Even if you don't follow the news, you probably know celebrities are a breed of super-humans whose interests and lifestyles are infinitely more interesting than yours or ours. In Celeb-Nerdy, we encourage these wonderful creatures to break out their LARPing costumes, sealed homemade baseball cards, or their obscure Navajo banjo collections to geek out on their top-secret hobbies. In this edition, provocateur blogger and self-proclaimed "professional asshole" Tucker Max tells us about his love affair with the paleo diet.

Never heard of the paleo diet? Max explains: "Generally speaking, paleo prescribes completely cutting out all grains and processed sugar. You eat a little bit of fruit, a ton of vegetables, and then specific types of animals, e.g. grass-fed beef. If a cow eats corn, you might as well just eat the f***ing corn. Avoiding grains does no good if you're eating animals that eat grains."

The Paleo Solution cover

So, are you on a diet then? Are you watching your figure?

[Laughs.] I'm not on a diet. The whole concept of dieting is fundamentally bankrupt. I live a certain lifestyle and it all started by accident. It actually started with fighting. I moved to LA in 2007 and was there for two years dealing with the [I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell] movie and I f***ing hated LA, dude. I hated everything about it. Everything but the weather.

“I'm not on a diet. The whole concept of dieting is fundamentally bankrupt.”

I'm not really good with dealing with negative emotions, you know? I'm not the Buddha. One of my buddies out there did Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You know what UFC and MMA cage fighting is? It's become pretty mainstream, but this was the beginning of '07 when it was not quite as mainstream as it is now. Jiu-Jitsu is sorta a component of MMA. But he's like, "Why don't you come and do this?" And I was like, "Come on, I'm not going to take off my shirt and roll around with a bunch of sweaty naked dudes. If you wanna be gay, be gay, but don't do that." [Laughs.] He was like, "You're an idiot. This has nothing to do with that. This is real fighting." I didn't believe him.

So I go in and of course I get my ass handed to me. I went back the next day because I was pissed off, and I fell in love with it because it's so difficult and cognitively taxing. But at the same time it's the most intense, ridiculous workout ever. It hits you in a primal spot that nothing but sex and eating do. Those are the three things humans were designed to do: Fight, eat, and f***.

Real fighting, man. I grew up on sports. I played basketball in college. I love sports, but this is nothing like sports. Sports are just fighting with a ball. So I guess I was 31, and all the guys I was fighting were early 20s and teens. It's hard on the body. I was having to take four Advil to get out of bed in the morning. I wasn't even doing it professionally; it was just a hobby. I was going three or four times a week.

So, I go to my buddy Tim Ferriss who wrote The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body. He's been training all kinds of MMA people for years. I'm like, "Dude, what do you do for your body?" At that point in my life I was eating like any normal person. He was like, "There are two things you should do: Take fish oil and eat a slow-carb diet."

I start supplementing fish oil, and it was f***ing miraculous. I had seriously intense joint pain and so much soreness. With fish oil, it was all gone. I'm pretty inquisitive and empirical so I read up on it. Apparently most Western diets are seriously omega-3 deficient. What that does is cause a lot of inflammation in the body and some other issues. All the inflammation was gone.

I read more and more into it and was like, "If just doing these two things created this change in my body..." I was already working out intensely, fighting, and I probably went from 195 to 185 in about a month. It's not like I was trying to lose weight. I was always eating as much as I always had; I just shifted what I was eating. I'm never going to go on any sort of program where it's like, "Restrict your caloric intake." F*** you. That's never going to happen.

But once I started doing this, I started feeling so much better. My brain felt like it worked better. Everything about me improved. So I kinda went down the rabbit hole, and I started reading up on diet and nutrition from alternate sources. Art De Vany, Robb Wolf, and Loren Cordain, they didn't invent it but they kinda popularized the concept of paleo eating. I realized that if you're just a normal person, and you have the normal ideas about diet and nutrition, everything you know is wrong.

“I realized that if you're just a normal person, and you have the normal ideas about diet and nutrition, everything you know is wrong.”

The food pyramid, with eight servings of grain a day? I can go through the science with you, but the fact is that grains are very toxic to humans. They'll keep you alive, but they're one of the worst things to eat that isn't going to kill you immediately. I was skeptical at first, but the more and more I looked at the science and tested it on myself, I realized they were f***ing right. The whole concept behind paleo eating is as humans we evolve in a certain ecological niche, and our bodies are to do certain things and eat certain foods. The world that we live in today is very, very dissimilar that we've evolved to occupy. They're not saying we should go live in f***ing caves and not have antibiotics anymore, but to remove the things that are bad for you and substitute them with things that are good for you.

Tucker Max before and after

What's the most expensive purchase you've made to support this lifestyle?

Well at this point, I've fundamentally changed my lifestyle so it works around this. But like, cage-free eggs are a f***ing fraud. A lot of chickens are literally held in a cage and poop out f***ing eggs and they're overcrowded. Those chickens cannot live outside a barn. F***ing crazy, dude. They can't live outside.

So, I love eggs. The eggs I buy are from a local farm called Jeremiah Cunningham's World's Best Eggs in Austin. This guy has special chickens that are like wild chickens. He doesn't feed them grain. He leaves his chickens out in the field and they do what chickens are supposed to: eat bugs. It's like $6 a dozen for these eggs. So I'm like, "All right, motherf*****." So not only did I try these eggs to see if they tasted better, but I went and bought the regular awful grocery-store eggs that are bulls****. Non-organic. It was shocking the difference in taste. Shocking.

You're obviously pretty enthusiastic about this, but was there ever a time when you've understated your opinion when asked about it? Or have you ever almost changed your mind about it?

No. I did this slowly. I started in '07, and I would say only in the last six months I made a big, big breakthrough. I couldn't get below 175 and 10 percent body fat. I knew there was a level below where I was. I actually started on the warrior diet, which is a way of eating paleo. It's the same food; I just ate a little differently.

Warrior diet is where you eat nothing in the morning, maybe some coffee and some sauerkraut — that's what I just ate. For lunch, maybe some raw vegetables. Spinach, radishes, preferably high ANDI-score vegetables. Kale, stuff like that. And then at night, I eat like a big meal. I'm going to Parkside tonight, and the menu is like bone marrow, sweet bread, Texas lamb. Stuff like that. I'll probably have a 3,000-calorie dinner.

How long did it take you to get used to eating coffee and sauerkraut in the same sitting?

[Sighs.] That's another aspect. Fermented foods. The big paleo thinkers haven't really figured out fermented foods yet. Paleo is so new. It changes almost monthly. A lot of details added, a lot of refinements. Loren Cordain was very, very much against saturated fat a couple years ago, but now he's actually reversed his position.

But here's the thing about fermented foods. I learned this from Seth Roberts. I wouldn't call him a leader in the paleo movement, but he intercepts with them on certain things he's studied. You understand how most of the digestion in our guts is done by bacteria? Well, that's gotta come from somewhere because our bodies don't make it. Because of the FDA and the fear of these bacteria, everything is pretty much devoid of fermented food. And that's super, super-bad for health. But when I started eating fermented food, all kinda cool stuff started happening. Especially kombucha. And sauerkraut, miso, natto, there's all sorts of ways you can get it. But you need it.

“You understand how most of the digestion in our guts is done by bacteria? Well, that's gotta come from somewhere because our bodies don't make it.”

But here's the thing. If you buy processed foods or eat fast food once a week, your body is so addicted to carbs and used to being overwhelmed by MSG that if you jumped into what I was doing it would be a system shock. But dude, I didn't do this overnight. I eased into it.

Look. I'm not a f***ing fruitcake. I understand that Snickers bars are f***ing delicious. No fact about paleo is going to ever change the fact that Snickers are f***ing delicious. So once a month or something I'm going to eat a f***ing Snickers bar because they're f***ing delicious. But even when I eat them I'm going to get a little bit sick because they're so overwhelmingly flavored. The taste is so intense and so sweet. I'll get a bit of a stomachache because I'm just not used to it anymore.

Do you have any other guilty pleasures like that, but they might give "normal" people a bit of a system shock like you described?

You should see my house. For the most part what I eat is super-dark organic dark chocolate. At some point dark chocolate is just disgusting. It's gotta have some sugar in it, but somewhere between 70 and 80 percent is what's palatable. But three years ago I would've spit that out. I would've needed 40 to 50 percent.

“Look. I'm not a f***ing fruitcake. I understand that Snickers bars are f***ing delicious. No fact about paleo is going to ever change the fact that Snickers are f***ing delicious.”

Is there anything you're trying to develop a taste for right now?

About two months ago I started on just raw vegetables for lunch. If you looked at my f***ing thing, it looks like what a sheep would eat. Radishes, beets, stuff like that. There's just no way when you first start eating that stuff that that's going to be a super-delicious and appealing lunch. [Laughs.] But I've been trying it because I wanted to see if I could get below 10 percent body fat. That's how I did it, getting to the next level. I'm like shredded now. It's kinda ridiculous. But vegetables taste a lot better to me now. It's like... neutral.

What's one of the most surprising experiences you've had in finding out someone else had this passion in common with you?

You know what's funny, dude? I've gotten to the point now where I can look at someone and tell. Paleo is not mainstream yet but I think it will be in the next five years. But I can look at someone and tell you. Especially the ones that are hardcore. They just have an energy and a vibrance and a skin tone and a musculature. It's like they stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, even if they're not like model-hot. They look like... Greek statues or something. I'm not that built, dude. I'm a muscular dude but I look like a decathlete. Not a body builder. I don't look like I'm taking steroids or something.

This morning I woke up, I was 171 pounds. I'm the strongest I've ever been. I'm 35 years old and I'm in better shape than I was at 25 or at 15. I'm at eight percent body fat. I work out, like, not counting fighting, maybe an hour a week. A week. Not a day. A week. A week. Like four times, 15 minutes apiece. I have like the most ridiculous six-pack I've ever had. And dude, it's not like I was a fatty in high school and college. I was an athlete. I earned 10 letters in high school. It's not like I ate great, but I didn't eat terrible either. My lipid level? My blood tests are so good that my endocrinologist didn't believe it at first. She said no one can have a triglyceride level this low. And I eat liver. Organ meat is so, so important if you're eating paleo. It's where you get a lot of your nutrients.

I'm the strongest I've ever been. I'm 35 years old and I'm in better shape than I was at 25 or at 15.

But I can go up to a girl and be like, "You're paleo, aren't you?" And she'll look at me for a second and be like, "How did you know!"

Even though it isn't mainstream, what sort of common misconceptions or reactions do you run into from people when they find this out about you?

It doesn't have a demonization about it yet. People just think it's weird at this time. If they don't know what it is, and they're suspicious of it, they just think it's weird. People are just like, "Why would you eat a liver or a beef heart?" I try to explain that it's highly nutritious and etc. etc., and they don't get it. And then I'll be like, "How old do you think I am?" They'll say, "I dunno? 28?" I'll say, "No, I'm 35. And you're 22 and you look like you're 30." And it's not my genetics. I'm not Johnny Depp or something. My parents look like average people. I have pretty average genetics.


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