The Minimum Effective Dose for Wellness

The Minimum Effective Dose for Wellness

I already talked about How to Stay Motivated, but for some people, the motivation isn’t the problem. Even those with will power of steel sometimes struggle with living a healthy lifestyle because they simply don’t have enough time.

If you fall into that category, taking a minimum effective dose (MED) approach to wellness can help make the adjustment less overwhelming so that you don’t give up simply because you don’t have enough time.

The basic concept here is finding the minimum amount needed to accomplish the greatest change. This applies in both nutrition and fitness, and in many cases, more is not better!

In my experience, nutrition accounts for about 80% of one’s physique, and that in most cases, 20% of effort creates 80% of the results in fitness. (Mark Sisson and Tim Ferriss have both explained various forms of the Pareto Principle as well).

As Ferris explains, two important MEDs to remember when it comes to fitness and health are:

  1. To remove stored fat- do the least necessary to trigger a fat loss cascade of specific hormones.
  2. To add muscle- do the least necessary to trigger local and systemic growth mechanisms.

Put another way: water boils at 212 degrees F. This is the MED needed to boil water. Raising the temperature more will not make the water “more boiled” so it is simply a waste of energy.

For health, this means isolating the most important factors that will create the greatest change. If you are trying to achieve noticeable results quickly, here are a few MED suggestions that I’ve found to be effective with myself or with clients.

Nutrition MEDs

  • Getting rid of all processed white foods (grains, sugar, starches) while limiting fruit and natural sugars and avoiding drinking calories (soda, diet soda, juice, etc.)
  • Eating protein first thing in the morning. Ferriss suggests 30 within 30 – eating 30 grams of protein (3-4 eggs) within 30 minutes of waking.
  • Getting enough fat – 1-2 TBSP of coconut added to the diet does wonders for many people
  • Veggies at every meal!
  • Eating 1 TBSP almond butter mixed with 1 TBSP coconut oil right before bed
  • Fasting once a week
  • Optimizing Vitamin D

Fitness MEDs

  • Kettlebell MED- 75 consecutive swings with max weight done 3 times a week. Work up to 150 continuous reps.
  • All out sprints once a week. Tabata’s are best (20 seconds max effort, 10 seconds rest, repeat 8 times) by running or on stationary bike.

Lifestyle MEDs

  • 7.5-9 hrs of sleep, every night! This makes more of an effect on health than most people realize.
  • Drinking 32 ounces or more of water immediately after waking up.
  • Making goals actionable and concrete (I will deadlift 200 lbs, or I will lose “x” inches) rather than obscure (I want to be healthy and thin).
  • Taking a before picture and keeping a food journal if weight loss is the goal.

What are your health goals? Have you found any MEDs related to health or fitness? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for this great post! I’m pretty good with everything on here and already do most of it. Can you please explain the almond butter and coconut oil before bed? I can definitely do that (I love them both!) I just want to know why I’m doing it.
    Also, what is your recommendation for fasting? How many hours? etc…
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for this great blog!

    • The fat/slow protein in the almond butter/coconut oil combination helps improve sleep and keep blood sugar stable until morning so you don’t have much of an insulin reaction. It doesn’t seem like much,
      but for most people, it makes a big difference in energy levels and even weight loss.

      For fasting, I usually fast from an early dinner (or sometimes lunch) until dinner the next day. I actually do it every wednesday (tuesday night until wednesday dinner) and occasionally if I’m in a situation where fasting is the better alternative to food.

  2. I also wanted to know the purpose of the almond butter/coconut oil blend.  I tried it and it was yummy, but I’m curious what it’s for!

    • helps improve sleep quality and keeps blood sugar stable throughout the night.

  3. thank you thank you for that post!!! one of your best, at least for me. i definitely fall into the category of not having enough time, between work full time, mommy full time, wife full time, student full time, church full time and then another non profit part time, and everything else. i’m doing pretty good on the eating. i’m needing to restrict my fruits some more. but iw anted to know about the almond butter and coconut oil before bed too. what does that do? 

    • short version.. it helps improve sleep and keeps blood sugar stable.

      • i wish you would have mentioned this before august, but i’m so grateful that you posted it now. that stuff is dang good! so yummy!!! i lick the bowl, it is so good. and knowing that it is good for you… yay!!!

  4. Thanks for the post. I think it is hard for many to focus on MED. I have found benefits in using MED in my diet and in the gym. Working out was always so taxing on my body, leaving me weak. After focusing on slower reps, and longer recovery time, I have improved a great deal on my lifts.

  5. Great post! I would love to share it on my blog with your permission.
    Many blessings of peace, love, light, and health to you

    • Feel free to share! Just please link back to the original 🙂

  6. Thanks for the great information…The only thing I question is drinking 32 oz upon awakening.  This seems like a heck of a lot of water to consume at once. I always drink about 16 ounces I keep by my bed, and even this sometimes gives me a bit of a tummy ache.  

    • I’ve found that this can be very cleansing and hydrating since it is before food consumption, but definitely go with you much you are comfortable with!

  7. Wonderful post!  I am new to your site and was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the information, but this “boils it down” to some key things that I can do to simply get started.  I don’t know anything about the kettlebells, though.  I’ll have to look that up…  Thanks so much!  I’m learning so much from your site!

  8. I love your website!  I started the grain-free lifestyle during your 30 day challenge and have lost 6 lbs. so far with the help of your fabulous recipes and advise!  I make your chocolate coconut cluster recipe except I don’t use any chocolate.  I pour the coconut mixture in a pan put it in the freezer and make a coconut bark.  I’ll have a small piece if I’m feeling low on energy.  It works great and is super yummy!

  9. About the eating 30 within 30, I work out in the morning 3-4 days per week. So on those days, I don’t eat until after the exercise (which is probably 11/2-2hrs after i wake up). I’ve read that it’s best to exercise on an empty stomach. Is that true? And if so, how does the 30 within 30 rule apply in those situations?

    • The reason it is best to exercise on an empty stomach has to do with carbs and the resulting insulin reaction. If you have excess insulin, you basically have to work though that before using stored fat, but pure protein does not affect this, and some foods, like coconut oil, can actually boost the efficiency of a workout if eaten before.

      • Ah thank you!
        Perhaps you also know the answer to another perplexing situation I can’t seem to figure out. I am a Type I diabetic. I test my blood sugar before exercise in the morning and it will be 80-100. I don’t eat anything and then when I get back from the gym and test it again, it will be in the 200s. So I have been taking some extra insulin pre-workout in anticipation of those highs. Is there something I could do to keep my blood sugar from spiking besides injecting extra insulin since that seems so counter-productive to me? (I don’t know if it makes a difference but the intensity of the exercise is high. We do push-ups/pull-ups/squats/lunges and various weight-bearing exercises, no straight-up “cardio”.)

    • The reason it is best to exercise on an empty stomach has to do with carbs and the resulting insulin reaction. If you have excess insulin, you basically have to work though that before using stored fat, but pure protein does not affect this, and some foods, like coconut oil, can actually boost the efficiency of a workout if eaten before.