Best diet for developers

No, it’s not gonna be about pizza, burgers and fries. It’s not gonna be about cola and beer. And even it’s not gonna be about coffee although many people think that this is a fuel for developers.

For many young programmers diet is not an issue. Their bodies can handle any meal at any moment of a day and night. Eating is one of these activities that you have to do, like sleeping, but is not so interesting. It’s only a disruption in more interesting things like coding/hacking/gaming. For these guys, diet is a word from the world of loosing weight. Hunger? Eat something fast. Problem solved. We, programmers, love simple solutions.

But it can’t work for a long period of time. After your 30ties (or even before) you will notice bad impact on your health (your weight, blood pressure, how you look) and mental capabilities (mind fog).

I know what I’m talking about because I used to eat like this for many years.

Until I started to weight too much, feel tired whole day and snacking all the time.

I started reading and researching. When I was doing that deeper and deeper it was clear too me that there is only one source of that problem — SUGAR. Yes, sugar. We like it a lot! And you can say that your favourite kind of candy is a beer, but actually a beer has a looot of sugar in it.

Eating carbohydrates increases sugar level in your blood. This gives you kind of a “high” compared to drugs or sex. And actually sugar is highly addictive so we cannot resist it. Especially in modern world that is full of sugar. Almost every single food that you can find in a supermarket has sugar added. Read the labels if you don’t believe me.

Sugar gives energy. Our body prefers sugar because it’s easy to get energy from it. Unfortunately after short time sugar level in our blood is decreased by the insulin which makes us sleepy and without energy.

As you can see, sugar is not the best source of energy for your body. Also it causes massive number of modern diseases like diabetes, hypoglycemia, cardiovascular diseases and overweight obviously.

If not a sugar then what? Answer is very simple. Something that our bodies were designed to — FAT. Yes, fat. I know that you heard so many bad things about fat nowadays. You saw so many 0% fat products, that it can be unbelievable to you. But think for a moment. Did we, as a species, have an access to wheat, corn, fruits or any other source of more or less processed carbohydrates in an unrestricted manner throughout whole year earlier than few hundreds years ago? Obviously not! We are designed to eat fats and proteins! We did this for thousands of years. And yes, we had an access to some fruits for a very short time in a year, in a summer. We were eating them to get some fat and prepare for a winter. It took as thousands of years to make our bodies work like this. This is in our DNA.

And now, in a very short period of time we switched to sugar. Our body is not designed to eat so many sugars as we do nowadays. Our body has no build in “stop” mechanism for sugar. Try to eat some fatty foods like butter. After few spoons your brain will say “stop”. Same for protein. But you can eat a lot of sugar and your body will not say you “stop”.

What happens when you don’t eat sugar? Well… only good things :) Your body will switch after few days/weeks to a new process that is there — ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood. So instead of a sugar, the fuel to your body are ketone bodies.

To be in that state your diet has to by 70% fats, 25% proteins and only 5% coming from carbohydrates. So when your body has no access to that very convenient form of energy (sugar) it has to switch to an alternative ways. And second source of energy for the body is fat.

Think about this — you have a lot of fat on your body. That’s almost endless source of energy. You don’t have to eat all the time to replenish level of sugar in your blood. I noticed, being on ketogenic diet, that I can eat 2–3 time a day and I don’t need to snack at all. It’s because eating fats makes you feel full for a much longer period of time than carbohydrates or proteins.

So why is that diet great for developers:

  • it’s convenient — you don’t have to eat so frequently and you don’t have to snack,
  • your brain loves ketone bodies as a source of energy (actually much more than carbohydrates),
  • you will notice after some time that your thinking is much sharper,
  • you will not feel that mind fog,
  • in the middle of the day you will not feel like you have to take a nap,
  • you will not drink another coffee to wake you up and give some energy,
  • weight loss — you will notice this :)
  • fats (which are the majority of things you gonna eat) tastes so good :)

I’m on that diet for almost 4 months now and I’m amazed how good I feel and how my brain works. I don’t consider that as a diet, so from a definition a form of eating for some time with a plan to abandon this and getting back to old habits. For me it became natural and it became part of my life.

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