Zach Ware

My Approach To Nutrition

My food rules

General directions:

Over time, through research and experimentation, I’ve developed a core set of foods I prefer to eat routinely and a set of foods I avoid.

The single most critical rule of my food lifestyle is to never let my rules get in the way of enjoying an amazing food experience. Even when eating out I try to adhere to the general guidelines above, often without anyone I’m with noticing. If that’s not possible I shut up and make do. I would rather violate a rule than be the annoying friend who can’t eat anything at a restaurant.

I consider this a lifestyle, not a diet. A friend once I asked me how I think about diets, this was my response.

My relationship with food has three distinct classifications:

The first category is the most important and is what I recommend people spend the most time researching and experimenting with. The other two are products of my obsession with simplicity and knowing myself well enough to remove discretion from my daily eating decisions.

What I don’t eat

All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I never go there. – Charlie Munger

What I don’t eat is derived from my operating principle, borrowed from Munger, that it’s better to avoid problems than to be great at fixing them. I’ve developed a set of food filters that help me avoid feeling bad or doing things that are well-known to lead to long-term health problems.

Each of the items on my “don’t eat” list has a unique reason for being there. I didn’t seek out an off-the-shelf diet or take the word of an internet expert but rather took time to learn from primary sources (multiple large clinical studies) or experimented myself.

For example, I do not necessarily believe that corn is bad. In fact, tacos are one of my greatest loves. But the modern Western diet uses corn as an artificial filler to such a degree that we overload our bodies with it, which taxes our system in a way evolution didn’t plan for.

Gluten, on the other hand, makes me feel bad. Through experimentation I discovered that eliminating it help alleviate some symptoms of depression.

I’ve resisted publishing my detailed reasons for each filter because I don’t want to get into arguments about science with the internet. But I do seek out disconfirming evidence like I used to seek out cheese. So please email me to talk.

What I eat

I use rules in various parts of my life to short circuit my brain’s tendency to implode when choice is infinite. Some people wear the same thing every day so they don’t have to think about what to wear…I eat the same thing.

Given how I train and compete as a hybrid athlete, I eat a lot. I work with a performance nutritionist at M2 Performance Nutrition to help target overall calories and macro splits. They help me balance energy levels, recover, and stay fueled for life and training. Since late-2021 I’ve incorporated a significant amount of aerobic work (running/swimming) into my training load. Fueling for aerobic work is beyond my nutritional skill set. M2 doesn’t program what I eat. That stays inline with the previous point.

I sometimes eat out, most often with friends. Eating out is a treat. But since I eat out so infrequently I refuse to eat at bad restaurants (good is not the same as expensive).

I don’t need cheat days. This isn’t a diet and I don’t feel restrained. So far, years later, I still love what I eat. Every sweet potato is like the first.

I’m not a robot

A typical “sides” prep for me is a lot of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, and (currently) okra. Just basically lots of healthy vegetables. Most days I eat, depending on training load, regular sized meals 4-6 times. A typical meal may look something like.

For breakfast I usually eat egg whites with ground elk organ meats mixed, a banana, and some paleo overnight oats that I love.

Dinners often include a simple salad, often with beef or fish as the center of the plate.

I’m not a fan of heavy sauces…I think good cooking creates great-tasting food and if you need to toss a bunch of sauce on it, you failed somewhere else. I’m similarly weird about salad dressings though I like Noble Made’s paleo dressings.

All of this is what I’ll do when I’m on autopilot and cooking for myself. I regularly add a Trifecta Foods meal when I’m short on time or want variety. I eat out. I love Chipotle. And I have no problem breaking my rules for a great meal with friends.

My biggest struggle is eating enough to keep up with my training volume, mainly because my food lifestyle is so “clean.”