Own the Day, Own Your Life: Summary & Criticism

own the day own your life

In Own the Day Own Your Life (2018) Aubrey Marcus shares his approaches to nutrition, training, self-help, and life optimization.

Bullet Summary

  • Eat less sugar and refined carbs
  • Exercise
  • Get sleep, sex, and reconnect with the people around you

Full Summary

Own the Day, Own Your Life describes what an ideal, typical day would look like.

The idea is not to live your life perfectly on one ideal day but to move towards that ideal with healthy choices every day.

So let’s start to see what a perfect day looks like.

1. Water, Light, Movement

As soon as you wake up, do the following:

  1. Drink water (or, ideally, the water cocktail below)
  2. Stand in the light for 5 to 10 minutes
  3. Exercise (any kind of movement will do)

Morning Cocktail Mineral:
Filtered water
3 grams of sea salt
squeezed lemon

Water at room temperature and make sure the salt dilutes and does not stay at the bottom.

My note: Brita may be useless
the author recommends the Brita filter, yet some sources say that Brita filter often end up increasing bacteria counts (read the study here) and its health effects are disputed.
I’m still debating whether or not to buy a Brita, but I’m more leaning on the no side.

2. Breathing & Freezing

In this section, the author talks about breathing to oxygenate your blood and ice showers.

Here is the breathing:

  1. Inhale through the nose deep into your belly
  2. Exhale naturally
  3. Do it until you’re light-headed or feel tingling in your extremities

Light-headedness and tingling sensations are signs that your blood is oxygenating. Usually, 30 breaths are enough, but for some people, it takes up to 50.

The shower part was way too complex and long in my opinion, mixing the deep breath, hot water, then super cold for a minimum of 3 minutes, and then hot again.
the author recommends having a friend with you because you might faint and if there is water in the floor of your shower it’s even risky you might drown.

Too complex for me.
A healthy life should also be a simple life to follow. If it starts getting full of complex habits and rules to follow, it becomes a chore, and I don’t always see the added health benefits to add more complexity to your life.
So I will stick with my few seconds of cold showers :).

3. More Fat, Less Sugar, or Skip Breakfast

The author talks about the bonehead “war on fat” that we waged for decades and how wrong it is.
It’s not fat that is harmful, but it’s sugar.

My Note:
Sugar is not really harmful if it’s consumed in moderation.
Also, the author says he likes smoothies for breakfast but in other health books I enjoyed the recommendation was not to go for smoothies because they break the fibers in both fruits and vegetables.

3. Supplements

Aubrey Margus sells supplements, so I made sure to take his supplements advice with a grain of salt.

The NHS also says most adults don’t need supplements

In the end, out of all the supplements he suggests, I narrowed it down to the following:

  • Vitamin D (if you live in regions with little sun during winter)
  • Pro-biotics
  • Possibly Melatonin

Magnesium might also be useful for you but not for me as I eat lots of nuts. Iron might be useful for you if you don’t eat enough meat.

5. Drive Time, Alive Time

In this chapter, Margus talks about how much time we all waste on commutes. And, worst of all, what a nasty impact it has on most people’s moods.

He recommends instead you practice mindfulness.
Keep your eyes open, see everything but focus on nothing.
Let elements, other cards, and pedestrians enter your field of vision, notice them but don’t lock your eyes on them. Stay on the overall picture.
Keep breathing with your belly, and become aware of everything.

Also, read:

6. The Power Plants

The author says that nicotine, caffeine, and even cocoa leaves have a place and can be useful.
Just not the way that most people use them today.

He does for example use caffeine and nicotine in the form of patches or chewing gum when working late.

Later he will also say that it’s possible to enjoy marijuana and wine, as long as you don’t exaggerate.

7. Doing Work & Finding Your Mission

Finding your mission means that you will not just one day, but every day in your life.

The author talks about flow and how he reaches flow (for more on flow and peak performance read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Performance, Grit, Deep Work, and The Talent Code).

The author also talks about how he uses oil scents as an anchor. He says that if you get into flow while scents are wafting in the room you can replicate that experience later with the scents first.
I’m not a big believer in this technique and it feels like adding unnecessary complexity, such as preparing the oil scent, and it makes you, in a way, an addict.

8. Eat a Weird Lunch

This chapter is another good overview of healthy foods.

Eat proteins
The author recommends proteins (grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, free-range
eggs), fibers (chia, asparagus, avocado, greens, onions).

Go for slow carbohydrates
When it comes to carbs, go for “slow” carbs.
Carbs that are metabolized more slowly include: quinoa, sweet potatoes, fermented or sprouted grains, and some fruits.
Fibers also slow down the absorption of carbs.

Use prebiotics
No, it’s a misspelling :).
Prebiotics are food that helps your already existing gut bacteria thrive, and they include: raw asparagus, raw garlic, raw leek, onions, almonds and pistachios, and blueberries.

Probiotic food adds bacteria to your gut.
Good probiotic food includes sauerkraut, greek yogurt, and dark chocolate.

Chia, wild-caught salmon, mackerel and sardines, grass-fed beef.

Eggplant, grapes,  berries, tea, wine, chocolate, garlic, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, black rice, turmeric, and black pepper.

Finally, the author says you should diversify your meals, albeit I need to add here that Tim Ferris says in his popular The 4 Hour Body that there is no proven benefit from diversifying your food intake.
I side with Marcus here.

9. The Power Nap

Aubrey Margus is a big proponent of the power nap.

And so am I, for that matter :).
Power naps are one of the reasons why I hate office jobs so much: almost nowhere can you take a power nap -and the other reason is the artificial social hierarchies-.

The author mentions a study that compared the effects of caffeine, more sleep time at night, and a power nap on people’s level of concentration. And guess which one won?
The power nap.

Binaural beats
In this chapter, the author also goes into binaural beats, which he says it’s his N.1 favorite bio-hack.
The author uses them for his power naps.
The idea behind binaural beats is that they hit sound different sound frequencies in your left and right ear which can affect how you think and feel.
You can find a few of them on YouTube and there are also apps available: remember to use headphones though.

My Note: I haven’t tried binaural beats yet.

10. Training

This is what the author proposes:

  • Mobility and flexibility – 15 minutes
  • Cardio – 10 minutes
  • Muscular endurance – 8 minutes
  • Strength – 5 minutes
  • Power – 3 minutes (maximum force workout)

After training it’s also the best time to enjoy a wine or some cannabis. The author enjoys this time to connect with people as well.

11. Dinner

If there is a time for bread, that is for dinner, and after the workout.

The author also talks about chocolate here and popcorn. He says that most chocolate bars today are not real chocolate but add dairy and a ton of sugar which makes them unhealthy.
Natural chocolate is a healthy food and you should consume it. As long as it’s in its natural state.

Popcorn is similar, with commercial brands adding highly unhealthy trans-fats and omega-6 vegetable oils.

Tell Yourself Positive Things About the Food You’ll Eat
What you think and what you tell yourself about the food that you are about to eat will influence how your body will receive that food.
So think positively about the food you are about to eat, think that it’s healthy and it’s going to nourish you.

Eat Slow & Chew Well
Digestion starts in your mouth. People who complain of stomach pain are often fast eaters.
Instead, eat slowly and chew your food well.

Foods to Help You Digest
Foods that help you digest quicker include pineapple, papaya, and ginger. Ginger can help you digest up to 50% quicker.
Since Margus prepares his perfect day with sex in mind, digesting quicker will help you get over the “fullness” feeling quicker and, later enjoy a fuller feeling in your pants quicker (referring to guys here of course).

Avoid Gas-Inducing Food
If you have sex as an appetizer in mind, then it’s best if you avoid foods that make you full of gas.
Avoid or limit the fermentable types of fibers like legumes, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.

Dessert: Slow Down Sugar Intake
Your goal is always to slow down the absorption of sugar. And the two best foods to help you slow it down are fat and fiber.
That’s why a sweet dessert after a high-fat meal if you must have that dessert, is the best solution. Add cinnamon for further sugar intake slowdown.
The author also recommends stevia and monk fruit as healthier options for sweeteners.

Go For a Walk
Low-intensity physical exercise after a meal also helps to drop sugar levels.

12. Hangover Cure

Aubrey Margus doesn’t recommend you exaggerate with the alcohol of course, but he knows that sometimes it will happen.
This is what to do when you go down a bit harder on that wine:

  1. Re-hydrate: drink lots of water, 1 liter, until you pee twice
  2. Use molybdenum supplements, 300mcg evening and morning
  3. Green tea like matcha balances out glutamate

13. More, Better Sex

To improve your sex life, here is the Own the Day advice to increase testosterone:

  • Eat fat
  • Get sleep
  • Lift heavy

Marcus Aubrey says that it’s crazy that in America people talk about “getting lucky” and “scoring” with their own partners. He recommends sex every day and trying something new.

Avoid pornography as it’s unrealistic and focus on your partner.
Oh, and lastly, all the advice on not masturbating is bogus.

14. Reduce Stress

Marcus’ advice to reduce stress is to limit the tasks and work-related activities to the ones you really need and to increase the time for yourself and the ones you love.

His mantra is: do it well or don’t do it at all.
Also, read:

Do it well or don’t do it at all

15. Sleep

The author says that our ancestors probably didn’t sleep for 8 hours straight but slept multiple times during the day at different intervals.

You can do the same if you can afford but, in any case, you should stop stressing about how many hours you sleep per night.
You can focus instead on your 90 minutes of sleep cycles per week, which will make it easier to manage and remove the pressure from every single night.

16. Bring it Home

Here Margus talks about visualizing, the placebo effect -including the book The Placebo Effect– and our need for community and tribe -including Tribe by Sebastian Junger-.
I partially agree with what he says but found several major flaws in both the two books he mentions.

He says there are four keys to positive and compelling action:

  1. Know what and how to do it
  2. Believe it will work
  3. See the value in what you’re doing
  4. Get support from the people around

Real-Life Applications

Avoid Cold Beverages With Your Meal
I loved this recommendation as it was a mistake I often did.
Lots of liquids are not good with your meal anyway. And cold ones further hamper and slow down your digestion.

Eat Fat & Fiber With Sugar
If you must eat carbs, eat them with fat and fiber.


Albeit I liked “Own the Day, Own Your Life”, there were also some parts that didn’t convince me.

Geeky, “Bio-Hack” Approach to Life
Most of all, it’s the geeky approach of measuring grams, repeating the “process of maximum health” and dividing foods into “bad and good” that I’m not a fan of.
And the “bio-hack” half-baked solutions that come with it.
Let a nutrition Ph.D. tell you why it’s BS:

Layne: quit believing the bio-hacking BS

Use Inefficient Tools to Eat Slow?
I didn’t like the recommendation of using less efficient tools to force yourself to eat slowly. If you know that you should eat slowly and chew well, then eat slowly! No need to handicap yourself to follow through on something you know you must do.

Masochist Sex Advice
I didn’t particularly enjoy the recommendation of “having to try something new” and experiencing pain and S&M. I think that’s up to people’s tastes and preferences.

Some Made-Up Evolutionary Psychology
The author says that our ancestors slept at different times of the day. However, he has no way of knowing that for sure.
It’s an opinion, an informed opinion at the very best, but not a fact.
He also says that we are “programmed to love others and even sacrifice ourselves for the good of the tribe“, which is simplistic evolutionary psychology at best (see here the best books on evolutionary psychology).

Sleep Advice Is Too General
The author provides readers with a sleeping target to reach. But sleep is very personal and different people need different times. It’s not good, in my opinion, to give a general, catch-all target.

Unnecessary “Bro Swearing”
All the swearing reminded me of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck“: good content, but all the swearing just felt try-hard “trying to sound cool”.
Especially saying “goddamn miracle” was really unnecessary in my opinion.

Some Historical “Evidence” Was Forced
The author uses the example of Sparta as an example of a culture of sacrifice, virtues, and strength that underpinned its success.
That’s preposterous.
Athens kicked Sparta’s asses multiple times and in the course of history, it’s been much more powerful and influential without any of Sparta’s militarism.

Some Over-Optimization Advice Like Sleeping With the Dominant Hand on Top
The author says that to maximize your safety you should sleep on the side that leaves your dominant hand on top. Why? So that if an intruder breaks in then you’re at your most ready.
But people move during their sleep. And you just gain a split second for an event that will probably never happen in your life -while you might be sleeping on the side you like least for a lifetime-.


  • Compact
  • Packed with actionable advice
  • Overall semi-sensible
  • Very good overview of health and nutrition
own the day own your life


Own the Day, Own Your Life is a good book with a “life optimization” flavor.

However, the typical demonizing of “bad foods” and the misplaced hyping of “good foods” is misleading.
And the overselling of supplements leads me to take one star off.

At times, I also felt the recommended habits were a bit geeky, overly complex, and overly-engineered approach to living.
See more here.

Biohacking Porn: Quit OCD, Embrace Life

But it’s still a good book.

Overall, Own the Day, Own Your Life is a solid resource to provide an overview of a healthy and “optimized” living approach to life.

Check the best books collection or get the book on Amazon

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