Welcome to a massive three-part production detailing the evolution of my dietary habits over decades, starting with my childhood that coincided with the rise of fast food culture and factory processed, nutrient-deficient, toxic modern foods.
Thankfully, the Kearns family had an awareness of healthy eating and all the junk I threw down as a kid came atop a respectable baseline of healthful, home-cooked meals.
In part 1, we travel through my youth and reach major turning points like my first awareness of eating for athletic performance with the 1983 book, Eat To Win, my cold turkey plunge into the world of ancestral-inspired eating with the advent of Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint in 2008, to my rapid total immersion into the ketogenic diet when no one had heard of it in 2017 as Mark and I worked on The Keto Reset Diet, to my most recent and stunning awakening that was the advent of the carnivore diet in 2019.
You’ll hear about my experience with some ill-advised but well-intentioned food choices, the six week adjustment period that came with my decision to start eating an ancestral diet—cold turkey, no transition period, how quickly I felt a huge improvement in my digestive function and started having stable daily energy levels, and why I have consumed almost zero grains, legumes, or bread for the last 12 years (as well as the one food I will occasionally consume rice with). I also talk about why it’s actually more important for athletic people to emphasize nutritious foods and not just use their fitness level as an excuse to eat trash and learning how to select the most legitimately high quality suppliers for beef, fish, and eggs during a time when organic and grass-fed, pasture-raised items were just gaining popularity and interest.
If you were born before 1950, you had a nice cushion of home prepared meals, before fast foods came into being. [01:25]
Those of us born after 1950 had a more nutrient deficient childhood. [04:25]
Other countries adopted our fast-food ways and the life expectancy decreased. [07:01]
The more athletic someone is, the more they challenge and demand of their body, the more important it is to emphasize nutritious foods. [13:50]
At age 18, Brad transitioned when he found his athletic endeavors were bringing him injuries and illness. [15:42]
In the early 80’s we were told to cut out fat. Now we know that fat DOES NOT make us fat. [19:23]
About that time, in the 80s, is when Brad began to really take an interest in understanding food he was putting in his body. [23:20]
The go-to meals of the day were a lot of grain-based concoctions, and many performance foods. Then he retired from the pro circuit. [27:02]
In 2008 Brad and Mark Sisson got together and created The Primal Blueprint lifestyle pretty much eliminating grain-based foods. [30:37]
The advent of civilization brought about a dramatic dive in human health. [32:31]
After Brad took up the primal lifestyle, his overall health and vitality increased. He dropped the grains that had been the basis of his diet. [35:11]
Interest in the ketogenic diet came up in 2017. [39:44]
In the ketogenic diet, the maximum benefits are going to be obtained by the people in the most desperate situations that have the most metabolic damage. [41:47]
You just have to embrace reality in a positive attitude and also realize that chronological aging is one of the major factors of peak performance. [47:29]
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Hello listeners. I thought I would take you on a journey today through beads dietary habits over the decades. We’ll take a quick journey through the decades, not to belabor, uh, some of the fun old time stuff, but I wanna place special emphasis on my recent years and my transition to what I jokingly refer to as the C and C dietary strategy of today. And that stands for carnivore ish and chocolate, because those are the two central descriptive elements of my current diet. And I wanna to talk about especially how effective they are for overall health, longevity and fat reduction. But I think we should rewind a little bit, have a little fun out of the gate and go through, uh, the, the various phases starting with my childhood. I was born in 1965, unfortunately that’s missing the cutoff by I quite a bit from what
Dr. Cate Shanahan contends is the worst dietary transition in the history of humanity. So if you were born before 1950, let’s see that would make people 72 years old today. Anyone born before 1950 had a nice cushion of the first few years of life, or perhaps more than that. Let’s see my mom born in 1937, had 13 years cushion because back then before 1950, before we emerged from world war II, we had a general dynamic of home cooked meals, morning, noon, and night, whenever we ate, uh, vastly more emphasis on fresh foods, minimally processed foods, almost nothing that came out of a factory or the processing that really took off after we emerged from the war. When we had to get into that kind of thing, I suppose, to feed the soldiers. And then in the sixties, we developed the space food sticks for the astronauts, and every kid had those in their school lunch, and it was pretty much, ua building disaster that continues to present day.
There seems to be a few turnarounds here and there. Everyone knows how evil high fructose corn syrup is and, hydrogenated vegetable oils. And so a lot of products are removing those agents and going back to ingredients that are least offensive. So if you look at the soft drinks used to see high fructose corns are up on all the Coca-Cola seven up, whatever the brands were. And I think now they’ve, uh, returned to different kinds of sugar. And as far as the hydrogenated oils, those have been widely banned and needed from almost all foods except they’ve replaced them with the similarly health offensive refined industrial seed oils, corn canola, soybean, sunflower safflower. So when those, uh, remove from our food supply, we’re gonna make real progress. We’re gonna turn back this disastrous march to disease and destruction that Dr. Cate contends really started in 1950.
So for those of us born after 1950, we’re on the lookout for a nutrient deficient childhood in comparison to decades past. And in my show with Dr. Cate, she mentioned how important it is for the formation of a health, the foundation, especially your connective tissue, which has a tremendous influence on your longevity. And so those first few years of life. Things like breastfeeding, things like eating natural, healthy home cooked meals, and the things that happened in the decades previous formed a wonderful foundation, uh, to help with lifelong health immune function longevity. Uh, of course we had a great transition, I believe in the fifties and sixties, uh, for, uh, forgetting about the breastfeeding, just drink this, uh, wonderful formula it’s just as healthy. And that was a, a huge disaster also to immune function and, uh, many other things for child development.
So, again, we’re trying to increase awareness of these things these days. And I think a certain segment of society is doing really well, but for the most part, we’re in the age of processed foods and my childhood was no different. I remember having the TV dinners as a wonderful innovation of culture where you could unfold the tray, sit in front of the TV and eat the at processed foods. But fortunately, and especially thanks to my mom, my family, we had some great home cooked meals and increased attention to healthy eating habits, I would say versus, uh, let’s say the mainstream. My father was a physician. He was concerned with health. Some of the decisions he made and the health changes he make were now we realized we’re ill advised, but they were well intended. Of course we switched from butter to margarine like everyone else in the name of health.
I remember switching over to non-fat milk to get rid of that nasty fat, cuz fat’s so bad for you. It makes you fat and adds to your heart disease risk. A lot of other things that were, um, you know, ill ill-informed, ill advised, but anyway, it, uh, showed some health consciousness and we had a lot of great home cooked meals. And that would be in contrast to low socioeconomic conditions where the healthy food wasn’t available, unfortunately, or the demographic that had little to no concern about health when it came to choosing meals. And maybe we’re just all in on the TV dinners and the incredible emergence of the fast food industry. One of the greatest books called Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. It’s about 24 years old now, but he details the rise of the fast culture and the tremendous shift it made in American culture.
Now, of course, worldwide culture, bringing those McDonald’s over to Japan. I think there’s now thousands of McDonald’s in Japan and their life expectancy has dropped as they exited the traditional Japanese diet and embraced Western culture. And starting in the fifties, interestingly, all fast food pretty much started in Southern California. So McDonald’s burger king, Wendy’s, Carls Jr. All originating in the Southern California area where I grew up and this was, oh my gosh, the great way to get away from the hard work and the toil of a home cooked meal. And instead treat your family to instant gratification and at the drive through window and boy, we took off from there and I was a huge consumer of fast food. Uh, one amazing highlight I have from my childhood was they had this McDonald’s bike ride for diabetes every year. And there was a 26 mile course through the San Fernando Valley where I grew up and I had my little miniature tent speed all geared up and ready for, uh, an amazing trip around to, I believe there were six McDonald’s in route.
So the course was designed for you to visit each of the McDonald’s in the area. And I think every other McDonald’s you stopped at you, brought out your card, you got a checkpoint to confirm that you were doing the route and you got a free coupon for an ice cold soft drink. And then every third McDonald’s you would get a free coupon for hamburger and fries. I was a pretty fit athletic, energetic kid and ended up riding three laps of the course at age 12 in the hot smoggy San Fernando valley. I don’t know how I did it. That’s 78 miles, poor little kid, which is peddling and all day. And, oh my gosh, we amassed so many of those coupons. It was like, we ate like Kings at McDonald’s for months afterward. Yes, we got a lot of coupons for completing the 78 miles, but I also had some delinquent youth that I grew up with.
And I remember, uh, one of the last stops late in the afternoon. Everyone’s tired, the volunteers are going home. And, um, uh, one of my friends discovered a, a shoebox that had the, an entire stack of hamburger and fries, coupons and soft drink coupons. And so he walked away with that. So not only do we did, we had what we rightfully earned, uh, for pedaling 78 miles and raising money for charity. We also had an excess supply, so we were just living at McDonald’s. As I got to high school, that’s a few years later, right. Um, I had fun, uh, taking bets on football games for my friends and fellow classmates. I guess you would call that a bookie. In fact, that’s what the principal called it. When I was finally caught with these, distinctive pink slips of paper that I would print out and photocopy every Wednesday and then distribute around school.
And everyone knew where to find me and give me the dollars that they wanted to wager on the weekends game. So I basically had pockets full of cash, starting on Wednesday morning when the point spread came out on Las, I guess, and I, I get the newspaper print out the odds and everyone would place their bets. And so every day at school, uh, was a luxurious lunch dining out wherever we wanted pizza submarine sandwiches, the ice cream store, the donut shop. The supermarket was right across the street from my high school Taft high school in Los Angeles. And we would just go in there and mow down bakery area, the candy bar area, the sweetened beverages. So there were a lot of calories going in a tremendous amount of calories going in. Most of them, uh, unhealthy, uh, but I was burning off so many because I had a growth spurt at the same time that I was training really hard for the cross country and track team.
So just like a machine, I would have this huge breakfast every morning. My mom would stuff the, uh, the, the brown paper lunch bag so full that I didn’t even have room to grip at the top and fold it over. It was just like a chamber, a tube of lunch, fab, fabulous lunch material, like tuna sandwich with, uh, tomatoes and a peanut butter and jelly, a peanut butter, a sandwich, all kinds of different snacks. And what I would do was I would hit my locker between periods and nibble at the half a sandwich, or take another snack or the tomatoes and carrots. And by the time lunch came, um, my, my lunch, my, my bag was pretty much empty. So I’d hoof at home. I lived right above the school on this little shortcut trail. So it was only a few minutes to my kitchen.
A lot of times accompanied by classmates and we’d go in there and mow down, uh, the Kearns refrigerator and freezer. One of my favorites was waffles with butter and heated up maple syrup, uh, sprinkled with powdered sugar, sliced bananas. And I’d have this huge lunch on the heels of already can consuming a huge paper bag lunch after a giant breakfast. And then we’d go run an intense cross country meet only a couple hours after lunch. Uh, and then in the evenings, we were fond of a second workout where we would run five miles to the frozen yogurt store. Yes, this was the heyday of frozen yogurt in the early eighties. So we’d go to this, uh, yogurt shop, uh, called Johnson’s Yogurt Gardens in Encino, sadly disappeared from the earth many years ago. Uh, but we were the regulars there, man.
And we’d go in and order the large pint of frozen yogurt, with all the sprinkles of cookies and whatever we could put on top and consume these mass quantities of dessert. But of course, I was burning it off at such a high rate that it was vastly less offensive than you might find with the research and the disease patterns that we see from people over consuming carbohydrate to overproducing insulin and running into big trouble, even in the youth age groups, right. We have this massive increase in childhood, uh, type two diabetes to the extent that, uh, they had to rename it from adult onset diabetes to type two diabetes years ago. So that was, uh, not, not my scene because I was running, 30, 40, 50 miles a week. And growing from let’s see, I entered high school. I was five, five, and grew to five nine in about a year and a half.
So, um, it was crazy times and I was like a vacuum cleaner just going through my life, uh, with no ill effects, of course, in your youth. And we always pay the price later but of time, um, seemingly my body could handle it, but I think what happens is we’re wearing ourselves down, uh, inch by inch bit by bit. So it’s really nice to have an awakening for youth to emphasize nutritious foods and trying to get rid of some of that crap. But I know that’s a losing battle in many ways, uh, with my own kids, I fought that battle pretty hard. And I had explained to them a lot of times like, look, I want to serve you a foundation of healthy foods. I know you’re gonna go out to seven 11 and get that Slurpy or whatever else you’re gonna stick in your mouth, uh, as a, as a person, uh, going through, uh, youth ,high school, middle school.
Uh, but we gotta establish that healthy foundation. But you know, another thing I should put in there is that, yeah, you can get away with it and you have these lean mean athletic machines, uh, young kids who are healthy and energetic and eating a ton of junk. But, uh, it, there’s also an idea here that the more athletic someone is the more they challenge and demand of their body. Uh, the more important it is to emphasize nutritious foods and, minimize the intake of that inflammatory and oxidative effects of eating lots of sugar. So, we can laugh about the media articles where Usain Bolt, I believe, what did he eat 1000 or was it 10,000 and chicken McNuggets in the Olympic village in Beijing in 2008 when he emerged on the scene, broke the world record in the a hundred meters and just expressed his fondness for chicken McNuggets and the press picked up on that and had to run with it.
You can also find this epic article about Michael Phelps, average daily caloric intake. And he put together, I think there was a photo shoot in USA today years ago, where he had his stacks of pancakes and for lunch, he had a full loaf of bread that many sandwiches, whatever that is six sandwiches or eight sandwiches. And it turned out to be like 12,000 calories a day to fuel his amazing swimming regimen. And, years later, uh, there was more, uh, scrutiny on this whole story about Michael Phelps and his amazing daily diet. Um, Ray Cronise ,the former NASA scientist, who’s a big leader in the alternative health scene, uh, known for his research on cold therapy and his ability to drop excess body fat quickly using cold therapy and dietary, uh, strategies. He called BS on it because, um, he, he thought that even with that much swimming, uh, you’re not gonna burn that many calories per day.
And therefore, Michael Phelps should have been getting fatter and fatter as he was winning Olympic gold medals. And so they took it back to Michael Phelps and he said, yeah, it was exaggerating. He goes really only around eight to 10,000 thousand calories a day, not 12,000 anyway, and aside for you, but yeah, the, um, uh, the person who can get away with it and, keep their six pack, even if they’re 17 or maybe they’re 27. In certain cases, we still have this objective to, uh, consume a lot of nutritious foods in order to perform and recover. Okay. So, uh, I escaped high school. I survived. I did not get type two diabetes and went off to college. And there was kind of a transition point when I was about 18 years old, because I was getting sick or injured over and over at trying to be a division I collegiate distance runner.
And it was a really frustrating, disastrous time in my life because I’d put so much time and energy in my heart and soul into my running career. I formed my identity as a runner in high school, and I went off to UC Santa Barbara with big dreams, ready to work hard and bust my butt and achieve great glory. And my body just could not handle the escalated training regimen. Part of it was the horribly unhealthy diet that I had drifted into with dormitory food. And it was funny, the, the corporation that, um, ran the food concession at the dorms, also did the, um, the prisons and the other institutional needs for food. And it wasn’t, uh, it wasn’t anything special to write home about. And a lot of times I would miss the meals that were served there. So I would order up a pizza at night or, you know, go with extremely low octane fuel.
I remember buying, one of my favorite, uh, granolas that I later, uh, discovered had vegetable oil in the ingredient. And I would kill like a entire box, a big box of cereal in a single day. As it happened, I would, uh, oversleep, uh, I would sleep in past the breakfast cutoff in the morning. Maybe the, the lunch hour at the dorms at the cafeteria, I would be on campus. And, um, I wouldn’t eat lunch that much anyway, cuz we had to run at at two or 3:00 PM. And then, um, you know, sometimes if I missed dinner for a class or something, it would just be like bowl of cereal at 10:00 AM, bowl of cereal at 4:00 PM and three bowls of cereal between nine and 11:00 PM, just a fricking disaster. I was also fond of a visiting home, down in Los Angeles and taking over my mom’s kitchen and making these fabulous carmel chocolate chip brownies that my cousin gave me the secret recipe to.
And I would bring those up to school and sell ’em for $5 a piece, just kidding. I would eat ’em all myself or share them very, uh, uh, very, um, judiciously with other people, but I would make these lavish desserts and I would have this grocery store fair on the shelf or I would have the, uh, not too impressive, uh, dorm food. But after all these injuries and um, you know, time on the sideline, perhaps attending parties and drinking alcohol and eating lots of pizza. Guess what ? I remember visiting this, uh, gym that I was a member of, uh, during the summer back home and they had a special day where you could test your body composition with the machine and get an evaluation report. And I remember, they printed out my body weight, my body percentage, and it was like, I think in high school when I was uh, making the national junior Olympic final on the California state meet final, I raced in there 140 pounds, five, nine, uh, nice looking distance runner, physique, no extra weight.
And then when I got my report from the from the gym, I said, it said, uh, you weigh 156 pounds and your body fat is 13%. And I was like, oh my God. Yep. That stuff can happen really quickly. Uh, if you’re not running your ass off every single day, without a break. And so, um, I actually decided to clean up my diet inspired by my, um, you know, less than optimal body compass. And, uh, as soon as I healed my running injuries, I got the weight off really quickly and probably got back down into, uh, the low one forties. And so that was nothing but in the process learning about which foods were healthy and which weren’t, and of course, this was the early eighties. So, um, we’re talking about that age of the grain base, high carbohydrate diet, especially for athletes and the, the more fat you can cut out of your diet.
the less fat you will get that was the extremely flawed, dated, and inappropriate notion from flawed science and government propaganda that still lingers around today. And, my gosh, thanks to all the people that are, uh, devoting their lives to nutritional education and research. Uh, finally unwinding this idea that, um, fat makes us fat is just completely unfounded, right? Except for if it’s, um, processed, industrial seed oils because, when we consume those, uh, they interfere with our ability to, um, metabolize body fat because of their toxic nature and how they’re integrated into healthy fat cells and making them difficult, rendering them difficult to burn. So, the refined industrial seed oils, the canola oils, corn soybean sunflower safflower will indeed make you fat when you consume them because they will just stay with you, difficult to burn and making it difficult for you to burn fat.
And when you have difficulty with your fat burning machine, guess what happens? That’s right. You drift into carbohydrate dependency because you have no other freaking choice. And so you can read a nice book, hear a nice podcast about how wonderful fasting is and how you can lose weight with time restricted feeding and skipping meals and cutting back on the carbs in your diet and all that’s, you know, all well intended. But if you have dysfunctional fat metabolism, you are going to struggle and suffer and fail with body fat reduction or calorie reduction attempts or carb reduction attempts because your body cannot kick into fat burning mode and sustain your energy mood, appetite, cognitive focus. Instead, you’re going to have ever increasingly intense cravings for carbohydrate your go to energy source because of your dysfunctional fat metabolism. So, healthy nutritious fats are of course, uh, a centerpiece of the human diet have been for, uh, all of evolution.
The processed fats are nasty and the processed carbohydrates are one of the perhaps the the main culprit in this, um, trend toward metabolic syndrome type two diabetes, increasing numbers is excess car take excess insulin production and the consumption of these process fats that, uh, render fat metabolism dysfunctional. So I got ahold of this book, uh, Eat to Win. I think it was a number one best seller back in 83 by Robert Haas. And he was working with some elite athletes, especially Martina Navratilova, the great tennis champ. And I, I believe, um, Martina was out there on the tour, tearing it up at that time with an incredible new super ripped physique, which she sustained for the duration of her career. In the early days, she looked like a regular, uh, lady tennis player with the skirt. And then she was like the early, uh, advent of this lean mean fitness machine with ripped quadricep muscles as she stepped into the shot and just buff, low body fat, super strong, powerful, and just mowing people off the court.
And so she garnered a lot of attention for this Eat to Win diet, which was basically, you know, the, the grain based low fat, high carbohydrate diet and nothing, too special. Uh, but that was the diet of the day. And it wasn’t all bad because there was also a recommendation to, uh, cut out junk food and process sugar and, uh, the, all that crap. And instead, you know, get your rice cakes and spread ’em with apple sauce and have some slice bananas on top and whatever was the recommendation of just, uh, fueling yourself at least with the less processed foods, but of course the emphasis on, uh, complex carbohydrates. And so I stepped to that and, you know, had to make some choices and scrutiny with my dietary habits. And, uh, then thereafter, uh, when I did consume a Carmel chocolate chip brownie, I, you know, was able to identify it, recognize it as an indulgence rather than something that I could eat to get me through the day with penalty strokes.
And so that was nice. And, you know, I continued to increase my interest in the topic of healthy eating as I evolved into my, uh, the era of when I competed as a professional triathlete. So this was in, uh, the eighties and the nineties, and there was, you know, more books coming out. Um, let’s see, what was, what was popular back then? I know Get Skinny on Fabulous Food came out around there with Suzanne Summers. And I was just shaking my head, wondering how a former sitcom actress who played a, uh, a ditzy roommate, uh, with the Three’s Company could become America’s number one dietary authority, but a time or in her heyday, she was the number one best selling diet author of all time. I remember that status stuck with me and I was like, wow, how much more ridiculous can we get?
But anyway, um, all these different dietary recommendations were coming out and the books were coming out. Oh, I remember a book called Fit for Life,, by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, and they advocated for timing, your, food intake on the clock with certain categories of food. So the main one was like, you’re not supposed to eat anything except fruit until 12 noon. And then after 12 noon, you can go into your proteins. And in the evening you’re supposed to eat a certain kind. And so all this gimmickry and stuff was floating around in my head. And at least I was increasing my awareness and trying to make healthy choices. And during my triathlon career, the central element of my diet, right, right now, I’m trying to give you the soundbite that my diet would be the C and C diet. And back then, it was just a massive caloric intake every day to fuel this in incredibly difficult training regimen that we stuck to.
So I had this giant mixing bowl. It would be like a bowl that you place fruit in the middle of the table. And my dark blue bowl was my bowl for virtually every meal. So in the morning, I would fill it up with huge loads of several different kinds of, uh, and quote unquote healthy cereal, right? Not the sugary crap that’s, uh, painted different colors, but it was different types of granolas or puffed cereals, like puffed rice, puffed wheat, you know, without the extra sweeteners. And so this thing would fill up high. I would put big lumps of non-fat yogurt, a whole bunch of slice berries. And my go-to liquid would be soy milk. I didn’t know about the estrogen effects of soy or the GMO effects back then. I considered it to be better than milk because I had this, uh, lactose intolerance that I developed in college from drinking mass quantities of milk.
So again, you can hear me talk about, uh, increased dietary refinement, working with the information that was, uh, gold standard at the time. So a lot of grain-based meals, the giant cereal bowl in the morning. Lunchtime we’d have a giant bowl, a pasta, with spaghetti sauce and in the evening, oh my gosh. You know, there was be some, a chicken dinner or burgers, steaks, uh, lots of vegetables, maybe some big salads in there, tons of snacks and tons of ingestions of performance foods, which would be powdered energy drinks, energy gels, and energy bars. And these would be with us ever present, uh, throughout the course of the day. So they’d be in my jersey pocket when I was cycling for a twenty, forty, eighty, a hundred twenty miles. Uh, we’d take ’em down to the swimming pool, swim hard for an hour, get out and start munching on the bars and the bananas, and just constantly pouring calories down my throat in order to sustain the high energy output every single day.
So then, uh, I retired from the, uh, pro circuit 1995 and entered my soft suburban dad phase. So I’ll say that was, lasting probably 10 years or more where I was, uh, you know, out there, uh, getting into the, uh, the car commuting, making a living, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer rather than riding my bike and traveling all over the world. So that ensuing decade, the lifestyle change was dramatic. But one thing that I did carry forward was this penchant for consuming a lot of calories. So I had this bad habit of just stuffing my face every single day, because during triathlon times it was in the name of performance and we actually physically had to make ourselves eat more food in the evening in order to make sure we were, uh, bouncing back and feeling good the next day.
So that ridiculously a adverse health practice was difficult to extricate from. And sometimes I still catch myself today, like eating some extra bites of food just because I can, and, you know, dating back to the time when actually needed to, um, fill the tank, top off the tank every single night. Uh, so as far as, um, comparison to the average American Joe, I was certainly vastly superior in my food choices. And I think anyone would agree that knew me that I was picky and I would look at labels and I’d wanna stay away from of processed sugars and the refined industrial seed oils. But I still would start with the giant cereal bowl and consume a lot of pasta, salads of course, widely recognized as incredibly healthy, same with stir fry and cooking up salmon, chicken, beef, and still lots of energy bars and snacks and trail mixes and things that you find on the shelf at Trader Joe’s with this kind of chip or that kind of snack.
I remember buying different bags of the trader Joe’s trail mixes and mixing and matching and making my own. So I’d reach in there and there’d be walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, cranberries. Oh my gosh. And I’d just be nibbling on these things, uh, all day long. Or if I was going on a flight somewhere, you could look in my travel bag and there’d be apples. There’d be a jar of peanut butter. There’d be a couple bags of trail mix. And this stuff was just going into my body throughout the day. And I was still maintaining a decent exercise schedule, especially when I was coaching youth sports and continuing to get out there on the weekends and ride my bike. And, uh, do some morning runs with the dogs, uh, no longer competitive of course, but still pretty fit. Uh, but again, it was definitely a, a soft phase and I no longer looked like a world class professional triathlete.
I think my weight probably, uh, climbed, you know, 10, 15 pounds from my racing weight. So we’re talking, going up from 160 to 175 at my, at my very fullest. Um, and, uh, then comes around to 2008 when I reconnected with Mark Sisson and we got started on our wonderful venture to promote the Primal Blueprint way of, of life and the ancestral health movement in general. And that’s when we got started working together on the first book, The Primal Blueprint, which laid out the 10 laws of the primal blueprint and presented this rationale for following an ancestrally aligned diet, choosing from the few foods that nourished human evolution for two and a half million years. Here we go with your pencils, ready to write it down. It’s meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Noticeably absent are the grain based high carbohydrate meals that I’d lived on for decades prior.
So this was a cold Turkey transition. I went to Mark’s house, uh, in Malibu and June of 2008, and he laid out his, his dream and his notes for the book. And, um, he said, here’s the thing. Uh, you don’t eat any grains because grains are a food that was created, uh, in, in, in, in concert with the advent of civilization. In fact, it drove the advent of civilization, right? The ability to cultivate grains and then later cultivate livestock. What was, what allowed us to transition from hunter gatherer to civilized humans, and then, uh, build specialized labor, uh, build increasingly technological progress and, and, uh, increasingly dense population. But it was all driven by the cultivation of grains, which interestingly enough happened, independent Lee across the globe. So in Egypt we got started with the wheat around 10,000 years ago in the Americas.
We got started with corn and in Asia, we got started with rice. Amazing, huh? They weren’t sharing notes. I promise you that, uh, the canoes didn’t row that fast across the ocean to say, Hey, now you can plant these seeds and they’ll sprout and we can stay and live here. We don’t have to roam the earth. Uh, but anyway, with the advent of civilization and the advent of the high carbohydrate grain based diet human health took a dramatic dive downward, our body size, our brain size, uh, the advent of disease for the first time lifestyle and diet related disease. So, civilization represented progress in many ways, but the rationale for the evolutionary based diet, uh, is very strong that we had a more nutritious diet when we were hunter gatherers, as opposed to when we were, early civilization and even more with, uh, modern civilization.
As I talked about the outside of the show, when the factory food started to come in, uh, increasingly after 1950. So this cold turkey shift to no grains was, um, real wild times was a real eyeopener. I remember taking my notes and heading out and, uh, just double checking, like, okay, well, what about oatmeal? Mark’s like, Nope, that’s a grain. I’m like, oh, okay. What about breakfast cereal? Nope, that’s a grain too. So it was like, no bread, no pasta, no rice, no cereals. And I went wholeheartedly into the mission because if I’m gonna write a book about something, I sure as hell better be walking my talk. And that was a really interesting experience because I realized how much of my diet, how much of my caloric intake was simply pure fuel, pure gas for the gas tank without providing much in the way of nutrition.
And we must admit that the grains, even the whole grain grains but especially the refined grains, uh, don’t provide, provide little, nothing in the way of nutritional benefit and all they are is a cheap source of calories to provide us with energy. And today we have, uh, vastly more energy than we need, right. We’re not lacking for calories except for in very, uh, unique and rare circumstances. And so ditching the main source of my nutrient deficient calories allowed me to experience an incredible boost in my dietary quality. I can’t say I had this amazing, healthy awakening, like some people who were suffering from autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, I was pretty healthy to begin with going in there, but I enjoyed, uh, dropping, you know, some excess pounds of body fat that were sitting there thanks to my snacking habits and my grain-based diets.
My digestion and elimination improved dramatically because I wasn’t stuffing my face with, um, these nutrient deficient foods that can cause problems, especially in the gut microbiome as now learning and understanding much more than we did even back in 2008. I also should mention one of the most profound improvements was just in my daily energy level and, a stable appetite mood, energy concentration, lack of evening burnout. And I think, uh, I reference, especially like raising young kids and commuting and working hard in an office instead of training. Oh my gosh, I remember just crashing and burning in the evenings where I’d be on the couch, I’d have my snack of whatever it was, a bowl if I ice cream and just feel like so exhausted. I didn’t even feel like getting up, uh, to switch the channel. And I attribute that to, um, not just the toil of a busy day, uh, but also the energy rollercoaster of having these high carbohydrate meals, having to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar, having a little drop and experiencing craving for a snack or an additional meal.
And going on that roller coaster all day long is tremendously stressful to the adrenal glands, the fight or flight response, especially when, coupled with commuting, raising kids, being busy. And so, you know, this burnout effect that I thought was a normal everyday part of busy life, uh, dramatically improved when I cleaned up my diet. And so, uh, there we are starting in 2008 and for the ensuing, uh, what, that’s 14 years now, um, virtually no, uh, grains or legumes or bread or cereal or pasta or rice, um, except, you know, on the bottom of sushi, a very low grain intake overall on the diet and emphasizing all the stuff we talk about in The Primal Blueprint, food pyramid, where we have the, you know, the high quality choices in, um, the various food categories, especially the animal foods, and then trying to get as colorful as possible with all the vegetables and fruits.
And, of course, I’m gonna talk about a, a, a shift in that mindset in recent years. But I think another great thing that came out of the burgeoning, the increasing growth and interest in the ancestral health movement, uh, was the, the urgent need to prioritize your choices in every food category. And we talk about that extensively in most recent addition of The Primal Blueprint. So when you’re getting that beef or that chicken or that fish, uh, you want to go to the top of the ranking system, especially with the tremendous concerns that we all share with factory farming and how the animal is vastly inferior and nutritional quality, as well as impact on the planet and all this other concerns that we have with factory farming. So, uh, we’re looking for the pasture raised eggs, we’re going on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website on the fish watch and learning that we should not consume certain fish that are caught with unsustainable methods or the top of the food chain fish, like swordfish and shark, because they have high concentrations of mercury because they sit at the top of the fish food chain, all that kind of stuff was a really nice awakening to continually refine the quality of the diet, rather than just, uh, going to the big box store and grabbing some frozen ribs that are made with all kinds of preservatives added sugars, possibly even refined industrial seed oils and saying, oh, okay, this is meat.
So this is part of their primal diet. This is allowed. Um, so, you know, continually refining and increasing awareness, especially as we fight the battle a against big food, trying to lure us and manipulate us into thinking things that are healthy with clever marketing messages, uh, without reading the fine print on the back. I’m continually surprised. Uh, when I see something that looks healthy and in fact was made with some, uh, adverse ingredients, my favorite example, and probably the most, uh, upset and disappointed I’ve ever or been was to find that my number one, favorite salad dressing for many years called Newman’s One, red wine, olive oil and vinegar dressing was actually made with refined industrial seed oils in the ingredient list appearing before olive oil. Oh my gosh. What a does that, what an incredible lie to have that blazed on the front of the label, olive oil, when it’s just a, a peripheral ingredient.
And instead they use, uh, I believe the last time I looked at the label, it said something like canola and or soybean oil implying that, uh, whatever was available at the time from the commodity food market, whatever oil was, uh, more prevalent that they got the best deal on. That’s what they threw into the bottle, and then sprinkled in, uh, a little bit of olive oil to comply with whatever loose regulations and then sell it as something healthy shame on the celebrity who’s attached to that brand. So as we march on the timeline toward modern times and the, the, the primal era that started in 2008 and the increasing scrutiny and improving quality of the diet humming along, uh, and then a big shift occurred around 2017 when we decided to embark on this keto reset diet project. And the ketogenic diet was just taking shape as an interesting new dietary intervention, a lot of an incredible, uh, medical research about the effects of Ketone production and how it can improve brain function.
It’s been used for over a century, uh, for people with drug resistant seizures, because it lowers the oxygen threshold at which seizures can occur in the brain. And so it’s clear that there’s all these positive benefits to, uh, producing ketones and mainly they come when, uh, we’re in a, a fasting or a starvation mode because it happens a ketones production only happens in the liver when, um, liver glycogen and blood levels are very low. And so the body realizes, Hey, you’re not getting your usual dose of carbohydrate. And so we have to make an alternative energy source for the brain in the name of ketones. You can also get there with devoted restriction of dietary carbohydrates. So you don’t have to starve or fast for long periods to get into ketosis. You can do it with this, uh, dietary strategy that has now emerged to be incredibly popular and widely misappropriated and misunderstood.
But when we, when we set out to do this project and write a book about it, and we published one of the first books still best selling books, uh, on keto called The Keto Reset Diet, uh, we gave a responsible take on all the health benefits and on the best way to do it. Some of the possible drawbacks, some of the ways that you can screw it up. And so it was a really nice learning experience that was total immersion again, because I had to walk my talk. So I went into, uh, this ketogenic dietary experiment that lasted for, uh, you know, half a year, really hardcore, and then a couple years of, you know, dabbling in it and CA kind of having it be a keto ish diet. And that was really interesting to learn all the aspects of it and go deep and learn exactly what it felt like to be, uh, fullblown ketosis, um, how to go in and out of it, all that kind of education.
But some of the things I learned first, I think the maximum benefits are going to be obtained by the people, uh, in the most desperate situations that have the most metabolic damage. And there are less benefit to be obtained for someone who is already fat adapted, athletic, good blood work, low body fat. So it’s a wonderful emergency strategy for someone to reclaim their health and, uh, get out of the metabolic syndrome category. In my case, I didn’t notice any physical breakthrough benefits or the amazing mental clarity that people report because their brains are being fueled by this amazing energy source of ketones. But I already had good, uh, cognitive health and physical health. And so, um, the one thing that I had to learn was on the flip side. To not pile on to men, the stress factors, because it can be overwhelming and too much of a good thing.
So in my case, I was doing these extended periods of fasting, testing my blood all the time around the clock, getting scar tissue on my fingertips because of all the Ketone blood meter readings, again, all in the name of R and D for The Keto Reset Diet and the ensuing books that we wrote, uh, Keto for Life, uh, as well. And, um, uh, I was fasting, I was greatly restricting my carbohydrate intake diligently, right, measuring these things and learning and filming videos where we had, on the kitchen table, um, different representation of what 50 grams of carbohydrates looked like in a day. So if you had like a teaspoon of almond butter and a bowl of broccoli, and here’s a salad, and boom, all of a sudden you’re at 50. So, uh, it was a pretty, uh, restrictive diet obviously. And so when you count, a lot of fasting, very minimal carb intake and doing strenuous high intensity sprinting and jumping workouts and stuff in the gym and counting on the calendar that I was in my fifties, doing all this, I believe that the accumulation of those stress factors was too much.
And I would have these crash and burn periods where 24, 36, 48 hours after a big workout, I would just fall apart and have to take a lengthy nap and just not feel great. And so I contend this was the cumulative effects of the strenuous workout at advanced age, and then coming home. And for example, not eating anything for three or four hours, or eventually sitting down to a big meal that didn’t contain many carbohydrates. And so, uh, I’m draining the glycogen at the workouts. I’m not refueling, I’m relying on internal sources to refuel, which is wonderful. And we’re capable of doing all these great things. And we see some ketogenic athletes that are succeeding both in the extreme endurance sports, and also strength training folks like Luis Villasenor, Zach Bitter, the ultra runner, some other ultra runners. Uh, but I was in that sort of no-man’s land where wasn’t an elite athlete.
I was older age group athlete. Oh yeah. Working hard, hard, and trying to write books and concentrate intently and burn a lot of energy that way. And then perhaps, uh, not consuming enough calories. That was an enlightenment from, uh, Dr. Tommy Wood and Chris Kelly Nourish Balance Thrive. And so things were kind of folding up to be less than optimal. And so transitioning out of that, a ketogenic experimental fades, which with a lot of, uh, prolonged fasting into a more, uh, relaxed approach to, uh, diet and consuming more calories and allowing more carbohydrates into the picture. Uh, I was performing and recovering better, uh, from the athletic standpoint. And of course, going back to the blood work, which I do routinely thing looked fine all throughout. So it wasn’t a big change for better or for worse with any of these dietary habits.
And boy that reminds me of, uh, some wonderful insights from Dr. Cate Shanahan when I’d be grilling her to such extent about my different dietary choices and, uh, the, the macros and, uh, the, the amount of carbs or the, uh, grams of protein. And, uh, once in a while, when I, uh, peppered or were too many questions, she’d say, well, it also could have nothing to do with your pretty good diet. And I’m like, oh yeah, I forgot about that one. Maybe I’m just doing workouts that are a little too strenuous for my current level of fitness. And I feel crappy 24, 30, 48 hours afterward, even though everything else is great. But we never want to lay down our arms and just give up and say, well, I guess this is all the energy I have, at this point. And I don’t want to embrace that mentality.
I don’t like to make a ton of concessions here and there for chronological aging. But of course they happen and I have to adjust my perspective about recovery, for example, because I can no longer bounce back the next day or the next day, if I strain a muscle or get at these aches and pains and tweaks, I have to be very careful and very patient. I’m gonna say, it’s due to my chronological age. Ooh, watch out going down a slippery slope downhill. No, you just have to embrace reality in a positive attitude and also realize that chronological aging is one of the major factors of peak performance, but it’s not number one and it’s not black and white at all. And I think that’s the mistake that many people make is just to write off, uh, big, giant chunks of healthy, vibrant, active, energetic life, due to the calendar.
And so rather than that, we’re just gonna try to continually optimize, continually ask questions and continually experiment and trial and error and see what works. So I’m gonna call this ketogenic phase a fantastic experiment and also a bucket list item for everyone to be able to prove to yourself that you can develop that level of metabolic flexibility, where you can get to the point where your body is kicking into ketone production, perhaps for a prolonged period. Let’s say you try it for six weeks or whatever your, uh, pattern is. It’s a great thing to do in the winter because our bodies are genetically inclined to not consume a lot of carbohydrates during the wintertime. And so it’s also something the majority of people would love to drop a few or more than a few pounds of excess body fat.
So it’s a wonderful tool to kind of reset detox, drop some extra weight, and then realize that it’s not necessarily, uh, a lifetime strategy to restrict your carbon take to 50 grams per day, or less because it’s difficult to sustain that and may be cutting out some nutritious foods unnecessarily. And then furthermore, if you are active, athletic, healthy type, it can interfere with some of your peak performance goals, especially if you don’t do it with incredible optimization and scrutiny for everything that’s going on in all the foods that you’re eating. And of course I a fantastic job on it with very good care and scrutiny for the foods that I was eating, making sure I was getting enough protein, uh, eating healthy, nutritious carbohydrates rather than processed ones, but still absolutely would not consider it a long term strategy.
And I don’t think I’ve been diligent to dive back into a, a ketone producing diet since that, uh, stint in 2017, 2018, and instead have gone outta my way to consume greater quantities of nutritious, enjoyable carbohydrates and higher caloric intake in general, uh, in alignment with my training regimen and peak performance goals. Okay. So that’s taking us through the many years of birth, childhood, up to 2017, 2018, and the grand kitogenic diet experiment with the release of one of the earliest books on the subject, The Keto Reset Diet. And I’m gonna end this wonderful show there and kick right into part two. I can’t wait till I can share that with you. And we’ll add up with a significant dietary shift that occurred in early 2019 that I didn’t see coming. And that was the, uh, awakening of the what they call the carnivore or the animal based nose to tail diet and some incredible influences I had from Dr.
Paul Saladino Dr. Sean Baker, uh, other need in that space like McKayla Peterson, Amber O’Hearn, and just listening and forcing myself to open my mind and challenge my fixed and rigid beliefs, where I thought I had everything optimized and everything was fine forever and ever. But you always wanna be open to new, interesting information, and that will be part two come soon and see you then join the conversation. Send us an email at email@example.com. And boy, we got a great response asking people to kindly take a few moments to leave a review about the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, wherever you are listening to your podcast. It helps so much garner more attention and more listeners. We love hearing from new listeners when they send us an email that they just jumped in. You can go back and binge on all the wonderful couple hundred plus shows that we’ve had.
We can track the downloads and see that even these old shows from 2018, 2019, uh, are gaining more listeners as the channel is discovered by new people. So if you can join in that effort as a regular listener, we greatly appreciate it. And we will draw a name frequently from the new reviews that are left. Especially if you email us and send a screenshot or a copy of the review published, and you will win a free jar of Brad’s Macadamia Masterpiece. So thanks for making that effort. And then email us, give us a heads up to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day. Thanks for listening,
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