The Bernarr MacFadden Diet Examined

As I continue my investigative research into old time diets of incredibly healthy people, today I want to attempt to provide more proof that we require much less calories than we’ve been told. Let’s take a detailed look at the diet of Bernarr MacFadden.

MacFadden is known by many as the Father of Physical Culture, and was very confident that all illness can be cured with proper diet (I’m not sure I can disagree with his point).

MacFadden favored a vegetarian based diet for most of his life, although he did say that people can be healthy as well when eating meat. They just need to eat less of it and not so frequently (this is what I would call a true Plant BASED diet). Also, he was best known for his fasts which also included milk fasts.

MacFadden was very much into fitness and exercise and believed in strength training along with long daily walks. He was a very active individual, and certainly would have required more calories than most of us today. At least, that’s what we would most certainly be told by the so called experts of today.

While I could never actually pinpoint the actual content of his meals on any given day, I do know that Bernarr MacFadden ate only 2 meals per day for most of his adult life. One in the late morning or early afternoon (which he called it a light lunch), and one a night. (Jack Lalanne also only ate only twice per day).

Given the fact that he favored a plant based diet, I’m pretty sure we can come very close to at least estimating his daily caloric intake.

Also, it’s worth noting that even when he was training for wrestling his contests, he still followed the 2 meal per day protocol and reaped incredible results.

Another very important point is that in addition to only consuming only two meals per day, MacFadden also fasted a day or two per week. Most of his life he fasted every Monday and even more frequently when he was ill.

So, being he ate only 2 plant based meals per day, I’m going to very safely say he consumed no more than 1,400 to 1,600 calories per day as described below.

Remember, his first meal was described as a “light” lunch. I’m going to say his lunch most certainly did not exceed 500-600 calories being it was a light meal (my guess is that I am on the high side here)

That being the case, and given all of the available information I have, I am going to say with a fair degree of accuracy that he had no more than 900-1,300 calories for his evening meal (although, this is probably a high estimate).

I personally feel his daily calories were somewhere in this 1,400 to 1,900 range. And let’s not forget, along with these low caloric levels, he fasted every Monday making his overall weekly average intake of calories that much less!

MacFadden was 5’6” and 145 lbs in his early teen years. I believe he got up to around 155 lbs. by the time he was in his 30’s.

So, that means that a very active man at 5’6” was consuming somewhere between 1,400 to 1,900 calories per day and fasted every Monday. He was incredibly healthy and very fit.

I want you to really think about something. So many people in this country sit at a desk most of the day. People working a desk job most certainly do not require high fuel (calorie) levels. They most certainly do not require more than an individual like Bernarr MacFadden!

However, this is exactly what has occurred in this country and continues to occur today. People are much less active but eat much more than their predecessors!

Please, if nothing else, take a long hard look at how much food you eat in comparison to what you do each day.


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