1

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Hack the life of the mind...

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 26, 2011 at 8:32 PM

I'm currently a graduate student, soon-to-be professor. I study ancient philosophy. Most of my days and spent reading, interpreting and writing about ancient texts. My main goal is to be as mentally sharp, focused, and productive as possible, for as long as possible. Second to that, I would like general health and well being. And, coming in at a close third, I would like to be lean, muscular and, well, to look good nekkid (vain, I know... I'm working on that...). Right now, I'm pretty strong and muscular - but I'm also pretty chubby. I've got some fat to lose (the result of a recent binge-drinking bender... graduate school is so rough...). As a side note, I've been reading about the paleo diet for a long, long time now - but I've finally ready to fully commit.

So, what are the keys to achieving these goals? What general diet, exercise and lifestyle routines would you implement? Basic paleo diet is a given (no more booze). I'm unsure about carb content, though. I lean toward trying lower carb, around 50 grams, since I'm not THAT active... but, on the other hand, I don't want to be mentally sluggish.

Also, I'm not sure exactly what my exercise should be like. I want minimum investment, maximum reward. I've heard about some mental benefits of the occasional light cardio like jogging (which I never do, out of fear of "chronic cardio"). Any thoughts about this would be appreciated.

Finally, I'm thinking about trying a warrior diet style Intermittent Fasting pattern of eating. Basically, just wake up, study all day, workout in the evening, then eat BIG and sleep. I find that when I eat lunch (even low carb), I tend to be sluggish; my afternoon work is never as good. I figure this will keep me mentally sharp longer.

Any thoughts? Any graduate students out there have it all figured out?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 28, 2011
at 12:15 AM

Philosophical addendum: What is the beautiful? Harmony, agreement, which has an aesthetic basis and a functional one. The fit and capable athlete is beautiful--he is functional and fulfills his "haeccitas"/ousia/whatness: his human 'being' and is thus rationally concieved to be "what he is"(haeccitas=quidditas); this correspondance is the beautiful, a.k.a 'love'(agreement, harmony) and he is therefore 'lovable'.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 28, 2011
at 12:11 AM

Sure it exists(overtraining) but shorter(30-45 minute) sessions even at close to max. Heart rate/poundages for weighttraining given proper nutrition is very doable.Definitely there is an adjustment period("fat adaptation") that takes I believe approx. 2-8 weeks. For me it took two but I vacillated at first experimenting with carbs. The first(and since that time the last) bowl of oatmeal I ate tasted like artificial mush---I immediately decided grains were a strict taboo.Then came fruits: elimination total. The hypertension they caused could be easily detected on a VLC diet.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Glither, this is not something I read from a book or a link but based upon my own experience. Just think about it. If you are an anxious type person, you're cortisol is going to tend to be on the high side, no? Low carb just does not work if you have cortisol issues.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on July 27, 2011
at 09:00 AM

Overtraining does excist, its most common in endurance sports like cross country skiing and road cycling. Been there, its scary stuff.

Medium avatar

(3024)

on July 27, 2011
at 06:51 AM

Hey Thomas, do you have more info on the connection between personality type and success at very low carb? Any good links?

6da7ce6a4a250c46a6e78b5b4e22da83

(987)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Hmmm, I am DEFINITELY a pretty anxious guy. I have had very bad experiences on low carb diets in the past (lack of energy, mental fog, depression...). But, I think I do well on IF. I feel more nervous energy - but it tends to be productive. I just turned 30, so I'm not as young as I used to be. I've been thinking about giving 5-3-1 a try for while now...

6da7ce6a4a250c46a6e78b5b4e22da83

(987)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:06 PM

Thanks for the input. Very interesting stuff... So, your mental focus is good on very low carb, working out twice per day? Was there an adjustment period? I've tried low carb before and always felt terrible - but maybe it's time to give it another shot. I'll have to think about that. My focus is Plato. I'm writing my dissertation on Plato's Hippias Major - which somewhat coincidentally is the dialogue devoted to the question, "What is the beautiful (to kalon)?"

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3 Answers

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 26, 2011
at 09:46 PM

A lot depends on what personality type you are. I was very anxious as a student and, if you are like that, please don't try VLC or Intermittent Fasting. You will bonk out on it. If you are young, which I assume you are, you can try a Bulgarian-style method, if you like. I am not sure it's a good idea. Sure, that system created a lot of champions, but it also got a lot of people injured. So, I have to disagree with PersonMan on that one. I have seen too many casualties from it. Better to go with a 5-3-1, in my opinion.

If you are not an anxious-type, then go ahead and try IF and VLC.

Otherwise, just ask yourself, what would Heraclitus do if he were in my shoes?

6da7ce6a4a250c46a6e78b5b4e22da83

(987)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Hmmm, I am DEFINITELY a pretty anxious guy. I have had very bad experiences on low carb diets in the past (lack of energy, mental fog, depression...). But, I think I do well on IF. I feel more nervous energy - but it tends to be productive. I just turned 30, so I'm not as young as I used to be. I've been thinking about giving 5-3-1 a try for while now...

Medium avatar

(3024)

on July 27, 2011
at 06:51 AM

Hey Thomas, do you have more info on the connection between personality type and success at very low carb? Any good links?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:08 PM

Glither, this is not something I read from a book or a link but based upon my own experience. Just think about it. If you are an anxious type person, you're cortisol is going to tend to be on the high side, no? Low carb just does not work if you have cortisol issues.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 26, 2011
at 09:36 PM

Hi EF. I have a philosophy degree(honours)-which is mainly why I chose to repsond to you- and am a personal trainer which is why my response is useful(depending on what use you make of it of course). So you want "Kalon" eh? well: Currently my routine is as follows: cycle 3 days of lifting twice per day for 30-45 minutes; heavy compound most muscular mainly barbell work; 30 seconds-1 minute rest between 6-8 sets of 4-8 reps. Diet: Very-low to zero carb, lacto-paleo rawist(ie. raw foods mainly); high cholesterol and saturated fat; sunlight and 8 hours of sleep; occasional use of caffeine, etc. Discard alcohol and drugs. Research strength training and don't believe the hype about 'overtraining'. I have been working out for over four months twice per day without a day off and have never felt better. What will your PHD be?

6da7ce6a4a250c46a6e78b5b4e22da83

(987)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:06 PM

Thanks for the input. Very interesting stuff... So, your mental focus is good on very low carb, working out twice per day? Was there an adjustment period? I've tried low carb before and always felt terrible - but maybe it's time to give it another shot. I'll have to think about that. My focus is Plato. I'm writing my dissertation on Plato's Hippias Major - which somewhat coincidentally is the dialogue devoted to the question, "What is the beautiful (to kalon)?"

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 28, 2011
at 12:15 AM

Philosophical addendum: What is the beautiful? Harmony, agreement, which has an aesthetic basis and a functional one. The fit and capable athlete is beautiful--he is functional and fulfills his "haeccitas"/ousia/whatness: his human 'being' and is thus rationally concieved to be "what he is"(haeccitas=quidditas); this correspondance is the beautiful, a.k.a 'love'(agreement, harmony) and he is therefore 'lovable'.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on July 27, 2011
at 09:00 AM

Overtraining does excist, its most common in endurance sports like cross country skiing and road cycling. Been there, its scary stuff.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 28, 2011
at 12:11 AM

Sure it exists(overtraining) but shorter(30-45 minute) sessions even at close to max. Heart rate/poundages for weighttraining given proper nutrition is very doable.Definitely there is an adjustment period("fat adaptation") that takes I believe approx. 2-8 weeks. For me it took two but I vacillated at first experimenting with carbs. The first(and since that time the last) bowl of oatmeal I ate tasted like artificial mush---I immediately decided grains were a strict taboo.Then came fruits: elimination total. The hypertension they caused could be easily detected on a VLC diet.

0
0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on July 28, 2011
at 11:35 AM

Know anyone who's doing CrossFit? If you do, get them to take you with them to a workout, and see what you think. If not, look around online -- there's tons of information out there, and probably an affiliate around you that you could check out.

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