David Goggins is an American endurance athlete and retired US Navy SEAL known for his near superhuman athleticism. He’s often referred to as “The Toughest Man Alive,” having been through two Hell Weeks during Navy SEAL Training and having broken multiple athletic records. He has even written a book, Can’t Hurt Me, to share his story and inspire others to stay strong — both mentally and physically.
People everywhere have found inspiration in his journey from being a “depressed, overweight young man” to being one of the world’s top athletes. Since then, he has provided insight into his peak performance weight loss diet and fitness routine.
‘The Toughest Man Alive’ – About David Goggins
David Goggins is a hard man to define.
And yet, he has earned the title as “The Toughest Man Alive” due to his amazing military accomplishments and athleticism. In particular, he is known for being the only person in the US Armed Forces to have completed US Army Ranger School, Air Force Tactical Air Controller training, and training for the Navy SEALs.
He’s an unstoppable force, not only due to his military achievements but also his record-breaking feats. From running 100-mile races to landing in the Guinness Book of Records, David Goggins has more than a few noteworthy accomplishments under his belt.
He is now retired from the military and has found a new career as an author, motivational speaker, and all-around physical badass.
Education and Background:
- Born in Buffalo, New York on February 17, 1975
- Completed BUD/S Navy SEAL training in 2001
- Graduated from Army Ranger School with ‘Top Honor Man’ distinction in 2004
- Completed the San Diego One Day ultramarathon in 2005 (despite never having run a marathon before)
- Only US Armed Forces member to complete Navy SEALs training, Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training
- Completed over 60 marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons
- Set the Guinness World Record for completing the most pull ups in 24 hours (4,030 in 17 hours)
- Author and notable public speaker
- Philanthropist and activist for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation
David Goggins’ Book – Can’t Hurt Me
David Goggins describes his own upbringing as a “nightmare” of poverty, abuse, and prejudice. He shares his story in his book, Can’t Hurt Me, in order to shed light on how much he has had to overcome in order to get where he is today. The book is a gripping yet inspirational autobiography about surpassing obstacles, facing his personal demons, and taking control of his health.
Goggins also reveals that despite all of his accomplishments, recognition is not his main motivator for success. Instead, he simply aims to push himself to get tougher and stronger. To challenge himself physically and mentally.
As explained on his official website, “David chooses to run the toughest races and put himself through some of the hardest military training programs in the country for no other reason than to see what he’s made of.”
Can’t Hurt Me gives readers a glimpse into his fitness philosophy as well. He reveals many principles for staying strong, staying focused, and staying tough. Beyond his book, he continues to share mindset, fitness, and dieting tips during interviews and on social media.
In an interview with performance psychologist Michael Gervais, Goggins reveals that he was in quite a sad state prior to joining the US Navy SEALs. As an overweight and poor adolescent, he was bullied in school and abused at home. Graduating at the bottom of his class, he considered himself to be mentally, physically, and emotionally “soft.”
His frustration with his perceived weakness is what lit a fire under him. He wanted to become the toughest man in the world.
Goggins joined the military after high school and served in the Air Force until he was 23 years old. Then, after being medically discharged from the military, Goggins took on a job as an exterminator making $1,000 per month. Without military training keeping him in shape, his daily routine consisted of watching TV and eating mini donuts from the 7-Eleven. At age 24, he was nearly 300 pounds.
Then, one day he came across a commercial for the Navy SEALs training program — a program said to be the “toughest” in the world. He knew right away that this would be his new goal. To meet the fitness requirements, he needed to get down to less than 191 pounds.
Here are compelling before and after images of the man himself –
He dove head-first into an intense fitness routine in order to lose over 100 pounds. He also faced the infamous Navy SEALs “Hell Week” of over 130 hours of training. After losing the weight, upping his endurance, and reaching peak performance, he passed the Navy SEALs training with flying colors.
How did David Goggins go from Average Joe to Toughest Man in the World?
While the Navy SEALs don’t reveal all of their training secrets, fortunately David Goggins has shared what his routine looked like prior to joining the Navy SEALs. On Facebook, he revealed that he was at his heaviest when he first took to the goal of joining the Navy. In order to be eligible for SEAL training, he had to drop over 100 pounds in just over two months.
His average day looked something like this:
- 4:30 AM: Wake Up
- 4:30 AM: Eat a banana
- 5:00-6:00 AM: Ride on exercise bike
- 6:00-7:00 AM: Study for the ASVAB
- 8:00-10:00 AM: Swim for 2 miles
- 11:00 AM-2:00 PM: Full body workout (Multiple sets of 100-200 reps per movement)
- 3:00-5:00 PM: Exercise bike and more studying
- 5:30 PM: Run between 2-6 miles
- 7:30 PM: Dinner
- 8:00-10:00 PM: Back on the exercise bike
- 10:30 PM: Sleep
Today, David Goggins’ daily routine is far less restrictive but no less demanding.
He shared on Twitter that his typical post-SEALs daily routine looks more like this:
- 3:00 – 4:00 AM: Wake Up
- 4:00 AM: Run 10-15 miles
- 6:00 AM: Bike 25 miles to work
- Approximately 11:00 AM: Run during lunch
- After Work (varies): Bike home
- After arriving home maybe another 3-6 mile run
Striving for SEALs-Level Fitness? – Master Your Own Daily Fitness Routine
If Goggins’ daily routine seems a little intense, it’s because it is. He needs to keep his mind sharp and body in tip-top shape in order to achieve his amazing physical feats. The average person, however, is unlikely to have to run 100-mile races or swim several miles per week.
If you’re looking to increase your endurance, it’s essential that you create your own fitness regimen. This will depend on your weight loss goals, level of activity, interests, and current health status. A David Goggins-level fitness plan could be within reach.
However, you may decide that a moderate amount of exercise and a balanced diet is enough to maintain a happy and healthy standard of living. In which case, you may incorporate some of David Goggins’ weight loss diet tips and workout exercises into your own routine. You can always amp up your activity level or reduce your calorie intake if you want to surpass your initial fitness goals.
David Goggins Weight Loss Diet – How to Lose Fat in Ketosis
Athletes and Average Joes alike are always fascinated by “the greats” – people who have accomplished superhuman feats, broken records, and turned their bodies into powerful machines. When it comes to being one of the greats in terms of physical fitness, David Goggins would certainly qualify.
How did David Goggins lose weight and keep it off before his Navy SEALs training?
The answer: a ketogenic diet.
The Ketogenic Diet
You might find the answer a bit surprising, but David Goggins embraces a mostly ketogenic diet. With a combination of intermittent fasting and healthy eating, Goggins is able to stay lean but strong.
The Ketogenic Diet is essentially a low-carb, high-fat diet (similar to the popular Atkins Diet). It involves putting the body in a state of what is called “ketosis” by reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with healthy fats. Being in ketosis causes the body to be super efficient at burning fat.
The Ketogenic Diet is also said to provide multiple health benefits, such as improved mental clarity, a reduction in blood sugar, and lower insulin levels. With a keto-based diet and intermittent fasting, David Goggins turned his body into a fat-burning machine.
The typical practice of “restrictive dieting” is rarely sustainable, as people have a tendency to give in to their cravings. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, involves restricting eating to only certain times of the day. This is done to accelerate the production of fat-burning ketones in the body.
David Goggins regularly uses a fasting schedule that has him skip breakfast and not begin consuming any calories until around 11:00 in the morning. This fasting helps increase ketone production and thereby provides much-needed fuel to his brain.
David Goggins strives for a 40/40/20 split of the top macronutrients: protein, fats, and carbs (respectively). This means that his diet consists of 40% protein, 40% fats, and 20% carbs. By counting macros, he is able to stick to a low carb, high fat ketogenic diet.
This keto focus with intermittent fasting has been successful for Goggins in keeping his body lean while still providing him with enough energy and stamina to compete with the elite ultra-athletes around the world.
Ketogenic Diet Tips – What to Eat and What to Avoid
By following a 40/40/20 Ketogenic Diet, you are able to put your body in a state of fat-burning ketosis.
So, what does this diet actually look like in terms of what you can and cannot eat?
Foods to Eat:
- Leafy greens
- Meat & poultry – such as steak, ham, chicken, turkey, and sausage
- Fish – such as trout, tuna and salmon
- Unprocessed cheese
- Healthy oils – such as coconut oil and avocado oil
- Butter and cream
- Nuts and seeds
- Low-carb vegetables
- Sugar-free beverages
- Low-carb condiments – such as salt, pepper, herbs, and spices
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Foods to Avoid:
- Most fruit (high in sugar)
- Low-fat dairy and milk
- Starchy root vegetables – such as potatoes and carrots
- Grains and starches – such as bread, rice, and pasta
- Beans and legumes
- “Diet foods” – such as low-fat diet products that are high in carbs, or “sugar-free” foods high in sugar alcohols
- Alcohol (high in carbs)
- Unhealthy fats – such as vegetable oils and mayonnaise
- Sugary sodas, candies, and desserts
Avoiding “Keto Flu”
Even with all the benefits of a ketogenic diet, there are still some potential downsides. Many people report experiencing the “keto flu” after starting the new low carb, high fat diet.
New dieters may experience flu-like symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, cramping, dizziness, and lack of concentration.
If you start exhibiting these symptoms after switching the keto diet, we recommend these tips for a fast recovery:
- Get as much rest as possible in order for your body to recover.
- Cut back on carbs slowly over time while phasing in more healthy fats. This is better than making an abrupt change in your diet.
- Make sure you are getting enough healthy fats (40% of your diet). This will help reduce cravings as well.
- Exercise 2-3 times per week to make your body more efficient at burning fat without the need for a lot of carbs. Use fats for fuel and don’t over-do the exercise.
Overall, the ketogenic diet is a healthy dieting option if done correctly. It’s never recommended to practice extreme dieting in order to lose weight. It comes down to eating a balance of healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle.
David Goggins Ketogenic Diet Example Meals
David Goggins’ weight loss diet is the diet of champions. He knows exactly what is takes to keep his body lean, strong, and healthy. Let’s steal a page from his book to map out perfect ketogenic meal plan.
- 1 bulletproof coffee – 260 calories
- 2 eggs, fried – 210 calories
- MEAL TOTAL: 470 calories
- Arugula salad greens – 20 calories
- Crumbled hard-boiled eggs – 156 calories
- Cooked ground turkey – 167 calories
- 1 diced avocado – 234 calories
- Crumbled blue cheese – 119 calories
- MEAL TOTAL: 696 calories
- Grilled pork chop (8 oz.) – 320 calories
- 1 cup steamed vegetables – 118 calories
- MEAL TOTAL: 438 calories
- Full-fat plain yogurt – 105 calories
- 1 cup Keto granola – approximately 200 calories
- MEAL TOTAL: 305 calories
DAILY TOTAL: 1909 calories
Counting Your Macros
Since one of the main principles of the ketogenic diet is adhering to eating low carb/high fat foods, you’ll want to count the macronutrients in your meal.
Most foods that have a nutritional information label will show you the amount of fats, carbs, and protein. Remenber that you’re aiming for a diet that is 40% protein, 40% fats, and 20% carbs. You can use calorie-counting apps like My Fitness Pal to measure your caloric intake and count macros.
While your diet plays a huge role in your weight loss and overall health, you will need to maintain at least a moderately active lifestyle in order to lose weight and keep it off. But in order to get in Navy SEAL-level shape, you’ll be adhering to a much more rigorous workout routine.
David Goggins’ workout routine is not for the faint of heart, but his story proves that even being 100 pounds overweight doesn’t mean that you can’t get in great shape. He calls himself a “knuckle-dragger” that is always ready to do the work necessary to tap deeper into his full potential.
How did he go from 300 pounds to less than 200 pounds in 2 months? Let’s take a look into the workout routine of The Toughest Man Alive.
The 40% Rule
David Goggins follows a concept called the 40% Rule – a philosophy he picked up from his training with the US Navy SEAls.
The rule is this: “When your mind is telling you that you’re done and that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done.”
This rule reminds Goggins that no matter how exhausted he feels, he can still muster up the strength to push a little bit farther. He pulls great strength from this in order to keep pushing himself to newer and higher limits of his physical and mental abilities.
Goggins puts it bluntly in his book, Can’t Hurt Me: “Motivation is crap.” He believes that the key to succeeding in fitness is to draw strength from within yourself and continue pushing even when you want to give up.
Before David Goggins became a high performance athlete, he had to figure out how to lose over 100 pounds in 2 months in order to meet the minimum Navy SEAls fitness requirements. In order to do that, he researched the fitness routines of long-distance runners.
What he discovered was that the key to endurance is core strength.
Goggins shared his thoughts regarding core strength and overall fitness with Men’s Health Magazine. In his guest article, he emphasizes that a strong back and abs gives you ultimate stamina and ability to push your body to the highest level:
“To maximize my lean muscle mass, which would help me keep going even after I was exhausted, I switched my lifting to focus on reps instead of weight. The pounds continued to disappear. For every 10 pounds of weight I lost, I took 45 pounds of pressure off my knees. Eight months later, when I ran Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon, I weighed 177 pounds.”
Goggins now considers himself to be at his ideal weight of 190 pounds. He does core work every day, and runs and lifts weights multiple times per week. He recommends these core exercises in order to build up your strength and stamina.
Recommended Core Exercises:
- Swiss-Ball Obliques – 2 sets x 25 reps
- Russian Sit-Ups – 4 sets x 10 reps per leg
- V-Ups – 3 sets x 10 reps
- Broomstick Obliques – 3 sets x 10 reps
It’s no secret that Goggins has a lot of miles on his legs. When it comes to cardio pre-Navy SEALs days, he would bike and run over 100 miles per week.
According to Goggins, his typical cardio workout schedule looked like this:
- Wake up at 3am and run 10 to 15 miles
- Commutes to work on his bike about 25 miles
- On his lunch break, run between 5 to 8 miles
- Leaves work and takes another 25-mile bike ride home.
- Optional “short” 3 to 5 mile run after work
This would allow him to put in over 100 miles of running on his legs per week (about 450 miles per month). This is more than most weekend warriors will run in a year. On top of that, he would put in about 1,000 miles on the bike in a month.
Not a big fan of cardio? No problem. By following David Goggins’ weight loss diet and overall workout routine, you can still lose weight quickly. Though, if you want to get in peak Navy SEAL shape, you’ll want to up the cardio and follow his recommended weight lifting routine.
Weightlifting and Body Weights
David Goggins’ workout isn’t all about cardio. He also works in regular weightlifting and body weight exercises. Afterall, he did hundreds of thousands of pull-ups leading up to his record attempt. He can also deadlift over 400 pounds.
Recommended Weightlifting Exercises:
- Deadlifts – 3 sets x 10 reps
- Pull-Ups – 3 sets x 5 reps
- Squats – 5 sets x 5 reps
- Lunges – 3 sets x 12 reps
- Push-Ups – 5 sets x 25 reps
Depending on where you are at in your fitness journey, these sets and reps may be your starting off point or a goal you hope to achieve. There’s no shame in starting low and working your way up. Just be sure to stick to a routine and aim for continuous improvement.
You can see a complete Navy SEALs training workout at Bodybuilding.com
Don’t forget to stretch! Goggins is also famous for his stretching routine. In fact, he has credited his stretching routine with saving his life.
After years of intense special forces training and physical abuse, he stumped the doctors in his life with a debilitating illness that sidelined him for years. With that, he moved on from traditional prescription medication and embarked on a routine of stretching nearly 6 hours per day. This stretching routine returned him to peak physical condition.
Recommended Stretching Exercises:
- Quad Stretch – 3 x 30 seconds each leg
- Hamstring Stretch – 3 x 30 seconds each leg
- Hip Stretch 3 x 30 seconds each side
- Bicep Stretch – 3 x 30 seconds each arm
- Tricep Stretch – 3 x 30 seconds each arm
- Shoulder Stretch – 3 x 30 seconds each side
- Side Oblique Stretch – – 3 x 30 seconds each side
Stretching is essential to warming up and to post-workout recovery. You can search online for additional stretches to do every day in order to stay flexible and assist muscle recovery.
Why Follow David Goggins’ Diet and Workout Plan?
There are surely a precious few who will actually dare to rise to the athletic ranks of David Goggins. That’s because they’d have to let go of their feelings of deservedness and push themselves beyond their limits.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take running a 100-mile long race to be like Goggins. What it does take is a calloused mindset – one that is developed through pushing yourself into the zone of discomfort and hanging on until you reach the other side.
Embracing David Goggins’ diet and workout takes commitment, strength and a hard mind. He believes that we each have to be our own hero and that the only race that we are running is the one with ourselves. The goal, then, if you want to live the Goggins life, is to find more strength today than you had yesterday. That’s the way to build true mental and physical endurance.
Want to learn more about Intermittent Fasting benefits and looking for more great low carb recipes? Check out these other articles!
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- Intermittent Fasting and Exercise – The Truth
- Intermittent Fasting 2.0
- Intermittent Fasting and Caffeine
- Chorizo Turnip Soup
- How Intermittent Fasting Works
- Where to Start With Intermittent Fasting?
- Best Keto Snacks – 14 Recipes
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“David Goggins’ Diet and Workout” post was originally published July 12, 2018 but has been updated to reflect new information.