An Otaku’s Guide to Personal Health

Where to begin… (Personal Health pt. 0)

I’ve wanted to make a post about this for a while now; mental and physical health have always been important to me, or at least… in the past few years I’ve been more conscious of my personal health. 

And I bet you wouldn’t really think about the state of an Otaku’s mental and physical health. Well I’m here to talk about that. Not that I’ve closely observed hundreds of Otaku for their personal health habits… so this is more of an opinion piece on how to improve our lives, even just a little bit! This particular post will focus solely on the food groups, which are super important!

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional and don’t claim to be… this post simply offers advice from a personal opinion and any serious questions should be considered with a medical professional.

Weight Management and the Macros (Personal Health pt. 1)

Otaku come in all shapes and sizes. We all have our personal tastes, like which Japanese-inspired snack is our favorite or which ramen tastes best, but at the end of the day we all share the common interest of anime and manga, jrpg, etc. So what the hell is a macro and what does it have to do with any of this?

Macros include fats (lipids), proteins (amino acids), and carbohydrates (simple & complex sugars). All three play an important part in our lives and have their uses for our health.

Now I know you know the function of each, but just hear me out and let me get to my point!

Protein helps us stay full, serve our immune system, maintain muscle, as well as give energy and a plethora of other functions. Fats help curb hunger, keep the brain healthy, help nutrient absorption, and several other benefits you wouldn’t realize. Lastly, Carbohydrates give us energy, which is especially useful for intense exercise.

Otaku are well versed in carbohydrates. We love our high-carb rice and ramen, chocolate sticks and sweet candies. And while there’s nothing wrong with liking these things, they are often abused. Even protein is something we often get way too much of; I admit I love my buffets and crunchy chicken (#1!, if you get the reference). They taste good! So good that we see nothing wrong with having more, and more… and more. Nothing wrong with having them! But we have to realize our bodies have a very prehistoric way of thinking and are actually always in a state of…

-Survival Mode. (Personal Health pt. 2)

You see, my fellow otakus… life wasn’t easy for our ancestors. They didn’t have anime (ba-dum-tss!). But seriously, historians concluded our prehistoric ancestors went many days without eating (called “fasting”), especially in the winter; like seriously, there’s nothing to eat in the winter. 

Instead, our ancestors would fatten up on fruits in the Fall, and the extra body fat would burn through the winter (through fasting) keeping them alive till Spring. 

So what does that have to do with today? Well, we sorta do and don’t have it easier than our ancestors did. We have new things to worry about, like our Crunchyroll subscriptions running out (*slaps knee*), our car breaking down on the highway going to our favorite convention, and taxes… lots and lots of expenses. Oh and your rent’s due, also you forgot to pay your student loan for a degree you haven’t been able to find a job for since graduating college. 

To the corner store!

You get the point. But we also have it easier. We literally have a supermarket down the road where we can get pretty much any food we want. You can pick up and eat fruit all year long, and not just some local fruit, but fruits and veggies from all over the world.

 And don’t get me started on snacks. Snacks are great, but stores are filled to the absolute brim with candy and artificial foods, and most of us just don’t have the self control to not pick up chips and dip, cookies and cakes. I mean that limited edition pack of Oreos has Pokémon on it! Come on, I need it damnit!

Turn Your World Upside Down (Personal Health pt. 3)

What if I told you that everything you knew about nutrition is wrong? Would you laugh in my face? Punch me out of habit, or turn and walk the other way? I wouldn’t blame you, because we grew up with a “pyramid” of nutritional needs that told us we needed 200+ grams of carbohydrates, lean proteins, many cups of fruits and veggies, and very little amounts of fat. There are many things wrong with this diagram, and I’ll tell you why *ominous music plays*.

~”Sugar Killer! Because you Dance so Sweet, so Slow it Kills Me!”~

What if I told you that you really didn’t need carbohydrates? That carbohydrates serve a very important function, but that many of us hardly use that function, and therefore gain a considerable amount of weight because of it? I’m talking about… are you ready?… 


I hate the word. And I also hate doing it. I rather sit and read manga for hours on my couch. And did you know that carbs are really great for a workout? The amount of pasta and bread and rice we consume are really meant to fuel running that marathon we never think of running (except that latest anime we need to catch up on). And carbs literally cannot make us full (sorta), so we can literally have bowls and bowls of pasta and rice without stopping (until we get sick with stomach pains that is… but not satiated). 

There are many kinds of carbs as well, but they all actually serve the same purpose for the body, energy. Whether bread or a cookie or even fruit, the carbs in them give us energy, which we most often don’t use and end up storing it as body fat. Fiber is an important component that actually negates carbs. So if you were to choose bread, go with one that has high fiber, and fruit with the skin and skip the fruit juice, which is all sugar called ‘fructose’, and not any better than soda, which both diet and regular are pretty much poison for the body (at least in the long-term 10+ years of consuming regularly). 

What Ryan Recommends (Personal Health pt. 5)

So while it’s OK to have carbohydrates, we’re definitely not getting rid of them. I just ask that you be mindful of which carbs you pick and choose, and how often you consume them. I’m good on weekdays and I cheat on weekends. But “cheat” is a gross word, so let’s call it “celebrating”, because life is worth celebrating. 

Try to pick whole foods, or minimally processed ones with ingredients you can pronounce and aren’t a friggin paragraph long. So you don’t have to give up your favorite foods, just watch how often you consume them and notice how they make you feel after (I would get horrible stomach pains and feel sleepy after a carb-heavy meal).

I bake. 

A lot.

 I love sweets, ever since I was a chubby cherub of a baby. My grandma would sit me on the table and let me eat raw cake and cookie batter literally every day (hence I’ve been a messy eater since). Instead of reaching for the flour and sugar, I bake with almond and coconut flour. Combined, they can nearly mimic regular flour if using a highly rated recipe. I recommend googling low carb desserts or meals (if you choose to bake). I also use stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol instead of sugar, in both my coffee and my desserts. And I eat these low carb desserts every night and I feel great and haven’t gained weight in the 2 years I’ve done it. 

Again, if you eat regular sweets, just be mindful how often you do so, and don’t beat yourself up if you try to be better and fall off the wagon. You can always get back on it. 

If a ‘diet’ sounds awful to you, I agree. I don’t like the word ‘diet’ because it  implies that something is temporary. It’s a lifestyle. But if it sounds way too much for you (and I don’t blame you), I have a very important alternative suggestion below, so read on!

Craving the Protein (Personal Health pt. 6)

Putting carbs aside, let’s talk about proteins and fats. I love meat. You love meat. Maybe you don’t love meat; maybe you’re a vegetarian or vegan (nothing wrong with that). Protein is very important in keeping us healthy, but similar to carbs (but not really), we can get too much of it. I sorta cringe whenever I see all these protein drinks and powders, probably because I’m not a bodybuilder. If you’re like me and don’t curl weights or bench-press, you probably don’t need the whey. I understand if you’re trying to stay full longer, however. 

I shoot for around 40 grams of protein, or estimate about 7-10 oz. of protein a day (which I realize is probably a lot more grams). Everyone’s personal health needs are different. You probably don’t need a 14 oz. cowboy steak to get full (besides that expensive!).

There’s this stigma about meat, especially red meat and cancer. What if I told you that it depends on the way the meat is processed that can make you sick later in life? We often go to the grocery store and pick the cheapest option and cut of packaged meat (because let’s face it, we’re all struggling with money). But we really should pay attention here! Processed meats get a bad rep, but we don’t realize that most of them are cured and full of nitrates and other preservatives that extend shelf life but harm our health (even then there’s controversy around whether or not nitrates are bad). 

What Ryan Recommends (Personal Health pt. 7)

If you can afford it, try to get organic (please don’t roll your eyes!). I know that stuff can get expensive, but the animals are often treated humanely (also something to keep in mind – the treatment of animals), and are far less processed that way. Avoid meats with ‘caramel color added’, which actually make protein useless for the body (oddly enough). Don’t always get the ‘leaner’ cuts of meat; besides being more expensive, they aren’t as filling and you may reach for more at the dinner table. I shouldn’t have to say this, but get a variety; wild caught fish or farm-raised without antibiotics, red meat, poultry, even sausage (that’s minimally processed), etc (I’m not listing them all). I like to get ground meat to divide and freeze for later, but also because the fat is evenly distributed throughout it. 

But one of the greatest gifts in life is perhaps… bacon. I love me some crispy bacon. Doctors beware, but if you can get your hands on some organic, humanely raised bacon, you’re set for life. If it were cheaper, I’d make bacon all the time if I could. I also collect the bacon fat and filter it through a coffee filter into a little mason jar and use that for my cooking. Ever heard of bacon-fat French toast? Now you have.

Another one of life’s greatest gifts is eggs.

A current bird flu has made egg prices skyrocket unfortunately, but I still get organic eggs all the time. I like to make these little frittatas in muffin tins and freeze two weeks worth, which I eat every single day. Eggs have a crazy good amount of vitamins and minerals as well as fill you up.

Just remember to eat them with both the yolk and the egg white, because they have the best nutritional value that way. Also they’re useful for a crazy amount of recipes both sweet and savory. Even in the East I first think of omurice when eggs are brought up.

I realize I’ve left the vegans out of this all this time, but fret not! I will say, vegans should be wary of the plant-based meat alternatives they try, since not all are created equal and may still be highly processed. Two things I recommend that I consume daily are nutritional yeast flakes, and wheatgrass juice powder. Nutritional yeast flakes are inactive and contain all the amino acids as well as all the B-vitamins for the ultimate energy and mood boost (and don’t cause yeast infection, I dunno who came up with that notion). 

Wheatgrass juice powder is a highly concentrated form of wheatgrass and contains plenty of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, and helps regulate blood sugar. Having a tablespoon of wheatgrass juice powder is like the equivalent to having a gigantic salad of leafy greens, so there’s that! And anybody can try this, not just vegans.

The Chew on Fat (Personal Health pt. 8)

Fat is one of the most underrated macronutrients in the world. Doctors shudder at the word ‘fat’ and tell us to avoid it, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. You see, fat curbs our hunger quite considerably.

It sounds like an absurd idea, but try having a slice of butter after a meal; did it make you feel full longer? Not only hunger, but cognitive and brain health are supported by the fat we consume. What if I told you that…

Fat does not make you fat. 

Let me repeat that. Fat doesn’t make you fat. At least… depending on the fat you consume. There are good fats and there are bad fats. Animal fats and grass-fed butter are quite good for us, because they contain nutrients and support brain function (as well as act as a buffer for carbs just like fiber). Avocado, olive, and coconut oil are healthy plant-based fats, and depending on their application – can make really delicious meals!

The rest are garbage (mostly). I would avoid vegetable oil at all costs. Not only because it is grossly overused and adds a ton of calories to our meals, but the way it’s processed is quite disgusting. Soybean, corn, canola, and I think even peanut oil are very cheaply made and cause acid reflux (for some people) and just lead to health problems later in life. 

What Ryan Recommends (Personal Health pt. 9)

Cooking with healthy oils is something I do all the time, and I try to incorporate them in my meals whenever I can. I use olive oil for Italian dishes or meals with pasta (or its alternative – heart of palm), pizza (or alternatively – ‘fat head’ dough), or Italian seasoned meats. I use avocado oil whenever I want to crisp or fry foods (or for general use). Coconut oil tastes different depending on refined or virgin, and is solid at room temperature, so it’s easier to work with in a skillet. Animal fats like bacon fat (or lard) make meals crazy delicious, but may add a slight salty/bacon taste, so be aware of that. And I bet these oils would go great with some Eastern-inspired dishes, though I’ve only really ever made western-type meals. 

There’s one oil I hesitate to mention, only because it’s crazy expensive and mainly used for a low-carb or keto diet/lifestyle, and that’s medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. A very potent oil with 3 variants, I have maybe a tablespoon a day and don’t recommend using it to cook meals (because any more and you will get really sick). This oil that derives from coconut oil is sent straight to the liver and gets turned into ketones, which is the alternative fuel for the body. I only mention it because it’s part of my daily routine and some of you may take interest in checking it out. 

A Quick Word on Fasting (Personal Health pt. 10)

One last tip I’ll briefly mention before closing this post on personal health is the topic of fasting. When you first hear the word “fasting” you probably think of starvation. And while that’s not completely wrong… it is a bit exaggerated. Fasting is separate from diet, as you don’t have to pick certain foods to eat. You see, what if I told you…

You don’t have to change your diet (what you eat) to lose weight. 

Come again? Did I hear that right?

Why didn’t I just say this in the beginning? Well… that statement is a little loaded. It will be a very slow process, but if you try a time-restricted-eating (TRE), or go for a period of time each day without eating. Or what we really call intermittent fasting (IF), then the body will use its body-fat reserves as fuel (if you have body fat on you) and you will very slowly lose weight (we’re talking maybe 20 lbs. or possibly more a year at most).

For some people, this might not be fast enough to lose weight, but we’re doing this for longevity sake, meaning long-term. If you try going extremely intense from the get-go, like 0 to 100 real quick (whether it be diet or exercise or fasting) then you’ll just fall right off it and give up, so don’t. 

Going at least 16 hours without eating or drinking anything with more than 50ish calories (so like 6pm to maybe 11am) is how we perform the easiest form of intermittent fasting. I do ‘one meal a day’ (OMAD) and fast for about 23 hours a day 5 times a week, eating what I usually have for breakfast right before having my dinner. This is probably too intense for many people, and while it is, I’ve been at it for a while now and am used to it. The nice thing is that with IF, you don’t have to change your eating habits, just the window for which you eat. You don’t even have to exercise! It just certainly helps to be on a low carb diet/lifestyle to stave off occasional hunger-pangs (in the beginning) and even exercise still has its benefits.

Last Word/ Closing Time 

Okay maybe that was more than just a quick word about fasting, but I felt that it was important to mention to my fellow otaku (or anyone) that may be thinking of losing weight or getting healthier if they feel they currently aren’t. Fasting is a whole other concept for an entire other blog post and requires preparation before trying (like taking electrolytes to maintain energy and avoid dizziness) so don’t go in blind if you do decide to try it! And please, for the love of God (if one may exist, and I certainly don’t mean Aqua, if you get that reference)…

Do your research. 

All the information here I haven’t simply ‘pulled out of my @ss’. I’d like to give credit to Dr. Jason Leung, Dr. Ekberg, Dr. Berg, and Dr. Berry (and several other sources I haven’t mentioned) who all have YouTube channels that go over the ins and outs of a healthy life.

Don’t trust everything you see on the internet, but if you can cross-reference your sources and find a community that shares your interests and goals… you may be on your way to a better life. Again, I’m not telling any of you to change your life, but to simply consider these ideas as you may find that they benefit you.

If you’ve read and made it all the way through here, I thank you so much! I cannot see you, but I bet you’re a beautiful person, and if this doesn’t sound ironic to this post in any way… you’re fine just the way you are now 🙂 Until next time! Bye-bye!


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