Transcript – Death to Keto! (5 Steps EVERYONE Should Take First) – BioTrust Radio #52
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Transcript – Death to Keto
Shawn: Hey BioTrust Nation, we are back and I’m excited for today’s episode. It should be a really good one. If you know me, you think, “Hey Shawn’s a keto guy.” But this is Death to Keto ba-ba-bom.
Tim: Perfect for the Halloween season.
Shawn: [laughs] And I’m here with my amazing co-host, Tim Skwiat.
Tim: And I’m just excited, in general.
Shawn: He’s just excited, in general.
Tim: We’re gonna give you the old Texas greeting, “Howdy, folks!”
Shawn: [laughs] Anyway, we love you guys, so we’re happy. We’re already in like 50-some episodes, so this is pretty amazing. And we have a perfect 5-star rating on iTunes, and I’m really proud of all the stuff that we’ve done. It’s a great collection, so hopefully you love this episode. And if you’re new, go back and listen to some of the other ones. And we’d love if you can give us a rating on iTunes. Make it an honest one. We love the honest feedback.
Shawn: And if we read your rating on the show, then we will send you a free product, if you just email us at [email protected]. And Tim, do you have a rating that we can read on here.
Tim: I do, in fact, have a review. And yeah, to you critics out there, we have 5-star reviews. There’s 70 ratings, not just one. There’s 70. [laughs] The average is one how many?
Shawn: How many 4-star, 3-star, 2-star, 1-star?
Tim: There actually is a 4-star review, which I’ll pull that one up for the next time.
Tim: But for now, because I’m drinking a cup of coffee, I wanted to highlight and give a review from our favorite coffee date fan in the spotlight here, who left us a 5-star review. So, this comes from username FavoriteCoffeeDateFan, who says, “Hey Shawn and Tim, so I’ve been listening to the BioTrust Radio podcast since August, and I’m so glad I found you guys.”
Tim: “I love what you have taught me about focusing on daily gratitude. I loved it so much that I went out and bought a gratitude journal and I’ve been using it every day. It is unbelievable how it truly transforms my day. I really appreciate the health and wellness topics you guys discuss. I truly learned something new after each hour I spend with you guys. The best part of listening to you guys is it always feels like I’m sitting down having a cup of coffee with my favorite mentors. You guys have become my mentors. Thanks for helping change my daily routine. Love, Emily L.”
Shawn: Man, wow, that actually chokes me up.
Tim: Emily, that is awesome. We are so humbled and so grateful for that review.
Shawn: I’m tearing up a little.
Tim: That’s great. If you are here, there’d definitely be a hug for Emily. That’s so sweet of you. So thankful that we’ve been able to impact your life in a positive way. And we appreciate that opportunity. It’s truly a privilege for us. If you don’t mind emailing us at [email protected], we’ll make sure you get a free product.
Shawn: That’s the best type of review. That isn’t just a, you know, “Good job on the show.” Like that’s pretty powerful to hear how she’s implemented some of the stuff that we’ve brought up and advice we’ve given, and how it’s changed her life. Wow, it’s just super powerful. So, thank you so much. But Tim, do you have a question, as well, that maybe pertains to our keto episode that we’re gonna roll into? That’d be awesome.
Tim: I do, I do. So, we also had a ton of questions and great ideas for the show from our VIP group. That’s at BioTrust.com/VIP. And if we read a question or tackle it as a topic on the show, we’ll send you a free product as well. And this this question comes from Amina Barnes Bell, from the VIP group. And Amina says, “I’ve heard that you should eat carbs before your workout, but I’m trying keto. Do you have any suggestions?”
Shawn: Trying to eat keto. Wait. So, repeat that.
Tim: So, Amina is under the impression that you should eat carbohydrate before you exercise, but she’s embarking on a ketogenic diet and so she’s wondering what she should be doing. So, there’s a couple layers to this.
Shawn: Yeah, okay. So, here’s a few things. I just went through some of this with my trainer, Daniel, this morning. One, I would say it’s important when you’re getting into the ketogenic diet, to do your best to adapt to it by really limiting carbs as much as you can. Not doing net carbs, not playing around with artificial sweeteners, limiting these keto desserts, and just working out and forcing adaptation. You might go through a period of brain fog, keto flu, whatever you want to call it, and maybe some of your performance will suffer. There’s some studies that show that over 1-2 weeks that will happen. But they’ve actually shown in those studies that strength, endurance, many of these indicators, even in a few CrossFit studies, that they performed at their prior level or sometimes improved past their prior level, once they made those adaptations.
So, you know, after two weeks, I think you’ll definitely see your performance bouncing back. And I like to give it at least 90 days of just full-on straight keto, no messing around, to make the best adaptations. Then you can start playing with net carbs. Then you can start testing out different fibers and sugar alcohols, and all these different things. Then you can try cyclical ketogenic diet, targeted ketogenic diet.
Now what I’ll say is there’s research with working out—and we’re just talking about in the gym kind of workouts—that after 17 grams of carbohydrate, like a high glycemic carbohydrate, there’s very little benefit seen. So, it doesn’t take much. So, I like to use something that you might like. Let’s say that means half a can of coke, or some gummy worms [chuckles] or something that you actually enjoy and you feel like you’re missing instead of using like dextrose powder, or something that you don’t enjoy. And use that, if you want to do that. So, 17 grams is not going to throw you out of ketosis very long, if you have a hard workout that includes intensity interval training and what-have-you. And you can see those benefits from the carbohydrate, and you’re duel‑fuel at that point, you’re using kind of glucose and ketones at that point. So, I like that. You can do that.
There’s another interesting thing that you can do that’s called mouth‑rinsing. And this is fascinating. There there’s some benefit shown. And again, this would only work in this shorter kind of window, like a working out at the gym kind of thing. This wouldn’t work if you’re a long distance runner. But they’ve shown that like you take Gatorade or something like that, you swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds, spit it out, that you get these similar benefits to actually consuming the carbohydrate. And again, it doesn’t take much, like that 15 to 17 grams, and you’re not actually consuming it. So, this is fascinating to just rinse with the Gatorade, in this case. And you can experiment with that.
There’s a few studies on that that we can link in the show notes, if you go to BioTrustRadio.com, but that’s kind of fascinating. And I haven’t played with that much. I do cyclical and targeted ketogenic diet, but I haven’t played around with the mouth-rinsing, but there is some data there that’s fascinating, so you can experiment with that. Anything else, Tim?
Tim: Yeah. That’s a lot of great info there, Shawn. I’m glad you mentioned like the pre‑workout carbohydrate. For Luis Villasenor, from Ketogains, talk about that before, just even keto guys. And these people—guys, women—that are going to the gym for performance gains.
Tim: Like very serious about their training and things like that.
Shawn: I think that’s great to delineate, as well. People that are very serious about gains; strength gains, body composition changes, and things like that.
Tim: These people are training, as opposed to working out.
Shawn: Yeah, exactly.
Tim: So, there’s a difference there, I think.
Tim: To me, this is a question that’s like an “it depends” question. What’s your goal, and things like that. And just to kind of step back and look at, or not even the first question. It’s a statement. I’ve heard that you should eat carbs before you work out. I don’t think that’s necessary for the majority of the people, especially being in the “trenches” myself in the VIP group, most of these folks that we’re working with in the VIP group are working on body composition goals, so weight loss and things like that, and not necessarily looking to endurance performance and things like that, where some pre-workout carbohydrate might be beneficial. I wanted to mention that. So, my point is that I think that’s a misconception, that you need to eat before exercise, in general.
Tim: I personally prefer, any type of exercise really, I tend to workout in a fasted state. Just works better for me. Now, if you find that being hungry is a distraction to you, then just eat something that aligns with your macronutrient goals, so you’re not hungry and not dealing with that distraction. The problem with taking in carbohydrate before exercise is that if you take in some, but not enough, you can get a drop in blood sugar. And that leads you to that hitting the wall feeling. So, then you’re just running out of juice.
Shawn: And if you take in too much, you’re blunting fat oxidation.
Tim: Right. And so anytime you’re taking it in that exogenous, the outside source of fuel, you’re not using your own, right?
Tim: So, I think that it’s an individual case-by-case. It depends on your goal, what type of workout we’re looking at. But my point is that just because you heard that you should consume carbohydrate before exercise, it’s not necessary for, in my opinion, the overwhelming majority of people. Especially if you’ve eaten within two or three hours before exercise, most people will probably be okay.
Shawn: 100%. Carl Lanore, who does Superhuman Radio, he’s in his 60s and power lifts, and he’s keto and he goes in fasted quite a bit. I know that. And Dom D’Agostino power lifts, and he’s like set records in a multiple day fasted state, and he’s keto. So, yeah, to your point, I think it’s individual. It’s something you can experiment with if you’re looking at performance differences and you’re a dedicated trainer. I think if you’re someone is newer to working out, doesn’t train with a high level of intensity and you’re just looking to change body composition, I think you don’t need it.
Tim: Yeah. One quick aside that’s kind of funny. So you’ve got keto folks who might use a little bit of carbohydrate before exercise to get a boost, and then you’ve got people who have a mixed diet who might use a little bit of ketone before exercise [chuckles] to get a boost. So, we’re learning a lot about exercise and nutritional science, and there’s more to come.
Tim: Pretty interesting.
Shawn: It is very fascinating. All right, so Death to Keto, you might wonder why is Shawn, a keto guy, talking about death to keto. Lately I’ve had some frustrations here, and Tim and I were talking before the show and we really line up on a lot of this. Tim isn’t necessarily keto, but he likes fasting and using some strategies to elevate ketones. So I want to get into what I mean about what death to keto is.
One, I am very tired of hearing that keto is a fad diet. We talked about this on the show. It’s not about diets, because diets insinuate that it’s some limited period of time and you’re just going to get to the goal and then stop and this endless cycle of what’s the next diet, diet, diet, diet. And we know scientifically that isn’t what diet means, but to the population, that’s what diet means.
Shawn: And it has to be a lifestyle. And there’s an order of things that I think should really take place for people that keto is one of the last stops for me on experimenting, similar to what we were talking about before with carbohydrates. And when you’re really refining things and seeing what’s optimal for your body, but there’s some steps that I think should take place first, before you get to that point of even talking about keto, that we should all agree on. The first step that I believe that we should do is cut back the sugar. Not only the sugar, even the artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners, and just reduce sweetness out of our diet.
Sweetness, we’ve talked about the bliss point on the show, and it’s powerful to override satiety, our feelings of fullness or that your appetite is suppressed. So, when you’re overriding that, then you’re overeating. And that’s a problem. And that’s when people get on keto and they have these fat bombs and all these keto desserts, and that’s all they’re looking up is how many keto bars, desserts, candies, whatever can I have and still be in keto. And you end up not losing weight. Why? Because you’re overeating, you’re overriding that satiety signal.
And we have way too much sweetness in our diet and we need to back off some of these things and get used to a more savory diet. What does this represent in the big picture? Again. I always like to go back evolutionarily. There’s no way [chuckles] that we were having so much sweetness in our diet. And people are like, “Well, you could have eaten fruits.” Fruits wouldn’t have been that ripe, fruits wouldn’t have been available year-round. The majority of the time, fruits would have been on the bland side, when they’re not ripened. And we would have had plants and vegetables that aren’t sweet, necessarily, and we would have had meat, obviously, that’s not sweet, and nuts and seeds and all these other things that aren’t sweet.
So we’re having way too much sweet in our diet. And when we have this drive that every single meal needs to finish with sweet or have sweet in it, like a soft drink or a dessert at the end of it, this is a problem and it’s really empowering your ability to lose weight naturally, and it’s become an addiction for you.
Tim: Yeah. Definitely, Shawn. That’s a super point. And just go back to that evolutionary standpoint, we also probably wouldn’t have found too many things that had a combination of that sweetness and the caloric density of fat…
Tim: …combined with it. And so these processed packaged foods.
Shawn: That’s the double-whammy.
Tim: Usually the double-whammy of that added sugar and really poorly refined, deodorized, bleached oils, which are dense, flavorless dense sources of calories, but also add this really nice mouthfeel to things and add to the shelf life.
Shawn: Yeah, bliss point.
Tim: And so, again, like you were talking about, override our body’s regulatory mechanisms. And like we really can’t sense satiety or that feeling of fullness and satisfaction. And we’re talking about step one, kind of eliminate sweetness, in general; sugar, particularly these sugars and even the artificial sweeteners. I think that’s sliding into step two of eliminating processed foods. But just on the topic of death to keto, as it becomes more popular, what we’re starting to see is that, like you talked about, there’s more manufactured keto foods, keto-friendly foods. And keto’s a high-fat diet, right?
Tim: So, it’s automatically going to have those added fats to it, if you’re having these packaged keto bombs or whatever it is. And now if we’re adding artificial sweetness or even natural sweetness that’s not sugar, you’re really getting back to that bliss point.
Shawn: 100%. And when you have sugar, to your point, along with or high glycemic carbohydrates like starches or whatever, along with the fat, then your blunting fat oxidation, like we talked about before, and you’re promoting fat storage. So that’s where that double-whammy comes in. As well as, to your point, fat is more than twice as calorically dense as carbohydrate. So yes, when you have these foods that are high in carbohydrate and high in fat, then those can be problematic for sure.
And so to your point, the next the next step that I believe someone should take is getting away from processed food. And now we actually have this term “ultra‑processed food,” which is really unfortunate, and getting to whole foods. You might look at paleo or primal, or ancestral, or Whole 30, or whatever it is, but basically it’s about eating whole foods.
And again, going back evolutionarily, we’ve talked about this that a hundred years ago even. I don’t even need to go back to cavemen, we didn’t have rBGH, rBST, antibiotics, GMO. We didn’t have all these ultra-processed foods that are high glycemic, like these breads and things like that that. Artificial color sweeteners, flavors. These things didn’t exist. And now that they do, we’re having all kinds of issues and they’re all about one, being cheap, and two, reaching the bliss point so you keep eating them. And they’re addictive. And that’s their whole point.
It’s not about nutrition, it’s not about your health, it’s not about optimizing you. None of that. You want to optimize yourself, you want to be healthier? Then eat whole food. You’ll instantly get more nutrients and eat less, and feel more full.
Shawn: It’s that’s that simple.
Tim: Yeah. One kind of interesting run-off on that, Shawn. I may have mentioned this on a previous show, before but I’ve had this kind of conversation with my dad before, who comes from a different generation. He’s in his 60s. And he kind of scratches his head because in his mind, or the way he grew up, the processing of food, the industrialization of food was an important step for survival, right?
Tim: To have food that was available that didn’t spoil so quickly. This processing was actually really important and was probably viewed as an important step in the human [chuckles] evolution to a certain degree. And now, in hindsight, we’re seeing that that’s a problem. Because we mentioned sugar, and you did a great job of pointing this out. It’s not just we’re talking about carbohydrate, it’s not just sugar. It’s those refined flours.
Shawn: Yeah, yeah.
Tim: That you’re finding in pretty much everything. So, I think that’s important to point out. And then I would just add that those oils, those heavily-processed oils are not doing anybody any good.
Shawn: Yeah, exactly. So, step one, reduce the sweetness, especially sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates. But I even think removing some of these natural non-caloric sweetener like stevia, monk fruit, etc., and especially getting rid of the artificial sweeteners. But reducing the sweetness out of your diet is important. Step two, eating more whole food.
Step three, adding in fasting. And this is important. Again, let’s go back, evolutionarily, that we were not meant to eat all the time, eat all day long. We wouldn’t have had food so readily available. And even in situations where humans lived in places where there were plants and there were foods that were available, you still had to work to get them. And there were still only certain times a year that they were available in certain ways, in certain plentifulness. And you had to go to those plants, you had to expend energy pulling them, harvesting them, etc., and then bringing them back and preparing them.
Now, everything is just at the push of a button. It’s a vending machine, it’s a one click on Amazon and it’s there and you don’t have to do anything. You don’t expend any energy. It comes to you. It’s preprocessed, which essentially is like predigested, and it’s high glycemic, and you overeat it, and you did no work for it. And you don’t really even appreciate the food that you’re eating. It makes so much more sense that we fast because that’s what we were meant for.
There was a period of time where we’d be looking for food and not finding food. And food was meant we would eat to live, not live to eat. And so when you were really hungry, you’d looked for food. And maybe it was there and maybe it wasn’t. And then you start figuring out.
This is one of the reasons why ketones, I believe, are so effective for the brain, because they happen when we’re starving or fasted. And what it does is enhance cognition. And I think that that happens, again, evolutionarily to say, hey, we need to find food. We need to figure this out. We need to get some, we need to be alert, we need to be ready. Especially when you’re hunting predators and predators can be hunting you, you need to be alert. You may have not have had food for the last day, two days, but you need to be alert.
So this is something that comes out when you’re starving/fasting. And there’s so many benefits beyond just raised ketones, that we see lower insulin levels, we see lower blood glucose levels, we see improved anti-aging markers like inflammation with CRP, like hemoglobin A1c with glycation, blood sugar damage. We see improved CERT genes 1 through 9, we see improved telomere lengths, and all those kinds of things. Everything really gets improved with some level of fasting.
Now, do I think you should just be calorically restricted all the time? I’m not a big fan of caloric restriction, like the 30% below maintenance, indefinitely. They’ve actually shown that your organs atrophy, including your brain. So I’m not a big fan of that. It’s similar to me of like your phone can have like some battery saver mode where you have limited color and you have limited access to apps and everything’s slower. It’s just like that for you. Yes, you’re living longer, [chuckles] but with lower quality of life.
Tim: Exactly. You’re living less, right?
Shawn: [chuckles] Right. So yes, you’re saving on the battery, but at what cost?
Shawn: And there’s ways to kind of hack that by using some of these fasting strategies where you either do an intermittent fast, like 16 hours not eating, 8 hours eating in a window. There’s a fasting mimicking diet, where you might do five days a month or whatever. There’s a lot of different strategies, and I love that. There’s a number of ways to execute on this.
But the thing is, it’s also empowering, I believe, to override this drive, this addiction, this Bliss point thing with food. That not only is food something we think about a lot and get addicted to because of bliss points, but we just get bored and eat. Or we’re hanging out with other people that are eating, so we eat. And when you’re used to fasting, you just say, “No, I’m good. I don’t need that.” And that is so empowering to say that food doesn’t control you. You control food.
Man, you can take the power back, and we’ve talked about this on their shows. I believe that spider‑web’s out to every aspect of your life. That you’re gaining control in your life, period.
Tim: Yeah, that’s awesome, Shawn. Man, there’s so many brilliant points you just brought up right there. And you talked about the eating to live versus living to eat kind of thing, and like you said, that that is a huge benefit of fasting is like really shining the light on your relationship with food. And like you basically just said there, that we use food as a coping strategy for emotions, for boredom, and all these kinds of things. So, super‑brilliant point that you just brought up right there.
And of course, like you said, fasting can positively influence every system in the body; the brain, the cardiovascular system, the digestive tract. You know, that’s a huge one that people don’t realize the reduction in inflammation there and just giving it a break is important. So, fasting can have benefits there. You talked about metabolic function, insulin levels. Oxidative stress is another one. It lowers oxidative stress, and really like oxidative stress where you have this buildup of free radicals is a major driver of aging at the cellular level. And really, we could trace it back to pretty much every chronic degenerative condition.
It probably also has to do with mitochondrial dysfunction, as well. But those are important things. So, fasting supports mitochondrial health in a number of different ways. And mitochondria are these power plants of our cells, basically. They do more than that. But the more mitochondria we have, the more efficient they are and basically the healthier and more energy we’re going to have. Fasting also increases insulin sensitivity and things like that so.
And like you talked about, there’s many different ways to practice fasting. There was an interesting study that I think you actually shared with me recently. I think it was a Satchin Panda time-restricted feeding study. Because there’s a lot of good intermittent fasting studies, a lot of it in animals. A lot of the human studies are actually alternate day fasting or some kind of periodic fasting, where someone would fast for an entire day and then eat normally for the next day or a 5-2 or some like that.
There actually hasn’t been a ton of human studies in this time-restricted feeding, which is the most commonly practiced. 16 and 8 is what he referred to. So, the Satchin Panda study, that was a really cool one because it was a time-restricted feeding. And what was awesome about it was they didn’t have the fasting group do anything else in terms of changing what they ate. They just changed the time that they ate. And all they did was they had them push back their first meal of the day about an hour and a half, and they had them finished their eating about an hour and a half earlier. So, it really just cut down the feeding window by about three hours total. And I think they ate breakfast, their first meal of the day, maybe around 10:00 and they had their last meal of the day like around 6:30, or something like that. So, it was in that eight hour range, but I don’t know that there’s magic 16 and 8. I think there’s some benefit to pushing back the first meal and bringing up that last meal. And that pretty much aligns.
Shawn: That puts you in the daylight window.
Shawn: Yeah, that’s awesome. Totally agree with this. I’m really excited that we’re talking about this. So, we’ve talked about removing sweetness, getting on whole, food fasting. Then I would say doing a Mediterranean diet. Gerald Reaven also called it the Syndrome X Diet. It’s pretty much the same thing as Mediterranean diet. But there’s no diet that has better data, complete robust level of data. I mean, it’s undeniable that when you talk about having these healthy oils, getting a diet high in monounsaturated fats like olive oil, and having fish and meat.
Shawn: And nuts, exactly. Not being scared of fat. It’s a diet that’s higher in these healthy fats, like maybe in the 40% range instead of like a typical 30%. It may be as high as 50%. It’s lower carb. Not low-carb per se, but lower carb and lower glycemic carbohydrate.
Tim: It doesn’t include processed foods or sugars. And you know what, there’s a lot of great spices there that have a lot of health benefits. Maybe a glass of wine with dinner. One glass, 4 ounces, [chuckles] I will make that clear. Some people, when you talk about alcohol, they’re like, “Oh, I can drink like crazy.”
Tim: [laughs] Yeah.
Shawn: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying a 4-ounce glass of wine, red wine, that’s dry, that’s sipped, that’s had across an hour-long meal. And another important part we’ve talked about before with a Mediterranean diet is fellowship and just enjoying the meal. Cutting up your food, chewing it, digesting it, talking about the meal, prepping the meal. Talking about your feelings and interacting with people at the table, and just savoring life and savoring the food. And it’s a very different experience.
So, this is important to get that healthy relationship with food and I think the date is there. So, what I would say the last step is experimenting with some things that can optimize your mind, that can optimize weight management. But I’m telling you, if you’re doing those first four things, you’re getting to a point where you’re just refining things with ketogenic diets. So, I don’t like this idea of crash diets. You think, “Oh, I gotta get on keto and I can lose a bunch of weight.” And you know people that have.
But I worry about people gaining back weight and I worry about people that try the diet and are frustrated and gain weight. And it can be a mess, it can be a mess. And they’re not doing it correctly and they don’t have a healthy relationship with food, and it’s not a lifestyle, and they don’t know how to fast, and they don’t have control of bliss point and satiety. And so I think it’s very important that we take these first steps, and then look at the ketogenic diet, and do it correctly. Give yourself full adaptation.
But when you try the ketogenic diet at that point, you’re already metabolically flexible because you’ve been fasting. You already have elevated ketones at times, and your body is used to that, and your body is also used to using glucose because you’ve had carbs. So, you’re more efficient and you can more readily adapt to the ketogenic diet. And you’re already more adapted to eating whole foods and not having keto desserts and ultra-processed this and that.
Everything’s becoming processed. As these diets become more popular, then here come the processed foods that cater to it because it’s a cash-in. It should never be about processed foods. We should all agree, no matter whether someone’s high carb, someone’s low carb, we should all agree, hey, let’s eat whole foods. Let’s ditch the sweetness. Let’s have more fasting. And let’s get some healthier oils. Let’s make some healthier choices.
And then, okay now let’s look at some things. Let’s look at the ketogenic diet. Sure. Then that makes sense and maybe it’ll work great for you. But it helps when you’ve taken all these strategies first and adapted to them, applied them, made them a lifestyle and then you look to refine.
Tim: Yeah, that’s brilliant, Shawn. I mean, just taking it in a step-like approach. I really like. How you broke it down there. And just how you came back and said that a keto diet is more of a tool than anything else and it’s not necessarily the first step that most people should be taking. It’s probably pretty difficult. No wonder a lot of people are struggling with the adaptation period, because they’re going from one extreme to another.
Tim: And that brings me to another point, is that now we’re seeing—you and I were talking about this—we’re seeing the pendulum swing. It’s not really just gone from low fat to high fat. We’ve kind of gone, over the last few years, thanks to paleo type of things, that fat isn’t bad. But it’s really in the mainstream, we’re really shifting to low fat, low carb.
And we have to be careful with that. We talked about this before too. No two bodies are the same, and not everyone is going to respond in the exact same way, especially to an extremely restrictive approach like ketogenic diet. And you have to be mindful of your own body’s responses. And just because the adaptation, keto flu, may be normal doesn’t mean that you should be prepared to—I hate to say “suffer”—but there may be signs that that is not the best approach for you right now. And that may be you should take these steps that Shawn is talking about first, before you go back to try keto.
Another point on the Mediterranean diet. I love that you bring this up because it is a lifestyle, and a big part of that is the community. And we’ve talked about how important the social network is and things like that. But when we talked about fasting, one of the things that we also talked about is that we can often eat for social reasons only.
So, I just wanted to delineate the Mediterranean style, lifestyle of social-related eating is usually around [chuckles] these healthier, robust meals that the families prepare together.
Tim: And I think that’s another piece of the puzzle is actually preparing these healthy foods together. An example of that, for me, is I’m already getting my two-year-old daughter in the kitchen to help me with making food, and she’s eating the food that she’s cooking. So she can already establish that healthy relationship with like this is how we get food. We go to the grocery store, we chop up the sweet potatoes, we cook them, and things like that.
And one final thing on the Mediterranean diet. As this rise in popularity of high‑fat keto diet is coming to light, it’s like all fat is good fat and we’re adding fat to everything. I think we just have to be careful with that because not all fats are created equally. Olive oil is probably the one type of fat—extra virgin olive oil, let’s be very clear about that. And then there’s all these controversies about restaurants cutting olive oil with canola oil and the oil you’re buying at Costco may not be extra virgin olive oil. But extra virgin olive oil is the one added oil that seems to have the most benefits.
Shawn: Or cooked at very low heat.
Tim: So, I would be just cautious of adding all these different fats. I think if fat is part of the food. I’m talking about like eggs, grass-fed beef, and things like that, it’s probably meant to be there. But adding a whole bunch of fats, I think deserve some caution. My first fat choice would be olive oil, personally, extra-virgin olive oil, to add to things.
Shawn: Yeah, and I love what you said there, too. I think when we pointed out in the Mediterranean diet that preparation and buying the food is a big part of it, that is important. I think when you become comfortable with buying your groceries, when you become comfortable with cooking the meal, prepping the meal, then you’re going to make better food choices. When you’re just impulsively saying, “You know what? I’m hungry. I’m going to get something,” you buy what’s convenient, what tastes good, instead of buying what’s best for you.
When you’re planning your meals out and you’re taking time to prep them, you’re buying food that’s better for you.
Shawn: And that’s a big mind shift. And I will say, too, you brought up the keto flu. I feel like, again, if you go through these steps, that’s far less likely to happen.
Shawn: Because to your point about the two extremes, I think a lot of people are going from high glycemic, high carbohydrate, ultra-processed foods to, “I’m on the keto diet,” and it’s a shock to the system. It’s two very different fuels, and you are not adapted well to using ketones and having limited glucose available. Now, if you’re someone that fasts, maybe you’re someone that eats whole food and you’re someone that exercises a lot, it’s a lot easier.
Shawn: You probably won’t go through the keto flu. I’ve found the people that experience keto flu are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and it’s a huge shift for them.
Tim: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up because I’ve recently [chuckles] kind of—I’m not saying like I had this theory that I just made up. But to me, as I’m reading through keto flu and I’m researching something called metabolic flexibility, I’m like well, keto flu sounds a lot like issues with metabolic flexibility or I can’t.
Tim: Metabolic flexibility basically means that the body can shift to whatever fuel is most abundant and available. So, usually shifting between some mixture of sugar or glucose and fat, or ketones.
Tim: So I think keto flu may be a metabolic flexibility problem, and if you’re heavily reliant on the glucogenic burner, using sugar, then you’re going to have a hard time.
Shawn: Yeah. If you’re a pure sugar burner then it’s hard to be a fat burner all of a sudden. Because you’re having sugar or carbs all day long and you’re not fasting, and you’re not eating high fat foods or meats, or what have you, and you’re just eating processed foods.
So, I have one more big thought on why death to keto and why I’m saying this, is the ketogenic diet is one strategy to raise ketones. The ketogenic diet, to me, is about elevating ketones. It’s not like any other diet. Like even going back to paleo or Mediterranean, or I’m on a low-fat diet, I’m on a low-carb diet, I’m on this diet, I’m on that diet. The ketogenic diet is not some new fad diet, per se. It’s a way to raise ketones. Ketones are a fuel that we just talked about. You can use glucose, you can use ketones. There’s even lactate or some other things that you can use. But it’s mainly ketones and glucose that you would be using.
So, how do you elevate ketones? That’s just one strategy of many strategies to raise ketones. So, there’s also high-intensity interval training and glycogen depletion. Glycogen is a stored muscle carbohydrate. And there is fasting, like we talked about. There’s things like MCTS or exogenous ketones, which are supplemental forms of ketones. There’s a number of ways that you can elevate ketones, one of which is eating with a nutritional ketogenic set of macronutrients, where you have about 5% carbohydrate, low glycemic, usually mostly fiber. You have about 75% fat, and then you have about 20-25% protein.
It’s normally I’d say about 20%, because protein can go through a process called gluconeogenesis, where you have too much protein and it can convert into glucose and impair your ketogenic response. So, ketogenic means the creation of ketones. So, this is about elevating ketones and ketones actually signal your body to produce less glucose.
I will throw one caveat into this, that what we’re talking about is for the normal, healthy person. There are times that I would just go straight to ketogenic diets if we’re talking about some therapeutic approaches. And this is important to why I bring up it’s not just about a diet and it’s not just some fad diet. It’s about a fuel source being available and limiting the other fuel source. And that can be a powerful strategy, especially when you’re in what’s called “insufficient cellular energy states,” where we’re seeing with Alzheimer’s, we’re seeing with cancer, we’re seeing with diabetes, Parkinson’s, a number of epilepsy, like all these neurological conditions in particular, but cancer is even now being described as a metabolic disease, that the ketogenic diet is a powerful tool. And it’s not a diet, like, “Oh, it’s rich in antioxidants,” or “Oh, it’s low carb or it’s low fat.” No. That’s not what it is.
It’s about elevating ketones and lowering blood glucose. And that has a drastic impact on the body because you may be glucose intolerant to where you’re not taking up this fuel source very well, that puts you in insufficient cellular energy states. And what happens is that can promote inflammation, that can promote fatigue, chronic fatigue. It can promote fibromyalgia. You can have hypertonic muscles, which means they’re constantly flexed, essentially, like hard. Some people are like, “I don’t know. I always feel tense.” It’s hypertonic muscles.
And so, when you don’t have enough energy available, a lot of this mitochondrial dysfunction—mitochondria in the cell. You might remember the cellular powerhouse. They make energy. Well, there’s dysfunction and they’re not making enough energy because of their glucose intolerance. And when you go to ketones as fuel, you can bypass that dysfunction and have fuel available. And so now you’re reducing inflammation, you’re reducing blood sugar damage, you’re introducing energy which is why some people that are glucose intolerant say, “Oh my gosh. I feel so much energy. I feel so much clarity. I feel so much less inflammation,” all these things on the ketogenic diet. Cool. That could be why.
So, there’s reasons why it can work therapeutically. And if I was someone that had some of these disease states, I would certainly look to this diet. And again, I’m reluctant to use that word. Look to this lifestyle to see if I can have a better outcome. And I think that’s where, again, let’s stop just throwing around “diet.” And again, it wouldn’t just be about the food you’re eating. It would be about fasting. It would be about using MCTS and ketones. It would be about potentially doing some exercises for glycogen depletion, and some of these other strategies to increase ketones and lower blood glucose.
Another strategy would be using something like berberine or IC-5, again, to lower glucose, increased ketones. I’ve actually just tested this IC-5 by itself. And it not only lowered blood glucose, but it raised my ketone levels. Because they usually kind of go hand-in-hand, like there’s that glucose ketone index that like Jeff Volek uses.
Tim: So, just a couple thoughts, if you don’t mind. This guy’s just dropping knowledge bombs away I’m ducking trying to get out of the way of these things. It’s crazy,
Tim: That’s awesome stuff, Shawn. An example of the glucose intolerance is Alzheimer’s, by far the most common form of dementia.
Shawn: Type 3 diabetes.
Tim: It’s called type 3 diabetes because the brain cells are resistant to glucose.
Tim: But can use ketones, so there’s potentially some benefit there, some therapeutic benefit. Also like you talked about, the ketogenic diet just being one tool of multiple to raise blood levels of ketones. Well, historically speaking, let’s go back and really dig back to understand why the ketogenic diet was formulated in the first place, It was to mimic the state of fasting.
Tim: So, these doctors realized that epilepsy could be helped, drug-resistant epilepsy could be basically cured in the short term by fasting. But you can’t fast for very long, or you can only fast for a certain period of time before finality. So they came up with this ketogenic diet that metabolically speaking, mimicked a state of fasting. So, fasting and the ketogenic diet have some similarities there.
And one final thing that I wanted to mention also was that I think that there’s a difference between being in ketosis and being in a ketogenic state. And what I mean by that is I’m not exactly sure where we’re going with the exogenous ketones and the MCTs. And I don’t know that raising blood levels of ketones, that not in a ketogenic state, I don’t know what effect that has. There’s a lot of cool evidence that ketones themselves may be a signaling molecule.
Shawn: Exactly, that’s what I was going to say,
Tim: That may be beneficial. But I don’t know that just everybody should go out and start buying exogenous ketones just yet, because I don’t know that it’s all going to work out to be. But anyway, I just wanted to say that at this stage in the game I think there’s a difference between raising blood levels of ketones, exogenously, and being in a ketogenic state, either through fasting or through nutritional ketosis.
Shawn: That’s a great point. I would say yes. From what I’m seeing, you’re right. I think that they can be a signal, and again, lower blood glucose. And they’re also a fuel source, especially for the brain. I think that’s where we’re seeing some of the greatest benefits is cognitive clarity by using MCTS, using exogenous ketones. There are some preliminary data sets, especially with animals, but some case studies with humans in cases with Alzheimer’s, with cancer, that they’re showing benefit by using some of these exogenous sources.
But to your point, if we’re talking about fat loss, it’s not indicative of fat loss where you’re burning fat as a fuel and then creating ketones. And maybe it’s impairing that to some degree by having elevated ketones. We don’t know. It’s kind of mixed because ketones themselves also create satiety. So when you have exogenously ketones, people are also finding that they’re not hungry.
Shawn: So, then you get into a fasted state and it gets complex. One of the strategies that some people are using with the ketones is either during performance periods using them, like a workout or what have you, but also maybe using them when you’re having carbs to kind of bridge the gap to keep your adaptation there, to reduce appetite, etc. So, if you’re doing let’s say a cyclical or targeted ketogenic diet, maybe during times of carbohydrate feeding, maybe you’d co-administer.
Shawn: So, it’s interesting. Again, like you said, there needs to be a lot more data collected there. But I hope this episode has had value. I hope it wasn’t just some kind of clickbait for you. Because this is something that I find very frustrating, as someone who uses the ketogenic lifestyle, that I hear so much. And I’ve done this for 20 years now, so I think I’m a veteran and I’m above the fad. I’m a registered dietician. I’ve been a Chief Clinical Dietitian in acute care in skilled nursing facilities. I’m a sports nutritionist.
And Tim is a certified nutritionist, as well, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and just a genius when it comes to understanding data and reading studies. Quite incredible. He is the Director of Scientific Affairs here at BioTrust. So, hopefully you appreciate what we’ve brought to the table, scientifically, and our rationale for it, and that it wasn’t just clickbait because this is just near and dear to my heart.
So, we appreciate you listening, as always. And if you want to join our VIP Facebook group and discuss this more and get more support, you go to BioTrust.com/VIP. And if you go to BioTrustRadio.com, you can get all the show notes, the links, all the fun stuff that we’ve mentioned here. And if you listen to us on Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, iTunes, we appreciate it. Click subscribe, so you get it every week.
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Tim: Cheers gang.
Shawn: All right, talk to you guys soon. Bye.