This Q&A series aims to explore personal perspectives and experiences related to weight, nutrition, and overall well-being. Through candid conversations, we seek to understand individuals’ motivations for managing their weight, the evolution of their thoughts over time, and the holistic impact of weight-related journeys on various aspects of life.
We live in an interesting world. For the amount we talk around weight—from body positivity to weight loss medications to “get fit quick” trends on social media—it still feels a bit taboo (even frowned upon) to talk about weight loss. But here’s the thing: weight loss is a universal experience. It’s something we all navigate in one season of life or another. Whether it’s after a big life transition like going to college, having a baby, or bouncing back from an injury, most (if not all) people think about losing weight at one point or another. And that’s OK! It can be healthy AND coexist with body positivity. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
The real problem might be society’s perspective on weight loss. It’s so focused on the idea of loss itself. More often than not, it’s wrongly assumed that the need to lose weight signifies a loss of control, discipline, or direction. And it elicits feelings of guilt and shame. But, in reality, weight loss isn’t a loss at all. Especially when you realize what achieving a healthy weight can help you gain.
So, we’re flipping the script on weight loss and helping to redefine what it means. Enter: the “What’s the Weight” series. We spoke to Max Lugavere, health and science journalist, filmmaker, bestselling author, and host of “The Genius Life” podcast, about weight and the role it plays in his life—plus his protein goals, what he eats in a day and more.
Our favorite parts of the conversation? How he gauges a healthy “weight” for himself and achieves his health goals without sacrificing his mental health (or weekly sushi order).
Growing up, what was your relationship with food like?
Very healthy! I grew up in New York City with a broad palate and an appreciation for foods from many different cultures. I ate pretty much everything. At around 15 years old, I became more health-aware and stopped drinking soda and eating candy and started limiting highly refined foods.
Was there a specific moment or experience that served as a turning point in your health journey?
When my mom got sick in 2011 with a rare form of dementia, I became interested in reconciling my passion for fitness with longevity and healthspan/disease prevention. I started diving into nutrition when I discovered lifting—and I was instantly obsessed. The science was both fascinating and empowering to me.
What goals did you set for yourself in the beginning?
Feel good, look good, and be fit.
I noticed you didn’t mention anything about weight.
That’s right. Weight lacks specificity. It can be useful, but body composition is more important. I’d rather weigh more with more muscle than weigh less with less muscle.
If that’s the case, does weight matter to you at all?
I am well-versed in the research linking excessive body fat to poor health outcomes, such as cognitive decline, heart disease, and cancer.
That said, I’m not massively interested in my weight, per se, but rather my body composition—i.e. my ratio of lean mass to fat mass. I’m more concerned with how I look and how I feel.
So what you’re saying is that there are more ways to measure your health progress than just the number on the scale?
Absolutely. I love what the fitness lifestyle does for my mental health, mobility, endurance, identity, and pretty much every other aspect of my being. Being strong is a definite perk, as well as the mental health benefits that come from resistance training, which is a non-negotiable for strength, metabolic health, and an ideal body composition.
Makes sense. Of course, some of us are pursuing weight-related goals. In those cases, how would you recommend maintaining a body-positive attitude while also working towards weight or fat loss?
I think it’s always important to show yourself love and grace, no matter your weight or health status. But you should also be able to assess your habits and behaviors dispassionately, based on empirical evidence, and adjust when adjustments are needed.
Weight and ultimately body composition are important markers of health but they’re not the only markers. Good mental health is massive and I prioritize the relationship that I have with myself above all else.
Also Read >> How to Eat to Boost Your Mood
Talk to us about those habits, then. What small changes have you made to help you develop those healthy habits?
Prioritizing protein in my diet and distributing my protein intake evenly throughout the day has been a game changer for my health, body composition, and energy levels. This past year, I decided to get down to 9% body fat (at least according to bioelectrical impedance) without any muscle loss. I did that and actually gained muscle along the way, which was great since I’ve been training for such a long time.
Also Read >> The Science of Taking Small Steps For Weight Loss
How has the MyFitnessPal app helped you reach those goals?
I discovered MyFitnessPal about a year ago and decided to use it to facilitate a cut. I audited my daily protein intake along with my calorie intake as I got leaner. It was super helpful—I was able to really dial in my body composition by ensuring I was hitting my protein target, among other things like fat and carbs.
There’s that emphasis on protein again.
Yep. I eat a diet that’s high in protein, with moderate carbs and fats. I aim for .7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of my body weight every single day.* I also eat mostly gluten-free (except for the occasional sourdough bread) and I try to minimize my intake of refined grains, added sugars, and ultra-processed, refined, bleached, and deodorized seed oils.
*(Note: The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 1.4-2g/kg for most adults.)
Also Read >> Essential Guide to Protein
Walk us through a day in the life of Max Lugavere’s nutrition.
I wake up, eat a meal that’s around 500 calories with 40 grams of protein, and then hit the gym. Post workout, I eat lean protein with some sort of fibrous veggie and carb, like rice or sweet potatoes. I usually repeat the same formula for dinner. If I’m hungry in between meals, I’ll snack on whole fruit and beef jerky.
If you could eat one thing every day, what would it be?
I love to eat steak—it’s my favorite food. It’s followed closely by sushi. It’s never a bad day when steak or sushi is on the menu.
And finally, what advice would you give to others who are starting a health journey of their own?
Trust the process! Patience, consistency, and discipline really is the name of the game as far as gains go. Prioritize getting strong and feeling good.
More about Max: Max Lugavere is a health and science journalist, filmmaker, and bestselling author. His first book, Genius Foods, a New York Times bestseller, challenged our understanding of diet’s impact on brain health, while his Wall Street Journal bestseller Genius Kitchen married delicious recipes to his recommendations. He hosts “The Genius Life” podcast, one of the top health and wellness podcasts in the U.S, and commands an audience of over 1.5 million followers across social media. His contributions to programs like The Rachael Ray Show, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, PBS’s Brief but Spectacular, and The Doctors, along with features in VICE, Fast Company, The New York Times, People Magazine, and CNN, and appearances on The Joe Rogan Experience and The Diary of a CEO, have made him a respected and well-known voice in the field. An engaging speaker on topical health and wellness topics, Lugavere regularly leads keynote talks and corporate seminars around the world, including at SXSW, The Biohacking Conference, the Health Optimization Summit and many others.
Ready to hit those protein goals like Max? Download MyFitnessPal today (for free!).