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Commander Mark Divine on Fueling and Nutrition

By August 3, 2016 August 10th, 2020 No Comments

“There have actually been some great research studies recently… but they also look at some of the tribes or cultures that have the longest lifespans and note that they eat less.” –Mark Divine

This week we have the first part of a series of solo-casts called The Three Pillars of Longevity. The first pillar is fueling, which includes macro-nutrients, hydration, and breathing. How we fuel is an essential part of our overall health. Do you want to know how to optimize your eating so you can enjoy training, work and time with family? Don’t miss this podcast.

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Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, this is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me again. Today I have a solocast and I’m calling it the Three Pillars of Longevity. Part One.

Before I start, may I remind you to please, if you’re up to it, rate this podcast on iTunes.



So what are the three pillars of longevity? Well, these are my ideas on the three most important elements of optimal health that will lead to a long life without any of the debasing effects of ill health or nutrition-based diseases. What I’m talking about is becoming our own healthcare system, where we enact principles that have the possibility of eliminating the need to ever visit a doctor again. Certainly eliminating any potential for a nutrition-based disease, which accounts for most of our current healthcare issues.

A human being, I believe that, if born healthy, can remain healthy throughout life and even extend life beyond what might be common today, by reorienting your beliefs about human health, and also dialing in some habits in these three areas that I call the Three Pillars of Longevity.

Now these principles are not new. They’ve been used by wise people and tribes for thousands of years to overcome sickness or to prevent sickness. And to master optimal physical health and vitality. But the pillars have been largely obscured or even distorted by modern nutritional science and the big pharma sponsored health system, which is clearly focused on sickness rather than health.

I believe that an earnest quest by all of us to master these pillars, though it may not bring immortality, will greatly improve the quality of our lives. And not only that but the vibrancy and the energy that we have to bring to our families and our professional careers.

What are the three pillars? They are: fueling, recovery, and integrated training. Now this is a pretty big topic, and will end up as a chapter or two in my next update to my Unbeatable Mind book. But in this podcast, I’m just going to focus on fueling, the first pillar.

So, the idea or notion of fueling as a pillar of excellence requires an overhaul of how we think about food, and how we fuel our bodies. Now throughout history, there have been certain small pockets of humans and individuals who’ve discovered this wisdom and have been able to maintain a vital, healthy body and mind well into their hundreds. Some even beyond, if you believe the stories.

These cultures and these individuals have a very different relationship to food and fueling than most of us today in the west. And they lived to this ripe old age as vibrant, healthy contributing members of society. Not broken down, in the hospital, dealing with terminal illness, or in a nursing home. And they don’t require an army of doctors, supplements or drugs, and a trillion dollar healthcare industry to achieve this vitality.

Now their discovery was that they’re meant to fuel. Naturally the human is meant to fuel the body with air, water, micro- and macro-nutrients from optimal quality sources, in the right quantities, at the right times and for their minimal effective dose needs. So we can learn from them. Habits that will quickly unlock excellence for us in this pillar.

Now here’s my take on how timing, quality and quantity of fueling of macro-nutrients can be improved. I’ll address breathing and hydration at a later time.

Food Timing


First, let’s talk about timing. Now, traditionally we’ve been taught to eat three square meals a day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I propose dropping this artifice. Though it’s well intentioned, eating three large sit-down meals certainly isn’t what your body needs, and it’s not what it’s asking for. I believe we’re meant to move throughout the day, and graze when our energy levels require an up-leveling. We’re meant to take a break to eat only when we’ve accomplished a challenging task. Or during that task if our energy level drops.

Think of your day like an endurance event. We’re going to fuel before and throughout the day to maintain energy and output. Now pausing for an hour and a half, or an hour midday to sit and eat a large, lunch meal only slows the body down, introduces lethargy and causes digestion problems. And of course that afternoon nap. All these things cause us to lose momentum. And it’s not optimal feeling. So I’m an advocate of training and working through lunchtime, and snacking throughout the day.

Now let’s look at the morning. The morning is a time for reflection and preparation for the day, and so we need a jumpstart snack, hopefully with lots of fat in it to get the brain energized. But we don’t want necessarily a huge morning sit down meal either. Oftentimes I just combine my breakfast and lunch in an 11 AM kind of brunch. On the go, even. And that’s perfect for getting me throughout the day.

What about the evening. Now this is the one time I really do believe a sit-down meal with your family makes a lot of sense. Primarily for the communication and the communion. But it also needs to be or should be your lightest meal of the day. If we’re going to have a full sit-down meal. That’s why it’s called “supper,” right. It’s a light meal. So a salad, or soup and salad or something light, is nice. And eating too much in the evening leads to sleep issues which impairs our recovery efforts. Which will be a subject of a future discussion.

Food quality


There’s lots more to say on timing, but let me move on. Let me talk about quality. This is what most people focus on when it comes to food and fuel. And there’s a lot more people who have a lot more information and knowledge than I do. So I’ll just give you my kind of high-level view on this.

You know, food quality isn’t rocket science. We all know that high-quality food is healthier than barcoded crud that we’ve been accustomed to over the last 30 or 40 years. Now that barcoded crud may give us a sugar hit and it may taste good. But when you move toward high quality, whole foods, and you begin to feel the effects of your body, then that other type of barcoded crud, the boxed, processed foods starts to become anathema to us. We just have no interest in it. Fortunately for us, the farm to table industry is growing fast. Even though there’s a lot of pushback from the FDA, which is being pushed by the big cattle and food companies. But I think they’ll prevail.

When I grew up in upstate New York, the farm-to-table was taken for granted. We had a neighbor who shared a big garden with us. My mom and I and the other kids were always out working it. And we even borrowed a cow on occasion. I recall delight and almost stupefaction when the first TV dinner showed up. Little did I know that I was the subject of a new social experiment that ultimately was designed to put me in a hospital after 40 years of eating that junk. Fortunately, I figured out the scam early enough to avoid that fate.

Now the more controversial aspect of my quality principle is to move away from having meat, having to need meat at every meal, I should say. Now when I grew up, this was given. You had eggs, potatoes, and meat for breakfast, or cereal, and lunch was always some sort of meat sandwich and dinner always had some sort of meat, potatoes, pasta or vegetable. All that meat was slowly killing me. Again, not to mention the bread, cereal, and pasta, which paleo-experts such as my friend Robb Wolf have shed light on can have a deleterious effect on our health. Especially if they’re just kind of processed white bread and pasta. Now there are a lot of really good breads and pastas–whole grain breads and vegetable-based pastas, which are starting to come out. So I’m not totally against them, I’m just saying that the traditional white bread and pasta made with processed flour is just horrific.

Now I have slowly changed my attitudes about meat. I’m not saying I’m completely off it, but I expect to be within a couple of years. Meat just takes a ton of energy to digest, it’s really toxic to our system, especially red meat, and I’m gonna put most white meat, most dense meat in that category. Meat-eaters may howl at this assertion. State that eating meat is a basic human right, which it is. But I ask what the animal that we’re eating ate? In the case of a lot of beef, it’s often corn or just grass, so we’re essentially eating a protein source that’s brought up on corn or grass, and is also full of the animal’s toxins. Can’t we get the same benefit just by eating the vegetables? Or the corn or grass? Well, the answer is yes. I mean, we do need a good mix of macro-nutrients, but the basic thing… I don’t think that we get enough fat. And I think that healthy carbohydrates have taken a rap because everyone’s focused on bad carbohydrates. And I think that we need less protein than most people are saying in the world. But you know, you need to be your own experimentation machine.

Now I am less concerned with fish. I think fish is a better meat choice, though it has taken me years to acquire the taste. And often worry about water source toxicity.

Anyways, I increasingly believe that we’re better off with a naturally grown, whole food source of food for fueling. And we can get tons of protein from peas, hemp, or kale or other sources.

Now our conditioning and the taste of red meat or chicken, and social needs are certainly going to get in the way of this idea, of implementing it anyways, and I have challenges with it myself. But if we are serious about optimal health and longevity, soon you’ll take this notion seriously, and you’re going to investigate this and begin to experience the whole food, natural diet. Or at least a diet like the Mediterranean diet, which is extremely light on any meats.

So bottom line I recommend high quality, locally grown, whole food sources and to limit or eliminate meat altogether. This diet will have a high nutrient value, be seasonally adjusted for variety and include the appropriate micro- and macro-nutrients. Lots of fat, lots of good carbohydrates, probiotics, vitamins, minerals and the appropriate level of protein.

Certainly getting enough protein from a garden meal can be a challenge, but like I said, I think we need less protein and more fat anyhow. Health benefits will far outweigh the challenge of getting an ample supply.

Now, some technology entrepreneurs, such as my friend Connor Young’s Ample meal, are going to help us make this change easily. Now Ample meal is essentially a complete healthy, whole food meal, that has been processed into a powder form and it’s in a bottle, so you just add water. And it’s got a great combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat, all from whole food healthy sources. It’s going to be a huge hit. I’m excited for Connor and him getting that product on the market.

Food Quantity


All right, what about quantity? Now I estimate that we eat possibly 30% more food than we need. There have actually been some great research studies recently, and most of those studies have been on rats, but they also look at some of the tribes or cultures that have the longest lifespans and note that they eat less. About 25% to 30% less than we do in the west. Food consumption has largely become about pleasure and socialization. And excess is easy because it’s available everywhere, right? We live in an abundant world. Add to this the addiction effect of the sugar and salt that is dumped into food by the food processing companies, and you get a one-two punch that leads to over-consumption.

But if you start by breaking the sugar/salt habit and not consuming anything with sugar in it, and then begin to watch the salt, you’re going to increase naturally your fat intake. You’re also going to find that you need much less volume of food, while you’re going to get the same caloric bang for your buck.

Now, what else? What about fasting? You know, you can decrease the quantity of food also by introducing a fast into your routine. Fasting can be done through intermittent fasting or periodic fasting. You know, intermittent fasting is where you take a long break between food ingestion. Either daily or once or more a week. So the way I do this is I have my last meal around 7 PM and then I don’t eat again until 10 AM the next day. That’s about 14 hours intermittent fast. The only thing I’ll put in my stomach is water and then I have a little cup of coffee with some butter and coconut oil in the morning.

Now periodic fasting is always good. And that’s something where you do maybe one day a week or maybe a couple days or three days a quarter, or maybe 5 days once a year. The fast is a great way to give your body a chance to detoxify. Reset your immune system, and decrease the volume or the quantity of the food you eat. It has great longevity benefits.

There’s a new diet called the “Fat Mimicking” diet, actually, which is worth experiencing or looking into. Now the “Fat Mimicking” diet says essentially that you’re going to greatly diminish the quantity of calories you take in. And I think it’s once a month you’ll drop your caloric intake to like 600 calories for three or four days. So it mimics a fast without having to go cold turkey.

Check into the Blue Zone study to learn more about the cultures that have experienced benefits of eating less and fasting. And these people typically live into the hundreds. Now, of course, there’s other factors involved, such as daily exercise and community and purpose. But I think the diet is one of the core reasons.

So to summarize for now, these three pillars of longevity are fueling, recovery, and integrated training. Fueling for excellence includes how we orient ourselves to the macro-nutrients that we take in, how we hydrate our body, and breathing. I addressed the macro-nutrients here in this podcast, and noted that we should endeavor to eat more frequently, lower quantities of food, and higher qualities of whole food. Real food.

Now when it comes to the other aspects of fueling, which are hydration and breathing, I’m going to address those next, and they’re critical as well. Later on, we’ll address the other two pillars, which are recovery, sleep and recovery, and integrated training. But if you can take care of fueling, recovery, and integrated training, and dial them all up to the same level of importance in your life then the health benefits will be extraordinary and obvious very quickly. I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good you feel, and perform, and this will translate into a healthy family and more performance benefits at work. Dial in this first aspect of this first pillar and we’ll come back and hit up the other ones later on.


Coach Divine out.