How to Ditch Diet Dogma and Simplify Superfoods

Max Lugavere

Learn ways to create, stock and use your “Genius Kitchen” so you can reconnect with food as nourishment that’s both holistic and energizing.


In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...

…you’ll take a deep dive into the science of healthy eating so that you can know how to leverage food for high energy and performance.

Health and science journalist Max Lugavere studies and writes about ways that food and movement fuel you. And, allow you some balance and freedom in your choices.

He joins the show to round out a body of work that includes his best-selling “Genius Foods,” “The Genius Life” and now his latest to complete the trio: “GENIUS KITCHEN: Over 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Make Your Brain Sharp, Body Strong, and Taste Buds Happy.

“It’s a kitchen and wellness guide,” Max explains. “I didn’t want to just make a book of recipes. That would’ve been too easy. I wanted to make something that was going to stand the test of time and serve as a resource for people. Something that they could refer to, not just for delicious meals to cook, but also as a compendium, a synthesis of all of my sort of ideas on food and nutrition.”

His work was inspired by his mom’s diagnosis with a rare form of dementia in her 50s. He dedicated himself to her care and also began researching how to prevent cognitive decline through nutrition.

“Though I began to cook when my mother could no longer cook herself, I realized that culinary literacy (like health literacy) had become yet another aspect of life that we had outsourced,” Max says in “Genius Kitchen.” I became passionate about creating healthy food that is delicious and easy to make and have since had the privilege to learn from chefs all around the world. And, having a teacher like my mom didn’t hurt, either.”

“Glycemic index is just on the cusp of being retired at this point, because its utility is very limited. Because we don't tend to eat single foods in isolation. We eat meals.”

Max Lugavere

There’s a multi-billion dollar diet industry that makes nutrition confusing and complex. This conversation gets into the value of simple food, how to find your own food philosophy and why Max rejects diet dogma.

“Our bodies have an innate knowledge of what is going to best suit them,” Max says. “But you have to consider it almost like, the way that our bodies communicate its need to our brains is a whisper that can easily be out drowned by the noise made by modern, hyper palatable, ultra-processed foods.”

So this is the episode for you to:

-Learn science-backed tactics to improve digestion, increase nutrient extraction and stop common digestive complaints.

-Get practical food lists and cooking methods for easy, nutritious meals that work for your performance goals and everyday life.

-Find out how to eat like a “genius” with these topics:

  • The upside & downside of plants
  • Protein quality & muscle maintenance
  • Organ meats
  • Fantastic fats & ominous oils
  • The shudder of sugar
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Calcium & the debate about dairy
  • And more!

More about Max:

Max gets his curious on hosting The Genius Life podcast. He appears regularly on the Dr. Oz Show, the Rachael Ray Show, and The Doctors. He’s been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and in The New York Times and People Magazine and contributed to Medscape, Vice, Fast Company, CNN, and the Daily Beast. He’s an international speaker who’s presented at events like South by Southwest, TEDx, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Biohacker Summit in Stockholm, Sweden.

Enjoy the show!

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  • Be forewarned, that you will be triggered by the one or two kale inclusive recipes.  – 3:27
  • I really wanted to make it practical and approachable and achievable for people. And I broke apart, in it, each different food component, from dairy, to salt, to fish, to meat, to plants. – 5:24
  • The place that sugar fits in your diet, is based on a number of different factors, right? Your metabolic health, your activity levels, your goals in terms of body composition, in terms of performance.  – 7:50
  • The glycemic index is just on the cusp of being retired at this point, because its utility is very limited. – 18:18
  • When developing recipes and just looking at curating dishes and meals, generally, herbs, spices, ingredients that are from the same region, that grow together, usually compliment each other very well.  – 23:39
  • What’s your take on conventional meat, or industrial meat versus grass fed?  – 27:22
  • Culinary literacy, I argue, is one more aspect of what it means to be alive, that we’ve lost touch with. And so I think knowing how to cook even basic ingredients, is so important.  – 30:10
  • There was this interesting study that came out a couple years ago, that found that prevalence of eating disorders or people who have had eating disorders in the past, is much higher in the registered dietician population than it is in the general population. – 33:32
  • It’s important that we establish absolute definitions about what it means to eat healthily, and what it means to not be eating as healthily.  – 38:24
  • The way that our bodies communicate its need to our brains, is a whisper that can easily be out drowned by the noise made by modern, hyper palatable, ultra processed foods.  – 39:13
  • I’m not telling people to not make their foods hyper palatable. In fact, look, my book is full of foods that I would easily describe as being hyper palatable. But it’s just being aware of the way that those kinds of foods affect your hunger.  – 42:42
  • When you char grill meats, you are creating various byproducts on the surface of the meat that are not good for you – 45:07
  • Do the benefits of eating fish, outweigh the risk? Abso-freaking-lutely. Eat fish.  – 48:51
  • My favorite fish recipe, I’m glad you asked, is actually a dish called bacalao, which is a Portuguese dish.  – 51:29
  • I love spicy food. People who eat spicy food have reduced risk of early mortality by 14%, which that’s not nothing.  – 55:27
  • A lot of people who aren’t former vegans like me, don’t know what spiralizing is. Can you talk about that for a sec?  – 59:33

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