In Memory of Jack Lalanne

Jack Lalanne, the great fitness guru and natural food advocate, is dead at 96. (Hat tip: Jamie Scott.)

He died of pneumonia, just a year after having heart valve surgery. Both conditions are suggestive of Chlamydia pneumoniae infection; perhaps antibiotics could have gotten him to 100.

The Associated Press obituary notes that his youthful diet wasn’t very good:

The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.

The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.

“He got me so enthused,” LaLanne said. “After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, ‘Jack, you’re a walking garbage can.'”

Lalanne was an advocate of eating whole foods, but may have over-emphasized the carbohydrates. Late in life, his diet consisted mainly of fruit, vegetables, brown rice, and fish. Rather like the Kitavans, but with less coconut oil.

Nevertheless he was a great example of healthy living. He joked at age 92 that he couldn’t die, because it would wreck his image.

Here he demonstrates fingertip push-ups:

Here he explains how to cure “pooped out-itis”:

Thanks, Jack! The fitness classes of heaven just got a little more entertaining.

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16 Comments.

  1. That’s really terrible to hear. What an amazing guy. He will be missed.

  2. 96 years old….just proves how essential diet and exercise is to the body! RIP, Jack!

  3. 96-not bad!! Not only was he an impressive physical specimen, he was impressive in front of the camera-really able to get his message across well and without reading everything off of cue cards or a tele-prompter. A great talent.

  4. It was interesting to hear Mr. LaLanne stress the importance of diet and exercise to overcoming fatigue and obesity. The basic challenge has changed very little from when that video was first taped.

  5. Do you know why he had heart valve surgery?

  6. That link on his diet was interesting. Jack talked about how he only had 10 second breaks between sets and doing fast cardio on treadmill for only 12-17 mins anymore a waste. He noted diet most important to get rid of the fat so can see the muscle. He took heaps of supplements.

  7. I should say the 12-17 mins was enough for cardiovascular benefits but he said more cardio if overweight.

  8. Late in life, his diet consisted mainly of fruit, vegetables, brown rice, and fish. Rather like the Kitavans, but with less coconut oil.

    Isn’t a low-fat diet with fruit rather not like the Kitavans, at all? I’m mystified by the comparison.

    Nevertheless he was a great example of healthy living

    I think your own book would argue against that. From what I can tell, this guy’s nutrition advice was terrible, the usual fat phobic nonsense.

  9. Hi Sue,

    No, I don’t. But usually those are due to lesions which are infected.

    Hi Will,

    The Kitavans eat a lot of fruit, fish, safe starches, and coconut. So very similar. Jack may have had a little bread, but most of his diet was of foods we include in our diet — just different proportions.

    Yes, he was low in fat, high in carbs and protein. But that has the benefit that it makes it easy to be low in omega-6! So low-fat diets aren’t necessarily atrocious, as long as they aren’t filled up with wheat, grains, soy, and sugar. The Kitavans are high-carb, but very low omega-6, no wheat, low sugar. It’s no surprise to us they were healthier than the average westerner.

    So yes, Jack Lalanne’s diet was imperfect: too high in fructose, with some wheat, when it would have been better to replace those calories with saturated fats. But overall, with a low-toxicity diet, exercise, good humor, and clean living, he lived healthily.

    We believe with a perfect diet everyone should be able to live to 100. He made it to 96. Compared to most people, that’s pretty darn good!

    Best, Paul

  10. Rest in peace, Jack.

    I’m confident he would have lived to over 100 if he ate a bit more fat and less fruit/bread and also exercised less.

    On the other hand, look at that guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Heesters

    He quit smoking just one year ago:
    http://www.newsoxy.com/entertainment/actor-johannes-heesters-quits-smoking-106-15997.html

    So, he might not only be the world longest performing actor but as well smoker!
    He said in an interview to eat porridge, fruit, honey and fish mainly but likes coffee and coffee-liquor too. He never eats before 11:00am.

  11. Hi Franco,

    Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction can cover for a lot of sins — especially of fructose, since it always has glycogen reservoirs to be disposed in. That’s another very low omega-6 diet. I wonder what his porridge is made of? I bet not wheat.

    Best, Paul

  12. Paul,

    oats!

    Best,
    Franco

  13. Jack may have emphasized carbohydrate foods but he cut out simple sugars (besides fruit) and advocated whole grains. I think the take home message is to eat natural foods and exercise regularly.

  14. Actually, until late in life (70s or 80s), his diet looked very much like an Art Devany style paleo diet (except for a slice of wheat toast for breakfast). He must have allowed himself to be convinced by all the propaganda that fat and meat is bad for you, which turned him into a pescatarian. Check out this video of what his daily meals were like for most of his life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMpdOxmtIqw

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