Tag Archives for " keto "
If you ask people who watch their carbohydrates how many you can eat, you'll get dozens of answers. Dr. Eric Westman and Amy Berger help you end your carb confusion.
Dr. Westman is an associate professor of medicine at Duke University. He is board-certified in obesity medicine and internal medicine and founded the Duke Keto Medicine Clinic in 2006 after eight years of clinical research regarding low carbohydrate ketogenic diets
Amy Berger is an Air Force veteran and certified nutrition specialist who specializes in helping people do keto without the crazy. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and writes about a wide range of health nutrition-related topics such as insulin, metabolism, weight loss, diabetes, thyroid function, and more.
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In her book The Ketogenic Key: Unlock the Secrets to Lose Weight, Slow Aging, Stop Inflammation, and Prevent Disease, Lori Shemek shows us how to use the ketogenic diet for optimal wellness. Most of the health issues we deal with today are caused by poor nutrition choices. With all of the health and fitness information available, it can get really confusing. Lori helps us understand how to make keto an everyday lifestyle that gives us better health.
This episode of the 40+ Fitness Podcast is sponsored by Reel Paper. Reel paper sells toilet paper made from 100% bamboo, which grows faster, requires less water, creates more oxygen, a.k.a. less greenhouse gases, and doesn't require replanting after harvesting. Yes, sustainable toilet paper is available for you now, conveniently shipped for free to your home. We must begin treating the earth better and you can do it by going to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/tp and get 25% off with the discount code. 40plus.[00:02:55.110] – Allan
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Can a vegan go keto? In her book, Vegan Keto, Liz MacDowell explains exactly how to do it and she provides some wonderful recipes to help you on your journey. On this episode, we discuss her book.
Allan (1:25): Liz, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Liz MacDowell (1:30): Hi Allan. Thank you. It’s so nice to be here.
Allan (1:34): When I saw your book I was like, “I’ve got to get her on my show”, because it’s Vegan Keto, and I’ve had this conversation with various people over the years. I’m one of those folks right now that’s kind of the backlash against bacon. I’m like, “Please, let’s stop talking about bacon. This is not the bacon diet.” Unfortunately, most people that are vegetarian and vegan, that’s all they hear.
Liz MacDowell (2:02): Exactly.
Allan (2:04): I know they’re saying I can eat bacon, but they’re hearing you eat bacon. It’s a really hard message to explain to folks that we need to get away from the bacon.
Liz MacDowell (2:17): It’s so true. It’s almost like keto has a bit of a PR problem. It was so enticing at first to everyone to hear, “You can eat bacon”, because bacon is that food that’s always kind of tossed back and forth by doctors as either going to kill you now or going to kill you in two years. So people were excited to hear they could have a healthy diet with bacon, but I think it became the overarching message that it’s burgers and bacon and cheese and eggs.
Allan (2:43): We could’ve said the same thing about mayonnaise. You can have all the mayonnaise you want. It’s the perfect fat, if you get the right kind of fat in your mayonnaise. So if it’s an avocado-based mayonnaise, you can just eat as much mayonnaise as you want. That’s not the message of the keto diet, but unfortunately I think that’s where a lot of folks have kind of taken it.
Liz MacDowell (3:05): Exactly. It definitely seems incompatible at first when you think vegan diet and then you think ketogenic diet.
Allan (3:12): Right, but the other side of it is, I’ll be the first to admit that when you’re doing ketosis and the ketogenic diet, you are being restrictive in your food choices. When you’re being vegan, you’re being restrictive in your food choices. Putting the two together is now a compound of, you have to be very, very selective about every bit of morsel of food that goes into your body to meet both of those requirements.
Liz MacDowell (3:47): That is very true. It’s funny, I’ve been doing this for so long and I just kind of eat what I want now, but you’re practiced at it, you know what you can eat. So I don’t feel as though I’m being restricted at all. But then you think about it. When you go to a restaurant and the waitress asks if you have any dietary concerns, it’s almost embarrassing. I just don’t say anything at this point; I just order a salad.
Allan (4:11): Yeah. It’s like, “Don’t even give me the menu.”
Liz MacDowell (4:18): “I will just be ordering vegetables sides, thank you.”
Allan (4:23): And then just say, “Bring me some olive oil to spice it up a little.” And that was one of the interesting things – I’m starting to see this trend in the conversation. I had Dr. Will Cole on not long ago. His book is Ketotarian. He does show you in the book how you can be vegan and do this, how you can be vegetarian or pescatarian. He kind of blends it out there to say you can find an eating style and you can still make it work for keto. But I’m just now starting to hear this message come out, despite my telling people you can. It’s restrictive and it’ll take a lot of work, especially at the front, as you said. But you’ve been doing this for a while. That kind of surprised me, because I really have never heard of anyone sustainably doing this. And so, I’d like to share your story if you don’t mind.
Liz MacDowell (5:23): Yeah, absolutely. I first stumbled upon keto I think through reddit, where I stumble upon most things, in 2012 over the summer. And it was a period of my life where I hadn’t really been eating that well, I’d put on some weight, I was feeling lethargic, tired and sick all the time, and was really looking for a way to feel better both physically and emotionally, really. Because when you’re not feeling your best physically, you get really depressed. I don’t really know how I stumbled upon keto, but at some point in time someone directed me to this keto page where I started learning about all these blood sugar regulation issues, which hit home for me, because I had been hypoglycemic my entire life. And then you just read more and more. And the more I read about it, I thought it couldn’t hurt to try a high fat diet. I’d tried a super high carb diet, as I think most vegans go through the high carb phase, and that was disastrous for me. I know that works for some people. I’m not at all maligning that way of eating. I think that if it works for you, awesome. I just am not a person who can pound 300 grams of carbs a day and feel okay.
Allan (6:44): That was one of the struggles I had. I kind of stumbled into ketosis myself. I was eating Paleo, effectively, but I was keeping my protein at more of a moderate level, which by nature means I was eating more fat. So, with that I started noticing some physical changes – my breath, my energy level, that I just couldn’t explain. I know I’m eating high quality food, but I’ve eaten high quality food before and I didn’t feel like this, and my breath didn’t smell like this. Then I started doing some research and that’s where I came upon ketosis and I’m like, “Okay, let’s figure this out.” I went and got some stuff, and sure enough I’m in ketosis. And then I started reading up on it and understanding some of the other health benefits of it. There are so many studies out there that show that the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, way of eating are also excellent ways to protect your health. I tried the pescatarian. I knew I couldn’t just play the figuring out the proteins thing. I know there are vegetarian bodybuilders and vegan bodybuilders out there. I know it can be done; it’s just I don’t have the mental energy to do it week in, week out. I know once I got past the dip, it would’ve been fine, but it was that first thing. So I said I’m going to do pescatarian and allow myself to eat fish, and I’m going to eat vegetables and grains and the whole bit.
And what I found was that I was hungry all the time, which caused me to binge on fruit and nuts. And I had to have food with me everywhere I went. I had food in my truck, food at my desk. I was pretty much eating all day, every day, just to keep my energy level. And I would do steel-cut oats in the morning for breakfast, but still by 10:00 I was starving. So I brought myself three servings of walnuts, and I had other food in my office. I just would sit there and binge for the rest of the day. So, there are ways that are going to help us be more healthful and we have to know ourselves, which is what I really appreciated about your story. You’ve now found that balance. You said, “Okay, I know what I can eat. I know how to eat this way.” Now, to do this, I think where most of us think that the vegan aspects of this would make it extremely difficult to hit your micronutrients. I had trouble thinking I could do it with the protein. But we also now have this consideration on, how do I get enough fat into my diet without just drinking olive oil? Can you talk a little bit about the macronutrients? But then I think the bigger story in the end is going to be the micronutrients, because we’re excluding so many foods. There are two layers of complexity here – the macros, which already seem challenging, and the micros, which add a whole another level of depth. Can you go through those a bit?
Liz MacDowell (9:46): Yeah, absolutely. I think part of what makes keto a little bit less intimidating than I would say a Paleo diet for vegans is the moderate protein aspect of it, because you don’t have to worry about hitting 100 grams of protein or 120 grams of protein, which honestly on a keto diet would be totally impossible to do without supplementing. Obviously depending on factors, but for most people I think you would really need to consume a lot of protein powder in order to achieve that 100 grams, 120 grams.
Allan (10:23): And the reality is, most of us don’t need that. When you look at what our output is and our muscle-building capacities, particularly those of us over the age of 40, we just need that maintenance level of protein, which is really a moderate protein. It’s not as high as Atkins or some Paleo paths would have you believe.
Liz MacDowell (10:42): Absolutely. I think that’s another thing where keto is actually less intimidating, because you really don’t need as much protein as people tell you you need. I think we’re all very afraid of not getting enough protein in our culture, which is crazy because we don’t have protein deficiencies all that often. But to hit those macros, I rely on things like hemp seeds, which provide omega three fatty acids, just fats in general; and a good dose of protein for very few carbohydrates. Olives are a great source of fat. I like coconut. I prefer to eat whole food sources as opposed to pouring oil on things. This is so silly, but I feel like I’m getting more food if it’s a whole food source, which volume-wise is true. And also because the olive obviously has a more rounded profile of nutrients than pure olive oil. But I think it’s mostly that I just like eating.
Allan (11:43): There are things that we’re getting from plants that we don’t necessarily get if we’re eating what would effectively be a fortified or processed food. And even if it’s cold pressed, olive oil did go through a process.
Liz MacDowell (11:59): Exactly. And heating it to cook your food, you lose a few more nutrients. Less so with the minerals, but still there is some nutrient loss. Again, I really enjoy eating food. I think you get a whole slew of other benefits. There are so many phytochemicals in plants that we don’t even understand their purpose, but you see studies over and over that show supplementing with the vitamin is okay, although sometimes deleterious to your health, but consuming the whole foods provides added benefits that are greater than the sum of its parts.
Allan (12:36): You hit on a couple of things as you were going through there. There is a higher likelihood with the restrictiveness of trying to be vegan and keto. There are some supplements that you’re going to have to figure out. The big one I know of is the B12. You’re only going to get that from meat and eggs, but if you’re not eating meat and eggs, which you wouldn’t be in vegan, you have to find out your B12. You can measure B12 when you go in and get a blood test, so you can see if you’re deficient, which most vegans probably are. But you supplement. And there are other micronutrients you talked about in the book that I’d really like to spend a little bit of time on.
Liz MacDowell (13:29): Absolutely. So you definitely hit on the big one, B12. What’s sneaky about B12 is your liver can store up to seven years of it. You might not know that you’re slowly becoming deficient year after year because your blood work is showing that you still have enough B12, but eventually it runs out. I read a lot of studies while writing this book, and one of them I was reading showed that a surprising number of meat eaters are also deficient in B12. I think part of that can be attributed to the fact that B12 isn’t really in the food, but rather it’s synthesized by gut bacteria. And so, if we have unhealthy gut flora, it could potentially lead to… I’m kind of spitballing here, but it could potentially lead to a B12 deficiency. I recommend B12 for vegans across the board, keto or not, because as you said, if you’re not eating these animal foods, and even if you are eating these animals foods, sometimes people are deficient. So, testing is important and just keep in mind that if your test shows you’re fine, you should still be aware of your B12 intake.
Vitamin D is another one. I take a vitamin D supplement as well. I’m very pale, so the sun just scorches me, so I don’t like to rely on endogenous production. I think vitamin D is another really important one for vegans because most of the food products that contain it are eggs or dairy milk. Those are things we’re just not consuming. B vitamins are obviously very important for energy production. They’re most commonly found in meat, really. You can find them in grains as well, but the ketogenic diet would not have grains typically.
Allan (15:24): Or at least very little of them, because you would hit your threshold pretty quickly.
Liz MacDowell (15:29): Right, exactly. Not a substantial amount or a significant amount. I actually don’t supplement B vitamins because I put nutritional yeast on of all my food. Not all of it, but you know what I mean. I try to get nutritional yeast in every day, which is a fantastic source of protein. It’s low in carbs and it contains a spectrum of B vitamins. You can even buy nutritional yeast that’s fortified with B12, which would eliminate the need to purchase a separate supplement for that.
Allan (16:01): Okay, cool. I didn’t realize until I read your book how fundamentally good yeast can be. It has a cheesy taste, so I’ve got to figure that out. You had a recipe in the book about these flax seeds that were sort of like fake Doritos. I’m going to try those. We’re recording this ahead of time, but I’m planning Ketofest, a Minifest here. I don’t know if you know Carl Franklin of 2 Keto Dudes, but he wants people to do these keto Minifests, and I agreed to host one. So Carl’s coming down here to Pensacola for us to do this thing. When you’re listening to this, it’s already passed. But I’m planning on making those for that event. I’ve got the recipe, I’ve got the ingredients on my phone, ready to walk to the grocery store later and pick up those things. So, I will be introducing the world to your recipe tomorrow.
Liz MacDowell (17:09): Amazing, thank you! I’m so excited! You’ll have to let me know how they turn out.
Allan (17:13): Absolutely. Now, you had some other items in there that I guess vegans don’t have to so much worry about, and that was the zinc and iodine.
Liz MacDowell (17:29): And magnesium and calcium, I think I list in there too. Exactly, these are minerals which are obtainable by eating whole foods. And in the book, as you know, I list out all the sources. Hemp seeds actually appear on a lot of those lists. I really love them. I’m going to keep telling people to eat them because I think they’re fantastic. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of zinc, magnesium as well. A lot of these foods also overlap. It can be overwhelming at first to look at a list and say, “Oh no, I have to eat an ounce of that, an ounce of that, and an ounce of that.” But really, a lot of the times you can get double duty out of some of these foods.
Allan (18:10): That takes me to the next topic. When we go on what’s perceived as a restrictive diet… It’s funny, I’ll read a study about keto or about at least the high fat, low carb. And a lot of times the researchers will go through and I don’t think they like the conclusion. And so, they’re going to make a statement in their conclusion that, “This is unsustainable, therefore we should throw it out.”
Liz MacDowell (18:41): We have read similar studies, I see.
Allan (18:45): They basically poopoo their whole study. They still need to get it published because they’re looking for a university and they have to get published, and they’ve done all this work. They just don’t like the answer, so they say, “It’s unsustainable, so just do it the way we’ve been telling you to do it.” I can say for a lot of people that really are wanting to get into keto, but there’s this fear factor of, “I’m eliminating all the foods” – I can tell you when I first went Paleo, I had dreams about bread. I mean literal dreams, like I used to dream about women. But this was bread. Kind of an interesting dream to wake up from and say, “Do I smell bread cooking?” You put some guidance in your book about stress-free ways to get into keto, and I really appreciated the tips that you had in there. Would you mind sharing those?
Liz MacDowell (19:46): Thank you. Absolutely. I think my biggest thing is – and I mention this in the book too – my favorite adage is the best diet, or the best exercise routine, or the best supplement routine, or insert a thing here, is the one you can stick to. If you start right out of the gate with this tiny list of acceptable foods and this super strict schedule for eating and all of your apps and all this madness, it’s kind of like a second job to try and achieve this diet. It’s probably not going to work unless you’re already doing that with a different diet. I always think that you should ease into it and do what’s best for your body. And if that’s going cold turkey and diving in and hitting that 20 grams a day and giving up everything you’ve ever loved food-wise – if that works for you, that’s awesome. But it doesn’t really work for everyone. So, I often advocate just easing your way into it and picking a reasonable number of carbs to stick with, or even ignoring tracking altogether for their first little bit. Just focusing on eating low carb foods and seeing how you feel.
Allan (21:01): I completely agree and I think that’s one of the cool things. When I first saw your book listed, I thought it was a cookbook, just a cookbook. I was pleased to see that it wasn’t, that it had this other stuff in it to help someone. To me that is one way if you want to ease into this – to buy a book that has some recipes in it, and try the recipes, using them as a substitute for the meal you would have had otherwise. So if normally you would have had a dinner with an animal product, and potentially you would have had some starches and probably even some high glycemic vegetables, like carrots or whatnot – now you’re going in and saying, “Here’s an entree and here’s a side from this book. I’m going to have a ketogenic meal.”
Liz MacDowell (21:54): Exactly. And that’s one of my favorite ways, is just one meal at a time, or even one food group at a time. If you rely heavily on rice, maybe try switching out for cauliflower rice and see how that feels. I guess the most that you can do for yourself is be kind and listen to your body and understand that you are not like everyone else. You might not function all that well if you go from eating 250 grams of carbs a day down to 20 grams a day. I think most of us struggle with that at the beginning.
Allan (22:27): Absolutely.
Liz MacDowell (22:29): I think that when people take this “all or nothing” approach, some are great at it. Some people need that, but for others it can be really intimidating and kind of scare them off.
Allan (22:39): Okay. Other tips that you had?
Liz MacDowell (22:47): Don’t necessarily listen to people on the Internet – that’s a big one.
Allan (22:51): But they’re so sure of themselves.
Liz MacDowell (22:54): I know. They’re so angry about it too. I didn’t realize my breakfast impacted your day that much. I see this all the time. Someone posts a picture of their meal and then the comments on Facebook in the group, or on Instagram are like, “That’s not keto” or, “I can’t believe you’re eating this” or, “Who told you you could eat that?” Calm down, don’t listen to that. If that’s what makes your body feel good, then eat that food. Sometimes it’s genuinely people wanting to help someone else and saying, “I don’t know if you realize, but this has this much sugar in it”, or whatever. But you do see a little bit of unnecessary food policing, and I think that a big factor is to tune that out for a little while.
Allan (23:37): I’ll admit, there’ve been times when I saw something on a forum or something that was out there, and it was really more I didn’t want other people doing this.
Liz MacDowell (23:49): For sure.
Allan (23:53): She probably listens to the show; I’m calling her out again. But she would go to McDonald’s and tell them she wanted the McDouble, and give her two McDoubles but only give her the meat and the cheese. Basically she’s got four beef patties and the cheese that’s on each one. So, four slices of cheese and four beef patties, and she would eat that as a meal. I said I think that’s far too much protein. That would probably knock me out of ketosis because of the amount of protein. And she came back and says, “No, I tested. I’m staying in ketosis. It’s great. And I’m lifting heavy.” It works for her and it’s great. At that point I said, “Okay, I’m glad it works for you.” We’re all very, very different in the way that food affects us. I wish it was that simple – one size fits all, and then life would be beautiful. But unfortunately, there are foods I can’t eat because they adversely affect my health. And so, I do agree. Taking what you’re saying, someone is probably coming from a good place, but they’re not recognizing that what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, the motivations of what you have and the limitations of what you have are all there. So, I completely agree with you on that one.
Liz MacDowell (25:24): You also raise a good point though, in that I see a lot of things tagged on social media, I think to get more views, saying, “This is a keto recipe”, when in no universe it’s keto. Like the main ingredient is banana or something. So I think that’s another one.
Allan (25:38): And they’re not always that bad. But there are some of them where it’s like, “Okay, fine, but we don’t need keto cookies. We just don’t.”
Liz MacDowell (25:53): I think there are a lot of products out there that we don’t really need, that we’re kind of being told we do need.
Allan (25:59): Yeah. And I knew it was coming when keto started building up and everything. Now they’re selling fat bombs, now there are all these exogenous ketones.
Liz MacDowell (26:11): They’re everywhere. There’s an MLM for them.
Allan (26:14): Right. It’s cool to occasionally have some kind of treat from the past. It’s cool to say, “I would love to have a keto pizza.” And it’s cool – have a keto pizza. But everything you’re eating shouldn’t be the same kind of foods you were eating before. We’re in this to be healthy, so you start transitioning over to whole foods.
Liz MacDowell (26:46): I have a rule with myself where if I want that kind of junk food thing, I have to make it myself. If you really want it, then yes, you’ll go through the effort to spend an hour, an hour and a half in the kitchen, making the cookie or the donut. I guess it’s not really that long, but you know what I mean. You’ll go through the effort, and then it’s kind of worth it.
Allan (27:08): And as a special treat, because you’re saying, “I really do want this.” So when we were talking about your mock Doritos, they’re made with flax seeds. Everything that’s going to go in there is ground flax seeds and yeast. I’m going to lay them out and I’m going to put them in the pan and cook them. I think the total cooking time, all in, is 30 minutes.
Liz MacDowell (27:32): Yeah, it’s pretty simple.
Allan (27:34): So, I’m going to get two cookie sheets and make enough that everybody can try some. I’m going to have your book open to that page, printed out sitting right there and say, “If you guys want to take this home, there you go. Go get the book, because there’s a lot more in there.” There are 60 recipes in the book.
Liz MacDowell (27:52): That’s awesome, thank you.
Allan (27:55): This is a treat. I’m having people over to my house and we’re all keto. So I’m like, “Let’s try this treat.” But that shouldn’t be the staples of your everyday eating.
Liz MacDowell (28:04): Right, exactly. And I think it’s so easy to forget that. Although I’ll admit while I was writing that book, they became the staples of my everyday eating, because I was so hesitant to waste anything.
Allan (28:17): It’s both. I’ve tried to develop different types of recipes and tried to experiment with the food to try to get different effects and see what things are doing. And as you’re doing that experimentation, you eat what you made, and sometimes it’s not good, but you’re not going to throw that food out.
Liz MacDowell (28:37): That’s so true.
Allan (28:39): But I stumbled across something – I call it “Allan’s fluff”. It’s the weirdest thing. Again, it’s not vegan, so anyone that’s looking at vegan, this does not fit your profile at all. It fits mine.
Liz MacDowell (28:51): I’ll just ignore the parts that don’t apply to me.
Allan (28:53): All of it doesn’t apply, but I guess you could make it part of it. But it’s sour cream, and it’s vanilla-flavored, but unsweetened – basically it’s sweetened with Stevia – protein powder. Now, I’m using a whey protein, but you can use a pea protein. Again, it’s vanilla-flavored. When you mix those two things together – basically about a cup of the sour cream, so eight ounces of sour cream, and a scoop of the protein powder, so about 27 grams of protein – it fluffs up like whipped cream. Vanilla-flavored whipped cream. Yes, it’s delicious. So yesterday – again, we’re planning something coming up, and I was thinking, what if I put pumpkin spice in that? What would that be like? I was testing that, and of course I had to eat my creation. It was good. I stirred it too much, so now I know I need to put the pumpkin spice in while I’m stirring it together, so I don’t break it down, because it will break down if you keep stirring it. So, you’re experimenting; you’re learning new ways to make food or make things interesting. For me it’s a great dessert or just a little afternoon snack if I want something like that, but it’s not something that I’m eating on a daily basis.
Liz MacDowell (30:15): Right. Something I do in the summer actually is really similar to that. In the summer I say because my kitchen’s like 96 degrees and I just can’t be bothered sometimes. But I’ll take full fat coconut milk, and mix it with some protein powder and toss in a couple of frozen berries, like a quarter cup, and mix all that up and it becomes very fluffy and delicious.
Allan (30:35): Cool, awesome. And that’s all I’m saying – experiment and have fun with your food, because too many times when we stress out about food are the things that we can’t eat. And instead, start exploring the things that you can and the flavors and the textures and the different things that you want out of your food to make it that much more enjoyable, and quite frankly, delicious.
Liz MacDowell (31:00): Absolutely. And nutritious. The more variety you eat, the more nutrients your body is taking in. That’s always good. It’s funny too – I think since going keto, the foods that I eat on a regular basis have actually expanded. I feel like I get more variety in now because you’re paying so close attention at the very beginning to the foods you can eat, that you realize there’s a whole section of the supermarket or there are whole types of foods or vegetables that you never really thought about before that are great for keto, like so many different types of greens that I’d never tried before. Now I try to regularly eat mustard greens and dandelion greens – all the stuff that I never thought about before.
Allan (31:49): I snuck some dandelion greens in with some kale and spinach. My wife doesn’t know the difference. She just knows, “It tastes good. He made it.” But I knew it had a different nutrition profile than what we would normally eat, because I took the time to experiment with something else.
Liz MacDowell (32:07): I do that to my husband too – I sneak little bits of all the vegetables into food. You have to sometimes.
Allan (32:15): If I’m doing the cooking, you’re subject to what you get.
Liz MacDowell (32:18): Exactly. Cook’s rules.
Allan (32:21): Yeah. Now, you also told a personal story about some struggles you had when you first got started in exercise. Of course as a personal trainer I want to delve into that a little bit, because people will come to me and they’re like, “I’m keto, but I was told I shouldn’t exercise.” And I’m like, “No, that’s the exact opposite. You have to exercise.” As you put in the book, in the very beginning of this, while you’re going through adaptation, it can be a struggle. You’re going to feel much more fatigued and not have the performance. So I would say, don’t start keto one week before you’re going to do a 5K which you’ve been training for for months, because your performance is going to be off the charts bad. So, can you tell a little bit about your story and then how you would encourage folks to work towards exercising appropriately?
Liz MacDowell (33:21): Absolutely. And I’m laughing at that situation, but really with it, because I’ve been there. Not with a 5K, but as you mentioned, I talk in the book about when I first started keto, I thought I could just do exercise as normal and continue on my merry way, running on the treadmill or outside or whatever. And it turned out to not at all be the case for me. I hit a wall so hard. At the very beginning your body feels like lead, your muscles have nothing to give you. I was holding on to the sides of the treadmill; it was amateur hour. I listened to what was right for my body, which was I slowed the pace down and I realized that something had to give, and for me that was the speed at which I was doing things, or I guess the intensity. I know this isn’t right for everyone, because everyone’s body is different, but for me what I had to do was kind of dial it back, slow down, lay off the intense exercising and be a little more gentle with myself, and then ease back into it. But for some people they can eventually push through the first few terrible workout.
Allan (34:32): Yeah, and a lot of it’s going to depend on the type of work that we’re doing. In my example, I was lifting heavy, but that’s very anaerobic-type work. I just do a quick set and I’m done. The energy that I need is all coming from APT, so it’s there. For that set, I don’t need to go to muscle and liver glycogen. I have all the energy I need to get that done. I take my two-minute break and everything is reset and I go in again. When you’re running, or any kind of aerobic exercise, that’s where I see most people will have the most difficulty. If they haven’t set their mindset to understand that there’s going to be that decline in performance, it really can be disheartening.
Liz MacDowell (35:23): For sure. There are ways to improve your performance though. I’ve seen really great results with a lot of people that I’ve worked with them and I just know. Simply adding in a few extra carbs before their workout – just make a smoothie, put some berries in it, and then give yourself that sort of bridge, like the bridge energy to get yourself through that workout.
Allan (35:46): You’re timing your carbs in such a way that they’re optimal at the time you’re going to most need them. And the other side of it is because of the aerobic work that you’re doing and burning off the muscle glycogen, when that hits your system, your body’s not going to initially need to have a huge insulin spike to protect you from it, protect your brain from it. It’s going to say, “The muscles are working and they’re going to need this.” Insulin not only shuttles the blood sugar to fat cells, it also shuttles it to the muscle. Even that little spike of insulin is not a bad thing, if you have the energy expenditure to make up for it. So I agree – meal-timing is really key. And then the other side of it is, just sticking with it.
Liz MacDowell (36:37): And insulin is anabolic too, so it can help you to help those gains.
Allan (36:43): It does. So you can time the meals if you need to. My trainer at the time, we would have conversations about this, because he really didn’t understand what I was doing when I first started talking to him about it. He knew what ketosis was, but he was like, “No, no, no. I don’t want you coming into the gym in the morning having not eaten. You need to eat before you come here.” I said, “No, I’m coming in. I’m completely fasted. That’s how I’m going to train. I don’t really want to lift weights in the morning, but that’s when you can train me, so that’s when I’m going to do it.” And I would go in completely fasted and have the energy to do it. That said, it was expenditure and then rest, expenditure and rest. So that was very different. I have a friend that runs distance and she puts on well over 100 miles a month. Her husband’s gone keto and he said he did 11 miles. So, a lot of people see performance improvement after they get through to that adaptation, which can take several months. But once you get to full adaptation, your body learns how to manage the glycogen stores to allow you to do. Now, anything over, say, 90 minutes, you might need to refeed a little bit of carbs, but for anything less than 90 minutes, unless you’re really, really busting your butt, your body will adapt.
Liz MacDowell (38:16): Yeah. And along those lines, I think you just learn how much you need to refeed and when you need to refeed. I love hiking. I love hiking mountains. The White Mountains in New Hampshire are so much fun, and some of them are fairly sizable. You’ll have 5K, 6K feet of elevation gain, which is super fun. But it also is very intense and takes a little more than an hour. I tend to find that on those days I need to bring along carrots with me as a snack, or even an apple, which feels like such a weird treat, but there you go. At the end of the day I’m still in ketosis, because over the course of that day, you’ve used up all of that sugar.
Allan (38:55): Yeah. It never really had an opportunity to impact your metabolism, because it was immediately being shuttled into the work that you were doing.
Liz MacDowell (39:05): Right.
Allan (39:06): Cool. Liz, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about this book… I’m interested to try some of the other recipes as well, but it’s not just a cookbook. There are 60 plus recipes in here and a lot of great information to help someone get into ketosis, but beyond that to understand how you can be vegan and keto. Where would you like for me to send them?
Liz MacDowell (39:34): MeatFreeKeto.com is my blog, where everything is, and that will have links to Vegan Keto, which is my cookbook – vegan keto book, and all that information.
Allan (39:46): So you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/348, and I’ll be sure to have links to the book and to Liz’s website MeatFreeKeto. Liz, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Liz MacDowell (40:00): Thank you so much for having me. This was such a fun chat.
Allan (40:09): If you enjoyed today’s episode, would you please take just one moment and leave us a rating and review on the application that you’re listening to this podcast right now? I’d really appreciate it, and it does help other people find the podcast, because it tells the people that are hosting these podcast episodes out there on their apps that you’re interested and they know that other people like you might be interested. So please do that. If you can’t figure out how to do that on your app, you can email me directly and I’ll try to figure it out for you. Or you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, and that’ll take you to the iTunes where you can launch that and leave a review there. I really appreciate the ratings and reviews. It does help the podcast, it helps me, so thank you very much for that.
Also, I’d really like to continue this conversation a little bit further, so if you haven’t already, why don’t you go ahead and join our Facebook group? You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group, and that’ll take you to our Facebook group where you can request entry. It’s a really cool group of people, likeminded, all in our 40s, all trying to get healthy and fit. I’d really love to have you out there and have you a part of that conversation. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group.
In his book, Ketotarian, Dr. Will Cole gives us a guide on keto for vegetarians and vegans. Many people believe that keto and vegetarians and vegans are two different paradigms, but Dr. Cole shows us that we can have the best of both worlds.
Allan (1:05): Dr. Cole, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Cole (1:10): Thanks so much for having me.
Allan (1:11): The book is called Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings, and Calm Inflammation. And just to start out with, I have to thank you profusely for writing this book. If I see another “bacon, bacon, bacon” conversation about keto, if I had hair I would pull it out. It’s one of those things. Yes, we want high fat, but that doesn’t mean that you just do away with the fact that our body needs the nutrition from the food, and not just the fat. So, I really did appreciate your approach to, one, how you explain the process of this working, and two, you actually put it together for folks with recipes and everything else.
Dr. Cole (2:01): Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. And that’s honestly one of the main reasons why I wrote Ketotarian, was to bring something new to the conversation. Like you said, the “bacon” conversation has been done. We don’t need another conventional ketogenic cookbook or health book out there. So I think something fresh, a plant-based, ketogenic conversation has been started.
Allan (2:26): Yes, and that’s why more and more of my clients are asking about this, like, “I really don’t want to eat a lot of meat and I’m trying to stay more vegetarian or more vegan.” There’s been this conversation that’s swelled up from behind me on this. I eat a lot of plants, but it’s within the realms of knowing my macros and knowing what my body can tolerate. Could you take a few moments to explain what ketotarian actually means and how someone would consider doing something like this?
Dr. Cole (3:00): Sure. Ketotarian is a book that we’re talking about. It’s my plant-based ketogenic book. Half of the book is science and health tips and functional medicine sort of perspective, which is where I come from, and ethos of why we’re doing this. And the heart of wellness that I think has to be at the foundation for sustainable wellness is really having self-respect. Self-care is a form of self-respect, and eating healthy foods and taking care of yourself is a form of self-respect. It’s a different conversation that’s being started for a ketogenic book, but I think seeing patients I realized for someone to sustainably be successful for any way that they’re eating, it has to be coming from a place of self- respect, presence, and loving your body enough to nourish it with good foods. So that’s really the cornerstone of Ketotarian in the first half of the book, plus all the health benefits of ketosis and the health benefits of being plant-based, and all the science and research. It’s heavily referenced, as far as the scientific literature is concerned.
And then the second half of the book is recipes, meal plans, all this practical stuff and pretty pictures. There’s over 81 different vegan, keto, vegetarian-keto and pescatarian-keto, or what I call in the book Ketotarian – another play on words – plant-based, but with wild caught fish and shellfish. So people can eat one way, they can just be vegan-keto, or they can eat a mixture of vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian options. And it’s this 8-week, plant-based keto experience for people to shift their body from being a sugar burner to a fat burner, get the anti-inflammatory benefits of ketosis. That’s what they’re doing in ketotarian. So it’s a play on words. I had somebody point out to me, I kind of created a celebrity couple name out of the title of my book. So, like Brangelina, this is ketotarian. It’s this amalgamation of the best of both worlds of being plant-based and keto.
Allan (5:15): The interesting thing is, I have a lot of keto authors on here, and I have a lot of vegetarian and vegan authors on here. It’s because I don’t want to be prescriptive about what someone’s going to eat. I need them to be comfortable that this fits their lifestyle, this fits them as a person. I’ve even said that to people, that when I talk to someone who’s on the keto side, who’s really successful at it – has gotten rid of their inflammation, is healthy, or I talked to someone on the vegan side who’s healthy, they’re always talking about whole food. They’re not talking about packaged things. Some of them do go a little under the bacon side on the keto, but that all said, I think it created this “us versus them” that really didn’t have to exist.
Dr. Cole (6:02): Absolutely. It’s a very strange thing, but I think tribalism is really deep in America right now on many different levels. And I think that this is just one sort of weird aspect of tribalism where it’s completely unnecessary. The dogmatic sides of both camps is just unnecessary, because we actually have way more in common than we don’t. I think Ketotarian illuminated the fact that there are so many commonalities there. And ketogenic, that way of eating, really can be any modality of eating. It could be pescatarian, it could be vegetarian, it could be vegan, it could be more Mediterranean with the fish too. There are so many ways to do it. And then obviously we have the carnivore diet that’s coming up, which is a form of ketosis, a higher protein ketogenic approach. So you have really all these different forms of ketosis, therefore it doesn’t have to be this “us versus them”. It’s just a way of using food to our advantage, to put our body into this anti-inflammatory, fat-burning state.
Allan (7:12): One of the cool things that you brought up in the book is, this is really about being aware and mindful of the food that you are eating. So this is not just happenstance. Obviously, yes, if you eat a predominantly meat-based diet that’s not lean meats, you’re probably going to go into ketosis at some level. If you’re eating a high fat diet with bacon and all the other stuff that’s coming out of boxes that are marked “keto-friendly”, you’re going to go into ketosis. It takes a little bit more, I think, mindfulness and a more sound approach to food when you’re trying to do it from the vegan or vegetarian aspects. And you had this term you used in here called “ketotarianisms”. Could you take a minute to go through those? I think this really highlights what I’m after here, about how you start getting a lot more mindful about your food, you start focusing more on the quality, and you end up a lot healthier for it.
Dr. Cole (8:10): Yeah. So ketotarianisms are the basic tenants of this way of living and eating. It is basically when you are having a healthy fat, add a green, not-starchy vegetable, and then conversely, when you have a non-starchy vegetable, eat a healthy fat. And then eat when you’re hungry, eat until you’re satiated. These are some of the ketotarianisms that people can live. These are basic principles that really are common sense when you read them, if someone wants to keep it simple. In Ketotarian, I wanted to show all the biohacker, science stuff where people can lean into, or they want to take their wellness to the next level, but I realized there are going to be a lot of people that are reading Ketotarian that are new to this, that feel overwhelmed or, “Where do I start?” I think things like the ketotarianisms or the “keeping it simple” options in the book are really a good segue for people to lean into it and still get the benefits of these healthy, real foods without feeling like they have to go zero to 60 and understand all the science to get started. It’s really not necessary at all.
Allan (9:29): I had a client and he was telling me it’s blueberry season and he can’t help himself every time he goes to the farmer’s market. He wants to eat low carb. And our ancestors, when berries were abundant, they ate the berries. There’s nutrients in the berries that your body needs. Enjoy the berries while they’re in season, because you’re only going to get them for a few more weeks, and you’re not going to have the berries. I think a lot of us get tied up in the “We have to eat this way” or “We have to eat that way.” And there’s so much what I would call “biodiversity” of how each of us handles carbs, our insulin resistance, those types of things. One of the things that you had in the book that is a little different than the guidance I see from a lot of the keto space is that instead of focusing on total carbs, which the 20 grams of total carbs is the earmark out there – you’re going to go into ketosis if that’s what you’re eating. But you focus more on net carbs, which allows us effectively to eat a lot more high fiber vegetables. Could you talk about the net carbs? Having net carbs someone could probably get away with and still get into ketosis or get the benefits of the low carb eating. And then compare and contrast that with total carbs.
Dr. Cole (10:45): Sure. So, total carbs are the sum of all fiber, sugar and sugar alcohols and everything. Net carbs is subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols, if there are sugar alcohols in wherever you’re eating. But basically the fiber, the soluble fiber and the insoluble fiber, we’re subtracting in ketotarian, and many other ketogenic resources you’ll find in books and online too. But Ketotarian definitely does talk about how when we’re working on and focusing on real non-starchy vegetables and real plant foods, that’s when you use net carbs. You do not use net carbs whenever you’re eating junk food and boxed foods and you’re just trying to make yourself feel better by having carbs. At that point it’s not in its whole food form, it’s not in alignment fully with nature, and you can manipulate numbers, I think, for the sake of dieting that isn’t going to produce the same results as if you ate an avocado with tons of fiber, or any other vegetable with lots of fiber when it’s in this whole food form. That’s what we’re talking about when we’re considering net carbs.
So, in the book for all the recipes, I give the net carbs because it is basically subtracting all the fiber. What I allow for, or what I recommend I should say, in Ketotarian, is the first week or so – and sometimes people should do longer than a week – they should do about 25 grams of net carbs throughout the day. So every day their max should be 25 grams of net carbs or less. From there they can find their carbs sweet spot during these eight weeks of being in ketosis from this plant-based approach. Now, the max allowance in ketotarian is 55 grams of net carbs a day. I just wanted something basically average to allow people to have lots of vegetables in, but I know as a functional medicine practitioner that there’s biological variability. I realize that there are some people that will do better with a little bit less, there are some people that can get away with a little bit more. I have some people in ketosis up to 100 grams of net carbs from non-starchy vegetables, because they’re insulin sensitive, they don’t have a lot of inflammation, and they’re fine there. They’re fasting and they can get away with this. But most, I think 55 grams. Why I put it in the book is because it’s the middle of the road for most people to get the benefits here. They can implement it into intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding, and we talk about that in the book. They can still get all these cool benefits while not restricting their plant foods.
Allan (13:33): The great thing about this is, so many of us, when we first start getting into ketosis or thinking about ketosis think we can’t have fruit. A lot of your recipes do actually have fruit in them. So this is an area where we are, because we’re going to go for the high fiber type of fruits. We are going to be able to eat more fruit with this. When I think about the number of how much food you can eat of non-starchy vegetables with that many grams of carbs – that’s pretty substantial. This is going to be the bulk of your food. This is going to be your entree, and not a meat entree. This is going to be your main source of energy and food, less so the proteins that we would normally have in a steak or something like that.
Dr. Cole (14:26): Exactly. It’s plant-centric. I think that people can pick their level of where they want to go with this. I’m not saying everyone has to be a vegan-ketogenic eater, but definitely when we bring the vegetarian options like the eggs or the ghee, or the pescatarian options with the fish or the shellfish – it’s still plant-centric. These are just different food medicines to bring into this clean, keto way of eating.
Allan (14:54): And that’s what I really liked about it – it said, “Here are the nutritional aspects of how you’re going to eat. These are the net carbs you can get.” And then beyond that, it went through and said, “If you want to make it a little easier to do this, then here’s the option for you to do the vegetarian versus the vegan, and here’s an add-on if you want to include some fish or shellfish. It’s going to have these particular benefits.” So, it’s something that somebody can really look at their way of eating and be thinking about, “How do I make this work for me?” It’s not just this fixed go. And your recipes also break that down, where there are some recipes that will have fish, some that will have eggs, and others that are completely vegan.
Dr. Cole (15:36): Yeah. And I think to your point, with your client with the berries, that’s something that I really wanted to have, this grace and lightness to food. We shouldn’t be stressing about and obsessing about our food and making food this arduous, negative thing. I wanted to recalibrate the conversation, especially in the keto world, which I think can be a little bit too obsessive with foods, and shaming, and orthorexic in a way. What I wanted to say is, “Let’s do this for eight weeks. Let’s shift the body into ketosis. Let’s get the benefits of ketosis.” But from there, like you said, seasonal ketotarian is mentioned in the book, because during the summer if you want to have more fruits and more natural carbs into your life, you normally buy seasonal fruits – then do that. Some people love that and enjoy that, but during the colder months they’re more in ketosis naturally and eating more of this primal way of cycling ketosis approach throughout the year. And some people do that cyclic approach throughout the week, where they’re doing two to three days higher carbs, the other days in ketosis. Again, this is all in the context of real foods. This, I think, needs to be talked about more in the ketogenic world, because so many of them are very dogmatic in the sense of, if you leave ketosis, you’re somehow doing your body an injustice, and that’s not the point of the ketogenic diet and it’s basically all or nothing. I don’t think it’s all or nothing. If you really say “all or nothing”, you obviously haven’t talked to patients or clients and seen biological variability, because you’ll be proven wrong all day long, hanging your hat on one way of doing anything when it comes to food.
Allan (17:28): They would have to kick me out of the Keto Club, because I do the seasonal ketosis. And that’s because there are certain times of the year where I know it’s going to be easier for me to maintain the low carb and just get a little bit tighter on things. And then there are going to be times when we’re in football season and we’re going to come up on New Year and things like that, and I’m going to want to have a beer. My brother owns a brewery, so I’m going to want to have a beer here and there. But I pick my times, I pick my battles, and I’ll go out of ketosis for a period of time. It’s something that’s natural to me, it’s something that feels good. And I don’t have any kind of metabolic problems, so it’s very easy for me to shift fuel sources, depending on how I approach food.
Dr. Cole (18:11): That’s great. That’s the goal of this eight weeks – to build that metabolic flexibility. And you’re right, not everybody has that. Some people with insulin resistance or diabetes or inflammatory problems can’t get away with that. But the goal is to build as much metabolic flexibility as your body allows you to.
Allan (18:31): Yeah. That’s the other aspect of it – some of us are going to go right into ketosis, not have a big problem with it. Others are going to suffer a little bit more, or some really are going to struggle to get into ketosis because their metabolism is a little bit racked and needs some repair. In the book, you share some tips for individuals that are struggling to get into ketosis. Would you mind sharing some of those tips?
Dr. Cole (19:00): I’m just thinking off the top of my head what’s in the book, but one is, if you’re eating a certain level of real food, net carbs or eating plant foods – I would try lowering the amount of carbs as your body adjusts. The state of ketosis – this metabolic, fat-burning, anti-inflammatory, brain-fueled state that we’re talking about here – is through carb restriction. So it’s not necessarily eating tons and tons of healthy fats, even though healthy fats can increase ketones too. But it’s really the carb restriction primarily that will do it. And then secondarily, it’s what do you fill in from that carb restriction? So, lowering your carbs more. If you’re higher net carbs, maybe lower it below 25 for a time as your body gets more fat-adapted that way.
Another tip to get in ketosis if you’re not in ketosis, is to help your body out with getting the benefits of ketosis and raising blood ketone levels with exogenous ketones. You can use MCT oil or different exogenous ketones in drinks or supplements, or you can increase the amount of circulating ketones in the body to get the benefits of it – basically get your boost of energy, help with brain function, etcetera. So if someone’s making that, they’re in this sort of metabolic purgatory where they’re not becoming a fat burner overnight. It may be they’re going through insulin resistance or other health problems, whether they’re slow to make that transition. You can kind of help your body along with some exogenous ketones as you’re making that metabolic transition.
And then some maybe lesser known ideas to help your body get into ketosis is to deal with stress levels and look at sleep, because cortisol fluctuations when someone’s in stress – that can impact the blood sugar, blood pressure, and ketone production. And looking at sleep levels, sleep optimization, which is another thing to consider. Those are some things that are maybe less commonly thought of when you’re talking about, “I’m going to go keto and get the benefits of going keto. I’m going to lose weight”, or whatever it is. You have to look at stress levels; these are important.
Another thing to consider is intermittent fasting. If someone’s not intermittent fasting, which will produce increased ketone levels as somebody is intermittent fasting, they should consider that. That’s another way to produce more ketones, get the benefits of ketosis, but it’s also the effect of ketosis. As someone becomes more and more fat-adapted, it’s a natural result of that. You’re just less hungry, your blood sugar’s more stable, you’re less irritable and hangry. So you just randomly will intermittent-fast, not because you’re trying to or you’re thinking about it, but because, “I’m eating when I’m hungry, and if I’m not hungry, I’m not going to eat.” If that involves not eating breakfast or having a lighter meal at a certain part of the day, these variations of intermittent fasting can happen too. So these are some ideas if someone’s having a difficulty, but we have other ones mentioned in the book too.
Allan (22:21): One of my favorites – obviously I’m a personal trainer, so I’m going to like the “movement” one. It’s interesting though – a lot of people will advise people starting into ketosis to actually avoid exercising. And I’ve always had the opposite opinion. While you might not want to exercise at the same intensity, the stress and the cortisol, there is some value to movement and exercise when you’re trying to get into ketosis.
Dr. Cole (22:47): Absolutely. That’s a great one. I think that movement and staying active should be a part of it. It shouldn’t just be food. I think movement is an important part of wellness. Like you said, you may adjust what you’re doing physical activity-wise, but you shouldn’t stop it.
Allan (23:06): Outstanding. Now, if someone wanted to get in touch with you to learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Cole (23:15): Everything’s at DrWillCole.com. There are links to the books, but it’s on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in independent bookstores too. But everything’s there. I’m seeing patients throughout the week, and we have primarily a virtual clinic where we do webcam consultations for people. So they can get a free health evaluation on DrWillCole.com too.
Allan (23:41): Cool. This is episode 340, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/340, and I’ll have the links there to Dr. Cole’s site and to the book on Amazon. Dr. Cole, thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast.
Dr. Cole (23:59): Thanks so much for having me.
Allan (24:06): If you enjoyed today’s episode, would you please take just one moment and leave us a rating and review on the application that you’re listening to this podcast right now? I’d really appreciate it, and it does help other people find the podcast because it tells the people that are hosting these podcast episodes out there on their apps that you’re interested and they know that other people like you might be interested. So please do that. If you can’t figure out how to do that on your app, you can email me directly and I’ll try to figure it out for you. Or you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, and that’ll take you to the iTunes where you can launch that and leave a review there. I really appreciate the ratings and reviews. It does help the podcast, it helps me, so thank you very much for that.
Also, I’d really like to continue this conversation a little bit further, so if you haven’t already, why don’t you go ahead and join our Facebook group? You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group, and that’ll take you to our Facebook group where you can request entry. It’s a really cool group of people, like-minded, all in our 40s, all trying to get healthy and fit. I’d really love to have you out there and have you a part of that conversation. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Group.
October 5th, here in Pensacola Beach. If you’re anywhere close, you should come down for this. I’m going to be teaching a cooking class on how to cook for Thanksgiving and remain keto. Also, we’re going to have talks from Carl Franklin of 2 Keto Dudes, and myself. It’s going to be a great time to meet other people in the area that are passionate about keto or want to learn more about keto. So, wherever you stand on that spectrum of either being keto and loving it or wanting to know more about keto, this is going to be a great opportunity for you to connect with people and learn a lot more about it. So I’d encourage you to go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest, and that’ll take you to the Eventbrite page. There’s a low fee, $15, to attend. That’s really just to offset some of the cost of food. I really want to help you learn about keto, I really want to make sure I get a good event out there, so I didn’t charge a lot for this. I want to make sure it’s accessible to most folks. If you’re anywhere in the area near Pensacola Beach, I’d encourage you to come down for it. It’s October 5th and it’s going to run from 4:00 until 9:00, and of course, maybe a little later than that. You don’t have to be here for the whole thing. It’s really just about learning about keto, learning how to cook keto, and tasting some of the delicious food, because dinner is included. So, go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest, and that will take you to the signup page for our little Keto Minifest. And again, Carl Franklin will be here, so it’s a great opportunity to meet him in person.
And then finally, I am still working on the book, and I do need your help. I need your help to be a part of the launch team. If you can go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com, you’ll see a little form there where you can sign up to be on the launch team. The launch team is going to get a lot of extra goodies that are not going out with the book. They’re going to get some previews, they’re going to get some bonus materials that you’re not going to get if you wait for the book to come out. I know you want to learn about the book, I know you want to be a part of it, so please go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com. Thank you.
Our guest today has authored many books, including the one we’re going to talk about today, Ketogenic Catastrophe. He found a passion helping others after he cured his own IBS, gum disease and insomnia using the Paleo Diet and ketogenic eating. Really cool guy; I know you’re going to enjoy this interview.
Allan (1:08): Eric, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Eric (1:12): Thanks for having me on. Great to be here.
Allan (1:14): The title, Ketogenic Catastrophe, I really could take that one of two different ways. One is disaster pants kind of style. What you were going after was, what are some of the mistakes that we make when we’re trying to get into ketosis and why do most people fail doing this? Then the other would be, are people having bad experiences with keto? The truth of the matter is keto is not for everybody, but it is a tremendous tool for weight loss, and what I’ve found, for dietary freedom.
I got into ketosis on accident. For those that aren’t fully familiar with what ketosis is, it’s basically where your body starts learning how to burn fat rather than sugar for energy. And because you’re eating predominantly a higher fat diet and not many carbs, your body just gets more comfortable with that and using ketones as a fueling system. I stumbled on it because I was doing Paleo. My version of Paleo was eating more of the healthy fats, so I was eating a lot of avocado, fish and beef. As a result of filling up on the fat, wasn’t eating a lot of anything else. Most of the vegetables I was eating were wholefood, fibrous vegetables like asparagus, broccoli and spinach. So I wasn’t getting a lot of carbs. And then I noticed that my breath was a little sour, more so than not. And I noticed that my body was burning a lot of body fat all of a sudden. I had plateaued – in Paleo dropped about 15 pounds, and then keto took off about, I’d say 45 pounds in just a few weeks. So I fell into it. I figured out what it was. I’m like, “What’s going on with my body? Why am I suddenly losing all of this fat and why am I smelling this way?” Then I got into it and I was like, “Okay, that’s what that is and that’s why that’s happening.”
It’s become more of a seasonal lifestyle for me now, because I’ve lost most of the weight that I wanted to ever lose. I got my body where I wanted to for what I wanted, and then I’m good. But in the book you’re actually talking about the mistakes that keep people from doing this, and I think that’s really important. I was reading a study, and it was a Harvard doctor that had done this study, and they found that the high fat, low carb diet helped people lose more weight than the people who ate the low fat, high carb diet. But in the end his conclusion was, it’s so hard to eat this high fat diet that we’re just going to keep prescribing the low fat diet. My hands hit my head and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” But it’s not simple; there are some mistakes people make. And that’s what your book is getting into is, what are those mistakes that most people make that would keep them from being successful with this? And what are the tips and tricks and things that we can do to get past them?
Eric (4:12): Yeah, that’s basically what I’ve covered. I had a lot of stumbling when I first started with this whole keto diet thing. This was basically my attempt to share with whoever wants to read it, all of the mistakes that I went through. I think it was Warren Buffett who said, “You can learn from your own mistakes, but you don’t have to. You can learn from other people’s mistakes.” So, my goal with this whole thing was to just share everything that I personally went through in hopes that it will help others become more enlightened about the whole keto thing and just get through it, because it can be difficult. Like you said, it’s not the easiest thing to start. But what people should definitely take from this whole thing is that after you do it for a while, after you get comfortable with it, it becomes much easier too. You can do it seasonally, like you do as well, where you don’t have to do it all the time. So this was my attempt to really help people feel better in the long run.
Allan (5:14): I think that’s the thing. I don’t have any kind of resistance, insulin resistance, any metabolic problems. So for me, keto is just a way to have clarity, to feel better, to have freedom from food, because I can go a day without eating and I don’t panic because my blood sugar’s going to crash or something. So, keto is very comfortable for me, but I don’t do it all year round because there are periods of time when I want to drink beer and go tailgating and enjoy my life and the things that I’m going to do. I’m going to go to Thanksgiving with my mother, I’m going to go do New Year’s Eve with my wife. So, since I know I’m going to have that period of time, I just plan around it and say, “That’s my time to go off keto. I’m not going to feel as good. I’m going to have as much fun as I can and I’m going to make good selections.” So, I do drink the higher quality beers. But beyond all that, when it’s time to go back into my season of famine, so to speak, I get into it. I think a lot folks think it’s a lifestyle, yes. Once you get into it, then you have to stay in it, and that’s not entirely true for everybody. That’s why I think this book is particularly poignant because if you go in and out of ketosis on a regular basis, you’re going to deal with these things. The first one is what you call the “biggest mistake”, and I agree with you. Do you mind talking about what you think the biggest mistake is that most people will make when they’re trying to get into ketosis?
Eric (6:38): Sure. The biggest mistake by far – it’s very simple – it’s just giving up. If you can imagine training for a marathon, let’s say. You do all this prep work, and you get up to the race day, you’re feeling great. You start the marathon, you get through the first mile, 7th mile, 12th mile. You’re getting through it and all of a sudden you get to mile 25, right before the finish line, and you just give up. That’s what a lot of people do, is they get so close to the finish line, building this metabolic flexibility, this ability to burn fat instead of sugar, and right before they get there they just say, “You know what? I’m done.” To put it back to the marathon runner – it’s not like the marathon runner couldn’t finish. No, he just decided, “Well, I’m just not going to finish the race today.” So many people run into that because it’s difficult to get going in the beginning. It’s difficult because your body needs to produce the enzymes and all the wiring that’s required to burn fat for fuel. There’s an adjustment period, but once you get good at it, it becomes much, much easier, and over the long run obviously works out a lot better.
The biggest mistake that people make is they just can’t sack up and get through the first little part. And to give most people more credit here – a lot of keto diet books and a lot of keto diet advice is not the greatest advice out there. They tell people, “Cut your carbs down to 20 grams of carbs, even if you’re eating buckets of sugar each day, and then just do keto.” And you’re going to run into huge problems if you just make an abrupt switch like that. So, to give credit to everybody that’s tried and failed before – maybe you got some bad advice too. But absolutely the biggest mistake is just not pushing through and getting to the other side, because once you get to the other side, then it becomes much easier, even if you have those cheat days, like you say, go have a couple of beers. Once you get back on the train, it’s not nearly as hard to get going again, if that makes sense.
Allan (8:53): It does. I think the difference and the way I look at it is, when you’re talking about the marathon – the runner knows that there’s only 1.2 miles left to go in this race. They’re at mile 25 and there’s only a 1.2 to complete the race. Unfortunately with ketosis you don’t have that mile marker to tell you that it’s that close. I think that’s where that “quit” comes in. I remember I was in the army and I was going through air assault school. And at the end of air assault school you do this 25-mile run. And you’re carrying your M16 and you’re in boots and you do this 25-mile run. Each of the units has people in there, so my unit was there and they were cheering us all on. I was a front runner. I knew there was one guy in front of me, I just didn’t know how far he was in front of me. So I asked one of the guys, “How far is he ahead of me? Just tell me.” And they said, “Oh, he’s too far. You’re never going to catch him.” And I come around the corner and realize that I’ve got maybe half a mile to go and he’s only a hundred yards ahead of me. But by that time I had shut my mind down to the possibility that I could do this, and therefore I ended up coming in second.
I only say that because it’s probably closer than you think it is. Once you get into this and you’re starting to really have that struggle, look for the things that are going to motivate you to keep going. You talk in the book about measurement, and I do think that’s important. The urine strips are really good when you first get started, because they’re going to allow you to see the ketones are starting to build up in there. And they’re color coded so you can see it happening. Since your body doesn’t know how to use the ketones effectively, you’re peeing them out. Eventually the urine sticks won’t be any good for you because your body’s using those ketones and now you’re going to have to be looking to your blood and your breath to understand if you’re in ketosis. But for the most part you are, and you can feel it and you know it. I agree with you – as people are going, just push to the next step. Just take that next step. Keep at it just a little bit longer and you’ll get there. It’s a dip, and once you get past that dip, you’re going to enjoy what you’ve done.
Eric (11:04): Sure. And you can always test and tweak things all along the way too. You don’t have to stick yourself into a rigid structure. Now, if something’s not working for you, you can always pivot and try something new – maybe increase your exercise a little or decrease your exercise a little if you’re working too hard. You can always play with the different approaches and find out what works for you. But keep pushing forward, absolutely.
Allan (11:31): I think that’s another important thing. You’ve got this as mistake number 8 in the book, and it’s bio individuality. You talked about how the basic advice is 20 grams of carbs, and then they kind of stop there. I know from experience working with clients that if you get down to 20 and you stay at 20, you will get into ketosis, but there are some people that can go as high as maybe even 100 grams of carbs, because they’re athletic and they’re doing things. And there are other people that can get to 50. You’re going to have a carb threshold in there and it’s going to be individual to you. You’re going to have nutritional needs that are based on your environment and everything else. Can you talk a little bit about bio individuality and how you’ve seen it work for or against people who are trying to get into ketosis?
Eric (12:23): Sure. That phrase actually was originally coined by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. They’re the folks that came up with that. Basically at a high level, it just means we’re all different. Some people can eat a vegan diet, and they feel great and it seems to work really well for them. Some people, like myself, feel awful. I’ve tried to do the vegan thing and it doesn’t work for me at all. I had no energy. It just was not something that really worked for me. And we’ve always got to think about where we came from. What has our family’s bloodline been eating for the past 10 generations? That’s going to play a role in how we metabolize things, what we’re used to eating, what our genetics are used to. So, everybody is so different, and this is especially true for the carbohydrate threshold. I’ve talked to people who could not get into ketosis until they got down to that 20 grams of carbohydrate. Now me personally, I was more along the lines of, I could get back into ketosis after eating 80 to 100 grams of carbs for dinner one night, and then the next day around lunchtime be back into a ketogenic state. All the books that I was reading about this, they said, “That’s impossible. It’s going to take you days. You have to do this, you have to do that.” And really, it’s just about finding where you fit, where you feel best and what works for you. And the mistake that people make is having this mindset that everybody’s the same. It’s like this cookie cutter thing, and it’s definitely not true.
Actually there’s a great story. One of my roommates from many years ago, he and I lived together, and this is right around the time when I was trying to clean up my diet and try to lose the weight that I had been gaining. And living with him, I watched him every day just eat fast food. And it was constant drinking sodas, drinking beers all the time and doing whatever he wanted, and he stayed lean. I had no idea. Here I was, even trying to eat healthier at the time, but I was still gaining and gaining and gaining, and I just watched him not gaining a pound. It was very frustrating and really killed a lot of my motivation because it’s like, “Why me? Why can’t I be like him?” At the end of the day, bio individuality means that none of us are going to be the same. Individual results may vary. That phrase is so perfect for many different things in life, but especially people who are trying the ketogenetic diet. You’ve got to really look at yourself and what you’re going through, because everybody’s going to be different. Somebody might lose 30 pounds in a month doing the keto diet and you may sit there and lose a pound and a half. But it could be just because your body is working on fixing other things first, or whatever reason genetically that you’re going to be slower to lose the weight. We have a lot of similarities, but at the base level we have a lot of differences as well.
Allan (15:48): Part of it is genetics, part of it is your hormone mix. I know a lot of people are coming at this metabolically damaged. I was reading another book that actually said the Baby Boomers, which I’m just short of – I’m an X Gen – but 50% of Baby Boomers have some form of metabolic syndrome. I’m just trying to wrap my mind around that.
Eric (16:12): That’s a big number.
Allan (16:13): It’s a huge number. So, we’re approaching this because we want to get healthy. Like you said, your roommate may have had no problem whatsoever. You might run into him today and it may have caught up with him.
Eric (16:29): It did.
Allan (16:32): Okay. It’s not a happy story, but it’s a story. I think the core of this is, there’s that individual that smoked cigarettes from the time they were 14 years old and they’re 104 and they still smoke. And then there’s the individual who got lung cancer in their 40s after smoking only 20 years. So we’re all going to have our own individual path. I think the good thing about knowing that is if you can stop comparing yourself to others and just recognize that what you’re doing is positive for yourself, you’re going to have a lot better mindset going into this whole thing.
Eric (17:08): Yeah, you nailed it right there. The comparison to others is a very difficult thing. It’s something I struggled with tremendously when I first started out on this journey. You definitely want to be sure to remember that what you’re doing is for yourself, and you’re going to be different than everybody else. There are probably people that are going to react the same, but just keep in mind what you’re doing it for.
Allan (17:36): Another big area where mindset comes to play is what you call mistake number 5, “The Social Trap”. I know when I first started this and realized I was eating this way and wanted to keep eating this way, my wife thought I was out of my mind. She was like, “There’s no way.” She’d seen me try other things, and when she saw me try this she said, “I understood the Paleo thing. I do not understand this. I can’t do that.” But she has since turned around. I took her to Ketofest and she met some people and she listened to a few talks. She now knows about keto and for the most part will eat keto most of the time. But that’s not always the case; some people are going to look at you like you’re insane. How do I deal with that going into this? Like you said in the book, I go to order my burger and I say, “Just wrap mine in lettuce. I don’t want the bread.” And you see that look in their eyes.
Eric (18:37): The looks come to you. It can depend on the group of people you’re with as well. Me personally, I had some ruthless friends. We would kind of joke with each other and make fun of each other, but then it can be difficult when you continue to do this thing, you pass up on the beer. I remember sitting at a table at a restaurant and doing the lettuce-wrapped burger and just getting that, “What are you doing? Why are you doing that?” What that elicits in a lot of people, and I know this because it happened to me, is almost a fear to do it. The next time you hang out with everybody, you want to just be like everybody else. You don’t want to be out of the crowd. As humans, we want to be a part of the group. It feels safe. We want to be like everybody else.
So, to have that situation where you’re walking into a wedding or something or you’re going out with your friends and maybe you go to an Italian restaurant and the bread bowl comes around somewhere, and you’re put in that precarious situation where you have to make your decision now. The bread’s coming to you, and you have to make the choice and the people are looking at you. The mistake that people make is falling victim to that social pressure, because it’s, again, going back to being worried about what other people are thinking of you. It’s a very real mistake that most books that are written about the keto diet just kind of glaze over. But it’s such an important piece of this, because we are social creatures, we thrive on being social. I personally love being social. But it was a difficult transition to get over that fear of what other people are thinking of you. It can be one of the most difficult things. It can be actually the one thing that will stop you.
Maybe you have a group of friends, there’s like six of you and everybody’s overweight, let’s just say. All of a sudden you guys are going out to dinner and you start passing on the bread bowl. People are going to look at you funny and they might not even want you to do that, because it’s like, “Hey, where do you think you’re going? We’re all in this together”, that kind of thing. The social aspect of it is such a huge piece. I recommend that people, before they go somewhere like dinner or a party, and you know the temptation is going to be there but you’re not ready to start doing the cheat days yet – visualize it. Walk yourself through the scenario. Imagine yourself passing as the bread bowl comes to you. And then you’re going to have a lot higher chance of success, because you’ve already got the mental rep. You’ve already done it once in your head: “No, thank you”, so it’s going to be easier when game time comes around. The social aspect of it is such a huge piece, especially if you’re an extrovert, you like to go out, you have a lot of friends. People can be judgy. It’s very powerful to know going into this why you’re doing it, the reasons you’re doing it for yourself, and to understand that it’s okay for other people to have opinions. It’s okay for other people to think what you’re doing is crazy. Some people even say it’s dangerous, if you can believe that. So just remember why you’re doing it, and when the time comes and you have that social pressure, to be prepared for it is going to make you more successful.
Allan (22:18): You just hit on something I want to emphasize here – this is your “why”, this is why you’re doing this, and you need to keep that top of mind as you go into this. Yes, the bread bowl comes around and you just pass the bread without taking a piece and someone comments on it. Fairly simple – you can say, “I just got my A1C in and it’s high. I’m prediabetic, and I need to change how I eat.” And when they recognize this is not about you being thinner and more attractive than them, this is actually something you’re doing for your health, it does change the conversation. You can tell them, “I can’t have the simple carbs anymore. I can’t have the beer anymore, because my A1C is too high and I need to get it down. I don’t want to use medication to do that.”
Eric (23:07): Just to touch on one thing that came to my mind – a lot of people, once they’ve done keto and lost weight, want to continue to do it. You can still run into situations where you’re not prediabetic, you don’t need to lose any weight. It becomes easier to say, “I just feel better. I feel better not doing this. I feel better passing on the bread bowl.” Down the road when you don’t have those things to lean on, like, “I need to weight” or “I’m not feeling well. I’m sick for some reason”… There are other aspects of the social trap that can come up, but like you said, keep in the front of your mind why you’re doing it.
Allan (23:56): I call that the “crabs in the bucket”. If you’ve ever seen crabs, none of the crabs can get out of the bucket because the other crabs are pulling the crab down to get on top of it. So the crabs can’t get out of the bucket. Just realize that’s what’s going on. If people keep harassing you about what your choices are, you know what’s working for you. You know why you’re doing this. At that point just stop participating in the food conversation with them, because they’re not looking out for your best interests. I know that’s easier to say than to do, but you have to have this mindset, as I said, going into this to say, “This is what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.”
Now, the other thing that I wanted to get into – you mentioned this earlier and this was one you called mistake number 17. So much advice out there tells people, particularly during the adaptation period, to not exercise. And I don’t entirely agree with this. We talk about bio individuality. I think some people can continue to do their workouts. I know I did and didn’t have a problem in the world. Maybe I’m unique, and that’s great. But I believe people can still get the benefits of exercise during that period of time. They don’t have to forgo it. Your thoughts?
Eric (25:08): I think it probably goes back to that bio individuality thing. I was reading Mark Sisson’s book, The Keto Reset Diet, and I was listening to one of his podcasts. He was talking about how he recommends people not exercise during the adaptation period, because for some it can be difficult. If you’ve been consuming a lot of sugar and you’re metabolically damaged, the process of adaptation can be difficult. He recommends that you just rest through it, which there’s validity there. I think everybody needs to take a look and see how they’re feeling. I personally think it’s a huge mistake to not exercise while you’re doing the keto thing, because having personally gone through it, exercise is so much more enjoyable when you’re doing keto. I have more strength and more energy than I know what to do with when I’m in that keto state. That being said, if you’re just looking at this for, “I just need to lose some weight”, you don’t have to exercise. But I think it’s a huge mistake to not add on this component of it to get your blood flowing. Even if it’s the most basic exercise, like power walking or going up and down some stairs, doing some body weight stuff, push-ups, sit-ups, cleaning your house vigorously. We think of exercise as it has to be in a gym, but there are so many different ways to get your heart pumping, get your body moving. It’s just going to only compound the results that you get.
So, you can do the keto thing and not exercise, but again, I think it’s a big mistake to not do that. And when you realize it too, when you actually get into that keto state – you’re burning ketones for energy – you’ll have this incredible outpouring of motivation too. You will want to go exercise, and you’ll have more energy. I know it sounds funny. People think that if they exercise, they’re going to be tired and have less energy, and it’s actually the opposite. You exercise and you will have more energy – kind of that, “You don’t use it, you lose it” thing. Along with that I’ve noticed that the more you exercise, the greater the mental clarity that you’ll get as well. I’m not sure exactly the mechanics behind why, but I’ve noticed that I’ve become much more mentally clear. It’s almost like you’ve been wearing a pair of prescription glasses your whole life that weren’t even supposed to be yours, like they were the wrong prescription. You suddenly take them off and the world just looks clear. Or you get in your car in the morning and the window’s fogged up, and you turn the defroster on. That’s what happens as you keep going through this. And exercise I think is just a tool to accelerate these benefits and really compound them for everybody.
Allan (28:20): I agree with you. I don’t think there’s a reason to forgo exercise, unless you’re metabolically damaged and you know that this could be a problem for you. Then take it easy and don’t stress yourself. But the reality of life is our muscles and our liver hold roughly about 90 minutes to two hours of moderate intensity work. So when folks are running marathons, they bonk it at mile 18 because that’s about the time that the glycogen that’s in their muscles and their liver starts to run out. You have that in your muscles and your liver all the time. That glycogen’s there all the time to fire off for energy. So, doing moderate intensity work, lifting weights, doing bodyweight work, walking, maybe even some jogging – that’s going to use that glycogen. Now, you are still taking in some carbs. We’re not complete carnivores, zero carb here. You are taking in some carbs and your body has the capacity to take some of the protein you eat and some of the fat and actually turn it into glycogen that you can then use to restore what you need for your muscles and your liver. Your body’s going to still do that. I just think what you force your body to do if you do keep your activity at a good steady pace is you actually force the adaptation a little bit faster. That’s my opinion. Again, I don’t have any scientific proof that that’s the case, but I do know when I have clients cut their sugar back and I have them walk in a fasted state, they lose weight faster. That’s happening in their bodies because it’s forcing them to use more of the glucose that they are eating. It’s forcing them to use the glycogen in their muscles, they’ve got to restore that, so that process just starts working for them.
On the mental clarity note, I don’t know if you’ve read the book Spark, but this was an excellent book that talked about exercise and cognitive health. They found that just having the kids do a PE class in the morning before school helps their grades immensely. Their test scores went up, they had more clarity in class, they were more focused in class. So, there is an exercise–neurological connection that you’re going to get clarity from exercising and yes, you’re going to get mental clarity from powering your brain on ketones. So I think there can be a multiplicative effect there if you’re doing both.
Eric (30:47): Yeah, absolutely. That makes perfect sense. That’s very interesting to hear about the kids. I’m just seeing my path and how my mental state has changed over the years now. I think that would be brilliant to make sure that kids did PE before school and didn’t get rice crispy cereal before school.
Allan (31:14): That’d be a lot better.
Eric (31:17): I look back on my upbringing. That’s what I had.
Allan (31:21): It was the standard American diet, what our government was telling us to eat. That goes to this whole thing, that ketogenic diet is not new. It’s been around for a long time, but it’s just starting to get to a point where people are recognizing they can get great health benefits from it, they can get weight loss from it. And the people that are on it become evangelists for it. It’s a growing trend as a way of eating. It’s not that it’s better than being a vegan or a vegetarian or anything else; it’s just a way of eating. It can benefit you, but it’s not for everybody, as I said earlier. I think if you’re wanting to lose some weight or you’re concerned about your metabolic numbers – your A1C is high, you’re prediabetic – there have been some great results using this. And again, most people that get onto it just feel great.
Eric (32:14): Absolutely.
Allan (32:16): The book is called Ketogenic Catastrophe. Eric, if someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book, learn what you’re doing, because you and your wife are doing a lot of great stuff over there – where would you like for me to send them?
Eric (32:29): My wife and I run a blog called AncestralJunkie.com, and that’s where we’ll be posting some articles. We’ve been a bit inactive lately. We have our son now and things have been a bit hectic, but we’re back on AncestralJunkie.com. And then you can find my other books – I’ve written a few others – on Amazon. If you search for Ketogenic Catastrophe, my name will pop up and there’s a couple of other things. If you go to the blog, you can get a free meal plan, a free grocery guide and some other goodies for just visiting. And we have a nice little newsletter that goes out. Today’s Friday, so Friday we send out a weekly newsletter where we’ll give you our top five articles and neat products that helped us or quotes that were motivating us, that kind of stuff. So you can get us at AncestralJunkie.com or on Amazon, is where my other books are located.
Allan (33:27): Okay. This is going to be episode 337, so you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/337 and I’ll be sure to have links to all of those available there. So again, Eric, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Eric (33:43): Thank you, Allan. I really appreciate you having me on, and thank you so much for what you’re doing for the health community and just the world at large here. You’re really making a difference, so thank you for that.
Allan (33:52) Thank you.
Thank you for being a part of the 40+ Fitness podcast. I’m really glad you’re here. I hope you enjoyed the conversation we had with Eric. Anyone that’s trying to use the ketogenic lifestyle as a way of eating often finds that they make mistakes, and Eric’s put together a really good book to talk you through how to manage those mistakes. So do check that out – Ketogenic Catastrophe. I have a link to that in the show notes, if you’re interested. And if you enjoyed today’s show, I really would appreciate if you would go to the “Review” section on your app, or go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review, which will take you to the iTunes page. Leave a review for the podcast. I really read each and every one of these reviews. The ratings and reviews help us get noticed out there. So really, really important – please do take the time to give us a review; takes you a few minutes, and it can mean the world to someone finding the podcast and finding health. So, 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Review. Thank you for that.
A little bit on a personal note, I’ve kind of indicated over the course of the last few episodes that my wife and I are traveling around looking for potential retirement / downscaled life. It looks like we’re going to settle on Panama. That’s not set in stone at this point and it might not be a permanent move, but we are looking to potentially within the next six months sell our house and move out of the country, which will be a very different lifestyle. It’s a change that I’m doing because it will reduce risk from stress and will keep me kind of a in a lower keel, slow things down. I’m really looking forward to something like that. In looking at my health and fitness, that’s the one area where I can get the most bang for the buck. That’s my big rock. If you get into The Wellness Roadmap book once I get that issued, you’re going to learn a lot about how to identify those big rocks. For me, stress is the next big rock that I need to deal with.
I wanted to mention that I am setting up a mini Ketofest. I know I talked about going to Ketofest in July and doing a talk there. I’m going to do that talk again here at my home in Pensacola Beach, and that’s going to be on October 5th. Right now we’re looking at probably having it between 4:00 and 8:00 PM on October 5th. There will be food provided, there’s a small charge to cover off some of the costs of that food. Carl Franklin from 2 Keto Dudes is coming down here and he’ll also be giving a talk, and you’ll be able to meet him here at the mini Ketofest in Pensacola Beach. So do check that out – you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest. There you’ll find a link to the Eventbrite page. We can only handle a certain number of people. I do have a nice size house, but we still are going to have to limit the number of people that come so everybody can enjoy the food and the talks. So, you do want to go ahead and make sure you get yourself on that list. Go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Ketofest.
Now on the book, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it, but it’s gone very, very well so far. I’m getting some blurbs back from folks which basically are just reviews. They’ve seen the book and they felt compelled to help me market the book by writing some really cool, really nice things. And I’m humbled by that. It’s really coming together. The next week I should get the proofs back from the editor and at that point I’ll be able to sit down and batten down and spend some quality time on the book to get that final finish in there. But we’re getting really close to having everything locked down and ready to go, so I’m pretty excited about that. If you want to be a little bit more in the know, get a little bit more detail on how the book is going, you can go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com. You can join the list and become a part of our launch team. That launch team is my go-to group, they’re the folks that I’m going to share the most information about the book. I’ll tell you a little bit about it on the podcast, occasionally I’ll mention it in the groups, but really if you want to be in the know about the book, when it’s coming live, discounts, bonuses, all kinds of stuff that I’m going to be putting out there – you need to join the launch team. So go to WellnessRoadmapBook.com and join the launch team today. Thank you.
Our guest today is the founder and CEO of Steviva Brands – one of the largest importers, manufacturers and distributors of natural sweeteners. He is a self-described biohacker, and he’s made his life work trying to figure out ways to get people off of sugar. Today we’re going to talk about his book, Guy Gone Keto, and his journey from finding himself a busy executive who was not taking care of himself to being as healthy as he can be. I know you’re going to enjoy this conversation, so with no further ado, here’s Thom King.
Allan (1:15): Thom, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Thom King (1:21): Thanks, Allan. I appreciate you having me on your show. It’s truly an honor. So thank you.
Allan (1:28): So, the book today we’re going to talk about is Guy Gone Keto, and I really enjoyed the book from the perspective of your story and how it really did in a sense parallel mine, although I think you fast-tracked a lot better than I did in getting from the decision point to actually making things happen. Mine took nearly eight years; yours took slightly over a year. But we both were sitting in what I would call a very miserable state and we were frustrated with that, and we made a decision that we were going to change that. I happened to be in Puerto Vallarta when I did mine; you happened to be in Las Vegas. Would you mind sharing your story about that and how that frustration then led to your change?
Thom King (2:19): It was definitely frustration, but I think that the biggest part was just being disappointed in myself and feeling like I had poor integrity. I run a food ingredient company and we cater to ketogenic products and sports nutrition, and I was exceptionally unhealthy. My blood pressure was 199 over 99 and I was 35 pounds heavier than I am now. I was drinking a bottle of wine every night and eating bread and cookies and all sorts of garbage. I think I bottomed out when I was in Las Vegas. I was there for a trade show. I went to dinner with a client and way overate, had a couple of glasses of wine, came back to the room. The room that I stayed in smelt like stale booze and regret. And I found myself waking up the next morning, not feeling really great and looking in the mirror and seeing really how fat I was and how disgusted I was with myself. And at that point, I think that the pain of being out of integrity and the pain of my sloth and overweightness exceeded the pleasure that I was deriving from drinking too much wine and eating too many sweets and carbohydrates. So at that point I just told myself, “This is the end. I’m going to be making a major shift in my lifestyle.” That’s when I got on board with leading a ketogenic lifestyle from that point forward.
Allan (4:10): Okay. And I like the way that you approach that. It’s a unique way to approach it, where you’re talking about the pain of failure is greater than the value you’re getting from the activities you’re doing. I’ll be honest with everyone here – when I go to a tailgate, I drink the beer and I hang out. I typically try to get a higher quality beer, but I drink the beer nonetheless and know that I’m not going to feel so great. But the social interaction in those events – I actually do feel they are valuable enough to me at this point in my life that I don’t want to forego those. So I go through what I call my “feasting period”, where I back away from keto a little bit. I’m really interested in your thought patterns around using pain as a leverage tool to get something going, to basically make you change something in your life.
Thom King (5:11): For me, pain is the great teacher. I don’t avoid pain. I probably seek it out more than I avoid it. I think that human beings are driven by two things. I think they’re driven by the avoidance of pain and they are driven by seeking pleasure. If you’re seeking pleasure and the pleasure that you’re seeking is drinking too much, eating too much, whatever habit you’ve got – if you’re able to really attach pain to that, like when you take a look at, “Is eating this donut going to be painful or is it going to be enjoyable?” It’ll be enjoyable for that first few minutes, but if you really are mindful and present in what you’re doing, you can take a good look at what eating the donut really means. It’s going to raise your blood sugar level, it’s going to contribute to metabolic disease. It’s also going to lead to lower self-esteem, because are you going to really feel good about yourself after you eat the donut? If you start associating so much pain with something that you’re deriving pleasure from, once the pain exceeds the pleasure, you’ll be able to break that habit.
Allan (6:41): I liked your example of a donut, because I don’t have the same draw to a donut, and I know the reward is not worth the pain. For me the time with family and friends, and the socializing aspects of all of it, and not being that guy that’s not having the beer – to me is a little different. But I get that, particularly if you’re in a bad state and if you’re looking to improve yourself. It’s a very stoic kind of approach to thinking about how to solve that problem.
Thom King (7:12): Yeah, and I do derive a lot of that from stoicism. One of my daily practices is to read from The Daily Stoic, and I do leverage that quite a bit. So, being able to find answers in pain and in situations that are challenging – that’s part of my routine.
Allan (7:39): I have a copy of that book sitting on my desk right here, along with your book. Now, in the book Guy Gone Keto, you have your first steps. I really liked your approach to this. I really liked how you lay this out, that these are the things that need to be going through your mind, this is what you need to be doing to get this whole process going. In the case of the book, we’re talking about getting ourselves into ketosis, but I think this really applies to anytime you want to address a health or fitness issue.
Thom King (8:14): Definitely. Anything that you do want to achieve – it’s being able to set the goal. I think it is creating the intention and really being able to outline the outcome you’re looking for. And then on top of that, using a lot of data collection so you can see where you started and where you’re going. If you can see progress and you’re starting to see yourself getting closer to the outcome that you’re looking for, those are the best first steps that you can take.
Allan (8:52): There was another thing you had in here that I liked, and this is really something that’s hard for people to wrap their minds around when they want to lose weight. They want that 35 pounds or 55 pounds gone tomorrow. And I can say from my start to finish of when I really got committed and started doing the right things, it started with the Paleo, found myself naturally in ketosis, started reading on what ketosis is and then really bear down on that. But this was not something that just happened in a day or a week, or even a month. It took me nearly 11 months to really drop that kind of weight. So it was a slow progression – a few plateaus, but just a slow progression. I like how in the book you explain to us why going slow is important.
Thom King (9:43): I think that if people are looking to lose weight fast, that’s more of a diet situation. I also think that’s pretty unhealthy, because I think that if you adopt a diet, you’re going to get yo-yo weight. So you’re going to be on the diet, you’re going to lose the weight, then you’re going to go off the diet, you’re going to gain the weight back, and maybe a little bit more. So that’s the big difference. There’s a difference between diet and adopting a particular lifestyle. I think that if you adopt the particular lifestyle, it becomes more about the process than the outcome. You can definitely define the outcome – say, “I want to lose 35 pounds”, but the process is what you do every day to get there. And I would say don’t be in a hurry, don’t lose the weight too fast. Lose it a pound at a time, because if you lose a whole bunch of weight really fast, you’re going to be dealing with other issues like loose, saggy skin, and also it’s very taxing on your liver. So take your time and immerse yourself in the process, and then naturally the outcome will manifest itself.
Allan (11:06): Cool. Now, I do want to get into a little bit of discussion about ketosis. One of the things that you also had in your first steps was to avoid the high glycemic foods, because those are definitely not going to allow us to be in ketosis, but they’re also the items that are going to spike our blood sugar and get us to a point where we’re not able to lose weight or keep ourselves from potentially gaining weight.
Thom King (11:38): The shift from getting into ketosis is your body actually shifting from burning glucose as a form of energy to burning fat as a source of energy. So the ketogenic lifestyle or ketogenic diet basically is 70% fat, 20% proteins, and 10% vegetables. And these vegetables are going to be green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Basically if it grows underground, meaning a potato or a carrot or something like that, those are going to tend to be more on the high-glycemic end. So you’ve got this pretty big option of food that you can eat.
Allan (12:26): Yeah. When we start talking about these types of macros, it’s easy to think that you’re in that macro range, but if you’re really not paying attention to what you’re eating, you can easily slide one way or the other and not get the benefits that you’re after. This leads me to the next area I want to talk about, which is journaling. I’ve had clients that were on the calls or with me and they’re saying, “Allan, I just don’t understand it. I’m eating really, really well and I don’t understand why I’m not losing the weight. I’m doing the exercises, I’m eating well. Everything is going great.” I’m like, “Get yourself a notebook and start a journal.”
Thom King (13:12): 100%. That’s the data collection part of your journey. Definitely go out, buy yourself a journal and start doing data collection. Do data collection on how much you weigh, what your ketones are, what your blood sugar level is. This is a process, and the more data collection you do and the more you journal, the more you’re going to find the areas where you can make improvements. If you’re writing down everything that you ate in a day and you think, “I’m eating 2,000 calories a day. I’m probably burning 2,200 calories a day, so I’m at a 200-calorie deficit” – that might not be true at all, because particularly when you’re eating keto, a lot of the stuff that you’re eating is going to be high fat, and when it’s high fat, it means it’s high calories. So, you might have some almonds in the palm of your hand – it might be 5 to 10 almonds – you’re looking at about 200 calories there. So when you start writing these things down and understanding where the holes are, you can really plug the dike.
Allan (14:24): One almond is basically 16 calories, so if you’re off by one almond, that could be potentially 10 pounds of weight gain in a year. It’s not that you have to be exact, because calories are not really ever exact, or their estimates anyway, but you go three weeks and track what you’ve eaten, the volumes you’ve eaten, and you really pay attention to those numbers – you’re going to get to a point where you understand 2,000 calories is maybe a little too much, or maybe you need 2,500 because you’re losing weight a little too fast. So, taking the time to write those things down, and even to go further than just the data collection is, how do you feel when you wake up? What’s your energy level throughout the day? Do you find yourself needing to take a nap at 2:00 in the afternoon? How much coffee are you drinking now? Are you getting your electrolytes? Are you getting enough salt and enough water? There’s so much that a journal will allow you to collect and understand about yourself, to include your mood and your stress. I press it on with my clients all the time, that I do think a journal is a great tool for anyone that’s looking to make a change or at least understand why they are where they are.
Thom King (15:39): Absolutely. I don’t just use my journal for tracking macros and my behavior, but I also use my journal to set the stage for my day. I do write down what are the things that I’m most grateful for today, and what am I going to do today to make this day great and excellent? And then I just end it with an affirmation of, “With every breath I take in, I attract and create abundance and health and wellness in my life. And with each exhale I lovingly release any and all self-limiting beliefs that no longer serve me.” Combining that with breathing exercises, I found that journaling is something that I must do every day.
Allan (16:32): Yes, and I’m doing it. I wish I were better at doing it all the time, but that’s one of those practices that I really struggle with. But when I’m doing it, I feel so much better organized, I feel so much more complete and like I have everything together with my relationships, my food, my sleep, with all of it. So I do think it’s a great practice to understand what’s going on, to have a path forward and to be always affecting change. So if you’re someone that’s in the continuous improvement model with your life, a journal is a must have.
Thom King (17:14): Absolutely. It’s a daily event for me.
Allan (17:19): We talked a little bit about calories, and for a lot of folks, they’ll say, “They’re telling me I’ve got to cut the sugars and I’ve got to cut calories.” But as we call it down in the South – they love their Coke, which down here “Coke” just means any soda. So you come down here and you want to order a soft drink, you just ask for a Coke, and then they’ll ask you what flavor. You have to repeat yourself and say, “Coke, just a regular Coke.” And you’ll wonder why you had to repeat yourself – because “Coke” is just our word for soda, or a soft drink, or pop or whatever you want to call it. So they’ll say, “That’s one of the easy cuts. Immediately I’m going to give up my pop, my soda, my Coke, and I’m going to move over to this diet soda, because the diet soda has zero calories. So it’s the perfect drink because it tastes almost like the regular thing. And once I get used to it it’ll be fine. And it has no calories.” So they go into this mindset of, “This is the diet drink. This is what I need.” And they’ll say “diet” or “light” – “This is what I need to drink.” Can you tell us why that’s not necessarily the best path to health?
Thom King (18:30): I do a lot of experiments on myself. I would consider myself a bit of a biohacker. So, I was drinking a lot of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, thinking that it’s going to help me maintain good blood sugar levels, it’ll keep me in ketosis. But what I found is that if I was drinking diet soda at night, when I wake up the next morning, my blood sugar level would be elevated, and I was having a hard time getting myself into deep nutritional ketosis. So, I just conducted a little bit of an experiment and I also talked to a couple of PhDs about what’s potentially going on with diet soda. I’ve tested blood sugar before, blood sugar after, same with ketones. And I found that diet soda that contains aspartame or sucralose, which is Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi – that those will actually elevate my blood sugar levels and they will slightly decrease the amount of ketone bodies. And when I talked to a couple of doctors about it, what came up for them is that your body doesn’t recognize these manmade chemicals. It recognizes that it’s sweet, but it doesn’t recognize them because we don’t have the receptors for them. With Stevia or monk fruit, with natural high intensity sweeteners, our body recognizes it because we’ve got the receptors to recognize it, so it says, “This is Stevia, or this is monk fruit. This tastes sweet, but it’s not impacting blood sugar levels at all. This is how we’ll metabolize it.” But with aspartame and sucralose, your brain doesn’t recognize it. We don’t have receptors for it, which means that your body is basically going to function like you just had sugar, and the only benefit that you could get from chemically-sweetened soft drinks is the calorie abatement, but you’re still going to get a rise in your blood sugar level and you’re still going to get your ketone levels to drop, because your body doesn’t know what it is.
Allan (20:46): So, even though it’s not sugar and even though it’s zero calorie, it’s doing a sugar-like thing to you. Or maybe not exactly like sugar, but it’s changing your metabolism by causing your insulin and sugar responses to kind of go out of whack.
Thom King (21:05): Absolutely. And I’ve done this experiment several times. Occasionally, I’ll indulge myself with a Diet Coke – I love Diet Coke – but I do so with the knowledge that it is going to probably take me out of ketosis and it is probably going to raise my blood sugar levels a little bit. The fact that it doesn’t have any calories is a plus, but when you’re leading a ketogenic lifestyle, the goal is to keep yourself above, say, 0.6 to 1.5 millimoles of ketone bodies. So, there’s going to be a cost to it. But there are plenty of good replacements out there, like Zevia. Zevia is a soft drink that’s made with Stevia and it’s actually really good. If I’m going to indulge with a diet soft drink, I will certainly go with something that’s naturally sweetened over something that’s artificially sweetened.
Allan (22:09): When I moved away from Diet Coke, I was definitely an addict. Getting away from it was painful. So it’s not easy, but I did replace that with the green teas and coffee and things like that. There are now some products that are Stevia-based that are really good, if you want to continue the Cola route. There’s also tea and coffee, or good old water.
Thom King (22:37): When you’re on a ketogenic diet, drinking plenty of water is really important. You want to keep your body definitely hydrated, so your kidneys aren’t working overtime.
Allan (22:50): That is a big, big thing that a lot of folks struggle with ketosis. They get what they think is hunger, and the reality of it is either they’re not getting enough water or they’re not getting enough electrolytes. Once they figure that out for themselves, they’re so much better off and they have so much more energy.
Thom King (23:10): Absolutely, and that is key. I do keep little packets of electrolytes, and I have an app on my phone that reminds me to drink water every hour.
Allan (23:20): And then there is your journal, so full circle.
Thom King (23:24): It’s true. I hold myself accountable.
Allan (23:27): Good deal. Thom, if someone wanted to get to know you, get to know more about Guy Gone Keto and all the other things you’re doing, because you’ve got a lot going on – where would you like for me to send them?
Thom King (23:43): You can find me on any and all socials under Guy Gone Keto. You could also find me personally on all of the socials, and that’s Thom King PDX, as in Portland. My personal website is ThomKing.com. And my company is Steviva Brands, and you can go to Steviva.com. Yeah, any of the socials, and feel free to reach out, direct message me. I’m available to answer anybody’s questions.
Allan (24:25): I will have all of those links and all those social media outputs available in the show notes. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/328 and find all of those links there. Thom, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Thom King (24:41): Allan, it was an absolute pleasure. It was an honor to be on your podcast.
Allan (24:47): Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Thom. I know I did. The similarities in some of our storylines and the things that we went through were very, very interesting. And it’s also interesting that both of us found keto as a way to address our issues. It turns out July for me is becoming this month of book editing. It’s not fun; I don’t really enjoy the process of doing the editing of something that I wrote or said. And as I go through it, it’s a struggle, but I’m seeing the book come to life and that’s really, really exciting. I’m calling the book The Wellness Roadmap. I’m going to start putting together a page for that real soon. It’ll probably be at WellnessRoadmap.net. If you go out there right now, you probably won’t find too much, but I am putting that together and it’s just really exciting to see a book come together. We’re working through cover art and we’re talking about layout, and we’re, of course, dealing with pages and pages of text.
But it got me to thinking, there are certain things that are true in life. If you want something, it’s not always a direct path. You can’t necessarily be a better human, can’t do the things you always want to do just by doing them. I like playing volleyball, but I know that I’m not going to be as good a volleyball player if I don’t put in the time to do other things – some of the things that we don’t like, like sweating or lifting weights or when the weather doesn’t let us get outside, doing our runs on a treadmill. There are going to be those times when there are things that we don’t enjoy, that we should still do to improve our health.
One of the caveats out there, “What’s the best exercise?”, and the answer that’s typically given is, “The one you’ll do.” I completely, wholeheartedly agree with that. When we were looking at cover art, there was one with the couple being relatively athletic on the page, I said that people might not like that. They might not like that you have to do workouts to get the things you want. And you don’t “have to”, but if you want optimal health, if you want true wellness, then sometimes you are going to probably have to do a few things that you don’t enjoy. I want you to think about those things from the perspective of why you’re trying to get where you’re trying to get, and it does make those things just a little more tolerable. So, do the things you don’t want to do when it’s getting you to a place where you want to be – that’s the short story of all that. So, I’m going to be spending a lot of time editing a book, even though it’s not the funnest thing for me. I am very excited about what it’s going to do when I’m done.
Also, this week I’m getting on a plane to New London, Connecticut. Actually flying into Boston, and I think it’s about a 2.5-hour drive from there. Then I’m going to go to New London, Connecticut – 20th to the 22nd I’ll be there. If you’re in the area, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to catch a coffee or a drink with you. Let’s have a good time, let’s get to know each other. I really like talking to people that have heard the podcast and get your advice on some things that I can do better as a podcaster and as a coach.
And I’ll talk about coaching. I mentioned this last week – I’m looking for clients, I want to help you do this. If you’re looking for a coach, you think you might get some value from a coach – let’s talk about it. I know a lot of this is you go online, you see a forum, you see a page. I’m not a pressure salesman. I’m not going to say, “Do this or else.” I see a lot of that. I see a lot of, “Lose 20 pounds in three weeks and…” And that’s great – you can lose 20 pounds in three weeks. It’s completely possible. It’s not healthy and it’s not going to make you well. It’s going to make you thinner, but it’s not necessarily going to make you well.
I, as a coach, try to empower my clients. I try to teach my clients and I help my clients, and as a result they get well. And that’s what I want for you. So if you’re on the fence, you think this is something that might be good for you, you can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com – I’ve got some information there. I can tell you about all the programs I have if you want to know. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk, and that’s going to take you to a calendar link, where you can actually book a 15-minute block of time and we can just talk. We can talk through whatever issues you’re dealing with, whatever your health concerns are, whatever your fitness goals are. We can talk through what they are and make a decision if coaching is right for you. It’s not right for everybody, but I can tell you having someone there to keep you accountable, someone there coaching you, teaching you, empowering you to take your fitness journey, your health journey, your wellness journey to the next level – I think there’s a lot of value there that you might be missing out on. So I’d encourage you to go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/Talk and learn more today. Thank you. Next time on the 40+ Fitness podcast, we meet Dr. Joel Kahn and discuss his book, The Plant-Based Solution. Until then, have a happy and healthy week.