Jack LaLanne

Fitness Expert
Born: 1914

Jack LaLanne is often called ‘The Godfather of Fitness,’ but he called himself a ‘junk food junkie’ with a bad temper and a sugar addiction until he happened to attend a lecture on the importance of a healthy diet as a teen growing up in San Francisco. He said the talk (given by health food pioneer Dr. Paul Bragg) changed his whole attitude and he began to concentrate on diet and fitness. LaLanne was decades ahead of his time and opened one of the first fitness gyms in the US and made it coed, which was downright scandalous in the 1930s. LaLanne invented several exercise machines including the calf machine, the lat pull down and the leg extension machine. He also wrote several books on health and hosted The Jack LaLanne Show, the longest-running tv fitness show that ran from 1953 to 1985. At age 54, LaLanne handily beat then-21-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger in an informal strength contest on the beach. He appeared in several tv shows and movies, often portraying himself. LaLanne was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed about 150 lbs. He died of pneumonia at age 96 and was said to have done his daily workout right up to the day before he passed away.

Known For:

Jack LaLanne’s Diet

Diet Summary

LaLanne emphasized protein and vegetables at every meal, although he generally avoided red meat and ate primarily fish and egg whites. The only other animal protein he would eat was roast turkey. He ate only 2 meals per day and did not believe in snacking, which today we call intermittent fasting. He would rise early (often at 4 am) and work out on an empty stomach, and not have his first meal until nearly noon, then nothing again until dinner. LaLanne believed processed foods were the cause of many healthy problems. Early years excepted, LaLanne always ate clean and eschewed all refined sugar, flour, and even things like coffee. His one indulgence was a glass of wine in the evening, because he said the French are healthy and drink it, so it must be okay. (LaLanne’s ancestry is French.) He was a big fan of nutritional supplements, taking dozens every day.

Estimated Macros

  • Low Fat 15% 15%
  • Medium Protein 30% 30%
  • High Fat 65% 65%

Diet Details

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Lonely Road

When LaLanne was a teenager, he had to hide his lunch of raw vegetables, whole bread, nuts and raisins and eat it alone on the football field to avoid being picked on.

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Lean Meals

Hard-boiled egg whites, broth, oatmeal and soymilk and seasonal fruit was a typical first meal for LaLanne which he took around 11 am. His 7 pm dinner was equally lean, consisting of raw vegetables, more egg whites and fish. He would often indulge in a glass of wine with dinner.

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Juiced Up

LaLanne was into juicing big time, but his old-fashioned juicer didn’t work very well, and so he designed his own which is still on the market.

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Supplement King

LaLanne was a big fan of vitamins and supplements and took 30-40 each day. He considered them to be his ‘health insurance policy.’

What to Eat

R

Vegetables

R

Fruit

R

Oatmeal

R

Egg whites

R

Whole grains

R

Broth

R

Fish

R

Roast Turkey

R

Soy milk

R

Wine (in moderation)

What to Avoid

Q

Processed foods

Q

Refined sugar

Q

Junk food

Q

Artificial ingredients

Q

Chemical additives

Q

Salt additives

Q

Caffeine

Weekly Workout Routine

Rise & Stretch

LaLanne would start his day with stretches while still lying in bed. In his youth, his routine would start at 4 am, but in his later years, he slept in until 5 or 6 am.

Daily Dose

LaLanne exercised every day for 2 hours prior to having breakfast: 90 minutes of weight training followed by 30 minutes in the pool. He claimed to have never missed a workout.

Split Routine

LaLanne was a pioneer in the idea of switching up routines to keep the muscles from adapting. He would work on the upper body one day and the lower body the next, and change both his cardio and strength routines every month.

Cardio Counts

Although he was a bodybuilder, LaLanne considered cardio to be just as important. He himself never skipped it.

Work to Failure

Lalanne worked to failure, which for him usually meant 10-15 reps of any given exercise.

Swim For the Win

LaLanne swam even as a kid and considered it to be one of the best cardio exercises anyone can do: it’s low-impact, works all the major muscle groups, and improves strength, endurance, posture and flexibility all at the same time.

Workout Style

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A Jack LaLanne Routine

Stretch
Lift: 90 min. Alternate muscle groups and regularly switch up your routine to avoid plateaus. Work to failure.
Swim: 30 min. Change up this routine as well.

Some Jack LaLanne records according to his website:
At age 40, he swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater carrying 140 lbs. of equipment. He did this again at age 61, handcuffed and towing a 1,000-lb. boat.
At age 41, he swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf, handcuffed. He repeated this feat at age 60.
At age 43, he swam the Golden Gate channel towing a 2,500-lb. cabin cruiser.
At age 44, he continuously navigated a paddle board from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco. It took 9.5 hours.
At age 45, he did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour 22 minutes.
In 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial, he swam a mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed, shackled and towing 13 boats (to represent the original 13 colonies) containing 76 people. He was 65 years old. When he was 70, he did this again, fighting strong currents and high winds, towing 70 rowboats carrying people.

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LaLanne on diet

‘Look at the average American diet: ice cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, all this fat. People don’t realize how much of this stuff you get by the end of the day. High blood pressure is from all this high-fat eating.’

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LaLanne on diet, take II

‘Would you give your dog a cigarette and a donut for breakfast every morning?’

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LaLanne on sugar

‘There’s nothing more addictive on this earth than sugar. Not heroin, booze, whatever. It’s much worse than smoking.’

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LaLanne’s simple rule of nutrition

‘If man made it, don’t eat it.’

Jack LaLanne’s Fitness Routine

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LaLanne on exercising in his 90s

‘If I died, people would say, “Oh look, Jack LaLanne died. He didn’t practice what he preached.”

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LaLanne on his reasons for exercising

‘I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. American contest, the way I’ve always trained. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying; they don’t work at living.’

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LaLanne on muscles

‘You have 640 muscles in the human body. I take every one of them into account as I plan an exercise routine.’

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LaLanne on the body

‘Remember this: your body is your slave. It works for you.’

Jack LaLanne’s Supplements

Fitness Expert
Born: 1914

Multivitamin

LaLanne recommended a multivitamin to cover all the vitamin and mineral bases.

Vitamin A

Vitamin C is probably the most famous antioxidant that boosts the immune system and can help lower cholesterol levels.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is probably the most famous antioxidant that boosts the immune system and can help lower cholesterol levels.

Vitamin E

Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E can reduce the risk of heart disease. It also speeds healing of skin when applied topically.

Vitamin D

The body can make vitamin D through sun exposure, but most people do not get enough through this method, especially those who live in northern climates. Vitamin D is needed for a strong immune system and to regulate hormone levels.

B Vitamins

Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12 are important for energy production, metabolism, proper nerve and immune system function, and so much more.

Magnesium

Magnesium is vital for strong bones, the functioning of the nervous system, reduces the risk of depression and contributes to healthy skin.

Fitness Expert
Born: 1914

Folic Acid

Folic Acid increases the absorption of other B vitamins and is an essential component of red blood cell production.

Inositol

Inositol or vitamin B8 is necessary for fat metabolism. It helps manage mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and panic disorder, and women with PCOS can benefit from taking it as it can help lower blood pressure and blood lipid levels.

Biotin

Biotin is another B-complex vitamin that can help regulate blood sugar levels. It supports a healthy metabolism and energy, and is also good for the eyes, skin, and hair.

PABA

Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) is used by the body to synthesize folic acid and protein usage. It can help with infertility, and also supports healthy hair and skin.

Choline

Although the liver can make small amounts of this essential nutrient, you must get most of your choline through diet. Choline helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, is needed by the nervous system, and it is also used to manufacture DNA.

Calcium

Calcium not only supports strong bones, it is also used by the body to regulate blood pressure.

Jack LaLanne’s Lifestyle

Sleep Matters

LaLanne tried to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, going to bed between 9 and 10 pm.

Worth Buying Time

To promote his gym and health products, LaLanne himself paid for airtime to run his Jack LaLanne Show. Knowing his audience was primarily women and children, he tailored his show to these audiences, demonstrating how women could workout without getting muscular, and having his dog Happy on to encourage kids to join in. LaLanne met his wife at the tv station and converted her from a sedentary smoker to a fitness enthusiast.

Love That Gray’s Anatomy

LaLanne was a huge fan of Gray’s Anatomy — not the tv show, but the medical text. He pored over it to learn all about anatomy, and even obtained a Doctorate of Chiropractic, although he chose to focus on bodybuilding and fitness instead.

Fanboy Governator

Arnold Schwarzenegger called LaLanne ‘an apostle for fitness’ and put him on his Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness in California. LaLanne has received many other awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from The President’s Council.

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LaLanne on doctors’ initial reaction to his ideas about weightlifting

‘People thought I was a charlatan and a nut.’

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LaLanne’s life philosophy

‘You’ve got to train for it. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to exercise. Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen. Together, you have a kingdom.’

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LaLanne on discipline

‘I do it as therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline.’

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LaLanne on himself

‘I can’t die; it would ruin my image.’

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