The Jocko Willink Diet is one that is simplistic and well known.
In his book, Discipline Equals Freedom : Field Manual, Jocko roughly outlines his diet as Paleo.
The Jocko Willink Diet
This is quoted directly from Jocko’s book, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual
“The modern diet has been around for about 10,000 years. That’s when man figured out how to plant some foods, grow them, harvest them, make theme easier to digest and store them.
These foods were grains: Wheat, rice, corn.
Our bodies have not adapted to eating grains yet.
When we eat grains they are turned to sugar in our stomachs.
The insulin level spikes and punishes our bodies internally.
So, it is better to eat what we have evolved to eat – That is the diet of the Paleolithic man, or caveman.”
Here’s what the Jocko Willink Diet consists of:
- Beef (preferably grass-fed)
- Poultry (preferably free-range)
- Some dairy (full-fat butter, cream, yogurt, cheese)
- Limited fruit
Great spread of low-carb high fat diet (Paleo or Ketogenic)
Here’s what NOT to eat:
- Refined salt
- Refined sugar
- Processed oils
- Legumes (beans)
Ok, so now you have an idea of what the Jocko Willink Diet consists of, we can examine how to execute it.
OK, So When is my Cheat Day? (What Cheat Day?)
This is quoted directly from Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual again.
Let’s hear from the man himself on when to stick to the Jocko Willink Diet and when to cheat:
“Some people use the 80/20 rule, meaning they stick with the clean ‘paleo eating’ 80% of the time and then the other 20% of the time they ean whatever they want. The problem is that the 80/20 becomes 60/40, then 40/60, then 20/80, and then all bets are off.
Don’t follow the 80/20 rule. Follow the 100% rule – that might turn into the 99% rule and that is okay. But the 80/20 rule isn’t a rule. It’s a step down a slippery slope.”
Now you can see why I nicknamed this diet the 99/1. Because 99% of the time you’re going to stick to the diet.
There is no cheat day. There are no cheat meals. Only discipline and clean eating.
Speaking of Cheat Meal, check out this Keto Waffle Recipe. So good you won’t need a cheat meal!
This is very Jocko-like. But as with everything else, there’s a reason for the hard line and the intense nature of the Jocko Willink Diet.
This Isn’t a Short Term Diet.
It’s a Long Term Lifestyle Change.
To quote Jocko Wilink from his podcast, Jocko Podcast; “Back to the Book“…
“Once you have spent enough time staying 100% clean and you are adapted to that method of eating both mentally and physically, you can make some excursions to the dark side. I have an occasional mint chocolate chip milkshake or some other delicious but not nutritious treat.”
And the justification:
“And I make sure I earn it beforehand with some serious, extreme physical activity.”
This may seem pretty hardcore, but payoff is well worth it!
“Over time, you will realize that you have lost your sweet tooth. You will also realize that the aftereffects, the sugar rush, the sugar crash, the lack of energy the next day, make excursions to the dark side highly undesirable and will encourage you to STAY CLEAN.”
Welcome to the Dark Side
To follow the Jocko Willink diet, the “dark side” consists mainly of sugary treats. 80% dark chocolate dipped in coconut oil, a glass of full cream with MCT oil and chocolate milk powder, or whipped cream with some diced nuts.
The thing about cheating on the diet is that when you follow it so strictly, and have the discipline to stay on it, even the smallest little desert will taste incredible!
There’s No Safe Food Around! What Do I Eat?
You may find yourself in a situation where you’re the only available food is a bunch of stuff you’re not supposed to eat. So what do you do then? This next section is a major part of the Jocko Willink Diet!
You don’t eat.
Yes, that’s right. It’s called fasting, and it’s actually really good for you.
“Often, not eating – fasting – is beneficial for you. Here are some of the physiological benefits that fasting appears to bring:
- Improves function of cells, genes, and hormones
- Induces loss of body fat
- Reduces risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation
- Induces cell repair processes
- Increases brain-derived neurotropic factors
- Increases levels of endorphins
- Induces detoxification process”
The thing about fasting when you’re on a traditional diet, is that it feels like the world is ending! I remember being super busy, skipping a meal, and thinking my brain was going to turn off right then and there.
Once I switched over to eating similar to the Jocko Willink Diet (I eat closer to Keto than Paleo), fasting became so much easier.
In short, it’s because my body is running on fat for energy, not the sugar that our bodies turn carbohydrates into. I can skip a meal just fine now and keep on working.
Fasting isn’t Super Pleasant, but it’s Not a Big Deal Either.
“There are also some phycological benefits that I find very real. First of all, fasting demands that you exercise your will.
It is not easy.”
Very true on that one! When you have the ability to get (bad) food just about any time, you are resisting the temptation to eat that food is a very powerful thing, and that alone will energize you!
“YOU ARE NOT STARVING
Humans can survive thirty days without food.
You can make it a few extra hours.
You can actually make it a few days without an issue.
I fast for twenty-four hours regularly. I do seventy-two-hour fasts approximately every three months.
And you know what, they aren’t that big of a deal. When I’m fasting, I still do everything that I normally would if I were eating. I work. Work out. Train jiu-jitsu.”
Here’s a quick rundown of how to do a Jocko Willink Diet style fast:
“I drink water, some tea, maybe eat some sunflower seeds in the shell just to have something to chew on. But fasting isn’t that hard and you will feel better at the end of it. Fasting will recalibrate what hunger is to you. You will realize that you aren’t actually hungry most of the time. You are just bored. And, at the end of a fast, your food will taste better too!”
The Alternative to Fasting for a Meal (Plan Ahead!)
I travel often, and always carry a backpack full of stuff like my journal, toothpicks, phone charger, backup headphones, etc. I keep a small bag of nuts in there just in case I can’t find any food to eat that isn’t breaded and deep fried.
You know how many times that bag of nuts was my dinner? More than I can count.
My other favorite alternative to skipping a meal is beef jerky. Now, when it’s your meal, you end up not being too picky, but I try to get jerky with the least amount of preservatives and nitrates that I can.
My absolute favorite are these little sausages made by Duke’s. So good and perfect for a travel meal!
Becoming a Practitioner of the Jocko Willink Diet (aka Keto Diet)
To follow a Keto Diet or Paleo Diet, my suggestion for everyone is to start 100% strict for 2 weeks. This will give you an idea of the structure of the diet, and get you disciplined. After that, you can start to adjust things here and there.
Don’t eat grains, starches, or corn. NO SUGAR.
Do eat high fat content.
I’ve been on a clean diet similar to this for two years, and I’m pretty basic with it, eating more vegetables than usual, doubling my portion of meat, and using more butter. I eat a BIG breakfast everyday (I meal prep). Then just easy stuff for lunch and dinner; Lunch meat and cheese, nuts, cold cuts, chicken in a can with mayo and pepper…I’m simple.
Actually, a funny thing happened when I started this diet…
I Don’t Really Care About Food Anymore
I know I need it, so I eat it when I’m hungry, but I don’t really care what I eat as long as it fits in my diet.
Now, once my wife Michelle started on a Keto diet with me, our food intake got MUCH fancier!
She’s into making Ketogenic-friendly recipes that mimic the real thing; The Keto Waffles I linked earlier, she makes these Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies that are INSANELY good, she has a recipe for a pizza crust that’s dang good and not made of cauliflower. She also makes little snacks out of cream cheese, natural peanut butter, cinnamon, and sugar free chocolate chips called “fat bombs” that she loves.
I actually started about 2 years ago on the Tim Ferriss Slow Carb Diet from his book 4 Hour Body, but since I wasn’t looking to lose weight, I started tweaking 2 weeks into it.
A year later I got into a conversation with someone about how I eat, and that’s when they told me that I eat Keto! I did a little research, and sure enough, I do! The only “rule” that I really break is that I still eat beans.
It’s Personal, Man
The thing about your diet is that it’s all up to what works for you and makes you feel good.
I feel GREAT when I stay away from all grains and starches, so that’s what I do. I’m not on THE Keto Diet, as in there is things that I do that the “Keto Police” will surely bust me for…
But I don’t give a rip. I just eat what works for me, and that’s what all people should do: Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Carnivore, Plant Based, Gluten free…whatever.
It’s just food man, and the food I like is personal, so I do what I want and don’t conform to the labels and guidelines if I don’t want to.
You Are an Addict! (Carb and Sugar Addiction)
The main defense that people put up about eating a clean diet free of carbohydrates and sugar is that they LOVE carbs so much.
This is true, and that’s because you are addicted to it.
You think you need it, and you don’t.
You think eating that stuff makes you happy, but it doesn’t. (That’s actually been scientifically proven by NASA).
Now obviously carbs taste good, but once I realized that I was addicted to them, I started to wonder how much of it is hunger, and how much of it was me needing a fix?
Truth be told, eliminating all grains from your diet SOUNDS super hard! It’s really not.
Now instead of eggs with toast, you eat double the eggs, and you’re supposed to add a ton of butter to them! Delicious.
It’s not scary. You just have to go for it, and you’ll see it’s just fine.
The ONE Thing a Low-Carb Diet Doesn’t Have…
Now, there is one thing that you don’t have access to on a low-carb diet; food that’s convenient.
You will QUICKLY realize that just about everything that you have easy access to is carbohydrate or starch based.
It’s actually kind of crazy how there is so few options to eat. It’s became super obvious to me why Americans are so overweight as a population…
Junk is what we have access to at all times!
That’s is why I meal prep my breakfast.
It’s the reason I carry abound a bag of nuts.
And why I eat so much Jerky!!
I get quite a few questions on how I specifically eat almost daily. I also feel so good that I think everyone should at least TRY a diet similar to The Jocko Willink Diet 99/1.
Less reliance on food.
Less care about food.
Never feeling that “full and bloated” feeling.
Immediate weight loss.
What is there NOT to like about those factors?
So if you have a question, let me know and I’ll surely answer it!