Welcome to part two in this multi-part series all about optimizing your animal-based diet!
In this show I will focus on two major shifts in my approach and belief strategy that occurred in recent years—one of them being my first exposure to the carnivore rationale in 2019, thanks to Dr. Paul Saladino (and Dr. Shawn Baker and other leaders of the carnivore approach), my second being more recent in May 2022, when I discovered Jay Feldman and his wonderful Energy Balance podcast.
This show will teach you how you can optimize your animal-based diet, first starting with a discussion about plant foods, plant toxins, and why fruit and plants impact your body and digestion differently. You will find out which foods are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, and if you have been staying away from honey because of the sugar content, then this episode may change your mind about consuming honey! You will also hear the truth about what fasting and dietary restriction does to your body, the problems that come from cutting out carbs, what the presence of stubborn excess body fat can often signify, and the true key to longevity.
Dr. Saladino believes that plant foods are unnecessary and don’t contribute to nutrient density. [01:04]
Animal foods represent the nutrient density of human evolution. [04:43]
The arguments that red meat causes cancer and eggs will cause heart attacks has been strongly disproven. [07:06]
What about plants? Plants contain natural toxins designed to ward off predators. [11:28]
Dr. Axe’s top 30 list of the most nutrient dense foods is discussed. [22:54]
If you consume the plants’ leaves and stems, the plant is dead. By contrast, if you eat the fruit of a plant, the plant essentially wants you to consume that fruit. [27:09]
Dr. Saladino, previously completely carnivore, has added honey and fruit to be more balanced with carbs. [30:06]
Cells want to be optimally fueled at all times to achieve optimal energy production in the body to minimize stress. [34:55]
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment results gave us much knowledge of what starvation (fasting) does to insulin levels and ketone production. [38:53]
Preserving functional muscle strength throughout life is widely regarded as the key to longevity. [40:46]
Fasting and dietary restriction can lead to not getting enough nutrition. These cause stress which works against your goal of being healthier. [43:57]
When you restrict all carbs, you are missing the benefits of fruit and other important nutrient carbs. When you feel better after fasting or restricting it may be because of what you are NOT eating rather than what you are eating. [47:04]
If you are carrying around excess body fat, it is probably not from eating too many nutritious calories, but rather eating foods that hamper energy production that screw up your metabolism. [50:18]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Podcast with Dr. Paul Saladino
- Podcast with Dr. Casey Means
- Podcast with Dr. Josh Axe
- Carnivore Scores Rood Ranking
- Feldman Podcast no. 1
- Feldman Podcast no. 2
- Podcast with Robb Wolf
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- Podcast no. 3 with Dr. Tommy Wood
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Greetings and welcome to part two of this Multipart series about optimizing your animal based diet. And on this show, I wanna focus on these two major shifts in my approach, my strategy, and my belief systems that have occurred in recent years. One of ’em is gonna be 2019 with my first exposure to the carnivore rationale. Thanks to Dr. Paul Saladino, as well as people like Dr. Shawn Baker, Amber O’Hearn, , Mikhaila Peterson, other leaders of the carnivore, uh, approach. And then, uh, more recently in May of 2022, my first exposure to Jay Feldman and his wonderful energy balance podcasts. And then of course, are couple interviews on the B.rad Show and my multipart series of reflections on Jay’s message that have compelled me to make some major shifts. Part one was just mainly talking about going from what’s possible to focusing on optimal going up from level five to level seven, level seven or level nine.
We talked about eliminating processed foods. We talked a little bit at the end about fat loss strategies and how those fit in and some of the rationale for emphasizing an animal based approach. Uh, but, uh, prior to May, 2019, when I first heard Paul Saladino on his epic interview with Ben Greenfield, because Dr. Paul presented this very compelling premise that plant foods are unnecessary, they don’t contribute to the nutrient I density in a meaningful manner in comparison to the true super foods of the planet that are found in the animal kingdom. They’re unnecessary. Not only that, possibly unhealthy, and that prompted a deep dive into, uh, these ideas that were just emerging at that time. And essentially what I consider to be a lifetime course correction from emphasizing plants. And we’ve always said that in the Primal Blueprint and other books, uh, we’ve talked about how, uh, plants should, uh, be represent the bulk of your diet, not the bulk of the calories, but the, uh, big space on the plate and make that effort to, uh, you know, centerpiece your daily eating habits around a salad and stir fried vegetables and putting these wonderful colorful plant foods at the centerpiece.
And then, of course, with primal paleo rationale we’re also including the many nutrient dense animal foods in a well balanced, uh, diet free from processed foods. But this was a, um, a fork in the road, basically. Um, the message was taken by many to be extreme and radical but it seems to be spot on in many ways, particularly that it’s difficult to dispute that animal foods are by far the most nutrient dense and the plant superstars essentially pale and comparison when you take the animal foods, uh, the pastd eggs, the organ meats, the no sat tail consumption strategy and put those into a ranking system or under a microscope and look at the nutrient density, for example, from a slice, a four ounce slice of liver versus a salad or a kale smoothie or some brown rice and lentil soup.
And there’s just simply no comparison. And it’s difficult for a dyed in the wool whole foods plant based eater to contend otherwise. When we’re talking about nutrition and biochemistry. Um, of course it gets confusing and controversial as we wade further downstream. But I think that opening insight that animal foods represent the nutrient density, they are the centerpiece of human evolution. And in fact, the reason that we were able to branch away from our plant chewing apes that are not as smart as us, was the access to the most nutrient dense foods that came from hunting. It came from fishing, came from the ability to cook. So we got smarter and smarter due to our access to nutrient dense foods due strongly to that. Um, again, this is ancestral health, evolutionary biology that are not like Brad’s ideas. Um, it’s just kind of observing human evolution.
Okay? So that’s how we grew these larger, more complex brains that allowed us to rise to the top of the food chain. For some reason, with the recent propaganda and dogma, uh, a good segment of society has kind of put that aside or put that insight onto the back burner. So humans are indeed classified as omnivores, not carnivores, right? Your dog should be eating meat only because your dog descends from a line of carnivores, and the human is capable of eating a more varied diet. But Dr. Saladino and others make a very compelling case that plants represent survival foods or obligatory consumption of plants when meat was not sufficient. I love Dr. Shawn Baker’s, uh, clever quip, where he was talking about our ancestral experience. And he said, uh, if the, uh, if the prehistoric ancestor were able to take down a wooly mammoth that represents around 3 million calories, that it would’ve fed a large clan for many weeks or months without the need to go, scrambling around in walking seven miles a day to hunt and gather the various plant foods that were also, uh, evidence shows that humans were able to consume those as well.
And again, back to show number one, where I draw that distinction at the outset of comparing between what is possible and what is optimal and my argument to focus on what is optimal. That’s when I continue to listen rather than tune out and go, What are these freaks talking about? So what is optimal today is, uh, arguably right, an animal based diet and the colorful, nutritious plant foods of the planet. Uh, we are obligated to choose very carefully to, uh, minimize concerns and minimize exposure to these natural plant toxins that appear to be causing some mild to significant to major problems in a large swath of the population. And then in tandem with that, we are compelled to reject this extremely flawed and dated, and propaganda-like assertions from mainstream authorities like, uh, American Heart Association and the US government that consuming red meat will give us cancer, and eggs will cause heart attacks due to all the cholesterol.
These, uh, ideas have been strongly disproven. And if you’re listening to this show, you’re probably okay with me, railing on and making some of these assertions that, um, people have spent their life’s work on, not only to prove otherwise and to unwind some of this flawed propaganda and messaging that we’ve been, uh, subjected to for many decades. But also to go, to go really deep and explain what’s really going on. For example, the, uh, the flawed, uh, lipid hypothesis of heart disease that we’ve been programmed with for all of my life where, um, you, you eat too much fat, you eat too much cholesterol, it starts to build up in your arteries, and you get a heart attack and die. And if anyone is still hanging on by a thread saying, Well, wait, my doctor says this, or, this recent, uh, headline article on the internet or in the newspaper said that, uh, extra red meat consumption does indeed, uh, shorten lifespan or, Hey, uh, the Blue Zones is really super popular.
And what do all blue zones have in common? A plant based diet. End of story. I heard that actual quote or something near it from another podcast that’s known to promote that, uh, plant-based lifestyle. And it was a little disturbing because, while it may be valid that these cherry picked populations that tend to live a long time consume a lot of plants, uh, there’s this thing called healthy user bias that you might have heard. Uh, people mention here and there, scientists talking about how, uh, people that eat a lot of plants may also have a greater concern for health than people that live on fast food and don’t bother to go make an effort that they’ve been told is healthy. And then when it comes to the Blue Zones and these primitive populations, they have all kinds of other things in common that promote healthy living, like walking for several miles a day and having good social interaction and staying away from all the stressors and the health destruction elements of, uh, advanced, uh, highly civilized population.
So, um, same with a lot of, uh, observational studies they’re called, where they take a certain population, they ask them about their dietary habits, and then they draw these strong conclusions, uh, without, uh, really considering, um, all the other variables in place and including things like exercise and other healthy lifestyle practices. So, um, anyway, the, the knocks against animal food and animal-abased diet have been strongly disproven, probably, uh, most profoundly by the scientific study known as human evolution. So it’s the longest and most severe and the most scrutinized scientific study in history. It’s lasted for a couple million years, and we realized that humans evolved, uh, by getting access to these nutrient dense animal foods.
So what about plants? Um, this is the new information that I learned from Saladino and others, and the centerpiece idea, if you haven’t heard of any of this before, I’ll summarize quickly that plants contain natural toxins, and these toxins are designed to ward off predators. So just like the creatures that move around the earth and have various capabilities to try to avoid predators, plants, since they can’t run around or run away from predators, they produce these toxins to deter other organisms from consuming them. And this is simple, basic elementary botany and evolutionary biology. So, uh, it happens that these toxins deliver a variety of health boosting benefits. And that’s why, uh, we contend that plants are super nutritious, but they come with side effects. Dr. Saladino calls them package inserts, because that’s what you call it when you take a prescription drug. And you have the little piece of paper in there that talks in detail about the side effects. So in general, the more, uh, nutritious, the higher antioxidant, uh, benefit from the plant, the more toxic it is. For example, Dr.
Rhonda Patrick talking about her beloved broccoli sprouts and doing, uh, YouTube videos, uh, going into deep scientific detail about how, uh, this aging amazing agent called sulforaphane is present in broccoli sprouts to a great extent, thereby making broccoli sprouts like the ultimate superfood of the planet. And it’s not wrong that consuming shohan and all the other wonderful plant compounds will prompt an antioxidant defense response by the body. So what’s happening, and this is the part that I’m so embarrassed and ashamed to say that I didn’t really understand. I thought from my layperson’s perspective, even though I’m a health professional, that when you grabbed a handful of blueberries and swallowed them, you were actually swallowing antioxidant agents that went in and did wonderful things in your body. Same with the stocks of broccoli that you consumed during the meal. But what’s actually happening is you are consuming the poisons contained in these plants.
Your body experiences those and mount an internal antioxidant defense response. So the liver, the control tower for the dispensation of nutrients throughout the body, and the detoxification of things that you eat, such as alcohol and the familiar example, the liver recognizes these plant toxins and the poisons that are coming down the pipeline, and it starts making high levels of, uh, for example, the master internal antioxidant glutathione. And that’s where you get the antioxidant benefit. It’s from the body’s internal antioxidant response, not directly from the plant poison. So what we’re talking about here is what’s labeled plant hormesis. That’s a stressor that prompts a net positive health benefit. And Dr. Paul does a good job comparing and contrasting plant hormesis. That is the hormesis caused by ingesting plants with other areas where we can get a similar benefit. Uh, he calls them environmental hormesis. So this would be things like, uh, jumping into the cold tub, going into a sauna, doing a sprint workout, or another intense strength training session.
These too will create some, uh, a free radical production, reactive oxygen species in the bloodstream, and then the body responds by coming back stronger by neutralizing the damaging effects of these stressors to become a stronger, more resilient organism. Uh, my former podcast guest, Dr. Casey Means, uh, she is a proclaimed, vegetarian ketogenic eater, that is pretty far removed from me, especially with my recent experiment to consume extra carbs, not go anywhere near keto and certainly not go anywhere near vegan. But we’re friends. I have a lot of respect for her, and she has some great points along these lines that I like to bring in. Here’s a quote from her. We can encourage autophagy. That’s that wonderful natural cellular internal cellular detoxification process where we clean up damaged cellular material and damaged proteins before they can cause trouble, like start into cancer.
We can encourage autophagy, Casey says, through increased sirtuin gene expression, S I R T U I N. This gene expression can be activated by a number of different mechanisms, including hyperthermia, that’s sauna, calorie deprivation, fasting, cold thermogenesis, exercise, optimized circadian rhythms and intake of plant polyphenols. So while some might want to go take an ice bath, another might choose to up their Quercetin and resveratrol. You’ve probably heard of those agents. They are popular supplements. They’re touted as, uh, being some of the benefits of things like drinking wine, has high levels of resveratrol, grapes, whatever. Um, so while some might wanna take an ice bath, someone else might wanna choose their increase, their Quercetin and resveratrol intake through plant foods. So, with Dr. Casey eating in this ketogenic vegan pattern, she acknowledges that she’s tested and refined her eating patterns to ensure that her diet is doing her a solid rather than being a chronic stressor or tearing up her gut lining because she is excessively sensitive to the plant toxins contained in the kale smoothie or the salad.
For a lot of us out there, without that high level of sophistication, it’s really important to perhaps isolate, uh, some of these different variables and these different, stressors to make sure that we are not digging ourselves a hole. And, for example, experiencing health destruction due to our intake of natural plant toxins. So for me, when I was exposed to this information, started digging deeper, I’m of the camp where if you tell me something is better for me and healthier for me, I’ll do it. I’m not desperately wedded to my bowl of pasta or my bread that I need to keep that in my life if someone suggests something that is more optimal. So the idea of greatly restricting or eliminating plant foods, especially in my case when I was going to town, having that big-ass salad every day as promoted by Mark Sisson and having, uh, big huge piles of vegetable stir fry where I’d buy the huge stocks of kale and celery and spinach and beets and slice ’em up and fry ’em in a pan and, and make a concerted effort to consume these foods every day in the name of health.
Sure, I enjoyed them cuz I spiced the heck out of ’em and put a lot of butter on them. And I’ve heard another clever, podcast quip recently where, uh, someone said, uh, name a vegetable you really like, if you’re not allowed to put butter all over it, . And it’s like broccoli. Oh, nope. Spinach. Nope. Okay, so that’s a funny one. But again, we do have to, um, kind of dress these things up to proclaim them to be, uh, a sensationally delicious, right? So if you are having trouble saying, Okay, I’m gonna ditch my salads and my stir fry, and just include more eggs and steak and liver and oily cold water, fish in my diet is the centerpiece. Um, having difficulty, uh, reconciling the idea that animal foods are vastly more nutrient dense than plant foods. And then you might, uh, wield your articles and your book content from, uh, trusted sources saying that carrots and other, uh, orange and yellow foods are rich in beta carotene, which is great for eyesight and many other things.
Dr. Paul makes a good, uh, distinction here, and again, all referencing good science, that when you have beta carotene and you ingest that, it requires a very complex chain of chemical reactions to convert into a usable form of vitamin A by the body. And the fully formed type of vitamin A is called retinol. And when you consume liver, it’s extremely high in fully formed vitamin A retinol as are other organ meats and animal foods. Liver, in fact, has 700% of the RDA for vitamin A. And Paul cites research that the beta carotene that you consume from whatever your Acai bowl or your carrot salad, it requires 21 times more complex chemical reaction to convert to equal amounts of usable vitamin A. And there’s so many examples across the plant kingdom versus the animal kingdom. For example, the popular plant proteins, which I’m absolutely shocked that these things have become so popular because when it comes to protein, it’s quite obvious that the animal foods represent the best source of protein, and that you really have to work hard to get your protein needs met from the plant kingdom.
That’s what food combining is all about, where you have to put together rice and beans to get all the essential amino acids in there. And then the conversion rates and the ability to extract the protein that you need from a a plant based diet is a vastly more complex and challenging. And so when you’re talking about buying a P protein, uh, at the store, and the amount of processing necessary to get that powdered form of P protein, first of all, can be highly offensive and involve, uh, high temperature processing chemical agents, things like that. And then talking about consuming vastly more scoops of P protein than, for example, taking the gold standard, the, the, the highest rated source of supplemental protein, which is whey protein. Um, why not? I, I guess it’s in the name of avoiding all animal products and making that moral stance.
And again, that’s fine. Everyone’s allowed to choose the, the type of foods that they want to consume in the diet. But if you’re doing it in the name of health improvement and trying to make an argument that the P protein or the soy protein or the other forms of plant protein are any way comparable to a top animal based protein like whey protein, um, there’s just absolutely no justification for that. Just as a side note, okay, now, at the risk of coming off to biased, I wanna bring in some alternative opinions here from respected very popular people like Dr. Josh Axe, who I had on my show. He is an advocate of healthy, nutritious eating. He’s not in the carnivore camp, nor in the plant base camp. And he created a list of Dr. Axe’s top 30 most nutrient dense foods.
And I’m gonna rip through it really quickly, because I don’t know what a ranking system or, um, what rationale or criteria that he used, but you’ll, uh, see some cameos from a lot of the animal food superstars as found on my carnivore scores chart. But he also puts a ton of different plant foods in there that are widely regarded to be nutritious and have high levels of these different touted agents, antioxidants, polyphenols, and so forth. So I’m gonna read the list and then it’ll have some comments as a follow up. So number one, seaweed, number two, liver. Then we go down the list. Kale, collards, dandelion greens, broccoli, exotic berries, spinach, watercress, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, red bell peppers, garlic, parsley, other berries, asparagus, carrots, beets,, wild salmon and sardines, bone broth, grass-fed beef, green beans, egg yolks, pumpkins, lentils, artichokes, tomatoes, wild mushrooms, seeds, a variety of seeds, raw cheese and sweet potatoes, black beans and wild rice.
So, uh, these are widely regarded as nutritious plant foods. Those mentioned, of course, the animal foods. You got some of the true superstars like liver sliding there. Number two, ranking. Very nice, very nice. But we mustn’t forget that the package insert coming with all the plant foods mentioned. Dr. Alvin Danenberg, who I’ve had the pleasure of talking to on my show, uh, has had a real valiant battle with cancer that continues. And he’s done so much research and so much great communication to help others. He has a new book called Eat Like Your Life Depends On It. And in that he provides a really nice rundown about the antinutrients and potentially toxic substances found in plants. So here’s an excerpt from Dr. Danenberg’s book. Eat Like Your Life Depends On It, which you can find on Amazon. Quote, Some plants have innate biochemicals, which they use as protection, but could damage your gut and interfere with the absorption of necessary nutrients.
So I talked about how, these plant foods have the package insert that can promote leaky get syndrome, and they also interfere with nutrient absorption. There’s something called phytic acid, phytates, which are high in grain foods, and they are, it’s basically a fiber and it will strip out, uh, some of the good stuff that you’re consuming when you have this, uh, concerted effort to consume a lot of foods high in phytates or phytic acid. So back to his quote, If you’re eating a diet high in plants, an accumulation of these elements, we often call them antinutrients, can cause harm in your body. Here’s a list of this kind of stuff found in plant foods, natural plant toxins. alkaloids, amines, fodmaps. You’ve heard of the FODMAP diet. That’s a diet that systematically restricts the abbreviated foods in this category. It stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, di saccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.
And people have had great success on the FODMAP restriction diet by cutting out many, many plant foods that are falling into this category. You might have heard of, like eggplants and nightshade category like tomatoes and eggplants are really problematic for people who are suffering. Even some fruit falls into the FODMAP category. And, uh, many of the other usual suspects like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, again, foods that are widely touted to have the highest nutritional benefits are also found on the list of foods that have the most potentially problematic plant toxin. Dr. Saladino categorizes them as roots, seeds, stems, and leaves. These are the categories of plant foods that have the highest levels of plant toxins, because they represent the essence, the life force of the plant. So if you consume a plant’s leaves and stems or seed, the plants dead.
You pulled it outta the ground, you killed it. In contrast, if you consume the fruit of a plant, the plant essentially wants you to consume that fruit. It’s the final offering of the plant. And then the blackberry bush will live to see another summer on the Oregon coast and another summer after that. So it’s like, Hey, go ahead and take all my blackberries, but when you’re talking about the broccoli stock, um, that’s a whole different story because once you consume that, it’s done and it didn’t serve its evolutionary purpose. And again, it’s kind of a hard for me to conceive when I was exposed to this information. Like, wait, I know how the lion is chasing down the zebra to evolve. And that’s the circle of life like the Lion King, But you’re not really thinking about that when it comes to the the broccoli spear, but they operate under the same, uh, survival of the fittest circumstances.
Okay, so, um, let me finish the list. These are plant toxins, alkaloids, amine, FODMAPs, gluten, glycosides, isoflavone, lectins, lignins, non-protein amino acids, oxalates, phytic acid, which I mentioned, salicylates, sapin, sulfites, benzoates and MSG, tannins, triterpenes and trips and inhibitors, and quote. Okay? So, this is, uh, undisputed widely understood by, uh, people who study this stuff that plants contain these natural toxins. And for me, it was like, wake up call. Why not put these on the back burner and emphasize the most nutrient dense foods on the planet that do not have these objections built around them, and thereby elevating the nutrient quality of your diet. Because all the plant foods that you pile on your plate are going to crowd out your potential to consume more nutrient dense foods. It’s like having the three eggs by themselves or one egg with a toast, right?
You get by example here, if we’re, if we’re stuffing our face and we’re doing it in the name of health with this giant pile of stir fry or having a big salad, what if we took out the less nutritious foods and just doubled down on the most nutritious foods we would arguably have a breakthrough in our dietary nutrient density? And, I don’t have to advocate going black and white and extreme here. Dr. Saladino has been, um, widely scrutinized, either criticized or praised for his evolution from being a strict carnivore and coming out of the gate swinging, promoting a, a completely carnivore diet, and then having reflections over time that he was suboptimal and deciding to add back the least offensive plant foods into the diet, largely in order to get the nutritional benefits they offer, as well as the increased carbohydrate intake.
Because again, if you’re focusing entirely on animal foods, you’re not getting any carbohydrate. They’re, containing, uh, protein and fat only when it comes to an egg, a steak, a fish, right? So, uh, he reports much better results, much better performance, and is now a huge advocate for adding honey and fruit, especially because these are by far the least offensive plant foods. They have a lot of nutritional benefits, but they don’t have those concerns with the natural plant toxins that come from the vegetables and the foods that have those defense chemicals. So for me, today, what role do the plant foods play in my diet? I’m prioritizing the least offensive plant foods. And for the old centerpiece like salad and stir fry, uh, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, I pretty much eliminate them from my diet. Cold Turkey, as soon as I finished the first podcast with Saladino and became, uh, had further resolved to, to do so as a lifelong transition away from trying to emphasize these foods in the name of health.
And so, if you find me consuming a plant food, it’s either, to be polite, or as a component of a culinary experience for entertainment, right? If it’s part of the sauce or what have you, I’m not going to be, uh, uh, freaky restrictive about it. I never really reported those plant sensitivities that so many people have described and experienced tremendous health awakenings, uh, none more so than Mikhaila Peterson, who was basically in a life or death situation due to extreme sensitivity and allergy to plant toxins and basically had a life saving experience going on strict carnivore diet. And certainly nothing relating to me. So, so if someone were to force me to drink a kale smoothie or eat a spinach and almond salad, those two are among the most offensive and most poisonous plants, raw spinach and, uh, almonds, Funny enough, I would probably be, uh, live to see another day.
But I do report, and I’ve mentioned a few times on the show, uh, when I got really big into my green smoothies for a short period of time several years ago, inspired by the viral YouTube video by Dr. Rhonda Patrick on YouTube, where she’s dumping in all these raw plant materials. So I’d go to the store and I’d buy big stocks of kale and celery and beets and carrots and spinach, everything raw, and I’d freeze it as directed, and then it would sort of turn into it, it would serve as ice. It would, it would make the smoothie cold. And, if you blend up everything, you can create more room in the pitcher to throw even greater amounts of raw beets, raw celery, raw spinach. And again, I’m mentioning some of the most toxic plant foods. And when I drank that smoothie, I’d also had protein powder and other things in, in the drink, right?
Some kind of, uh, liquid and, um, other, other such things, creatine. Uh, but it was a dark green, uh, super fuel smoothie. And reliably every day when I drank that, my stomach would pop out, uh, in a bloated manner for many hours. It would take three or four hours for my stomach to return to normal. And it happened every single day. And I’d often have like transient sharp pain where it would just punch me. I’d feel a, a sharpness and pain. It would go away. I’d still have the big bloated stomach. But that was an eye-opening experience to ingest that level of plant toxins. And again, as detailed on the video, a whole bunch of antioxidants and polyphenols and all these health boosting agents. But it came at great expense to my digestive tract. And the epiphany that I had was, if you’re telling me this is healthy for me and it’s causing pain and suffering every day, there’s something wrong with that picture.
And then you are further telling me that if I jump into the cold tub, I am going to mount a very similar antioxidant defense response as happens when I consume the green smoothie. I’m gonna go for the cold plunge or the sprint workout or the strength training session. Okay? So that was my awakening, and that’s where I’m headed, with no turning back. Just makes too much sense. These redundant pathways, that’s a term that Dr. Casey Means used on our podcast, The Redundant Pathways, meaning that the plant antioxidant defense response is, uh, mimicked by what happens when you’re exercising.
And that brings me to major turning point, revelation number two, which was May, 2022, Jay Feldman and his Energy Balance podcast. So in, in brief, Jay does a much better job explaining the opening premise during his interview. So please go listen to those. But basically what we’re talking about here is that cells wanna be optimally fueled at all times to achieve optimal energy production in the body and minimize stress. So the big slap in the face quote that Jay uttered on his interview with Ben Greenfield, which was the first time I experienced him, Thanks Ben, for, for teeing up Saladino and Jay Feldman. He said, fasting turns on stress hormones. Of course it does, and it’s an obvious insight, uh, by the way, keto, low carb time restricted feeding all these turn on stress hormones. And in fact, again, Jay’s words, this is the mechanism by which the intended benefits are realized. So we are triggering a fight or flight response when we starve the body of cellular energy. That’s where we hear about these wonderful, highly touted benefits of fasting, that you have an immune boost, an antioxidant boost and anti-inflammatory boost, because the body is kicking into genetically programmed starvation mechanisms to help you operate in a healthy, energetic manner, even in the absence of ingested calories.
And this is where keto comes in at the most extreme example, right? If you, diligently yourself or, uh, minimize carbohydrate intake to the extreme, the keto guideline is 50 grams per day or below, your body is going to make these wonderful byproducts in the liver called keto bodies or keytones. They are byproduct of fat metabolism in the liver when carbohydrate intake is extremely low or when you’re not eating. And the ketones are used as a very efficient fuel source by the brain and have all kinds of wonderful benefits in those of four mentioned categories. Antioxidant, immune boosting, anti-inflammatory. But again, we cannot forget that these are stress mechanisms. And in context of modern life, hectic, high stress, modern life, we arguably have enough stress already that we don’t need to pile on more stress with a restrictive diet. And a lot of people have been echoing this sentiment that someone who is healthy and active does not need to, uh, load up on the stress side of the balance scale, especially in the context of performing workouts and trying to recover.
Robb Wolf, my show with him had the, one of the most epic quotes ever. He said, If you wanna live longer, lift more weights and eat more protein. And that was sort of in the context of countering this fascination that we have with caloric restriction and so-called metabolic efficiency, promoting longevity. So the fewer calories that you can get by on, the better you are at burning fat, the better you are at making keytones will arguably promote longevity. And a lot of the calorie restriction for longevity research comes from rat studies because we can’t starve humans and test that very well, although we do have some interesting, uh, data from the opportunities that we do have to look at what happens when you restrict calories. And on Jay Feldman show, he talks about, in detail about the Minnesota starvation experiment that occurred in the late sixties with conscientious objecters to the Vietnam War.
So these poor guys, they didn’t want to go fight in the war. So they said, Okay, here’s what you’re gonna do. We’re gonna send you to a metabolic war that’s a controlled environment where they absolutely have ironclad control over the food that you eat. And they starve these guys for, uh, a number of weeks, uh, maybe it was 12 weeks or something. Uh, they lost a bunch of weight. They felt like shit. They lost their libido, they lost their cognitive function, they became obsessed with food. All kinds of bad things happened when they got into prolonged starvation. However, they had kick ass blood keto levels, and they had low insulin levels, and they had low glucose levels, which we are now sort of overlaying on this unfit, over fed high processed food consuming society and saying, Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if we got our insulin down, our glucose down and our keytones up in the, uh, example of a keto enthusiast?
But when you, uh, lay those trace papers over each other, it does not make a lot of sense. We certainly don’t wanna starve ourselves. And then, in Jay’s argument, we don’t even want to go anywhere near that because if we can just fuel ourselves optimally every day on a consistent pattern where we do not need to engage in prolonged fasting or time restricted feeding, we’re going to have better cellular energy production, which will turn up all the important dials that we want turned up to be a fully functioning, active, energetic human, especially in the context of doing workouts, pursuing fitness goals, and trying to recover from those goals. And when I talk about my personal example, I always mention my age in there as another stressor because I’m trying to perform and achieve fitness goals at the age of 57, which is different than doing it at the age of 27.
So Robb Wolf’s direction to lift more weights and eat more protein, is very relevant at this age when we will start to, uh, have to reckon with the decline that comes from things like sarcopenia. That’s the loss of muscle mass in association with aging. Dr. Peter Attia comes in here with another great quote that I heard recently where he said, I guarantee you that never in the history of the world has there been a 90 year old walking around saying, Gosh, I wish I didn’t have so much muscle mass . So this is really the battle that, I think all experts are in agreement on right now, that preserving functional muscle mass or functional muscle strength would be the more accurate description as Dr. Layne Norton corrected everyone recently. So it’s, it’s the strength, not just the mass, but when you carry around muscle mass, it implies that you’re strong, but they could be two different things, especially if you have poor muscle quality, like it’s marbled with fat because you have a shitty diet, even though you do, uh, a certain amount of strength training to build muscle mass.
And so preserving this functional muscle strength throughout life is widely regarded as the key to longevity as well as health span. So longevity is how many years you made it to, and health span is how healthy you were during those years. And I don’t think anyone wants to raise their hand and say, Sure, I wouldn’t mind being in a wheelchair for the last eight years and being, you know, drooling out the side of my mouth and not recognizing anybody who comes to visit. Of course not. We want health span to extend all the way to the very end and then have a, a sudden quick drop off and then check out. That would be the ultimate goal for everybody. And that is largely driven by preserving that functional muscle strength. And functional muscle strength is a proxy for metabolic health. In other words, if you have good muscle mass, muscle muscle strength, that means you’re working hard.
That means you have a nice disposal vehicle for your glucose because muscles soak up that glucose that you consume in your diet, and therefore you can skirt free from the diseases of modern society caused by excess caloric intake, excess carbohydrate intake, chronically excessive insulin production, and all the disease patterns that ensue when you are unfit, as well as eating a shitty diet. And so what I see now happening is a ground swell, sort of a grass roots reckoning to rethink some of these fundamental principles of ancestral health, particularly the desperate need to engage in fasting or carbohydrate restriction if you are a healthy, active person. Dr. Tommy Wood, very prescient several years ago, he said in one of our interviews, and you can search for these on the podcast channel because I think we did a three, a three segment interview, and I did, I did a fourth one talking about all the summary insights and the wonderful information.
And I would say it’s one of the best places to start a health awakening journey is to listen to those shows with Dr. Tommy Wood because they were so sensible. Obviously he’s highly trained, highly scientific, but he presented the arguments in a way that anyone can grasp and follow along easily. But he said, as opposed to obsessing about, carb restriction, calorie optimization and fasting he counsels his healthy active clients to quote, eat as much nutritious food as you possibly can until you add a pound of fat and then dial it back a bit. And that sort of signifies that you are optimizing your nutritional intake and your nutritional benefit. So I’m gonna put all this stuff under the umbrella of eat more, move more as the path to longevity and health span, because when you eat more, you become more naturally energetic.
You’re not turning down those dials that have a very high likelihood of being turned down when you engage in, uh, a fasting carb restriction, calorie restriction. And these are dials, as Dr. Pontzer conveys, reproduction, repair, growth, and locomotion. And locomotion encompasses all of our physical energy expenditure. But behind the scenes, we have these essential human functions such as repair and growth that would be, you know, recovering after workout and building muscle. And of course, our reproductive fitness is a great proxy for our overall health. And when you borrow too much from, let’s say the locomotion side, your reproductive fitness is gonna suffer, you’re gonna have a low libido. In the extreme example of elite female performers that get their body fat low and are putting out a lot of exercise expenditure, they experience amenorrhea, that’s the loss of menstruation. So their reproductive fitness goes out the window by virtue of doing too much exercise.
And also on this list is not getting enough nutrition, not getting enough calories. So you’re gonna turn down these flames that we have an extreme desire to keep those flames turned up all the way. Repair, growth, locomotion, reproduction. You can see a great video from Mike Mutzel, High Intensity Health, high respected interviewer and researcher and athlete himself. And the video is titled something like Why I Stopped Fasting and What I’m Doing Instead. Thomas DeLauer, who’s a huge proponent of the ketogenic diet, he lost a hundred pounds and kept it off for a sustained period. Now he is Mr. Rip City with a very high fitness level, and a lot of it owing to his devotion to keto and the way that he optimized and got that fed off and claim reclaimed his metabolic health. He is now also rethinking the role of fasting and time restricted eating and tweaking some things by virtue of his superior fitness level.
But even when we’re talking to someone who has excess body fat, wishes, they looked better and felt better and were stronger, I think the message, uh, that, that Jay’s presenting with the energy balance still applies. You’re not going to get yourself outta trouble until you become healthy. And it’s very difficult to become super healthy when you are experiencing too much stress. Perhaps part of that stress coming from fasting and carb restriction, Again, the great incredible benefits that many people experience from fasting and carb restriction and time restricted feeding come from in an incidental manner or incidental category. So if you’re eating a shitty breakfast every day of your life and now you’ve decided to fast until lunch and you feel better and you’re more alert and you’re more energized, hey, that’s gonna be a win for your overall health. But it’s not because you’ve fasted, it’s because you stayed away from something that is compromising your health.
Jay Feldman had a good line here where he said, If you claim to feel better from skipping breakfast, this means we have to take a close look at what you’re eating for breakfast, very important point there. And then compare contrast to, for example, eating a nutritious breakfast of healthy wholesome foods. So in all the context, when I rethink fasting carb restriction, always referring to, um, eating nutritious foods in place, okay? And again, when we use that term carb restriction, we have a lot of times our guilty of lumping all carbohydrates together and, uh, denigrating that macronutrient category. And unfortunately, most of the offenders in the processed foods modern diet are high carbohydrate, high in processed carbohydrates. So let’s say fruit, for example, gets a bad rap because it’s layered in with all the breads and cereals and pasta and rice and corn, uh, wheat products that we consume, uh, in excess that cause problems with gut health.
Cause the release of endotoxins interfering with cellular energy production and it turns out to be a bad deal. And then someone goes on a ketogenic diet and they have a great health awakening, Boy isn’t that great. Uh, but we don’t wanna throw the baby out with the bath water, and we must ponder the role and the potential benefit of consuming adequate amount of nutritious carbohydrates as opposed to rigidly adhering to a gimmick diet where you’re throwing out everything that says carb. Okay, as I wrap up this show, I think you have a good grasp of what this energy balance concept is all about. It might be more difficult to grasp if you have a little bit of spare tire and can’t imagine, for example, adding back breakfast if you’re in a good groove with fasting or eating two meals a day, as is the title of Mark Sisson and my recent book and recent cookbook.
And again, I’m not backing away from the wonderful title and the message presented there because two main meals is probably plenty. Uh, but, but I talk about adding the bowl of fruit in the morning, adding the protein smoothie, and I’m still only really sitting down to two proper meals a day. And I think for most people who are minimally active, two meals is plenty. But we’re talking about not needing to go out of your way to wait till a certain hour strikes so that you can bank the requisite fasting hours, but perhaps eating when you’re hungry and being sensible and choosing the most nutritious foods. So even if you’re carrying excess body fat energy balance, Jay Feldman has a counter that it’s not really a problem with eating too many nutritious calories, but rather eating foods that hamper energy production, that screw up your fat metabolism like the refined seed oils that screw up your mitochondrial function, like the refined seed oils that produce endotoxins like processed sugars and carbohydrates.
These are the toxic modern foods. And when you’re cellular energy production is messed up, you are going to ingest calories and be more likely to store them as fat. So it is actually possible that getting healthy might mean increasing your intake of the nutritious foods, not worrying about calories or calorie restriction or time restriction, but just getting your energy balance correct and your energy, cellular energy production. Correct. And as an interesting side note, which I will close with, my devoted efforts to increase my daily caloric intake and eliminate fasting in favor of having a huge bowl of fruit and a huge protein smoothie in the morning. And that protein smoothie is also high in carbs and high in fat. So I’m putting in a bunch of frozen fruit. I’m putting in my wonderful new whey protein supplement that’s coming soon, and I’m putting in a whole bunch of chunks of frozen liver and the liquid basis bone broth.
So I’m getting fat, I’m getting protein, I’m getting carbs, all healthy, nutritious, I’m getting a bunch of supplements, like 24 organ pills are dumped in there, everything’s dumped in there. So doing that instead of fasting, indeed, I’m consuming more daily overall calories. I’m almost certain my former podcast guest and primal health coach Ryan Baxter is certain because he did a devoted and highly quantified experiment of consuming 700 additional calories per day every day for a year and weighed the same. I’m experiencing the same thing that I have the same or even better body composition, better recovery resolution from nagging injuries, all thanks to, uh, increasing my intake of nutritious foods. And this experiment has now lasted four months and counting. And again, just like the carnivore and my first part of the show, uh, and Dr. Saladino’s insights, this is a lifelong shift where I’m never gonna worry about fasting again as long as I’m remaining active.
And oh, the little side note that I started this, this comment on is that I’ve noticed that my indulgences, my departures, my intake of sweets and treats or whatever it is that I decide to go for, has dramatically decreased because I’m so well fueled. I don’t have any of those days where I err on the deficiency side. You know, I’m supposed to be starting my wonderful lunch meal at 12 noon. I’ve waited that long, but some days it happened. Doesn’t happen till 2:30. A lot of times, I’m sure you can relate, you have kind of a rebound effect where perhaps it’s at nighttime when you’re willpower and your fatigue levels are, uh, such that you’re gonna go and engage in binge behavior and get in your car and drive across town to the ice cream shop and load up. And if you had taken care of business in the morning, let’s say, with that new habit that I describe, I have less propensity to feel that depletion and that craving situation that is simply a signal by the body that you’ve run low on energy.
Okay, that’s a lot to absorb for part two. I hope you enjoyed it. Email us at email@example.com. I’d love to have you part of the conversation. And boy, those are my two big shifts, animal based and energy balance and onward and upward we go. I can’t wait to next get into the Carnivore Scores Chart and the descriptions in detail. Until then, keep it up. Thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing the show. Thanks for leaving a review. If you could be so kind, that would be wonderful. Just leave a quick review. This helps us reach more potential listeners. And if you haven’t already, please go to bradakearns.com, download that Carnivore Scores Chart, perhaps in advance of the next show I publish, and also sign up for our email newsletter. You get a whole bunch of PDF bonuses when you complete the form. But we have great newsletters coming out on a regular basis with, uh, long form articles with really helpful information. We work really hard to, uh, support the show with written content as well and keep it in touch. Thank you so much for listening.
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