lot more sustainable. I love peanuts and being able to eat them daily made them the best discovery for this diet.

Roasted Nuts and Seeds:

The second biggest trap you could fall into are roasted nuts and seeds. Especially store bought roasted nuts, where you can't control the temperature. This might be one of the reasons why you don't feel good on a plant-based keto diet. Roasted nuts and seeds are often fried in cheap omega-6-rich vegetable oils. These should be avoided at all cost, if your aim is optimal health and longevity. 

The roasting process oxidizes the unsaturated fatty acids and makes them act as free radicals in the body. The vitamin E content of roasted nuts is greatly reduced.

The same goes for nut and seed butters. Often times they are roasted and then ground into a paste at high processing temperatures.

Solution: Buy raw nuts or seeds and roast them yourself so you can control temperature and time. I recommend you roast them for 20min at 120°C, just to the point where they are fully cooked but have not yet turned brown.
For nut-butters, I  have found brands that use no or low roasting temperatures and grind them carefully. You need to try a few until you find the best ones. 

I hope these tips will help you reap the benefits of a plant-based low carb or ketogenic diet, loose weight, enjoy your food, feel satisfied and mentally sharp, all without having to eat tons of animal products that harm our environment and our health. 

Optimizing Keto (Complete Guide)

With the ketogenic diet becoming so popular right now, I feel that it is very necessary to provide a plant based view on the diet. I myself am eating a plant based (mainly whole foods) ketogenic diet. And I feel that this approach combines two very powerful concepts and avoids the negative outcomes from high animal product consumption.

By volume, my diet is mostly leafy vegetables...

When you read reports on the internet from people, who switch to a ketogenic diet high in animal products, often times they still report great increases in their health and well-being. Many of them loose weight and build muscle. So it is clear that the diet provides some mechanism by which the body is better able to generate energy without too much harmful byproducts, as is the case when large amounts of processed carbohydrates are mixed with fats and proteins from animals. This western diet is clearly the worst of all dietary choices and eliminating one bad food group (processed carbohydrates) is clearly a step in the right direction.

...by calories, my diet is mostly nuts,
especially coconut.
When carbohydrates and fats are eaten together in an hypercaloric environment, they prevent each other from being metabolized efficiently by the body. From my own experience I can say that both approaches work (high-carb, low-fat as well as high-fat, low-carb). But they work because of different mechanisms and these macro-nutrient-ratios do not tell the whole story. In both cases I think it is important to stick with mostly whole foods. A low-fat diet doesn't work well if the diet is composed of refined grains or even whole grain flour products. Carbohydrates must predominantly come from slow digesting, fiber-rich sources, such as vegetables, fruits and beans. (Although some high calorie fruits like bananas can be too calorically dense and relatively devoid of nutrients)

Why you should not choose a meat-based approach to keto:

I am not saying you can never have meat or animal products if you want to be in optimal health. They can surely be eaten in small amounts without having negative health consequences. Before we dive into the all positive aspects of plants on a ketogenic diet, here follows a list of why you want to limit animal products to 1-2 servings a week.

  1. On a keto diet you consume high amounts of fat. Choosing animal sources of fat is not a good idea because environmental toxins are mainly stored in the fat tissue of animals. Read more
  2. Regular consumption of animal protein raises IGF-1 to excess levels, promoting tumor growth. Read more
  3. Animal protein consumption raises cortisol levels and lowers testosterone. I have experienced this myself after occasionally eating meat in the evening and every time having trouble sleeping afterwards. Read more
  4. Animal protein accelerates the aging process through increased levels of methionine, cysteine and leucine. Read more
  5. Meat can negatively influence the composition of the gut-microbiome, leading to the production of carcinogens in the large intestine. Read more

This list is unlikely to be complete. I am sure, science will discover more aspects of nutrition in the future.
If health reasons are not convincing you to at least limit animal product consumption, environmental reasons might still be important to you. Drastically increases ones meat consumption, as many ketogenic dieters do, is environmentally absolutely unsustainable if more people would follow this diet. There just not enough resources to feed so many animals and not enough fields to take up all of their waste. But I am repeating myself.

Benefits of the whole-foods plant-based approach to keto:

What foods are we talking about here?

Hazelnuts, Coconut, Almonds, Flax Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Cacao Beans, Avocados, Sesame Seeds, Peanuts, Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Soybeans, Cashews, Olives.
These are the foods I eat the most of, from a caloric perspective. And also in roughly that order. 

All of these foods come with a multitude of health benefits, They all contain fiber, minerals, vitamins, polyphenols, antioxidants and protein. Carbohydrates are present in most of them as well, but only in very small amounts and they are very low glycemic. This leads to a state in which the body produces almost no insulin to process these foods. They release their fat-content slowly over the course of several hours and do not spike blood-sugar or blood-triglycerides. Consumed in their raw form and with an eye on the overall omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, they provide steady energy from unoxidized, heart-healthy fatty acids. 

Important note on roasted nuts:

To avoid negative health consequences it is very important not to consume roasted nuts or seeds, as they contain high levels of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) and oxidized fatty acids. Which both act like free radicals in the body and can damage tissues. Keeping an eye on this is important and make the difference between success and failure on this diet. Most store bought nuts are either fried in vegetable oils or roasted at too high temperatures, especially peanuts and all flavored nuts. When you see that a nut is brown on the inside, you can be sure it is oxidized and full of AGEs. Avoid those. If you prefer roasted, than buy them raw and lightly roast them yourself with an eye on temperature and time (20min at 100°C should be okay). 

Coconut and saturated fat on the ketogenic diet:

Shredded coconut is a major part of my ketogenic diet. I eat it at almost every meal. If you have read about the ketogenic diet and the role of LDL and HDL cholesterol, you will know that high levels of both do not indicate a harmful metabolic state. They are proteins that carry fat in the blood-stream and deliver to the cells. So a high-fat diet will naturally increase the presence of those proteins.
Why is then LDL cholesterol considered a risk-factor for heart disease by most doctors? This is complicated topic and it probably takes a long time until we know all the details of how the body works. But new meta-analysis like this one are coming out and are going to change our view on saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels.

Good for your environmental conscience:

By eating plants as a source of your calories your diet will also have a major positive impact on the environment. Moving away from growing grains and other seasonal crops to planting trees for our foods sources, such as nuts, will be good for the climate by storing CO2, provide a habitat for a variety of species and causing less soil disturbance, among many other positive changes.

By volume, your diet will consist of mostly leafy vegetables, if you want to optimize your health. All vegetables that are lowest in carb are also very nutrient dense on a per calorie basis. By combining large volumes of those vegetables with the high caloric density of nuts, you can optimize your intake of micro-nutrients. The problem on a high-carb diet is that the relatively nutrient-poor grains already take up a lot of stomach-volume, so that it becomes uncomfortable to eat the amounts of vegetables required for optimal health. But the combination of vegetables and nuts is perfect in my opinion. Protein and carbs never digested well for me, whereas fats and protein digest perfectly together and also increase the nutrient absorption from the vegetables.
I strive to eat at least 500gr of raw vegetables and 500gr of cooked vegetables a day.

Here is what a ketogenic day of eating might look like for me in cronometer:

Even though some people consider 40gr net-carbs to be on the high-end for a ketogenic diet, I think it is not going to reduce utilization of ketones at all. All those 40gr of carbs are bound to fibers and are released very slowly so that they are immediately picked up by the cells of the body without the need for any significant amount of insulin. All the fiber is also going to be turned into ketones by the bacteria in the large intestine, further contributing to ketone-levels.

Most people apply the ketogenic diet to achieve a caloric deficit without having to experience too much hunger. This is one major advantage of this diet. But some people (like me) are actually on this diet and eat a caloric surplus to gain muscle. The benefits we are after are the anti-inlammatory effects of the ketones and to avoid the negative side effects of excess carbohydrate consumption. What follows are therefore my explanations of the combination of exercise and keto.

Exercise on keto:

Keto in a caloric surplus

In order to build muscle and gain weight, it is necessary to eat a caloric surplus if you are already lean. The major benefit of doing this on keto is that the body can very efficiently utilize the excess calories from fat, compared to carbohydrates. Storing excess carbohydrates is a messy process. The liver has to convert them to fat and this spikes triglycerides, which is bad on a high-carb diet. The steady energy-supply from fats on the other hand provides growing muscle with a constant supply. And most importantly, the anti-inflammatory nature of the diet (or rather of the ketones) counteracts most of the negative effects of over-feeding. 

Working out on keto:

Most people would describe the process of building muscle as slower, when compared to a high-carb diet. But I would argue that you also limit the fat gain (if you keep an eye on overall calories), while building muscle based on strength rather than on the "pump". Working out on keto is different. It does not allow for huge volume in a single session, for a single muscle. The "bro-science one body-part per day-split" does not work well with keto. After the initial adaptation I have found that I am able to train very heavy (1-3 reps) without any performance loss, while the medium rep ranges from 5-10 were a little compromised. On the other end of the spectrum, 20+ reps were possible as well. 
And I had to keep the overall number of sets per muscle lower. While I have never been a fan of the above mentioned split training, where you train a muscle once a week with high volume, I had to switch to even lower volume to keep the intensity high at each set. 

That means, the best approach for any natural lifter (especially on keto) is to train every muscle as frequently as possible with heavy weights (1-5 reps) and 3-4 sets per muscle. For me, this has turned into High-Frequency-Training, where I train my whole body 5-6days a week, with 7-9 exercises in each workout. Squatting, pressing and pulling every-day. Never to failure and always choosing the weights according to how the warm-up sets feel on that day. I think this is the optimal approach for weight-training on keto. It gives the muscle enough time to replenish glycogen store before the next session as it does not deplete them significantly.

Cardio can be done on the ketogenic diet (after the initial adaptation) without any performance loss. But it might take a couple of month before your level of endurance reaches higher than before. What I particularly like about aerobic exercise on keto is the fact that I need to breathe less. Fat burning requires less oxygen and when you are working hard this can be a tremendous relieve, making the exercise feel less demanding.

Infinite Potential for Exploration

The inherently limitless nature of reality means that there never is a lack of something. Experience can venture out in every dimension without boundary. The slice of experience, which you call "your life" is just one of an infinite number of possible stories of experience.

Whenever you start to explore the nature of reality, you will encounter a limitless ocean of interconnections, explanations and experiences... until you discover the flipside of the coin. This is the moment you discover that nothing ever really happened. That all of this, what you call reality, is actually encompassed by nothingness. That there is no outside, and therefore no inside. The absolute mindfuck. That there is nothing, but that it is alive and moving. Every piece in existence finds it's opposite pole and annihilates itself.

To experience what is described here is only possible with a strong dose of psychedelics. At least that is my experience so far. No amount of meditation or self-inquiry has yet provided me with the same depth of insight that I got out of my psychedelic encounters. Be careful and educate yourself before embarking on a psychedelic journey. It can be challenging and at times overwhelming experience. Always start with a low dose and slowly increase over time.

Simplicity of Truth

A statement can be defined as true only within the limits of a certain system. There can be an infinite number of systems. Which in themselves can produce an infinite number of true statements. For example within mathematics.

Each system is a subsystem (or rather a part) of reality. Therefore no system is able to make a true statement about the nature of reality. The infinite nature of reality always escapes any set number of rules.

Further, each statement about reality is made from a certain, finite point of view within infinite reality. The search for an ultimately true statement always reveals it's own tool or mechanism by which it tries to define reality as inadequate and illusory.

Truth is undefinable. No statement can ultimately be made about it. That's why it is so difficult to talk about enlightenment.

The Power of Yes: An Approach to Mindfulness

All Day Awareness or mindfulness in daily activity is the extension of formal meditation practice into your daily life. Over time I have found this practice to be extremely powerful in transforming my outlook on life, my happiness, my capacity to witness emotions, my ability to concentrate, my contentment in difficult situations, my ability to reason and in general my feeling of well-being.

Embracing all of (your) reality.
But there is an important aspect to this practice that I want to talk about in this article. And that is how to approach this state of radical openness of whatever arises in the present moment. 

When you practice awareness of the senses and your thoughts, automatically another function of your thoughts will arise. Your thoughts (or your ego) will try to hijack your higher state of awareness. You will start to hear comments about your mindful observer mode. Thoughts will try to take over this new position of being aware of the rest of your experience. This happens in really sneaky ways. If you are mindful you will hear a lot of commentary when you witness your current experience. Comments about other thoughts, about emotions, about sounds, sights and feelings. And those commentary thoughts will claim to be the observer, it is easy to identify with those commentary thoughts. Include those commentary thoughts also in your mindful observation. Treat them as any other sensations. This is difficult step and requires and additional level of mindfulness.

And the main reason for this article is the attitude with which we approach mindfulness. It is like the color of the filter through which we observe our moment to moment experience. As soon as an  experience has some special meaning to you, your mind is going to judge and comment on it. And with applying the right filter we can learn and embrace more of what we experience. And the filter I recommend is a Yes to all of your experience. 

What does this mean? Welcome everything. Be of no resistance to what appears in your consciousness. Be a superconductor. Let everything flow through you. Open the flood-gates as wide as possible. 

A Yes feels widening and freeing, whereas a No feels constricting and limiting. Allow yourself to feel also the emotions that are commonly labeled as bad. You begin to embrace the full spectrum of your humanness. Experience will become richer. You will learn that challenging emotions only become problematic when you try to resist them. We cannot change what actually exists. We can only observe and learn, so that we may create a different future. 
When you allow all emotions to flow through you, they quickly resolve and you can observe them with an open and genuine interest, like a scientist who wants to learn more about how his inner mind works. 

Learning by observation greatly helped me to understand situations and my resulting judgments and desires. Often times the root causes will be revealed, but without a rational explanation. Instead you will know in every moment the underlying emotions that triggered your current state of mind. This is a kind of self-knowledge that only observation and no rational talk-psychotherapy can teach. 

You always have the possibility to control the level of openness though. Should the emotions become too overwhelming ,for example when you are dealing with some serious trauma, you can still put the lid on. But as long as you remain firmly rooted in the presence of wide open awareness, you will feel that none of the content that appears can actually hurt you. Your identification with any content in your awareness will greatly decrease. You realize there is no difference between you and consciousness. There never was any separation. You are consciousness. And all that ever happens IS. Changing, fleeting, ultimately groundless and substance-less, self-aware appearances. On a deeper level of reality consciousness is not separated from that which appears. It is all just ISness as different forms and in different dimensions (as the sensory experiences and thoughts). 

Summary of the benefits to approaching your experience with a Yes instead of a No:
  • negative emotions don't last as long the less we resist them
  • as an open observer we are not longer fully controlled by our emotions 
  • we gain the ability to do the best in more and more situations
  • from observation we can learn where our current motivations are grounded in
  • our experience becomes richer and we act more authentically
  • we open ourselves up to have realizations about deeper aspects of reality
  • we will feel happier with our moment to moment experience
  • fears and worries have less of grip over us
  • getting lost in mental scenarios about the future or past is less likely

The Nature of Memories

How our minds construct memories

When I think about my past, I unconsciously assume that what I have in my mind is actually a pretty good representation of the events that happened. You have probably already learned that this is not the case. Our brains are not truth machines. But rather survival-machines. Energy was highly important in our evolutionary past and conservation of energy an important adaptation. This resulted in a sorting mechanism for your memories that is geared towards securing your survival, so that you can pass on your genes and keep your offspring alive long enough so they can do the same.

Old Train
The further we go back in time the more vague our memories are

This situation is fundamentally counterproductive if we try to remember the past as it actually was. Emotions and sensory input blends into a vague feeling of who and what it was that we encountered in that situation. Inner and outer world have no clear distinction. And to make it worth, every time we remember or tell our friends about a past event, our memory actually changes. What we remembered in the past of an event becomes the event. This is where it get's interesting.

Over time we construct a story of who we think were in the past. The further we go back in time, the more we become the stories which we have told ourselves and others about ourselves. A few of our memories stand out more than others, even though they only represent a tiny slice of our past. We need to realize here that what we think we are, is mostly a self constructed story. Our egos are these self-constructed, biased stories we believe was actually our past. The ego is larger than this, but this is a fundamental part of it.

How this understanding leads to deeper insight into ourselves

The first step is the realization of this. If we understand that the past is mainly a self-created story in our minds, which is geared towards survival and not a mechanism to accurately represent truth, it allows us a greater degree of freedom. In not taking the past so seriously, we gain another degree of freedom. It opens us up to the path of truth-realization, in the sense that we can now begin to realize what we truly are. A story, among an infinite number of stories, playing itself out as it has to. Because otherwise, absolute infinity would miss exactly your current experience. We gain the freedom to realize that in all this, there is no consciousness which is separate from appearance. That appearance is inherently self-conscious, and that what we are is not what we thought we were.

We become free from the limitations of the ego through the realization that the self-identification is no more than a story. And this story is playing itself out without a separate I. But with strong attachments in the dimension of thought and with a particular strong emphasis on thoughts about a largely illusory past, which it calls "I".

Further down this path, it opens us up to the deepest insight into our human psyche. Which is the insight that we are not that story and that what we are is not separate from the ground of all being. The stateless state that already existed before our universe with all it's inherent qualities and dimensions of time and space was born. That state where all of existence is fundamentally one and not yet manifested as the seemingly separated world which we perceive now.

The practical methods

There are people out there, many of them following the neo-advaitans, who believe that the logical understanding of this is already enough and all is already realized. In my experience this is not true. The manual is not good enough, we also got to practice. And most enlightened beings have worked hard to reach a high level of truth realization.

If you want to improve your capability to deal with your every day life, than I recommend you install a daily meditation practice. Meditate for about 30-60 minutes every day and make it a habit. Largely focus on developing concentration. Sit still and allow yourself to rest in simple being and focus on the breath.

If you are interested in seeing through the illusions of the ego for yourself you got to do self-inquiry and probably psychedelics.

If anything, I would wish that this article gave you some sense of freedom. I hope you were able to realize that you are in the position to choose how much of yourself you want to be defined by this story of your past. Maybe it can even set you free to discover those realization and insights for yourself.

How to prevent muscle twitching on a ketogenic diet

I made a pretty interesting discovery about the mechanism behind muscle twitches (also called benign muscle fasciculation syndrome) in relation to a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet. I gave the very low carbohydrate diet many attempts in the past. Whenever I would lower my carbohydrates below around 50 grams per day, I would get muscle spasms all over my body. A muscle would contract only once and then a few seconds later another muscle somewhere else would contract. Most of the time it wasn't visible but I could feel it every time. It feels like all your muscles are charged and could contract every second.

Muscle Twitching
With muscle twitching, it feels like your body is always a millisecond before a contraction

I have discovered what causes this on a ketogenic diet. And even though I mentioned before that salt was helping, it actually has nothing to do with salt. Any relief from a high salt intake was only temporary and I would have to take increasing amounts of it. (At this point I also want to mention that I no longer follow a ketogenic diet, you can read a new blog-post about my current diet.)

I will tell you how I discovered this and how you can prevent this on a ketogenic diet.

As I was researching these symptoms in relation to keto, electrolytes and magnesium were always mentioned. But both would not help. So I didn't find the solution here yet. 

One day I researched keto in high altitudes because I was planning to go on a hike in the alps. With nuts as my fuel source as they are the most calorically dense whole plant food. I found out that eating ketogenic while in high altitude can be tricky. And here it also gets tricky and technical to explain this.

As the air is less dense at high altitude, you have to breathe a higher volume of air to absorb the same amount of oxygen. This is problematic because the body will lose a certain amount of CO2 per air volume that is breathed in and out. It takes a couple of days for the body to adjust to this and reduce CO2 loss. 

In the cells, there needs to be a balance of CO2 and O2. So with the loss of CO2, the cells are also not able to take up enough O2 which can be deadly in extreme cases. That is also the reason why hyperventilation (aka Wim Hof breathing) is dangerous. Don't do it. You won't increase O2 levels by doing this but actually decrease cellular O2 levels exactly because this balance needs to be maintained. In order to prevent the loss of CO2 (and therefore O2), the blood vessels in your brain restrict and you feel dizzy. 

The problem with ketogenic diets in high altitudes is that, as the body uses fats as it's the main source of calories, it needs less oxygen for the same amount of energy output. Less oxygen utilization means also less production of CO2. This is widely known and used to measure an athletes state of fat utilization through breath analysis, so I won't go into that here. At high altitude, this can potentially be a problem, because less CO2 is available in the cells. In altitude, the increased breathing volume pulls the CO2 from the body, and O2 levels might drop to critically low levels. But here the body can adapt over time as well and you also require less oxygen, so it balances out.

But what has all this to do with muscle twitches on keto?
I did not make this connection until a couple weeks later. I was trying the very low carb diet again and had the same issue. Muscles started to twitch, salt did not help anymore and so I ended up researching for benign fasciculation syndrome. It is not so uncommon and many people experience it at least once throughout there lifetime.
Probably everyone knows the annoying eyelid twitch. But that is not what I had. My muscle would twitch only once and then another one would twitch.

And then I also found this video. It is in german, but this doctor made a genius discovery. He has discovered that CO2 is relaxing and that low levels of it lead to nervous system over-excitement. He has connected the CO2 loss in his patients to increased breathing, caused by stress. Everybody knows that in stressful situations you increase your breathing. In order to quickly run away from a lion, this was probably a helpful adaptation. But constant low-level stress (where you sigh) has the negative side-effect of increased loss of CO2. Low energy levels because of low cellular O2 levels follow.

Through controlled and slow breathing I was able to completely stop my muscle twitching. It took only about half a day. I guess after a couple of weeks of strict keto this side effect would have subsided by itself. But I never went that long to find out because I was too concerned about it and increased my carbs. Now, after eating ketogenic or very low carb for a long time, I never have this issue anymore. The body adapts to the decreased production of CO2 by holding on to more of it, it seems.
Interestingly, I only get the twitches sometimes after intense exercise. Which, for me, is another sign that this theory could be true. Because, after intense exercise, the increased breathing persists for some time after you actually finish and you lose CO2.


The adaptation to keto is partly comparable to the adaptation to high altitude. Because less CO2 is produced in the burning of fats, the body has to adapt by conserving more of it. This could also explain why some people feel the keto-flu, where they feel low in energy. 
The solution is simple though. Pay special attention to your breathing for a while and breath slowly and regularly. While sitting, I am now at about eight in- and out-breath per minute. 

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If Consciousness is the Ground of Reality, can we explain everything with it?

Theories of everything have an interesting aspect to them. Whenever someone tries to explain the universe, he has to be granted at least one ultimately mysterious agent. In the religions, it is god that is never questioned. But where did he come from? That can never be answered within the religious world-view.
In the scientific world-view, we could say it began with the big bang. Where did it come from? What was before the big bang? We don't know yet. And, if our theories ever predict what was before the big bang, than what caused that thing? What was before that? This line of reasoning will also never end. You can always ask another why.

At one point every explanatory model, a so called "theory of everything", has to be granted it's one free and unexplainable variable from which the theory can then explain everything else.

Now it gets interesting. Once it is understood, that we will always have one fundamentally mysterious and unexplainable event that "caused" everything or with which everything can be explained.

In the scientific world-view there is a physical universe outside of ourselves, which needs to be explained and it should have started with the big bang. In the religious world-view there is also an independent outside world and it was created by god.

What do both of these have in common, making them a very risky model to base our world-view on?
They are both events for which we, in our own experience, have no direct evidence. Where is the big bang or god? Do they really exist? No. Not more than any other idea. They might be true, but we have to say that we do not know. If we could see visions of god or the big bang, does that proof that those visionary impressions of ours had anything to do with creating the whole thing? We can never know.
The thought of a physical, material world outside of our perceptions is already a believe. Empirically we can never know this. Postulating this and then trying to explain all of reality on that underlying, unspoken assumption is never going to be successful. Science is hiding it's most basic assumption from us. The assumption that there is an underlying, independent physical universe. Science, in the field of quantum physics, has also already shown that everything is based on consciousness.

The moon really is only there when we look at it.

So it would be wise to base our explanation of the world on something we know for sure, 100%. What is it, that we unmistakably know for sure? Imagine you had an accident and all your sensory inputs would be wiped out. Imagine that that accident even wiped out your ability to think. What would be left? What could you still know for sure? If the world does not exist anymore, what remains?

I am conscious. I am. I exist. Could anything else ever be known for sure? Everything else arises within consciousness. But it is possible to explain everything from this knowledge:

If this interests you, I can really recommend you read Bernardo Kastrup's book: "Brief Peeks Beyond".

Why I no longer eat OMAD and what I do now

In the past, I have experimented with eating one meal per day (OMAD) on a ketogenic diet. And I am sure I will at some point in the future go back to eating only once a day. But why did I stop and why doesn't it fit my current situation?

Beans and lentils are a major part of my diet

Energy in = Energy out
This simple equation explains why I cannot eat only one meal per day at the moment. When I was eating only one meal per day, I had a sedentary job and was doing only about 20 minutes of body-weight exercises per day. Now on the other hand I lift heavy 6 days a week and ride my bike for about 40 minutes and swim in an ice-cold lake on a daily or weekly basis. This and the goal of gaining muscle requires me to eat a lot more on a daily basis. If you are not interested in either a lot of daily activity or in gaining any weight, then OMAD is probably the best diet for you to gain maximum longevity- and health benefits.

Lowered digestive capacity
For many years I struggled with Crohn's disease and still do to some extend. Which means that I have to be very careful not to eat any foods that trigger a bad reaction in me. That shows me that my digestive capacity and the robustness of my digestive system is lower than in other people. I have found out that it is better for me to eat a meal that is below my digestive capacity, which means smaller portion sizes. It takes me unusually long to digest large meals and this shortens the fasting part of the OMAD approach which is the whole point of doing it.

Constant muscle twitches with a high-fat diet
In my experience, the OMAD approach is better suited for a relatively high-fat diet. I tried out a low-fat approach, but it was absolutely impossible to eat enough calories that way. Eating a diet high in fat though is perfect for intermittent fasting. While fasting you utilize mainly fat for energy and therefore eating a high-fat meal allows the body to efficiently use that fuel. Switching back and forth between carbohydrate- and fat-metabolism gives many people a feeling of low energy.
I had the additional problem that my muscles would start to twitch all over my body when I ate a high-fat diet. I have tried many different things to solve this, but have not found a solution. The only thing that stopped it was going back to a mainly carbohydrate-based diet, which is better suited for eating several meals per day.

I actually figured this problem out. You can read about it here.

What I do now
I adopted a flexible approach to fasting. I like the feeling of fasting. Therefore I do about one 24 hour and two 16-18h fast-days per week. I closely monitor my weight though and if I do not see a slow but steady increase in my weight of about 1 kg per month I will have to reduce that even further.

I also switched away from the high-fat approach back to a high carb diet. My diet is about 70% of calories from carbs, 15% from each protein and fat. Some days my fat intake might be around 20-25% though.
I am still eating whole plant foods, but I have also found that I need some fatty foods like nuts and seeds in my meals in order to feel satisfied. But the main component of my diet are foods high in complex carbohydrates. I eat a lot of lentils, peas and beans. I combine those with grains like millet, buckwheat, oats, whole wheat pasta and granola in order to adjust the calories. Most of my meals also contain several hundred grams of different vegetables. I eat some type of cabbage almost daily, red cabbage, brussel sprout, broccoli or cauliflower.

This is my current diet and I feel quite energetic on it. It is also very affordable as I buy only basic ingredients and cook most of my meals at home. In case you have any questions or want to know about how to start a healthy whole-food plant-based diet, feel free to shoot me a message through the form on the right (not visible on mobile version).

The Psychology Of Daily Cold-Exposure

I started winter-swimming in a nearby lake six weeks ago. During the last two weeks I have been doing it daily and I plan to continue to do so. In this post I want to reveal the insights I had into my own psyche from this experiment.

 Test of your mindfulness

What happens in your mind when you face a painful and counter-intuitive challenge every-day. As I am practicing mindfulness throughout the day it is especially interesting to observe my mind when faced with such a challenge. The water has a temperature of around 4°C. Outside temperature is often between 3-9°C the last couple of weeks. On some days I encounter the additional joy of strong winds, which make the time after swimming equally cold until I am dressed up again.

Your mind makes you suffer not the experience
What I found is that the mind is inherently bad at predicting the degree of pain and suffering. When approach the lake and getting undressed my mind comes up with all sorts of excuses of why it is better not to do it today. This quickly becomes tricky business. The mind is quickly deceiving you into believing something else than the truth. The exaggerated fears and the anticipated pain quickly becomes entangled with all sorts of other excuses, like catching a cold or freezing to death. Which of course is mostly non-sense if you approach it with careful and gradual cold-exposure. 

This practice makes it unmistakably clear that thoughts have nothing to do with who we are. The decision to go into ice-cold water every day is not made by the thoughts. If I were the thoughts, I would not go in the water. The doubts and the thoughts that say no are in the mind-space while something else just goes in the cold water and stays in there for as long as the timer demands. 

Becoming a superconductor
Make no mistake, the water causes you a lot of pain, especially in the hands and feet. The meditative practice here is to become a superconductor for this pain. As long as you don't resist it, it isn't painful. This is a beautiful experience. You experience that the sensation we call pain is inherently empty. By staying with it in every millisecond without resisting it, there is no pain. But as soon as the mind fights it, wants to change it, can't accept reality and wants the present moment to be something else than what it is, there comes the pain. Shinzen Young talks about this in his meditation technique, which he calls strong-determination-sitting. You can experience something similar within seconds of entering ice-cold water. It's a true test for the strength of your mindfulness-muscle. 

Not believing the fearful predictions of the mind
Very quickly we believe in the scenario that our mind presents us with. You think about some future dream of yours but your mind comes up with all sorts of bad consequences that might happen... Don't be so quick to believe what your mind is presenting you with here. But don't go to the other end of the spectrum where you do not think at all about the consequences of your actions. 

What you can do instead is ask yourself: How likely is it that the scenario my mind has come up with will happen? And if it happens, would it even be as bad or painful as my mind makes it seem at the moment? What can I learn from my past experience? How have the situations I encountered actually turned out when I predicted them to be bad, fearful or painful?

It is funny to be in ice-cold water and to experience that very thing you feared. I already started laughing about myself several times and thought: What? This is the thing I feared and wanted to avoid? It's not inherently bad at all. And afterwards it feels genuinely good to have overcome and seen through the fear and pain once again.