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Wine Myths, Dark & Dirty Secrets of the Wine Industry, Wine Biohacks & More!

mwarren

A few months ago, I released the article “Dark & Dirty Secrets Of The Wine Industry, Four Ways To Make Wine Healthier, and What Kind Of Wine Fit People Should Drink.” 

In it, I detailed the serious issues with arsenic, overpricing, lack of sustainability, high levels of sulfites, amines and ochratoxins, boatloads of sugars, high pH levels (that increase the possibility of contamination by unwanted organisms), a less than stellar taste, plastic polyethylenes and many other problems plaguing the modern wine industry – and causing many people (including my wife) to get headaches or poor sleep from a nightly glass of wine.

At the end of that post, I highlight that I now drink a new kind of healthy wine called “FitVineWine”, and in today’s podcast, I interview Mark Warren, co-founder of FitVineWine, a national level black belt competitor in TaeKwonDo, a Crossfitter and of course, as a wine enthusiast and father of two boys, a man after my own heart.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why there are shocking levels of additives and other fillers in most modern wines…

-How most wineries add sugar and grape concentrate to wines to adjust the pH (and why pH is so important)…

-Why many wines are filtered through wheat and contain gluten…

-Whether you need to be concerned about mold in wine…

-How you can concentrate the amount of antioxidants like resveratrol, polyphenols and proanthocyanidins in grapes…

-What it means for a wine to be “biodynamic” or “organically” farmed…

-Why many wines are over-irrigated and why wineries should use less water, not more…

-Why wine grapes should be grown at higher, cooler elevations…

-Why people really aren’t allergic to sulfites in wine, and why it’s something else altogether…

How FitVineWine compares to other popular “healthy” or “Paleo” wines out there…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

FitVineWine.com (use 10% discount code BEN10)

California Winemakers Sued Over High Levels of Arsenic in Wines

Bad News for Those of You Who, Like Us, Drank Cheap Wine Each and Every Night of Your 20s

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for me or my guest Mark on anything we discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply…and click here to get a bottle of red or a bottle of white at FitVineWine.com with 10% discount code BEN10 (assuming you’re 21 years of age or older).

Nicotine Gum, Alactic Training, Binaural Beats, Small-Scale Farming & More With Robb Wolf.

robb wolf podcast

If you don’t know who Robb Wolf is, you have probably been living either in a cave or at McDonald’s.

Robb is a former research biochemist and author of the New York Times Best Selling book “The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet“. Robb has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world via his top ranked iTunes podcast, book and seminars.

He has functioned as a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, is co-founder of the nutrition and athletic training journal, The Performance Menu, co-owner of NorCal Strength & Conditioning, one of the Men’s Health “top 30 gyms in America” and he is a consultant for the Naval Special Warfare Resiliency program. He serves on the board of Directors/Advisors for Specialty Health Inc, Paleo FX, and Paleo Magazine.

Robb is a former California State Powerlifting Champion (565 lb. Squat, 345 lb. Bench, 565 lb. Dead Lift) and a 6-0 amateur kickboxer. He coaches athletes at the highest levels of competition and consults with Olympians and world champions in MMA, motocross, rowing and triathlon. He has provided seminars in nutrition and strength & conditioning to a number of entities including NASA, Naval Special Warfare, the Canadian Light Infantry and the United States Marine Corps.

In this episode, I dig into a day in the life of Robb, and reveal some the most important training, nutrition and biohacking tools he’s been implement lately. During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The details of Robb’s Lazy Lobo ranch…

-Robb’s”dream” legit permaculture small farm setting for a family…

-What Robb has found by experimenting with post-meal blood glucose monitoring and what he has found…

-How to get the most strength training bang for your buck out of something called “alactic” sets…

-Why Robb likes the “Versaclimber” so much… 

-How Robb has been using binaural beats…

-Robb’s smart drug of choice…

-Everything you need to know about using nicotine gum…

-A never-before-revealed secret about Robb’s new book he’s writing…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

FlowerChecker app for plant identification

My Training At 44

Brainwave app for binaural beats

Sleepstream app for binaural beats

My article on making your own smart drugs

GoodSense nicotine gum

WebMD piece on nicotine gum

“Healthy food” differ by individuality

Algorithm for genes that predict low-carb/high fat vs. high carb-low fat

Dexcom G5 blood glucose monitoring

PaleoFX 16

Primal Endurance book by Mark Sisson

The Vasper exercise device

The Versaclimber

Do you have questions, comments, or feedback for myself or Robb? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply.

The Ultimate Guide To Biohacking Your Blood Sugar Levels (And Why Sugar Sometimes Isn’t Bad).

blood-sugar

If you enjoy the post you’re about to read, you may want to check out the free Diabetes Summit from April 18-25, 2016, in which 30+ experts (including me) share the best tips, strategies and secrets for controlling and reversing blood sugar issues, type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome…

In one of my Quick & Dirty Tips articles last week, I mentioned that one “hack” I use to avoid experiencing big spikes in blood sugar from a big meal is to do some basic strength training with a dumbbell prior to eating that meal, which, as I explain in that article, activates specific sugar transporters responsible for taking up carbohydrate into muscle tissue, rather than partitioning those sugars into storage fat.

Since my own personal genetic testing has revealed that I have a higher than normal risk for Type 2 diabetes (there are specific genetic variations associated with diabetes that you can check out here), hacking blood sugar levels to get them lower is a topic near and dear to my heart. This should also be a very important topic for you to educate yourself on, since not only are there are specific genetic variations associated with diabetes that you can check out here), hacking blood sugar levels to get them lower is a topic near and dear to my heart. This should also be a very important topic for you to educate yourself on, since not only are Type 2 diabetes rates rising, both in the United States and globally (even among athletes and so-called “healthy” people), but so are a host of other chronic disease, neural degradation and weight issues directly related to high blood sugar. Characterized by insulin resistance and chronic high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), type 2 diabetes can lead to both brain and metabolic dysfunction, and is also a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (especially if you’re experimenting with something like a high-fat diet, since sugars can easily adhere to cholesterol particles from that cup of fatty coffee you’re drinking and make a high-fat, low-carb diet highly atherosclerotic).

When blood sugar is chronically elevated, the insulin released by the pancreas becomes progressively less effective in bringing those blood sugar levels down, and ultimately, pancreatic tissues begin to suffer damage (although some evidence shows this pancreatic damage can be reversed with specific lifestyle and food strategies). Although blood sugar can slightly rise in response to factors such as stress, hard exercise, or long periods of sedentary time, blood sugar typically rises most significantly after a meal, and studies show that these post-meal or “post-prandial” hyperglycemic spikes are the most likely to lead to vascular complications, even when compared to elevated fasting glucose levels.

When it comes to controlling high blood sugar, your body has two choices: get rid of the blood sugar as potential energy via uptake into muscles, or store the blood sugar in fat tissue. So in this article, you’re going to get four ways to control your blood sugar without it simply getting partitioned into fat tissue, you’re going to learn how to get rid of stubborn carbohydrate related body fat (and even reduce your risk of diabetes based on the latest medical research on exercise and blood sugar), and you’re also going to learn why sugar in your food isn’t as big a deal as you’ve probably been led to believe that it is.

Two other quick things before we dive in:

1) I am not a physician and this is not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please talk to a licensed medical professional about any chronic disease or health conditions related to high blood sugar!

2) This article isn’t really going to focus much at all on supplements or medications, but I do have a daily practice of maintaining insulin sensitivity by drinking a cup of homemade kombucha each day, consuming at least two teaspoons of cinnamon each day, and before every meal that contains a significant amount of carbohydrates, swalloing two bitter melon extract capsules, which are as powerful as the diabetic drug metformin in lowering post-prandial blood sugar.

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How Sugar Gets Into Muscles

Before discovering how certain movements and exercise strategies can lower or stabilize your blood sugar, it’s important to understand how sugar gets transported into muscle in the first place (you can dig into the science of everything you’re about to read in this research article).

The entry of glucose into muscle cells is achieved primarily via what is called a “carrier-mediated system” which consists of small protein transport molecules. One of these transport molecules is “GLUT-1”, is normally found in the sarcolemmal membrane (a sheath that surrounds your muscle fibers) and is thought to be involved in glucose transport under basic resting, non-active conditions.

gluttransporters

When the hormone insulin gets released by your pancreas, which is something that can happen after a large meal of protein (yep, whey protein can spike blood sugar and insulin higher than a candy bar) or carbohydrates, glucose transport can be accelerated even more because insulin upregulates the activity and the number of yet another sugar transporter called “GLUT-4”, which, just like GLUT-1, is found in skeletal muscle, but is also found in cardiac muscle and in adipose tissue, and helps GLUT-1 transporters get even more sugar and storage carbohydrate into these areas.

So think of it this way: insulin causes fat cells and muscle cells to soak up energy, and if your muscle cells are already “full”, which is often the case if you’re not incorporating the strategies you’re about to discover in this article, then most of the sugar winds up getting driven into fat cells.

glut4

But here’s the amazing thing: just like insulin can upregulate sugar transporters, exercise can also upregulate GLUT-4 sugar transporters, but without an actual release of insulin from the pancreas. This means fewer chronic disease risks related to constant surges of insulin, less pancreatic strain, and a higher likelihood that carbohydrate and protein energy from food gets partitioned into skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle rather than into adipose tissue. Exercise can even increase not just the activity, but also the number of GLUT-4 transporters you have available.

Of course, as you probably already know, physical activity can do much more than just play around with your sugar transporters, and can also mobilize fatty acids from your adipose tissue to be used as energy, increase your sensitivity to insulin when it does get released, and cause a host of other extremely helpful metabolic adaptations that make it one of the most powerful “drugs” on the face of the planet.

So, let’s look at for highly effective ways to maximize these blood-sugar controlling benefits of exercise, shall we?

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Blood Sugar Control Strategy #1: Strength Train 

Before diving into strength training, it’s important to understand the concept of “glucose threshold”. The glucose threshold is the point at which sugar output into the bloodstream (e.g. from sugars in your diet, sugars that get broken down and released by your liver, etc,) and uptake (e.g. sugar getting driven into muscle) are in balance: if you are above the threshold, then glucose levels rise and you have high blood sugar, and if you are below the threshold, your blood sugar levels fall or stay the same. You can read more about glucose threshold and blood sugar levels in this study.

Research has found that when you strength train, your ability to drive glucose into muscle tissue from strength training occurs, and thus your ability to cause a decrease in your glucose threshold can occur when you lift weights that are at least 30% of your single repetition maximum weight (1RM). This is (surprisingly) not that heavy or difficult and means you can control blood sugar and upregulate sugar transporters with even relatively light body weight exercise.

Let’s take a closer look at this study. In it, test subjects (both diabetic and non-diabetic overweight middle-aged men with previous resistance exercise experience) were assigned to either a low or a moderate intensity protocol. Both protocols consisted of a weight training circuit of 3 sets of 30 repetitions of six basic weight training exercises that you’re probably familiar with or can easily find at a gym: leg extension, bench press, leg press, lat pull down, leg curl, and seated row. Subjects recovered for 15-20 seconds between exercises, and then for a full two minutes between circuits. Weights were set at 23% of one repetition maximum (1RM) for the low intensity group, and 43% of 1 RM for the moderate intensity group. Blood sugar and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured both between sets and at 15-minute intervals during a two-hour post-exercise resting period. Subjects also ate a 285-calorie breakfast two hours before the test.

Blood sugar levels in the non-diabetic subjects fell initially during exercise, then rose after exercise as the body released some sugar into the bloodstream to support the exercise (a process known as glycogenolysis), then leveled off again.

No surprises there.

In subjects with type 2 diabetes, both the low and moderate intensity circuits lowered blood glucose, but surprisingly, the low intensity circuit produced lower glucose levels, along with a lower rating of perceived exertion accompanied by less metabolic stress. This finding should be particularly relevant to overweight or untrained individuals who are just beginning a blood sugar management program, or for people who just feel too “tired” to exercise before or after a meal, because it means that even a single session of low intensity resistance exercise at a relatively easy weight can offer significant benefits for blood sugar control.

Now, before leaving the topic of strength training for blood sugar control, it is important to understand that if you’re already a relatively fit personthe heavier and more intense your strength training, the more rapidly you will deplete muscle and liver glycogen levels, the higher your post-exercise metabolic rate will be, and the greater your amount of blood sugar control will be, so you eventually should progress to workouts such as a heavy 5×5 protocol or any of the other strength training strategies I describe here. But it’s also important to realize that even light weight training will suffice for basic blood sugar control.

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Blood Sugar Control Strategy #2: Pre-Breakfast Fasted Cardio

A study published in The Journal of Physiology suggests a second, potent strategy for controlling blood sugar, especially in response to a meal: exercise before breakfast, particularly in a fasted state.

In this study, researchers in Belgium recruited 28 healthy, active young men and began stuffing them what would be considered a pretty poor diet – a diet comprised of 50 percent processed, unhealthy fat (we’re not talking extra virgin olive oil and avocadoes, but more like soy and lard and the other nasties fed to subjects in laboratory studies) and 30 percent more calories than the men had been consuming prior to the study. A portion of the men (the control group) did not exercise during the experiment, and rest of the subjects were assigned to one of two exercise groups, working out four times a week in the mornings by running and cycling at a hard intensity for 60-90 minutes.

Now, here’s the kicker: two of the groups – the control group and just one of the exercising groups – were fed a huge, carbohydrate-rich breakfast. In the case of the fed exercising group, this meal occurred before exercising and then they continued to ingest carbohydrates (in the form a sports drink) during their workouts. But the second group exercised without eating, and drank only water during the training. The researchers did, however, made up for the abstinence of calories in this second group by matching their energy intake of the first group with a big breakfast later that morning after training, a meal exactly comparable in calories to the fed group’s big pre-exercise and during-exercise portions.

The experiment lasted for a total of six weeks. At the end, the nonexercising group had, not surprisingly, packed on an average of more than six pounds of fat. Furthermore, they also developed insulin resistance, meaning their muscles were no longer responding to insulin and weren’t pulling sugar out of the bloodstream efficiently, resulting in the storage of extra fat in both adipose tissue and within intramuscular fat stores.

And the men who ate breakfast before exercising gained weight, too, although only about half as much as the control group. But somewhat surprisingly, just like the sedentary eating group, they also become more insulin-resistant and were storing away a greater amount of fat.

You’re probably anticipating what comes next. Only the group that exercised before breakfast gained nearly no weight and showed zero signs of insulin resistance. In addition, their metabolic rate changed in such a way that they also burned the fat they were taking in far more efficiently (a higher rate of fat oxidation). The study’s authors concluced that “that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet.”

And what was one significant characteristic of that pre-breakfast exercise group? You guessed it: increased levels of the muscle protein GLUT-4, which, as you may recall, is responsible for insulin-stimulated glucose transport in muscle and plays a pivotal role in regulation of insulin sensitivity.

So…exercise before breakfast? Yep. Here’s my morning routine and how I do it.

One last note here: should a 60-90 minute pre-breakfast exercise session seem daunting to you, you should be aware of another study review entitled “The impact of brief high-intensity exercise on blood glucose levels”. In this study, researchers investigated the effect on insulin sensitivity and blood glucose from a relatively small amount of high intensity exercise – just 7.5 to 20 minutes per week. They found that two weeks of sprint interval training increased insulin sensitivity for up to three days after the exercise session! Furthermore, they found that twelve weeks of near maximal intensity interval running (for a total exercise time of 40 minutes per week) improved blood glucose to a similar extent as running at a lower, aerobic intensity for 150 minutes per week. In type 2 diabetics, they found that a single high intensity exercise session improved postprandial blood glucose for 24 hours, while a 2-week high intensity exercise program reduced average blood glucose by 13% at 48 to 72 hours after exercise and also increased GLUT4 transport protein expression by 369%! The researchers concluded that:

 “…very brief high intensity exercise (HIE) improves blood glucose (BG) 1 to 3 days postexercise in both diabetics and non-diabetics. HIE is unlikely to cause hypoglycemia during and immediately after exercise.”

So there you have it. When it comes to blood sugar control, there’s no need to hop on the treadmill for a full, epic hour and half. You can simply do brief, high intensity exercise, and here’s a full article I wrote that reviews some of the best, most up-to-date research on what kind of exercise counts as high intensity. Finally, not from peer-reviewed research but from my own testing with a blood sugar monitor, I’ve even found something as simple as a 30 minute easy walk in the sunshine, yoga session or relatively short, easy, aerobic effort can significantly lower post-prandial blood sugar levels after breakfast.

So now you’ve got zero excuses, eh?

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Blood Sugar Control Strategy #3: Post-Prandial Walks

A few years ago, I was inspired to begin setting a rule to move or walk for at least a few minutes after each meal, even a late dinner, when I read an interesting Japanese study entitled “Postprandial lipaemia: effects of sitting, standing and walking in healthy normolipidaemic humans.”

This study compared the effects of sitting, standing and walking on postprandial fat storage in healthy Japanese men. The fifteen participants in the study completed three two-day postprandial trials (you may remember from last week’s article that “post-prandial” means “after a meal”) in a random order: 1) sitting; 2) standing, and 3) walking. On day one of the sitting trial, participants rested. On day one of the standing trial, participants stood for six, 45-min periods. On day one of the walking trial, participants walked briskly for 30 min at approximately 60% of maximum heart rate. On day two of each trial, participants rested and consumed test meals for breakfast and lunch. The researchers then collected blood samples in the morning and afternoon on day one, and in the fasted state and at 2, 4 and 6 hours postprandially on day two. On day two, they found serum fat concentrations were 18% lower in the walking trial compared to the sitting and standing trials, proving that postprandial lipaemia was not reduced when standing (or, of course, sitting) after a meal but was reduced after low-volume, easy walking for 30 minutes.

 The study “Postprandial Walking is Better for Lowering the Glycemic Effect of Dinner than Pre-Dinner Exercise in Type 2 Diabetic Individuals” takes this science even one step further and looks at the effect of walking before a meal vs. walking after a meal.

In this study, twenty minutes of self-paced, easy walking done shortly after meal consumption resulted in lower blood glucose levels at the end of exercise compared to values at the same time point when subjects had walked pre-dinner. In addition, the investigators in this study found that one hour of aerobic exercise performed in fasted state prior to dinner had a minimal impact on post-dinner glucose levels, but when performed two hours after the meal, induced a significant decrease in plasma glucose levels.

So, from what we know thus far, it looks like if you’re going to go on a walk at some point in the evening around dinner, you’re better off doing it after dinner rather than before dinner, and that you get benefits when it’s as short as 20 minutes (although I’d highly suspect you get benefits from any movement at all!).

The same study also makes another interesting observation about the timing of moderate aerobic exercise around a meal and the effect on blood sugar of this exercise: specifically that postprandial, morning moderate intensity exercise decreases blood sugar levels after a morning meal, but this effect does not persist during and after the following lunch meal. This means that if you exercise in the morning, you’re probably going to still want to maintain at least low-level physical activity (e.g. a standing or walking workstation) between breakfast and lunch if you want to continue to reap the benefits of that exercise.

The study also reports that moderate bicycling exercise after any meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) results in a significant decrease in blood glucose levels and that both postprandial high-intensity exercise and longer bouts of walking (e.g. two hours versus one hour) reduce blood glucose levels and insulin secretion, suggesting that the effect of exercise is related more to total energy expenditure rather than to peak exercise intensity, leading the researchers to conclude that it is possible that the short duration of the exercise bout in this study (20 minutes) could have had a greater impact blood sugar if either the intensity or its duration had been increased. This is backed up by the study entitled “Effect of Post-Prandial Exercise Duration on Glucose and Insulin Responses to Feeding”, which found that longer bouts of exercise after a meal produce a greater decrease in glucose and insulin.

Once again, sugar transporters play a big role here, and researchers reported that “the binding of insulin to its cellular receptors in muscle and adipose tissues recruits GLUT4 transport proteins to the cell surface that facilitates glucose transport. Muscular contractions themselves are known to stimulate glucose transport into muscle cells without the need for insulin through an independent mechanism, but in an additive manner, thereby potentiating the effects of post-meal exercise.”

So let’s stop for a moment.

What do we know so far from all these studies? We know that one excellent strategy to control blood sugar would be to set a habit of exercising before breakfast in a fasted state, preferably using either longer aerobic exercise, brief high-intensity exercise or (if you’re like me) even just a bit of yoga or a simple walk, and then, if time permits, to go on an easy 20-60 minute walk after dinner.

OK, there’s one more strategy, so let’s keep on rolling!

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Blood Sugar Control Strategy #4: Standing

Using a standing desk can lower blood sugar levels, and there’s research to back it up!

In one study of office workers, standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the post-lunch blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time. Interestingly, researchers noted that both groups took the same amount of steps after lunch, indicating that the smaller spike in blood sugar was due to standing rather than additional physical movements around the office.

Another office worker study discovered that alternating between standing and sitting every 30 minutes throughout the workday reduced blood sugar spikes by 11.1% on average. And yet another study showed that the harmful effects of sitting after meals, with excessive sedentary time post-meal at the office being linked to a whopping 112% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

And that is why I not only recommend a standing or walking workstation, but also the incorporation of a concept called “greasing the groove”. This is a concept I originally discovered in a book called The Naked Warrior. The idea is basically this: Instead of (or in addition to) doing a long or hard workout at the gym, you simply spread your exercises throughout the day.

This not only allows you to become proficient at certain movements such as pull-ups or squas, but also elevates your metabolism throughout the day and gets you fit or maintains fitness without you needing to always set aside time for structured workouts. For example, I have a pull-up bar installed above the door of my office. Every time I walk under that bar, I have a rule that I have to do five pull-ups.

Other examples of “Greasing the Groove” that I include in my own life to become fit and control blood sugar even when I’m not exercising are:

 -Beginning every day with a few minutes of yoga and calisthenics with deep nasal breathing…

-Doing 25 body weight squats or 100 squats every time I take a bathroom break…(caution: click here to see a hilarious video in which this practice got me into some serious trouble at an airport)

-Doing 30 burpees at least once per day…

 -Doing 100 jumping jacks for every hour that I actually am sitting…

-Taking a cold shower 2-3 times each day…

You get the idea. Even during a day at the office, you don’t actually have to “workout” to be working out or to be controlling blood sugar.

Whew! This has been quite a post thus far. You’ve learned why you need to control blood sugar, how sugar can wind up in either fat or muscle, why you should strength train (even at low intensities), the benefits of pre-breakfast fasted cardio, the benefits of post-evening meal walking, and the concept of staying active at the office with activities like standing and greasing the groove.

But I’m not done yet. At the risk of getting completely villified in the comments section of this post, I should mention that sugar in your food isn’t always bad…and doesn’t always mean bad-news-bears for your blood sugar levels.

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News Flash: Sugar In Your Food Isn’t Always Bad

Prepare to be shocked. Ready? Okay, here we go…sugar is probably not as bad as you can like to believe. Yes, you heard me right.

These days, it seems that sugar is one of the demonized substances on the face of the planet, and I been flabbergasted at the number of people who will look at the label of, say, an extremely healthy protein powder or adaptogenic herb complex or kombucha bottle and completely flip out over the 5 to 10 g of sugar or fructose or dextrose or maltodextrin that they see on the label of the package. This practice becomes even more shocking when you look at the level of physical activity in these folks: Ironman triathletes, Spartan athletes, CrossFitters, and people for whom this amount of sugar is truly a speedbump when it comes to any amount of metabolic damage.

This would fall into the category of what I have, on a previous podcast, deemed as “orthorexia“, an unhealthy obsession with analyzing every tiny ingredient on a food label and flipping out if there’s even a semblance of something that might make you fat or bump up your blood sugar or be a “toxin”.

And yet you hear the same things over and over again, often from extremely active, insulin-sensitive people:

“Sugar is toxic!”

“Any sugar gets turned into fat in the liver!”

“Sugar oxidizes cholesterol, no matter what!”

“Sugar causes massive insulin spikes that make you fat!”

“Sugar rips you out of ketosis and fat-burning mode!”

Whenever I hear such extreme statements made about sugar, I get just a little bit annoyed, and you’re about to discover why.

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What Is Sugar?

Let’s first look at what sugar really is.

fig-1-mcabe

In nutrition science are three forms of sugar: monosaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

Monosaccharides are often called simple sugars because they have a very simple structure (mono means one and saccharide means sugar). Monosaccharides include glucose, fructose, and galactose.

Glucose is a type of sugar that is most commonly known as blood sugar, and is found in your blood and produced from the food you eat. Most food-based carbohydrates contain glucose, either as the only form of sugar or combined with fructose and galactose. So when you hear people talk about blood sugar levels, they’re referring to the amount of the monosaccharide glucose in the blood.

Then there’s fructose. Fructose is a sugar naturally found in fruit, and also in processed products such as sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), both of which are about 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Fructose is basically converted into glucose by your liver and then released into the blood as blood sugar. Finally, galactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products and it’s metabolized similarly to fructose.

Okay, let’s move on to all oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are molecules that contain several monosaccharides linked together in a chain.These sugars are one of the components of fiber found in plants, and your body is able to partially break down some of these oligosaccharides into glucose. Vegetables (shocker!) even have sugar in the form of fructo-oligosaccharides, which are short chains of fructose molecules. These chains are broken and the individual fructose molecules are then converted into glucose. Raffinose, for example, is  a common form of oligosaccharide and is comprised of a chain of galactose, glucose, and fructose, and is found in healthy foods like beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and natural, whole grains.

Then there are polysaccharides, which are long chains of monosaccharides, with ten or more monosaccharide units. Starch from plants and cellulose, a natural fiber found in many plants, are two examples of polysaccharide “sugars” (so toxic, eh?). Your body is able to break starches down into glucose, but not cellulose, because it passes through your digestive system intact…

… But every single sugar you just discovered, whether it’s from vegetables, whole grains, or can of soda, mostly winds up his glucose. As a matter of fact, every drop of carbohydrate you eat is either metabolized into glucose is left indigested as dietary fiber, and your body truly can’t tell the difference between the sugar found in fruit, honey or milk, or a candy bar. They’re all broken down into monosaccharides, which are then turned into glucose, which are then transported to your brain, muscles, and organs.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you should forgo the salad for a cup of ice cream or the bowl of broccoli for a Snickers bar because it all winds up with the same metabolic fate, but I do want you to understand that you’re probably eating “sugar” no matter whether you realize it or not.

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When Sugar Is Bad

So, when is the intake of sugar actually a problem? To answer that question let’s turn to this whole “sugar is toxic” argument.

On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube. The video been viewed over 800,000 times, gets new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, and is basically a 90-minute discussion of the subtle nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology.

In the video, Lustig presents the argument that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” referring not only the white granulated sugar that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal (sucrose) but also high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which Lustig calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”

He claims that sugar is not just an empty calorie, and that “It’s not about the calories…it has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”

But in a 2010 review of the science of sugar, entitled “Misconceptions about fructose-containing sugars and their role in the obesity epidemic”,  Luc Tappy, a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who is considered by biochemists who study fructose to be the world’s foremost authority on the subject, said there is “not the single hint” that HFCS was more deleterious than other sources of sugar. Here’s what Tappy has to say:

“A causal role of fructose intake in the aetiology of the global obesity epidemic has been proposed in recent years. This proposition, however, rests on controversial interpretations of two distinct lines of research. On one hand, in mechanistic intervention studies, detrimental metabolic effects have been observed after excessive isolated fructose intakes in animals and human subjects. On the other hand, food disappearance data indicate that fructose consumption from added sugars has increased over the past decades and paralleled the increase in obesity. Both lines of research are presently insufficient to demonstrate a causal role of fructose in metabolic diseases, however. Most mechanistic intervention studies were performed on subjects fed large amounts of pure fructose, while fructose is ordinarily ingested together with glucose. The use of food disappearance data does not accurately reflect food consumption, and hence cannot be used as evidence of a causal link between fructose intake and obesity. Based on a thorough review of the literature, we demonstrate that fructose, as commonly consumed in mixed carbohydrate sources, does not exert specific metabolic effects that can account for an increase in body weight. Consequently, public health recommendations and policies aiming at reducing fructose consumption only, without additional diet and lifestyle targets, would be disputable and impractical. Although the available evidence indicates that the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with body-weight gain, and it may be that fructose is among the main constituents of these beverages, energy overconsumption is much more important to consider in terms of the obesity epidemic.”

In a nutshell, what research actually shows is that sugar-sweetened compounds are bad for us not because there’s anything particularly toxic about the sugar they contain but just because people consume…

…too much sugar.

The list of research backing up this idea that sugar is not the issue but that overeating sugar is the issue goes on and on.

One extensive review of HFCS literature that says:

“Sucrose, HFCS, invert sugar, honey an many fruits and juices deliver the same sugars in the same ratios to the same tissues within the same time frame to the same metabolic pathways.  Thus…it makes essentially no metabolic difference which one is used.”

Here’s one from an Another HFCS literature review says:

“Based on the currently available evidence, the expert panel concluded that HFCS does not appear to contribute to overweight and obesity any differently than do other energy sources.”

And another literature review says:

“The data presented indicated that HFCS is very similar to sucrose, being about 55% fructose and 45% glucose, and thus, not surprisingly, few metabolic differences were found comparing HFCS and sucrose. That said, HFCS does contribute to added sugars and calories, and those concerned with managing their weight should be concerned about calories from beverages and other foods, regardless of HFCS content.”

The bottom line is that fructose is just another simple sugar can only harm you when you over-consume it. And, as you learned earlier, sucrose occurs in completely natural foods like pineapples, sweet potatoes, beets, sugar cane, walnuts, pecans, and cashews.

Here’s another shocker. In this study, researchers from The Sugar Bureau in the UK found that increased sugar intake was associated with leanness, not obesity, and concluded that there simply wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a quantitative guideline for sugar consumption. Another study, at the University of Hawaii, which is an extensive review of sugar-related literature, quoted:

“It is important to state at the outset that there is no direct connection between added sugars intake and obesity unless excessive consumption of sugar-containing beverages and foods leads to energy imbalance and the resultant weight gain.”

——————————-

Summary 

So what’s the take away message here?

When you’re looking at the label of some fancy health tonic, or a bottle of kombucha, or protein powder and you see that it contains 5 to 10g of something like sucrose fructose or maltodextrin or glucose, that is a veritable drop in the bucket that has never been proven by any form of nutritional science to causing any form of metabolic disease, especially if you are a physically active person. You are literally burning that much sugar within the first 15 minutes after you get out of bed.

That amount of sugar is, as I have described before, a veritable speedbump for an active person, and yes, that even includes active people who are maintaining a state of ketosis.

Case in point – below are the labels of two compounds that I’ve been known to sip while (shocker!) sitting sedentary on an airplane, or in the complete absence of exercise: TianChi adaptogenic herb complex and LifeShotz wild plant food extract.

TianChi label…

TianChi_SupplementFacts

LifeShotz label…

life-shotz-lifeshotz-ingredient-list-sugar-free-regular-capsules-httpwwwmaryblucacom-1-638

I can’t tell you how many freakin’ e-mails and comments I get from active, healthy people who flip out about the level of “sugar” shown on labels just like this (almost 40 calories…gasp!) – the same people who will go on to consume hundreds more calories of “sugar” in their breakfast of eggs, bacon and avocado or their evening meal of grass-fed steak, sweet potatoes and a glass of red wine (that’s via a process called “gluconeogenesis” in which protein can spike your blood sugar, and here’s a great article in the Journal of Diabetes that explains how).

I’m just sayin…

So when is sugar a problem?

It is the overconsumption of sugar, and the 1000+ calories of soda, hamburger buns, ice cream, pizza and the like that causes the issues related to chronic disease, metabolic issues, obesity, insulin resistance, a loss of “fat adaptation” and all the other issues that sugar enemies are screaming about.

Another issue is sucking down a cup of coffee stuffed with so much butter and coconut oil that it tops the 500+ calorie mark (you’d be surprised at how fast cream, butter and coconut oil, etc. can add up calorically), then moving on an hour or two later to a glucose and insulin spiking meal of eggs and bacon.

Another issue is the bar of dark chocolate that accidentally snuck into your diet five nights a week after the glass of red wine, resulting in an extra 3000 calories of sugar each week, or 168,000 extra calories of sugar a year.

That’s the sugar you need to worry about. Not the sugar in a pack of healing herbs or a bottle of kombucha.

OK, I’m off my soapbox. Let’s summarize.

1) Lift heavy weights so that you can drive glucose into muscle tissue;

2) Exercise in a fasted state before breakfast;

3) Stand at work;

4) Take a short walk after dinner;

5) Don’t be orthorexic. In small amounts, and especially from natural sources, sugar isn’t even remotely toxic.

Geez.

Now that I look at it, these aren’t really “biohacks” as much as basic healthy living concepts, eh?

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have questions, comments, or feedback about these four biohacks for controlling your blood sugar level, why sugar in food sometimes isn’t that bad or anything else? Leave your thoughts below! And be sure to check out the free Diabetes Summit from April 18-25, 2016…

A Healthy Alternative To Soylent (The Controversial, Space-Age Meal Replacement Powder).

simo

Ever heard of Soylent?

Three years ago, it popped up on a blog post entitled “Why I Stopped Eating Food“, and in it, author Rob Rinehart introduced a special meal replacement powder he had formulated that he claimed, among other things, would allow you to be in peak mental and physical condition for less than $2/day, would not spoil for months, does not require refrigeration, and would allow a full spectrum of nutrients to get mainlined into your bloodstream without you even needing to poop.

Needless to say, my eyebrow was raised when I first heard about the stuff.

And sure enough, the crazy, space-age formulation was later revealed to have some serious issues, including huge amounts of maltodextrin sugar, oxidized vegetable oils, huge amounts of soy lecithin, sucralose artificial sweetener, rancid fish oil and much more.

Bummer.

But at the same time, as a global traveler and busy man, I’m still intrigued with the concept of having something that delivers all your nutrients in one shot, is easy to transport, costs less than five bucks a serving and is environmentally friendly. And that was why, when I reported on what I used to fuel my body during the recent, brutal Spartan Agoge crucible, I mentioned that I was experimenting with a fast, drinkable (or eatable) meal replacement called “Ambronite“.

Here are the ingredients in Ambronite:

-organic oats
-organic coconut
-organic lucuma
-organic chlorella
-wild bilberry
-wild sea-buckthorn
-organic brown rice protein
-organic stinging nettle
-organic rice bran
-nutritional yeast
-organic spinach
-organic spirulina
-organic almond
-organic flaxseed
-organic apple
-mineral salt
-organic brazil nut
-organic blackcurrant

Simo Suoheimo, is the co-founder of Ambronite, my guest on today’s podcast, and a guy I had plenty of time to hang out with when I was in Finland last year for the Biohackers Summit. He is an entrepreneur, foodie, crowdfunding jedi (Ambronite set a new crowdfunding world record for a food product IndieGoGo), and self-described “serial optimist”. He is an avid hiker, forager, speaker and avid global adventurer on a quest to unlimit life and help people exceed themselves.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Simo’s weekly practice of “ice swimming” and why he does it…

-Why you can pick edible, wild foods just about anywhere in Finland…

-The one berry that has dozens of times the nutrient density of a blueberry…

-How to turn a food into a powder without oxidizing it or exposing it to harsh heat…

-How to make a meal replacement powder that can sit on a shelf, without compromising nutritional integrity…

-The reason that the flavor of a meal replacement powder might change from batch to batch…

-A berry that, unlike most fruits, contains high amounts of vitamin K…

-How to use Ambronite for ketosis…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

The Ambronite website (use this link and code BEN15 for 15% discount)

-The Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.

Chlorophyll research from Sayer Ji

My article on exogenous ketones and things you can mix with Ambronite to make it ketosis-friendly

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Simu or I about Ambronite or anything else we discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply! Finally below are the Ambronite ingredient details…

Oats

Oats (Avena sativa) are a great source of complex carbohydrates which help to maintain normal blood sugar and sustained-release energy. They are rich in minerals such as manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus and magnesium as well as several B-group vitamins. Unlike many other plants oats contain soluble fibres called β-glucans that slow down energy release during digestion. Oats also contain essential polyunsaturated omega fatty acids. We use oats that have been flattened, pre-cooked, dried and milled into a fine powder to ensure cold-water solubility and the bioavailability of nutrients. Our oats are grown in Finland.

Almonds

Almonds (Prunus amygdalus) are a good source of vitamin E and have a good fatty acid profile of mono- and polyunsaturated essential fats. They also contain over 20g of protein per 100g as well as significant amounts of micronutrients like magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and biotin. Besides almonds contain several non-vital but useful substances including polyphenols and phytosterols. Almonds are blanched before milling. The variety of almonds is Valencias and they come from organic producers in Spain.

Brown rice

Whole grain brown rice (Oryza sativa) is used as a source of protein. The protein is extracted from the bio-fermented and sprouted whole grain rice in low-temperatures using plant-based enzymes to sustain all natural micronutrients. Rice is grown on pure soil in Vietnam or Cambodia and the protein manufactured in modern facilities in China. Production is done using 100% natural processes without any nasty additives or pesticides. This brown rice protein has an excellent amino acid profile and up to 89% of protein. It contains eight out of nine essential amino acids and nine nonessential amino acids as well as a good amount of essential minerals such as iron.

Coconut

Coconut (Cocos nucifera) is rich in minerals containing magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and calcium. It also has trace amounts of several B vitamins. Because of the fibre-richness and low glycemic index coconut provides stable energy without sugar-crash. Besides nutrition coconut brings natural sweetness and creaminess to the recipe. The coconut flour we use comes from organic farmers in Philippines which is the largest coconut producer in the world after Indonesia and India.

Flax seed

Flaxseed is a functional food, and a rich source of fiber-related compounds called lignans. Lignans are unique polyphenols that possess hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and powerful antioxidant properties. Flaxseeds are the number one source of omega-3 fatty acid, which is known to be important for human brain function. On average, 100 grams of flaxseed amount to 28 grams of fiber, 41 grams of fats and 20 grams of protein.

Lucuma

Lucuma (Pouteria lucuma) has significant amounts of B vitamins as well as iron, calcium and phosphorus. It also contains β-Carotene which is a pre-form of vitamin A. The low glycemic index makes lucuma a good source of stable energy from carbohydrates. Besides nutrition the fruit adds nice flavor the recipe. The fruit origins from the Peruvian andes and that also where we source our lucuma.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a particularly great source of calcium as well as many other micronutrients such as vitamins A, C and K. This rare herb is almost five times richer in calcium than regular milk. It also contains significant amount of chlorophyll which is a non-essential but beneficial phytonutrient also known as the green pigment found in plants. Nettle grows wild and takes very little to cultivate making it sustainable source of nutrition. It also adds mild herbal flavour to the recipe. We use nettle grown in Finland or Hungary depending on the availability.

Apple

Apple (Malus domestica) contains vitamin C and has high fiber content. Its peel is high in antioxidants, polyphenols and phytochemicals. We use an apple powder made from complete organic apples with peel, from US or Europe, depending on availability and quality. Being a minor compound in the recipe, its main role is taste, blending well to the oats with lucuma, adding a few grams of fructose to the carbohydrate profile.

Rice Bran

Rice bran solubles or tocotrienols are the nutritional powerhouse of the rice (Oryza sativa) grain containing significant amounts of vitamin E. Tocotrienols are also rich in protein, B-group vitamins, and selenium as well as many non-essential but beneficial substances like coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, flavonoids and glutathione peroxidase. The powder is produced by the fermentation of whole grain rice grain located between the shell and the bran, which contains nearly all the nutrients in rice. Besides nutrition rice bran solubles bring natural creaminess to the recipe. Our rice bran powder is produced in the USA.

Chlorella

Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) is a single-celled freshwater algae that is full of essential nutrients. The plant contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K. In addition chlorella contains vitamin D and B12. It also contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, iodine and other minerals as well as essential amino and fatty acids. Chlorella is richer in chlorophyll than any other plant and has been considered as a complete food by some nutritionists. We use special chlorella which cell walls have been cracked using a high-pressure jet spray to improve digestibility and nutrient bioavailability. Our chlorella is cultivated in the Inner-Mongolia border of China outside large cities. The area is known for its good water quality, sufficient sunlight, non-polluted air, and abundant natural alkaline resources. Chlorella is grown inside greenhouses in pools filled with pure water from the depths of 500 meter streaming from the surrounding mountains. These conditions enable cultivation of our high-quality chlorella containing only very low-amounts of heavy-metals and other toxins. To preserve precious micronutrients for your body, our chlorella is raw and dried in controlled temperatures to avoid exposure to heat above 45 °C (113 °F). It is certified organic by accredited Ecocert certification body.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a great source of B-complex vitamins containing naturally seven out of eight essential B vitamins. It is also rich in essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. Nutritional yeast is made out the the same species of yeast used for brewing but it is carefully deactivated and dried to keep the nutritional richness and make it easily digestible for the body. Besides essential vitamins and minerals nutritional yeast contain glutamic acid which is a non-essential amino acid important for learning and memory. Nutritional yeast also adds gentle creamy-cheesy flavour to the recipe. Our nutritional yeast is produced in Finland or USA.

Mineral Salt

Mineral salt is a good source of potassium and iodine. It also contains healthy amount of sodium to maintain good mineral balance in the body. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes that maintain the fluid balance in the body and are important for the heart, muscles and brain to function properly. Besides the contribution of essential micronutrients salt underlines the natural flavour of other ingredients.

Brazil Nut

Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are exceptionally rich in selenium and contains good amount of other nutrients like niacin (B3), vitamin E and magnesium as well as amino acids and multiple essential fatty acids. Besides essential nutrients they contain carotenoids, phytosterols and phytic acid which are known to be beneficial for health. Brazil nuts are native to South-American rainforest. Our Brazil nuts come from Bolivia which produces approximately half of the worlds harvest.

Bilberry

Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) are exceptionally nutritious super berries that grow wild in Northern Europe. They are rich in vitamins A and C and contain traces of several B-complex vitamins as well as multiple essential minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition to essential nutrients bilberries are very rich in flavonoids and have two times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries and three times that of an apple measured ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) index. The antioxidants in wild berries have shown to be bioavailable for the human body. The bilberries we use have grown wild above Polar Circle in the northern Finland, hand-picked and carefully dried and powdered in low temperatures to preserve nutrients.

Spinach

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) contains high amounts of vitamins such as vitamin A, K and folate. It is also high in iron and calcium, but also non-essential substances such as antioxidants. Our spinach powder is made by drying and milling it in low temperatures. It is organic and raw and comes from organic farms in Germany.

Blackcurrant

Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is an extremely good source of vitamin C containing up to four times more of it than oranges. It also contains traces of several B-group vitamins as well as minerals magnesium, manganese, iron and calcium. Like many berries blackcurrant also hold non-essential phytonutrient polyphenols and phytosterols. It is native to northern Europe and the berries grow in a shrub. Our blackcurrant berry powder is carefully manufactured in low temperatures in Finland.

Sea-buckthorn

Sea-buckthorns (Hippophae rhamnoides) are one of the richest plant based sources of vitamin C and can contains even five times more of it than oranges. These small orange superberries are also dense in potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus as well as vitamin K. Besides they contain non-essential but beneficial omega-7 fatty acids (palmitoleic acid) and carotenoids. Our sea-buckthorns come from Finland or Estonia.

Spirulina

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a nutritional powerhouse full of essential nutrients. It contains up to 71g of protein per 100g including all nine essential amino acids as well as nine non-essential. Besides it is dense in micronutrients being a rich source of six B-complex vitamins, choline, and vitamins C, E and K as well as a number of essential trace minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. It is also loaded with non-essential substances like chlorophyll and antioxidants. We have carefully selected the most qualified organic producer in China. The spirulina in Ambronite is cultivated in the Inner-Mongolia border of China outside large cities. The area is known for its good water quality, sufficient sunlight, non-polluted air, and abundant natural alkaline resources. Spirulina is grown inside greenhouses in pools filled with pure water from the depths of 500 meter streaming from the surrounding mountains. These conditions enable cultivation of our high-quality spirulina containing only very low-amounts of heavy-metals and other toxins. To preserve precious micronutrients for your body, our spirulina is raw and dried in controlled temperatures to avoid exposure to heat above 45 °C (113 °F). It is certified organic by accredited Ecocert certification body.

The Hidden Half Of Nature: Why Invisible Microbes Are The Key To Health & Life.

dig 2 grow (1)

This is a special Premium audio episode. Click here to activate a Premium subscription to the BenGreenfieldFitness show and access this and over 300 additional hidden audios, videos, pdf’s and more!

I read plenty of books about gut health, immune system, and alternative medicine, but one of the best books I discovered in the past several months is entitled “The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health“.

When authors David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé decide to restore life into their barren yard by creating a garden, dead, barren dirt threatens their dream. As a cure, they feed their soil a steady diet of organic matter. The results impress them.

In short order, the much-maligned microbes transform their bleak yard into a flourishing Eden. Beneath their feet, beneficial microbes and plant roots continuously exchange a vast array of essential compounds. Dave and Anne soon learn that this miniaturized commerce is central to botanical life’s master strategy for defense and health.

They are abruptly plunged further into investigating microbes when Biklé is diagnosed with cancer. Here, they discover an unsettling truth. An armada of bacteria (our microbiome) sails the seas of our gut, enabling our immune system to sort microbial friends from foes. But when our gut microbiome goes awry, our health can go with it. The authors also discover startling insights into the similarities between plant roots and the human gut. We are not what we eat. We are all―for better or worse―the product of what our microbes eat.

This leads to a radical reconceptualization of our relationship to the natural world: by cultivating beneficial microbes, we can rebuild soil fertility and help turn back the modern plague of chronic diseases. The Hidden Half of Nature reveals how to transform agriculture and medicine―by merging the mind of an ecologist with the care of a gardener and the skill of a doctor.

The book, in which they highlight this journey, is a riveting exploration of how microbes are transforming the way we see nature and ourselves―and could revolutionize agriculture and medicine.

Prepare to set aside what you think you know about yourself and microbes. Good health―for people and for plants―depends on Earth’s smallest creatures. You’re about to learn the story of our tangled relationship with microbes and their potential to revolutionize agriculture and medicine, from garden to gut.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-What exactly a microbe is, and how it’s far more complex than you’d actually think…

-The strange “home-brew” Anne dumped into her garden to change the soil from dead to living…

-How microbes tie into the ancient art of making wine…

-How modern, conventional agriculture is completing changing how soil and microbes interact, and how this is affecting the quality of the food that we eat…

-The ideal scenario for growing food, from a soil standpoint…

-Why the colon so important when it comes to the immune system…

-What to eat if you want to increase the microbial diversity of the colon…

-The fascinating parallel between the root system of a plant and the gut of the human being… 

-And much more!

Be sure to check out Dave and Anne’s websites, including:
Website: http://www.dig2grow.com/

Twitter: https:[email protected]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehiddenhalfofnature

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about microbes, Dave and Anne’s book, or anything else we discussed during this podcast episode? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply, and click here to grab this fascinating book now!

The #1 Go-To Resource For All Things Kombucha (And How Bacon, Kombucha & Alcohol Mix!).

crum

Did Lindsey Lohan really get drunk on kombucha?

How much caffeine and sugar is in kombucha?

Can you eat that slimy scoby thing that floats to the top?

How can you make kombucha more “bubbly” if you’re making it yourself?

Can kombucha be used for things other than just drinking?

Is it safe to mix kombucha with cocktails or (as I do) to top it off with a bit of vodka now and then?

We’re going to tackle all these topics and much more in today’s interview with Hannah Crum, author of the brand new title “The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea“.

Hannah joined me last year for the podcast episode “Kombucha: Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask.“, but since then, she’s written the quintessential guide to all things kombucha, and what I would consider to be the #1 resource for anybody who wants to know everything there is to know about kombucha.

With more than 400 recipes, including 268 unique flavor combinations, you can get exactly the taste you want — for a fraction of the store-bought price. This complete guide shows you how to do it from start to finish, with illustrated step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting tips. The book also includes information on the many health benefits of kombucha, fascinating details of the drink’s history, and recipes for delicious foods and drinks you can make with kombucha (including some irresistible cocktails!).

Hannah Crum is known as The Kombucha Mamma, and is founder of Kombucha Kamp, the most visited website in the world for Kombucha information, recipes and advice. Hannah is also an industry journalist & Master Brewer, directly mentoring thousands of new and experienced Kombucha brewers and providing consultation services for Kombucha start-ups since 2007.

Hannah is also a leader and featured speaker in the Southern California Real Food movement, using the “Kombucha Lifestyle” as an introduction to other fermented foods, gut health, the human microbiome, “bacteriosapiens” and more. She ships freshly grown, full-size Kombucha starter cultures to more than 10,000 people worldwide and offers kits and Continuous Brew Packages, the ultimate in convenient homebrewed Kombucha, via her webstore.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-A quick review of what kombucha actually is…
 
-How kombucha affects your liver (and why you should have trace amounts of alcohol in your kombucha)…
-Why nearly all our ancestors drank some form of kombucha…
 
-How much caffeine is in kombucha, and which chemicals in kombucha balance out any caffeine…
 
-The true facts about kombucha and sugar…
 
-What kind of water to use if you make your own kombucha…
 
-Whether you can or should eat the “scoby” part of kombucha (and one suprising use for the scoby)…
 
-How to get more bubbles and carbonation in your kombucha…
 
-How you can you know if you have mold or could be making “bad” kombucha…
-Hannah’s #1, most recommended kombucha recipe (that you’re guaranteed to have never heard of!)…
 
-The surprising, some non-drinking ways you can use kombucha…
 
-How to make an amazing “pork-tini” with your kombucha…
-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Get Your Free Kombucha DIY Guide & E-book Here

Link to Hannah’s kombucha book tour & dates

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Hanna or I about the Big Book of Kombucha or anything else we discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

The Surprising Facts About What Bread Does To Your Brain (And What You Can Do About It)

max lu

Confession: I eat bread a few times a week.

Mostly, it’s my wife Jessa’s mouth-watering, homemade sourdough bread.

But lately, I saw a documentary got me thinking a bit more about bread, how much you can “get away” with eating, how often you can or should eat it, and whether it affects parts of your body other than your gut, even if you don’t have something like celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

The documentary is called “Bread Head“, and in it, 33 year old director Max Lugavere explores the impact of our diets and lifestyles on brain health. Max’s “vlogs” have garnered thousands of fans, and in each of these, he delivers bite-sized blasts of easily digestible information on health science topics ranging from intermittent fasting to the microbiome. You can check them out here. He has spoken at both the NY Academy of Sciences and the United Nations, has appeared on multiple top health podcasts and TV shows including NBC Nightly News, and is a Yahoo Health contributor and regular guest expert on The Dr. Oz Show.

During this podcast, you’ll discover:

-What bread has to do with your head…

-Why bread affects a lot of people who don’t have celiac disease and have no gluten-related gut issues…

-How long bread can have a deleterious effect on your body after you eat it…

-How much bread you can “get away” with eating…

-Whether you can eat bread if the bread has been fermented, like traditionally made sourdough bread…

-What if you use a gluten digesting enzyme like gluten peptidase

-Hidden sources of the same type of dangerous compounds you can find in commercial bread…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Aztec sea salt

MCT oil

Max’s Dr. Oz Explanation of Bread & The Brain video

-The BreadHead Teaser (below) and BreadHead movie

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Max or I about bread and what it can do to your brain? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply!

Anti-Aging, Homeschooling, Underwater Workouts, Pooping & More With Laird Hamilton & Gabby Reece

laird

Meet Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece – sporting legends, nutrition and fitness gurus, parents, and – as you will discover on this podcast – deep thinkers and philosophers of life.

Laird is an American big-wave surfer, co-inventor of tow-in surfing, and an occasional fashion and action-sports model. He is married to Gabrielle Reece (AKA “Gabby”), a professional volleyball player, television personality, and model.

In this podcast (recorded at Laird and Gabby’s home in Kauai) you’ll discover:

-Why Laird and Gabby choose to live in Hawaii…

-What it’s like to transition from being a pro athlete to moving into later years of life, and Laird and Gabby’s anti-aging tips and tricks…

-The special breathwork protocol Laird and Gabby both use…

-How Laird combines cold, hot, hypoxia, underwater training and more for the ultimate workout…

-The top biohacks Laird keeps in his garage…

-A special coffee blend that serves as rocket fuel for your body and brain…

-One very stinky fruit Laird takes a shot of each morning…

-Why Laird and Gabby homeschool, and why they do it…

-How to stay young and vibrant, age gracefully, and defy the norms of what we accept for older generations…

-And much more!

 

Resources from this episode:

Laird’s website

Gabby’s website

The NBC show “Strong”

Laird’s superfoods and coffee blends

The Glasses Off app

Neil Strauss’s author page

The iCool cold pool

The Iceman Wim Hof podcast

The Unschooling podcast with Ben Hewitt

Don Wildman’s Hardest Workout In The World

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for me, Laird Hamilton or Gabby Reece? Leave your thoughts below!

Primal Endurance: How To Escape Chronic Cardio & Carbohydrate Dependency & Become A Fat Burning Beast.

mark sisson

Mark Sisson is my guest on today’s podcast. Mark is the de-facto leader of the primal and paleo lifestyle movement, and unlike the many instant and self-anointed experts who have descended upon the endurance scene in recent years, Mark boasts a rich history in endurance sports.

He’s run a 2:18 marathon, has a 4th place Hawaii Ironman finish to his credit, has spearheaded triathlon’s global anti-doping program for the International Triathlon Union, and has coached and advised leading professional athletes, including Olympic triathlon gold and silver medalist Simon Whitfield and Tour de France cyclist Dave Zabriskie.

Mark just put the finishing touches on a new book called “Primal Endurance” – a book that shakes up the status quo and challenges the overly stressful, ineffective conventional approach to endurance training. While marathons and triathlons are wildly popular and bring much gratification and camaraderie to the participants, the majority of athletes are too slow, continually tired, and carry too much body fat respective to the time they devote to training. The prevailing “chronic cardio” approach promotes carbohydrate dependency, overly stressful lifestyle patterns, and ultimately burnout.

To overcome this conundrum, Primal Endurance applies an all-encompassing approach to endurance training that includes primal-aligned eating to escape carbohydrate dependency and enhance fat metabolism, building an aerobic base with comfortably paced workouts, strategically introducing high intensity strength and sprint workouts, emphasizing rest, recovery, and an annual periodization, and finally cultivating an intuitive approach to training instead of the usual robotic approach of fixed weekly workout schedules.

I delve into these concepts in today’s podcast with Mark. During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-What Mark’s “perfect day” looks like…

-Mark’s history as a pro triathlete…

-Why endurance athletes can actually get fat from training…

-Why it can be a myth that you have exercise for long periods of time at that intensity to get very good endurance results…

-How to do something called “maximum sustained power training”…

-Why a ketogenic endurance athlete can recover faster from stressful training…

-Why Mark doesn’t use heart rate variability (HRV) measurements…

-And much more…

Resources for this episode:

Primal Mayonnaise

Focal Upright desk

Mark’s recent podcast with Joe Rogan

DNAFit genetic testing

-Book: Primal Endurance: Escape chronic cardio and carbohydrate dependency and become a fat burning beast!

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for me or Mark about today’s episode? Leave your thoughts below and be sure to check out Mark’s new book…

PrimalEndurance_FrontCover

How To Cease Endless Fad Diets (And The #1 Question You Must Ask Yourself About Food).

meghan itunes

I get diet books in the mail all the time.

No, I don’t have some kind of online shopping fetish for diet books.

People just send them to me. Unsolicited. As a matter of fact, it’s a well-known fact in the health and nutrition industry that one of the fastest ways to “make a buck” is to write and sell a diet book. It plays on the psychology that people are constantly looking for next answer to the diet that’s not currently working for them. Or they’re bored. Or have grass-is-always-greener syndrome.

Anyhow, as you can imagine, I was quite pleased when I received an undieting book in the mail last week. UnDiet: Eat Your Way To Vibrant Health, which includes a plan for an 8-week transformation and more than 35 delicious gluten-free, plant-based recipes.

Meghan Telpner, the author of UnDiet is a Toronto-based author, speaker, and nutritionist. She used to have Crohn’s disease, but after throwing up her hands in frustration at the way the modern medical system was trying to heal her, and instead embarking upon her own path of healing, she’s fixed her gut, and learned quite a bit about food, exercise, and psychology along the way.

If you find yourself constantly caught up in new diets…

….or you deal with stress constantly damaging your gut…

…or you have Crohn’s or some other kind of gut issue…

…or you look good on the outside but feel like crap on the inside…

…then this episode is a must-listen for you. In it, you’ll discover:

-The exact steps Meghan used (after nearly having her colon removed from debilitating Crohn’s disease) healed her entire gut in just 4 weeks…

-Why you should learn to cook, even if you have someone or some service who can do all the healthy cooking for you…

What to do when you see a food, or a workout, or some other activity and it just doesn’t “feel right”…

-Why Meghan thinks yoga is harder than a stairclimber or a high-intensity workout…

-Why a cute outfit doesn’t mean much if you feel like total crappola…

-How you can get around the awkwardness of questioning paradigms, and being “that person” at a dinner party who perhaps doesn’t use a microwave or drinks green smoothies…

-In the end, the most important question to ask yourself when it comes to “undieting”…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book Ben mentions early in episode: The Hidden Half of Nature: Microbial Roots Of Life & Health

-Another book Ben mentions: Reclaiming Conversation

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about how to quit dieting? Leave your thoughts below and either Meghan or I will reply!

A Rant About Supplements.

rant1
Last week, I posted my birthday rant.
It was so popular that I’m back now, one week later, with another brief rant for you.
Enjoy.
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I’m often asked the difference between something from the “Nature” brand of supplements I’ve personally developed…
…and, say, another supplement brand or product that appears to be very similar. My recent article about NatureAminos is a perfect example of this: obviously there are many other similar amino acid supplements out there, such as Master Amino Pattern (MAP) or PerfectAminos.
The answer is very simple, and twofold:
1) I used my modifications and recommendations on an existing brand to make it better.
In some cases, a lab or supplement company has developed and patented a very good technology – a technology that I want to use to create a product which that company has not yet created. A perfect example of this is NatureCBD. The company BioCBD+ developed the process of blending turmeric with organic cannabis to isolate both the curcuminoids and the cannabinoids.
But I wanted to take this one step further and add in ashwagandha and lemon balm for relaxation, cortisol lowering and in higher amounts, elimination of insomnia or the inability to fall asleep. So I approached them and had them “custom formulate” a modification of their formula for me. This means NatureCBD is similar to many products BioCBD+ has, but different in that I’ve added my own personal twist and extra ingredients to an existing supplement delivery technology.
2) I’ve private labeled an existing formula under my own brand to more effectively spread my message.
In some cases, a supplement you will find at GreenfieldFitnessSystems.com is indeed nearly identical to another supplement or formula that already exists, but has been branded with my “Nature” brand and label. The advantage of this for you is that: A) GreenfieldFitnessSystems.com becomes a convenient “one stop shop” for you, rather than you needing to go to the four corners of the earth to find the stuff I recommend or endorse; B) you save on shipping; C) you avoid getting any fake knock-offs; D) every time you use my brand vs. another brand, you (and I know this sounds potentially selfish) are “brand-building” Ben Greenfield and the Nature brand, and you are helping me to spread the message and my unique flavor of living life to the fullest and getting the ideal blend of performance, health, happiness and longevity.
So…let me know if that makes sense, and please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. I hope these little rants help you better understand me and my message. 

The Dark Side Of Coconut Oil: A Cautionary Tale For Coconut Oil Extremists.

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In last week’s article “Four New, Cutting-Edge Ways To Easily Shift Your Body Into Fat-Burning Mode & Ketosis“, I finished with a somewhat mysterious word of caution to those who consume oodles of coconut oil (or MCT oil, for that matter).

Mystery, begone. 

In today’s article, myself and my friend Alyssa Siefert, PhD (a Biomedical Engineering Instructor/Researcher at Yale) are going to tell you about the dark side of coconut oil, and reveal a cautionary, scientifically accurate tale for any coconut oil extremists who insist on adding oodles of coconut oil to every smoothie and spoonful after spoonsful of MCT oil to every cup of coffee.

So go ahead, slowly step away from the giant vat of coconutty goodness, and open your mind to the possibility that, in the same way that too much protein could reduce lifespan and too few carbohydrates can cause joint and gut damage, too much coconut oil and MCT could also be a bit rough on your body…especially if you fall into the specific categories we discuss in this article.

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If you’ve recently looked into topics like ketosis, fat burning efficiency, low carb diets, or even candida cleansing, you’ve no doubt heard of the myriad of benefits derived from coconut oil. Because it is rich in the medium- and long-chain fatty acids (MCFAs and LCFAs) you’re about to discover, coconut oil has too many compelling medicinal, metabolic, and cosmetic uses to list here.

And let’s not beat around the bush: you’ll find extra virgin coconut oil, full fat, non-BPA coconut milk, MCT oil and other similar fats recommended quite frequently here at BenGreenfieldFitness.com

However, the recent paper “Dietary Fatty Acids Directly Impact Central Nervous System Autoimmunity via the Small Intestine” shed light on the potential downside of medium- and long-chain fatty acids (MCFAs and LCFAs).

This well-designed, high-impact scientific paper showed that lauric acid (LA), which usually makes up 50% or more of coconut oil, tips the balance of T-cells (immune cells that actively participate in the immune response) towards the production of inflammation, and also, in mouse models, exacerbates multiple sclerosis (MS), in which your immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.

So should people with intestinal inflammation or risk of MS go against the popular opinion of the internets and the majority of new diet books out there and instead limit their consumption of coconut and MCT oil?Can too much coconut or MCT cause inflammatory or immune issues in your body?

Can too much coconut or MCT oil cause inflammatory or immune issues in your body?

Let’s make some logical, data-driven conclusions, shall we?

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First of all, what are MCFAs, LCFAs, MCT, PUFAs, MUFAs, and all these other confusing alphabet letter soup phrases?

Fatty Acids (FAs) are simply molecules consisting of long hydrocarbon chains capped with a carboxylic acid (COOH). This carboxylic acid is where “acid” part of fatty acid comes from. Fatty acids are termed “saturated” if there are hydrogen atoms at every possible position on the carbon chain, and “unsaturated” if there are open positions for hydrogens on carbons that are instead filled by a double bond between the carbon atoms.

Here’s a pretty picture to demonstrate:

sat

FAs that only have one double bond are called mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), while FAs with multiple double bonds are polyunsaturated FA (PUFAs). Fats are formed by chains of fatty acids connected together with glycerol, and are classified as monoglycerides (one FA per glycerol), diglycerides (two FA per glycerol), or triglycerides (you guessed it – three FA per glycerol). If this is getting too nerdy to remember, just think that saturated fats are solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats are liquid at room temp and often used as cooking oils.

Fats, like those you would consume from foods, are formed by chains of these fatty acids that have been connected together with glycerol, and these fats can be classified as monoglycerides (one FA per glycerol), diglycerides (two FA per glycerol), or triglycerides (you guessed it – three FA per glycerol).

If this is getting too nerdy to understand, just remember: saturated fats are solid at room temperature (like coconut oil) and unsaturated fats are liquid at room temp (like extra virgin olive oil).

Anyhoo…let’s get to know these FAs even better…

…Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) have one to six carbon atoms, including acetic acid (C2), propionic acid (C3) and butyric acid (C6). SCFAs are made by the fermentation of dietary fiber such as vegetables by your intestinal bacteria (AKA your microbiota) and these SCFAs exhibit numerous health benefits, especially for preventing metabolic disorders by turning white adipose tissue into brown adipose tissue and by regulating blood sugar. SCFA treatments have also been shown to ameliorate mouse models of intestinal bowel disease (IBD) and allergic asthma.

Then we have FAs with longer chains of carbon atoms. The famous MCT oil is composed of Medium Chain Triglycerides that have FA chains ranging from 6-12 Carbons, including caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10), and lauric acid (C12) – though, as you learned about in last week’s article about how to get into ketosis, it is hotly debated among nerds whether lauric acid is considered a MCT or LCT.

And yes, FAs get even longer. LCFAs have 12 or more carbon atoms and include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20 Carbons), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (22 Carbons), and, depending on whom you ask, lauric acid (12 Carbons).

coconut

OK, enough with the science lesson – when it comes to stuffing or not stuffing your face with coconut oil, why does this stuff even matter?

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To answer this question, let’s get back to that recent study on coconut oil mentioned earlier.

While numerous internet articles on many popular diet and nutrition websites make a claim that over 1500 peer-reviewed scientific studies confirm that coconut oil is healthy, a quick Pubmed search shows that although there are that many studies relevant to coconut oil, many of them are not actually saying that coconut oil is a panacea.

Take a look at the screenshot below to judge for yourself.

png coc

Sure, there is indeed a great deal of high-quality scientific research showing that coconut oil has many health benefits, and even health benefits beyond the ones you’ve probably heard about a million times from various health gurus.

For example, did you know that coconut oil can mitigate the damaging effects of antibiotics? In this study, Nigerian researchers gave rats a broad-spectrum antibiotic (Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole), and produced significant increases in liver toxicity markers like serum total bilirubin, lactate dehydrogenase, and alkaline phosphatase. But supplementing these antibiotics with virgin coconut oil protected against this liver toxicity (here are a few other creative ways to limit the damage from antibiotics).

That said, the recent research findings mentioned earlier suggest that coconut oil is not healthy in all situations.

In the October 2015 issue of Immunity, a leading primary research immunology journal, the effects of FAs were meticulously investigated in a report entitled “Dietary Fatty Acids Directly Impact Central Nervous System Autoimmunity via the Small Intestine”. Download it here if you’d like.

In this study, researchers first added FAs ranging from C4 to C12 (from butyric acid to lauric acid) to naïve mouse T cells, showing that as the length of hydrocarbon backbone increased, the number of T cells that differentiated into Th17 cells increased in a strikingly linear fashion:

In this figure, naïve T cells were dosed with C4:0 = butyric acid, C6:0 = caproic acid, C8:0 = caprylic acid, C10:0 = capric acid, and C12:0 = LA, and the number of Th17 cells, marked by surface protein CD4 and production of IL-17, were quantified.
In this figure, naïve T cells were dosed with C4:0 = butyric acid, C6:0 = caproic acid, C8:0 = caprylic acid, C10:0 = capric acid, and C12:0 = LA, and the number of Th17 cells, marked by surface protein CD4 and production of IL-17, were quantified.

So what are Th17 cells, and why should we care?

Imbalanced T cell subsets drive numerous autoimmune diseases, and an abundance Th17 cells (called Th17-skewed immune system) can result in inflammatory autoimmune disease, including intestinal bowel disorder (IBD) and multiple sclerosis (MS).

See, Th17 cells are meant to attack parasites and pathogenic bacteria, but having too many of them in your body can increase the chances of their attacking your own tissues, such as myelin sheaths in the case of MS. But while Th17 cells promote inflammation, they can be balanced by anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells (Tregs), and it is the ratio of pro- and anti-inflammatory T cells, not the absolute number of each cell type, that is predictive of health and disease.

Therefore, researchers next quantified the effects of hydrocarbon chain length on Treg differentiation, finding that shorter chain FAs induced Tregs:

In this figure, naïve T cells were dosed with C4:0 = butyric acid, C6:0 = caproic acid, C8:0 = caprylic acid, C10:0 = capric acid and the number of Tregs, marked by surface proteins CD4 and CD25 and expression of transcription factor Foxp3, were quantified.
In this figure, naïve T cells were dosed with C4:0 = butyric acid, C6:0 = caproic acid, C8:0 = caprylic acid, C10:0 = capric acid and the number of Tregs, marked by surface proteins CD4 and CD25 and expression of transcription factor Foxp3, were quantified.

To determine if the Th17-skewing effects of LA were relevant to autoimmune diseases, mice with the mouse-version of MS (called EAE) were fed a diet of 30.9% fat with 13.5% of it LA (compared to control diet of 4.2% fat).

To relate this dietary regime to humans, for a person eating 2500 calories a day, that’s 750 calories from fat, and 101 calories from LA. Siince coconut oil is 120 calories per tablespoon, half of which come from LA, this translates to about 2 TB of coconut oil per day – a pretty reasonable dose. So since the dosing in this paper checks out, you can regard its results as likely relevant to your life (as opposed to studies that give crazy, otherworldly high doses of tested compounds).

Anyways, so back to this study. Mice eating higher amounts of LA exhibited Th17-skewing in the intestines, worsened MS symptoms, and changes in the microbiome (reduction in Prevotellaceae and S24-7 of the bacteria Bacteroidetes phylum). Disease worsening was actually worsened by this microbiota shift, as repeating this study with germ-free mice (that have no intestinal microbiota) did not result in Th17-skewing.

To be clear, these results show that high amounts of coconut oil can create rampant inflammation, nerve damage and worsen an autoimmune disease.

But wait, there’s good news.

Remarkably, feeding mice the SCFA proprionic acid (C3) both prevented the onset and alleviated symptoms of MS. The overall conclusion of this study is that through the intestinal microbiota, LCFA can induce pro-inflammatory T cells, and SCFA ca induce anti-inflammatory, regulatory T cells.

Therefore, SCFA can mitigate the harmful effects of LCFA.

In other words, if you consume SCFA along with your coconut and MCT oil based LCFAs, you mitigate the damage.

And where do you get SCFAs in quite generous amounts?

You guess it: vegetables.

A high-fat diet? Thumbs mostly down.

A high-fat diet mixed with a high intake of nutrient-rich, SCFA-inducing plants? Thumbs up.

Again and again, we see that health is achieved through balance (and at the end of this article, we’ll give you a link to a podcast in which I discuss the details of a high-fat, plant-based diet).

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But wait. The tale of the dark side of coconut oil is not quite finished.

Another recent study highlights another potential risk of coconut oil. Researchers investigating the effects of soybean oil, alone and in conjunction with fructose (which has increased significantly in American diets), fed mice 40% of their daily calories from fat, either from coconut oil alone or a 50/50 mix of coconut and soybean oils.

Compared to 40% of calories from coconut oil alone, mice consuming soybean oil had increased obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fatty livers, showing that the adverse effects were from the chemical nature of soybean oil, not the macronutrient breakdown.

So that’s a win for coconut oil, right?

Maybe not.

Interestingly, in the same study, mice fed all high-fat diets tested (coconut oil, coconut oil + soybean oil, with and without fructose supplementation), exhibited significantly reduced lengths of both small and large intestines. Researchers reasoned that this intestinal shortening, which has broad implications for microbial colonization and nutrient absorption, is likely due to reduced fiber intake, since 40% of calories were fat.

Lengths of small intestine (A) and colon (B) of male mice on the indicated diets for 35 weeks.
Lengths of small intestine (A) and colon (B) of male mice on the indicated diets for 35 weeks.

OK, these findings are kind of scary – so now should I stop eating coconut oil?

Nope.

Back it up.

Coconut oil + SFCAs = good.

Coconut oil + fiber = good.

Coconut oil dumped into a cup of coffee, followed with a lone carrot beside your lunch and perhaps a scant serving of roasted vegetables with dinner? Not so good.

To put this in perspective, as you can read about here, Ben eats about 15-20+ servings of plants per day. And because of this, he gets away with a decent amount of coconut milk, coconut oil and MCT oil intake. All the SFCAs and fiber help balance out the potentially damaging effects of the fat, while still allowing him to get all the benefits of the fat.

Coconut oil, with around 90% of calories from saturated fat, 65% of which are MCTs, has been lauded as an ideal fat for cooking, ketosis, and prevention of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. So we’re not saying coconut oil is unhealthy – just that it may be overhyped, and is too often recommended without simultaneous recommendations to eat your friggin’ vegetables.

As you can see, Ben likes to eat plants.

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Before finishing up with a couple more practical recommendations and resources for you, here are a few caveats.

While it is tempting to accept as fact all conclusions drawn from studies published in peer-reviewed journals, as an academic, you need to realize that not all peer-reviewed journals are created equal. Scientific and medical journals are ranked by impact factor, with higher impact factors usually correlating with more rigorous, unbiased review processes of submitted data. Therefore, researchers regard conclusions from publications in high impact-factor journals, like Nature or New England Journal of Medicine, with greater levels of confidence than publications from low impact journals, which can suffer from shady and nepotistic publishing practices.

In addition, data and conclusions are only as valid and applicable as the experimental and statistical methods used. Often, gold-standard findings are found in meta-analyses, in which unbiased researchers (like epidemiologists or statisticians) re-analyze massive data sets from multiple studies. Still, when considering whether or not to apply findings from health-related studies to your own life, think about how robust the methods used are (did the researchers study 10 people or 10 thousand?), the dosing regime, and how similar you are to the experimental subjects.

Why are we telling you this?

Because the studies you just learned about are indeed valid, applicable and gold-standard studies. Not N=1 experimentation or tiny or sponsored by the anti-coconut-oil industry. So they’re important for you to know about.

But wait…weren’t these studies done in mice guts? Last I checked, we didn’t have tiny tails and cute whiskers…

The recent scientific paper “How informative is the mouse for human gut microbiota research?” helps elucidate this for us (the whole paper is actually quite fascinating and worth a read, especially if you don’t have a social life):

“…their advantages are numerous and, furthermore, the amount of research and knowledge on mouse gastroenterology, genetics and immunology far surpasses any other model. Murine mouse models provide a range of customizable genotypes and phenotypes far superior to any other model organism. They have thus played a very important role in the emerging gut microbiota research field. Owing to their widespread use in biomedical research, these models are complemented with extensive knowledge on genetic background and deep phenotypic and functional characterization. Moreover, with well-set-up standardized mouse house facilities throughout labs in the world, conducting experiments on mouse models, even germ-free ones, can be more easily achieved than with other models.”

Finally, as pointed out at the WholeHealthSource website, “Butyrate Suppresses Inflammation in the Gut and Other Tissues”:

“There are two main ways to get butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids. The first is to eat fiber and let your intestinal bacteria do the rest. Whole plant foods such as sweet potatoes, properly prepared whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit and nuts are good sources of fiber. Refined foods such as white flour, white rice and sugar are very low in fiber. Clinical trials have shown that increasing dietary fiber increases butyrate production, and decreasing fiber decreases it.

Butyrate also occurs in significant amounts in food. What foods contain butyrate? Hmm, I wonder where the name BUTYR-ate came from? Butter perhaps?”

So yes, although you can overdo butter just like you can overdo coconut and MCT oil, if you are indeed consuming lots of LCFAs and MCTs, consume a bit of butter too. Thank you, Dave Asprey and Bulletproof Coffee, for pointing that out quite extensively.

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Anyways, back to those practical recommendations.

Dr. Alyssa Siefert has a tablespoon of unrefined (virgin) coconut oil in her morning coffee, but she is mindful not to exceed a few tablespoons a day unless she is matching this increased LCFA consumption with fiber from whole plant foods, as fiber intake directly correlates with SCFA production in a healthy gut. She also reads labels to ensure she’s consuming organic unrefined (virgin) coconut oil that hasn’t been hydrogenated.

And, as mentioned earlier, Ben accompanies his 70-90% fat based diet with oodles and oodles of plant matter at each meal, and doesn’t count any carbohydrates he gets from sources like kale, spinach, tomatoes, etc. as part of his total daily carbohydrate intake.

The adverse effects of a high-fat diet may not result from what you’re putting in your body, but what you’re taking out (usually fiber) to allow increased intake of fats like coconut oil.

If you do happen to be a person whose baseline immunity tends toward inflammatory (for instance, a history of autoimmunity or skin conditions), then you should be especially be cautious about the amount of LCFA, MCT’s and coconut oil you consume, but we still consider coconut oil a much healthier replacement for the unsaturated fats like canola oil (that used to be touted as heart-healthy, especially for cooking).

So don’t fall into nutrition extremism. Including some coconut and MCT oil in your life is great, more is not necessarily better, especially if you’re not going out of your way to eat plants, which can be admittedly more time-consuming than spooning fat into a cup of coffee or tea.

Finally, here is a link to a podcast Ben recorded with Dr. Terry Wahl’s, in which they discuss exactly how to eat a plant-rich, high-fat diet.

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If you enjoyed this article and want more balanced, accessible science updates on your newsfeed, then check out Dr. Alyssa Siefert at The Sociable Scientist on Facebook! And leave your questions, comments and feedback below. And eat your vegetables.

Why Healthy People Get Broken Guts, And What You Can Do About It.

ruscio itunes

You’ve probably seen it before.

The classic photo of a marathoner bent over the road, puking their guts out.

Or a triathlete hunched over with abdominal pain on the bike.

Or the bodybuilder wandering around the gym with persistent annoying gas, the weekend warrior unable to get through a single run without bloating or diarrhea, or the health nut who seems to be constantly constipated no matter what they do.

Today, we’re going to delve into why apparently healthy people, especially athletes and exercise enthusiasts, get broken guts, and what they can do about it.

Dr. Michael Ruscio is considered a leader in the functional medicine movement, as both a clinician and lecturer. He frequently speaks nationally to health care professionals as well as to the public. Dr. Ruscio has lectured at UC Berkeley, at the Ancestral Health Society and performed numerous interviews.

Dr. Ruscio is a post graduate continuing education provider at Life Chiropractic College West. He has a clinical practice in Northern California where he specializes in functional medicine and sees patients both domestically and internationally. He is currently writing a book on digestive conditions and thyroid disease. He is also currently working toward launching a clinical trial in his office in 2015.

Dr. Ruscio obtained his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life Chiropractic College West and has completed post-doctoral specialty training in Functional Medicine. Prior to his specialty training, Dr. Ruscio obtained his B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

-Dr. Ruscio’s personal diet, and what his typical day looks like (including his meal of choice at Whole Foods)…

-The surprising things that happen to your gut when you combine calories and high levels of physical activity…

-Whether athletes should fast, and what happens when an exercise enthusiast “stops the flow of calories” and fasts

-How an “elemental diet” works to reduce stress on the gut…

-When you actually should consider starving the bacteria in your gut…

-Whether you can combat “overstressing” the gut with food by simply using things like digestive enzymes…

-The biggest mistake most people make with cleanses, enemas and detoxing…

-How you can heal damage to the valves passing through your gut…

-If you could test anything and everything going in your gut, what you should test…

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Dr. Ruscio’s website and special gut testing discounts for BenGreenfieldFitness listeners

-Study: Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity

Toll-like receptors and their downregulation in exercise enthusiasts

Elemental diet instructions

Digestive enzymes

SIBOInfo.com

Iberogast for gut motility

Motilpro for gut motility

Wurn protocol

Interstitial cells of cajal

Three day gut panel (stool test)

The bonus materials Dr. Ruscio and I discuss

More notes:

·        This study was in the journal Gut in 2014:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25021423  This study compared activity level and diet of professional Rugby players to that of non-athletes of similar size, sex and age.

·        Your gut contains many sensors called toll-like receptors or TLRs.  These TLRs are responsible for monitoring “stuff” in the gut; specifically they help us identify good stuff from bad stuff.

·        Exercise may modulate these sensors http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25825908  and even prevent them from telling your immune system to attack.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17201071  Remember too much “attack” signaling can occur in autoimmune conditions.

·        It has been shown that hormones releases during exercise, like noradrenaline, stimulate the growth of non-pathogenic, commensal (aka ‘good’) E.Coli, as well as other gram-negative bacteria.

o    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12412628

o    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1731173

o   E. Coli is often stereotyped as being a bad guy, however there are many types of E. Coli, several are good guys. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9199437  In fact some E. Coli probiotics have shown impressive results for treating inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease)

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15479682

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10466665

o   and IBS

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22130826

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18331331

·        However, just because some exercise is good does not mean more is better.  It has been shown that those who perform extreme levels of exercise are at increased risk for infection.  

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11050532

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16558471

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10910297

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11050537

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10893023

·        Too much exercise may also cause leaky gut

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23134759

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23075554

·        This is likely because too much exercise can cause immune suppression.  This hints at the importance of balance.  For example other studies have shown moderate exercise may also reduce levels of colon cancer, while excessive amounts may be damaging to your gut. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11171839    

·        Mice who get physical activity show increased fermentation of prebiotics and well as a decreased inflammatory response.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25695388

o    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18256465    Other animal studies also show exercise reduces intestinal inflammation

o    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22647663

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20510350

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18317386

·        Exercising without a break may be the most stressful on your body.  For example short circuits with not rest or prolonged cardiovascular exercise with no rest may be the more problematic for those trying to recover from burnout or illness. 

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22561973

o   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23667795

§  The most important factor is ensuring you are exercising enough, but not too much. 

 

§  If you are ill or trying to recover from burnout, I recommend:

·        Getting light activity, outside (ideally in a forest-like environment) and preferably with a friend.

o   Start with 1-2 days a week, around 20-30 minutes and push yourself hard enough to break a light sweat.  Pay attention to the signs of overtraining.  If you do not experience any of these you can slowly ramp up your amount of exercise.

·         HRV (heart rate variability) is a simple and very inexpensive way to monitor yourself.

o   See here for more, http://drruscio.com/hrv-novel-tool-assessing-stress-levels-podcast-28/

·        Exercise is an example of how we can modulate our internal environment making our bodies a hospitable place for good bacteria to grow.  By obtaining the appropriate amount of exercise you will modulate your immune system to allow more good bacteria to growth, thus optimizing your microbiota and overall health. 

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Do you have questions, comments or feedback and why athletes get broken guts? Leave your thoughts below and either Dr. Ruscio or I will reply, and click here if you want access to a consult with Dr. Ruscio!

Four New, Cutting-Edge Ways To Easily Shift Your Body Into Fat-Burning Mode & Ketosis.

Ben Greenfield Ironman

Four years ago, I realized that I’d been duped.

I’d been lied to about carbohydrates.

Despite obtaining a graduate degree with advanced courses in human nutrition, biochemistry, microbiology and exercise physiology, a sports nutritionist certification, and plenty of time with my face stuffed in dietary research journals, I was simply doing things completely back-asswards when it came to fueling my body.

See, my physical performance on my “gold-standard” 50-60% carbohydrate intake was just fine. Performance wasn’t an issue. I was quite competitive and very fast in my triathlons, runs, swims, bike rides, and workouts.

But I also had bloating. Gas. Fermentation. Wildly fluctuating energy levels. Extra bits of fat around my belly and hips. Inflammation. All the warning signs of high blood glucose. All the signs that I was sacrificing health and longevity for performance…all the issues I talk about in gory detail in my book Beyond Training.

So I simply gave a finger to dyed-in-the-wool, orthodox sports nutrition advice that trickles down from companies like Gatorade, Powerbar and the US Government’s Food Pyramid. I took a deep, deep dive into a more ancestral, natural form of eating. I started eating more greens. More vegetables. More nutrient-dense plants.

And I combined those plants with oodles of healthy, natural fats like avocadoes, olive oil, coconut milk, seeds, nuts, fatty fish, grass-fed meats, and yes, even “weird” foods like bone broth, liver, sardines and many of these unorthodox meals and pantry foods.

I began eat the “cyclic” low-carbohydrate diet I outline in my book on low carbohydrate eating for athletes, meaning that I would save the majority of my carbohydrate intake for the very end of the day, and even then, I ate the clean stuff, like white rice, sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, red wine and dark chocolate.

I even began to experiment with “ketosis”, a style of eating in which I incorporated strategies such as intermittent fasting, high amounts of coconut oil, complete avoidance of frequent snacking and grazing, and an even lower carbohydrate intake of less than 10% carbohydrates.

What is ketosis? Skip the next two paragraphs if you already know, but if not, give them a quick read.

Ketosis is a metabolic state where most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis where blood glucose provides most of the energy. Ketosis is characterized by serum blood concentrations of ketone bodies over 0.5 millimolar with low and stable levels of insulin and blood glucose. However, with ketone supplementation (as you’ll learn about later in this article) ketosis can actually be induced even when there are high levels of blood glucose.

Keto-adaptation, AKA “becoming a fat burning machine”, occurs when you have shifted your metabolism to relying on fat-based sources, instead of glucose (sugar) sources, as your primary source of fuel. Your body increases fat oxidation, and breaks down fats into ketones to be used as the primary energy source. Depending on your current level of carbohydrate intake (takes longer if you’re pretty sugar addicted), this process can take two weeks to six months to fully train your body to, but once done, it’s done, and you have achieved fat-burning status that can stick with you for life.

Frankly, the results of my foray into ketosis and eventually keto-adaptation were astounding. I had the best Ironman triathlon season of my life and shocking levels of mental focus and physical ease, especially for races and workouts that lasted longer than two hours. Without experiencing muscle loss, hunger pangs or brain fog, I found I could go the entire day without eating, which was enormously helpful for business and personal productivity. My gas, bloating, fermentation and GI “issues” disappeared. My blood levels of inflammatory markers like HS-CRP and cytokines dropped to rock-bottom, while my levels of good cholesterol, vitamin D, and anti-inflammatory fatty acids skyrocketed.

I reported on many of these dietary strategies, and the physical and mental performance results that ensued in the following articles:

The Great Ketogenic Ironman Experiment – Can You Go Low-Carb And Be A Fast Endurance Athlete Without Destroying Your Body?

Combining Low Carb And Extreme Exercise – The Official Results Of The Great Ketogenic Ironman Experiment

The Official “Ask Me Anything About Ketosis & Ironman” Premium Podcast with Ben Greenfield

At the end of this entire transition, I had spent nearly three years eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet of 50-60% fat, 20-30% protein, 10-30% carbohydrate, and a final fourth year devoted to a full-blown “ketosis” approach of 70-90% fat, 20-30% protein, 5-10% carbohydrate.

And it all culminated with me stepping into Dr. Jeff Volek’s world famous laboratory at University of Connecitut to subject myself to extensive blood testing, chunks of muscle removed from my legs, fat sucked out of my butt-cheeks, urine, stool and gut microbiome testing, oxygen and carbon dioxide testing and countless hours of treadmill running to discover what a full twelve months of eating a ketotic diet had actually done to my body.

VO2 Max Test

You can read all the nitty-gritty details of that study in:

Rewriting The Fat Burning Textbook – Part 1: Why You’ve Been Lied To About Carbs And How To Turn Yourself Into A Fat Burning Machine.

Rewriting The Fat Burning Textbook – Part 2: Why You’ve Been Lied To About Carbs And How To Turn Yourself Into A Fat Burning Machine.
And you can now also check out the full study, which was just released a few weeks ago in the Journal of Metabolism at “Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners”. Here’s just a teaser from the abstract:

Background

Many successful ultra-endurance athletes have switched from a high-carbohydrate to a low-carbohydrate diet, but they have not previously been studied to determine the extent of metabolic adaptations.

 Methods

Twenty elite ultra-marathoners and ironman distance triathletes performed a maximal graded exercise test and a 180 min submaximal run at 64% VO2max on a treadmill to determine metabolic responses. One group habitually consumed a traditional high-carbohydrate (HC: n = 10, %carbohydrate:protein:fat = 59:14:25) diet, and the other a low-carbohydrate (LC; n = 10, 10:19:70) diet for an average of 20 months (range 9 to 36 months).

Results

Peak fat oxidation was 2.3-fold higher in the LC group (1.54 ± 0.18 vs 0.67 ± 0.14 g/min; P = 0.000) and it occurred at a higher percentage of VO2max (70.3 ± 6.3 vs 54.9 ± 7.8%; P = 0.000). Mean fat oxidation during submaximal exercise was 59% higher in the LC group (1.21 ± 0.02 vs 0.76 ± 0.11 g/min; P = 0.000) corresponding to a greater relative contribution of fat (88 ± 2 vs 56 ± 8%; P = 0.000). Despite these marked differences in fuel use between LC and HC athletes, there were no significant differences in resting muscle glycogen and the level of depletion after 180 min of running (−64% from pre-exercise) and 120 min of recovery (−36% from pre-exercise).

Conclusion

Compared to highly trained ultra-endurance athletes consuming an HC diet, long-term keto-adaptation results in extraordinarily high rates of fat oxidation, whereas muscle glycogen utilization and repletion patterns during and after a 3 hour run are similar.

Blood and Muscle Sample Extraction

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OK, so that’s all good. But wait.

What if you’re not an endurance athlete?

What if you have zero desire to run on a treadmill for an ungodly number of hours, or to do an Ironman, or a marathon, or – hell – even a 10K?

As I hint at in my article “Can You Build Muscle On A Low Carbohydrate Diet?”, in which I show how I helped my brother Zach become absolutely shredded on a diet very similar to mine, it turns out that this whole idea of ketosis isn’t just for endurance.

What are some other benefits of ketosis? The list is pretty exhaustive. Currently, research support the use of ketones for the following benefits:

  • Weight loss
  • Blood sugar balance and enhanced insulin sensitivity
  • Increase satiety, and decreased food cravings
  • Improved energy levels, oxygen capacity, motor performance & athletic performance
  • Enhanced blood flow through vasodilation
  • Migraine treatment
  • Neuroprotective benefits in seizure disorders; ADHD; Alzheimer ’s disease, memory and cognitive function; Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Autism and improved behavior and social impacts
  • Mood stabilization in bipolar disorder (type II)
  • Stroke prevention; cardiovascular disease; metabolic syndrome management; improved cholesterol levels
  • Inflammation management
  • Endurance enhancement

But ketosis is not all rainbows and unicorns. There is definitely a dark side to ketosis. For example, consider the following…

Dark Side To Ketosis #1: Triglycerides

Let’s say you decide you’re going to get into ketosis by eating boatloads of grass-fed butter, peanut butter, almond butter, animal meats, and oils, and you aren’t very selective in the quality of those fats.

That’s a definite shortcut to throwing your triglycerides through the roof.

And not only are high levels of circulating triglycerides a good way to get fat fast, but studies have consistently linked high triglyceride levels with heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. Fructose is one quick way to elevate triglycerides, but this really doesn’t seem to be an issue with high-fat, low-carbers.

However, vegetable oils and butter and animal fats and nuts and seeds can also significantly raise triglycerides. One big issue here is that if these oils and fats have been exposed to high amounts of temperature and processing, triglycerides are getting dumped into your body chock full of free radicals.

So if your high-fat diet includes a high amount of roasted seeds or roasted nuts, nut butters, heated oils such as heated coconut oil or heated extra virgin olive oil, barbecued meats or meats cooked at very high temperatures, then your triglyceride count is going to go up. You should have triglycerides that are less than 150mg/dL, and a triglyceride to HDL ratio that is no more than 4:1, and in most of the healthiest people I’ve worked with, triglycerides are under 100 and the triglyceride to HDL ratio is less than 2:1. If your ratio is whacked, your ketotic diet isn’t doing you any favors.

Dark Side To Ketosis #2: Inflammation

If you have high levels of cholesterol, which you probably do if you’re eating a high-fat, low-carb diet, then you need to be worried if your HS-CRP levels (a primary marker of inflammation) are above 1.0 mg/dL – even if you’re a hard charging athlete.

I like to see most people under 0.5 for CRP levels, and here’s why: a high amount of inflammation in your body is going to make the cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream more likely to become oxidized, generating a high amount of heart and connective tissue-damaging free radicals.

As a matter of fact, it’s more dangerous to have high levels of cholesterol and high levels of CRP than low levels of cholesterol and high levels of CRP – even if your high levels of cholesterol are “healthy”, big fluffy LDL particles, and not small, dense vLDL particles. In other words, no matter how many healthy fats you’re eating, these fats may actually come back to bite you if you’re creating high inflammation from too much exercise, not enough sleep, exposure to toxins and pollutants, or a high-stress lifestyle.

Dark Side To Ketosis #3: Cholesterol Damage

Free-ranging glucose molecules in your bloodstream can adhere to cholesterol particles and cause those particles to remain in the bloodstream for long periods of time, since your liver can’t properly process cholesterol when it has a glucose molecule attached to it.

The longer cholesterol circulates in your bloodstream, the higher the likelihood that it will dig its way into an endothelial wall and potentially contribute to atherosclerosis or plaque formation. This is why it’s so dangerous to eat a high-fat diet, but to also have your nightly dark chocolate bar, overdo it on the red wine, or have weekly “cheat days” with pizza, pasta, or sugar-laden ice cream.

So if you’re going to eat a high fat diet, then you need to ensure your fasted blood glucose levels are staying at around 70-90mg/dL, and your hemoglobin A1C (a 3 month “snapshot” of your glucose) is staying below 5.5. If not, your high fat diet could actually be significantly hurting you.

Dark Side To Ketosis #4: Thyroid Issues

Carbohydrates are necessary for the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone to active thyroid hormone, and if you’re on an extremely strict low carbohydrate diet, then you may actually be limiting this conversion. Your TSH is what tells your thyroid gland to “release more hormone,” so your TSH rises when your thyroid gland is underactive, or conversion of inactive to active thyroid hormone is inadequate. A high TSH means that the pituitary gland is releasing its hormone to try to get the thyroid to respond and produce more thyroid hormone. Because of inadequate carbohydrates, TSH will often elevate in a high-fat, low-carber – indicating potential for long-term thyroid and metabolic damage.

If I see a TSH above 2.0 or a trend towards higher values in someone who is testing repeatedly, I get worried – and prefer to see TSH at 0.5-2.0. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you begin to shove carbohydrates indiscriminately down the hatch. However, it means that your high-fat, low-carb diet should include thyroid supporting foods rich in iodine and selenium, such as sea vegetables and brazil nuts, and should also include carbohydrates timed properly, such as before, during or after workouts, when the carbohydrate is more likely to be utilized for energy and less likely to spike blood glucose levels.

It also means that if you’re a very active athlete or exercise enthusiast and you’re following “trickle-down” advice from the sedentary or less active ketosis experts to eat less than 40g of carbs per day, you’re making a big mistake when it comes to your hormonal balance, and you need to up your carbohydrate intake to 100-200g of carbs per day. You’d be surprised at how easy it is (if you’re a very active person) to stay in ketosis on this level of carbohydrate intake. Go ahead. Do Ketonix breath testing to prove me wrong. You can eat boatloads of carbohydrates at night and be back in ketosis within just two to three hours. When you combine that with the cutting-edge tricks you’re about to learn, you’ll find that you can toss hormonal issues out the window, get into ketosis, have your cake, and eat it too. Literally.

Dark Side To Ketosis #5: Social “Limitations”

Let’s face it: if you’re eating 70-90% fats, it can be very, very difficult to hang out with your friends at an Italian restaurant. Or to walk past a bakery. Or to find yourself surviving and having fun at a holiday party with fresh baked cookies, wine, chocolates, and cocktails.

In other words, I personally found that while following “strict ketosis”, things became eerily similar to the days in college when I was a competitive bodybuilder pursuing sub-3% body fat percentages. I simply wasn’t the most fun guy to hang out with in social situations due to my extreme dietary restrictions, the intense self-control became nearly exhausting, and when I traveled, I missed out on many culinary experiences, such as homemade ravioli in Rome, freshly baked crostinis in the Basque regions of Spain, and Korean rice bowls in Seoul.

As a matter of fact, what you’ve just read about is exactly why, after the study at University of Connecticut, I personally quit messing around with ketosis and returned to what I considered to be a more sane macronutrient intake of 50-60% fat, 20-30% protein, 10-30% carbohydrate.

OK, now don’t stop reading and walk away from this article because you don’t want to screw your triglyceride levels, jack up inflammation, oxidize your cholesterol, de-balance your hormones and be a complete bore at parties.

But surprisingly, every single one of the issues you just read about it can become a complete non-issue if you implement what you’re about to learn. And that’s exactly why I’ve returned to ketosis as my main diet.

That’s right: it turns out that if I could go back and do my year of strict ketosis again, I would do everything you’ve going to discover below. If I had done that, I would have avoided all the uncomfortable, unhealthy issues I experienced when I was eating a high-fat diet, and I would have gotten all the benefits with none of the harm. As a matter of fact, in the past 30 days, as I’ve begun a new journey into ketosis, I am now implementing the exact four methods you’re about to discover.

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But first, before we delve into the latest and greatest biohacks to help you painlessly get into ketosis and stay in ketosis…what exactly got me back into being interested in ketosis in the first place?

In a word: freediving.

23224407591_5886feb555_k

See, two years ago I released two podcasts that got me very enthralled with the concept of using both ketosis and freediving to become a better athlete, with a stronger nervous system and enhanced stress resilience:

Apparently, Dominic’s research seems to be suggesting the fact that diet-induced ketosis from a high-fat, low-carb intake, especially when combined with the use of nutrition supplements such as powdered ketones or MCT oil, can vastly reduce the need for the brain to use oxygen to burn glucose. This is because the brain can use up to around 75% of its fuel from ketones. So a ketone-fed or a fat-adapted brain can be better equipped to withstand low oxygen availability and potentially support longer breath-hold times. Dominic’s research also shows that in the presence of ketosis, the brain and body are able to resist the potential cell damage of long periods of time with low oxygen, also known as “hypoperfusion”.

As I learned in a University of Connecticut lab experiment I mentioned earlier in this article (gory details here), a high-fat, low-carb diet can teach and allow the muscles to tap into more fat for fuel, making your body crave less use of oxygen in the large muscles of the legs, arms or other areas that you’ve learned oxygen gets shunted away from when deep underwater.

A diet low in sugar and starch is also less acidic. This lowers carbon dioxide levels in the body, which could theoretically also increase breath hold time. This is because breath holding is normally terminated due to an urge to breathe that is mostly caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels.

Interestingly, most of the animals that regularly rely upon the mammalian diving reflex are marine mammals. Marine mammals, for the most part, live on almost exclusively fat and protein (e.g. fish) and yet are able to maintain a largely aerobic, (oxygen-based, metabolism – even while holding their breath.

Based on all this, along with advice from Dominic and information from previous podcast I’ve done with Dr. Peter Attia, the week prior to the epic freediving excursion that I outline in detail here, I began experimenting with all the strategies I’m about to outline below, and I was absolutely shocked.

What was I so shocked about?

I was shocked at how easy it was (using the new supplements and methods outlined below that have been developed since my initial foray into ketosis) to get into ketosis without extreme carbohydrate restriction, without excessive, diarrhea and “diaper-moment” inducing amounts of MCT and coconut oil, and without the inflammation, triglyceride and hormonal issues, or social discomfort I outline above. I was also able to achieve a much more immediate and deeper level of ketosis than I ever achieved in previous experiments sans these newer strategies you’re going to learn about.

Hooray for science.

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OK, hang with me here. We’re almost to the point where I reveal the four new methods I recommend to get you into ketosis fast.

But first, I want to explain exactly why you’ve been lied to about carbs. After all, you may still be wondering why you can’t just slam an energy gel, bar or sports drink and go do your workout or race.

After all, if you open any textbook on human performance, read any magazine article on workout nutrition or review any research produced by the world’s leading exercise and diet science institutes, and you’ll see the same two pieces of standard advice churned out with robotic-like repetition:

Standard Piece of Advice #1: Before any big workout days, eat seven to ten grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight daily for optimal performance. On any other days, eat five to seven grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.

So how many carbs is that? Let’s do the math. 7-10 g/kg of carbohydrates is about 3-4.5 g/lb. So in the 24 hours before a heavy workout day, a 150 pound male would be advised to eat roughly 450-675g of carbs. And that’s 1800-2700 calories of carbs per day – the equivalent of 38-56 slices of bread. Or 17-25 bowls of cereal. Pick your poison.

American-style-carbs-1024x745

And on any average day, even a non-workout day, you’d be advised to eat around 2-3 g/lb, or 300-450g of carbs. That’s 1200-1800 calories of carbs per day. So if you were eating a relatively typical 2500 calorie per day intake, you’d be looking at about 50-75% carbohydrate based diet.

Don’t believe me? Does 50-75% seem like too much to you? Sadly, this level of carbohydrate intake is status quo for the gold standard in athletes and exercise enthusiasts.

The Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) is widely considered one of the world’s top go-to resources for cutting-edge exercise and nutrition science advice – which is probably why Gatorade vending machines dot the campus here, and the majority of the kids seem to be walking around campus with a never-ending big gulp-sized cup full of sports drink.

Anyways, here’s an excerpt on recommend carb intake from GSSI’s Sport Science Exchange Journal. Note that they actually go as high as TWELVE grams in this particular article:

“Adequate dietary carbohydrate is critical to raise muscle glycogen to high levels in preparation for the next day’s endurance competition or hard training session. Accordingly, during the 24 h prior to a hard training session or endurance competition, athletes should consume 7-12 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. However, during the 24 h prior to a moderate or easy day of training, athletes need to consume only 5-7 g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.”

Here’s another excerpt from a different GSSI article:

“Soccer players’ diets, especially in the days before hard training or competition, should include 8-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (3.5-4.5 g/lb). Cereals, fruits, vegetables, breads, and pastas are good sources of carbohydrates.”

Incidentally, a serving of Gatorade has about 25-35g of carbohydrates. Just sayin’.

OK, let’s move on to Standard Piece of Advice #2…

Standard Piece of Advice #2: Ensure that during exercise, you keep your blood glucose levels evaluated by consuming the majority of those carbohydrates are from fast-burning carb sources such as sugary drinks, gels, and bars during both prolonged activity (like a long run) and also intense activity (like weight training).

For example, from this GSSI article:

“The advice for prolonged endurance events (2.5 h or longer) is an intake of 90 g of multiple transportable carbohydrates per hour. This advice is not expressed relative to body mass because body size/mass appears to play no major role in exogenous carbohydrate oxidation.”

So what the heck does “multiple transportable carbohydrates” mean? In most cases, this refers to the standard two primary ingredients you’ll see featured in just about every sport drink and energy gel on the face of the planet: a mix of fructose and maltodextrin sugars.

From another GSSI article:

“Given that there is no known detriment to consumption of a high-carbohydrate diet (other than body weight gain due to water retention) and some research reports a benefit, it is recommended that all athletes consume a high-carbohydrate training diet, i.e., at least 60-70% of energy as carbohydrate (7-10 g/kg), and increase this to 65-85% for the few days before competition. Use of a carbohydrate supplement before and during exercise will likely improve performance of intermittent, high-intensity sprints.”

The “no known detriment to consumption of a high-carbohydrate diet” part of that statement above is very damn disturbing. You’ll learn why in just a moment.

However, at the risk of appearing to be on a completely biased anti-Gatorade rant, and to drive home the point that a relatively enormous intake of carbohydrates is recommended for performance, I’ll also point out this anecdote from the “Nutrition And Athletic Performance” position statement from the American College of Sports Medicine:

“For events longer than 60 minutes, consuming 0.7 g carbohydrates·kg-1 body weight·h-1 (approximately 30-60 g·h-1) has been shown unequivocally to extend endurance performance. Consuming carbohydrates during exercise is even more important in situations when athletes have not carbohydrate-loaded, not consumed pre-exercise meals, or restricted energy intake for weight loss. Carbohydrate intake should begin shortly after the onset of activity; [and continue] at 15- to 20-min intervals throughout the activity.”

And from the International Olympic Committee’s “Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition” for longer exercise efforts:

“To achieve the relatively high rates of intake (up to 90 grams/hour) needed to optimize results in events lasting longer than three hours, athletes should practice consuming carbohydrates during training to develop an individual strategy, and should make use of sport foods and drinks containing carbohydrate combinations that will maximize absorption from the gut and minimize gastrointestinal disturbances.”

Are you getting the feeling that the Holy Grail of nutrition for athletes seems to be to protect carbohydrate stores at all times?

You’d be right with that feeling.

The general argument for carbohydrate consumption goes something like this:

Physical or mental fatigue during workouts (or while you’re sitting at your office) is caused by the low blood glucose that occurs as your carbohydrate fuel tank approaches empty (also known as the infamous “bonk”, which is awesomely demonstrated in this funniest running cartoon I’ve ever seen). Because it is generally (and sadly) accepted as orthodox knowledge that the human body can’t burn fat as a reliable fuel source – especially when you’re exercising for long periods of time or at high intensities – nearly every shred of nutrition science is simply looking for ways to somehow increase the size of your carbohydrate fuel tank and hack the body to allow it to store more carbs or absorb carbs more quickly.

Ironically, these efforts to encourage sky-high levels of carbohydrate intake are continued despite the fact that even the leanest of people naturally have tens of thousands of calories of readily accessible storage fat.

In fact, most folks have enough stored body fat to fuel aerobic activity for days and days without running out of energy. For example, a 150 pound dude at a hot, sexy and ripped at 8% body fat still carries 12 pounds of storage fat – which at 3500 calories per pound of fat can easily liberate 42,000 calories of useable fuel for exercise. You’ve got those same thousands of calories sitting around your waist, abs, hip, butt and thighs – just sitting there, waiting to be burnt.

Yet, it’s still standard advice to eat Wheaties for breakfast, guzzle Gatorade during a hard workout and to down a sugary Jamba Juice as you walk out of the gym. And this is the message being preached worldwide to kids and adults by exercise nutritionists and scientific bastions of diet research. We accept this as status quo.

Just think about it: when was the last time you ate a Powerbar before a workout? Had a big smoothie before you hit the gym? Finished up a workout and dumped some kind of powder into your blender (check the label and you’ll probably see maltodextrin and/or fructose as primary ingredients)?

Now, there is absolutely no arguing with the fact that high carbohydrate intake before, during and after a workout can certainly improve performance. So sure – there is at least some logic to the standard recommendation that you should consume a diet which provides high carbohydrate availability before and during exercise.

But while carbohydrates can help you have a better workout, go faster, or go longer, this only applies to acute, in-the-moment performance. Once you take a look (which you’re about to do) at the long-term effects of chronic high blood sugar levels, things change drastically. If the damage that you’re above to discover is worth it to you, then you are either mildly masochistic or you value performance much more than health.

Perhaps you fall into the category of Olympic athletes who would dope with damaging drugs, even if they knew it would kill them. However, if you desire a long, high-quality life, you don’t want to be a washed up ex-exerciser with diabetes, or you don’t want to experience joint, nerve and brain inflammation, damage and degradation, you may need to adjust your lens.

Your lens?

That’s right.

This all depends on the lens through which you view your body and value your health, and your own personal philosophy on performance vs. health.

So what is your lens? Are you chasing performance and a better body at all costs, or are you willing to entertain the idea of thinking outside the box and defying standard practice if it means that you can achieve the same or superior levels of performance, and a better body, but with superior long-term health implications?

Before we discover the answer to that question, let’s delve in and find out what happens if you actually listen to the standard advice to fuel your workouts with massive amounts of “healthy” carbohydrates.

The bullet points below will help you understand the risks of consuming carbohydrate levels like “7-10g/kg” (if you want more details and studies behind some of these points, read this excellent article from the Life Extension Foundation).

-Cancer: Numerous studies have found that the risk for cancer increases with high blood sugar, which makes sense, since cancer cells feed primarily on glucose. This includes cancers of the endometrium, pancreas, and colon and colorectal tumors. Tim Ferriss recently hosted a fantastic article by Peter Attia about this very issue, and how ketosis may indeed be a potential cancer cure.

-Cardiovascular Disease: High blood sugar has been shown to increase the risk for cardiovascular events, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular mortality—while lower glucose levels result in lower cardiovascular risk. Coronary artery disease risk has been shown to be twice as high in patients with impaired glucose tolerance, compared with patients with more normal glucose tolerance. The risk for stroke increases as fasting glucose levels rise above 83 mg/dL. In fact, every 18 mg/dL increase beyond 83 results in a 27 percent greater risk of dying from stroke. Incidentally, glucose can “stick” to cholesterol particles and render these particles extremely dangerous from a heart health standpoint, which is why it’s all the more important to control blood sugar levels if you’re eating a “high-fat diet.”

-Cognitive Issues: High blood sugar results in cognitive impairment and dementia.

-Kidney Disease: Surges in blood sugar drive the production of fibrous kidney tissue and vascular complications in the kidneys, which can cause chronic kidney disease. There is a direct increase in chronic kidney disease as levels of hemoglobin A1c (a three-month “snapshot” of glucose control) rise.

-Pancreatic Dysfunction: The beta cells in the pancreas that produce the insulin to help control blood sugar become dysfunctional with high blood glucose, raising the risk for type 2 diabetes. Researchers have discovered that beta cell issues are detectable in people whose glucose levels spike two hours after eating, despite those levels staying within the range considered normal and safe by the medical establishment.

-Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina that can lead to blindness—and it is highly aggravated by high blood sugar.

-Nervous System Damage: It’s been shown that patients with neuropathy whose after-meal glucose readings were above the diabetic threshold sustained damage to their large nerve fibers. Even neuropathy patients whose glucose readings remained well within the normal range showed damage to their small nerve fibers. Studies have shown that within any blood sugar range, the higher the glucose, the greater the damage to nerve fibers.

I don’t know about you, but I find these risks pretty damn concerning. The fact is that I want to be around to play with my grandkids, and considering that my genetic testing with 23andMe has revealed that I have a higher-than-normal risk for type 2 diabetes, I doubt that shoving more gooey gels and sugary sports drinks into my pie hole is going to do my health any favors. So if I can achieve similar levels of performance and body composition with carbohydrate restriction, I’m all in.

But let’s say you have a hard time thinking 20 years ahead to your future health prospects.

Perhaps diabetes and joint degradation seem like a long way off to you, and it’s tough to get motivated by those vague concepts. You just want to rock your workouts, feel like a million bucks and look good naked – right now. In that case, there still a multitude of benefits to controlling blood sugar and lowering carbohydrate intake.

For example, a key component of safe and lasting fat loss is your capability to tap into your body’s own storage fat for energy. This access to fat cannot happen if your body is constantly drawing on carbohydrate reserves and blood glucose for energy. In the type of moderate- to high-carbohydrate diets you’ve learned are widely recommended by prevailing nutrition science, not only does the utilization of fat for energy become far less crucial (since you’re constantly dumping readily available sugar sources into your body), but your metabolism never becomes efficient at using fat. There is a growing body of evidence proving that a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet results in faster and more permanent weight loss than a low-fat diet. Furthermore, appetite satiety and dietary satisfaction significantly improve with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that includes moderate protein.

A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that people who do twice-a-day workouts, but defy standard nutrition recommendations by not eating for two hours after the first session (thus depleting carbohydrate stores with the first session) experienced a better ability to burn fat (with no loss in performance) compared with a group that trained only once a day and ate carbohydrates afterward.

Another study deprived participants of carbohydrates then subjected them to high-intensity interval training on a bicycle – and showed better fat burning and an increase in the enzymes responsible for fat metabolism, again with no loss of performance.

And biochemistry research shows that when carbohydrate stores are depleted by almost 50 percent (e.g. by doing a workout without eating carbohydrates), there is increased stimulus for enhanced enzyme activity in skeletal muscle – which is a good thing, since it means that you can more efficiently produce ATP energy from fat calories.

But the benefits of going low carb don’t stop at fat loss.

For example, in trained people and athletes who eat a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet (not to be confused with a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet), a large amount of fat burning can take place at intensities well above 80 percent maximum oxygen utilization (VO2 max) – allowing for very-high-intensity or long efforts with low calorie intake and also allowing for use of fat fuel stores during long steady-state exercise, even at a relatively fast pace (so much for the “fat burning zone” giving you the best bang for your buck). With high-fat, low-carb intake, you can go hard and still burn tons of fat. In addition, this means that more carbohydrate stores will be available when you really need them, such as for an all-out, 100%, maximum effort.

You also get incredible gains in metabolic efficiency when you use fat as a primary source of fuel – especially when doing high-intensity interval training – with this one-two combo causing potent 3–5 percent decreases in the oxygen cost of exercise, which is extremely significant. Translated into real- world numbers, this increased fat utilization from carbohydrate restriction and high-intensity interval training would allow you to pedal a bicycle at a threshold of 315 watts, whereas a high-carbohydrate, aerobic-only program (the way most people train) would allow for only 300 watts. Talk to any cyclist and you’ll find out that an 15 extra watts of power is huge in a sport like cycling, and something most cyclists train years and years to achieve.

high-fat diet also trains your body to burn even more fat during exercise, even at high intensities. Fat is released faster and in greater amounts from your storage adipose tissue and transported more quickly into your muscles and mitochondria. Your muscles also store more energy as fat and use this fat-based fuel more efficiently and quickly. Even more interestingly, a high-fat diet can cause a shift in the gene expression that codes for specific proteins that increase fat metabolism – and create very similar adaptations to exercise itself. So the mere act of shifting primary fuel intake from carbohydrates to fat begins to make you more “fit”, even if you’re not exercising.

And guess what else?

This benefit surprised me when I first discovered it, but eating fewer carbohydrates during a workout can actually help you recover from workouts faster. The repair and recovery of skeletal muscle tissue is dependent on the “transcription” of certain components of your RNA. And a bout of endurance exercise combined with low muscle-carbohydrate stores can result in greater activation of this transcription. In other words, by training in a low-carbohydrate state, you train your body to recover faster.

But sadly, whether due to government subsidy of high carb foods like corn and grain, funding from big companies like Gatorade and Powerbar, our sugar-addicted Western palates, or the constant (unfounded) fear mongering about saturated fats and heart disease, the type of research that shows these fat-burning and performance benefits of carbohydrate restriction simply get shoved under the rug.

In addition, most studies that compare carbohydrate utilization with fat utilization fail to take into account the fact that full “fat adaptation” that allows you to gain all the benefits of using fat as a fuel actually takes time – often more than four weeks – and up to a couple years. But since most studies that compare fat and carbohydrate burning are short-term, you rarely see the benefits of this kind of fat adaptation actually fleshed out in research. Instead, the average research participant begins the study in a non-fat adapted state, gets either a high fat or high carb diet, then launches into exercise. But in an ideal study, that person would have followed either a high-fat or high-carb diet for many months before getting their fat burning capability investigated.

So the textbooks and the nutrition science recommendations stick to the standard two pieces of advice you learned about earlier, and continue to preach that to be a good exerciser, to get maximum performance and to optimize your workouts, you need to be a complete carbaholic.

But what if this wasn’t true?

What if we could prove that eating a low-carb, high-fat diet for a long time, becoming fat-adapted and even avoiding carbohydrates during the one time when we’re most encouraged to consume carbohydrates (during exercise)…

…could actually turn you into a fat-burning machine without losing a shred of performance capability or causing any metabolic damage?

Well, as you’ve learned, that has just been proven this year, and you can read all the details in the study that was just released a few weeks ago in the Journal of Metabolism at “Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners”.

So, let’s summarize what you’ve learned so far:

  1. I used to eat lots of carbohydrates. Then, for health reasons, I quit and shifted to a high-fat diet.
  1. Eventually, I began utilizing ketosis, and got even better results.
  1. But I experienced some significant logistical and health issues with ketosis, so I shifted back into a “non-ketotic” but still relatively low-carb diet, while continuing to avoid high carb intake due to the host of health issues you just learned about.
  1. Then recently, in my recent foray into freediving, I re-explored the newer, more cutting-edge ways to get into ketosis.
  1. Which brings us, drumroll please, into the four new cutting-edge ways to easily shift your body into fat burning and ketosis.

Let’s do this.

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Cutting-Edge Way To Get Into Ketosis #1: Powdered MCT’s + Exogenous Ketones In The Form Of “BHB Salts”

Supplementing with exogenous ketones allows you to experience deep ketosis and elevated blood ketone levels, without having to eat copious amounts of fats,  follow an excessively carbohydrate restrictive ketogenic diet, or doing a ton of fasting which, as you learned earlier, is often difficult or even damaging to adhere to.

To understand exogenous ketones, you should know that there are three types of ketones: beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (ACA) and acetone, and all three are the normal by-products of fat breakdown by your body. In much the same way as glucose, ketones can be used by your tissues, especially your brain, diaphragm and heart and are actually a far more efficient fuel source than glucose.

BHB is the primary ketone your body can most efficiently use as fuel during exercise and at rest (especially when you’re keto-adapted), it is the most stable of the ketones, and it is actually found in nature in many foods including eggs and milk. A “BHB salt” is simply a compound that consists of sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate.

Before you consume a BHB salt, these individual components are held together by ionic bonds. However, when you consume a supplement containing a BHB salt, it is absorbed into the blood where it dissociates into free sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and finally, the actual ketone. This means that consuming a product containing a BHB directly and immediately puts ketones into your blood, without the need for you to eat tons of fats or engage in carbohydrate restriction or fasting to generate the ketones.

Yes, that means that normally your body would only generate BHB after it metabolizes fats or is in a deep state of fasting or carbohydrate restriction, but you can bypass that entire process by simply ingesting a BHB salt, and thus get yourself into a deep state of ketosis in as little as ten minutes flat.

Then there’s medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Most dietary fat has to be converted into water soluble molecules that then need to enter the liver via your lymph system. Your liver then converts these molecules to fatty acids and ketone bodies. But unlike most other forms of dietary fats, MCT’s can enter your liver directly without having to go through your lymph system. This means that consuming MCT’s gives your body an opportunity to quickly produce ketone bodies.

The addition of MCT powder to ketones serves the purpose of maintaining endogenous production of ketone bodies by stimulating fatty acid oxidation in the liver, which then causes the production of even more ketone bodies. In this transcript from a podcast with Dr. Dom D’Agostino it is mentioned that MCT’s cross the blood-brain barrier straight to the brain. So not only are the ketones being used by the brain as an alternative fuel but so are MCT’s.

 

In this study by Dr. Dominic D’Agostino it is also mentioned that your blood brain barrier (BBB) “is relatively impermeable to most hydrophilic substances, such as ketone bodies. Therefore, the transport of ketones across the BBB is highly dependent on specific carrier-mediated facilitated transport by a family of proton-linked monocarboxylic acid transporters”. Basically, what this means is that MCT powder may act as a carrier to shuttle the ketone bodies across the BBB.

So…just imagine if you could inject your body with a one-two combo of BHB salts and MCT’s.

Enter a product called KETO//OS (Ketone Operating System) made by a company called Prüvit. KETO//OS is a ketone salt formula that has been researched, tested, and physician approved to provide elevated blood ketone levels to the body.

Keto OS
KETO//OS contains a specifically engineered ratio of ketone mineral salts blended with a high fiber based medium chain triglyceride (MCT) formulation, so you get a potent delivery of both exogenous ketones and medium chain triglycerides.  It is simply a powder that you mix with 8-10 oz of water. Within 15-30 minutes it puts your body into a full and deep state of ketosis.

Here’s what the nutrition label of this stuff looks like:

keto os-nutrition-facts

As you can see, it’s very clean – primarily BHB salts, MCT powder, and natural flavors along with stevia, in a caffeine-free or caffeinated version.

Now, there a few things you should know before you begin using KETO//OS. First, ketones naturally act as a diuretic, so you lose salt, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and it is generally encouraged to increase sodium intake with ketones. That’s why there is extra sodium added to KETO//OS. The combination of BHB with sodium also acts as a bit of a buffer to buffer natural ketone acidity.

Next, you should know that supplementing with KETO//OS (or following a ketogenic diet) can cause a slightly diuretic, water-losing effect, and can deplete your natural magnesium, potassium and sodium stores. This can be rectified by supplementing with a good electrolyte or increasing the sodium in your diet. This is another reason KETO//OS adds additional sodium to the formulation to counteract this sodium depletion.

Next, you need to ease yourself into this stuff. As I mentioned earlier, KETO//OS is blended with MCT’s, which can cause digestive distress if you’re not used to consuming them. This is due to the fact that your body has not yet adapted to the increased fats in your diet, and is less efficient at utilizing ketones as its fuel source. Once your body has adapted to MCT in the diet, the digestive distress will resolve.  But I recommend you start slowly with just about a half a serving a day, and over two weeks, build up to a full serving twice a day.

You can actually do more than two servings per day if you want, and you can experiment to see how many servings your body should handle. You should know that it would be very difficult to overdose on ketones. They are water soluble, so any excess ketones will be eliminated mainly via the urine.

Since originally publishing this article, I’ve been asked whether elevating blood ketones with exogenous sources could trigger a ketone-induced release of insulin that would theoretically reduce hepatic ketogenesis and perhaps slow fat mobilization. This makes sense since you are putting more energy into the system in general (from exogenous ketones), so there would be less need to draw off your own fat stores.

What actually happens is that when you deliver pure BHB (BHB ketone salts) along with MCT’s, there continues to be high rates of hepatic ketogenesis, but the liver production of ketones comes mostly from the MCT’s, not from your own fat stores.

However, at the same time, it should be noted that MCT’s gradually enhance the fat oxidation capacity of the liver and muscle, so this is turning you into a better fat burner overall if they continue to stay in ketosis.

What’s the takeaway message? If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t overdo the use of exogenous ketones (e.g. use 1-2 servings per day), commit to a long period of time spent in ketosis, and use MCT’s in addition to ketones.

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Cutting-Edge Way To Get Into Ketosis #2: KetoCaNa

KetoCaNa, which is made by Prototype Nutrition, is very similar to the KETO//OS I discuss above, but does not contain MCT’s. That’s really the primary difference. So if you don’t like MCT’s or if you want fewer calories in a powdered, exogenous ketone product, then you can add this one into your ketogenic protocol.

ks-ketocanaRather than containing sodium and potassium BHB salts, KetoCaNa contains sodium and calcium salts. Some folks find this sodium/calcium blend gets them into ketosis more quickly than a sodium/potassium blend, but I haven’t personally noticed a significant difference between the two in my Ketonix ketone breath testing.

Here’s what the KetoCaNa label looks like:

ketocana label

KetoCaNa contains 11.7 grams of the ketone body Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB), and consumption of KetoCaNa before exercise can result in significant decreases in oxygen demand and increases in physical performance, along with heightened mental acuity and cognitive performance.

Similar to the BHB salts and MCT’s from the KETO//OS I discuss above, powdered forms of ketones are excellent if you don’t want to completely eliminate carbohydrates or fat or eat copious amounts of fats, but want to simultaneously maintain high levels of blood ketones. It may also be used to ease the transition into a ketogenic state, because it can help alleviate the fatigue and lethargy some  people experience while making the transition from a glucose metabolism (carb burning mode) to ketone metabolism (fat burning mode).

KetoCaNa is pretty dang easy to use: you just stir it into about eight ounces of cold water until dissolved for best results.

I’ll warn you: when you first start using BHB salts like KetoCaNa, it can cause some temporary GI upset until you get acclimated to use. For me, this manifested in just a little bit of gas and bloating that subsided after about one week of use. Additionally, you should know that this product contains salt, so it counts as part of your daily salt intake.

If you are already in ketosis and accustomed to high-fat, low-carb diets, you can take one heaping scoop in about eight ounces of water fifteen minutes prior to working out. It stays in your system and will provide your body with elevated ketone levels for about three hours. When taken as a pre-workout, KetoCaNa has also been shown to decrease the amount of oxygen consumed at a given power output.

If you are transitioning into a state of ketosis then you should use a loading phase with this stuff. For that, it is recommended that you take three servings per day for two to three days, and one of these servings should be ingested fifteen minutes pre-workout.

Again, to clarify, this is simply a “lower calorie” version of exogenous ketones since it doesn’t contain MCT’s. So if your stomach doesn’t do well with MCT’s or if you want to consume fewer calories, this may be a better option for you.

The good folks at Prototype Nutrition are offering a 10% discount on KetoCaNa. Just click here and use code “BG2015”.

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Cutting-Edge Way To Get Into Ketosis #3: C8 or C10 MCT Oils

You may already be familiar with the cognitive boosting properties of MCT oil if you’ve tried Bulletproof Coffee, the ketogenic coffee blend that involves mixing butter, some form of MCT oil or coconut oil, and some tasty additions like chocolate or cinnamon.

However, there’s plenty of confusion out there about all the different forms of MCT’s, and there’s an important difference between oils like coconut oil, XCT oil, MCT oil, and a newer addition to the MCT family called Brain Octane.

Take coconut oil for example. The coconut oil industry loves to market the idea that relatively inexpensive and abundant coconut oil is a great source of MCTs because it’s “62% MCT oil”, but the problem is that studies show you can’t get many useful ketogenic MCT’s from just eating coconut oil or even most brands of “MCT oil”, which are often is diluted with lauric acid, a cheap, hugely abundant part of coconut oil that is typically marketed as an MCT oil.

Now don’t get me wrong: coconut oil (in moderated amounts) can be good for you. Eating it provides cheap and abundant lauric acid, a useful oil that is sold as an MCT oil even though it does not act like an MCT in the body.

In the US especially, coconut oil and MCT oil manufacturers are legally allowed to claim that lauric acid is an MCT because chemists named it that way, even though it does not act like other true biological MCT oils. If you are relying on plain coconut oil or “MCT-labeled” oil to get enough useful MCTs, think again and check the label: odds are you’re getting very few of the potent, ketogenic shorter chain MCTs (also known as “C8” and “C10”), and instead getting mostly cheaper but ineffective lauric acid.

Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty science here, shall we? Heck, you’ve made it this far so we might as well.

Coconut oil marketers often say there are four kinds of MCT oils found in coconut oil: C6, C8, C10, and C12 (the numbers define the length of the carbon chains).

Even though chemists long ago decided to call all of these MCTs, biologists now understand that the cheapest and most common of the MCTs, C12 or lauric acid, is actually a “pseudo-MCT”.

This C12 Lauric acid is a great food source, but it behaves like an LCT (long chain triglyceride) and not an MCT when you consume it, which means you don’t get the fast ketone energy from C12 Lauric acid that you get from C8 or C10.

As a matter of fact, from a pure biology perspective, lauric acid should actually be considered a LCT, because unlike C8 and C10 forms of MCT, lauric acid gets processed by your liver. This matters because your body metabolizes MCT’s differently than LCT’s: unlike LCT’s, MCT’s get very quickly converted into ketone energy to fuel your brain and body instead of requiring a pit stop in the liver for processing.

How did this incorrect labeling of C12 Lauric acid happen? Chemists counted the number of carbon chains and arbitrarily decided what was medium. So lauric acid is a chemical MCT but it is not a true biological MCT because your body does not treat it as an MCT.

Since your body treats lauric acid differently from the get go, it deserves to be treated honestly on oil marketing labels too! Hopefully, chemists will eventually change the classification to be more accurate. So basically, coconut oil and MCT oils comprised of lauric acid are not really true MCT’s capable of getting you into ketosis fast.

So then, what is an MCT Oil?

Here’s the deal: there are several main types of fatty acid oils found in coconut oil, but only the three listed below behave in your body as true biological MCT’s. This means that they bypass the metabolic burden of processing in the liver so they quickly become ketone-based energy in your brain and muscles.

These true MCT’s are:

C6, Caproic Acid:

There’s not enough of it to matter in coconut oil, it tastes bad, and it often results in stomach/gastric upset, but it does get converted quickly into ketones. If your MCT oil brand of choice makes your throat burn or has a weird flavor, one reason may be that the distillation did not remove enough of the C6. There are other reasons this can happen too, discussed below.

C8, Caprylic Acid (the primary MCT found in Brain Octane):

C8 is the rarest MCT found in coconut oil, comprising about 6% of coconut oil. It has potent anti-microbial properties (way more potent than lauric acid) to help you maintain a healthy gut, and it is the fastest MCT to metabolize in the brain. (hence the name Brain Octane). Your liver does not need to process C8, and it only takes the steps for your body to turn it into ATP cellular energy (sugar takes 26 steps). You would need 18 tablespoons of coconut oil to get just one tablespoon of Brain Octane.Brain_Octanebrain octane label

C10, Capric Acid (the primary MCT found in XCT Oil):

This is the second shortest form of MCT, also rare and comprising about 8% of coconut oil. It is slower to turn into energy but less expensive than C8. XCT Oil is triple-distilled in a non-oxygen atmosphere with no solvents, and it contains C10 and C8, because these are the only two MCT oils that turn into ATP quickly without the liver. You would need 6 tablespoons of coconut oil to get one tablespoon of XCT oil.

xct oil

xct oil label

C12, Lauric Acid:

C12 is about 50+% of coconut oil, and it requires a pit stop in the liver rather than getting immediately converted into energy like the other MCT’s listed above. This is why it is more accurately described as an LCT, not an MCT like marketers claim. It raises cholesterol more than any other fatty acid. It is also commonly cited as having antimicrobial benefits, which is does – except the shorter chain MCT oils are more effective against candida yeast infections, and even gonorrhea and chlamydia.

C14 and above (LCT’s):

These are the widely recognized LCT’s, or long chain fatty acids in coconut oil, mostly saturated, including stearic acid (C18:0), oleic acid (C18:1), and linoleic acid (18:2). The exact percentage of each depends on region the coconut is grown, time of harvest, and other growing variables. They are good as a fuel source in your food, and have some of the tastiness of coconut oil, if your goal is getting into ketosis fast, you won’t benefit from eating a lot more of them compared to eating true medium chain fatty acids.

When it comes to any of these forms of MCT oil, purity matters too. Some folks get severe diarrhea and throat irritation from commercially available MCT oils, and this is usually an oil purity issue.

The reason purity matters is that C17 is a byproduct of most MCT oil production processes, and it, along with C6, is a major cause of throat burning and gut irritation. Most MCT’s on the market are manufactured via chemical and solvent based refining, which involves using chemicals like hexane and different enzymes and combustion chemicals, such as sodium methoxide. But ideally, you should get an MCT oil that is made using triple steam distillation in a non-oxygen atmosphere to avoid lipid oxidation and create a purer end-product.

So ultimately, if you want the most ketogenically favorable, non-gut irritating potent and pure, chemical-free extract of coconut oil,  you’ll benefit the most from the cognitive aspects of an ultra-distilled MCT like Brain Octane oil (pure C8) or XCT Oil (C8 and C10).

So which MCT to pick? Brain Octane (pure C8) provides the fastest rise in ketones and burns the cleanest, with minimal gut irritation. XCT oil is more affordable but works more slowly with less direct cognitive effects. The capric acid C10 in XCT Oil doesn’t break down into ketones as quickly as pure caprylic C8, but capric acid C10 is more affordable, so you can save money by going with the XCT oil. XCT oil still goes to brain energy, just not as quickly as Brain Octane. Both can be used for energy without processing by the liver, unlike many other fats and oils.

Ultimately, you should use Brain Octane Oil if you want the maximum cognitive benefit, fastest foray into ketosis and quickest digestion. Use XCT oil if you are looking to economize while getting a metabolic boost and a slower smaller cognitive effect.

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Cutting-Edge Way To Get Into Ketosis #4: CarbFuel

Yep. You heard me right.

Carbs can get you into fat burning mode.

Here’s how…

The smart folks at what I consider to be the top supplement company on the face of the planet (click here to read why I think that) just released a new carbohydrate-based exercise fuel called “EXOS CarbFuel”…

…and while you’d think, based on the name, that this stuff is right up there with slamming a Gatorade, a sugary gel or an energy bar, it’s actually, it’s far, far different. It is certainly true that most carbohydrate powders, beverages, bars and gels produce a huge spike of blood glucose or create some seriously disturbing fermentation in your gut or do both. Sure, you may get “energy” in the form of sugar, but along with that energy, you’ll get all the chronic health risks of constant blood sugar spikes you just learned about, or plenty of gas and bloating during your workouts, runs, bike rides or races, or both.

EXOS CarbFuel is designed to combat all these issues. Its main ingredients, a plant-based, gluten-free non-GMO pea starch and pure dextrose give you a unique carbohydrate blend that’s slowly absorbed and released into your bloodstream to maintain stable blood sugar and insulin levels. This helps provide steady energy, while preventing the mental and physical energy crashes associated with other faster-digesting carbohydrate sources.

So it’s designed in a complete opposite manner of the other carbohydrate blends out there.

But in my opinion, because I’m very, very much on the high-fat, metabolically efficient, ketosis bandwagon now, I still modify EXOS’s recommended method of using CarbFuel.

How?

Easy: I use about half of the recommended serving of CarbFuel, and I instead add one scoop of Catalyte electrolytes, one scoop of Aminos, and one serving of ketones and/or MCT’s in the form of Brain Octane, KetoCaNa or KETO//OS (pick your poison, it’s up to you). While any of these forms of ketones and/or MCT’s works for daily focus and short workouts, I found that for long workouts they aren’t very gut friendly unless you really spread out the dosage (e.g. one serving every three hours), so you’d only really use that stuff in something like, say, an Ironman triathlon or multi-day adventure race.

exos carb

CarbFuel_Ingredients

For any hard endurance efforts that take me longer than ninety minutes, I simply shake all this into a water bottle or flask for an hour’s worth of clean, slow-burning energy that gives:

  1. a slow-burning carbohydrate source;
  2. an electrolyte source;
  3. an amino acid source;
  4. an easily digested fat source that bypasses digestion and gets burnt directly as fuel.

In my opinion, this gives me the best of both worlds: just enough of a slow-bleed of carbohydrates to keep from bonking, enough electrolytes to keep my mineral levels topped off, enough amino acids to supply fuel for my brain and keep muscles from catabolizing, and enough fats to keep me in metabolically-efficient, fat-burning ketosis.

Of course, if your workout is less than ninety minutes, and you’ve had a decent pre-workout meal at some point in the past 2-3 hours, you don’t need to eat anything at all during a workout.

But let’s face it:

Some people race triathlons that definitely last longer than ninety minutes (Ironman, anybody)?

Some people do Spartan beasts or long Tough Mudders.

Some people go on two-plus hour bike rides.

Some people don’t have time before or after a workout to hunt down or prepare a proper pre or post-workout meal.

Some people run marathons.

You get the idea. There are definitely times when you do need a fuel like this. Just don’t think you need to use it if you’re headed to the gym for an easy thirty minute jaunt on the treadmill.

So there you have it. For the long stuff, I use EXOS CarbFuel. It burns clean. It keeps you in fat-burning mode. It doesn’t ferment in your gut or cause bloating. It tastes very nice, especially when you blend it with the stuff I recommended above.

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Summary

Woo.

I know that was a freaking boatload of information.

So bookmark this article and use it as a reference for your training, your daily productivity, and your competitions. Save it to your phone, your e-reader, your computer or wherever else you need it as a quick reference.

And, should your head still be spinning from the knowledge dump, here’s the summary of how to use these four new cutting-edge ways to easily shift your body into fat burning mode and ketosis.

  1. Use up to two servings of KETO//OS as a pre- or during-workout fuel for workouts, or for a snack throughout the day to keep you in ketosis. And yes, it can be mixed into smoothies or other drinks.
  1. Use up to three servings per day of KetoCaNa (10% discount code BG2015) a pre- or during-workout fuel for workouts, or for a snack throughout the day to keep you in ketosis, with the main difference between it and KETO//OS being that it is a different form of BHB salts and doesn’t contain MCT’s.
  1. If you’re serious about maximizing the benefits ketosis, then forego coconut oil, MCT liquid oil, olive oil, etc. and instead use Brain Octane as your oil of choice for recipes like bulletproof coffee, or in teas, salad dressings, or as a sushi or entrée flavor enhancer. For a slightly less expensive, but not quite as effective form of MCT, use XCT oil.
  1. For any long 90+ minute workouts or competitions for which glycogen depletion is a potential issue, use CarbFuel, but use half of the recommended serving of it, and add one scoop of Catalyte electrolytes, one scoop of Aminos, and one serving of medium chain triglycerides in the form of Brain Octane, KetoCaNa or KETO//OS (pick your poison, it’s up to you).

That’s it. You keep each of these options in your cupboard and you’ll have every weapon you need for easy fat-burning and ketosis, and each of these options will allow you to sustain high levels of blood ketones while still eating enough carbohydrates to avoid the metabolic damage that can occur from extreme carbohydrate restriction.

Our bodies were meant to burn ketones. We have a parallel system within us designed to use ketones as an energy source. Ketones are faster and more efficient than the way our bodies use glucose. Ketones give you 38% more energy than you can get from glucose. We as a society are following a deceptive food pyramid.

We’re operating in a high carb world where food is abundant and it is destroying our brains and bodies.

And that’s dumb.

Finally, exactly one week from now, I’m going to tell you why simply eating oodles of coconut oil to get yourself into ketosis could be a very, very bad idea indeed. Stay tuned for that post (you can click here to subscribe to my free newsletter and find out instantly when that article gets released).

And in the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback below!

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A Final Smattering of Research For You

In case your brain isn’t full yet, here are a few additional studies and resources you may enjoy:

The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies website:

http://www.charliefoundation.org/

Ellen Davis’ Ketogenic Diet Resource website:

http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/

The Effects of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate on Cognition

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336

Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21130529/

Increased plasma ketone bodies resulted in a corresponding reduction in cerebral metabolic rates of glucose:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23736643

Under conditions of ketosis, glucose consumption is decreased in the cortex and cerebellum:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19227486

Brain, Livin’ On Ketones – A Molecular Neuroscience Look At The Ketogenic Diet

http://www.neurorexia.com/2013/03/24/brain-livin-on-ketones-a-molecular-neuroscience-look-at-the-ketogenic-diet/

Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2367001/

Nutrition and Traumatic Brain Injury: Improving Acute and Subacute Health Outcomes in Military Personnel (2011)

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13121&page=140

Clinical review: Ketones and brain injury

http://ccforum.com/content/15/2/219

No impaired endurance performance when in ketosis:

http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2

Treatment of diabetes and diabetic complications with a ketogenic diet

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23680948

Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Tolerance Are Altered by Maintenance on a Ketogenic Diet

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903931/

Long-term ketogenic diet reduces blood glucose:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/

Ketogenic Diet Could Delay the Effects of Aging

http://www.medindia.net/news/ketogenic-diet-could-delay-the-effects-of-aging-111146-1.htm

Scientists see a Ketogenic Diet for Aging and Longevity

http://longevitycentresofamerica.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/scientists-see-potential-in-ketogenic-diet-for-aging-longevity/

Ketosis cleans our cells

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/ketones-and-ketosis/ketosis-cleans-our-cells/

Long-term ketogenic diet significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/

Cancer Cells Can’t Live Using Ketones As A Fuel

http://www.naturalhealth365.com/stop_cancer/ketogenic_diet.html

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/10/ketogenic-diet.aspx

Ketogenic Diet for Cancer – ClinicalTrial

http://coconutketones.blogspot.com/2013/01/ketogenic-diet-for-cancer-clinical-trial.html

Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: two case reports.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7790697

Amino Acids, BCAA’s, EAA’s, Ketosis, Bonking & More With 41 Time Ironman Triathlete Dr. David Minkoff.

minkoff itunes

Dr. David Minkoff and I go way back.

I first met this MD and 41 time Ironman triathlon finisher at the Half-Ironman World Championships in Florida six years ago, and interviewed him a few weeks later in the podcast episode “A Peek Into The Life of An Ironman, Natural Medicine Physician.

Then, he helped me with metal detoxification using a metal chelating spray he designed, and I interviewed him about this in the podcast “How Hidden Sources Of Heavy Metals Are Destroying Your Health, And What You Can Do About It.”

He also helped me with my son’s exercise induced asthma, which is now completely eliminated using the techniques Dr. Minkoff introduced me to in the podcast “Why More Kids Are Getting Exercise Induced Asthma, and What You Can Do About It.

Now Dr. Minkoff is back. And he’s back to fill us in on amino acids, branched chain amino acids, ketosis, bonking and more! During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-The shocking story of how Dr. Minkoff reversed his wife’s MS by detoxifying the mercury build-up in her body…

-The exact dosage of amino acids Dr. Minkoff used to completely heal a hamstring injury…

-The important difference between amino acids, protein powder and food-based protein from sources like steak and eggs…

-Why BCAAs and EAAs are much different, and why EAAs are not turned into sugar in the body…

-How to use EAAs during periods of ketosis or carbohydrate restriction…

-How long before a workout to use EAAs and how many to use during a workout…

-How many amino acids you can safely take on a daily basis…

-How to use EAAs for intermittent fasting, controlling carbohydrate cravings and fat loss… 

-And much more!

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More About Dr. Minkoff:

Dr. Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then worked as an attending physician in infectious disease, co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine until 1995.

In 1997, his interest in alternative and complementary medicine led him to open LifeWorks Wellness Center, which has become one of the foremost alternative medicine clinics in the U.S. His search to find a source of the highest quality nutritional supplements led him to establish BodyHealth in 2000, a resource that could provide doctors with the best possible supplementation and education for their patients. Today, his BodyHealth products are used by hundreds of practitioners and individual consumers who seek all-natural wellness and detoxification supplements with a demonstrated high level of quality and effectiveness.

In addition to their use by patients looking to heal disease, the BodyHealth products are also used by sports enthusiasts interested in achieving and maintaining optimal performance. As a 40-time Ironman triathlon finisher, (including 8 appearances at the Ironman World Championships) Dr. Minkoff has first-hand experience to help athletes achieve optimum conditioning. His expertise in protein synthesis, detoxification, and nutrition allow them to run, swim, and bike faster and longer.

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This episode is brought to you by:

Four Sigma Foods – Visit foursigmafoods.com/greenfield and use code ‘bengreenfield’ for 15% off!

Resources we discuss in this episode:

NatureAminos Essential Amino Acids

Pancreatic enzymes

ION Panel from DirectLabs

MetalFree detox spray

Interview with Dr. Minkoff: How Hidden Sources Of Heavy Metals Are Destroying Your Health, And What You Can Do About It.

Interview with Dr. Minkoff: A Peek Into The Life of An Ironman, Natural Medicine Physician.

Interview with Dr. Minkoff: Why More Kids Are Getting Exercise Induced Asthma, and What You Can Do About It.

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Dr. Minkoff? Leave your thoughts below and either he or I will reply!

Mushroom Lies: Why Most Medicinal Mushroom Supplements Are Chock Full Of Grain & Dangerous Compounds, And What You Can Do About It.

pod cast jeff intunes

Last year, my friend Skye Chilton visited my house. One night, he sat down at my kitchen table and spread out an array of colorful mushrooms, including cordyceps, a mushroom well-known for it’s athletic performance enhancing capabilities (and one that I recently tweeted this study about).

“Taste this.” Skye said, as he handed me a standard, commercial cordyceps product. It was tasteless, flavorless and a bland brownish color. I didn’t care for it.

Then he gave me another handful of cordyceps. This different blend was a rich, reddish-brown color, and had a powerful, potent, medicinal taste. Within just a couple minutes I felt a surge of energy.

The difference between these two mushroom extracts was noticeable, palatable, and significant.

So what makes one mushroom extract different from another?

Do medicinal mushrooms have different benefits depending on how they are grown, what stage they are harvested in, or where they are sourced?

How do you actually use mushrooms in your daily life?

In today’s podcast, you’ll get all these answers and more from Skye’s father, Jeff Chilton, who wrote a book called “The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home“, which Skye gave me after he left my house, and which I realized after I read it is the most comprehensive guide on medicinal mushrooms I’ve ever seen.

In the 1980’s he operated a commercial mushroom spawn laboratory, and in 1989 he started one of the first medicinal mushroom businesses in North America. His company, Nammex, sells certified organic mushroom extracts to nutritional supplement businesses in the US, Canada and worldwide.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why you should add mushroom extracts such as reishi, shitaake, cordyceps to a morning cup of coffee…

-The important difference between medicinal mushroom and the kind of mushrooms you eat as food…

-How to cut through the confusion of which mushroom extracts are actually quality and which are a complete waste of your money…

-Why some mushrooms just contain grain, with very little actual mushroom extract…

-An easy way you can use an iodine dropper test yourself at home to see if a mushroom contains a bunch of cheap starch
-The medical condition that some people have which indicates they should avoid eating mushrooms…
-Whether psychedelic mushrooms are safe, or have any helpful utilization…
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
FourSigmaFoods mushroom extracts (the ones Ben uses)
Do you have questions, comments or feedback about medicinal mushrooms? Leave your thoughts below and either Jeff or I will reply.

Can Weed Really Shrink Your Brain?

weedbrain itunes

A few weeks ago, I talked on this podcast episode about whether THC can cause damage to the grey matter in your brain.

But, frankly, I spent very little time addressing the matter on that particular show, so in today’s episode, I’m revisiting the topic of THC, brain damage, liver damage, myths about marijuana, CBD, smart drugs, nootropics and more with Dr. Andrew Hill, Lead Neuroscientist at truBrain, and one smart cookie.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-Why left-handed people are more sensitive to chemical stimulants…

-The truth behind the evidence that THC can shrink the brain…

-The important differences between THC and CBD…

-How Dr. Hill can “reset” tolerance to marijuana using neurofeedback in his clinic…

-If there is a deleterious effect of THC on the liver or other organs…

-How to map your brain and change your brain using neurofeedback…

-Little known smart drug ingredients such as oxiracetam and centrophenoxine…

-And much more, including a killer giveaway at the end of the show!

Resources & studies cited in this episode:

Decreased grey matter but increased connectivity (not controlled for SES):
More recent and much larger study that failed to find grey matter volume changes:
And a summary of another study that found decreased volume, and the two studies that refute this:

Peak Brain Institute

Pocket Neurobics

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training

TruBrain drinks and capsules (use code BEN to save 50%)

Previous episode with Dr. Andrew Hill on smart drugs vs. nootropics

Water soluble CBD

Do you have questions, comments or feedback for myself or Dr. Andrew Hill? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply.