Dieting Rules:

Nikola Tesla

This famous scientist only ate twice a day,

first in the morning, and then again at 18:00,

and that rhythm is reminiscent of today’s

popular diets, in which the gaps between

the last meal and the next meal amounts

to a minimum of 12 hours


           The life, creativity and ingenious mind of Nikola Tesla, a Serbian hailed as one of the greatest scientists in the world, has been the subject of study for many, as well as the subject of much print for decades. In recent years, it seems, that Tesla's researchers are becoming more interested in not only details from his scientific opus, but his private life and habits, and with it, his diet. It is enough to just search for "Nikola Tesla diet" on the Internet, and a sea of text will appear before the eyes of those curious about the subject. Most of them state facts like Tesla slept very little, and because of this he was very moderate with his food, having only two meals (breakfast and dinner), and that he avoided many foods so he would not feel bloated, and his stomach would not create excess acids from foods like fish, legumes, meat, etc… Yet, as many texts cite varying information on this topic, and not all sources in them are reliable, the question arises what is and how much of all of this is true. It is indisputable that Tesla was different in many ways, relative to other people from the beginning of the 20th century, as confirmed by M.Sc. Med. Dr. Veroslava Stanković, nutritionist and professor at the College of Health Vocational Studies in Zemun. As she reminds us, the Serbian scientist led a rather ascetic, lonely life and lived to be 87, which was an extremely long time for that era.

           - Although he slept little, he spent much time in prayer. In one interview, he said: "Our bodily and mental condition in old age is only a confirmation of how we spent our youth. The secret of my own strength and vitality today is that in my youth, I led what you might call a pious life.” He also had a very specific diet. From his interviews, it can be concluded that he "listened" to his body and its needs. He realized that he wasn't excessively physically tired, so although he did not need a caloric diet, his clever work still required immediate sources of energy–emphasized Dr. Stanković. She

also confirmed that Tesla certainly knew about the acid/base reaction of food and tried to eat as little acidic food as possible, and as much food as possible that gives off a basic reaction.

           - He eliminated all legumes from his diet, with the explanation they contained uric acid and other toxins. In fact, the real medical explanation is that it is indeed true that legumes are extremely rich in amino acids that produce uric acid in our body, and can lead to the onset of gout, in cases where there is a predisposition to this disease. He ate neither fish nor meat, as Tesla explained that although fish is good for the brain, there is too much phosphorus, which can be harmful.  According to today's recommendations, fish should be represented in the diet at least twice a week due to its omega 3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and help to prevent the development of atherosclerosis, as well as containing vitamin D, an immunomodulator - says Dr. Stanković. She also adds that sardines in particular have a higher amount of calcium and phosphorus, which is quick and easy to absorb.

           - Also, phosphorus is a vital component of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecule that provides energy to all biological processes in the body. However, phosphorus has other sources beyond just fish. It is also present in large quantities in the milk consumed by Tesla. As for meat, it is the only good source of iron in a form that is easily absorbed by the body, and it is also a good source of vitamin B12. Thus, we should eat meat – suggests Dr. Stanković. Tesla, she explains, was practically a vegetarian. He consumed a vast variety of fruits and vegetables, including potatoes and rice, and he particularly preferred cauliflower and turnips.

           -Cauliflower is in the Brassicaceae family of plants and contains a high quantity of antioxidants which can prevent the harmful effect of free radicals.

           - Free radicals are formed in the body as a result of metabolism, aging, an improper diet which includes a lot of fat, and air pollution. The consequence of their actions result in cardiovascular diseases, faster aging, and carcinomas. It is well known that foods of plant origin are rich in vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols… Fruits are rich in fruit sugars that are the only source of energy for the brain – says Dr. Stanković.

           - According to the written documents, Tesla ate twice a day. His meals were in the morning and in the evening at 6 p.m. sharp, and this is a rhythm that, emphasized by Dr. Stanković, is reminiscent of autophagy.

           - With this diet, the interval of fasting is a minimum of 12 hours. During the time one is not fasting which is a maximum eight hours long, all foods from the four main food groups may be eaten. This diet is followed once or twice a week and physical activity is decreased on days when it is applicable. Tesla ate like this for most of his life; he ate only fruits, vegetables and milk, and exercised every day – states Dr. Stanković.

           This is not accidental at all because it reminds us that physical activity shares first place with proper nutrition in maintaining the proper functioning of our body.

           - Today’s recommendations are to perform aerobic physical activity during the day for 60 to 90 minutes, either fast walking or light aerobic exercise. Physical activity leads to an increase in immunity, regulation of metabolism (primarily balancing insulin and glucagon), reduction of stress, reduction of blood pressure, and maintains homeostasis of a number of other physiological functions. Tesla walked 16 to 19 kilometers a day, and he also reduced stress with baths which have been commonly employed in Eastern civilisation for centuries. Our scientist proved that the unity of mind and body is the right recipe for a long and quality life. The balance in diet and physical activity is the first condition for good health to which we should add methods for reducing stress – concludes Dr. Stanković.


The Scientist Did Not Drink Coffee and Tea

           According to Dr. Stanković, Tesla knew the value of water and consumed it in large quantities. He did not drink coffee or tea because he thought, “They were not good nerve stimulants, they disturbed the body, and they inhibited a man’s ability to be productive during the day,” but in their place, alcohol was viewed as the elixir of life.

           - I did not find any information about the amount of whiskey he consumed, but probably in carefully set quantities, when alcohol manifests its positive effects. According to written data, he loved to drink just one glass of wine at a sitting. Recommendations state that men may drink up to 30ml of spirits, or 200ml of wine, when the dilation of blood vessels and positive action of polyphenols located in wine, especially red, is in full effect - points out Dr. Stanković.


Author: Dejan Alekcić,                                                      

Published: Politika, Zdravlje u Tanjiru, #99 (Monday, November 30, 2020),

Translated by Djordje Srnić and Marko Srnić