PETER ATTIA FULL SUPPLEMENTS DISCUSSION LIST – Updated February 2022 – In-Depth Analysis
Peter Attia is a medical doctor who now focuses primarily on the applied sciences of longevity. Peter holds a B.Sc in mechanical engineering and got his M.D from Stanford University. He originally trained for five years at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in general surgery, before spending two years at NIH as a surgical oncology fellow at the National Cancer Institute.
Peter started gaining attention in the biohacking and longevity communities after his appearances on the Tim Ferriss Show and the Joe Rogan Experience, where he dove into a number of topics surrounding living a longer and healthier life. He has since started his own podcast (one of our favorites) called The Peter Attia Drive, which focuses on “maximizing longevity, and all that goes into that from physical to cognitive to emotional health“.
The podcast features topics including fasting, ketosis, Alzheimer’s and cancer prevention, mental health, and more.
When it comes to individual recommendations, however, Attia is quick to point out that a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works, and as such is hesitant to give advice related to specific products and supplements. His belief (and ours) is that a supplementation and diet approach should be tailored to each individuals goals and needs. This is clearly illustrated by this quote from Peter in his 2014 ‘What I Eat‘ blog post:
“Anyone who knows me or who has read this blog for a while will appreciate the fact that I loathe talking about what I eat. Why? Because, it unfortunately gets interpreted by many as what they should eat. It’s like asking me what exercises I do, and inferring you should do the same. It doesn’t make sense. I have specific genetic factors, epigenetic alterations, and goals. These factors coalesce to shape my behavior – how I exercise, what I eat, what I supplement.”
(*If you’re interested in learning more about using blood and genetic testing to optimize your nutrition approach, check out those sections under our ‘Testing & Gear Guide’ section in the menu.)
Despite Peter’s reluctance to give specific recommendation, there is some useful general advice that we’ve been able to glean over the years of following his work. And we’ve compiled that list of recommended supplements, diet choices, sleep protocols, exercise, and more into this page.
*Where a particular brand of the given supplement isn’t known, we’ve substituted and starred our own top recommendation.
Peter talks about the supplements he takes with hesitation, not wanting someone to just buy and take what he does expecting to have the same results.
That being said, it’s still possible to gain some insight into our own supplementation regimens from what Peter does (and doesn’t) do, thanks to his detailed explanations.
To save time we’ve included a summary of the main supplements that Peter has discussed below, along with the most recent dosages and timing that he’s mentioned. You can use the table of contents below that to jump to the in-depth analysis, and you’ll also find sections below on Peter’s discussions of diet, fasting, and exercise.
Please understand that just as Peter doesn’t want his recommendations construed as a one-size-fits-all approach, we don’t want that either. This page is meant to be strictly informative – not a prescription for what you should do.
- Omega-3 Fish Oil – nightly at dinner (1600mg EPA & 1000mg DHA)
- Magnesium Oxide – 400mg nightly before bed
- Slow-Mag (slow-release magnesium) – 2 tablets every morning
- Vitamin D – nightly, at bedtime
- Lithium – 10-20mg/day
Peter Attia Discussed Supplements
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Peter Attia’s own personal supplements have varied widely in the past decade (some of our first clear details coming from this 2011 article titled ‘What I Actually Eat‘), but one thing has always been a constant: Omega-3 Fish Oil.
Fish oil is one of the most commonly recommended supplements among the biohacking community, and it’s use is well documented for a variety of benefits from boosting cognitive function to heart disease prevention to joint health (check out our summary of Rhonda Patrick’s fish oil supplementation here).
Peter is no exception to this, and on his AMA #11 he mentions that he takes 2 grams daily of EPA/DHA and prefers the brands Nordic Naturals and Carlson.
Unfortunately Nordic Naturals often has supply issues, but Carlson (also one of our favorite suppliers) offers a great encapsulated form in their Maximum Omega 2000 product. Coincidentally that’s also Rhonda Patrick’s recommended brand as well.
In Tim Ferriss’s book Tools of Titans, Peter’s section includes a list of supplements that he doesn’t take. That list includes the following:
- Multivitamin: “They’re the worst of both worlds. They contain a bunch of what you don’t really need and don’t contain enough of what you do need. It poses an unnecessary risk with no up side.”
- Vitamins A and E: He’s not convinced he needs more than what he absorbs through diet.
- Vitamin K: “If you eat leafy green vegetables, you’re getting enough. K2 might be a different story for some people depending on diet.”
- Vitamin C: “Most of us get sufficient amounts in our diet, and while megadoses might be interesting, especially for combatting viral illnesses, it’s not bioavailable enough in oral form.”
He follows up this section with one supplement recommendation that he does use: magnesium. He takes 600-800mg per day, alternating between mag-sulfate and mag-oxide.
Magnesium is needed by every cell in the human body and plays a crucial role in energy production, the digestive system, brain function and stress relief, and more.
From the tweet above we can see that Peter Attia is taking Slow-Mag, which has a coating to reduce stomach acid breakdown, along with magnesium oxide.
Just like for everything else, Peter doesn’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to Vitamin D supplementation. Instead he believes in regular blood testing to discern where your blood levels are at (find more on our blood testing recommendations under the ‘Testing & Gear Guide’ section in the menu above).
On his recent episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast he cites an optimal blood range of 40-60ng/ml of Vitamin D. He explains that to target this optimal range requires two blood tests – one initial baseline test to determine where you are currently, and the one after a period of time supplementing to understand the effect of the supplementation.
Peter doesn’t seem to mention a particular brand of Vitamin D supplement, but we’ve derived our top choice from Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s recommendation: Thorne Research D3.
When most people hear the word lithium their first thought probably goes to batteries. However, there is some evidence to suggest that lithium supplementation in diets can be beneficial for general mood. For background:
- Lithium is not essential for human life – at least not based on current understanding – and is not considered an essential micronutrient.
- That said, lithium is found abundantly in small quantities, in in rocks and soil around the world, even making it into our drinking water. So humans are very used to getting it in small amounts.
- Research has shown that higher levels of lithium in drinking water often coincides with lower levels of suicide, and even reduced incidences of drug addiction. It appears to have a mood-stabilizing effects.
Peter has experimented with lithium in two ways:
1. In AMA #3 he refers to an experiment where he consulted with psychiatrist Paul Conti, who specializes in lithium monotherapy for bipolar patients. He then started taking 600mg/day which is about half of what Conti’s patients would be prescribed (this should not be done without doctor supervision). He didn’t tell anyone he was doing this, and then waited to see if anyone noticed a change in his mood enough to mention it. After about four months apparently his wife said his mood had noticeably changed and he was being “less of an asshole”. Obviously this is a subjective experiment, but we thought it was worth including.
2. As of AMA #3 in Oct. 2018 Peter now takes lithium in a low dose of 10-20mg daily, noting that it may have a benefit for boosting overall mood.
Peter doesn’t mention the specific brand of lithium supplement he takes, but we’ve found Purely Holistics Lithium Orotate 5mg to be a reputable source.
On a recent podcast with Kevin Rose, Peter mentioned the subject of branch chain amino acid supplementation. Peter explains that the bodybuilding community caught on early to the idea that if you wanted to build muscle, you want a lot of these branch amino acids in your system.
As such, BCAA supplementation has been popular in the athletic community for a long time. The only issue is that since most of the supplement industry is unregulated, the quality of these supplements is often lacking. Some of the BCAA products on the market literally contain crushed bird feathers…
There are only two companies that Peter say’s he’s aware of that produce legitimate branch chain amino acid:
1. A company in Japan called Ajinomoto, the original creator of the true pharma-grade amino acid. They sell their BCAA’s to other companies who then are allowed to put the Ajinomoto brand mark “Ajipure” on their packaging. You can see that stamp on the image below from California Gold Nutrition BCAA , unfortunately one of the only readily-available products on the market that use pure BCAA.
2. The other BCAA company that Peter mentions is Canada-based Biosteel. He has said that if a patient comes to him and wants to supplement BCAA’s, then Biosteel is his typical go-to as it’s readily available. They also offer a plant-based vegan option that actually doesn’t taste terrible.
Berberine is a plant derived supplement that Peter mentioned taking in the 2015 Tim Ferriss podcast. However in his next update (2016) he was no longer taking it. He occasionally uses it with patients, noting in AMA #3 [1:20:27] that Berberine is a weak activator of AMP Kinase, which is the “secret sauce” of metformin and can aid in longevity.
Berberine also acts to inhibit the PCSK9 enzyme, which then results in a reduction of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol4. Thus in the small subset of the population that over-express PCSK9, Berberine can be effective. However Peter notes that when LDL-P is high, and the normal causes such as diet have been addressed, it is only around 5% of the time about PCSK9. There are literally thousands of other possibilities as to why it could be high.
Peter notes later in the podcast [2:04:14], when they do use Berberine, they suggest Thorne’s Berberine as the brand.
Peter Attia Current Diet & Nutrition
Previous Use of the Ketogenic Diet
Peter is much more forthcoming when it comes to recommendations on diet than he is towards supplementation, but still conveys the fact that there is no one approach to diet that would fit everyone. Some people thrive on a vegan diet, while others thrive on the carnivore diet. What works for you depends on genetics and a host of other factors.
That being said, before we get into how Peter himself eats now, it’s important to notes his past experiences. Namely – the three years which he spent eating a 100% ketogenic (fat-based) diet.
Between 2011 and 2014 (notably well before the fad of keto took off in the mainstream) Peter followed this diet and documented his experiences. He also wrote a number of interesting articles on the subject:
- Ketosis: Advantaged of Misunderstood State?
- The Interplay of Exercise and Ketosis
- What I Actually Eat (circa Q4 2011)
While he no longer eats a keto diet, he explains that it’s not because he lost faith in it’s efficacy:
“I was leaner, and more mentally and physically fit during this three year period [ketogenic diet] than during any other period of time as an adult, and my biomarkers were as good as they had ever been.”
You can find more information on Peters transition away from keto in his 2014 article ‘What I Really Eat, Part 3′.
These day’s due to family and societal concerns Peter doesn’t follow a strictly ketogenic diet, although he still aims to avoid useless carbohydrates. One thing that’s interesting to note before we dive into what Peters diet consists of is what it’s notably not: it’s not vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian, and it’s not gluten or dairy free. Again, some people can survive and even thrive on those diets, but Peter does not shy away from eating red meat, dairy, and the occasional slice of bread.
With that being said, Peter Attia’s current diet regimen (to the best of our knowledge) focuses around three key rules:
- Time-restricted feeding (aka intermittent fasting)
- Avoiding sugars for the most part – especially high-fructose corn syrup, liquid fructose from juice and other drinks, and junk food
- Not placing restrictions on healthy starches and vegetables
Time Restricted Feeding
Peter has been a long time proponent of short and long-term fasting (more on that later), and specifically tried to fast between 14-16 hours per day (sometimes up to 20-22 hours). He mentioned in his 2014 What I Eat post that he hardly ever eats breakfast, preferring to do fasted cardio in the morning or early afternoon and then have his first meal afterwards.
This runs contrary to the typical western diet belief that we’ve all been brainwashed as children to believe: “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. It’s not. There, we said it. And Peter Attia has too.
The image below from Cell Metabolism shows the benefits on blood markers after adopting a smaller daily eating window.
Avoiding Sugars, Excess Fructose, and High Fructose Corn Syrup
Peter notes that while he’s not strictly ketogenic anymore, he still tries to avoid (for the most part) “useless” foods like high fructose corn syrup and excess processed sugar. He also mentions that he avoids fruit juice and other sugary drinks that often contain a huge amount of fructose.
Even though your mom may have told you as a kid that a big glass of orange juice was great to have first thing in the morning with breakfast, we’re sorry to say that it’s not. The fructose can cause spikes in blood sugar levels similar to (if not worse than) an candy bar, with the same resulting crash after.
That said, Peter doesn’t abstain from all sugar. He eats some fruit in his diet along with starchy vegetables on a regular basis. He also notes that three or four times a year he’ll indulge in epic cheat meals where he allows himself to eat whatever he wants, even going so far as to eat six whole deserts in one sitting during a night out to dinner with his wife and daughter.
Also, unlike some fad diets that make you think you’ll keel over and die if you break their rules, Peter recommends the occasional cheat meal or snack in moderation in order to maintain sanity and get the most out of life, as you can see in his Instagram post below from a trip to Italy.
No Restrictions on Healthy Starches & Vegetables
As noted above, Peter does consume healthy carbs in the form of starches such as rice and potatoes, not putting specific restrictions on them (while still using common-sense moderation. He also doesn’t restrict his vegetable consumption. We pulled the image below from his Instagram which shows a before and after shot of a grill night.
Peter Attia Average Meal
Obviously this varies widely, but in a podcast with Kevin Rose we got an overview of Peter’s typical meal format:
- His trademark “huge salad” – a large bowl of vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, etc. With extra virgin olive oil and lemon, salt, and pepper for dressing.
- Protein – he rotates between salmon, pork, steak, or wild game meat
- Carbohydrates – A serving of rice, potatoes, or sweet potato
On the occasional day that Peter eats only once in the day, he’ll actually cram around 3,000 calories into this type of meal.
Use of Long-Term Fasting
7-Day Water-Only Fasting Protocol
No post about Peter Attia would be complete without discussing his regular use of long-term (often up to seven days) fasting. But we want to preface this by saying you should not attempt that type of long fast without doctor supervision as it can absolutely be dangerous.
Now that we got that out of the way, lets start with some of the benefits of fasting. Data from researcher Valter Longo and others have definitively shown that long-term fasts can:
- Decrease visceral fat, aka the fat surrounding organs which can lead to fatty liver disease, heart conditions, and other negative effects (as opposed to subcutaneous fat under your skin)
- Increase rates of autophagy (the body’s process of cleaning out dead and potentially cancer-causing cells) – around day three
- Lower IGF-1 levels
- Decrease blood glucose, insulin, and insulin sensitivity
Until around the end of 2019 Peter was doing a 7-day fast once a quarter. His fasting process was comprised of:
- 7 days of ketogenic diet prior to the fast, to get the body fully into a fat-adapted keto state
- 7 days of water only fasting
- 7 further days of keto after the fast
Current 3-Day Fasting Protocol
Citing the fact that 7-day fasts are extremely intrusive on life and that during those long fasts he usually saw the biggest shift in his glucose/ketone levels around day 2, Peter has now transitioned to doing a 3-day fast once per month. He also doesn’t do the full week of keto before and after.
So far Peter has found the 3-day fast:
- Significantly easier than 7-days to complete, without ever experiencing the “dragging” feeling he does often with the longer fasts
- Allows for a higher tolerance to exercise due to less glycogen depletion, meaning less of a loss in strength and endurance.
During those fasts it’s strictly water only, which means large volumes of Peter’s favorite carbonated mineral water drink Topo Chico. We’re not sure, but if we had to guess we’d estimate sales of Topo Chico have at least doubled since Peter started drinking them, given how often he talks and posts about it.
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