Josh "Xaryu" Lujan

Josh “Xaryu” Lujan: “I’m leveling up my food, my level of fitness, my muscle thickness. These are the metrics you can level up in real life.”

Even when he’s not playing World of Warcraft for an audience of several thousand dedicated internet fans, Tucsonan Josh Lujan still treats his body like he’s a character in a roleplaying game. 

“When you’re gaming up and you get your character from level 10 to level 11, you feel really good,” he said. “Well, you can do that in real life, too. I’m leveling up my food, my level of fitness, my muscle thickness. These are the metrics you can level up in real life.”

While his undead mage, Xaryu, benefits from giant mana potions and conjured loaves of bread, Lujan frequently snacks on nachos, pizza and burgers—but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him. 

To put it simply, he looks more like a lean knight in shining armor than some portly tavern barman. 

What’s the secret behind Lujan’s physique? How does he spend a dozen hours a day on the computer and still look like Hercules? Like any good mage, he’s got a few secrets up his sleeve. And like any mage worth his weight in spectral dust, he wrote all those secrets down in a book.

Luckily for us, he’s willing to share.

Lujan recently released The Xaryu Cookbook, a collection of the meals he eats on a weekly basis along with step-by-step recipes and instructions for preparing each. Essentially, it’s a book Lujan wrote for his 14-year-old self. 

“It’s all the stuff I like to eat, and we changed around the ingredients to make it healthier,” Lujan said. “Hopefully, these gamers, when they’re 14 or 16 years old and gaming all night long, instead of going and making nachos with nachos cheese and Tostitos, they make it in a way that actually helps keep them substantiated and healthy.”

What do healthy nachos look like? Try rice thins instead of chips, reduced-fat, low-moisture mozzarella instead of that goopy, store-bought nacho cheese, some beans and well-seasoned chicken, salsa and lime.

“All of the sudden the nachos that were previously almost no protein, pretty high carbohydrate and high fat become low fat, medium carb and high protein,” Lujan said. “It’s a meal you can enjoy eating and actually make some gains with. Same thing with the burger, same thing with the pizza. We just mess with the macros, mess around with the ingredient list but still make it taste good.”

Now a master in the kitchen, Lujan’s journey to self-actualization as a gamer fitness guru started as a middle school student running in the “Miler’s Club” every day at lunch and playing games at night. 

His love of games found a home in the popular World of Warcraft, and his skills grew over the years. Lujan discovered streaming in high school, and was a regular on the popular service Twitch, though he admits he had little to no following at first. 

For the uninformed—or those who just simply have something better to do—streaming is a technology used to deliver content to a computer or mobile device. It’s how Netflix or Hulu end up on your television. In Lujan’s case, he streams videos of himself playing World of Warcraft.

The most surprising part? Tens of thousands of people are watching. So many that it’s turned into a business all its own. Revenue comes in many forms, such as traditional advertising on the screen for a third-party product. There is also a donate or support the streamer button, and a $5-per-month subscription option that allows the use of emotes in chat and other perks. Lujan’s skills on the keyboard have grown over the years, attracting big -name sponsors in the gaming world like MSI, Corsair and Method. 

Lujan’s online presence isn’t limited to video games, however. He’s recently embarked on a quest to grow the Xaryu brand into a fitness and health monolith with the help of his girlfriend, photographer and editor Shannon Contreras. Alongside the cookbook is the recently released Xaryu Fitness & Nutrition Guide, which includes Lujan’s entire methodology for training and nutrition.

“I can be rank one in North America in a game and I can live stream a workout before I play my games,” Lujan said. “You can do both, and I think it’s this connection I think a lot of people haven’t made in gaming.”

Find Lujan’s guides online at xaryu.tv/shop.

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