eating habits diets geniuses

Genius Diets: Einstein, Tesla, Edison (Vegetarian + Naps?)

The (sometimes quirky) diets, sleep, and exercise habits of geniuses – Although we often think of genetics as the main factor in genius, your health and diet have a lot to do with it as well.

Consider that the brain uses a whopping 20% of your body’s total energy; more energy than any other organ. They say, “You are what you eat,” so the fuel you’re putting in your body directly affects your mind.

While we still haven’t invented any pills to quickly transform the average person into a genius, you can certainly be “smarter” and more energetic with a healthy diet, daily exercise, and good sleep habits.

Let’s look at some of the diet and exercise habits of a few of history’s greatest geniuses:

Genius diets: Einstein | Edison | Tesla | Vegetarians | More Genius Diets

Do Geniuses Forget to Eat?

Yes, like anyone deeply absorbed in their work or thoughts, geniuses can forget to eat. This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to geniuses but is more about the level of focus or preoccupation with a task or idea. When individuals, regardless of their intellectual capabilities, are intensely engaged in their work, they may enter a state of “flow,” where time and basic needs like hunger can temporarily fade from awareness. This focus can lead to forgetting to eat as their minds prioritize cognitive engagement over physiological signals. This forgetfulness is a testament to the power of human concentration and passion for one’s pursuits.

However, even history’s greatest geniuses did find time for at least a meal or two every day. Here are the eating habits of Einstein, Edison, and Tesla.

Albert Einstein Diet, Sleep, Exercise:

albert einstein diet genius

Diet: (Vegetarian?)

What did Albert Einstein eat? Einstein was known for his love of simplicity, and this extended to his diet. He enjoyed meals that were uncomplicated, often opting for vegetarian and pasta dishes. However, he wasn’t a strict vegetarian throughout his life.

He once wrote, “I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience,” indicating his occasional consumption of meat. Later, in 1954 he added, “So I live fatless, meatless, fishless, but feel quite comfortable with it. It almost seems to me that man is not born a predator at all.”

According to his housekeeper, Herta Schiefelbein, Einstein ate scrambled or fried eggs almost every morning and often craved honey. When asked about his favorite foods, she had this to say:

“He also loved eggs and mushrooms very much, especially porcini mushrooms and sweet chestnuts, which he often brought back from his forest walks in Caputh. If it had been up to him, he would probably have eaten mushrooms three times a day, so much did he like to eat them. He also liked salads, rice, and spaghetti, prepared the Italian way. In general, however, the professor was unpretentious with regard to food. Schnitzel and meatballs were rare. Fillets and steaks had to be well fried, they were no longer allowed to bleed, otherwise, he would not eat them. He always said, ‘I’m not a tiger.’

Lunch at Princeton was – as already in Germany – the main meal of the day for Einstein, where he usually enjoyed Italian food, a habit from his childhood which he had spent with his parents in Milan. Spaghetti and macaroni were often enough to satisfy his culinary desires.”source

Einstein also apparently loved strawberries. His doctor of 25 years, Janos Plesch, reported that during visits to his estate in Gatow, Einstein ate strawberries by the pound.

Was Einstein a vegetarian? Although not a strict vegetarian himself, Einstein believed that a plant-based diet was healthier for the body and the planet, stating, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

Sleep Habits:

Einstein was a proponent of the power of sleep and slept up to 10 hours a day. He considered it crucial for his creative thinking and problem-solving abilities, and loved his naps, once remarking, “I love to sleep, and when I can, I take a short nap in the afternoon.” This practice allowed him to recharge and keep his mind sharp.

Exercise Routine:

When it comes to exercise, Einstein had a rather unconventional approach. He wasn’t a fan of structured workouts or physical exertion. He believed in letting the mind take precedence over the body, saying, “I believe in intuition and inspiration. At times, I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”

Einstein’s exercise routine mainly involved leisurely walks outside which is said to further stimulate creative thinking. During his tenure at Princeton, he’d walk to school every day and would discuss complex scientific ideas on walks with friends.

Despite getting plenty of rest and exercise, his other habits may have been less healthy. Einstein enjoyed carbs in the form of spaghetti and was also a devoted pipe smoker.

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Thomas Edison Diet, Sleep, Exercise:

thomas edison diet

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison


Thomas Edison was not particularly finicky about his food and was not a vegetarian. He had a fairly standard diet for his time, including meat. He once remarked, “I am not one of those who think that total abstinence from meat is best.” Edison’s diet was quite typical for the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and he didn’t have any specific dietary restrictions or preferences.


Thomas Edison’s sleep habits were rather unique. Like Einstein and Tesla, Edison believed in power naps, often taking short breaks during the day. He claimed, “The best thinking has been done in solitude, the worst in interruption.” He was known for his ability to power nap, which allowed him to work long hours without needing a full night’s sleep. His sleep schedule was adapted to his work, rather than conforming to a conventional day-night cycle.


When it came to exercise, Edison had a pragmatic approach. He believed in the importance of staying active but didn’t engage in strenuous physical activities.

While he may not have been an athlete, he understood the value of applying ideas and taking action. Edison’s exercise mainly involved walking and maintaining a relatively active lifestyle.

Edison also seems to have been an early proponent of preventative medicine, at least according to his famous quote that doctors of the future will stop people from getting sick, rather than doling out medicine based on a current illness.

“The doctor of the future will give no medication but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison

Hollywood probably won’t ever be swept by a trendy, “Thomas Edison Diet,” as It seems that he engaged in some sort of milk diet fad that touted milk as a healthy cure-all.

Ironically, this “diet” may have contributed to his deadly struggle with diabetes, as milk has a naturally high sugar content and caused his blood sugar to skyrocket.

Nikola Tesla’s Diet, Sleep, Exercise Habits:

nikola tesla diet

Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison’s notorious nemesis, also had some interesting ideas when it came to health and could be considered an early health guru in addition to a scientific genius. He reportedly performed nightly toe exercises to improve his brain function.


Nikola Tesla’s dietary preferences were eccentric, to say the least. He was known for being a bit of a picky eater and had a peculiar regimen. He often dined on a strict diet of bread, milk, honey, and vegetables, and sometimes he would fast for extended periods.

His attitude towards food was rather unusual, as he once stated, “I only require some bread and a little fruit.” It’s unclear whether this was due to health concerns or personal preferences, but it’s safe to say his eating habits were far from conventional.

“Why overburden the bodies that serve us? I eat but two meals a day, and I avoid all acid-producing foods. Almost everyone eats too many peas and beans and other foods containing uric acid and other poisons. I partake liberally of fresh vegetables, fish and meat sparingly, and rarely. Fish is reputed as fine brain food, but has a very strong acid reaction, as it contains a great deal of phosphorus. Acidity is by far the worst enemy to fight off in old age.” – Nikola Tesla

Although he disliked caffeinated products, he was a fan of alcohol and enjoyed a daily whiskey. Like Edison, he enjoyed a daily intake of carbs, but in the form of potatoes, but not pasta.

Potatoes are splendid, and should be eaten at least once a day. They contain valuable mineral salts and are neutralizing.” – Nikola Tesla

Sleep Habits:

Tesla’s approach to sleep was fascinating. He believed in the power of catnaps, often sleeping for only a few hours a night and taking short naps throughout the day. He once claimed, “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.”

His unconventional sleep schedule might have been a way for him to maximize his creative and productive hours.

Exercise Routine:

Except for walking, exercise didn’t seem to be a significant part of Nikola Tesla’s daily routine. He was more focused on his work and inventions, often spending long hours in his laboratory.

He once mentioned, “My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get a new idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination, and make improvements and operate the device in my mind.”

Tesla also walked up to 10 miles each day, and would even exercise while bathing. This mental exercise, paired with walking, seemed to be his preferred way of keeping his mind sharp.

Which Geniuses Were Vegetarians?

Although geniuses frequently have differences of opinion, it seems that a great many of them were vegetarian, or leaned toward vegetarianism.

Here are a few notable geniuses who were vegetarians:

  1. Albert Einstein: The famous physicist Albert Einstein, known for the theory of relativity, adopted a vegetarian diet for health and ethical reasons. He believed in the benefits of a plant-based diet for both personal well-being and the planet.
  2. Leonardo da Vinci: The Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian, driven by his compassion for animals. He considered vegetarianism a way to practice non-violence and lead a more harmonious life.
  3. Isaac Newton: The father of modern physics, Isaac Newton, was known to be a vegetarian. His diet reflected his unique approach to life and science.
  4. Pythagoras: The ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras is one of the earliest known vegetarians in history. He believed in the moral and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
  5. Nikola Tesla: Although not a strict vegetarian, Tesla had some unconventional eating habits. He had a rather minimalistic diet that included fruits, vegetables, milk, and honey, and he sometimes fasted for extended periods.

Adopting some of these geniuses’ curious habits may or may not help you enjoy clearer thinking and longevity.

More Genius Diets:

Madame Curie may have discovered radium, but she was woefully inept when it came to her diet. During her younger, poverty-stricken years, she ate so little that she eventually passed out. When she was older, Curie reportedly would get so caught up in her work that she would forget to eat and didn’t want to take precious moments away from her lab to learn how to cook.

Of course, in some cases, unusual eating habits may not be the path to genius and longevity. Steve Jobs is commonly admired as a modern genius but eventually succumbed to cancer after a diet consisting of enough carrots to change the color of skin from time to time. Jobs also ate dates and almonds and was a fan of weeklong fasts.

French writer Honore de Balzac was a huge fan of caffeine for stimulating his ability to put pen to paper and even wrote an essay on the value of coffee. Known for drinking 50 cups of coffee at once, he eventually died of caffeine poisoning, which was either a case of too much of a good thing or shows that Tesla was correct in avoiding the stuff.

“I’m gonna go get coffee. #CoffeeTheMusical” (tweet) – Lin-Manuel Miranda

Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda is considered by many (including myself) to be a genius. Unlike Balzac, he’s never risked his life on a caffeine binge, but he does frequently tweet about drinking coffee.

If you want to be smarter, consider a vegetarian or healthy diet with plenty of sleep and exercise. You could also consider the popular MIND diet, as well as daily supplements for your mind like Ginko Biloba, vitamin B-12, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Ironically, our foraging ancestors ate a diet that naturally made them healthier and smarter, but these days you have to make more of a conscious effort!

Looking to lose weight? For motivation, check out our favorite diet quotes. We also have great articles on top diets like WW, Nutrisystem coupons, and Noom Coach.

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