CrossFit NYC: 20 Tips for Optimal Health & Fitness

I’d like to thank Court Wing, Hari Singh, Josh Newman, and all the folks at CrossFit NYC for a delightful visit to New York on Saturday. Court was a most gracious host. Ninety-three people attended, and many introduced themselves to us; some were familiar commenters from the blog, and it was great to put faces to names. I spoke for 2 hours, and answered questions for another hour. The questions were very interesting, and most of the audience stayed through the question session.

My talk offered 20 tips for optimal health and fitness. I promised Court I’d make the tips available, and several readers asked for them as well. Here they are.

20 Tips for Optimal Health & Fitness

  1. Eat carbs in the range 20% to 30% of energy; higher adds muscle more easily.
  2. Eat protein in the range 300 to 500 calories per day; higher adds muscle more easily.
  3. Listen to and trust your “food reward system” – if you are eating natural foods it will guide you to the best diet.
  4. Eat bone broth and gelatin for a healthy extracellular matrix tissue scaffold.
  5. Get adequate sulfur, which means not only eating sulfur-rich foods like eggs, onions, and garlic, but also obtaining additional sulfur from sources like supplemental MSM or Epsom salt baths. (Sulfur was traditionally obtained from water, but no longer.)
  6. Supplement vitamin C, 500 mg to 1 g per day.
  7. Drink plenty of water.
  8. Eat sufficient salt – at least 3 g/day sodium (1.3 teaspoons salt).
  9. Get sufficient potassium – eat some vegetables!
  10. Eat only “useful macronutrients” in the right proportions; minimize omega-6 and fructose; balance omega-3 and omega-6; keep carbs and protein in the ranges mentioned earlier.
  11. Avoid unnecessary infections:
    • Wash your hands, cook your food, practice safe sex.
    • Live in a low-infection location – ideally, one with cold winters and a dry climate, perhaps some elevation, but plenty of sunshine; in the US, the Rocky Mountain states have the lowest rates of infection.
    • Get plenty of sunshine on bare skin, and optimize vitamin D!
  12. Know your pathogens; utilize diagnostic tests, like the Metametrix stool profile, to see which pathogens have infected you.
  13. Use antimicrobial medicines when appropriate. These can make a huge difference in health and athleticism.
  14. Don’t eat toxic or immunogenic foods, such as wheat, soy, or peanuts.
  15. Protect the gut. The most important step is eating fermented vegetables and fermented dairy, plus a “Goldilocks” amount of fiber. Also, modulate the gut flora in a positive way with foods like traditional herbs and spices, antimicrobial oils, acids including vinegar and lemon juice, green leafy vegetables, and berries.
  16. Nourish your toxin removal systems. Nutrients like glutathione are essential for liver detoxification; production of bile with cholesterol, vitamin C, taurine, and glycine is also helpful. Eating sufficient fiber can help bind and excrete toxins.
  17. Promote healthy circadian rhythms:
    • Sleep in total darkness and don’t use an alarm.
    • Eat in daylight hours.
    • Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and at mid-day. Allow ultraviolet to reach your retina; do not wear glasses or contact lenses.
    • Avoid blue light at night; install f.lux on your computer and consider adjusting the colors on your television.
    • Make an effort to talk, socialize, and view faces during the day. If your work involves staring at a computer all day, put a digital photo frame on your desk and install something on your computer that shows faces. Take regular breaks to chat with colleagues, or if that is not possible then look at videos like this one (hat tip to Kris in the comments – thanks Kris!):

  18. Engage in intermittent fasting. A good method is to restrict eating to an 8-hour window each day. This will promote immunity and longevity.
  19. Exercise with variable intensity: routine low-level activity, such as walking or working at a standing desk; regular playful and mobilizing activity, such as sports, yoga, or tai chi; and occasional intense exercise such as resistance exercise or sprinting.
  20. Be sociable, be happy, and don’t be stressed! “Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Thank you, CrossFit NYC, and thank you also to the following writers whose material appeared in the talk (with acknowledgement): J. Stanton, Russ Farris, Seth Roberts, and Pål Jåbekk.

Leave a comment ?


  1. @Jaybird,

    Why was it a mistake for you?

  2. @Michelle

    Mistake? It permanently screwed up my vision and surface of the eye. Before the surgery, they said, “at worst, you can just wear contacts or thinner glasses.” Thinner glasses, yes, but never completely corrected vision. I can’t get 20/20 without some form of astigmatism-like vision which glares lights in low lighting. And instead of contacts, I can’t wear contacts because it literally won’t stay on the center of my eye and slips off to the sides.

  3. @jaybird – wow it sucks so hard that you got a botched surgery. i got mine ten years ago when they were still pretty new and it was probably the best decision of my young life. my vision isnt perfect but it hasnt gotten worse and i dont need glasses to live my life. hopefully they will develop a technology that can repair your damage.

  4. Paul

    Thanks for your reply and suggestions. I realized I haven’t ever talked about the swelling to a doctor or naturopath. Somehow it never came up. I do have chronic fatigue, whatever the causes of that may be, and it may be related to that. I’ve been tested many times for hypothyroidism and the tests were always normal, but I’ve never investigated it with someone who really knows their stuff.
    Doing a google search for leaky vessels I did see this suggestion
    “Fill up on flavonoids
    Strengthen capillaries and veins by taking 1,000 mg of hydroxyethylrutosides or 150 mg of proanthocyanidins daily”
    whatever they are.
    I also saw a recurring theme that it is due to inflammation. So that might be something.
    I also thought your comment to Tim about a)low electrolytes and b) habit interesting, as sometimes I feel dehydrated and still don’t want water. My naturopath has suggested starting with homemade pedialyte, so a little sugar or dextrose, potassium citrate, and salt in the water. And see how that goes.
    Your site is awesome, thanks again.

  5. Hi Paul

    I have a friend with Pneumothorax. It’s very serious. The doctors say there’s nothing they can do because if they try to extract the air from the lungs all the “air bubbles” might burst. The left lung is very fragile and because of additional effort she has heart failure so she has to be very careful.

    I wonder if there’s any possibility of helping her since the doctors say there’s nothing they can do.


    Best wishes

  6. @Jaybird,

    I’m sorry about your eyes!

    I have very poor eyesight, and I’ve been sorely tempted to get LASIK.

  7. @Darius

    I don’t know I would trust them again to repair it. What did the great philosopher Bush say, “Fool me once shame on you…me, errrr, uhhh, shame know fool you , …” 🙂

    @ Michelle

    Thanks. I’m curious about things like this:

    Either way, if I could go back to my worse vision that could at least be real sharp with glasses or be able to wear contacts, I would be ecstatic!

  8. @jaybird – i would hope if that day came that you would choose a different surgeon. in real life, it would suck if one bad apple ruined the bunch. i’m glad that isn’t true.

  9. Introducing…the High Noon Hero WOD Series | CrossFit NYC - pingback on December 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm
  10. Paul, does the research indicate on average how long the morning and midday sun exposure needs to be to establish a good circadian rhythm?

  11. Paul,

    So, with this Metametrix stool profile do you think, we have the tools to find cpn infections and other infections better then blood tests that cpnhelp org. claimed was not possible?

  12. Hi Peter,

    I think a half hour each would be sufficient, if skin is exposed.

    Hi Herb,

    No, cpn is inside the body and inside cells, the Metametrix profile looks at gut pathogens. But finding out what is in your gut will often identify problems you can address.

  13. Please explain how.


  14. Hi Paul,
    I see your suggestion to include a “Goldilocks” amount of fiber each day. What type(s) of fiber would be preferred or allowed? We used to use psyillium, but then stopped because we cut out eating corn, grains, and wondered if it was damaging our gut.
    And since a small amount for one person is large for another, how much is a “Goldilocks” amount? Thanks

  15. Hello again 🙂

    I see you recommended a Metametrix test but I’m currently low on funds so I can afford only one. I suspect gut damage/alteration from antibiotics usage. Which one should I get ?

    2105 – Microbial Ecology Profile
    2110 – Mycology Profile
    2115 – Parasitology Profile
    2120 – Chemistries Profile

    Thank you,


    • Hi Mik,

      The 2105, Microbial Ecology Profile, is the one to get. It includes the Mycology and Parasitology Profiles, along with a bacterial profile. The Chemistries Profile is unnecessary, but if you wanted it, a more complete package called the GI Effects Profile has both the Microbial Ecology Profile and the Chemistries Profile.

      Best, Paul

  16. Hi Paul,

    You say to get sufficient potassium and I’m wondering if you could be more specific with that tip. I know the RDA is pretty high (upwards of 4000 mg) and I’m curious if you agree with this suggestion. I saw a comment on here about deficient electrolytes and lack of thirst, and it reminded me of how rarely I get thirsty. How do you know if you’re electrolyte deficient? Are there diagnostic tests a family practitioner could do? What would you do treat a deficiency?

    Thank you,

  17. Thanks for the fast reply Paul !

    I’ll get the test done and report back.

    Have a great day,


  18. Hi Paul,

    Would the 2105 test detect infections?


  19. Eat protein in the range 300 to 500 calories per day; higher adds muscle more easily.

    I read where above 600 calories of protein becomes toxic but you recommend more than 500 calories, or more than 125 grams per day. Really? so you just eat 150 protein grams and muscle is more easily built. I wish it were that easy.

  20. Hi Mark,

    I’m the one who’s been persistently saying that more than 600 calories of protein is toxic.

    Of course building muscle requires many things, not just protein. But having protein available will tend to make it easier.

  21. Paul, I would love to see a bodybuilding thread. that is a thread that is about losing fat and keeping as much muscle as possible. the only diet that has been a success for me, with that goal, is a 60/30/10(carb, protein, fat). Whenever I try a high-fat/mod protein/low carb diet it seems I become flat and less defined. Suggestions? Mark

  22. Hi Paul – I’d like to echo Mark’s sentiment. I think I’m in the ectomorphic boat, I have tried different workouts (poundages and rep ranges, HST, WS4SB, etc.) along with many of your dietary changes, but I’m still frail. I love to play competitive sports, but I get tossed around any time there’s contact. I’ve also fractured bones in cases of marginal force, despite the resistance training and expected bone density gains. My diet is pretty alkaline, so I don’t think I’ve got an issue with using calcium for pH balance.

    Please consider a thread on adding muscle mass. Is it really as easy as just adding more carbs and protein? I’m intuiting that there’s a hormone connection here as well.

  23. Hi Marc,

    It’s a big topic. There are many ways for things to go wrong, so it’s not obvious what the culprit may be in any one case. But it will be a fun issue to look into.

  24. “Eat carbs in the range 20% to 30% of energy; higher adds muscle more easily.
    Eat protein in the range 300 to 500 calories per day; higher adds muscle more easily.”

    I’m confused. In the PHD book, it says eating a higher percentage of fat makes it easier to gain muscle, and cites bodybuilders who used that strategy. Is the above advice in contradiction to this, or meant to be considered in the context of a high-fat diet?

    In other words… the PHD diet is 20% carb, 65% fat, 15% protein. Are you saying that if you were aiming to build muscle, you’d tweak this to something like 30% carb, 50% fat, and 20% protein?

    Thanks, Paul. You work is fascinating!

  25. Hi B.C.,

    Yes. A 50% fat 30% carb 20% protein ratio would be great for adding muscle. A 65% fat 20% carb 15% protein would be longevity oriented, but would make it harder to add muscle.

    Best, Paul

  26. Hi Paul –

    Which metametrix test(s) would help narrow down pathogens / infections causing rosacea? It comes and goes, and seems to reduce in severity when I get more carbs in my diet.



  27. 12.11.01 | Phenomenal CrossFit - pingback on October 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm
  28. Like the list of tips. I like the one about eating sufficient salt. So may people fear eating salt when salt in our diets is so important. But in saying that, eating the right sort of salt. Not the highly processed table salt. That will kill you. Get a good quality sea slat/rock salt and a grinder. Or some Hymalayan salt full of minerals is great. 😛

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