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Transcript – Is Keto Dangerous? Jillian Michaels has an opinion (and so do we)
Shawn: Hey BioTrust faithful. Good to talk to you. We have a great episode with Dr. Ryan Lowery of ketogenic.com, author of The Ketogenic Bible, President of Applied Sciences and Performance Institute. We get into keto junk food, anti-aging and keto, Jillian Michaels’ keto opinion, is keto dangerous, whether the ketogenic diet is healthy to be on for life. All kinds of stuff. This is really a treat and a blessing. So, listen up and enjoy. Thanks people
Shawn: Okay people, welcome to another episode of BioTrust Radio. We do not have my man, Tim Skwiat, in the studio today, but I do have a very special guest. Literally my best friend in the world, Dr. Ryan Lowery. He recently got his PhD. He’s the most accomplished person I know. He’s a personal mentor of mine because of his personal drive and just his generosity and good heart. And that’s led to some things like his campaign to #MakePositivityLouder. He’s on Instagram and Facebook. Just really great content. He is the president of the ASPI, Applied Sciences and Performance Institute. He has published hundreds of articles in academia and private research. He’s published a book, The Ketogenic Bible, which has gone worldwide. It’s a huge phenomenon. It’s now being translated into multiple languages. He’s over at ketogenic.com, which is the leading resource for ketogenic information on the worldwide web, and he has his new podcast. And he’s just everywhere. Every place I seem to go and speak, he’s there. And we’re just all over the place. We’re going to be at KetoCon coming up in June. I just love this guy and I’m really stoked to have him on the show.
Keto has probably been our biggest topic on the show and you can go back and listen to our BioTrustRadio.com/keto, where we have three episodes that are now spliced together, where we go through like a pretty deep dive, including addressing the question is keto dangerous. But we’re going have an expert on the show to give his opinion on a lot of questions that have come up.
So, Ryan, thank you for being on the show. I’m really excited to have you on and you’re gonna be an incredible resource for our listeners. I can’t wait to hear your story and answer some of the questions — like is keto dangerous — that we’ve had. So, thank you for being on.
Ryan: Ah, thanks brother. It’s honestly a huge honor. So, I’m super excited and ready to dive in with you.
Shawn: All right, well you have an amazing story. I touched on it a little bit, but it’s very inspirational and I think there’s a lot of motivation for why you have chosen keto. And even beyond, like our conversations that I think tipped some things with you guys. But you, know I think with your family that’s led to some inspiration, led to some passion in your heart about keto. So, I’d love to hear your story with not only keto, but like even like with ASPI and your recent PhD, and all of your accomplishments. Can you give us kind of your bio and your inspiration?
Ryan: Absolutely man. So you know, and you’re a huge part of it, undoubtedly. And it really all started back in 2002, for me. And that’s really when my life took a big turn. And I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I was in middle school still at the time and I had just gotten a call and pulled out of class and found out that my grandmother had just been rushed to the hospital, and it was kind of out of nowhere. And she was in her early 60s, and by the time I got to the hospital, she had already passed away. And I was just shook. I didn’t know why, where. I was angry. I was frustrated.
And at that time I was just curious. So, immediately after they did her autopsy, I was like, “Grampa, I want to see this. I wanted to see what it says.” And like her autopsy basically just read, “a lethargic obese woman in respiratory distress.” And for me, I’ll always remember that because it weighs so heavily on me. Like why was this the situation? Why was this the case, and why didn’t someone help her? Why wasn’t someone there to be a resource to say, “Hey let’s make a lifestyle change. Let’s do this.” And I realized at that point that our system wasn’t set up to help people in that situation, and it was failing.
And so I literally set out my life mission of how can I help this mission. How can I help others not deal with the pain and the anger and the frustration that I had at such a young age. And that’s really what got me into health, nutrition, exercise. I mean I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I played baseball, basketball, football in high school. And then I ventured on to the University of Tampa, my freshman year. And that’s where I went to college. And I played baseball at the University of Tampa. I was incredibly blessed to meet a huge mentor, now business partner of mine, Dr. Jacob Wilson, who very fortunately introduced me to you. And it was a bromance from the beginning.
And I realized that—and you told me this—is to be and live your most optimum successful life, you have to surround yourself with people who are on the same mission with you. And I immediately bonded with you and saw like, “Hey, listen, we really truly want to help people.” And Jacob is the same way. And you two basically mentored me throughout my entire career and lifted me up as I played baseball at the University of Tampa. We won a national championship my junior year and I realized that was a huge accomplishment, but I wanted to do something far greater. And throughout that entire time we were doing research, publishing studies on nutrition, supplementation. I was hanging out with you, trying to learn everything I could on all aspects of supplementation, but just being an overall better person. And that really helped me to get to where we are today.
And I soon realized, academia is great. We did a lot in academic. I got my Masters at the University of Tampa. But very shortly I realized in academia there’s four walls and a ceiling, and they don’t like when you try and push against it. And our goal was how do we make this conversation a global conversation. And because of what I dealt with back in 2002, with my grandma, I want to help students, I want to help other professors, but I want to help the world. And in order to do that, we really need to do something on our own. And so Jake and I stepped out of academics and we created what’s called The Applied Science and Performance Institute, about two‑and‑a‑half years ago. And it’s basically a 22,000 square foot facility that’s dedicated to bridging the gap between science and practical application. And we study everything from high-level research and exercise to ketogenic diets for Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, is keto dangerous, and everything in-between.
And keto has just been an insane passion of mine for probably the last five years, as I got introduced to it from you, our colleagues Dr. Jeff Volek, Dr. Dom D’Agostino, and it’s literally been this endless pursuit of finding solutions and answers of where can it be applied and what situations can it be applied, and how individualized it is for everyone. And how can we provide information, tools, and resources so people can take this information and not just read it one time and forget about it, but actually apply it to their life. And then once they can do that, how can they apply it to other people’s lives. And so that’s really the essence of what we’re trying to do with not only the Applied Science Performance Institute, but with ketogenic.com, by helping foster this conversation and make it understandable for everyone involved.
Shawn: Yeah, that’s so awesome, and I respect what you do. And for the people that really wants true voices instead of just the noise in the media on what a ketogenic diet is, what the real research is, and is keto dangerous, I definitely suggest following Dr. Ryan Lowery and Dr. Jacob Wilson. But also, like Ryan mentioned, Dr. Jeff Volek has been doing this. I’ve been ketogenic dieting for about 20 years, but Dr. Jeff Volek has been doing the research for about 20 years. Amazing guy, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, if you’re interested in ketogenic diets and cancer, really came up with the whole metabolic model. Brilliant guy. And then Dr. Dom D’Agostino, like you just talked about, with some newer research on cancer. A really brilliant dude as well. I think we’re friends with all of them and really deeply respect them.
So, I’d like to talk about one—speaking of the noise—Jillian Michaels, right. She’s on Facebook in these videos with Steve Harvey, “Keto is dangerous.” You know, I see these articles in my feed, my Google newsfeed, and all this stuff every day that like you know it’s hot, it’s what celebrities are doing, is keto dangerous, it’s this, it’s that, it’s something to do short-term. All this noise. Like what is you can tell our listeners about what’s the truth? Is keto dangerous? Is it safe to be on a ketogenic diet and what’s the truth? Can you can you be on it long-term? What’s the best way to execute it? And how do you answer that? What do you think about Jillian Michaels’ keto opinion?
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. And you hit the nail on the head; there’s so much noise. There’s so much noise on both ends of the spectrum.
Ryan: You’ve got people asking is keto dangerous, and you’ve got the people saying, “This is this is going kill you. You’re going become acidic and ketoacidotic.” And then you have people that say it’s gonna cure every ailment known to man.
Shawn: Right, exactly.
Ryan: And I love that we talk all the time about how you kind of bring those two together and say here’s that path, here’s that avenue. But in essence, absolutely. I mean, there’s been hundreds of clinical trials done on its safety. You look better than I’ve ever seen you in your life. I feel like everyone ages and you’re like going down in age. [laugh]
Shawn: Thank you. Yeah. I do feel better than ever, yes.
Ryan: And people see that. You look at Dr. Don D’Agostino, he looks like he’s 20. I’m sure he gets carded when he goes to a bar or something. [laughs] He looks 21. It’s amazing. And so, when we look at the is keto dangerous question, there is a lot of not only anecdotal safety of people who have been doing it for decades, but a ton of clinical trials and published research. Not only in adults, but it really all started with kids and epilepsy, and utilizing it at that age. And so the question is not so much is keto dangerous, but it really does become is this really what we should be eating from a primal perspective, and did we kind of mess up the system back with Ancel Keys in the 1950s, when we threw the whole low-fat wrench into the system. And how are we really now starting to come out of that? We paid the price for such a long time and are we starting to really come out of that and try and through this podcast and what you guys are doing at BioTrust, by introducing some amazingly well-formulated products. Like really try and pull people out of that stigma of like, “This is what’s traditionally been taught. We’re here to kind of help you, guide you, and to live your most optimized life.”
Shawn: Yeah, exactly. And so, what do you think as far as the best way to execute? Well, let me say this first. Do you believe in eating a higher fat diet? I mean, the data is there. The Mediterranean Diet has tons of data. I mean, you can’t even refute the Mediterranean Diet at this point, which really has the most compelling data, the most robust data on health. And so that’s high fat, right? And one step beyond that would be the ketogenic diet, which is lower carb and even higher fat. But how do you feel about being on that diet lifelong, or should you alternate between that and a Mediterranean Diet? Is ketogenic just good to do from time-to-time if you want to lose weight? What is it to you?
Ryan: Yeah, I mean we talk about the term “ketogenic lifestyle.” I think it’s a lifestyle, because, in essence, it’s got to be something that’s maintainable, forever. And when we talk about that, I don’t mean you need to be straight 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% whatever people define as the ketogenic diet for your entire life. I mean, I love sushi, so occasionally sometimes I’ll go have some sushi. I love Mediterranean food. There’s an amazing Greek restaurant that’s by me, that I we’ve gone to a couple times. I love enjoying some of that. It’s not something I eat every day or often, but it’s something that I incorporate in to make this a really sustainable lifestyle.
Shawn: Yeah. We love some Zoe’s, actually. [laughs] We actually have a restaurant by us, Terra, that we go to all the time. But yeah, Mediterranean is one of our favorites. I just love how fresh it is and how it doesn’t shy away from fat.
So, in addition to the is keto dangerous question, another question is this whole idea of metabolic flexibility. You touched on primal, and I feel like we have kind of gotten away from—you mentioned Ancel Keys and low fat—but we’ve gotten away from. Keto was so normal. I feel like maybe thousands of years ago, before food storage and before food preparation and all this, through the winter months we may have been keto, and maybe even during the summer. You know, when we were eating meat and whatnot, and certainly going days without eating. Call it starving, call it intermittent fasting, whatever. And then even during the summer months, a lot of our starches or carbohydrates would have been resistant starches. You know, green bananas. Like, is everything ripened like it is now in the store? No. You’d find things that are not ripe, and green bananas are resistant starch. A raw potato is resistant starch. If you were to eat a raw potato without cooking it and breaking it down, it would be resistant starch. So, those things are actually carbs, but keto in a way.
So, I feel like if you go days without eating, that’s keto, you know, because that gets you into ketosis. Is keto dangerous, or is it a necessity? So, I feel like we were meant to have metabolic flexibility. Yes, like it’s cool to you have glucose and carbs and whatever, at times. But then it’s also, I think we were meant to be in ketosis at times, and we’ve gotten away from that and everything is just high glucose availability. We just have carbs— carbs—carbs—carbs—carbs all the time, high glycemic carbs. We don’t exercise enough. We’re never in ketosis. What do you think about that? Does metabolic flexibility make sense? Having carbs sometimes, does that make sense? What are your thoughts?
Ryan: I do, I love the concept of being metabolically flexible. I think the biggest challenge that we face as a society today, is that we’re so incredibly shifted to the right in regards to insulin resistance. And so many people are resistant and completely not flexible. They’re so locked into carbohydrates. They’re so locked into sugar. Then it ends up in this horrible downhill spiral where we have an immense amount of people who are now Type 2 diabetics. Even worse, we have an immense amount of kids who are now Type 2 diabetics, which it used to be called “adult onset,” now we had to drop that because of the kids getting it. And then now we’re referring to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and a lot of these neuro-degenerative diseases as Type 3 diabetes.
We’re so incredibly insulin resistant that we’re not exercising enough, and that helps contribute to the insulin resistance. And we’re eating poor food choices. We’re not eating the resistant starches. We’re not eating the whole foods. We’re eating the crackers and chips that are conveniently made at the store that are filled with not only every preservative under the sun, but a ton of carbohydrates and sugar. Is keto dangerous — I don’t think so, and it’s certainly not as dangerous as the typical Western-style diet.
Shawn: Right. I’ve told people like a quick test. When you were young, when you were a kid, and someone gave you candy or soda or whatever, you used to like run around like a crazy person and people are like, “Who gave him the sugar? Why did you give the kid the sugar? You know he goes crazy. He acts like a crazy person.” And then what happens now? You’re like [snoring] You’re asleep at your desk. Ah, that’s insulin resistance. [laughs]
Shawn: That’s a clear sign. So, for anyone that feels that “carb coma,” that’s insulin resistance. Now maybe you’re pre-diabetic or whatever, but most of us are heading towards diabetes. I worked in a nursing home and I can tell you that metabolic syndrome, that cluster of symptoms around that insulin resistance, is so common. Like basically, at some age, you’re going to get it. And it doesn’t help that we’re already sedentary, but we get even more sedentary later in life. So, yes, exactly.
Now, a quick question on one of the hottest things that you get talked to about a lot is supplements, ketones, exogenous ketones, MCTs, coconut oil, caprylic acid, all these things that help with the ketogenic diet. Everyone wants the hack. Everyone wants the shortcut. No one wants to like go through this multiple days of getting into ketosis. Nobody wants to do like all this fasting. Nobody wants to get brain fog or spend months getting adapted. They just want the quick hacks.
So, what are your thoughts on these supplements? Are they helpful? How much should you rely on them? Are they kind of exaggerated with their claims? What are your thoughts? And then safety, even. I don’t believe there’s lots of long-term data on them, but I know you and I use some of these things at times. But what are your thoughts on these?
Ryan: I think the supplements are to be there to do just that, to supplement the lifestyle, to supplement the diet itself and say listen it makes it easier to sustain. There’s times when you can utilize them as a tool. And that’s what I look at them as. They’re tools, they’re resources that can be utilized in conjunction with a well-formulated diet. Now, yeah, I think some of the claims are way over the top. Like you see a lot of MCTs and MCT powders are becoming a lot more prevalent now. And they’re great. I throw it in a shake like. I make a shake every afternoon, usually throw in some MCT powder, sometimes exogenous ketones in there, and some protein. I love anything that you create, I love that I throw in there.
And one of my absolute “go to” ones is actually, undoubtedly, it’s IC-5. And I utilize that in the sense that I’m going to be able to eat and maintain that metabolic flexibility. I freaking love that because it’s ultimately about being able to control glucose levels and insulin levels. And it doesn’t matter if I have sushi or if I’m eating a Cobb salad. And you know how big of a fan of Cobb salads I am. I’m not reliant on it. It’s a tool. It’s something that I utilize to help maintain this lifestyle. So, I use supplements. I utilize a lot of these MCT powders that aren’t plated on maltodextrin [chuckles] or milk derivatives, and I utilize a lot of MCT oil and sometimes exogenous ketones throughout the day. But you could argue that keto is dangerous when folks shift away from the lifestyle approach toward a heavy reliance on manufactured foods, supplements, and the like.
Shawn: Nice. So, do you need to—whether you’re using the supplements or whether you’re doing the diet—do you feel the need to track this stuff with either blood BHB or also your blood glucose, which is on a glucometer? I know the Keto-Mojo has really brought prices down on testing that. But then there’s also the breath acetone. There’s the urinary acetoacetate strips. Do you feel the need to track this, to capture this data, or do you feel like if you’re just in it long-term you don’t need that? You just kind of go with how you feel and that’s good enough?
Ryan: Yeah, I think early on it’s important to track and get feedback and get metrics. Like when you’re first starting out on eating ketogenic, I think it’s important. Because a lot of people will eat a ton of protein and not eat enough fat or they’ll be like, “Oh wait, I whole cup of strawberries and blueberries and bananas.” That’s not ketogenic. And you only really figure that out as you start playing around with it and doing some testing and say oh this is my tolerance, here’s where I’m at.
But long-term, I don’t really track my food anymore. I don’t really track my glucose levels or acetone levels or anything. I kind of go based on how I feel, and I have a pretty good inclination now of, “Yep, I probably got kicked out,” or “Yeah I’m back in. I’m fine.” I mean, it’s 12:30 here and I haven’t eaten a thing yet, all day, and I feel completely fine. So, I know I’m intermittent fasting, so I know I’m pretty good. I’m pretty well fat-adapted now that I could probably go another five hours and not eat, but I’m probably going have a shake after this just because I want to get some fuel into my system. But that’s what I know.
Shawn: So, that brings up a good question, about protein. You know, some people are concerned when you’re adding in intermittent fasting and you’re going many hours, 16 hours, 20 hours, or a full day sometimes without having protein, by fasting. Or just ketogenic diets, in general, are lower in protein than maybe some bodybuilder type diets that are very high in protein. And so people are concerned, like if I’m someone who’s trying to maintain muscle, improve the amount of muscle, like a bodybuilder, or just even someone who’s just at the gym and really wants to maintain lean mass. They’re concerned that being on this diet, and especially adding in fasting, that they’re going to lose muscle. And you’re telling me, you’re a muscular guy, you’re at Applied Sciences Performance Institute, working with athletes. You have athletes on the ketogenic diet. You have athletes fasting. What’s the deal? Is keto dangerous for muscle mass?
Ryan: Yeah. You know, so it’s quite interesting because often times when you talk to someone who might not know what a ketogenic diet is, they immediately associate it with the Atkins, and they’re like, “Oh, that’s bad for your kidneys. That’s a really high protein diet.” And I’m like, “Actually, it’s not really high protein at all. It’s kind of the opposite.” And I eat way less protein now than I ever have in my entire life. At one point I’m probably eating 300 grams of protein a day, when I was playing sports.
Ryan: And so one of the things to know about being in a state of ketosis or being on a ketogenic diet is ketones themselves, what your body produces when you’re on a ketogenic diet and you produce these things called ketones. They spare muscle mass. They spare important amino acids like leucine, which is very important for building muscle and also preventing muscle from being broken down. So, is keto dangerous, again, isn’t the right question because it appears to be protective. And so that’s why not only for like right now where I’m at. I’m fairly young and healthy and trying to build and maintain my physique, but I think it’s almost imperative that people, as we age, one of the biggest problems we face in society is not only obesity, but sarcopenic obesity, where people are losing an immense amount of muscle. They’re replacing that muscle with fat, and they go, “Oh, I’m just maintaining the same weight.” Well it’s not the right compositional way. You’re losing muscle and gaining fat. That’s going to lead to a lot of complications later on.
The ultimate goal is to maintain, at minimum, is to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. So that way you stay insulin sensitive. So that way when you fall, you’re at less risk of falling and then breaking a hip. Or we all know what happens after that. It’s like a downhill spiral. So, we need to help preserve as much muscle mass as possible, and being in a state of ketosis helps with that,
Shawn: Yeah, one thing that I’ve found working with people is there’s this carbohydrate tolerance with the more lean body mass. I don’t know that there’s a lot of data on it and I’d love for you guys to actually do research on this, that the amount of muscle mass may dictate your carbohydrate allowance in your ketogenic diet. But this is what I found, is that someone that has more muscle mass like an active resistance-trained male like you and I, can have 50, 60, 70 grams of carbohydrates a day. Someone like a big body builder, like our friend Lawrence Ballinger, can have over 100 grams, because he’s super muscular. And then some women that are smaller, that are leaner, they’re like struggling to stay in ketosis and they’re like, “Man, I’ve got to be under 20 grams.” It’s just something I’ve found. Have you seen that as well? And I think there may be some reasons, like the GLUT4 translocation of glucose into the cell and the muscle. Like muscles actively using glucose, potentially. There’s some reasons, potentially, but it hasn’t been clearly identified. But have you seen that as well?
Ryan: Oh, absolutely. And I think the more muscle mass you have, you have more glycogen store, you have more places for it to go. And typically, people who have more muscle are exercising. They’re working out. It’s one of the reasons why I tell people it doesn’t matter. If you don’t want to step foot into a gym, the only thing I ask you is after you eat a meal or something, go take a 5 or 10 minute walk because you’re going be able to dispose of that glucose. And you’re putting it into the right tissue, versus having it just sit around and float in your bloodstream and then get converted and stored as fat. That’s the goal.
Shawn: Yeah. There’s been studies on that specific thing. Just like you said, 5 or 10-minute walks. I can’t quote any of the data off the top of my head, but literally transformative into so many biomarkers for health, like blood pressure, blood glucose. And it’s crazy. It’s that simple. It’s not like an hour of high-intensity interval training. [chuckles] It’s literally going for a walk for 5 or 10 minutes after you eat. So, yes, we definitely encourage that on the show.
So, a few things. You have, The Ketogenic Bible, which is an amazing resource. Again, it covers the gamut, including the is keto dangerous question. It’s so exhaustive. You guys did such an amazing job of that book. And then the site ketogenic.com, that again, is exhaustive and really up-to-date with a lot of articles and questions (like is keto dangerous) and recipes, and all kinds of things that are covered in there. And the book has some great recipes as well. Can you speak to those as resources, and how valuable feedback have you gotten on both of those resources? I’d be interested to hear that.
Ryan: Yeah, well thanks a lot. And you know one of the reasons that we did that. So, The Ketogenic Bible was purely a passion project. And it was a big undertaking to really, like you said, cover the whole gamut. From the history, dating back like the late 1800s, all the way to today, answering tons of questions like is keto dangerous, and then all potential applications. But one of the main reasons why we have the book and then we also basically took over ketogenic.com is I feel a deep moral obligation to protect this conversation as much as humanly possible. And the reason is we saw what happened with the Atkins boom.
Ryan: Everyone’s heard of it. It boomed and then it’s kind of like where did it go? It kind of like phased its way out. And I don’t want that to happen to the ketogenic conversation because of all the possibilities that it has. And in order to do that, you need to make sure, you need to create this balancing act where it doesn’t get overstated and people blow it out of the water and say, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread. It’s great.” And also you want it to get enough attention and get the limelight that it deserves because there is some phenomenal research going on. Not only in body composition and weight loss. There’s a ton going on there. But in cancer, in Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. All these different areas that can truly and profoundly change someone’s life, and it needs to get the right attention, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do on ketogenic.com, in order to help bring that to light and protect that conversation and deliver it to people in the best manner possible.
Shawn: Yeah. And both of those are just absolutely amazing resources. Like you said, like just well-sighted, good people writing these articles. And they’re peer-reviewed, again, in an ocean of noise and craziness where there’s so many voices that aren’t necessarily experts and people saying sensationalistic things and providing poor-quality answers to questions like is keto dangerous. It’s nice to get something that’s actually credible and scientific and cut through some of that noise.
Speaking of cancer, this one is, I think, close to all of our hearts. We’ve all been touched by cancer. And there’s just some really good research going on right now with the ketogenic diet and cancer. And some people are saying, you know, it can cure cancer and everyone should be on a ketogenic diet. If you have any type of cancer. I mean, I’ll preface this by saying a patient I was working with had Stage four neuroglioblastoma and had six weeks to live. Taken off chemotherapy and radiation. And six weeks later, 80 to 90% reduction in her tumor size by me putting her on the ketogenic diet, exogenously ketones, hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, and some IV vitamin C; which are all strategies that have research on them with cancer.
But what are your thoughts on the ketogenic diet and cancer? And let me preface this by saying we are not medical doctors and I am not saying that the results I just described are typical to every person. I’m just saying that was one patient and it was dramatic results, and this person was written off much like Ryan mentioned, his grandmother. You know, it’s frustrating the way some people just get written off. And when I talked to her, the thing that’s frustrating to me, she wasn’t even told about the ketogenic. She had no idea what the ketogenic diet was. So, she couldn’t even research it herself and say, “You know, this is something I might want to try,” and the doctor could suggest and say, “Hey, you know, the research isn’t definitive, but if this is something you want to try, we’ll support you in your effort.” I mean, there wasn’t even a conversation, which is frustrating to me. So, what are your thoughts on the ketogenic diet and cancer, because there’s so much being said about it?
Ryan: Absolutely. And you know what’s even more frustrating and kind of why I think there’s a large conversation to be here is a little over a year‑and‑a-half ago, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. And it was it very painful to watch as he came out of chemotherapy, and the first thing they bring around to him is soda and chips. And it boggled my mind to say like how can you take someone, inject them with an insane amount of poison.
Ryan: Yeah, chemotherapy. In order to try and eradicate some of this cancer. And then basically say, “Hey, we did what we can, now let’s feed it.” Because there’s ample evidence that cancer thrives and feeds on glucose. That’s been well established in the research. Cancer cells, the way their metabolism is set up, is that they can run primarily off of glucose and sugar as fuel.
Shawn: That’s the metabolic model that Seyfried talks about, the Otto Warburg Theory, that cancer is a metabolic disease, right?
Ryan: Exactly right, exactly. And some of the stuff that Dr. Seyfried is doing and Dr. Dom and Dr. Angela Poff, Dr. Adrian Scheck, the work they’re doing in the cancer space is absolutely profound. And I think there are some human clinicals. The Epigenetics Foundation funded a study that basically looked at breast cancer and saw some incredible results. And then they also are saying how do we how really bring this to light. And what they’re doing in pets, and literally utilizing a ketogenic diet in animals and seeing insane amazing results with some of these animals who are becoming completely cancer free, is just showing this is something that we need a research a hell of a lot more.
And then make sure that we’re putting the right message out to people saying this is something that doctors should be well more aware of. And at least, like you said, instead of just thinking is keto dangerous, open up the conversation. Say, “Is this something that you might be interested in doing?” And as a doctor, how can I help you? How can I coach you through this? And make sure that you’re doing this the right way, to try and battle this disease.
Shawn: And so, is your advice then if someone has a friend or a family member that has cancer, to do a deeper dive on this then? And would you suggest that they would look at this Ketogenic Bible, ketogenic.com. You have resources there, correct?
Ryan: Yeah, I would I would recommend checking out Dr. Thomas Seyfried’s, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease. Dr. Travis Christofferson has a great book, as well.
Shawn: Yeah, Tripping Over the Truth.
Ryan: It’s a great book. That’s one of the things I always tell people. If I have family members, I always direct them and point them to that. And then I’ll make sure I go with them to their doctor. And/or if I can’t, I’ll send their doctor all this information and say, “Please, all I’m asking for you is just take a look at some of this research and literature and understand that glucose and carbohydrates feed cancer cells.” They thrive off of glucose and carbohydrates. So how can we now provide alternative solutions? And it’s not the be-all end-all cure-all, but it’s going to make them a lot better at responding to some of these modalities, be it chemotherapy, if they’re in a state of ketosis and/or fasting. There’s been ample research that has shown that as well. So, how can I provide the tools to the doctor, to at least allow them to open up the conversation with their patient? We want to tackle that is keto dangerous question head-on and show them the facts.
Shawn: Yeah, one thing that’s interesting, going back to that we really should be dual-fueled. That it isn’t this weird thing, these ketones. Like I think because of diabetic ketoacidosis, there is a lot of confusion about ketones and is keto dangerous. But that’s in diabetics, Type 1 diabetics, that don’t produce insulin. And that’s at like tenfold the amount of ketones that a normal ketogenic dieter would have. But it should be normal that we use ketones, or we use glucose at times for fuel. So again, it’s so weird because maybe even with cancer and some of these other disease states—Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s—because there’s confusion around ketones being healthy and being normal, that they’re reluctant to maybe recommend it. I mean, are you seeing that being the case? I mean, it’s great you’re having the conversation with consumers and people looking for information. What are you doing to move that conversation forward to dispel the myths for our healthcare providers?
Ryan: Yeah, and that’s actually a big initiative we’ve undertaken. One other thing we’re trying to provide, because you hit the nail on the head, they basically as crazy as it sounds, MDs get basically one semester of nutrition, yet who do who do most people go to for their nutritional advice? They’re going to ask their doctor, “What should I be doing? What should I be eating?” And if they go to the doctor and they see a complication, the first thing the doctor is going to do is give some recommendations on, “Hey, you might want to eat this way or do this.” And I wouldn’t blame them. It’s a lack of education from the system. They haven’t been properly educated. And a lot of them are so busy. They’re saving so many people’s lives, they don’t have time to dig into the research. That’s what we do. We love doing that stuff. They’re doing surgery, doing something else that’s so that’s incredibly important and resourceful.
So, one of the things we’re trying to do is create Doctor PDFs, these little books that we’re putting together for doctors that say, “Listen, I know it’s tough time for you to find even like five or ten minutes, but I want to provide this little pamphlet and packet for you,” where someone can print it out online, bring it to their doctor and go hey here’s four or five studies that have been done on cancer or epilepsy or Type 2 diabetes, and answer key questions like is keto dangerous, because they need to be educated on this. And it’s something that just needs to get more awareness and more light. And how can we condense that down so it doesn’t take much of their time, but it’s something that can at least open up the door and go, “Wow, this might be something worthwhile looking into.”
Shawn: That’s awesome. That’s huge. Another thing that I think is really important with the ketogenic diet, going back to that so many of us are becoming insulin resistant, and then so many diseases are tied to that insulin resistance, as you talked about, is there is no ketone resistance, per se. And I think that’s why—look, if somebody’s like super lean and they exercise all the time and they’re great with carbs, I always tell them, “Great. Keep doing what you’re doing cuz you’re healthy and that’s awesome.” But for the other 70% of us that struggle with our weight, or the other 70% that feel tired when we have carbohydrate, or feel a level of addiction to high glycemic carbohydrate.
I know I’ve talked about you go in the convenience store, and it’s a store of addiction. You are walking in there and it’s a battle to walk out, because you’re surrounded by colorful liquids and caffeine and sugar, and colorful packaging and you’re just assaulted with impulse. You know, gambling and cigarettes, and alcohol. But sugar is probably the mainstay of the whole store. And that’s a powerful thing. I mean, no one can tell me it’s not an addiction when how easy is it to put it down? And that’s one of the nice things about being a ketogenic dieter is that you can kind of break yourself of that addiction. Again, is keto dangerous, or is it protective — shielding you from modern convenience and processed junk food?
But what are your thoughts? And I know another thing, for me, that’s kind of empowering about the diet is just like being out with your friends and pushing away the bread, pushing away the chips at the table, and being okay with making decisions. Like, “Hey, can you bring me out that salad with the burger on it, no bun, blah blah blah.” Just being able to set yourself apart from your friends is sometimes very empowering in and of itself. And I think that can even translate into like more mindset decisions, even outside of the diet and your health. Like just feeling more empowered to just make your own decisions in general, in your life, and kind of take the power back. I mean, do you see that with the ketogenic diet? I feel like there’s some bigger pluses beyond just the diet.
Ryan: I completely agree and I think you hit on a key factor, which is it’s liberating. It’s an extremely liberating lifestyle. And one of the things that we talk a lot about. And it’s frustrating because I have a family that suffers with a lot of obesity, and a lot of them are overweight. And you see people, they get obviously bullied or people will say things and they’re like, “Oh, like why don’t you just put down the fork,” or “Just eat less, move more.” And it’s like telling someone who’s depressed, “Hey, just be happy.” It’s not it’s not as easy as it sounds.
But one of the things that I think about with the ketogenic diet is it really puts appetite back in your control. Like you said, from walking into a restaurant or walking into a store and going, “All right, you know what? Let me just get this box of cereal and this box of cereal.” I was the kid who didn’t eat one bowl of cereal for breakfast. I literally had like seven bowls of cereal every morning [chuckles] for breakfast. I can go into a store now and I could walk past like a Lucky Charms or something, whereas before I’d be like, “Mom, we need two boxes of these.”
Shawn: [laughs] Yeah.
Ryan: It doesn’t even faze me anymore. I’m like “no,” I’m pretty good with like some keto pancakes or some bacon and eggs in the morning. That doesn’t even tempt me anymore.
Shawn: That’s awesome. So what does your day look like as far as fasting, or some examples of your meals? I mean, you’re like one of the leading experts in the world, so what’s the practical application for Dr. Ryan Lowery of the ketogenic diet and fasting? Maybe give me a day or two in the life.
Ryan: Well, I’m pretty boring, when it comes to eating at home. If I was in Dallas with you, Shelly makes the most incredible meals known to man. So, that’s a whole other animal. And they’re all deliciously keto. But usually when I’m home, I literally will probably won’t eat anything until 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I usually have a huge shake. I’ll blend up some protein, some MCT powder, and maybe some collagen as well in there yeah. And I’ll make a huge shake. And then usually at night it’s pretty basic. I mean, I usually have like a pretty big salad to start and then I’ll have some type of meat, 4 to 8 ounces of meat, and some vegetables. And that really constitutes what a day would look like. Sometimes, if I’ve had a stressful day or there’s a low-carb ice cream place here in Tampa that I’ll enjoy at night. But that’s basically it.
Shawn: D’Lites. We can give them a little shout-out. That’s cool. We both enjoy going there. What other treats do you feel okay with having? What kind of fits in? That’s another question. Are desserts okay or not? How much keto junk food is okay, so to speak? Is keto dangerous when we have too much keto junk food?
Ryan: [laughs] Right. I’d probably say, and I don’t know the exact ratio, but I’m saying as long as you’re eating whole foods, I’d say over 80% of the time, it’s fine to do like some keto desserts. There’s amazing keto products that are now coming out that are keto friendly. But what happens is, where it goes wrong is what I first did when I first did a ketogenic diet, and I used to eat something called keto mousse. Which was basically heavy whipped cream, coconut oil, protein powder, and a bunch of sweetener, and I literally had that for five meals a day when I first started out. And it was horrible. Like I was eating a ton of calories. So many sweeteners. It was a great learning lesson, but a bad challenge, when I first started out. And now it’s like I try and get whole foods and as much as possible.
Shawn: Yeah, and we can give a shout out to our keto cookie guys that make a great product. It’s now called NUI, N-U-I, but I’m a huge fan of these guys. Two guys that just started making cookies that are ketogenic. Super simple ingredients, but they’re really phenomenal. What do you think about, along those lines, kind of the holy trinity right now? It’s not just the ketogenic diet, but you’re always hearing paleo get mentioned and intermittent fasting. How well do these three diets that seem to be converging in conversations really play with each other?
Ryan: Yeah, and I’ve actually loved seeing this transpire over the last couple of years. I’m glad they’re starting to get married in some capacity. Because we were at Paleo f(x) recently, and it’s amazing the amount of keto products that are now there. And I think where there’s a great intersection amongst them in a sense that both focus on eating, should focus on eating, whole foods, as natural as possible. And making sure that that comprises a large majority of your healthy lifestyle. And you’re starting to see that. Paleo is always fairly higher fats. They were semi-low carb, and focused on eating whole foods, which you can’t make the argument that’s ever a bad thing. If you’re eating whole foods in some capacity, that are grown well, you’re probably going be in a good position.
Shawn: Yeah, agreed. And I think our friend Robb Wolf has a lot of good writing on this front with paleo and keto, and how to do all that great stuff. So, where can someone like really find out more about Dr. Ryan Lowery, about all these resources? Where do they dig in?
Ryan: You know, my goal is I post a little bit on social media. I do a lot on Instagram @ryanplowery.
Ryan: Patrick is my middle name, so I just kind of chunked it all together. Facebook, we do a little bit. And then we’re really going to start putting out a lot more video style content, but on the ketogenic.com website, but also ketogenic.com Instagram. We’re trying to do a lot more answering these questions, especially busting the is keto dangerous myth. Questions that people have is just providing as much value as humanly possible, and that’s really our goal.
Shawn: Nice. Well, let me ask you maybe this one last question. As far as foods, what are maybe some top foods that people think are healthy or ketogenic, but maybe are undermining them? And then what are some ones that you feel are like the tent poles to the ketogenic diet that you should really rely on?
Ryan: Yeah, well oftentimes people like think all fruits are ketogenic. And they’re like, “Oh, I had a bunch of fruit and it’s great.” And I’m like, “Okay, it’s good.” You can have a little frozen berries here and there. Those can still be ketogenic, but you really don’t want to go around eating an apple and a banana. Yeah, that’s gonna drive your glucose up. You’re going to get an insulin release. I say the best fruit of all, believe it or not, is an avocado. It’s got a ton of potassium. People don’t really think of it as a fruit, but it’s a fruit. And so I think that’s really like a superfood.
Eggs, if you can tolerate them and you don’t have any allergies or anything, are a great superfood. Keep the yolk. Do not get rid of the yolk. There’s a ton of great nutrients inside that yolk. And I think those are main staples for me. It took me a while. Like I said, I was very carb addicted. I ate cereal and fast food for a large majority probably of my life. And now eggs and avocado probably make up the largest majority of my life now, in some capacity. Whether it’s in a recipe, creating something else, or even on their own, as a great breakfast.
Shawn: Right. And so nuts, like macadamias, which are like 90% fat. Or these exotic pili nuts, I know are good too, if you’re looking for those. But olive oil is super healthy on the ketogenic diet, and certainly coconut oil we talk about a lot. There’s things like balsamic vinegar, which everyone’s like, “I love it. That’s the best vinegar. It tastes the best.” But it’s loaded with sugar, and I think people don’t know that. There’s some foods out there that I think are like that, where you really have to do a deep dive because it’s undermining your diet, potentially. And then sugar alcohols and net carbs. I mean, what are your thoughts on sugar alcohols and net carbs?
Ryan: Right. Well two others I just thought of on that note are coleslaw.
Ryan: Cole slaw is often loaded with sugar, and people don’t understand that. And dressings. Be careful with some of these dressings.
Shawn: Vinaigrettes or balsamic vinegar. Yeah.
Ryan: Yes, yes, yes. And even overdoing it at a restaurant. Ranch and blue cheese are great if you have a serving of it. But oftentimes at a restaurant, if you don’t ask for it on the side and control it yourself, if they just toss it in with your salad, that can be like three or four servings that they’re putting in there and it becomes like salad soup versus like an actual salad. [laughs]
Shawn: [laughs] Okay. So, what do you think of this this calculation of net carbs though? Can people use that right off the bat?
Ryan: It’s such a tricky situation. I think if you actually are counting legitimate net carbs, yes. Oftentimes this net carb on labels are completely wrong. For instance, a perfect example that everyone’s probably familiar with is if you go to your grocery store and you go to the sugar free hard candy. And you see “sugar free” on it. So you’re like this is great. I can keep it. Well, there’s going to be probably 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrates in there, with 20 to 30 grams of something like maltitol or sorbitol in it. And not only does that increase glucose levels, and it actually has a glycemic response, but you’re going to be running to the bathroom after the second candy anyway. [laughs] So, definitely, that’s where the whole net carb thing falls apart.
But if you have a good company that you trust and that legitimately knows what they’re doing, like you mentioned NUI and Keto Cookie, that’s legitimate. They’re counting erythritol, which has zero glycemic response, and is considered a keto‑friendly sugar alcohol. That’s how they determine their net carbohydrate count. So, it depends on the company and you just got to be careful with the labels.
Shawn: That’s awesome. Well, let me ask you this very last question. We do not only a lot of diet information to health information here, but everything always tracks back to mindset. And one of the biggest things that I like with you and why you’re big mentor to me is this whole Make Positivity Louder thing that you talk about in your social media. Can you explain what that thought process is and how important this is to driving your entire mission and your message and the things that you choose to do with your life?
Ryan: Absolutely. Well, I’ve come to realize that life’s all about perspective. And you can be dragged down into a perspective of pure negativity. If you would turn on the news probably any day of the week, it’s filled with negativity. Those negative thoughts envelop you, they take over, and they carry on with you throughout the entire day. And I’m so blessed and fortunate that I have so many mentors and peers around me, like you and Jacob and everyone that are so positive, that I’ve found that when you literally surround yourself with positivity, I can’t have a bad day. I can’t have a day where I go to bed and I’m like, “This was miserable,” because at the end of the day, it’s my perspective that’s making that miserable.
If I can look at it and say you know what, there’s so much good in the world. Granted, yeah, there’s some bad things that are going on, but if I tend to instead focus on the good, that’s what’s gonna take over my life. That’s what’s going to radiate from me. And people around me will feel it. They’ll feel positive. They’ll feel better. And that’s my goal is how do we allow and create this community and culture of let’s forget all the negativity. Let’s Make Positivity Louder, so that it just radiates from everyone and it truly can help transform our society as a whole, if we really focus on the positive.
Shawn: That’s a great way to end. Ryan, I really appreciate you as a human being, all the work that you’re doing on this front. For not only Make Positivity Louder, but on the ketogenic diet and exercise with ASPI, and making people healthier, and the way you’re doing it with I think a lot of integrity and science and credibility. There’s so much noise, especially on social media, like people saying, “Here’s the way to diet. Here’s the way to exercise.” You guys actually have the research. You’re doing the studies. I’m just a huge fan of all things Ryan Lowery. So, thank you very much for being on BioTrust Radio, and have a great day, and continue to keep up all the great work.
Ryan: Thank you, brother. I appreciate it. Love everything you’re doing. Love you and a huge honor of mine. Thank you for being a mentor and an amazing friend.
Shawn: All right, thanks man. We’ll talk to you soon. Everyone on BioTrust Radio, stay tuned for even more. This will be available at BioTrustRadio.com/Ryan. We’ll have transcripts. We’ll have all the links to all the products and cool things that we mentioned. And of course, all the places to find Brian Lowery: ketogenic.com, The Ketogenic Bible. All of it. So, stay tuned. That’s BioTrust radio.com/Ryan. And then we’ll also have BioTrust.com/blog, BioTrust.com/VIP for our VIP Facebook group with all the stuff going on there. So there’s so many ways you can find us and check out iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, as well. And subscribe and listen. Thanks again, Ryan. We’ll talk to you soon.