Dr. Paul Sly’s Protocols

Let me take you through a typical Monday, and then I’ll point out how that might differ from other days of the week. I work Mondays from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. I wake up at 5:00 a.m., and I never lie in bed for more than a minute. Momentum starts immediately and builds with each completed task. I head to the kitchen put a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil in my mouth and mix ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon Redmond Real Salt in 24 oz of water, and put some fresh water in the coffee machine for later. 

Dr. Paul Sly

Then I head downstairs to my “Recovery Room” which is just large enough for a 2-person infrared sauna and a homemade chest freezer cold plunge. As of this writing the cold plunge is set to 44° F (6.7° C) and I sit submerged up to my neck for 3 minutes. In two years of regular cold plunging, it has never become easy. Besides the physiological benefits that we have outlined in this book, it is an extremely rare day that I ever have to overcome more limbic friction (mental resistance) than getting in that plunge. I have completed my most difficult task of the day within 10 minutes of waking up.

After I dry off I spit out the coconut oil (having this in my mouth during the cold plunge forces me to breathe through my nose) in the garbage pail (not down the sink or toilet to clog pipes) and rinse with salt water. Then I begin to consume my water that I have already prepared as I do my morning movement ritual, which takes about 10 minutes. This also helps my body warm up naturally after the cold. This I do in bare feet in the basement on concrete so I am grounding at the same time. During the small window of time that the weather permits where I live, I’ll do this outside. I’m often listening to a podcast as I do this. 

After this, I’m on to preparing my first two meals of the day which I will bring with me to work. My feeding focus for a day is a minimum of 150 g protein per day (about 1.8g/kg body weight) or more. Even with meat consumption this typically requires one whey protein shake. The other focus is four 4oz servings of probiotic food per day. So Monday might look like 5 lightly scrambled eggs, and a few ounces of kimchi on them. This will be my breakfast at about 10:00 am, representing a 14-15 hour fasting period. Lunch would be an amount of beef, chicken or fish that would provide 50 g of protein, and a couple of vegetables or a single vegetable and a salad, with a few ounces of cold sauerkraut or homemade lacto-fermented vegetables. Most days include a whole avocado with salt and pepper, provided I have a ripe one. This is a resistance workout day, so I bring my quick protein to mix after the workout: 1 scoop of protein about 25 g, 1 scoop of collagen which includes about 11 g of protein, and about a tablespoon of ground psyllium husk, shaken with 16-20 oz water. I also bring with me 5 g of creatine, 2 essential fatty acid capsules containing a total of EPA 1420 mg and DHA 580 mg, and multi-vitamins, zinc, and vitamin D at variable doses throughout the year. 

A shave and shower and I am dressed and ready to leave at 6:30. This leaves me about half an hour to have a couple of cups of coffee (90 minutes after waking) and relax while continuing to listen to a podcast and using red and near-infrared light on my face and torso. I take a second or two in here to check my sleep on the Oura App on my phone and assess what may have helped or hindered sleep from the day before. During the times of the year that the sun is up where I live, I will get natural sunlight during this time. Sometimes that might be standing in the parking lot facing east for a few minutes when I get to the office. In the winter months, I make a point of sneaking out the back door for a few minutes once the sun is up. 

As mentioned, breakfast is at about 10:00 a.m., and lunch is about 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. I finish at the office at about 3:00 p.m. and head to the gym. My resistance workout is about an hour, and I follow the Galpin equation for hydrating as I work out. I leave the gym and head home with my protein shake between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Dinner is about 6:00 p.m. with family whenever schedule and sports allow, and looks much like lunch, except I may have a starchy carbohydrate like rice or potato. In this manner, on most days I am done eating by about 7:00 p.m., and I am in the fasting period until 10:00 a.m. the next morning. 

Between 8:00 and 9:00 pm, I take 150 mg of magnesium glycinate and 50 mg of magnesium threonate, and a few times a week either a dose of inositol or glycine and GABA, depending on what sleep and my Oura data is telling me. I am in bed between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. with the goal of sleeping 7 hours minimum. While mindful controlled breathing is part of my cold plunge, morning movement and formal exercise, 5-10 minutes of dedicated “LSD” breathing when I get into bed is a great help for me to wind down and fall asleep.

Monday and Wednesday are the same schedule for me. Tuesday and Thursday I am in my office in the afternoon and evening. The timing of the schedule looks the same. I don’t cold plunge those mornings, and a walk typically replaces my movement routine. Breakfast is usually 3 eggs over easy and a larger protein shake: ½ cup kefir, 1 scoop protein, 1 scoop collagen, a tablespoon ground psyllium husk, a large handful of frozen (or when possible fresh) blueberries, strawberries etc. blended with water to total 16-20 oz. Exercise on Tuesday and Thursday is some form of simulated altitude, repeat sprint ability, sprints, or longer interval work, and for most of the year is followed by a twenty-minute infrared sauna session.

On Fridays, I am not in my office, so the third resistance workout of the week usually happens early in the morning, after my cold plunge, and an earlier cup of coffee. 

Saturday is usually a rest day with no formal workout. Sunday is my longer zone 2 workout, and depending on the time of year that may be an outdoor run, a treadmill run, a stand-up paddleboard or a bicycle ride after my morning cold plunge. Usually, I get another sauna session in, and maybe even one on Saturday if time permits. My sauna sessions all start with a full body lymph drainage routine, which takes up the first ten.

I do pretty well with sleep and wake times during the week. On the weekends, regardless of what time I get to bed (and it’s rarely very late) “sleeping in” is only an hour more than usual, to maintain circadian rhythm. On days when I do get less sleep, or just feel tired, I benefit a great deal from ten or twenty minutes of NSDR.

That gives you an idea of my personal daily and weekly non-negotiables. Every month, I try to get in some enhanced recovery, such as a massage from a registered massage therapist, or a session in a sensory deprivation “float” tank. Every quarter, I have one longer 24-hour fast. Yearly, I have a medical exam with my general practitioner, bloodwork, a DEXA and a VO2 Max test. 

In a nutshell:

  • Sleep and breathe through your nose night and day
  • Hydrate
  • Hot/cold
  • Sunlight
  • Eat clean protein and fermented foods but not all-day
  • Exercise
  • Be kind
  • Don’t watch the news
  • Spend time with family and friends

Daily

  • Bed to be asleep by 10 pm, up at 5 am. 8 hours would be ideal but the life and age of my sons at this point means 7 is the best I can do
  • Oura ring sleep tracking
  • A heaping tablespoon of coconut oil pull 5-10 minutes, 4 days a week while I cold plunge (forces nasal breathing)
  • Mix ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon Redmond Real Salt in 24 oz of water – 90-95 oz water is the goal for the day
  • Early movement – may be a mobility routine or may be a walk, done in bare feet on bare concrete if not outside. Focus on breathing during movement and/or while in the cold plunge
  • 3-10 minutes of natural light exposure as soon after awakening and again in the evening. For much of the year I am up well before sunrise so this is bright artificial light first, then a few minutes of real light, sometimes stepping out of the clinic’s back door for a few minutes
  • Preparation of my first two meals of the day which I will bring with me to work. My feeding focus for a day is a minimum of 150 g protein per day (about 1.8g/kg body weight) or more. Even with meat consumption this typically requires one whey protein shake. 
  • The other focus is three to four 4oz servings of probiotic food per day. My go-to’s are kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, greek yogurt, and homemade lacto-fermented vegetables. Complex carbs (rice or sweet potato) is not until the evening meal
  • 1 scoop of protein about 25 g, 1 scoop of collagen which includes about 11 g of protein, and about a tablespoon of ground psyllium husk, shaken with 16-20 oz water. I also bring with me 5 g of creatine, 2 essential fatty acid capsules containing a total of EPA 1420 mg and DHA 580 mg, and a multiple vitamin, zinc, and vitamin D at variable doses throughout the year. 
  • 6:30 a.m. is the first cup of coffee, a minimum of 90 minutes after awakening on most days unless I am going to the gym first thing
  • My eating window on most days is about 10 am until 7 pm, and I am sometimes more relaxed on Saturdays. 
  • 150 mg magnesium, usually threonate and glycinate, 1 hour before bed
  • 3-20 minutes of LSD breathing before falling asleep, depending on the need

Weekly

  • 4 morning cold plunges, Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun 3 minutes each
  • 3 resistance workouts, usually Monday and Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning. Either hypertrophy, strength, power and speed focus, changed up quarterly
  • One anaerobic workout per week, usually repeating 10-20 second sprints, running, rower or assault bike
  • One VO2max oriented workout, 1-4 minute intervals with rest of equal length
  • One longer zone 2 full body endurance workout, usually a run, sometimes paddleboard
  • At least 3 infrared sauna sessions
  • 3-4 red/near-infrared light therapy sessions
  • Chiropractic adjustment

Monthly

  • Some enhanced recovery in the form of massage therapy, sensory deprivation “float” tank, acupuncture

Yearly

  • Bloodwork panel
  • DEXA scan
  • VO2 Max testing

Nutrition/Supplements

  • Essential fatty acids in the form of EPA/DHA
  • Mg glycinate (am) and threonate (pm)
  • Theanine (bedtime)
  • Zn (liquid)
  • D3 (liquid)
  • Collagen 3-5x/week with coconut oil/ghee and cinnamon in coffee (not during fast – fasting is strict, only water and black coffee)
  • Homemade bone broth as regular as possible
  • Ground flax seed 3-5x/week
  • Water is always “structured” – lemon, apple cider vinegar, Himalayan sea salt
  • Vegetarian protein powder 2-3x/week
  • Daily probiotic kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut