When talking about backing off of fasting and restrictive eating and eating more nutritious calories to be more healthy and more active, are we rejecting the widely validated health benefits of things like ketone production and fasting-induced autophagy? Absolutely not, but we might want to reflect on how restrictive eating benefits those with metabolic damage more so than those with metabolic health.
In this show I share insights on the topic from numerous experts, including #listentothesisson primal OG Mark Sisson, Mike Mutzel of High Intensity Health, my longtime primal colleague Dr. Lindsay Taylor, podcaster and author (and deep dietary experimenter) Melanie Avalon, Dr. Cate Shanahan, Health coach and former podcast guest Ryan Baxter (who consumed 600 extra calories per day for a year and didn’t gain weight, a great validation of the additive model of energy expenditure), and also quotes from an article about the energy deficiency struggles of USA national champion distance runner Elise Cranny – and how she ate her way back to top form. Listen in and learn how to best strategize the use of fasting, low-carb/keto, and intense exercise and how to avoid the pitfalls of energy deficiency and overly-stressful lifestyle circumstances.
We get into controversy calling into question some of the many pillars of the ancestral health movement. [01:25]
Getting away from the standard American diet of nutrient-deficient processed foods hampers energy production. [04:35]
Folks who are in the lowest metabolic health category will benefit the most from cleaning up their diets. [07:48]
Triglycerides to HDL ratio is the single most important category in your blood work to watch to track heart disease risk factors. [09:43]
Even a healthy, athletic, lean, fit person could potentially be experiencing some adverse effects of the chronically minimal insulin in the diet. [13:55]
When we are trying to optimize the model of ancestral health, it is important to reflect on how some of these things apply to modern life. [15:05]
We’re asking way more from our bodies, from our minds, and from our stress response than the ancestral, hunter-gatherer. [20:53]
Brad is comparing and contrasting expert insights between the energy balance concept and strict ancestral boilerplate. [26:30]
The research validates that exercise boosts autophagy quicker and more intensely than fasting. [29:10]
Most of the benefits of fasting come from calorie restriction plus a heightened awareness of what you are putting in your mouth. [33:20]
There’s a difference in the way different carbs and different fats are metabolized. [40:11]
Overtraining and not eating enough can really throw you off. [42:08]
You have to be healthy to be an elite athlete. [45:55]
There’s no doubt that restricted diets aren’t for everybody. [52:28]
Fat is survival and nutritious carbs are ideal for maximum cellular energy production and turning up all those dials. [56:38]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Eat More, Move More
- Podcast with Lindsay Berra
- Keto Reset Diet
- Nourish Balance Thrive
- Weston A. Price Foundation
- Dr. Marshall Sahlins, The Original Affluent Society
- The Primal Blueprint
- Mike Mutzel on fasting
- Dr. Shanahan – Cancer Proof
- Mark’s Daily Apple
- Podcast with Melanie Avalon
- Ray Peat, Ph.D.
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Okay. Welcome to part three of this loosely constructed series reflecting on how to best dial in eating an exercise in the background of these ongoing reflections with the energy balance model. In part two we talked about concepts like eat more, move more for longevity, Lifting more weights, eating more protein, moving more, eating more nutritious carbs and fats as well. We talked about Ryan Baxter’s amazing experiment where he ate 600 additional calories of nutritious food every day for a year and quantified everything very carefully for a valid experiment. And he weighed the same. So we are building momentum. We also talked about, uh, the particular risk of females engaging in restrictive dieting, when they have this biological drive, uh, wired toward reproduction, we talked about Dr. Tommy wood instructing healthy, active subjects to eat as much nutritious food as they possibly can, until they gain a pound of fat.
Then dial it back a bit. We talked about Mike Mutzel’s popular new YouTube video,` titled why I’m not fasting and why I’m doing this instead, where he goes into detail about who can benefit most from fasting, carb restriction, restrictive diets, and who might want to second guess that. And that would be the healthy, active fit athletic population. I referenced my interview with Lindsay Berra ,host of The Food of the God’s podcast. How elite athletes, uh, train and eat for peak performance and how there are little to no incidences amongst the elite ranks of high performing athletes in a variety of professional and Olympic sports, that engage in restrictive dieting. So, whew. Now we get a little controversial, perhaps, because it seems as though we are rejecting or calling into, scrutiny, many of the pillars of the ancestral health movement.
We talk about fasting as the centerpiece of healthy living and getting, building your fasting skills, uh, low carb and ketogenic diet conferring, these amazing benefits and getting people out of trouble out of disease risk factors into health, vitality, looking better, feeling better. Time restricted feeding the same thing, all the wonderful research talking about how, if you tighten up your eating window. So people are striving to progress from, a 12 hour window to an eight hour window and go on the 16 eight pattern. We published a book called Two Meals a Day, obviously a take or an angle against the cultural centerpiece of three meals a day. But generally speaking, this message is thrown out to the masses and it’s applicable in a variety of different and disparate ways depending on your current health status. So am I second guessing or refuting the magical benefits that we communicated with great care and great scientific scrutiny in the New York times bestselling book, The Keto Reset Diet?
Absolutely not. These are scientifically validated. They’re so popular. There’s so many success stories. You have these amazing anti-inflammatory neuroprotective immune boosting cellular repair fat burning benefits, mitochondrial biogenesis benefits, and even athletic performance benefits when you become fat adapted when you become keto adapted. So none of this is being refuted. It’s all true. Uh, we’re just kind of zooming out in my opinion, as what’s going on here, uh, to look at a bigger picture and acknowledge that the benefits conferred by these distinct, restrictive dietary strategies are by and large through, uh, these stress response in the body. So these are stressful events to the body when you starve the cells of energy and challenge them to perform better. That’s what mitochondrial biogenesis is all about. Uh, that’s what anti-inflammatory benefits are all about. Uh, and again, as I mentioned in, uh, the earlier shows, um, exercise does the same thing.
It works on what Dr. Casey means calls redundant pathways. So when you perform a high intensity workout and you are depleting your cellular energy accordingly, you’re draining glycogen, and you’re challenging the cells to perform without their usual supply of energy. You get a fitness, an adaptation response where your cells, uh, work more effectively and learn to process energy better. You get mitochondrial biogenesis, uh, that is the making of new energy producing powerhouses in the cell or improving the function of your existing mitochondria. So who stands to benefit the most? Those walking around with metabolic damage and disease, risk factors and immediate intervention to transition away from a modern processed foods diet into anything, pick a diet, and it will be a fantastic benefit. So any departure away from the starting point in the center of the circle, which is the standard American diet, especially the nutrient deficient processed foods that hamper energy production in the body is going to be a huge win.
And so largely what we’re looking at here in the diet game and on the shelves of the best selling books are people that are adopting something strict and require requiring intention, uh, mindfulness, and they’re getting the wonderful benefits and a large chunk of those benefits are coming from what you’re eliminating rather than the magic of ketogenic meals and how minimal carbohydrate content they are. So those, uh, changes can be life changing for those who really need to clean up their diet and their life. Similarly, one who is inactive and gets up and starts walking around the block once a day will have probably the largest fitness boost of anyone else in any category, right? It’s not gonna help an elite runner to add a mile a day to their training total of 130 miles a week, but someone who’s at zero oh boy, that’s where the most magnificent benefits come.
Same with the senior citizen population. When they, uh, commence a resistance training program, they stand to benefit more dramatically than any other population or fitness, uh, category. So I talk about my mother, 85 years old ,walking into Osteostrong over six months ago and signing up and you get these wonderful numbers, you get a weekly report graphed about the improvement curve in the four functional, full body exercise machines that they have there, that measure output very carefully. And so she’s been able to, let’s say double her strength on the bench press in six months. Her poor grandson, who’s been working hard for years trying to improve his bench press from 300 to 350, um, is, you know, on a much, uh, more modest improvement curve. And so, uh, that’s all to say that we all stand to benefit.
But those of us in the, I guess you could call it the highest risk category or the lowest fitness category or the lowest metabolic health categories stand to benefit dramatically more than someone who is, uh, already possessing excellent metabolic fitness. And these reflections are, uh, it’s been so important to me in recent months because I’m looking here at my blood work and looking at across the board a lack of disease, risk factors, right? I’m not in the high risk category. My insulin, I is down at the, uh, at the very low level. My triglycerides are down at 27, which some alternative experts will argue is too low and triglycerides the level of fat circulating in your blood. We’re always talking about how, uh, we want to make sure that’s at a healthy range. Below one 50 is what’s widely conveyed as normal below 100 is what is conveyed as optimal from experts like Dr. Ron Sinha.
And a lot of people are touting that as, uh, one of the most important risk factors to track. Dr. Cate Shanahan and Dr. Ron Sinha are touting the triglycerides to HDL ratio as the single most important category to track heart disease risk factors. So you wanna get those around one to one is exceptional, outstanding, optimal, and you desperately wanna be below 3.5 to one immediately. So if your triglycerides are let’s cut that in half 1 75, right. Three 50, versus a hundred is 3.5 to one. So if your triglycerides are 175 and your HDL is 50 that’s 3.5 to one, and that’s okay, but we wanna strive to get to one to one. And if you, your triglycerides are floating around at 200 and your HDL is at 50, right? What’s that that’s four to one that’s above the desperate urgent threshold to become healthier.
And so that takes immediate corrective action by eliminating those processed foods, especially the seed oils, the excess insulin production that might be coming from consuming and water refined, uh, grains and sugars. Okay. So that person in the high risk category is a lot different story than me looking at this blood report with triglycerides at 27 and HDL at, uh, 70 something. So I’m well past the optimal one to one ratio. And for those concerned like Chris Kelly at Nourish, Balance Thrive. Go check out his website and the free quiz and learn about the highest level of coaching and metabolic testing. And he, he was the one that was concerned that my triglycerides were too low. So that would mean that I should go looking for more sugar to consume in the diet, cuz sugar is a reliable way to bump up triglycerides.
The point I’m making here is that if these disease risk factor concerns are generally irrelevant for me, then I’m going to be looking and focusing my lens on peak performance and recovery and managing the overall stress levels of my life. That’s why when Jay Feldman said on the Ben Greenfield show, that fasting and low carb and keto turns on stress hormones, it felt like a slap in the face to me because it’s so obvious, but I failed to appreciate that in the context of my own personal life and stress factors and lack of disease, risk factors. I mentioned triglycerides to HDL ratio as the preeminent way to track heart disease, risk factors. Dr. Paul, Saladino also weighs in to argue that the fasting blood insulin test is one of the best things, if not the best marker that you can track over your lifetime to track metabolic disease, risk factors, and that hyper insulin hyper insulinemia that’s chronically excessive insulin production, chronically high insulin levels in the bloodstream driving metabolic syndrome, which many medical experts agree is the single most concerning modern disease pattern and metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms indicating poor metabolic health and high risk for type two diabetes.
So, he contends fasting blood insulin is very, very important to track. Unfortunately, it’s rarely tested. And so when you go into your doctor to get your annual blood work, please beg them and insist that they add fasting insulin to your blood work, and you have to kind of fight that battle. I just did that for Mia Moore where they’re like, why does she need that? <laugh> it’s like, because it’s the number one, uh, tracker of metabolic disease risk and, uh, diabetes risk. How about that? Okay. So Saladino contends that, uh, getting that blood insulin under 15 is an urgent requirement, just like the, getting the triglycerides under 150 and getting the ratio under three and a half to one. So under 15, absolutely red flag urgent priority under nine would be, uh, necessary recommendation. And then under five would be optimal.
Mine was 2.3. So I’m well into the optimal category. I’m not producing too much insulin. And the only risk factor that I’ve, uh, uh, reflected upon in recent years, was this tendency toward what’s called, uh, metabolic insulin resistance, excuse me. I’s called physiologic insulin resistance rather than metabolic insulin resistance. That’s the disease state, but a lot of keto, low carb people, uh, report this, um, uh, high sensitivity to carbohydrates, uh, sort of like a crash and burn, uh, because they produce so little insulin with the restrictive diet that when you do introduce carbohydrates, your body is not used to processing them. And the signaling the cells are not, receptive to insulin signaling just like in a diseased person, who’s producing too much insulin because the cells have become deaf to the signal due to chronic overproduction. Someone with physiologic, insulin resistance will be a healthy, athletic, lean fit type who could potentially be experiencing some adverse effects of the chronically minimal insulin production.
Okay. Kind of some asides. And don’t worry if you’re not grasping everything, cuz I wanna stick to the big picture, the most important points here. And so if we are in the mode of stepping back and reflecting, we can acknowledge that any shift away from glutony and sloth is fantastic. So getting up and moving more and cleaning up your diet is going to be a big win. Same with the wonderful carnivore movement where these, uh, zealots are promoting the incredible healing powers of sticking to meat only, because they’re finally giving their system a break from the adverse reaction to natural plant toxins that are contained in some of what are widely touted to be the most nutritious foods. Zealot of carnivore is often used in a negative context, but I greatly appreciate these people who have discovered healing and are touting the great results that they’ve personally experienced.
And I think we all need to open our eyes and say, Hey, maybe I should try this. Maybe I should test this out at least over the short term and see if I can progress with my own health and my own, uh, possible and nagging conditions. So if you have any sort of nagging inflammatory autoimmune or digestive disturbances, I strongly recommend a restrictive diet experiment. And the gold standard here would be an animal based diet, a carnivore diet because, uh, these are the foods that are most nutritious, easiest to digest lack of concern with, uh, reaction to plant toxins. And then you spend 30 days in that mode or 21 days, if you can handle that. And then you gradually reintroduce some foods that you enjoy that are nutritious, that you wanna include in your diet and you detect any adverse reactions.
And I tell my story about my super green smoothie with raw kale, celery, spinach, beets, carrots, and blend, and all that stuff up and drinking it every day and experiencing my stomach a blowout, expand into a bowling ball for several hours due to the immediate reaction my body had to that massive dose of the natural plant toxins contained, especially, uh, in those foods in the raw form. So they have the most nutrition when they’re in raw form and also the most plant toxins. So, um, that’s one reflection is that we can continue to try to optimize here. And so when we’re in that mode and we’re striving to model ancestral health, maybe it’s important to reflect how some of these things are best applied to, uh, modern life in particular are fitness and overall active lifestyle goals.
So what I have here is a concern and concern is usually used in a negative context. Like I’m concerned about the information Brad Kearns said on his podcast. But this, I would call a, a positive concern, a positive interest concern about transcending this ancestral model, or not taking it as boiler plate, but trying to optimize and strategize and inject into the realities of course my personal situation in modern life and all of us who are in that healthy, active, athletic, ambitious category. I am looking, I don’t know about you. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for more, more, more energy, more cognitive function, more peak performance, and of course, more longevity and health span. So first thing we can reflect upon is Dr. Tommy Wood citing actual research that today’s elite athlete, CrossFit athlete, triathlete, Olympic athlete does six times more exercise, six times more raw physical energy expenditure than the busiest hunter gatherer in the history of humanity.
Now, if you’re not Olympian, you’re not out there training for hours a day, let’s say you’re, uh, just a modest, uh, ordinary gym goer or member of the CrossFit club where you’re going a couple, few times a week. You’re going to the gym a few times a week. You’re running 30, 40 miles a week preparing for the upcoming, uh, marathon in your town, whatever you’re still accumulating a massive amount of physical work that likely exceeds our ancestors by a tremendous number. And again, that, uh, locomotion is only one of the four categories. So we also are engaged in these incredibly high stress lifestyles. Like our ancestors knew nothing of. Remember, they went fishing and hunting or gathering the berries, and then they sat on the rocks and took a nap. Remember I’m making conjecture here, but the hunter gathering lifestyle has also been widely studied, uh, thanks to Weston A Price.
And, uh, Marshall Sahlins was the original author of this, uh, concept. You can look it up. I’ll put a link in the show notes. Dr. Marshall Sahlins S A H L I N S Original Affluent Society. Hunter gatherers were the original affluent society because they had everything they needed. They did not want for a lot because they could not accumulate material possessions in hunter gatherer life, right. They always had to be on the move, moving from another hut to another hut and they couldn’t, you know, store food or store wealth. Like we started to be able to with the advent of civilization and building, uh, pyramids and, and stuffing them full of gold, uh, for King Tut’s tomb and so forth. But the hunter gatherer had affluence in the beautiful, modern definition of that term because they provided for all their needs.
And they also had a tremendous amount of leisure time. These studies are referenced beautifully in the original Primal Blueprint book, which is still one of the Amazon best sellers. If you haven’t read it, go grab it. It’s, it’s a beautiful piece of work and Mark Sisson, and I updated it several times over the years, and this will give you the comprehensive presentation of what it’s like to live this ancestral lifestyle. Uh, but hunter gatherers sat around a lot. They relaxed, they had six hours of leisure time a day. They had plenty of sleep, uh, more so than the modern human. And so what we’re trying to do now is basically burn the candle at both ends of human homo sapiens, uh, genetic potential. So we’re asking way more from our bodies, from our minds and from our stress response than the ancestral, hunter gatherer that we’re trying to model by fasting, by engaging in ketogenic dietary patterns, because that really worked well for our ancestors.
So that’s kind of me backing up saying, wait, I do not have a lot in common with Grok, that’s our romanticized Primal Blueprint logo person. You know, my hunter gatherer ancestor who had many comparisons, most likely a relatively easier life in terms of the overall stress score. Not easier in terms of how harsh and difficult and challenging and, and tragic, you know, a lot of those circumstances were by today’s lens, but in terms of the energy expenditure boy, I probably have more in common with today’s elite athlete who is trying hard to maximize human potential. I’m not calling myself an Olympic athlete until I make the team in 2028. Then I’ll call myself an Olympic athlete if that happens in the high jump. But meanwhile, I’m trying to do, uh, magnificent athletic feats at age 57, which is a whole nother stress factor layered on top of the inherent stress of engaging in high intensity exercise and pushing and challenging the body, um, doing things that are largely a young person’s game and refusing to accept that.
I just I’m gonna sit on the sidelines just because I’m over a 30 or over 40 or over 50. So, um, how aligned am I going to be with this ancestral model in light of all these other modern variables? Dr. David Pearlmutter, One of the leading voices in the ancestral health scene has a wonderful contention that we shouldn’t eat any fruit in the wintertime because we are not genetically adapted to consuming fruit because our ancestors didn’t have any fruit in the wintertime. So fruit should be seasonal consumption that will allow you to indulge in what’s fresh and local at the farmer’s market, which of course is the best source of fruit in contrast to, uh, going to the big box store in December here in the Northern hemisphere and, um, uh, buying the, uh, the blueberries, uh, flown in from Chile and highly cultivated and overly sweetened in today’s, uh, modern fruit selection.
So all those points are valid. But, uh, now I’m wondering what winter are we talking about here? Because last winter, I went to Hawaii a couple times and did some great exercises in hot weather and long hikes and sprinting on the beach. And so you’re telling me not to consume fruit because it’s winter time. But we have to look at this big picture. Maybe our ancestors were sleeping in caves all winter, and there was no fruit available. And so that worked for them to go into ketosis easily and gracefully and supply for their energy needs. Uh, when the environment was too harsh to go out there and get what they might have been able to get in the summer. Uh, and so, you know, even those of you listening in Winnipeg, Manitoba, guess what, I’m gonna ask you the same question, what winter? Because I know you have a thermostat there in your house or wood burning stove, hopefully.
And so when we’re talking about 23 Celsius, see, I’m still talking to Canadians 23 is room temperature. Um, you know, how you convert Celsius to Fahrenheit besides typing it into Google, you double the Celsius temperature and add 30. That is a rough estimation that you can do in your head and be quite accurate. So if they’re talking about a warm, uh, competitive event, the soccer, game’s gonna be a little warm, it’s gonna be around 30 degrees at game time, 30 and 30 is 60. Add another 30 that’s 90. And if you’re talking about 35 degrees Celsius and going out there and doing a, a workout, oh my gosh, guess what that is. That’s 35 times two is 70, and then add 30 is 105. And then, um, of course we know that zero degrees Celsius is freezing, double of that and add 30, you get 32 Fahrenheit, and there is your lesson for the day, your fun fact of the day.
You’re welcome. Thank you very much. And, um, back to the show. When you’re in winter time, even in a harsh cold environment, you’re spending hours and hours indoors in a comfortable setting. You’re also introducing, um, artificial light sources, uh, long after it gets dark. And so we don’t have those shortened days of winter so much. So as our ancestors who were completely, uh, beholden to the, uh, often major and significant, uh, change in seasons change in food supply and change in biological and metabolic function accordingly. So let’s put that all into perspective, huh? Okay.
Now I’m gonna run down some expert insights from great many important people here talking through some of these concerns and this compare and contrast that I’m painting with the ancestral boiler plate. That fasting is awesome. And keto is the highest point score if you’re that badass to stay in keto with your diligent dietary restriction versus, uh, this energy balance concept that we want to fuel ourselves optimally to minimize stress and enhance peak performance.
Sisson comes first here because he’s been talking all along about taking the example of our hunter gatherer ancestors and evolutionary biology and applying it gracefully and strategically to modern life. So we don’t have to model it directly. And so, um, Pearlmutter making a good point probably for a lot of people that if you want to back off on fruit in the winter, maybe that’s gonna help you with more restrictive dietary habits and keep your overall, uh, body composition in check. But I’m also gonna second guess that and say, Hey, if I’m out there in Hawaii, just doing a four hour hike and somebody’s selling pineapple on the side of the road those are, uh, modern adaptations where I’m gonna pull for the pineapple, pull the trigger. Okay. Mike Mutzel, great presentations as everything that he puts out, uh, and his recent video, it’s like, he’s a broken ranks because he’s had a lot of content published about how wonderful fasting is and the mitochondrial biogenesis and all the scientific research behind it.
And then the title, the compelling, alluring title, Why I Stopped Fasting and Why I’m Doing This Instead. And he carries the conversation to who will benefit the most from fasting that’s those with metabolic damage. And then who might wanna second guess it, um, and this is where, uh, I’ve already talked at length about how the healthy athletic person, uh, it might be adding on, uh, too many stressors. Mike says that fasting accelerates muscle loss, uh, which can be countered when you look at the research about being in strict ketosis, where, uh, it has a muscle preservation effect. Again, that’s great, but this is a genetically programmed stress response. So, uh, when you are starving yourself of the optimal intake of nutrients in order to go keto, you will actually preserve muscle mass through the stress mechanisms and the wonderful benefits of the keto, the signaling molecule potential of keytones.
So that’s great, but it’s a very, very roundabout way of preserving muscle mass,, in contrast to consuming adequate protein and recovering from these workouts with adequate carbohydrate intakes. And that’s where I’m getting a lot of my rethinking here. Here’s another one from Mike’s show. The research validates that exercise boosts autophagy quicker and more intesely than fasting. Autophagy is that natural cellular detoxification process, highly lauded as a great way to protect yourself against a cancer risk and, uh, aging in, in general, it’s just, uh, you know, cleaning up the cellular material, making it work more effectively. There’s, anti-inflammatory benefits, there’s all kinds of accord benefits when you’re able to trigger this wonderful state of autophagy and, uh, relatedly apoptosis. That is the natural, uh, death of a program death of dysfunctional cells in the body. So that is the pre-cancerous cells, uh, that are going to be snuffed out because your body is working effectively.
And we’ve seen wonderful benefits from being in a fasted state in terms of autophagy and apoptosis, but exercise does the same thing. It just does it quicker and more intensely. So I think Mike posed the question, something to the effect of do you wanna do something that takes an hour and is a lot of fun, or do you want to, uh, restrict your diet for 48 hours to go for that same benefit of kickstarting autophagy and apoptosis? Um, one of the timestamps I’m just reading from the Mike’s YouTube video, the timestamp is Mike feels better and is getting stronger now that he is backed off his fasting frequency in intensity and duration. And he was very measured and qualified with his comments saying that he thinks that fasting still has a place in one’s overall arsenal one’s repertoire. And of course that’s a sensible statement.
I think there’s times when the body is not really well adapted to eat nutritious meals such as traveling. So if I’m, traveling on a jet airplane through time zones, which is a highly stressful event in many ways, it prompts a cortisol spike. You’re getting EMF radiation up in the cabin. You’re messing with your circadian rhythm, and maybe you want to, uh, battle that effectively, uh, with a fasting experience to boost immune and anti-inflammatory function I recently published or, or republished a broadcast of one of the great shows. Uh, I had with Dr. Cate Shanahan about becoming cancer proof. And she contends that if she got diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, she would quote, watch it for a while and engage in her typical dietary strategy of one meal a day, uh, with a lot of fasting, uh, perhaps that carb restriction to get into ketosis.
And I would certainly perform, uh, a similar intervention if I was diagnosed tomorrow. Probably starve myself like crazy and just go extreme into, um, some of these strategies that have been, uh, shown a great promise with, uh, you know, snuffing out those, uh, those tumors by starving the tumor of cellular energy, uh, knowing with the Warburg effect, that’s a scientific principle that, uh, cancer cells feed preferentially off of glucose. Uh, but look, a cancer fighting strategy is a topic for another show and more experts we’re talking about optimizing for the healthy athletic population. Here’s Lindsay Taylor. Dr. Lindsay Taylor, my longtime colleague, in Primal Blueprint land. She’s been responsible for, uh, a lot of the great content on Mark’s Daily Apple, and some super awesome cookbooks, including Keto Passport with some great keto inspired meals from across the world. So I posed these questions to her energy balance, the role of fasting, uh, ancestral alignment quote, I don’t think fasting is particularly magical in and of itself.
Many, even most of the benefits of fasting come from calorie restriction plus heightened attention to what you’re putting in your mouth, which might mean that you’re eliminating stuff that doesn’t work well for you. This idea is echoed by Dr. Peter Attia in a recent newsletter where he says most of the benefits of time restricted eating come from reducing the caloric intake <laugh> okay. Well, so much for that magic. He also told us a long time ago when we were researching The Keto Reset Diet that he believes Dr. Attia believes that, uh, over half the benefits of, uh, being in ketosis, producing ketones come from reducing insulin and his favorite metric for health is this theoretical insulin area under the curve, insulin AUC. So striving to minimize your overall insulin production, uh, that lines up nicely with Dr. Paul Saladino’s contention that you’re fasting insulin test is one of the most valuable if not the most valuable tracker for disease risk factors over time.
But again, when we’re talking about getting that insulin low and half of the benefits from keto coming from, uh, reduced insulin production, we’re generally applying this message to a metabolically unhealthy general population. And I’m raising my hand and stepping out of that line and looking again toward peak performance rather than being the, the patient in the doctor’s office where they’re trying to manage one’s case of diabetes. Okay. So back to the show and Lindsay’s comments, I said, Lindsey, what about this idea that fasting and car restriction turns on stress hormones. Quote, this in and of itself does not bother me. I do think that some of the issue here is that many people who are willing to try any of these experiments are also all or nothing types who do everything hardcore. Like they don’t just throw in the occasional fast.
They’re not fine with just skipping breakfast. They go from zero to a strict 18, six eating pattern, right? 18 hours fasting, six hours eating window, or they go right into one meal a day, every single day. And quote, can you tell that Lindsay is a psychologist by training? I can from these comments and I love how she puts that personal element to it where we’re, we’re identifying these personality types, where more is better. And I would certainly, admit and acknowledge that I’m one of those people where if you tell me to do something or propose an idea, I’m gonna take it to the extreme. In fact, I’ve taken this experiment to the extreme inspired by Jay Feldman energy balance podcast. When he is talking about, get up in the morning and have some fruit to turn down that stress hormone response a little bit, and give yourself some energy for your early morning activities.
And, um, I have taken that to cutting up these massive glass bowls, Tupperware, uh, filled with fruit and just slamming them not only in the morning, but throughout the day, throughout the night and consuming significantly more daily calories. I would guess that I’m around that Ryan Baxter zone, where I’ve probably consumed an extra 600 calories every day for the past nine weeks, especially in the morning where my historical pattern has been to, uh, typically fast until midday, maybe nibbling on some dark chocolate at whatever hour, sometimes in the early, you know, maybe it’s eight 30, maybe it’s nine, maybe it’s 10. But I’d mostly just consume little tidbits and then I’d go down and prepare a proper meal, uh, in the spirit of two meals a day and all that great stuff we’ve been writing about for nearly 15 years now.
So Lindsay is not bothered by, uh, fasting and car restriction, turning on stress hormones. Uh, interesting take also echoed by Melanie Avalon biohacker extraordinaire. We had some great interviews where we talked about, endocrine disruptors in skincare products and in the environment. And we also talked about diet. She’s been really deep into the research and the experimentation. She’s tried low carb. She’s tried low fat. She’s on the one meal a day program right now. And her comments similar to what, uh, Lindsay offered up. Uh, she says, quote, I feel like that when you call them stress hormones, it could be misleading. These hormones that kick in when you’re fasting, for example, are catabolic hormones, anabolic, hormones, fat burning hormones, whatever you wanna call them. So context is key. We have these hormones for a reason. So if we don’t eat and we’re kicking into fat burning, I’m not sure what the big issue is or what the problem is.
Um, and she’s thought about this matter for years, uh, very deeply and thoughtfully, because the people who follow, uh, this underground legend Ray Peat PhD, including Jay Feldman references repeat a lot. And so if you’ve never heard of him, um, you’ll infer a, a treat with this wacky website and these very lengthy articles, obviously from a highly scientific person, but some of it is, uh, way over the head of the average health and fitness enthusiast. Um, so she’s thought about it a lot, and I really do appreciate this take too, where, um, stress hormones is not necessarily a, a, a bad thing, right? So we could call ’em catabolic hormones. We could call ’em anabolic hormones. We know that we wanna have a balance of catabolism animalism and metabolism in the body, right. We can’t always be, uh, in the growth phase.
That’s kind of what, um, unregulated cell growth is the essence of cancer. And so the body builders and the people who are speeding that up, uh, often we can see that as adverse health consequences. And so having that, those fasting periods, I think that’s the main argument for time restricted feeding and so forth is you’re giving your cells a chance to cleanse and detox through fasting. You’re giving a digestive system a break, um, and that can have wonderful health benefits, especially if you’ve been consuming crap. And Jay Feldman had a great, uh, one liner where he said, Hey, if you’re reporting that you feel better fasting instead of eating breakfast, we have to take a closer look at what you’re eating for breakfast. Oh boy. Okay. Um, now Dr. Cate gets a little sciencey here, uh, responding specifically to some of the written content on Jay’s website, where he’s arguing that glucose is a more efficient fuel than fat, and it should be considered the priority fuel rather than this intense obsession and devotion with becoming fat adapted, uh, in the ancestral model.
And, uh, thinking that that is the most efficient way and the cleanest way to burn calories. And so Cate says, look, just because there are differences in the way glucose and say, oleic acid are metabolized, and one may seem easier to the eye than the other, because it’s shorter. It’s an easier metabolic a chemical reaction. So it’s easier metabolically or chemically to burn glucose than it is fat, which requires more chain reaction requires the use of mitochondria. That’s where we say that, uh, burning fat, uh, offers protective benefits. But Cate goes on the differences are not in how short the pathways are necessarily. There are many other variables and factors to consider. Also, there’s a huge difference in the way different carbs and different fats are metabolized. Great point. And I’m sure Jay would agree, uh, where, you know, um, a Slurpy, or, you know, isolated fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup, rather than the whole package where you’re consuming a blueberry that has fructose, but also has antioxidants and other protective agents that make it easier to digest fiber, whatever, um, huge differences there.
So, um, Ryan Baxter member of the 600 calorie a day experiment guy, Ryan says, you know, I fell into that trap of keto fasting and hard training and wondered why I felt like shit. He started working with Dr. Tommy wood and also Dr. Mike T. Nelson. And he, he realized, oh my gosh, I need to do less of the extreme training and eat more food. It’s been a journey for sure. But now I’m in a place where I’m consuming between 350 to 400 grams of carbohydrates per day from natural whole foods. And this is key according to Ryan and my performance and quality of life has never been better. Brad, I think so many people need to hear this message. I work with so many clients who fall into this restrictive mindset thinking I need to fast, the carbs are gonna kill me. I have to train harder.
And so I spend a lot of my time trying to shift them to a more abundance model of going around and looking for the maximum amount of nutritious food that they can eat and still look and feel good. And generally what he’s reporting with his clients, mood improvements, sleep improvements, hormonal improvements, and the other stuff that you and Jay touched on in your shows. Now, context is important, of course, and we need to be mindful of people, their current health, their activity level, but if you’re a lean athlete looking to perform your best, you need to eat ,says, Ryan. I mentioned Elise Cranny in one of the earlier episodes. And so I’d like to talk about her story, recent article that came out. She is a top level elite runner. She’s the number two 10,000 meter runner of all time in the United States with a time of 30 minutes and 14 seconds that she threw down this year, 2022.
She also recently won the 5,000 meter national championship qualifying for the world championships as I record this in Summer of 2022. So by the time it’s out, we’ll see how she’s done on the world stage starting to perform well, making the Olympic finals. And so we’re talking about the top top runner at the highest level. Stanford graduate was a champion in college and now onto this nice pro career where, training at the highest level with the best coaching. And she started this year off. Great. She busted that 30 minute 10 K I mean, come on. People think about that 30 minutes for a 10 K. So that’s six miles, 10 K is 6.2 miles. So that’s well under, that’s about a four minute and 50 second per mile. Whew, go try to run even a hundred meters at that pace. And you’ll see, it feels like sprinting to the average, even a fit person that can go out there and perform.
Anyway, Elise started off feeling, it started off a great year, but then she started to feel off a little bit in training. She was still performing. Okay. Uh, this is quoting from the article on runner’s world, but she began missing her period and feeling more emotional than normal. She didn’t immediately tell her highly respected coaches, Jerry Schumacher, and the retired Chalene Flanigan. One of the greatest, uh, American females. I thought I could figure it out on my own said, Cranny, indeed. She was suffering from overtraining and what they now call red S, R E D dash S. That stands for relative energy deficiency and sport. And this is defined as a mismatch between the amount of calories an athlete consumes and what they expand during training. Blood work revealed low normal levels of thyroid, a sign of imbalance between fueling and training. So, again, as I’ve talked about so many times, she’s still training hard, she’s still racing at the pro level.
And you know, getting through these workouts by sheer will and you know, conditioning, but falling apart behind the scenes with those other important dials, such as reproductive fitness, she began missing her period and feeling more emotional than normal, emotional stability, all these things that kind of come into play when you are too stressed and not appropriately fueled, um, Cranny and her coaches quickly recalibrated. She took a couple days off. She took 10 days off of hard workouts and turned her focus instead to sleeping, eating and recovering. Her roommate. Vanessa Fraser, Cranny says she’s really good at fueling. And so she started to model her roommate who was going out of her way to encourage Cranny to, uh, uh, they’d cook dinner together. And she’d say, make sure you get your seconds. Um, the roommate would stop and pick up fresh bake muffins and bring them home and was really Elise says she was really in my ear like, Hey, even if you’re not hungry, you still need to eat.
So again, that probably applies only to an elite level performer, but it’s a very interesting story. The strategy worked, she got her period again, began feeling and performing better. And she, uh, realized that all this knowledge and how to train and working with the best, coaches did not make her immune from the common contributing factors, which are the strong lure of always pushing harder, outdated ideas about being lighter and faster, and the psychological symptoms of red S itself, which had clouded her judgment. Wow, isn’t that wild. So if you start to get some emotional disturbances and some lingering fatigue and just feeling out of sorts because your life in her case, your training is most of her life stress, right? And when your life is too stressful, you start to make bad decisions. I love that quote at the top of the article, I thought I could figure it out on my own.
So here’s someone with the most intensive coaching relationship that you’ll find anywhere. These people are living and breathing her development into an Olympic athlete and a world championship competitor. And she didn’t mention that she’s feeling like crap <laugh> okay. So let’s take that all into advisement, reach out for help when you’re not feeling well. Um, you know, Cranny’s able to tell her story in a worldwide stage, and now we can all learn from that, especially interesting that the element, the variable of reproductive fitness is mentioned in the story because we hear so commonly how the condition of amenorrhea is prominent among all the way down to, uh, youth high school level, female runners. And of course, going up to the elites here, uh, but that, uh, identifying factor that she was back in action and a better able to perform and recover rather than trying for those incremental supposed benefits. The article calls it outdated ideas about being lighter and faster. That’s just not even sustainable at the elite level. Take away,? You have to be healthy to be an elite athlete.
Okay. You heard from a lot of people there. I started with Sisson here. I should also end with some really thoughtful comments, uh, that Mark provided to me, we’re gonna do more on a podcast soon. But when I first challenged him with all these, uh, assertions, he said he contends that he is so highly fat adapted that it’s not that stressful for him to skip breakfast, to go put in an impressive workout at the gym, even at his age, go stand up paddle on the ocean and then sit down to a nutritious meal at lunch and at dinner and go on his two meal a day, merry way and his time restricted feeding and whatever works for him. And he is absolutely definitely for sure, locked in to a very, uh, enjoyable, nutritious diet, an impressive but sensible training program. And so very important takeaway point that when you get really, really good and really, really fit, um, then the, the, the stress impact is not so relevant.
Reflecting, flashing back to when I was a triathlete and consuming carbs all day long and just shuffling in massive amounts of calories, baseline being, uh, the, the grain based standard American diet and the pastas and the cereals and the breads, and of course all the performance nutrition. So the energy bars and the treats and suites that we’d have on the bicycle rides and the powdered drinks that we’d drink all day. But one time challenged by my training partner, Johnny G, we rode a hundred miles on no calories, just water. And I did just fine. So even though I had this crazy high process carbohydrate diet, I was still fat adapted by virtue of my fitness level, irrespective of the diet that was certainly not aligned, uh, with being fat adapted. So the fitter you are in all ways, Mark Sisson demonstrating that metabolic fitness,
you’re gonna be able to get away with more, but when you’re hanging on by a thread, like I would characterize myself right now when I’m trying to escalate my sprint workouts, my jump workouts recover optimally perform being in the 55 plus age group. Boy, I am not looking to push or extend my odds with more stress factors in my life. Uh, here’s some interesting comments to wrap all this up pretty soon. There’s some research, uh, with athletic performance, especially the high calorie burning athletic events that nutrient assimilation is one of the limiting factors for recovery. In other words, how much food you can take in, in order to get your glycogen restocked and your muscle protein synthesis going at full bore. So you can turn around the next day and do it again. And so we see the population, the high drug taking sports, such as body building, football players, and they get huge because they are able to able to override these natural processes of the balance between anabolism and catabolism.
So let’s say after a workout, they should be in a catabolic state for a while because they really challenge their muscles. Uh, uh, but the hormones coming in from outside the exogenous hormones are overriding everything. And so they can be in the grow, grow, grow stage. And this applies to the strength, the power athletes, as well as the Tour de France athletes. They’re not getting huge, they’re getting skinny as heck, but they’re able to perform and recover thanks to overriding, um, some of the recovery processes with hormones. And so if you’re overriding, things like protein breakdown, glycogen, repletion, endocrine system balance in general, um, the fight or flight response, whether you’re kicking into that too often or not. Boy, that’s gonna put you into the literal category of superhuman, but let’s put drugs aside for a moment and think that if, if you’re a, a clean athlete trying to perform at your best, could it be that your ability to assimilate nutrition is the limiting factor on your performance and recovery, and possibly, some genetic advantages there where the people that can eat more food and process more food, perform better, especially in the sports where caloric expenditure is a key factor.
And I’m thinking now of this amazing modern triathlete named Kristian Blummenfelt from Norway, who is shattering the previously known boundaries of human endurance in the sport of triathlon. And he is apparently five, eight, a hundred seventy pounds. So he looks nothing like the elite triathletes that predated him throughout history who were by and large, very skinny, very slender with minimal muscle mass. And of course, uh, very little body fat. And so here’s this guy who’s able to run at high speeds for in a full distance Ironman. They had a special event with Pacers where he did a, a complete Ironman course in six hours and 44 minutes. He’s done a proper competitive Ironman, with, you know, solo effort on the bike in 07:21, remember eight hours was the magical barrier that was, uh, so rare and so hard to break, uh, for Ironman in good, good conditions.
And this was in the heat of Cancun, Mexico, uh, 2021 world champion seven hours and 21 minutes, that’s running a 02:35 marathon off the bike. That’s sub six minute miles in the heat after biking at an incredibly high speed for 112 miles. And so this guy is performing massive amounts of work and the heart rates that he’s able to, uh, uh, perform at, they have to be up pretty high in order to run sub six minute miles. So he must be eating a massive amount of carbohydrates and training, and also during the competitive event. So he’s kind of transcended this fat adapted endurance athlete who’s able to jog all day or, you know, trot along and complete a hundred mile race course to absolutely throwing the hammer down for seven hours straight. It’s just stunning. I, if you watched the Olympics, uh, on YouTube, the Olympic triathlon from, uh, Tokyo, he was running neck and neck with this great runner from great Britain.
One of the, maybe the fastest, uh, pure runner that’s ever participated at a high level in triathlon, Alex Yee from Great Britain. He was the Great Britain national champion in 10,000 meters with a time of 27 minutes, 51 seconds. That’s a world class 10 K time turned in by a triathlete. And so like, Hey, here’s this guy, uh, going for the gold. But the big man from Norway dropped him like a shot and sprinted in from a mile out to take the gold. Um, Jan Ferina, one of the greats, the predated, back in the early two thousands, he won Olympic gold and he won Hawaii Ironman multiple times. He calls Blummenfelt’s performance next level. And that is for sure. So is this guy engaging in fasting time, restricted feeding, and so forth keto? Absolutely not. And what he’s doing is transcending this fat adapted endurance athlete model by no doubt, wolfing down carbs during training and recovery.
And look at the Tour de France riders where they’ve traditionally for a hundred years, reached for the bag on the side of the road, the feeding zones, and they open up their cream puffs and fruit tarts and all kinds of, uh, general baked goods along with, you know, perhaps the modern sports nutrition, but they’re chowing down sweets and treats as they pedal their way through the mountains. Okay. There’s a few comments from listeners that are really interesting. One of ’em Michael Aimes, 59 years old, six foot six, 160 pounds. He’s like Brad, maybe I should do high jump. I’m like, dang son. Absolutely. You have a huge advantage, before we even start before we even put a bar up. Okay. Michael says, long time fan, I’m really leaning into what you’re getting from Jay Feldman. I wanna share personally that, the low carb approach had fabulous benefits for me for a year or two, but I can see clearly now that more carbs is better for, for me. That’s an interesting comment because when you get out of the gate with some of this dietary restriction stuff, and you prompt those stress, hormone driven health benefits, yes, you’re gonna feel great for a certain period of time.
Then a lot of people report, especially with the, the droves of a keto enthusiast, that there’s some recalibration, there’s some reckoning to be had somewhere down the line when the stress hormone mechanisms are exhausted or overdone or stacked with too many other stressors.So Michael’s going all the way leaning in. And he says, I’m trying the orange juice concept. That’s, uh, uh, a recommendation from Jay commonly cited recommendation. If you listen to his shows where he wants people to consume the easiest digestible carbohydrates, including fruit juices. Horrors, I haven’t heard anybody mention orange juice. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever said it in, in 300 episodes of this podcast. Oh my goodness. Yeah. So, uh, I wrote him back. We exchanged some good insights. One of his nice quotes, again, this is from listener Michael Ames. The biggest J Feldman takeaway I get having listened to his first 12 shows is that if we trick our body into a starvation state with too few carbs, not enough overall calories, too much exercise is also in that category.
(Thank you very much. )Too much stress skipping meals and so forth., our body down regulates our metabolism and this leaves less energy for repair growth, reproduction, locomotion, and any excess calories over baseline. Now go into fat storage since our body thinks it’s in a crisis state, we go into this hibernation where we gain fat and we don’t want to move. This is a great takeaway insight, and I think it’s pretty much undisputed, fitness, dogma, right? When we go on a crash diet and then we have, uh, a cheat day or whatever, uh, we have a great propensity to store that extra energy is fat because our body flames are turned down so low. I mean, this is the essence of the biggest loser television show, unwinding and the research showing that even six years later, most, if not all of the contestants have gained most, if not all of their weight back and then some, and they still show signs of metabolic damage that hoarding instinct six years later, because the experience was so torturous, Michael mentioning that other very controversial insight.
But making sense from an evolutionary standpoint, that fat burning is reserved for times of scarcity and is a way for our body to downregulate, it’s remember a less, a more complex chemical reaction requiring the use of mitochondria rather than the quick burning carbohydrates, which we’ve, uh, widely disparaged as a bad idea, and that we wanting lock into this fat burning mode. But again, this is a survival mechanism, um, and possibly, uh, bringing with it the potential to, uh, turn down your overall energy availability. So this is kind of a profound fork in the road. Jay writes a very compelling article called, carbs versus fat, which is the better fuel, uh, it’s pretty scientific, might be over the head of a lot of, uh, general enthusiasts. But the takeaway is that fat is survival, fuel and nutritious carbs are ideal for maximum cellular energy production and turning up all those dials.
And yeah, I mean, I want to, uh, layer in Sisson’s comments here very appropriately where he says he’s so fat adapted that he’s not really in survival mode. He’s just good at burning fat, uh, through the development of metabolic flexibility through using all the tools like time restricted, feeding, fasting, um, carb restriction, especially the elimination of process carbs and all that great stuff. So we’re definitely operating on a, um, continuum here and it’s not black and white, like carbs versus fat because we’re burning a mixture of both of those most of the time, especially Melanie Avalon going, uh, back and forth in testing and in service to all her listeners, uh, trying out the extremely low carbohydrate diet and the extremely low fat diet. And I think right now she’s actually optimizing with one meal a day that’s, uh, in the low fat high carbohydrate category.
So tons of fruit just as aligned with what Jay Feldman talks about. Okay. So I’m going to, uh, finish here and then offer up mercifully a short, summary, uh, show with, uh, concluding ideas. We could call them Brad’s tips to age gracefully and navigate the confusing waters of optimizing exercise and caloric intake. So thank you so much for listening. I can’t wait to hear your comments. We’ve had so many interesting comments. I was glad to share some during this show. So, chime in, let me know if you’re trying stuff that’s working for you like the orange juice idea. <laugh> from, Michael Aimes. Oh man. Fun times. And, um, glad to be in this with you together. Thank you so much for listening, participating, and sharing the show with someone that you care about. Easy to do. Just push a button saying listen to this crazy stuff. Tell me what you think. That’s what I do. <laugh> all right. Have a good one. See you soon.
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