Excerpt: 'The Diet Code' by Stephen Lanzalotta

In this imagined scene, one of the world's great geniuses finishes a meal as ideally proportioned as any of his master works. What Leonardo da Vinci brought a tavolo (to the table) was as balanced as anything he consciously designed during his long career -- a career in which he devoted much energy to exploring and exploiting an ancient mathematical formula that's come to be known as the Golden Ratio. Leonardo's application of the Golden Ratio was arguably quite calculated when it came to his art, but it was likely intuitive when it came to his meal planning. Leonardo simply chose from the variety of fresh whole foods available to him, nourishing his body and mind with ease in a way we seem to have entirely abandoned today. The effect of proper proportions is just as powerful on the plate and in the body, however, as it is on a canvas. Leonardo dined on the particular ancient triumvirate of bread, wine and N cheese, which makes up the trinity of essential macronutrients -- carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Leonardo, for one, reaped the benefits. He was slender throughout his long life and famously strong. (He was said to be capable of bending horseshoes with a single hand or stopping a horse running past him at full gallop with his bare hands.) That's not to mention cultivating perhaps the most amazing brain ever -- one of the keenest, most synthetic and far-reaching intellects of all time!

While I can't guarantee that eating the same way will turn you into a great painter, inventor, architect, engineer, botanist, anatomist, astronomer or sculptor, I can promise that consciously re-creating the quality, combinations and proportion of foods Leonardo relied on will help you become lean and strong. Put these new proportions inside your body, and you'll soon see new proportions outside. All you have to do is crack "The Diet Code" -- master the simple formula that unlocks the secret to easy weight loss: maximizing nutrition and metabolism.

As a self-taught baker raised on my grandmother's rustic Italian cooking, I've thrived on meals much like those on which Leonardo must have supped. I make breads hardly different from those he would have known, using the exact same technology as bakers in Leonardo's time did. More directly, I've admired Leonardo's polymath mind and strived for decades to take what insights I could from him and apply them across multiple aspects of my life. Again and again, I've circled back to that one formula, famously encoded in the angles of his spread-eagle Vitruvian Man, among many of his other works, not to mention a litany of designs dating back to the earliest human civilizations: the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio guided Leonardo in designing the famous fresco (The Last Supper) that I imagine him contemplating in the opening of this chapter and has been given credit for the enthralling effect of his Mona Lisa. He used it in his more practical undertakings, too, proportioning garden schematics, city planning layouts, everyday engineering plans and the like. In doing so, he was rediscovering wisdom from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia, which had at that point been all but lost; among Leonardo's many extraordinary achievements count rescuing and revitalizing this vital knowledge.

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