Bear Grylls eats a little bit different at home than in the field. The famed adventurer, known for drinking blood and eating snakes—and whatever else he needs to survive—will likely do more of the same on the new season of Running Wild: the Challenge, on which debuts this week on National Geographic (and drops August 10 on Disney+), where he guides big names like Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, and Florence Pugh through outdoor challenges.
At home, the food’s a little richer. A longtime proponent of veganism, Grylls has since switched over to an animal-based diet—lots of red meat, lots of dairy, fruit and some honey—close to snakes and blood, but not quite. GQ chatted with Grylls to talk intermittent fasting, seed oils, and why he hates nuts and vegetables.
GQ: What’s breakfast like for you?
Bear Grylls: Breakfast is out. I’ll start eating at 11 or 12. I’ve done 16-8 intermittent fasting for a few years [fasting 16 hours, and eating for eight]. Initially it was hard—my brain was going, “you need fuel for your workouts.” But that’s a dopamine hit, and I retrained my brain and now I really like it. It gives your system time to clear out. I’m not one of those people that fasts for ages, just the daily 16-hour fast.
How’d you get over the hump? Did you pop a few almonds in the morning?
Super against nuts. And against grains, wheat, and vegetables. They affected my health negatively. I was a massive advocate of the vegan lifestyle for years, and wrote a book on it, but my health tanked on it. When I got COVID a couple years ago, I doubled down on what I thought was healthy—raw juice, vegetables—and got mega-sore kidneys, almost kidney stones. The more research I’ve done, I’ve noticed raw vegetables are really not good for you. So I’ve started incorporating quality grass-fed steak and liver. My lunch is meat, eggs and dairy, a lot of butter, and fruit. I have liver probably every other day. I started to get strong again.
Are you doing raw dairy?
I’m not super strict. I changed my mind-set away from vegetables are great to realizing we’ve had millions of years of evolution where we’re designed to eat meat and milk and eggs. And fruit—sweet, bright colors—and a lot of honey. It’s made eating a lot more fun. I have combinations of eggs fried in butter, greek yogurt with honey and berries. Before I’d think, “Oh, I have to have a salad.” It’s a revolution to me.
How different is it outdoors vs. at home?
It’s simple, and feels natural. If I’m on an adventure, I used to eat nuts and oat bars, but I don’t do that anymore. I just throw good quality jerky in there. Running Wilds are 36 hours, then I go back to normal circumstances.
Do you fast when you’re adventuring?
Not so much. I feel I need the energy from food I find. I’ll have a big breakfast before I go: Scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and fruit. Then I’ve got enough energy for two days if I don’t find anything to eat.
You have a cast-iron stomach, and have eaten a lot of out there food. Has that leaked over to when you’re not adventuring?
It can—I’ve done so much over the years: Drinking blood from a buffalo artery, munching on raw liver and heart. It’s not difficult, but it’s not very pleasant. If I’m at home, I’m not going to be tucking into raw steak and liver. Food is a great pleasure, and it can be cooked so beautifully. I tend to have it rare, but I like it cooked, unless I’m in survivor mode.