How I Put on 10 Pounds of Muscle in 30 Days

Between 2009 and 2014, I was solely focused on CrossFit and eating paleo. In 2014 I got my weight to around 185 pounds, up from 155 pounds in 2009. At 185, I was at my goal weight, and had roughly a 5-7% body fat percentage. I could squat 355 pounds and my lifts for other movements were pretty heavy in mydesignrelationship to my bodyweight I could go about my daily life, bend over, squat, and pick things up with no aches or problems, because functionally my body was strong and fit. In fact, as a chiropractor, being in good functional shape helped me with my very physical job. Adjusting many people throughout the day can be tiring, and getting my body in tip-top condition helped to reduce the soreness and overuse injuries I could feel coming about.

Fast forward to September 27, 2015: I completed Ironman Chattanooga and finished my 18 months of brutal Ironman training. I weighed only 168 pounds. In a short 18-month period – from April 2014 to September 2015 – I lost almost 20 pounds and rediscovered my scrawny pre-2009 body. 

During those 18 months, it was tough to watch my muscle melt away and begin to see boney structures – such as a more pronounced ribcage – take its place. I knew right after the race that I would recommit to regaining that 185 pounds. 

I did it by focussing on 3 keys strategies. By integrating them, I have now gotten back to 177 pounds and am slowly making my way back to my goal weight. 

1) Work out 5-6 Days a Week

My gym schedule has been pretty aggressive, and I plan to keep it this way until March 2016, when I’ll begin to train for Escape From Alcatraz. One of my biggest challenges at the gym is discovering my new one-rep maximums, as I lost roughly 20% of my former Olympic and power-lift abilities. My typical week’s schedule now looks like:

Monday = 7:30 p.m. Workout
Tuesday = 6:30 a.m. Workout
Wednesday = Day Off
Thursday = 5:30 a.m. Workout
Friday = 6:30 a.m. Workout; 9:00 a.m. 3-mile run
Saturday = 3-mile run
Sunday = 8:30 a.m. Workout

People think I’m crazy for all working out so much, but it keeps me functioning at high levels and able to accomplish everything I do in a day. 

2) Went From High Carb/Sugar (Crap) —> High Fat/Protein (Paleo)

When I undertook 18 months of Ironman training, my workouts ranged from 90 minutes to 6 hours in length. I was putting in roughly 11-15 hours of endurance work per week and my high-fat, high-protein diet was not working for me. I felt tired and grumpy at the end of the day. I definitely noticed a loss of energy when following the paleo diet during Ironman training. Eventually I gave in, and during long bike rides or runs I began to eat Gu’s, wafers and other high-sugar and artificially sweetened products to keep me balanced. It was tough, because it went against everything I wanted to put in my body – but it helped me survive those long runs and rides.

Literally the day after my race, on September 28, I returned to a paleo diet, in which you avoid dairy, grain, and sugar. In the past month I’ve had pizza twice, two alcoholic beverages, and maybe a little sugar on someone’s birthday, but nothing extreme or on a regular basis. 

Two weeks ago, I spoke about how going back to paleo made me lose my cravings for sweets and sugars. 

I have not counted calories or written down my food intake in a journal, but I have been very disciplined about eating extremely clean and staying away from grains and sugars. 

When my book Eliteness comes out in 2016, I’ll explain more about this diet and protocol – but for blogging purposes, here’s a sample day for me: 

A.M. Pre-Workout 

Vanilla collagen bar from Bulletproof Inc.

A.M. Breakfast

4 – 5 organic eggs or
Steve’s PaleoKrunch (Original) or
Steve’s PaleoCereal (Cinnamon)


Salad or vegetables with pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed beef


Salad or vegetables with pasture-raised chicken or grass-fed beef (I eat greater amounts of beef at dinner)

Throughout the day I may snack on almonds, but only on a limited basis, as eating is pretty hard to for me to do during the day (because we’re busy seeing patients). 

3) Supplement Protocol

Ben Greenfield is someone I follow for health advice and hacking my body to reach its potential. Recently I was reading one of his e-books and began to take everything he suggested in terms of a muscle-gaining regime.

The only supplements I took during Ironman training were from Standard Process. They help with joint inflammation, heart regulation, and adrenal fatigue. My training goals were to stay healthy and injury-free, and prevent any long-term damage to my body. I didn’t care about putting on muscle, lifting more weight or becoming a better athlete.

Now that I’ve returned to CrossFit, my workout supplement protocols have changed:

Pre-Workout Supplements

* 3 Millennium CRE-02 Creatine
* 1 Beta Alanine (NOW)
* 1 Carnitine (Thorne Research)
* 3 BCAA’s (MAP)


* 1 scoop Stronger, Faster, Healthier Recovery with coconut water

These are the 3 major lifestyle changes I’ve implemented. I plan to stick to them for a long time. My goal would be to get back to 185 – 190 pounds, and then hover around that weight. I have no desire to gain add much more weight and muscle. 

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Your Fall/Winter Sickness Began Last Weekend – Prevention Tips

For many, this week marks the beginning of the downturn of their seasonal allergies, sicknesses, and flu-like symptoms. Coincidental? I think not.IMG_3909 (1)

A few days ago many of us were busy trick-or-treating with our kids, loading up on candy and partaking in other gluttonous behaviors. This tends to be the time when many people begin eating more ‘heavy’ and unhealthy foods while drinking an increased amount of adult beverages due to all the holidays and sporting events over the next couple of months. 

This also becomes the time when the cold starts to come in, so more people tend to be staying indoors and not getting their regular workouts in. When people are indoors more, their vitamin D levels begin to sink, which is dangerous because strong vitamin D levels are linked to a healthy immune system. 

Along with the cold weather and less exercise comes the ‘busy’ season for many people, and with ‘busyness’ most people become more lackadaisical about fitness.  

I see this year in, year out, but my patients that recognize the busyness and unhealthiness that often occurs from November to February tend to be proactive with those measures. 

It’s EXTREMELY important – and I cannot emphasize this enough – to be completely committed to your health over the next 4-5 months. 

Will life get busy? Yes! However, this is the time to not get slack and give up on all the hard work you have put in all year. 

FullSizeRender (6)Some of the big recommendations I have shared on my Instagram account @draustincohen are the big 5:

1) Keep working out at least 4 days a week to keep your heart rate up and not let your body weaken.

2) Make sure your body is loaded up with plenty of vitamin D – this number can easily be checked by your local lab. 

3) Keep your body aligned so it’s performing at its best and make sure not to get lazy with your chiropractor visits.

4) Stay hydrated and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water even though its not as hot outside. 

5) Add in some greens such as chlorophyll, spirulina, or a form of phytoplankton to stay up on all your greens and antioxidants. FullSizeRender (7)

These are going to be my 5 go-to’s as far as trying to avoid staying sick and taking time off over the next few months. Fortunately, over the past 8 years of following those steps I have not missed 1 day of work for any sicknesses. 

Please comment or post any tips or strategies you use to prevent getting sick during the fall/winter season. 


How I Stopped Craving Sugar in 2 Weeks

On September 27th, 2015 I completed Ironman Chattanooga, and since that moment I feel like I have gotten so much of my life back.

One of the biggest gains is getting back to doing the things that made me super healthy and fit, which included both CrossFit and Paleo.IMG_3409

I started back at CrossFit on October 4th and went 5 times last week, going 3 days on and 1 day off to recover. I can already feel some of the gains physically, although I know that getting my strength back will be a journey as I lost roughly 25% on many of my 1-rep maxes.

The other change was going back to eating a diet that is 85% paleo.

From 2010 – March 2014 I ate roughly an 85% paleo diet which helped me put on 20 pounds of pure muscle and reduce my body fat percentage to 5 – 7%. It felt amazing to be that fit, but my body also never craved crappy foods, and when I would eat too much gluten I could feel it in my stomach. The reason I was not eating 100% paleo was because my protein powder was whey, which is dairy, and 1 – 2 times a month I would eat pizza (my vice). As far as alcohol consumption, I am not a big drinker, consuming perhaps 1 – 2 beers a week, but never more than 2 or any hard liquor.

Once April 2014 happened I began training for Ironman competitions and my paleo diet dropped to 50%. I was occasionally drinking Gatorades, natural colas, Cliff Bars, and other snacks that would help me survive my long endurance workouts. I ate for fuel and made sure my body had good stores of sugar in place for the amount of hours I was putting into my training.

Now, over the past 2 weeks I have been back to eating 85% paleo and have lost all of my sugar and grain cravings. Were the first couple of weeks difficult? YES!

My body craved the sugary foods the entire time, but I knew that if I stuck to my high protein and high fat diet then eventually my brain would lose those cravings. Sugar is highly addictive (proven by research), which is why our daughter has not had any sugar-laden drinks or foods as well as grains, which are converted into sugar and spike blood sugar. Indeed, the more you eat those kind of foods, the more your body will eventually crave them.

It feels so great now to be 2 weeks in eating 85% paleo and I finally feel like the cravings have subsided, although I was definitely tempted this weekend at numerous parties. If I went to those parties during my Ironman training then I believe I would have eaten those sweets, but now that I am losing the addiction my body is finally adapting, with the cravings fast disappearing.

You can all do the exact same thing I did, but the key is sticking to mostly good fats and good proteins and staying away from sugar or grains. Your body will definitely crave them for the first few days like mine, but stand your ground and know eventually that all cravings will subside.

Here is the food pyramid I follow for those of you looking to eat the same way I do:
—-Nuts and Seeds

———Fruits and Vegetables

————–Grassfed beef/Pasture Raised Chicken/Wild Fish


3 Snacks Every Athlete Should Have in the Kitchen

A common question I receive at every seminar I do and also on my Instagram account (@draustincohen) is, what snacks would you recommend?

Therefore, I will share with you my top 3 snacks, as these are staples in my diet and work on different goals for my daily living.

1) Bulletproof® Collagen Bars – (BREAKFAST SNACK)

This is my go-to breakfast snack that I eat first thing in the morning before I have my main meal.  This snack contains cashews, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and Bulletproof’s®proprietary blend of Brain & XCT oil. 

For those looking to get their brain in full gear and started for the day, these bars will be a game changer. They also taste extremely good on top of all the healthy benefits they provide.

2) Organic Pickles – (POST-WORKOUT SNACK)IMG_1977

Every athlete that works out to a high degree should add this and make it a staple in their diet. When I spend an hour knocking out some intense CrossFit workout or 4 hours hammering out a long bike ride, my body becomes deficient in sodium. 

Eating a pickle post-workout has been an important part of my nutrition recovery and kept my sodium-potassium pump in balance so I don’t become dehydrated. 

3) Trail Mix – (DAILY SNACK)

This is one that is easy to make and can keep your body’s hormone balance in check, as it will never leave you hungry. I eat this throughout the whole day, and when you get bored it is something that you can simply change up the contents,. I change up my contents pretty regularly, but for now here it is:

* Raw Almonds
* Raw Pumpkin Seeds
* Raw Sunflower Seeds
* Shredded Coconut
* Fair Trade Chocolate Chips
* Raw Walnuts


My Newest Breakfast Pancakes Packed With Protein (Great for Kids)

IMG_8241 I get asked daily about my favorite foods for recovery purposes and staying fit.

There are tons of foods that I utilize for recovery and health, such as: grass-fed beef, turmeric, beets, coconuts, etc. My newest craze which has been getting a lot of accolades in the Cohen household is buckwheat. 

I began eating buckwheat pancakes every time I went to Radial Cafe in Chandler Park and have become addicted. I would make it a point over lunch breaks to grab one buckwheat pancake as an appetizer and then have my Cobb salad with chicken for the entrée. I became so addicted to these pancakes that I knew I would have to make these pancakes myself to feed my addiction. 

Now my go-to breakfast recipe is buckwheat pancakes, and the results have been amazing. Before I share the recipe, let me give you some insight into why buckwheat should become a staple in your diet and why it is my new pancake recipe for my family. 

First, for those who follow 100% strict paleo, this is not paleo! Buckwheat is technically considered a pseudo grain similar to quinoa and amaranth, so this would fall out of the scope of paleo, for those who follow that strictly. However, buckwheat is gluten free, and after eating these pancakes you will not have that inflammation feeling in your gut like with bread or pasta. 

For people like me who follow a roughly 80% paleo diet, this will be a great treat. It’s also good for those who lift a lot of weight, do a lot of endurance training, or are looking to improve heart health. 

If you are someone who works out a lot, then the gain in buckwheat will be in the protein. The brand of buckwheat flour I buy has 5g per 1/3 cup of buckwheat. I use at least 1 cup for my pancakes, so each time I use this as a breakfast, I get 15 grams of protein on top of the whey protein shake I drink each morning. Buckwheat is also made up of amino acids, including arginine and lysine which are great for the synthesis of muscle. 

If you are looking for better cardiovascular health, then you may be interested in a 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that Chinese who ate 100 grams of buckwheat a day had better overall heart health. Many of the numbers that are used to assess heart disease such as cholesterol improved. 

Scrambled and hard-boiled eggs are still my favorite breakfast due to the healthy nature of pasture-raised eggs, but buckwheat pancakes are making a big push to get into my top three breakfast foods. 

Here is the recipe I use: 

Organic Arrow Mill Buckwheat Flour
Raw Local Honey
Hemp Milk
Pasture-Raised Eggs
Coconut Oil
100% Pure Maple Syrup
Grass-fed ButterIMG_3090

1) Mix 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of hemp milk.

2) Add 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 raw egg.

3) Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

4) Place coconut oil on a pan, and put the batter on the pan.

5) I usually heat it for 2-3 minutes per side and then top it with 100% pure maple syrup and grass-fed butter. 


My New Sports DrinK That Has Improved Performance

I regularly see tons of athletes and people who claim to be healthy but who are drinking loads of sugary and artificial drinks as part of their workout regime. They will bust out a hard work out, whether HIIT or cardio, and then use that as a reason to drink this chemically produced drink that provides zero value toward become a better athlete. 

I do not blame anyone for drinking these drinks because the marketing is amazing, and the commercials make you believe they rehydrate the body with electrolytes. In fact, I was a victim of this hype even though I knew how bad it was for my body.

When I paused my CrossFit training and began training for Ironman, I did not want to have to drink anything but water. I didn’t want the sports drinks because of the negative effects they impose on the body and the number of ingredients on the list. 

Well, I learned the hard way!

During my first 50-mile bike ride, I took 3 bottles of water and some Gu Gels to keep my balance regulated. Unfortunately, by mile 40, I began cramping and had to go extremely slow just to finish the 50-miler. This cramping was due the low amounts of electrolytes and sodium in my body.

My second 50-mile ride, I decided to drink Gatorade, even though it was something I was extremely against, but I figured this was my only way to load up on electrolytes while doing heavy endurance training. On that bike ride, I didn’t cramp, and it was something I used all throughout training for my first Ironman in November 2014. 

I am now training for my second Ironman in September 2015, and now I want to get off Gatorade. The short-term effects are OK, since it stopped the cramping, but I never felt amazing, as I probably psyched myself out due to the fact that I know how many chemicals are in the product. The biggest issue is the long-term effects this product had as I stayed on it and used it as my sports drink of choice.  

After reading numerous blogs and talking to other professional athletes, many of them suggested putting Himalayan sea salt in my water. Duh, why did I not think about this from the beginning?!

All I can say is, wow, what a game changer!

I started putting 2–3 tablespoons of Himalayan sea salt into my bottled waters, and not only am I not cramping AT ALL, but I am recovering faster and performing better. I have suggested to all my athletes that they begin doing this, and those that have, have been feeling better and performing stronger. 

If you do this, then you must use Himalayan sea salt or BASE Salt instead of Morton or another table salt. Table salt will reduce your performance, but Himalayan sea salt, which is full of trace minerals, including magnesium (one of my favorite minerals), will enhance your performance. 

There is no argument as to why you would choose another sports drink over this, as this has many more electrolytes and minerals that work with your body and not against it. The only pushback I get from people is they miss the taste of those other drinks, so in that case, put lemon or lime into your drink. 

If that doesn’t work, then soak different fruits in your water, such as strawberries, pears, oranges, or watermelon. 



Going Paleo? Don’t !@#$ It up With This Huge Mistake Most People Make

So, you have taken my advice or the advice of another smart person and decided to go paleo. Great! Now that you have taken this step, please don’t mess it up like most people and make this huge mistake. 

Once people transition over to eating paleo and getting off grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes, they think it’s a free-for-all with meat. They think they can eat meat all the time without any repercussions involved. FALSE!

First, I am proud of you taking steps to get healthier and clean up your system, but lets strategize. You went paleo because essentially you wanted to eat clean. The CornFed-vs-GrassFedBeef-biggest way people mess this up is that the QUALITY of meats they eat is gross. For most of the meat in America, when the cows are born, they are injected with antibiotics and growth hormones. Why? The reason for the growth hormones is so they can grow extremely fast and big so they can be sent to the slaughterhouse for money. The reason for the antibiotics is because any animal, including us, that eats only genetically modified corn and other GMO products and is kept in a cage and environment that is full of filth and feces, that animal will most likely get sick. Most likely they will develop some form of infection, and most companies like to be “preventative”and dope their animals up with antibiotics. 

If you have decided to take on paleo, then in order for it to be true, you have to eat clean meats. This is not a decision based on values (as it would be the right thing to do), but it should be a decision based on health. Grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of omega 3s, as well being much leaner.

You have to think if the cows and chickens have all this crap inside of them, then guess who receives the crap or lack of nutrients when we eat them? Bingo!

As far as priorities for me, when it comes to paleo, eating clean meats is number 1 by a significant margin. If cost is a factor for you, then you may want to strongly consider spending your dollar on buying organic meats instead of organic vegetables and fruits. Ideally, you would buy organic for everything, but when cost becomes an issue, I always suggest sticking to clean meats first. 


A Huge Myth With the Paleo Diet (Eating a lot of meat)

The paleo diet, aka “caveman diet,”has been my staple and lifestyle for the past 5 years. This way of eating is becoming increasingly popular as people get great results with this way of eating and decreased amount of inflammation, but as the popularity increases, so do the hypocrites. 

Constantly, people tell me they do not want to go paleo because of how much meat it involves. That’s a false belief. You could be a vegan or vegetarian and still eat paleo. As long as you are not eating any grains, dairy, legumes, or refined sugars, then you are considered to be eating the caveman diet. 

In fact, I bet the hunters and gatherers back in the day were not able to find meat for every single meal. Meat may have been a delicacy o them and something they only ate a couple times a week. 

For those considering a paleo diet, which I highly recommend, but who are concerned about eating too much meat, only eat it once a week to start. There is no paleo rulebook that explicitly says how much meat one has to eat in order to follow this way of eating. 

I use this way of eating as my baseline but still use whey protein as my source of protein powder and occasionally will buy raw cheese for the house. The issues for me come when I eat processed food or food with chemicals, as my body tries to reject it and gives me stomach pains. 

As stated earlier, the keys to eating paleo are: 

* Eating no grains,
* Staying away from ALL refined sugars,
* Removing legumes,
* Avoiding dairy.


Lebron James is Catching on to the Paleo Diet

For those who watch SportsCenter or read ESPN online, then you may know that Lebron James has recently lost a bunch of weight. In fact, he not only said he shed weight, but he said he feels quicker on the court from the new energy he has, and those of us who have followed Lebron since his inaugural season know that this could be dangerous for other teams. 

In a September 26th article on ESPN, Lebron said, “I’ll tell you what I couldn’t have—no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no refined sugar—no nothing. Meat. Fish. Veggies. Fruit.” He also said he has given up on pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream, which are 3 of Lebron’s favorite foods. 

Now, before many of you start making excuses and saying, “Well, it’s easy for Lebron as he can hire chefs”or “It’s easy for Lebron as he has infinite amounts of money,”the bottom line is changing the way you eat is not easy for anybody, no matter how much money you have. Sugar is ADDICTIVE and, in fact, is more addictive than cocaine. For someone to transform their way of eating requires a willingness and discipline to become healthier – not trying to become healthy overnight but becoming healthy over time and doing it the right way. 

In fact, eating paleo is inexpensive. For example, my paleo pancakes found in the Daily Survival Guide would cost roughly $1 for breakfast. Also, many of the other recipes and my weekly food items are inexpensive as well –


How to Make a Paleo Bloomin Onion

Weekly Food Item: Onion

Why it was selected: As we get closer to the winter months, it is very important to keep loading the body up with antioxidant-rich foods. Onions contain quercetin, which is a powerful compound known to have cancer-fighting effects, meaning it enhances the immune sytsem. 

Onions also contain phytochemicals, which are known to boost vitamin C and lower cholesterol levels. 

Paleo Bloomin’ Onion


1 large sweet onion
2 pasture raised eggs, beaten
2/3 cup almond meal
Seasoning – Garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and sea salt


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2) Now cut the onion. This is the important part. Cut about a 1/2 inch off from the non-root end of the onion and peel off the outer later. Turn this side down to help stabilize the onion. Make cuts approximately 1/4 inch apart and 1/2 inch down from the root into the middle of the onion. 

3) In a bowl place seasoning, almond meal, and eggs. Place foil on a backing sheet and flip you onion over with the root side down. If the onion isn’t staying upright, IMG_4080create a foil ring to set the onion on. Carefully fan out the onion pieces. Using a pastry brush, coat the bottom two layers of onion with beaten eggs first, and then sprinkle on almond meal seasoning. Now do the top pieces in the same manner. Slowly make your way around the onion until all pieces are coated. This will take a bit of time.

4) Cover the onion with a foil tent and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the tent and cook for 10 more minutes. Then re-tent and cook for another 5 minutes or until the onion is fully cooked.