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YMCA Healthy Kids® Day

Meet Peter Attia

More butter, please


At first glance, Peter Attia looks like your average, physically fit, 38-year-old. And he is. What you might not realize is how healthy he really is and what he ate to get there.

Peter has been an athlete most of his life, although it was only as an adult that he took up swimming. Since then, he’s become one of only a dozen people to swim the Catalina Channel in both directions (Catalina Island to Los Angeles, and separately LA to Catalina), and is the only one so far to cross the Maui Channel (from Maui to Lanai, and back) in one day. Despite his rigorous training schedule — about 3 hours of workouts a day, on average — Peter always felt as though something was missing.

He’s a graduate of Stanford Medical School, a former surgical resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a former fellow in surgical oncology at the National Cancer Institute. These experiences taught him enough about the body to understand that exercise alone wasn’t enough — nutrition and diet play an even larger role in one’s overall health. After extensive reading and studying, Peter had an epiphany: Fat can be your friend. The key is to teach your body to burn it instead of storing it.

Over the past year, Peter has shifted his diet dramatically to include mostly fat — over 90 percent of his calories, to be exact. He literally eats pounds of cheese, cream, oil, butter and high-fat yogurt every day. His dietary philosophy is based on the idea that certain foods — fats — will reduce his insulin levels, which then allows his body to always burn fat, instead of storing it.

As this diet can seem extreme if not downright dangerous, Peter has been getting rigorous and regular tests at San Diego State University and elsewhere to measure the effect that this very high fat diet has had on his body and overall health. The results have been stunning: Over the past six months, he’s reduced his risk of heart attack and stroke by over 500 percent, his diabetes risk by more than 300 percent, and his risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease dramatically, as well. He reduced his body fat from over 20 percent to 7.5 percent and shed 30 pounds, without increasing how much he exercises and without ever being hungry.

You can find Peter in the outdoor pool with the Master’s Swim team or in the weight room doing strength training. And his diet? Bacon, eggs, home-made whip cream… Anyone jealous?

Go Peter Attia's blog:

The War on Insulin and the Defense of Fat

Editor’s Note: Peter has devoted much of his adult life (including his years of medical school and residency) reading and researching nutrition and the human body. Please consult your doctor (as Peter does) before making drastic changes to your diet. — posted 11/14/11