What a pleasure to introduce one of the true pioneers of the Paleo/Keto/Ancestral health movement—Maria Emmerich!

Maria opens up about her story, which started 25 years ago at age 16 (truly one of the first to follow a ketogenic diet), sharing how she cured some tremendous health problems she had as a teenager, how this led to her writing numerous best-selling books, and her most recent book, Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism. Maria currently conducts keto-inspired retreats around the world, and in this episode, we get into how you can utilize keto and fasting as a tool for lifestyle transformation and improving your health, as well as how active, energetic people with good metabolic health can still adapt these strategies to work best for their needs. We also talk about careers—Maria takes us back to the time when she and her husband both hit a bottom in their professional lives and illuminates how you can turn a corner, build a following, and become a leader in your field.

Finally, Maria shares the inspiring story of how she realized a true dream of hers (adopting children) and the steps it took to realize that dream.

Follow Maria on social media (Twitter and Instagram). She also has a great YouTube channel and website.


As a teenager, Maria discovered Keto and managed her health problems. [00:44]

Twenty-six years ago, her vet asked questions about her dog’s diet and she realized that her personal physician, who was handling her several health problems, asked nothing about what she was feeding herself. Maria started on Keto. [03:22]

There are many people who look healthy to us but actually have Type 2 Diabetes. Dr. Maffetone says 91% of the modern world is over-fat. [11:17]

Food addiction is like alcohol or drug addiction except it is more difficult to give up because we still need food.  [14:01]

Maria went to Ethiopia to adopt her children. [19:42]

What are some of the problems with things in the dairy category? [24:21]

There could be a problem with people consuming enough protein in general. [28:26]

What are the risks of extreme restrictive diets? [29:55]

Do you have to choose carbohydrates or fat? It is an individual decision. [31:46]

How has fasting played a role in her journey? [36:29]

There is a clinic in Hungary where they treat cancer with a ketogenic diet. [37:22]

Sometimes fat can be a protective mechanism. [43:28]

Maria does Keto retreats in Europe and all over the world. [50:38]



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B.Rad Podcast:

Maria (00:00):
The nutrients are in the animal protein itself, not the animal fat.

Brad (00:05):
Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three world-ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple, actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype, hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk to laugh, have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.d.

Brad (00:44):
Hi, listeners. It is a pleasure to introduce you to one of the true pioneers of the paleo keto ancestral health movement. Her name is Maria Emmerich, and she has been going strong for as long as anyone. She talks about her story that started 25 years ago at age 16. She was like the first keto eater of them all. And she cured, uh, some tremendous health problems that she picked up just as a teenager. And that thruster into this wonderful career path where she’s written numerous bestselling books. Her most recent one is called Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism. She conducts Keto inspired retreats around the world, and we get into the nuts and bolts of how to use keto and fasting as a tool for lifestyle transformation, improving health as well as the, um, compare and contrast to people that have good metabolic health and are active and energetic like herself and like me, and how you can kind of adapt these strategies to work best for you.

Brad (01:50):
I think we agree on all levels, and you’ll have a really informative conversation. We also take some interesting detours. She talks about her and her husband hitting the bottom with career ordeals and turning the corner and getting on that blog and building a following and becoming one of the great leaders. Really inspiring story. Also included is the ordeal of adopting children and how she had so many setbacks and finally went to Ethiopia and dealt with a lot of red tape, and finally was able to realize her dreams. So, really interesting lady who has so many wonderful resources at her website. I don’t think I’ve seen any more resources than she offers for training to become a certified coach. A lot of PDFs, a lot of recipes, great YouTube content. So go check out keto maria.com and let’s join Maria Emmerich from the beautiful island of Maui, Maria Emmerich. And we are catching up over zoom. Someday we’ll catch up in Hawaii, but right now, I’m so glad to connect with you before you head off to Bali for your amazing retreat. And I just want to introduce the audience to you and the great work that you’ve been doing for so long. So, you know, take it away and tell us how you got into this game. Writing the prolific amount of books and eBooks and wonderful resources on your website and, you know, marching, marching along, helping people get healthy.

Maria (03:22):
Well, first I just wanna thank you for having me on. It’s a honor to be here. But yeah, it was, I just had my 26th keto anniversary. Did I call it keto back then? No. But, um, I was, I went, I would, I was 16 and I went to my family doctor and I was twice my size. I wasn’t feeling well. And the doctor told me I had something called P C O S, which is polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is basically a type two diabetes that affects female fertility. Mm-hmm. I was given a prescription for acid reflux. I was given a prescription for I B S and I was given a prescription for depression. And I looked at these prescriptions and I was like, I don’t really wanna take these. Right. And as fate had it I took my dog, who was a beautiful golden retriever to the vet that same week because she was losing patches of her hair.

Maria (04:17):
And the first question the vet asked me was, what are you feeding her? And it was a question that my doctor never asked me, <laugh>. It was the cards I was dealt in life. ’cause my grandpa had diabetes. My cousins had it. Like, it was just like, oh, you just get it right. But now it’s funny ’cause if a doctor asks me what I eat, I’m like, uh, none of your business <laugh>. Mm. Um, but you know what? We went home and I, we changed my dog’s diet and we changed my diet, and pretty sure her hair grew back. I didn’t lose weight right away, but my depression, like, I felt so much better. The acid reflux went away. The I B S went away. And I didn’t wanna live off of chicken breasts and broccoli. I was like, Ugh, you know, gross.

Maria (05:05):
So I just started recreating some of my favorite foods into, you know, exotic low carb, healthy recipes. And I just kept them like a secret. I didn’t do anything with it. But, um, I met my husband when I was only 17, and I told him, I probably can’t have my own kids. He is like, that’s all right, we’ll adopt or whatever. And he, I was like, awesome. You know? So we started adopting two children. And, um, I went to school for nutrition and exercise physiology, but I was a rock climbing guide ’cause I just was gonna be a stay-at-home mom, right? Mm-hmm. But he lost his job and he had the insurance. He was how we had a house. He was how we, you know, had cars. Well, he lost his job. And if you know anything about adoption, every dollar you put into adoption goes back to zero if you lose insurance and a job and all that, because they have to redo their work.

Maria (05:59):
‘Cause that’s what they’re, you know, they, they’re checking up on your insurance and your job and all that. So not only did we lose the job, the adoption basically went back to zero. And we ended up losing our house to the bank. We sold our cars and someone said, Maria, why don’t you put your recipes together to raise money for your adoption? And so I was like, Hey, that’s a really good idea. And so, no, I, Brad, I rode my bicycle to the library. ’cause I didn’t even own a computer. I was so poor. And I just put my love into that. I started a blog, which was when blogs first started. I was like, nobody’s gonna read this, but I’m gonna start a blog. And we started blogging my recipes and before you know it, like Halle Berry has my books, and it’s like, what? Like, this is so cool. And to put love into writing something for my boys, like, I love them knowing that story because at the time I was pretty depressed and my mom said, oh, Maria, your boys weren’t, boy, your kids weren’t born yet. And I was kind of like, you know, angry. I wanted to punch people in the face ’cause they would like, everything happens for a reason, you know? Um, but it’s so true. Like, if, you know, my kids are super cool and they were, they were worth waiting for.

Brad (07:18):
So this story starts 25 years ago where there was no such movement and you took it upon yourself. I, I guess, inspired by the golden retriever changing, changing diet. And so was this like a personal experimentation? Did you have any resources or support to kind of turn the corner there?

Maria (07:36):
Well, at the time I worked at a coffee shop where I would go before high school. I would go to the coffee shop and I would make the scones and the muffins and the cinnamon rolls. And then I’d go to school. And then after school I would go back to the coffee shop and whatever didn’t sell, we would close about 5:30. Whatever didn’t sell, I got to go home with. So I was making extra cinnamon rolls just so I would have dinner. And I’m not kidding. And when you, there wasn’t the internet back then, but I re didn’t research and I found out what causes P C O S. ’cause that’s like shocking to hear. You can’t have children at, you know, 16 what causes P C O S, excess caffeine, sugar, and carbohydrates. So like, ooh, I gotta change my whole life, <laugh>, you know, and that ’cause that’s what I was living off of.

Maria (08:23):
And so Atkins was very popular back then. So, you know, cutting out sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine. I was like, okay, it sounds like Atkins. So I just kind of, you know, went off of that basis. And, um, now it’s, you know, what we call Keto, which is <laugh>, who knew it was gonna be popular? I was this crazy woman that people just thought I was crazy. But they also saw the results people were having and they wanted in, you know, like I never once paid for advertising. It was just all word of mouth. And it worked really well for, you know, my books and my services. Yeah.

Brad (09:00):
So I mean, this all started, you, you’re pretty young, 16, you started turning things around and then when did you start the, the blog and try to formalize what you were doing for fun?

Maria (09:13):
So I went to college for nutrition and exercise physiology. And so it was when I was, you know, going through that because I was pretty upset at everything they taught me in school. Like, oh, it was, it was funny. My alma mater asked me to speak. And I said, I just, I just want you to know that what I speak about is exactly opposite of what the professors are teaching. And I just want you to know that. So there’s not, you know, a big hubub because it’s a small town. I still live there in Wisconsin, half sometimes. And they’re like, yeah, we don’t want you to speak. And I was like, okay. Yeah. And I, that was okay. Um, but yeah, it was probably, gosh, it was my blog 14 years old now. And so it was about 14 years that I wrote that first book. Yeah, it was just, I think people were frustrated with the Standard American Diet, you know, and they wanted to feel better. And it was the first time, you know, we were hearing that grains are bad for you, you know, like what, you know. And I just think it was eyeopening for a lot of people that you could find health without a 7 to 11 [inaudible] a day and stuff.

Brad (10:34):
I wonder if you were particularly sensitive or particularly overboard working in the coffee shop where at age 16, usually, you know, most teenagers are running around with pretty crappy diets, but they’re slightly to significantly more resilient. Um, maybe not. Maybe the average teen now is, uh, has some metabolic, uh, markers that are adverse. And, you know, Dr. Phil Maffetone says 91% of the modern world is over fat category, even if they’re not carrying excess body fat. But do you, do you feel like, you had extreme sensitivity and, and really got hit hard so early on?

Maria (11:17):
Absolutely. It’s just like, you know, I love what you were saying about what the doctor said that 91%, I, I worked with a lot of, uh, people that look healthy to you and me, but they have type two diabetes. This one client, it’s Jen, she’s 105 pounds with Type Two Diabetes. She doesn’t have a lot of fat cells, but the ones she has are stuffed full. And so we, you know, and she said, Maria, I wish I would gain weight when I cheated because we are a vain society. And it is true. We don’t change things until it shows on the outward appearance. But for me, I knew something wasn’t right. I did not like the way I felt. And we are an input output system. You don’t put diesel in a gas engine and expect it to run, but we’re doing it all the time.

Maria (12:07):
And I probably knew deep down it was something I was, you know, putting into my body. You know, like I, ’cause I knew I never felt better when I would eat the cinnamon rols. I always felt worse. Yeah. I, you know, what makes you feel good and what doesn’t, but you, you kind of like put that down because you don’t wanna change. I know these people, I have people like that in my family. Right. My extended family. But I’m grateful that I learned at that young age. ’cause now my friends are in their forties and they’re like, help, you know, because they were the same friends. ’cause I was always an athlete. I was on the swim team and after swim practice, they would all go to Tasty Treat, which is the ice cream shop in town. And I would just say, no, I’ll check you guys later.

Maria (12:52):
‘Cause I just knew, I’m glad I realized at a young age I can’t get away with that. Mm-hmm. Because it instantly makes me feel worse. My moods get terrible. Like I just get so depressed. Um, and I just, I didn’t want, I was to just go there and hang out. I would be too triggered to have something. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I knew I had to remove myself. It’s kinda like an alcoholic going to a bar. Right. And people sometimes get upset about that. But a food addict is a food addict. I feel that that’s almost harder than cutting alcohol or drugs because you can avoid that situation. You cannot avoid,

Brad (13:32):
Right. Black and white. Yeah.

Maria (13:34):
Yeah. You have to decide every day what you’ve put into your mouth. And it’s a hard decision. And so avoiding the tasty treat at that young age, like I’m just, it’s hard to change habits when they’re 40 years old, but they’re younger. When you’re, when you’re younger, it’s much easier. And that’s why I try to teach parents, you are in charge. Your kid does not have a license. They don’t have any money. They eat what you bring them. It’s true.

Brad (14:01):
Yeah. Sarah Fragoso said that at a lecture she gave at our retreat. And someone asked, well, do your kids eat paleo too? And she goes, of course they do. I make the meals. I buy the groceries. And then I like accosted her backstage. I’m like, come on, tell me the truth. Are you serious? How the heck do you do that? ’cause I’m fighting this battle every day. And the kid comes home from carpool with, you know, a packet of juju bees. ’cause somebody, the, the other driver stopped off at seven 11. And, um, I, I did fight a, a royal battle with my kids. ’cause the, the culture, the society, everything’s so ingrained that this is, this is okay and routine and customary. And therefore, I think that’s a good point. Like, it’s harder to extricate from, from food addiction because it’s, it’s everywhere. And, um, no one’s, you know, shaking their finger at you or pulling you over on the side of the road.

Maria (14:51):
I don’t think it will ever be in the dictionary food addiction, because everybody who is in power also has a food addiction. They don’t wanna give that stuff up either. Oh,

Brad (15:03):

Maria (15:04):
It’s true. And I mean, most people are addicted to food and it, whether they wanna admit it or not. Like if you ask them to give up their favorite thing, they probably won’t, you know, I don’t know. How old are your kids? Yeah,

Brad (15:20):
They’re 25 and 23 now. Yeah. So they, they’ve had their, their, um, their, their decades of programming. And now, um, they’re on their own. And it’s, it’s nice to see like, you know, we have to be armed with the right knowledge and, and information and then our surroundings and all these pieces need to fall into place, uh, to be able to make good choices. But I’m, I’m curious, like that story about being asked to speak at the university. Like we’ve, we’ve probably seen some progress over the last 25 years of your timeline. But what’s it gonna take to topple this flawed conventional wisdom as we call it? I mean, how much more information do we need to get slapped in the face with until the, the major, you know, arbiters of, of, of culture and society and, and rules and laws and, um, recommendations. How, how are we gonna keep progressing toward a more appropriate diet for humans?

Maria (16:22):
It’s so hard because, you know, every day gets worse for the people who eat meat, who, you know, they should eat meat. You know, people are being chastised for eating meat and in some places you can’t even get meat. I think it was in, is it Sweden? I spoke at the Low Carb Universe in Spain, and her kids could no longer bring meat to school ’cause they don’t serve meat at school. But then they put another thing on it that you can’t even bring it be. And she said, my kids don’t even wanna bring meat to school because they get chastised for by other children for eating meat. And just seeing how bad is bad when that’s our true ancestral diet. I’m just flabbergasted at how the, the vegan community is growing so much and meat is getting like banned places. It’s sad and scary to me.

Brad (17:18):
Well, I guess, you know, theoretically, like I could bring on another guest who would be flabbergasted at Maria Emmerich talking all this crap. But it’s like, when we look at you, you said you were, um, twice <laugh>. You were, you were twice the woman that you are now. And I think you were kidding, right? I mean, that’s, that’s like literally you were just blown up and suffering from all kinds of health problems at age 16. And now they’re, they’re in the rear view mirror. So your credibility is established immediately. And I think we’re all compelled to kind of put our fixed and rigid beliefs aside and discover what has worked for you and all the people that you’ve helped.

Maria (17:59):
But just, you know, when we look at our ancestral diet, our paleo diet, like what was that? You know, like, let’s get back to that. And it wasn’t, we ate woolly mammoth and, you know, humans were higher level carnivores than wolves and hyenas. You know, and if you look at the stomach acid, like what the pH is, it’s even lower than a hyenas. Like we are meant to be scavengers. We’re not just meant to be carnivores. Like we’re meant to be scavengers and eat on the meat that’s rotting. And I, when I think when I met, first met you at KetoCon, my presentation showed a picture of meat hanging in Ethiopia when I met my children. Um, ’cause their meat stores didn’t have refrigeration and that meat was hanging there for the whole week. I was there. And we asked our driver, ’cause he drove us every day. His name is Milky. We said, Milky, you know, we, we wanna give you some money. Like what do, what do you wanna buy with it? You know, we were just wondering what they would spend money on. Right. And he is like, meat

Brad (19:08):

Maria (19:09):
I have extra money. I’m gonna buy meat. Um, but the fact that it was hanging there all week, you know, you think that you’d get sick, right? But you’re meant to be able to process that. But most people would get sick because their stomach, they’re either on acid blockers, no things like that. They don’t have the stomach acid that they’re meant to have anymore.

Brad (19:32):
Probably due to adverse dietary practices causing SIBO or whatever from eating all the, the grain-based processed food diet, I suppose.

Maria (19:41):

Brad (19:42):
Tell us about that adventure of going to Ethiopia and, and, uh, meeting your kids and how that all went down from, from first getting shut down with the economic hardships and then, uh, getting back up off the ground and going for your dreams.

Maria (19:57):
It was, it took many years and it was, um, it was, it was a difficult struggle. Like huge struggle. And then we went in May to meet the children. And through Ethiopia’s eyes, we adopted them. They were our children. But the United States wouldn’t let us bring ’em home. And so they said, you guys have to go back to the United States. You have to leave the children here. It, it’ll probably be like three weeks. Six months later, it was the day before Thanksgiving, we finally got to bring them back. And like, that was the hardest six months. And my oldest one was a toddler, so he had some memory. And I have video and I’m like kind of holding back tears here where our taxi shows up and I get outta the car and that little toddler runs right up to me. And they the biggest,

Brad (20:57):
This is six months later, you mean? Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Wow.

Maria (21:03):
That was really, that was really cool. And, I’m very, I’m very blessed to have them as my children.

Brad (21:10):
So this is, this was due to red tape from United States government or Ethiopian rules.

Maria (21:17):
There was a lot of maybe black market adoptions that were happening where they just weren’t sure. ’cause our youngest one was left by a statue. Um, so there was no, and it was in the middle of the night when he was left there. So there was no, um, proof that he wasn’t like a black market adoption. So there was just a lot of like red tape we had to go through. But I met my oldest, I met his birth mom and I’m very short, very, very short. And she stood about this high on me. Her head was up high. She was very, very small and it was very emotional. Um, I wanna take them back someday to show them where they’re from, but right now it’s not very safe. ’cause we all know like Ukraine and Russia and all that drama, but the same thing’s happening in Ethiopia, but nobody talks about it.

Brad (22:17):
Oh, wow.

Maria (22:17):
So it’s just, it’s at a very safe place to go right now. Someday. Okay.

Brad (22:21):
Yeah, someday. So even today, uh, a willing couple interested in adopting, it’s still really difficult and takes years of ordeals.

Maria (22:34):
Well, it’s all random. You know, like we chose Ethiopia for a variety of reasons. Um, we know people from there. Uh, it was kind of a near and dear place to us, so we chose that. Now you can’t adopt from there at all. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, you know, like if you know somebody, like I had a friend adopt, you know, they’re like a cousin that they, you know, needed a home. And like, it can be very easy, but it can be a big struggle. It’s very, um, like they get very personal. Like, you have to talk about every illness you’ve ever had, every illness your brother had, your, you know, brother-in-law, this and that. Like, you have to do an extent dossier about everybody in your family. It’s very invasive, but it’s, it’s fine. It’s worth it. You know, they just wanna, I guess, make sure that you’re the right, and every country has different rules. Like in China you can’t be over so much percent body fats. Um, yeah.

Brad (23:39):
The parents you mean <laugh>? Yeah.

Maria (23:43):
Instead of like being overweight would make you you a worse parent.

Brad (23:46):

Maria (23:47):
You know, which I do not believe that. But you know, there’s some really random rules for every country. So like, if you have ever had cancer, they’ll probably deny you, you know? I know. Which I don’t think is fair either, is if you’d be a bad parent, but,

Brad (24:02):
Um, well maybe we’ll see some, uh, revolution in that, in that space too. I

Maria (24:09):
Hope so. Because if they make abortion illegal, like they better make adoption much easier. ’cause there’s gonna be a lot more.

Brad (24:17):
Right. Yeah.

Maria (24:18):
I’m putting it out there. It’s true. It’s true.

Brad (24:21):
And back to the ditching of, uh, uh, caffeine, sugar and, uh, and, and cinnamon rolls. And you kind of went into this, um, this cure, my P C O S pattern of cutting on the, the processed carbs and the other stuff. And then take us through the years since then, and the evolution and exploration of other strategies, including keto, which I think you’re probably really well known for, and have many books about, and how those things have worked for you and, and people that you’ve worked with?

Maria (24:53):
You know, um, what was the question in there? Sorry.

Brad (24:56):
Just like, how, how has your diet, uh, gone through over the years and that Yeah.

Maria (25:02):
Okay. Like I, I feel that people, you know, whatever your diet is now, it’s gonna evolve and it’s gonna get better. Because I am more on that paleo side where most of my books are dairy free, because I do feel that we poopoo gluten in this keto community, but we never address dairy. And dairy is more common allergen than gluten is. But I feel sometimes, you know, the keto community feel like they’re already giving up so much food. <laugh> like different options if don’t the dairy. But that’s, you know, I deal with a lot of autoimmune issues with clients and like the best way to heal that is to get rid of that dairy too. And it seems impossible at first, but it’s not, you know, you know,

Brad (25:50):
So dairy is more common than gluten as an allergen?

Maria (25:55):
Yeah. Especially, I mean maybe it’s because, you know, my children are from Africa and then Africa dairy is not very well tolerated at all.

Brad (26:04):
Are we talking about the lactose as well as casein sensitivity? Or what are the things that are a big problem in the dairy category?

Maria (26:15):
Well, if it’s an autoimmune response, I would say it’s the protein in the dairy. Oh, you know, the casein, but you know, the lactose, the sugar. There’s definitely a lactose intolerance. But, um, you know, the casein is the protein that has a lot of studies showing that it’s a more common allergen that in the entire world, maybe it’s not in the United States, but over, you know, the whole world.

Brad (26:43):
And there’s some potential to navigate that by choosing the A one or the a two form. Can you talk us through like a, uh, I I guess if someone’s wanting to examine dairy and whether there’s adverse effects besides completely eliminating all forms of dairy, are there ways to kind of optimize here?

Maria (27:04):
Well, I would say, you know, like you’re a strong person, you can cut it out for at least a month,

Brad (27:10):
<laugh>. Oh, I love that answer. Yeah.

Maria (27:12):
Cut it out for a month. You know, like, you, like I talked to em how they’ve been enjoyed so much. You know, a month is gonna be like a fart in the wind. It’ll be just a very short period of time. And then you can start. So, ’cause you wanna clear it outta your system and then you could start dabbling in certain things. Starting with like a goat dairy would probably be the best option to see if you can tolerate that. And then if you can, I would try ghee and then if you can do ghee, I would try, you know, like a butter. But last I would, you know, try like the dairy, especially the soft cheeses, that type of stuff would be the last thing I would add in. And even people that say, okay, I didn’t feel, you know, I don’t think it’s causing the autoimmune response, but I definitely felt better without it. You know, so, and I also try to like focus more on protein versus fat. Um, and so a lot of people have a hard time hitting their protein macro because they’re so much fat. And if we focus on, you know, leaner proteins, it’s easier to hit that protein macro rather than all the, the cheese and the dairy and stuff.

Brad (28:26):
So you think that’s a big challenge. People consuming enough protein in general.

Maria (28:35):
Especially the females that I work with, a hundred percent, especially in the keto community, they’re all doing fat bombs and drinking bulletproof coffee and putting, you know, a stick of butter on their rib eye and stuff. That is not something I would recommend to do.

Brad (28:55):
Hmm. Instead, um, you could prioritize protein have two ribeyes <laugh>.

Maria (29:01):
Well, you could, but like, if you look at where the nutrients are, the fat has like a little vitamin A, there’s not a lot of nutrients,

Brad (29:09):

Maria (29:10):
Look, you know, the nutrients are in the animal protein itself, not the animal fats. Not the lung, not the tallow. It’s in the meat. So focusing on that, and if you have a lot of body fat on your body, you don’t have to be consuming all that dietary fats. You don’t have to <inaudible> a higher ketosis number ’cause there’s not one study showing that a higher ketosis has better fat burning results. And the best thing to reverse insulin resistance and type two diabetes is to shrink the fat cells and to gain or at least maintain your muscle. And the only way you’re gonna do that is if you prioritize protein and lower the dietary fat. ’cause like you said, 91% of people are over fat.

Brad (29:55):
So that’s kind of departing from the traditional or the original keto craze of saying, Hey, be careful with too much protein. And, um, you know, you’re, you’re emphasizing fat because fat doesn’t, fat will not arrest the ketone production. So it sounds like, uh, hopefully, um, we’re kind of progressing, as you said. We’re always trying to get better and, and take in new information. And, um, I’ve talked a lot on my show about how, um, I’ve added, I’ve made a concerted effort to add more carbohydrate intake because I’m performing and trying to recover and I need it. So, um, maybe we could, you know, discuss kind of how these tools and strategies can be really helpful to become half the woman you used to be in your case. And then start looking at, Hey, what about longevity, optimizing, you know, cognitive performance, immune function, and getting away from some of these risks and hazards of going into extreme restrictive diets.

Maria (30:58):
Yeah. I’ve always been on like even my first book talked about pure protein days where it was, you know, I’ve always been on the high protein side. I’ll just wanna make that clear. There was a time when some of these keto influencers, or they told me too much protein turns into sugar. And I was like, I don’t know, a chicken is not the same as chocolate cake. I never believed that, but yeah. They kind of feared me into that. And sure, your blood sugar may go up 10 points by prioritizing protein instead of prioritizing fat, but it’s 10 points. And you know what, there’s a lot of parts of your body that need glucose mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but I will say that protein is not a good energy source. So like you said, you add in carbohydrates for me, I add in fat for my energy.

Maria (31:46):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, me carbohydrates just cause more sugar cravings. And I don’t know, I just got away from that where fat is my energy source. I can run marathons in a fasted state because I just tapped into that, you know, burning fat for energy rather than burning glucose for energy. That’s why like you run marathons, right? Where you hit the, the wall, you know, that mile 20, that’s because they’re running off of glucose, right? Mm-hmm. You run fat, you can like easily slide through that mile 20. Um, but again, protein is not a good energy source. So if you have a lot of body fat, you wanna tap into that. And so lowering that dietary fat, prioritizing protein will let you get through that. You can use your body fat for energy, but you have to work at it. If you’re consuming a lot of dietary fat, your body doesn’t have to do that work and it’s not going to, because it’s much, much, much easier to use the dietary fat. However, if you start to get lean like you and I have, and then you need an energy source. You have to choose carbohydrates or fat, and

Brad (32:56):
I think it’s a, you think it’s an either or or can you possibly thrive with a reasonable amount of both nutritious carbs and natural fats in the diet?

Maria (33:08):
Obviously you can do both. However, I will, I mean, maybe we’re gonna disagree here, but there’s essential amino acids that come from protein. There’s essential fatty acids that come from fat. There’s no essential carbohydrate,

Brad (33:23):

Maria (33:25):
So for me, leaving the carbohydrates out, I just thrive on the other two. But I, you know, maybe, maybe I would actually win the marathons if I added in carbohydrates <laugh>, right? Because I don’t, but like, um, are you familiar with Zach Bitter?

Brad (33:41):

Maria (33:42):
You know, like he does so much glucose per, you know, hour, he’s going to be running a race. Yeah. It’s not a lot, but it’s some, but you know, for me, I just don’t do that at all. So maybe my energy could be better. I don’t know.

Brad (33:59):
I feel like, um, it, it’s reasonable when you’re talking about the level of intensity and you can go all day, uh, in a fat burning state. And we know that. And, uh, what was the other runner’s name? Zach’s friend, uh, Michael, uh, Morton. He ran a hundred miles with no calories in 18 hours. Not jogging, but grinding 18 hour pace is a very top performance. And, he had some liquid amino and water. And so, you know, we know what the human’s capable of. Um, but I’m, I’m curious if you feel like there’s some individuality here where you found a, a system that works for you, but maybe the next person, um, is gonna be in a, um, you know, low fat, high protein probably works for all humans. We probably can’t dispute that, but is there individuality here?

Maria (34:56):
I think there’s always individuality. And I think the biggest thing is what you can stick to. What’s going to work for you. Yeah.

Brad (35:05):

Maria (35:06):
If you despise like fat, like it’s just not gonna work for you. I, I love it. It’s, uh, it tastes delicious, right? So it works for me. I don’t really, I don’t crave, you know, fruit or anything like that, so it just doesn’t bother me to not to live without it. But I think the biggest point is whatever you can stick with is what’s gonna work for you. You know? I think that we can’t ignore that fact that we’re all, we crave different things. We want different things, and that’s what’s gonna work for you. But I did wanna bring up that you’re coming to Maui, what, next week?

Brad (35:43):

Maria (35:44):
And they’re pretty much gone now. But the humpback whales, they come to Maui and specifically because we have a very shallow, it’s called the plague, the nursery. It’s a great place for them to come and mate and have their babies. They don’t eat anything the whole time they’re here. The only whales that do are the babies. They’ll have breast milk, but they fast for months while they’re coming. They come to Hawaii, there’s no food for them, the waters can clear, but then they’ll swim back up to Alaska where they’ll bubble net and eat lots. But the fact that they’re, you know, basically keto whales I think is so cool. ’cause they’re, they’re fasting that whole time. But anyway, I, I digress, but it was just, I’m looking outta the ocean. So,

Brad (36:29):
How has fasting played a role in your journey?

Maria (36:35):
I am a big advocate of intermittent fasting where you close the window, so it gives your body time to focus on other things rather than always digesting food. However, with extended fasting, the only time I use that protocol is like in a case of cancer, um, as it does show that you will lose lean mass mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so I’m not a big fan of water fasting only. Instead I like a protein sparing modified fast where you focus on getting enough protein, you know, all the other nutrients are dialed down, but you get enough protein to keep your lean mass. It’s still a caloric deficit, so you can, you know, burn the body fat, but you’ll maintain the muscle. But extended water fasting, I’m, I’m not a fan.

Brad (37:22):
So where’s this come in when you mentioned cancer? And so we’re going off the, um, we’re going off the grid for a moment, and I’m very fascinated because, uh, let’s see, I was talking to Cate Shanahan, we did a whole show titled how to become cancer proof. And we both asked the question, like, if you were diagnosed tomorrow, what would you do? And Cate said she would travel to the clinic in Hungary where they, it’s called Paleo Medicina, where they treat cancer with like ketogenic diet. And, um, I’m like, dang, what? You know, what would I do? But, uh, she said, uh, the first thing she would do is just watch it for a while, <laugh>. I’m like, are you freaking kidding me? Like you wouldn’t rush into, you know, immediate chemo, which is what happens when we, we get that, uh, that terrible diagnosis. But I’m curious, like, you know, have you, uh, dabbled in this with people you’ve advised or where did that comment come from? <laugh>?

Maria (38:20):
Uh, yeah, no, I, I work with many people, sadly with cancer. Um, some of my coaches that I, I help train coaches. I have a coaches program mm-hmm. <affirmative>, one of them in particular, Lisa, um, she has, she has such re results. The doctors are always recommending her for the cancer patients and shrinking tumors. Like, it’s just fantastic results. I feel that cancer’s very smart, though it can thrive on different fuels. Mm-hmm. You know, and it just wants a fuel and it will thrive on whatever it can get. I think it can thrive on ketosis. So this is where I fear people that are doing the exogenous ketones and they still eat whatever the heck they want because now you have high glucose and you have high ketones.

Brad (39:07):

Maria (39:07):
I think that’s a recipe for disaster and cancer, you know? So I think that lowering the fuel sources of all states can be very helpful. But I recently went to Mexico to do stem cells.

Brad (39:23):
Oh wow.

Maria (39:24):
it’s a stem cell hospital that does a lot with cancer patients. There’s a whole ward of cancer patients. And this is what bothered me. They fed us, you know, we were I was there for a week and they, they fed us and it was vegan food and it was always served in a hot food in a plastic container. And to me, like

Brad (39:46):
Some molecules there, thank you.

Maria (39:48):
I know. I was like, I’m not touching it. I’ll, you know, like I am good. And they’re like, well, you have to eat something. I was like, it’s a, you know, like I just, I was fine. I ended up, you know, eating, when I would go to the hotel and stuff, it was fine. But it was just interesting how they didn’t address all of the plastics leaching into the hot food. And like, that just bothered me. I was like, oh geez. I dunno.

Brad (40:14):
What was your inspiration to go get stem cells and how did you feel about the effects?

Maria (40:21):
Are you familiar with ankylosing spondylitis?

Brad (40:24):
I don’t think so. Sorry.

Maria (40:26):
That’s okay. Um, uh, I don’t wanna cry on you, Brad. Hmm. Um, it’s all right. My, uh, most people know my husband suffers terribly with it. And that’s why he does the carnivore diet. ’cause it helps manage a lot of the pain. But what ankylosing spondylitis is, is where, you know, you have a nice, beautiful back that bends and curves and all this, right? Well, it’s where the joints calcify and turn a bone. Mm. And at this point, his whole back is fused of bone. So his back is very, he’s hunched over and he can, he can’t turn his head or anything ’cause it’s all he know. We’re still blessed to be able to move mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that’s why like, some people are like, oh crap, I have to work out. I’m like, I get to go workout. Yeah. Because I know how he wishes he could move.

Maria (41:18):
You know, long story short, I want him to do it. And he’s like, I don’t know, like, you go do it. Tell me what it’s like. And I was, I’ll go in a heartbeat. So I did.

Brad (41:31):

Maria (41:31):
But I also had one-on-one with the doctor. And they don’t, they do have positive results with autoimmune issues and the autoimmune response going down, but to reverse the calcification of the body, they’re like, I don’t know, there’s other treatments. And so they gave me a list of other treatments to do and stuff, but it was definitely like a very interesting eye-opening experience for sure. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Brad (42:02):
So back to the, the hot tip for cancer. Your strategy is to, uh, minimize caloric intake, I suppose, as, as part of the battle and anything with the macros there or?

Maria (42:17):
Yeah. I would lower the protein most likely to not signal the mTOR as much. I mean, you want mTOR for muscle building, but at that point, I don’t think building muscles might gonna be my priority. It’s gonna be like focusing on the cancer. We’d have seen promising results with lowering that protein amount. But again, you don’t want anything to be too high ketones or anything. But I think that’s why your body often gets nauseous and doesn’t feel like eating. I think it’s nature’s way of saying, you gotta stop fueling this fire going on in the body. You know? So I guess, you know, that, and I would probably just hang out on the beach a lot more and enjoy life. Right.

Brad (43:04):
Try to get the immune system going. And obviously it’s not sustainable to starve yourself for forever. But I guess in that initial 90 days or however long you’re in a sort of a, a crisis situation where you’re trying to deal with something that would be, that would be your favorite strategy.

Maria (43:24):
Yeah. I’ll have to listen to that podcast to find out her tips.

Brad (43:28):
<laugh>. And then back to you’re mentioning the, you said folks like you and I where we have, uh, we’re lean, we’re we’re fit and all that. Do you feel like there’s kind of different sets of decision making parameters when you hit that fork in the road where a lot of people are in this game with the goal of losing excess body fat? That’s probably the number one reason for people to modify their diet, transform their lifestyle, versus someone who let’s say, has healthy metabolic markers. Are things gonna look differently down those various forks?

Maria (44:05):
Yeah. I mean, I don’t, I have a free macro calculator and everybody’s always like, well, I lost 20 pounds so I have to do redo my macros because it’s a free calculator. You can do it as many times as you want to. But if you use the macro calculator, your protein isn’t gonna change because your lean mass, it’s based off your lean mass. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, take your protein goal, the weight you lose should be fat. And so the protein macro won’t change. ’cause your lean mass is the same. What’s going to change is the calories, the dietary fat and carbohydrates. And again, you can play with which one you wanna increase. Right? But that’s where people always ask me like, what, what’s a day of eating look like for you? And it’s like, well first of all, I’m not in a weight loss mode.

Maria (44:53):
I run the beach every morning. I lift weights every morning. Like I take walks. I’m on my paddle board. Like I don’t stop moving all day. So my caloric fat is much higher than what I would use for someone who was trying to lose weight. Right. So that’s where like, ’cause everyone’s like, I just wanna do what you do. It’s like, well no you don’t because we’re, we’re different. You know, and my activity level is different than yours and all of that. So yeah, it’s gonna depend a lot on your activity level, how much weight you have to lose. Like we had Tyler, he was 500 and some pounds and so he was in a metabolic crisis and he needed to those fat cells fast. He got away with a lot of protein spare modified fast days a week. I don’t recommend doing it all the time, just like water fast all the time. But he lost a hundred pounds in two months. Like that’s unreal. Yeah.

Brad (45:57):
That’s, uh, what, 20% of his body weight in two months.

Maria (46:03):
You know what’s interesting though, <laugh> been at 570 pounds. He never once, he didn’t have diabetes. He didn’t have any insulin resistant, nothing. But that’s where it’s interesting, like gaining weight is a protective mechanism. Mm-hmm. Right? Like the more fat cells you have that is going to protect you from getting type two diabetes. And this is why when people get like liposuction or something, you are more likely to get insulin resistance in type two diabetes because you don’t have as many fat cells anymore.

Brad (46:35):
Yeah. And also compare contrast to that client you mentioned a while back that was 103 pounds but had diabetes and you said that her fat, the fat cells that she had are all filled up. Which people, that’s not a good scene because then what happens is the bloodstream starts getting dumped with excess glucose, excess insulin. But maybe talk us through a little bit why maybe we, we shouldn’t be, um, as, as phobic of, you know, carrying little extra body fat as a protective mechanism.

Maria (47:07):
Right. But in her case, she wasn’t even, her body wasn’t allowing her to gain that extra fat that she wanted. She didn’t have liposuction or anything like that. But this is kind of like that Asian paradox. They look very healthy and thin on my eyes, but they don’t have a lot of fat cells. The ones that they have often are stuffed full. It’s Asian paradox ’cause they’re like the leading, leading growth of type two diabetes. Oh. Um, so it’s just, yeah. Being, you know, 10, 20 pounds overweight. Gaining that fat isn’t necessarily the, the worst thing. But also like you can only stuff those cells so much. So ultimately the goal is to get to the ideal body weight so you get, can reverse all of those illnesses and then reverse the chance of having insulin resistance or type two diabetes. ’cause you know, shaking the fat cells and gaining muscle is I the ideal situation.

Brad (48:12):
So that’s where exercise comes in to the forefront. And I know that’s a nice pillar of your work and you’re always blending not just picking the right foods, but going for this lifestyle. Maybe you should answer the question and then talk about a little bit about your retreat and b and how you, um, how you engage with people to that have that immersion and lifestyle transformation.

Maria (48:36):
Do you remember having to run the mile in school?

Brad (48:39):
Oh yes. That was my event and I ran many of ’em. Painful. Aw, that

Maria (48:43):
Was your event. See I tried, my mother reminded me, I tried to break my legs so I didn’t have to run the mile <laugh>. This is how much I despised running and exercise and stuff. So it didn’t come easy for me. But I had to take a big look at how I was dealing with, you know, like depression and sadness. When I would eat the pan of cinnamon rolls, I never felt better. I always felt worse. And so I had to find something that truly made me happy and feel good. And you know what it was? Getting outside, taking a walk. Now it’s running the beach or swim, doing something outside where it makes me just feel happy. So like, this is why I try to tell people, if you don’t like to run, don’t make yourself burn uhhuh. Right? Do something that you enjoy and that you love to move your body to. You know, just be outside specifically. You’ll never catch me at a gym. I don’t, I don’t enjoy that. But I’ll take hand weights and go lift weights when I’m walking the beach. You know, like I try to just multitask and do things that I enjoy. But I don’t know. I’m not how I got. And I just like the, I I’m not one to meditate in a silent, quiet, non-movement state, but I can meditate when I’m like running and doing stuff.

Brad (50:10):
I hear ya. I’m hoping that counts. My friend Dave Rossi, who’s been on the podcast many times and it’s big, big into meditation, he’s like, no, it doesn’t count. I’m like, yes it does. ’cause when I’m doing my morning routine and all I’m doing is counting the reps, and so my mind is completely just engaged in, you know, the, the activity. I feel like it is qualifying as a certain type of meditative experience. And it’s a nice, you know, it’s a nice frame to the day.

Maria (50:38):
Yeah. I don’t know if it’s gonna, you know, count like <laugh>. I love meditation, but I, that’s the only, that’s my, I don’t know, that’s my, I love that time. It’s like amazing for me. So yeah, anyway, I love it. I love moving my body. It makes, I don’t know, just makes me feel good. Especially afterwards. Right. But, um, the retreats, like, uh, some lady, she messaged me on Facebook like, I don’t know, seven years ago, eight years ago, Joe Maria, you’re, you know, let’s take people to Italy. I’m like, oh my gosh. Like, I grew up with not a lot of money. I never thought I’d ever go to Europe, ever. Like it’s just, I always wanted to go, but it just wasn’t in my, you know, budget. I said, Hey, this lady’s asking me to go to Europe with, to Italy with her.

Maria (51:26):
And he is like, just give her your number. See what happens. And so I did, and I love my mother, but this lady’s like my second mother. We talk all the time. Her name’s Juliana. She’s from Italy. She lives in the United States South, but she’s like, let’s do retreats, let’s do keto retreats in Italy. And so it started with Italy and now we’re also doing Croatia. And then another company reached out to me. And so that one I’ve done Greece with. We’re doing Bali and South Africa, and there’s no judging. Let’s get that clear. I’m not a judgy person. If you wanna have lemon jello, I don’t care. But there’s some people that need to be in a situation where they have keto food. Like if they have type one diabetes or whatever, and they want a safe vacation to have, you know, healthy food, they have that option. But what I love is I’m planning everybody else’s life, including my families and all that. I love showing up at the airport. I know a private car’s picking me up. I know there’s always a beautiful hotel to stay at. I know that there’s always to transportation, there’s always tickets, events, there’s always dinner. I don’t have to do anything <laugh>. I, and what I usually do is I don’t look at the itinerary. I like to be surprised. Hmm. So, that’s how, yeah. I don’t know what’s going on in Bali. I just show up.

Brad (52:52):
Wow. Yeah. Fun times. And listeners, you can connect on all these levels and find out what you’re up to at the great website. Tell us about all the resources there too. All the free stuff as well as all the books.

Maria (53:06):
Thank you. Thank you. If you go to keto maria.com, that’s kind of like my landing website where you could either find the blog that has thousands of free recipes from the last, you know, 15 years or you could find support. But if you go all the way to the bottom, there’s free support groups. There’s my YouTube channel. The retreats are on there. If you wanna become a certified keto coach, you can become one of those. But that’s kinda like where you’ll find everything.

Brad (53:36):
Maria Emmerich, everybody, thank you so much for listening. Thanks for joining us, Maria, have fun in Bali that you’re off to for the next retreat. Maybe we’ll, maybe we’ll see some listeners out there someday.

Maria (53:47):
Oh, I hope so. Thanks Brad. You’re awesome.

Brad (53:52):
Thank you so much for listening to the B.rad podcast. We appreciate all feedback and suggestions. Email podcast@bradventures.com and visit brad kearns.com to download five free eBooks and learn some great long cuts to a longer life. How to optimize testosterone naturally, become a dark chocolate connoisseur and transition to a barefoot and minimalist shoe lifestyle.




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