Pretox is the new detox

Length: 1938 words

Executive summary: Forget about detox, have a retox beer for breakfast the morning after, then shut up and squat!

The actual message: Pretox = eat a whole, good and varied, fibre-rich diet, and regularly expose your body and brain to convex stress; then a few benders will hardly affect you – except your appearance for a few days.


Good news!

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If you are between 20 and 30 years old, and worry about turning 40, worry no more. I’m 44 and I don’t feel a bit different from when I was 24.

Actually, I do feel different: I’m stronger, fitter, healthier and I have better facial skin quality. You could add that I’m more self confident, richer, wiser, etc. To be precise, everything is better. However, sticking to the purely physical, I’m as good or better on all accounts vs. my 24-year self.

That should be reassuring whether you’re 24 or 54, or somewhere in between. At the lower end, you can stop worrying and at the higher end you can stop complaining and do something about it.

It’s just one thing…


In vino veritas

I just spent five days in the south of Spain (Marbella, Puerto Banús & Puente Romano). Saturday was the last night out, and today it’s Wednesday; some 75 hours after locking down Easter 2016, and I still feel and not least look awful.


The truth that wine reveals? True age.

I’m not talking about the endless “guess my age” conversations, that everybody from 18 to 68 seem to engage in under the influence, but of how my appearance changes radically for the worse with alcohol. What’s actually happening is that my true age shows (and then some).

Thanks to working out regularly all my life and eating more or less healthily, not least the last 15-20 years, I haven’t changed as much with the years as most people.

Except when I drink.

dorian gray

Restaurant vs. Night Club

The first few units of alcohol even make me look a little more alert, interested and perky. That’s good for all parties involved.

Then comes “the change”.

Soon my facial features start deforming and sagging, degrading further with added units and hours…

Worst of all, the Picture Of Dorian Gray Effect sticks for at least another day. It sticks for longer and longer, the older I get. 20 years ago, the slightly haggard ‘morning after’ look disappeared with some cold water (or an ice mask). 10 years ago, you could compare me to a summer’s day, as soon as I had put a workout session between me and the night out.

These days, it takes ice cold water, a gym session, meticulous twice daily hot/cold facial rinsing and application of (Bulldog) lotion, as well as two more nights of sleep before I recognize myself in the mirror again. Sometimes, I’ll still notice a (new) wrinkle that wasn’t there before and that never goes away.

Now, will the real Dorian Gray please stand up, because lining up several back to back nights out has exponentially adverse effects.

4-night bender in Marbella anybody?

Photo credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

That brings us full circle to this Easter in Spain.

I was last out on Saturday, then sober on Sunday, Monday (traveled back), Tuesday (gym, torture) and today (Wednesday). Nevertheless, my eyes are still red, sting and feel cloudy. My smile kind of holds back, it’s as if it’s shy or tired; it doesn’t form as easily and the corners of my mouth don’t go as high as they usually do. Fortunately, my naturally straight and strong posture has more or less returned. Probably thanks to the gruesome and long gym session yesterday.

gym post marbella 2016

After warm-up

Apparently, I’m not yet fully recovered, even if I already look at least five years younger than on Sunday (3 days go). In addition I’m able to write this, which would still have been all but impossible as late as yesterday.

I don’t expect to be restored to factory settings until after tomorrow’s gym session and yet another night’s sleep, i.e., on Friday morning.

By the way, coincidentally, I’m invited to a friend’s birthday party on that very Friday (she’s turning 30). So should I embrace re-toxing, and try to blend in as that “sprightly, not quite yet 40” guy, gradually morphing into “what’s your father doing here?”


So, what’s with all of this?

It has nothing to do with age or age anxiety, if that’s what you thought. I’m really very happy and comfortable in my particular meat bag.

It’s something else. It’s my little gift to you, from the bottom of my intoxicated heart…


Tools and inspiration

I’m just simultaneously trying to give 20-somethings hope about the future (if you take care of yourselves), and inspire 40-50-somethings to focus more on constant pretox habits rather than the occasional and halfhearted snake oil detox cures.

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March 16, right before Marbella (talking oil)


I’ve never believed in detoxing. Sure, I’ve given it a few tries in my ignorant youth, and I still enjoy a sauna and some vitamin C the day(s) after. However, I’ve never bought the concept of ‘cleansing’ the body from toxins, with extreme and complicated procedures and diets. I think science has my back here, but you’ll have to find the reports yourself.

In fact, I’m more of a retox person, i.e., I’ll often have a beer first thing in the morning they day after. And if called for (meaning, if a headache and hangover set in later in the day), I’ll have one more. I seem to remember science has proved me right here too; it’s better for the brain to ease off the alcohol rather than go cold turkey. Presumably, a hair of the dog moderates the peak amount of waste products from metabolizing the ethanol. Or something.

hair of the dog

More importantly though, is the subject of pretox.



I’m not talking about pretox routines for the day or night before, but about lifelong habits of working out, sticking to a varied, fibre-rich and generally healthy nutrition regime, as well as exercising your brain mentally and psychologically. Yes, it’s the almighty “always be investing” meme redux:


Always be working out

I always work out every second day, come sun or rain; come hangovers or dates, chat with traders or TV shows. I simply don’t schedule anything else between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on days that are earmarked for working out.

Some days it might be stupid or even dangerous to stick to that routine. I’ll give them half a point, the heavy lifts must be done with a certain precision. But, you know what they say: “He who drinks and works out will always be stronger than he who only drinks”. In addition, more than a few times my routine makes me think again, before going out at all or before having that extra shot of vodka at 5 a.m.

The sum total of a strong habit combined with an incentive to hold back a little is definitely positive, albeit a little dangerous.


Cardio, is that Spanish?

Apart from my weight lifting routine, I always warm up on a treadmill for 10-20 minutes before hitting the bar (the gym lifting equipment). Sometimes, I do an all out sprint for 12 minutes (Cooper test), sometimes 6+6 minutes of top speed intervals, sometimes, like yesterday, 20 minutes of somewhat easier jogging (3 miles at 9 mph).

I claim never to do any cardio, but even I realize that 6-10 miles a week at an average speed of 9-10 mph must be considered speaking at least a little Spanish; in particular in combination with 20 hours of dog walks a week.


Always be eating healthy

Over the course of a typical week, I always include all the ‘magical’ foodstuffs you can think of:

  • leafy greens, like kale and spinach
  • cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli
  • various beans (green, black, kidney… there might be one single best bean, but it’s nevertheless much better for your microbiome to vary between several kinds)
  • spices: turmeric, cinnamon, chili, ginger, garlic, saffron, black pepper, oregano…
  • omega-3 rich fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel (and supplements like fish oil or algae oil)
  • vitamin-D supplements in winter
  • olive oil (in particular kinds rich in oleocanthal, albeit hard to get)
  • avocado
  • varied greens: peppers, rocket, tomatoes, cabbage, beetroots
  • nuts
  • honey
  • fruit: grapefruit, oranges, kiwi, apples
  • berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
  • Protein in general: all kinds of seafood and fish, mushrooms (all kinds?), egg and milk (and soon, I hope, insects)

Read carefully; there is nothing particularly magical or cleansing with the items on the list, but 1) they are not bad for you and 2) they are varied and many are 3) rich in water soluble fibres. In addition, they are all 4) whole, unprocessed and 5) sugar free (well, milk, honey, berries and fruit can be debated but you know what I mean). There are lots of 6) good fats and 7) protein, not to mention 8) vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and 9) other cool stuff like mild, hence stimulating, poison (broccoli) and anti-inflammatory substances (honey)

I think of it as 1) keeping my small friends (bacteria) happy, 2) greasing my brain, 3) providing good building materials for sturdy and communicative cells, and 4) feeding my muscles; in about that order.


Always be thinking

In addition to the above, I read and listen to scientific podcasts every day, do mobility exercises a few minutes a week, and take hot saunas pretty regularly (it helps having one at home). So, saunas are not cleansing or cures for me, they are just part of my normal life; my ongoing pretox routine.



there is no 10 000 hour rule

Having set routines for my body, brain and nutrition, means 1) I’m generally very healthy, 2) always prepared to go to battle with toxins like alcohol, as well as injuries, viruses and bacteria, 3) I have a well established base-line of habits to fall back to right after the last drink.



First, you must realize there is no detox

Second, be prepared to embrace the ‘retox, squats and milk’ hangover routine of retarded hedge fund managers (since that’s where #3 will land you every once in a while anyway)

Third, establish good habits, in effect a constant pretox routine

Now, go forth and multiply this post in your social networks! Make people sign up for my free newsletter and retarded e-book about investing like a true pro. Think of it as doing them a favor, not me.

go forth and multiply

Bonus: yesterday’s Sheiko workout routine (week 6, day 1)

Just to see what we’re dealing with, here is yesterday’s workout program

  • Treadmill: 20 minutes, 9 mph (unusually sweaty, no doubt due to still being hungover in some way)
  • Bench press 20kg x15, 40kg x10, 60kg x6, 77.5kg x5, 90kg x4, 105kg x3, 120kg (265 lbs) x 2,2,2,2
  • Squat 20×10, 40×8, 60×6, 70×5, 85×4, 98×3, 113kg (248 lbs) x 2,2,2,2
  • Bench press (again!) 70×3, 85×3, 98×3, 113kg (248 lbs) x 2,2,2
  • Cable flys (chest) downward: 22.5kg x8, 29.5kg x 8,8,8
  • Stiff legged deadlift: 20×10, 40×5, 60×5, 80×5, 100×5, 120kg (265 lbs) x 5,5,5
  • Bicepscurls: 20kg x15, 25kg x15, 30kg x 10,10,10

The best thing with Sheiko’s programs by the way is that mentally it is just one routine, but in practice there is a lot of complicated intra-week, inter-week and even intra-day undulation (periodization) going on. The weights, exercises, total number of sets and reps etc. are varied in a way that simultaneously feels challenging, easy and fun.



  1. Hi Mikael,

    Great article! I was wondering if you were interested in writing an article about your experience with the natural afternoon slump.

    I’ve done some small experiments over the week and I always get a sort of exhaustation around 2-4.30pm. Deliberate practise is almost impossible and anything I do feels difficult. The strange thing? After 4.30 I’m awake and I can go on until 10-11 if I want to.

    Any explanation for this experience and how to deal with it?

    • I might. I’ve written about sleep before, including afternoon (meeting) slumps associated with poor eating habits.

      However, it might be about time to write a very short post about various natural sleeping patterns and possible causes/remedies

  2. Do you do intermittent fasting, like Martin Berkhan, etc., Michael? Seems to have very beneficial effects.

  3. IF doesn’t seem to work when I am with my girlfriend or she sleeps over every couple of days. Mikael, great advice but the balance for love life? Doesn’t exist with IF…

    • You don’t have to do IF (at all). And definitely not all the time.

      If you WANT to do IF, however, just get as many 16 hour-sessions of fasting as you can every month or year. One is better than none.

  4. Are you concerned at all with your mercury levels? Since you know, you eat salmon every day.

    • Yes I am

      That’s the thing with food, there is always a snag.

      I vary what fish I eat, but all fatty fish has that problem

      That’s one reason I’m looking to get my omega-3 from fish oil, insects and algae instead. Fish oil at least consists less mercury (what little can be eliminated) than the fish itself.

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