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The Bear Diet
What We Can Learn From The Apex Land Predator
I’m not going to write a book, change my social media handles, and preach that I am the founder and creator of the greatest diet of all time and the only one that works and is healthy for everyone.
I’m not going to sell you bear pills and claim natty, attributing all my gains to my bear lifestyle while actually pumping grams of steroids.
I will leave that to the carnivores, vegans, keto, and ancestral shills.
This is a semi-serious post, I do not actually want to create some fad diet + this is just a fun idea, but on another level, this post is going to highlight some very healthy ideas and things to incorporate into your diet (or just literally follow it if you want because you would end up extremely healthy).
What I will do is write a Substack on a simple diet model that based on all factors is a pretty damn good diet model + it’s catchy and interesting so here we are:
The “Bear Diet”
Bears are interesting creatures. They are nature’s apex land predator—nothing is going to win in a 1v1 cage match against a Grizzly Bear, nonetheless the even bigger Polar Bear.
We aren’t here because of my fantasies of fighting a bear 1 on 1 in unarmed, hand-to-hand combat (which I would win). We are here because their diets, or rather their food selections are absolutely elite.
While they eat pretty much anything, let’s focus on some of the foods they are most famous for eating:
Venison (Elk, Deer, Bison, and even Moose)
Now, we aren’t talking about their actual diet and what they actually eat by percentages and such—they are seasonal animals that hibernate—we are not. This is actually just a fun way to highlight an easy model to construct, what is, one of the healthiest diets I can think of.
When it comes to food choices if you only ate the above 5 categories you would be in absolutely elite health. It has absolutely everything you need: protein, healthy fats, vast vitamins/nutrients, carbohydrates for fuel, plus all the other unique benefits of some of the above.
In reality, and ohmygosh so shocking… it seems that this might just be *gasps*: a Balanced Diet (gurus hate him).
Let’s break down why this diet would be so beneficial + for fun construct a sample diet.
Let’s Dig In
The diet is healthy, really as simple as that, so we’re going to see the health benefits that are associated with… being healthy… so I won’t bore you with a health benefits lecture and instead look at why this diet is practical to us in the gym and some other unique health benefits of the foods included:
The Bear Diet is based on 2 main protein sources:
Salmon - 23g of protein per 4oz
Venison - 20-26g of protein per 4oz (Depending on which animal & which part)
These are 2 excellent protein sources given salmon can be a fattier meat which provides us with the fats we need for proper health, and venison can be very lean, almost all protein, depending on the source—best of both worlds for a healthy diet.
Where this diet model wins over others like carnivore or keto for muscle growth actually has nothing to do with protein—it’s about the carbs!
You have 3 sources of carbs - berries, honey, and tubers. This is an excellent breakdown of carb sources given that tubers will be starches which are complex carbs; the honey is a quick, simple carb; and fruit is a unique type of carb called fructose which is unique in the fact it is metabolized by the liver and typically has less impact on blood sugar levels vs other simple carbs + good sources of fiber—this diet also would provide—again, best of all worlds.
The benefit of the carbs here for muscle growth is the fact we have the right ingredients to properly fuel the muscles which are going to allow peak performance in the gym.
Honey is a great simple carb that will provide instant energy during exercise
Tubers would provide a good carb source throughout the day to maintain steady nutrient flow into the muscles
Fruit can help replenish liver glycogen levels to allow more glycogen from other carb sources to be used as muscle glycogen (best when waking up or after any period of fasting)
These carbs are also going to supply a steady flow of insulin (please read this post to understand insulin… oh and this one, if you are under the assumption carbs are bad in any way) which is one of the most anabolic substances in the body—its job is to shuttle nutrients for storage, we WANT to shuttle nutrients to store in our recovering muscles after a workout.
Additionally, we have another big benefit for muscle growth we’ll discuss later in its own section the benefits of the fat sources and our hormone levels.
As you can see, all-in-all this diet model provides every single building block we need to maximize muscle growth.
Fat loss is literally just a result of eating fewer calories than you burn, so when we look at this diet, we have some key benefits.
You would struggle to get fat on this diet even without tracking a single calorie & just eating intuitively due to the signals your appetite hormones would be sending with this diet—largely because it’s all whole foods which will allow proper hormone signaling and not contain processed foods which disrupt this signaling feedback loop.
Within this diet, you have the most satiating food on earth within this diet—tubers, more specifically potatoes. This means that you are going to feel fuller as a result of having these in your diet.
Given the diet, well my version, revolves around the protein sources, again you are getting very satiating foods that have a direct impact on your metabolism because protein is burned off at a rate of 25-30% of the total calories consumed due to the thermic effects of food on your metabolic rate—in layman’s terms, to an extent, if the same 2 people ate 2000 calories but one ate more protein than the other, the person who at the most protein would lose more weight (if in a caloric deficit of course).
Berries are very low-calorie yet high-volume foods—meaning you can eat a ton of berries but have only consumed very few calories (a cup of blueberries only has 80 calories).
Honey is the only thing here that would be very easy to overconsume, but then again, a tablespoon of honey is only around 60 calories + honey has health benefits on insulin sensitivity which can help in certain scenarios for fat loss, the same goes for berries.
Again, nothing magic here, but given we are only eating whole foods that are also very satiating, fat loss can be an easier process as long as we account for total caloric intake.
It should come as no surprise that a healthy diet is going to create a healthy environment for hormones like testosterone levels.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to increase testosterone levels1 and improve testicular function2 (it can literally make your balls bigger, nice). Omega-3s also have anti-inflammatory effects and even reduce the stress hormone, cortisol3 (which has an inverse relationship with testosterone) both of which are going to have a positive impact on testosterone levels (and many other hormones).
When it comes to venison, we are going to reap the benefits of saturated fat and cholesterol—which is literally the building block of testosterone.
Now things get a little weird… honey, yes the stuff bees make, has been shown to potentially increase testosterone by:
“Enhancing the production of luteinizing hormone, enhancing the viability of Leydig cells, reducing testicular oxidative injury, enhancing StAR gene expression, and inhibiting aromatase activity in the testes (Fig. 1). In addition, honey has been found to contain various bioactive compounds (e.g., phenolic acids) that may improve testosterone production.4
In layman’s terms: Honey can make your balls work better and can reduce the amount of estrogen converted from testosterone.
Berries also can improve testosterone through various mechanisms (similar to honey) due to being rich in nutrients called polyphenols (e.g., anthocyanins, flavanones, and flavones) which have many profound health benefits5
Given that hormone/testosterone levels are highly correlated to your health in general, again no real surprise, but when it comes to consuming a diet to optimize the environment for healthy hormone production, this definitely puts us in the right direction.
Now keynote, this won’t suddenly be magic & give you steroid-like gains, rather you’re just providing the right environment for healthy natural production.
Other Health Benefits
Honestly, I could really just go on and on being that when we are eating the right foods, we will see far greater health benefits than the average person… mostly because the average person is statistically obese (around 50%) and most (around 75%) are categorically overweight.
Really, I wanted to keep this more fitness-oriented while highlighting many of the benefits in the above 3 sections.
Some unique benefits however would include:
Increase brain function from berries (wrote an entire post on blueberries)
Honey is antibacterial and antifungal which can help heal wounds (I guess not really a “diet” benefit)
Honey + Berries are absolutely loaded with polyphenols which again as I posted above can improve nearly all aspects of health (by dealing with root cause issues like inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance)
Salmon and its omega-3s can boost brain power and help alleviate some mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and even ADHD
Tubers like potatoes are great sources of potassium which can improve performance in the gym and alleviate blood pressure issues
All-in-all, this diet would provide an amazing environment for optimal health.
My “Bear Diet”
Before I list this, don’t just copy this verbatim and think it’ll just work for you, it won’t. This is just an example I will give for someone who needs to eat 2500 calories a day as that is roughly the average I see for most people I’ve trained.
For this specific diet, I would eat 4 meals a day to keep it simple and less tedious than a typical “6 meal a day bodybuilding diet”. The goal here would simply be proper protein amounts for muscle growth, carbs for gym performance, and fat to sustain healthy hormone levels and vitamin absorption.
For even more extreme simplicity, we’ll say the goal is 2500 calories broken down into:
200 grams of protein
200 grams of carbohydrates
100 grams of fat
Roughly a 30% protein, 30% carb, and 40% fat diet which is pretty balanced & would get the job done (I might reduce fat just a little and increase carbs for myself, but for simplicity, I digress).
(Note, I am using rough, still accurate within <5%, but rough estimates instead of autistically listing out to the .1 gram of a macronutrient)
8 ounces of ground bison - 46g protein, 0 carbs, 22g fat,
1 Potato (200g) - 5g protein, 40g carb, 0 fat
1 cup of blueberries - 1g protein, 20g carbs, 0g fat
Total - 52g protein, 60g carbs, 22g fat—650 calories
Meal 2 (Pre-workout):
8 ounces of wild-caught (never farmed) salmon - 48g protein, 0g carb, 13g fat
1 Sweet Potato (200g) - 3g protein, 40g carb, 0g fat
2 tbsp honey - 0g protein, 34g carb, 0g fat
Total - 51g protein, 74g carb, 13g fat = 620 (617 if we want to be autistic) Calories
Meal 3 (Post Workout):
8oz ground elk - 50g protein, 0g carb, 20g fat
1 Potato (200g) - 5g protein, 40g carb, 0 fat
1 cup of blackberries - 2g protein, 14g carb, 0g fat
Total - 57g protein, 54g carb, 20g fat = 625 (624 but who cares) Calories
4oz ground venison - 24g protein, 0g carb, 7g fat
4oz salmon - 24g protein, 0g carb, 7g fat
1 tbsp salmon roe - 3g protein, 0g carb, 4g fat
1 tbsp honey - 0g protein, 17g carb, 0g fat
Total - 51g protein, 17g carb, 18g fat = 434 calories
211g protein, 205g carbs, 73g fat = 2,321 calories
If I added trace fats, likely would’ve been around our goal of 2500 calories. We went a little over on protein and carbs (I did this on the fly) which is fine, making this around a 35% pro, 35% carb, 28% fat diet which is very good for most general fitness goals.
(For all meat I used Force of Nature Ancestral Blends because it’s the meat, heart, and liver—more accurate to what a bear would eat… also I just made myself Liver King on accident… FML).
I wouldn’t really ever eat a diet like this daily, I would have to have a few other things included for it to be sustainable for me—greek yogurt/kefir, rice, & eggs, but for the sake of entertaining in the form of autistic learning, this type of diet would be fantastic.
Should you eat this way? Not unless you want to, BUT this gives you a model and a framework from which you can construct a diet.
The main takeaway I actually want you to get from this is the idea that we can set up a diet to put our bodies in a biologically advantageous environment for optimal health based on intelligent food selection.
We can both chase our goals in the gym while also eating foods with profound health benefits, it’s actually this simple. Food should be both fuel and medicine, not entertainment & comfort.
The latter is okay occasionally, but we want most of our meals to have some thought and sound reasoning behind them—we humans have the unique ability to think and make intelligent decisions, this is our superpower, don’t waste yours.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.