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August 15, 2022 — 9:00 AM
As a metabolic scientist with a doctorate in bioenergetics, Ben Bikman, Ph.D., author of Why We Get Sick, certainly knows a thing or two about how to optimize metabolic health, including the nutrition and lifestyle habits that can help you maintain balanced blood sugar and a healthy weight. And, sure, he can easily do a deep dive into the science of metabolic flexibility—he is on the medical advisory board of Levels, after all—but sometimes it helps to see how these dietary recommendations play out in practice.
That said, we asked Bikman on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast to walk us through a “Day in the Life” of a metabolic scientist. Below, find out exactly what he eats in a day.
Breakfast is typically Bikman’s main domain: He loves to make a homemade morning meal for the whole family. “I will make crepes, where every crepe has one full egg in it,” he notes, so each serving has a hearty source of protein. “There’s some flour, and the flour will increase glucose and insulin,” he adds, but he mainly makes crepes for his kids, who can tolerate a bit more starch.
“Another breakfast will just be good old-fashioned scrambled eggs and bacon, or we will make omelets,” he notes. “Basically, I want to make sure my kids get a lot of protein and whatever fat that comes with it.” Bikman, himself, tries to keep his meals pretty low-carb and protein-heavy—although he will dabble in crepe day from time to time. “[Or] I’ll have a low-carb meal replacement shake that I blend up,” he adds.
“Generally, lunch is going to be little to no carbs,” he explains. Usually, he’ll have some source of grass-fed, sustainably sourced meat or a low-carb meal replacement shake. Again, prioritizing protein is the key: “Protein also has a very high degree of satiety, so it will naturally help a person eat better portions,” he adds.
An important caveat: Bikman does not demonize all carbs. Rather, he advises against a bunch of refined carbs. “We get the bulk of our carbohydrates from bags and boxes with barcodes,” he explains, which leads to blood sugar spikes, elevated insulin, and potentially insulin resistance down the line.
“I want to have dinner with my family, whatever it is,” Bikman notes. “If there’s a way for me to keep it generally low-carb—like if we’re having pizza, I’ll just eat some of the toppings. But if one of my daughters makes spaghetti and meatballs, I’m going to have some of her spaghetti that she made. I just might have less of it and more of the meatballs, but I’m going to eat dinner with the family.” Connecting with his loved ones remains priority No. 1, which is a good move in terms of metabolic health—after all, a high social integration has been associated with positive metabolic function.
After dinner, he tries not to eat for the rest of the night. “The single greatest predictor of a good night’s sleep is if I go to bed on an empty stomach,” he shares. “I really fill up on lunch and eat a smaller dinner by design. I want to go to bed on an emptier stomach, so then I’ll sleep well.” Now, you also don’t want to go to bed hungry—that can activate cortisol, the stress hormone—but eating food too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Here’s a list of expert-approved bedtime snacks, if you’re feeling peckish.
Ultimately, Bikman tries to control what he can in terms of diet, but if he has to sacrifice a low-carb meal to spend time with his family, that’s A-OK. “I have a life outside the lab that dictates a large part of how I behave, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he shares. “Being a husband and father is my absolute priority.”
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