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How to use seasonal ketosis in an ancestral-based healthy lifestyle

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Over the past eight years, I've followed a ketogenic diet (low carb diet) for much of the year in a way of eating I call, Seasonal Ketosis. It is a part of my ancestral-based lifestyle to promote health, fitness, longevity, and joy. Seasonal Ketosis is a form of cyclic ketogenic diet based on seasons, where I'll have a season of feasting and a season of famine each year.


This episode of the 40+ Fitness podcast is sponsored by Let's Get Checked. Let's Get Checked makes it easy for anyone to get professional testing and consultation from the comfort of their home. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/LGC and use the code Allan20 to get 20% off.


[00:02:48.920] – Allan
Ras, how are you doing.

[00:02:50.130] – Ras
Great Allan. How are you today?

[00:02:52.570] – Allan
A little frustrated. The Panamanian government reneged on giving us our Saturdays back. So now it's the last time I thought I was going to get a Saturday off. And it appears that they decided that Bocas del Toro doesn't. And part of it is, you know, at least at this point, they're thinking in terms of states or provinces as we are. And we just happen to be associated with Bocas del Toro province, which includes the mainland. And so they are having some major outbreaks in on the mainland. But last we heard, there was less than twelve cases here on the island.

So, you know, it's under control here. But we, you know, living under more stringent rules. So they didn't open our curfew and they didn't give us the Saturday back. So,

[00:03:38.880] – Ras
Wow, it's so sorry to hear that. That's awful.

[00:03:41.850] – Allan
Well, it is what it is. It's just, you know, this, too, will pass.

[00:03:45.990] – Ras

[00:03:46.410] – Allan
It just means I'm going to get more miles in during my five days I can walk then.

[00:03:50.690] – Ras
That's true.

[00:03:51.390] – Allan
Than I normally would.

[00:03:52.880] – Ras
That's true.

[00:03:53.630] – Allan
So how's your week been.

[00:03:55.340] – Ras
Good. Good. Got a good run in this morning. Our weather's cooling off a little bit so running was great this morning and I've got a run club tonight so I'll be getting a few more miles with some friends tonight too. So that'll be fun.

[00:04:09.030] – Allan
Cool. Yeah. All right. So let's go ahead and get into today's episode. I'm going to be talking about seasonal ketosis, and it's a term that, I coined the phrase and I talked about a little bit in my book, and I recognized that I've mentioned it a few times on a few podcasts and I briefly describe it. But I wanted to go into a little bit more detail because I was talking to somebody about ketosis and they're like, oh, I could never eat like that year round.

[00:04:36.420] – Allan
You know, every once in a while I want some cake or bread or something like that. And so I said, well, you can have your cake and eat it too, with some stipulations. So let's go ahead and get into that episode.

Hello and thank you for being a part of 40+ Fitness Podcast, I'm really glad to have you here today. Today's show is going to be a little different. I have talked about seasonal ketosis as the way that I eat a few times on this show and on some other podcasts, but I've never really broken down how it works and why it works and what it is, specifically for me and how it fits within my overall ancestral based lifestyle.

Now, when I started this effort to go from a fat bastard to healthy and fit. I was introduced to Paleo by a dietitian and she brought up the paleo diet, explained what it was, what I could eat, what I couldn't eat, and I loved it. So I stepped away from my high carb diet and started just eating meat, fish and vegetables. I'd never heard of the ketogenic diet or the keto diet, as it's often called, but because I was on such a low carb version of the paleo diet, it actually put me into ketosis.

So I had to figure out what ketosis was because something different was happening to me and, you know, my breath and other things you hear about. But the weight loss was dramatic. So I enjoyed a lot of benefits out of the ketogenic diet. My blood sugar got steady, I had higher energy, I had less brain fog and it felt great.

Now, over the past eight years, I've continued to follow the ketogenic diet for most of the year, and I call that seasonal ketosis. Now, most people that adopt the ketogenic diet, they do it full time and they start eating low carb and they stay low carb and they try to keep their body in ketosis all the time and they see the benefits.

They would ask, why would I ever go off the keto diet if I enjoy how I feel when I'm on it? And to answer that question, for me, it's really about balance. I enjoy beer, I enjoy wine, I enjoy fruit, I enjoy yeast rolls. And occasionally I want to have a hamburger with a bun. So I pick a specific part of the year where I would allow myself to go off of ketosis. Now, I mentioned a few shows back that I had not started my famine season on time and really kind of blew it for a while. But I am back into my famine season and I've lost 25 pounds plus and still going.

But that's, that's not all this is really about. So I use seasonal ketosis as a way to stay generally healthy, to keep my health in good check, to keep my weight in a healthy body composition range. It improves my fitness, longevity, and the joy I have in my life. So I've developed an ancestral based lifestyle. And I'm not going to get into the argument about what our ancestors would or would not have eaten. I'm not going to get into the argument of, you know, how long they lived and all that. I'll talk a little bit about that. But that science doesn't interest me. I know that there were no fruits available to my ancestors in the northern part of Europe. I know that they would not have been able to transport food all around the world, so I would not have been eating nutrients from different continents all at one time.

I would not always have access to vegetables and fruits and all this other gobbledygook. I just wouldn't there'd be periods of time when I wouldn't. So but before I really get into seasonal ketosis, I do want to talk about a few key things just so we're all on the same base. When I'm talking about ancestral living, there's a few just core tenets that I'm going to throw out there. One is understanding what ketosis is now. Ketosis is when your body is burning fat.

So that can either be the fat that you're eating or it can be body fat. And in doing so, you create ketone bodies. Now, these ketone bodies are something that your brain and your body can use as fuel. Most of the time people are running on glucose. OK, there's glucose in your blood, there's glucose, you know, in the form of glycogen, in your muscles and liver. And we use that for energy most of the time.

At least that's how it's been for at least the last probably six to seven years here in the United States now. And we've also got a lot fatter. Ketones, on the other hand, can do all of that fueling. And in many cases it's more efficient and it's cleaner. It doesn't cause as many problems for us. So our bodies actually perform better, operate better and are in better health when we're in ketosis. So that's just ketosis. Now, the ketogenic diet is also called keto or the keto Diet.

It is a low carb, high fat diet that forces your body to go into nutritional ketosis. Now you can induce ketosis with exogenous ketone bodies or MCT oil, which is a medium-chain triglyceride. But that's not what I'm after here. We want healthy food. We want a healthy diet of real food that puts us into ketosis naturally. And it's not that hard to do. You just got to get the macros right and push through. Now with me, seasonal ketosis is a cyclical ketogenic diet. Now, instead of doing just a week, I do my cycles running over months, OK.

And in fact, seasons. So I'll have a season where I'll go into famine and then I'm in a strict ketogenic diet at that point. I stay in ketosis almost the whole time and then I'll have some feasting seasons when, you know, I'll go ahead and allow myself to eat what I want. I don't have any no, no's. Now I do tend to continue to eat a little bit high fat, low carb at that time, but the rules are gone. I just eat what I feel compelled to eat and enjoy the food that I have.

Now, my approach to health, a healthy ancestral lifestyle really is about health and longevity, even though we may never actually answer that question how long our ancestors would have lived. What we do know is that child mortality was much higher. We know that they didn't have the medical Know-How of modern times and they had less access to food. And we didn't have access to what, you know, most of the experts would call healthy Whole Foods. I mean, we had what was there that was all that was there. So what we didn't how we did. That's all we had.

There were no McDonald's. There was none of that stuff. And we did a lot more physical activity every day. So whatever the evidence says, you know, if people weren't living as long, it was probably for different reasons. OK, now, during those times, there would be periods, particularly in the north, where we would have feast and famine. When we would spend part of the year eating a ketogenic diet and even some periods of fasting. We didn't have food preservation. So we would have to wake up in the morning and maybe not have any food around. So we would have to go get it. We could be traveling and walking for hours and not find that.

But what we would do is if you think about it from a seasonal perspective, we would have access to more food in the spring, through the fall. So there would be fruits, there'd be vegetables, there'd be things like that. And so we would probably put on some weight between spring and fall. We'd just be a normal thing. And it was good because body fat helps protect us from the cold, keep us warmer, and it also gives us food. I mean, when we don't have food, it provides us the energy we need.

Okay, now as we go into the winter, weight loss would be the norm as we started using that fat on our bodies to keep us alive. So if we didn't have access to food, our bodies adapted to stay alive, our bodies adapted to be able to continue to do what we needed to do. I also believe that we were opportunistic eaters and we didn't have a McDonald's or a Tim Hortons or whatever it is that you have on every corner.

We didn't drink sweetened beverages. We just had water. We ate whole foods. When we killed an animal, we ate it hoof to nose. As hunter gatherers, we ate well as we could and we fasted when we had to. So we were on the land. And I think that's one of the core tenets of this is that we knew what we should eat, what we shouldn't eat, and we got that through the tribal knowledge. So, you know, I think it's really important to understand that the things that we call food today are not food. You know, groceries, as they are today, are not as nutritious as what we had been. And we've got to fix that as a people. That's got to be a priority somewhere along the lines.

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Now, another big tenant I want to talk about is fitness. Now, we were not sedentary. You cannot survive as a hunter gatherer if you're going to sit and not do anything, you just don't. So we would have to be fit. We wouldn't be able to go to a gym for cardio and strength training, but we would have regular exposure to three primary movement modalities that were really, really important for us. We would do low intensity, steady-state or LISS, as I like to call it where we had to migrate.

So, you know, food's not always where we want it to be. And the animals were moving with migration patterns. We would have to move with them if we want to be successful hunters. So this would require sometimes days of us to walk and travel, hiking, basically, and we'd have to carry our stuff with us. So if we had shelter and coats and in different clothing and blankets and all the different things, we needed tools and weapons, we would be carrying those with us. So we would go on these long, low intensity, steady state movements.

Now occasionally we would have high-intensity interval training. And you could think of that in terms of if we were hunting or we were fending off other tribes, it would require us to have some power and some skill. So working with weapons, moving for short periods of time, quickly resting, moving again, that would be normal regular activity for us. So, yes, more movement. And then finally a strength in mobility when we killed a large animal or we stumbled across a berry patch, we would feast.

Now, that would also require, in some cases, for us to lift parts of the animal and carry it back to camp, or we'd have to squat down to pick the berries that we were going to be eating. So, again, more movement. And so you can see through this, just the lifestyle of a hunter gatherer is filled with tons and tons of movement. Now, we also would have work life balance. We would be putting in long commutes. We wouldn't be doing a lot of the things we do now.

But while we're working to survive, we would also understand that we needed to rest. We would understand that, you know, we would need flow. And what I mean by flow is, you know, flow is kind of fitting in with what's there. You know, we would know that there's ways to hunt. There's ways to to move. There's there's times that we need to go. And so we would start following a natural pattern of days, months, seasons.

You watch some of the shows where they depict people and they live by the moon, the moon and the seasons give them the information they need to survive. Now, if they faced a threat and then they had a stressor, which, you know, basically what a threat would do is the stress response. It would be acute, immediate, it'd be life or death. So they would have that cortisol hit. They'd have, you know, that adrenal hit and then it would be gone. It wouldn't be this long, drawn out months and months and months of things that we do to ourselves now.

So we would have a very low stress life in a general sense, as long as we were able to successfully hunt and move and do the things we needed to do. Our stress levels were much lower. We also did risk management. And that sounds kind of weird talking about our ancestors.

But the way you stay alive, the way longevity happens, is understanding the risks associated with your life is a primal living being. We weren't worried about calories, blood sugar, vitamin C, processed meat, dietary fiber, or if we had a healthy microbiome, those concepts weren't even in our head. But what we did was we followed a path that was set by our ancestors.

My ancestors would go and they'd say, we know we go this direction. This is the way we have to go this month at the moon. And then we would go, but we would have to also understand what we're facing. If another tribe moved in to the area, we might have to change the plan, but we would do it. We had risk management. We were paying attention. So the biggest risks to us at that time was infant mortality and tribal warfare.

And the only biohacking that we would have done was just making sure that we were aware of the risks and then figuring out ways to avoid them or deal with them. And then relationship would be very important to us. We worked and moved as a tribe. And in a tribe, it works to our benefit because it helps everyone's survival. We hunted in packs and were hard coded in our DNA to be socially engaged. So that relationship, that closeness is really, really important to the nature of ancestral living.

And then finally within ancestral living. I want to talk about curiosity. You know, we did tend to follow the same basic patterns, seasonal patterns, year in and year out. But we were constantly engaged with what was going on. In the world around us, because our survival depended on it. You know, we couldn't go in and ask Google or Facebook what the weather was going to be like or if we were going to have an early summer or a late winter or whatever.

There was no groundhog to do it for us either. We looked to our elders to advise us and then the tribe had to learn and adapt, and that's how we would survive hard times. Now, I recently started a blog to dive into these issues in more detail. But full disclosure, I'm a terrible blogger. I can brag about this being episode 455 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast. But you know, I've done several blogs over the years and I don't think I've ever gotten more than maybe 15 blog posts in any one blog I've ever started.

So they blog fade pretty quickly. You know, I hope that doesn't happen with this blog. But what I plan to do with that blog is explore a lot of these topics that I've talked about so far. So if you're interested in any of those, you might want to check out the blog. I'll do the best I can, but. What's probably gonna end up happening is I'll probably end up bringing some of those topics here to the podcast, so check out the blog as I get going on it. Probably not anything else on there now. But check it out. And that's where a lot of these topics are going to be discussed in more detail. And if you have any questions, feel free to join us on the Facebook group at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/Group. And just ask I'm there. I mean, I'm there to participate and help you in any way I can. So if you're interested in this topic, I would like to carry on that conversation.

So for today's discussion and then I'll be gone already for quite a while. But I really want to dive into seasonal ketosis and share why I do it and the reasons that it may or may not be right for you. The first question I kind of have in my mind when I'm thinking about this is seasonal ketosis. The same thing is cyclical keto diet? You know, and technically it is it's you know, you're cycling in and out of keto. So it is a cyclical keto diet. However, when you talk to most people about this cyclical keto diet, it's a six days on, one day off, and they call that a refeed day. And I'm metabolically capable of doing that kind of keto diet, but I'm not a really good moderation type person.

[00:22:02.340] – Allan
You know, I'm either all on or all off. So if I took a weekly cheat day, you know, or carb up day, I just don't know what that day after that might be like. And I might just go ahead and have a second cheat day. So when I start my famine season, you know, in my ketogenic diet, I start dropping weight relatively quickly and then I'll get to my set point and I'm good, you know.

I like seeing two to five pounds come off in a week. What I wouldn't be a fan of is seeing like four pounds down, then two pounds up. And I'm pretty sure that's how the cyclical keto diet would work for me. And I don't really like that. It's progress, don't get me wrong, it's progress. But that's just not me. I'm happy knowing that I can have a few more carbs on my high activity days without going out of ketosis.

So if I'm going to have more carbs, I'm just going to work out a hell of a lot harder that week to make sure that I can keep myself in ketosis and have the carbs too. So if I want some fruit, I got to earn it from a from a carb, blood sugar, muscle and liver glycogen model. Now, there are some positives to the cyclical keto over full time keto. In many cases, athletic performance can be better and muscle growth is better.

I'm not a bodybuilder and I perform fine without the refits. I can I can do as much as I want to do. I need to do so again, cyclical keto is just not for me. But if you're someone who's looking for a way to do keto and then have that kind of that refeed that break, you might want to check that out. Now, why does seasonal ketosis make sense to me from an ancestral perspective?

And I've gone into some of this already. You know, I when I started this and I was learning about the paleo diet, I came across Mark Sissons primal blueprint. And now Mark laid out a very reasoned case for how our ancestors lived and ate. I used to character I think he named Duroc. So rather, you believe in human evolution, creationism or intelligent design, I don't think you can argue that we we're not doing things right now.

We've got to change something. The standard American diet is killing us. You know, back then we didn't eat refined grains and we didn't have junk food. You know, we were hunters and gatherers. We were, like I said, opportunistic eaters. And we ate the nutrition that our body required, essential amino acids and essential fats. They came from animals, primarily red meat and fish. That's where we got our food. Most of our food was going to come in that form.

And then based on the seasons, you know, we had short periods of the year where it was either cold or dry. We were in ketosis because there just might not be any vegetables or fruits available to us during periods of time. And then, of course, because, you know, food availability and everything, we would spend a good bit of time fasting or intermittent fasting or maybe some extended fasting, depending on the nature of what's going on in the world.

You know, if if we got a good, cold, hard freeze and all the animals are moving and there's no, you know, no vegetation at all, we got to go with the animals. We got to catch up to them. And then we got to do the hunting. So just recognize that our diet would have been very keto for much of the year. OK, now I started doing this for weight loss. That was my my core reason. And I was very much drawn to the primal paleo diet because it made intuitive sense.

Mark did a really good job, because it was maybe the first article I read, that you can't eat what you don't have access to. So you wouldn't eat processed foods at all, ever. OK, everything we would have eaten. Would have been whole food. It would have been locally and sustainably sourced and the human body was designed to be a hunter. I mean, there's no doubt whatsoever when you look at our features, look at what we can do. We were designed to be hunters, but when there are fruits and vegetables available, we're probably going to eat those. But we would not have eaten a high carbohydrate diet year-round. It's just impossible for any of our ancestors short of just some very small areas, you know, in the tropical zones where people would have eaten primarily carbohydrate diets that just wouldn't have anyone from northern Europe, anyone pretty much if you're from Northern Europe or Europe at all, your ancestors probably didn't eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

That's just that's just part of it. Now, you can look at the current chronic diseases, obesity, heart disease, stroke, type two diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. And the health problems are associated with our food. There's something seriously wrong. In our modern world, most people have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. And it's it's so epidemic that it's just weird to me that this has become politicized. That, you know, we have the food companies telling our government what to tell us what to eat is kind of crazy. It's not animal products and saturated fat that are making us sick as much as those food companies want the government to tell us that it is. It's just not true. It's the fast food. It's the processed foods.

It's high, refined carbs and sugar. We're eating too much sugar. We're eating too many refined carbs. We're not eating whole food. So if the government was in our favor doing the things that it was supposed to do, they'd be focused on food quality. They would not be telling us to eat cereal and grains and refined carbs. They would be telling us to eat meat, fruits and vegetables, Whole Foods.

Now, I've interviewed experts across all spectrums of nutrition. I've had vegans on I've had carnivores on paleo, keto, everywhere in between. The interesting thing is, is every single one of them will tell you that their way of eating is the best because it is based on high quality whole food. And they'll be able to pull out the studies that show people eating their diet. Whole Foods are crushing it. They're doing great. But what's hard is that they ignore Whole Food studies that say the exact same thing about a different type of diet, because it doesn't fit their world view, it doesn't fit their paradigm.

They have a cognitive bias. So, I just really struggle when someone tells me that the quality of your vegetable matters, but the quality of your meat doesn't. It's just all meat is bad. Or and people say the same thing you know, the other way. Is the quality of the meat matters, but all vegetables are bad. You know, that doesn't make sense to me. Our bodies were designed to eat both. Quality is what matters.

That's why the paleo diet makes sense to me. I think everybody should be trying to eat more whole food. You know, the debates out about whether we would have eaten potatoes or, you know, and I don't think we would have eaten much dairy, to be honest with you, because we didn't have cows. You know, we didn't have goats.

We hunted them or something similar to them. But we didn't we didn't have any animal product like that. We weren't domesticating the animals, so we weren't doing dairy. Beans, you know, those are a little weird because yeah, there are some issues there where we have to be careful with them. But, you know, I like the primal experience of having a big, juicy steak. I just do. I love having a cup of blueberries or blackberries and the sweetness and the tartness and just, I love that.

I'm not going to give up either one of them, I'm just not. My diet is comprised of meat, fish, vegetables and some fruit. I did try the Carnivore diet for a few weeks and I started missing vegetables. I tried the vegetarian diet and then I adapted it into the pescaterian and diet to try to get my protein. And I couldn't do it. I gained weight because I was eating too many fruits and vegetables and grains, so I just started putting on weight. So there's not something that I enjoy. And, you know, when I when I do these did these little experiments, you know, I was typically doing them during my my feasting season. So, you know, was not a period of time when I had to worry about being in ketosis. I just did what I did.

I think it's important for you to understand that whole food is the answer. However, you choose to put that in a way of eating is really about you. But I will say this. If you're going to try seasonal ketosis, you do need to think about a few things. OK, one, I don't. Have any insulin resistance or diabetes or, you know, I don't have any of the the diseases or any of the issues that that people would would be suffering from, that they might be using this as a protocol. So if you have insulin resistance or diabetes, you know, or you're using the ketogenic diet for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, PCOS, or an autoimmune auto immune issue, I wouldn't necessarily cycle off of the ketogenic diet.

Those protocols are specific about staying in keto the whole time. And so that's not something where you would want to cycle out because you're just setting yourself up. If you're way above a healthy body composition and you want to use keto to lose weight, seasonal ketosis is also probably not something for you because your weight is going to fluctuate. I fluctuate 10 to 15 pounds each year as I go through these cycles. So that is, and then, of course, if you're prone to eating disorders, you know, you need to find a way of eating that you're comfortable with.

If it's sustainable for you, the cycling in and out is probably not in your best interest, you know, except for this slip up. I had recently did a covid-19 I've been able to manage my seasons stably for the last eight years. You know, going into my feasting season in late August, early September, and then coming out of it right after the Super Bowl or my birthday at the first week of February. That's my feasting season.

And then my fasting season or famine season, as I call it, will run the rest of the year. And as I said I might put on 10 to 15 pounds during the feasting season, but I ditch that weight pretty quickly and spend my famine season at my lower, lower range of my set point. Now, I love the metabolic flexibility that I have to be able to spend part of the time in ketosis and part of the time having a little bit more carbs.

When I say more carbs, I'm talking about beer and some simple carbs. You know, it's like I'll have a hotdog, I'll have a hamburger. Someone offers me a piece of pie at a tailgate, I'll eat it. So that's kind of that thing. You know, to me, the weight loss is relatively easy. Once I'm in ketosis, my body just naturally says, OK, you don't you don't need this. And some of what I'm flushing out from a weight perspective is water.

But a lot of it is body fat and it goes pretty quickly. And I'm pretty happy with that. Now, if you're interested in diving deeper into this topic, there's two ways that you can do this. I talked about the group earlier, you know, 40+ Fitness Podcast, dotcom focus group, or you can go to the Web site – 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/455. And there's a comment section under this post.

I put a post with the transcripts each week and that's why I tell you the full show notes are there. If you go there, there's a comment section, you can leave a comment there. I'm pretty passionate about the benefits that I get and the flexibility I get and the freedom I get with seasonal ketosis and my style of ancestral living. So I love talking about it. If you want to go into more detail with this, I encourage you to go check out one of those two places and let's continue the conversation there.

[00:34:12.300] Allan
All right, Ras welcome back.

[00:34:15.510] Ras
This is great. A lot of good stuff in the episode.

[00:34:19.320] Allan
Yeah, you know, most people that will talk about ketosis, they talk about in terms of it being a permanent lifestyle. And it can be. But I think it's it's kind of easy for people to get roped into measurements or things and not necessarily doing it for the right reason. I knew that I was going to roll up on football season and want to go tailgating. You know, since I finished my Tough Mudder, I was like having a beer and I was out of ketosis that afternoon, that evening.

[00:34:50.880] Allan
So, you know, just for my life style perspective, it just didn't make sense. They're going to be periods of time that I was not. But I found a manageable way that I could spend some of the year in ketosis and get the benefits that I wanted to get, but at the same time, spent some time doing some things that I enjoy.

[00:35:11.220] Ras
That sounds great, I'm glad that you found this new way to work keto into your normal lifestyle. That sounds like it's flexible enough to work with the way that you like to live.

[00:35:23.000] Allan
It does. You know, of course, you know, this year I had a little bit of difficulty getting out of the beast mode just with everything that was going on. I did put on a good bit more weight than I normally would have. But I've dropped almost all of that now and I'm back down to near a low for the last five years, I've been running at about two hundred and seven pounds.

And I'm right about there right now. I think I'm going to push it down a little lower because my muscle mass is a little lower than it was five years ago. So I'm probably going to push my weight down below two hundred before I kind of level things out again. So I do see some fluctuations with my weight and I know that can be challenging for a lot of people.

[00:36:11.350] Ras
Yeah. That's what I wanted to ask you about that. As you watch the scale go up and down, how does that impact mostly how you feel? Because to me a few extra pounds can feel kind of yucky and sluggish for me. But for you, how does that feel when you're in the fisting mode versus the famine mode?

[00:36:31.660] Allan
Yeah, well, first off, I'm but I'm about five foot 11, so I can I think I can carry 200 pounds pretty well and I can carry up to two fifteen I would say. I don't actually worry about the scale as much. I mean occasionally I'll step on it during my fisting mode just to kind of see where I am. I can usually just guess by looking at how my pants fit.

I before we move down here to Panama, I found a pair of cargo shorts that I liked. So I bought like four or five different pair and different colors of the same cargo shorts. And so they all fit me the same way. And so I can just pretty much tell when I put those cargo shorts on how I'm doing and where I am. And as I mentioned, I eat relatively low carb during my feasting season. So I'm not crazy on carbs.

It's just I don't really worry about it. If, you know, if I'm out with folks, we want to have some beers. I don't think about it. You know, if someone offers me something that I wouldn't normally eat like a hamburger with a bun, I'm going to eat it. I'm not going to worry too much about it, but I do pay attention to my size. You know, if I didn't start noticing that I'm getting bigger, then I'll I'll tap it down a little bit.

I won't I won't go as crazy. Well, except during COVID. But…

[00:37:54.320] Ras
Yes, totally different rules for covid.

[00:37:58.930] Allan
And so, you know, if you're someone that's really stuck on the scale and you just know there's this weight, your magical weight you're supposed to wear, your head tells you, this is my no, you're not going to like this. You know, the interesting thing is, like, you know, like I said, I'll put on ten, fifteen pounds in a swing. So from my feasting to that, I will put on up to fifteen pounds.

You have to recognize that about about five or seven of that is water weight. And I flush that the first week I go back into ketosis. Right. You know, so I'll literally sit there and say, OK, I'm going to go in ketosis, you know, drop five to seven pounds in a week or two. And then it then it tapers down and I'll lose a few pounds a week and then one pound a week and then my body will get to that homeostasis, its happy weight and I just go by how I feel.

Now I've mentioned this before on another episode I was talking about this a little bit. I don't feel as good during the feasting season, you know, because the foods I'm eating or not is healthy. You know, the beer is not a health food.

[00:39:11.260] Ras
That's true. Sadly, sadly true.

[00:39:13.260] Allan
As much as they'll try to tell you it's okay. It's really good. No, it's not actually really good for you at all. That's fake science. Someone wanted that to be true. They made the hypothesis and then they just said, well, it doesn't kill you, so it's got to be good for you.

[00:39:27.730] Ras
Great. Great science.

[00:39:29.450] Allan
Yeah. So, you know, don't if you're someone who's going to freak out about the scale, if you're someone who has issues with your eating, this is not that kind of thing. You know, find one way that works and stick with that would be my recommendation for that. If you really worried about the scale, stay in ketosis.

But I also want to preface it. You know, I notice I do feel better in ketosis. It's just a better state for me to be in. But I'm not all that tight end up being that way all the time. You know, I'm okay to have a couple bad, you know, days where my energy level is not as high or, you know, I feel a little frumpy. I'm cool with that. It's the price I pay for the detour I took, and I just accept that.

If you're someone who's doing it as a protocol for cancer, for diabetes, insulin resistance, any other metabolic issue, then it's something you're probably going to want to stay on. It's not something that I want to cycle through.

[00:40:31.030] Ras
That's a good point.

[00:40:31.030] Allan
You know, even the people that do cyclical, where they're taking one day off per week, I said that that would actually drive me bonkers because I would feel like I was making all this progress dropping, like I said, seven pounds in a week, only to pick four of them back up. Yeah, it would be like that's all I'm doing is flushing water. I'm not really losing any weight.

And so I would struggle with that kind of cycle. Whereas if I'm off, I'm off. If I'm on, I'm on. And that's another thing about my personality, you know, and I talk about in the wellness chips, you've got to know yourself. You got to be self-aware. And it's one of the things I know is I don't have a dimmer switch, the light switch, maybe I'm on or I'm off.

And so it's just easier for me to say, okay, flip the switch and I just do it.

[00:41:24.010] Ras
Yeah, it's a good point. I think that the cyclical, you know, one day a week where you can have a cheat day or cheat meal or whatever, it's a slippery slope because food can be a trigger. And if you have that one serving of chips, that might become the bag of chips and then it might be one more serving the next day, in the next day. And it is a slippery slope. And if you're not confident in your ability to put it away and get back to it, then that can be dangerous.

[00:41:52.180] Allan
Yeah. And, you know, one of the things that I would like to mention is that, you know, we're starting to get anecdotal evidence and maybe some studies where we're looking at performance of someone who's in complete ketosis versus someone who uses carbs as a fuel along with ketones versus someone who's just a sugar burner. And, you know, I'm not going to say one fueling mechanism is best for everybody, but I would put this out there for anyone that is trying to do in terms sport, the heavier you are, the more weight you have to carry for the miles that you're traveling, the more wear and tear you have on your body.

And if you're eating refined carbs specifically and sugar, you're going to have inflammation and that inflammation is going to cause problems in your joints. And so from a health perspective, I would I would be the one that would air on the side of using ketones for for energy.

If I were doing endurance athletics, an occasional carb up here and there before a race might help your performance. But, you know, I'm not sure how much additional glycogen your body is going to be able to carry for that particular event. And you're always going to want to practice what you're going to race. So you would be eating carbs as a regular probably thing each week to carb up for your long runs if you're following the standard training protocol. So you would still be eating a good bit of carbs as a part of that.

So I'm not saying one is better than the other from a performance perspective. I'm just thinking in terms of wear and tear on your body inflammation and you just weigh a little bit less, you know, in carrying less water. So, you know, yeah. All of that's going to probably, in the end, help your performance. But I don't they don't have enough evidence right now where I would say there's one superior fueling way.

[00:43:55.510] Ras
Yeah. And I think as an endurance athlete, that's what kind of attracted me to keto in the first place, was I needed to lose a few extra pounds that I was carrying around. Every time we've moved and and we've moved several times as a family, we set up the house. We have projects I can't get in the runs. I gained a few pounds and so I looked to keto for just something different, a way to just get those pounds off. And it actually worked for me.

The one or two times that I've actually ate something non kaido. It impacted me greatly. I was very sick so I can't really do too much cheating. I know I've got a limit. I probably can eat something that's bread or sugar, but not very much more than a bite of cake or something small because it will impact me. But as far as the endurance part of it, it has helped a lot in my running.

I'm not winning races or anything. I've never been fast either in the first place. But yeah, keto has been a real big help for me in the endurance field. But like we like you mentioned earlier and just a little while ago is that you really need to find what works for you as an individual and there's just a wide range of eating, I could give you a couple of names of some impressive vegan ultra runners. Scott Drake is probably one of the most famous vegan ultra runners.

And then to the exact opposite, Michael McKnight, just this summer or spring, actually ran a hundred miles and no calories, nothing, no food. One hundred miles. I want to say, he did it in 18 hours, if I remember right. But so he's he's definitely keto. But like you were mentioning, he is also carving up a little bit in the week leading up. So his body was fueled with carbs, but then he goes straight kitto so that his body is prepared with fat as well.

And I think that's probably how he survived it. But he's also a pretty famous keto ultra athlete.

[00:46:05.330] Allan
Yeah, I as over the years I found I can get into keto pretty easy. I don't really do the of flu thing anymore since I go in and out, you know, each year I don't really have a kid, I feel a little less energetic for a day or two, but the switch over for me is pretty quick. So that's one of the things I like about doing it the way I do it. But that said, not everybody would you might not have the same experience that I had.

So, you know, the what's that they say in the ad is the results you see might not be your results right into it. So I'm not going to say everybody would have as easy of a time going back and forth. I don't have any insulin resistance. I don't have any blood sugar issues. You know, my awarenesses always been fine. So for me to switch back and forth seems relatively easy, you know, but like I said, most of the year, I'm eating this way anyway.

The difference is just not paying attention to my carbs, are not being worried about the carbs. And so that's why it works. And the other side of it is I don't stress about rather on that point five or point to five as far as what my ketone levels are, as long as I'm in ketosis, I'm cool. But a lot of people are like, no, I want to see that. No, I want to be one point five or better.

And I bought a Keto Mojo not long ago to replace my other ketone meter that I lost. I guess I can't find it after I moved. I'll probably find it when I go get the rest of my stuff. But anyway, so I bought it and they introduced this new where they measure your glucose and you measure your ketones at the same time. And we do that. It gives you a different measure relative so ketones relative to glucose. And so it's an index that they've created.

[amazon box=”B08G5BZQVL”]

And so again, it's just one of those. But again, it's that competitiveness of seeing a higher number that it seems to be pushing toward. And I'm not a big fan of that. You're either in ketosis or you're not. You're not. You know, you can say you're more in ketosis. I mean, there's just more ketones circulating in your blood. So I don't think you're in more ketosis. You just can't be more perfect.

You can't be more pregnant as you are. There are the days you might feel more pregnant than you did the day before. But you know that you're not in you know, you're not in more ketosis. You're in ketosis, you're not. And so it's for me, it's a good protocol. But I'm a little bit different in that I don't have a health issue. I do it to thin out, to lean out a bit, because if I did the feasting all year round, if I ate that way out of control, I would blow up, you know, so I know I can't do that and I have to be very cognizant of it.

I wasn't this year. I went and I stayed with it and just kind of proved my point of once I broke that that that barrier that I had my set point for my body, it said, oh, good, we'll just throw in a lot more weight. We don't have a problem with that. You gave us the fat cells years ago. We know how to use them. Just keep feeding us. And it did. So, you know, you got to turn that around.

And for me, it's when I said no dimmer switch just flipped the switch and let's go.

[00:49:25.580] Ras
That's awesome. You must be very metabolically flexible then to be able to go on and off and in and out of ketosis. And your body doesn't give you the pain that a lot of people get with people it doesn't know, you know.

[00:49:38.780] Allan
I'm very fortunate. I know a lot of people are not like that. They struggle to get into ketosis. And once they're there, like, I love this, I'm never going back. And, you know, that's cool. But, you know, you eat something bad like you said, you don't maybe you don't even know it has sugar in it or as many carbs in it as it does. And you eat it and you fall out of ketosis.

Now, people do that all the time and go right back into ketosis and never even know they were out of ketosis. So it's not this magical state. Where you're going to have to go through keto flu every time you go in and out, because people are going in and in some levels, most people are in a mild state of ketosis almost every morning they wake up because you've gone, you know, eight or 12 hours without eating. So your body is starting to produce ketones.

Now, is it using them efficiently as a fuel? No, because you're immediately going to put some more glucose in the system. You know, if you're very active, like you do your endurance sport and you're burning down some glycogen in your muscles and your liver. So when you do have additional carbs, some additional carbs, your body's going to use this insulin to restore that. So if you need it in the liver, if you need it in the muscles, then insulin is going to do its thing to do that.

If you didn't do any work and you're already topped up with glycogen, then it's only got one other choice and it's going to start making fat. So if that's something you're trying to avoid, you want a better body composition. I can't think of a better way to do it than keto.

[00:51:09.910] Ras
Yeah, that sounds about right. That's what I've experienced as well.


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Another episode you may enjoy


April 8, 2020

The 4 Season Solution with Dallas Hartwig

Dallas Hartwig, the co-creator of Whole30, presents us with a compelling way to maintain our health and fitness with The 4 Seasons Solution.


Allan (03:24):
Dallas, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Dallas (03:26):
Thank you so much for having me.

Allan (03:28):
It's just an honor for me to have you on the show. It's a, you're someone I've really wanted to get in touch with for a while. And when I, when I got your book, The Four Seasons Solution and I started reading through it, I was like, this is profound. This because I had sort of already taken the nutrition thing to a kind of a seasonal idea thinking through ancestral eating and you know, my Northern European family would not have been eating papayas in December. And so I would typically do, and I coined the phrase seasonal ketosis cause that's a natural place that I found myself at now. I did it backwards because I like football season and beer and hanging out with my friends. And so I kinda, I kind of switched it up, but I have to admit, I have found myself very much where you talk about in the book and that kind of this perpetual summer, which we're going to talk about. So I really did resonate with the message that you have in the book. And I think the folks, anyone that's going to read your book is going to as well.

Dallas (04:30):

Allan (04:32):
So now part of what you have in the book and you talk about are these rhythms and you know, we, we can talk about circadian rhythms, we can talk about the rhythms that happen over the course of seasons. Cause everybody, particularly in the Northeast and the North is going to experience some form of seasons in the Southeast they'll call it 10 seasons, rain hot, a little bit more rain hot. And then you know, a little bit more rain. But down here in Panama, you know, we really only have rainy and hot and so we don't have the longer, shorter days and things like that. So it's a little harder to kind of go into the whole that, but there are those rhythms and I think most, most people that are listening to this are going to kind of resonate with that idea that there's, Oh yeah, there's these seasons and there's different things that we do and should be doing longer days, shorter days.

Allan (05:22):
And then there's the seasons of life. And so you kind of use that concept as you go through this to build, for lack of a better word, as I went into reading it and thinking through as a helix, our life as we go forward going through these series of rhythms. But we've got to get in sync with those rhythms if we really want to be well. So can you kind of talk through those different rhythms that we should be paying attention to and how they're going to benefit us for wellness.

Dallas (05:50):
For sure. And you know, that's both, a simple question and a really complex question. I, it's one of the things that I'm most interested in is patterns. And what I started to identify over the last 6 to 10 years is a sort of recurring fractal pattern of expansion and contraction that occurs on a daily rhythm. Actually, there are shorter rhythms call trading rhythms and we're familiar with REM cycles when we're sleeping. So there's a very sort of rhythm. There's the very obvious daily rhythm or circadian rhythm. There's also the same expansion-contraction cycle over the course of a year. And then we have this expansion-contraction cycle over the course of a lifetime. And there are so many fascinating comparisons between all those different cycles of what happens for us experientially, motivationally, emotionally, physiologically, metabolically. There are so many comparisons there and that fascinates me.

Dallas (06:44):
And what I started to do was layer in and sort of glean some of the patterns that are already encoded into our DNA. These are biological principles that have always governed the way we live that govern basically all life on earth is governed by these different cycles. And the circadian rhythm is a really obvious one across the course of the day. We have light, we have dark, we have sunrise, we have sunset, we have bright midday light. Like all of these things send physiological signals to our bodies and they affect our neurochemistry, they affect our metabolism, they affect our alertness, they affect our motivation, they affect our pleasure responses to things. And so it changes this. There's this entire, like I sort of envision this almost sort of pulsing, throbbing sort of amoeba shaped thing. Like we are constantly in motion in all of these different ways.

Dallas (07:41):
And what I seek to do in this book, and is giving some simple structure and organization to that. And that is basically just observing the natural patterns that are already there in nature. So I talk about rhythms with what we eat. I talk about rhythms with the light dark cycle, including sleep, but not limited to sleep. I talk about rhythms and oscillations in that same expansion contraction cycle in the way that we move across the course of a day across the course of a year and across the course of a lifetime. And I talk about connection, and I think that's one of the things that is overlooked in a lot of discussions about health and wellness is the sense of connection, not just to other people. That's kind of the obvious one. There's a large and growing conversation about social isolation and loneliness and that the social, emotional unhealth cost of loneliness, but that's not the entire story of connection.

Dallas (08:31):
So we also have this opportunity to connect deeply with ourselves, connect deeply with a sense of place and belonging and home and sort of mother earth. And then we have this sense of connection to a larger purpose, sense of contribution to something larger than ourselves, which is also correlated with some of the happiest and most long lived people on earth. So it's complex in that there are multiple moving pieces in this expansion contraction cycle. But it's also incredibly simple because what it does is allows us to get back in touch with our intuitive rhythms that are present in our bodies already. And we've just learned to ignore them or we've never learned to listen to them in the first place. So that the closer we get to aligning with these natural rhythms, the easier decisions get, the easier we make healthy decisions because it's just what we want to do intuitively.

Dallas (09:25):
So one of the major problems with the modern world is that we have largely eliminated those rhythms. We've flattened everything. So it's made, we've made everything like a light switch. It's off or it's on, it's go or it's stop and all of these things, we're at work or we're not, we are exercising or we're sedentary and this, it's very binary and polarized. And one of the things that argue for in this book is that across all of these different domains of living, we should be much more like a sign wave than a right angle or a straight line because there are no straight lines and right angles in nature. They're all curvaceous and beautiful and cyclical. So that's the, that's the sort of, that's the sort of conceptual background. And then the book gets much more, specific into each of those areas and, and kind of how, in my recommendations of how to actually implement those different things.

[amazon box=”B016CKO2W8″]

Allan (10:20):
Yeah. I think, you know, intuitively, we kind of know these things. If we do shift work, someone who does shift work, you know, there's plenty of science out there to say that they, they struggle with their health and wellness because the shift work interferes with their normal circadian sleep rhythm. They don't know when to be awake and when to be asleep. And yeah it really impacts their health overall. And so it's that when we break one of these, I'm not going to say a rule, but just a natural rhythm of, of how we should probably be living our lives, how we've lived our lives for millennia. It's, it really does take a toll on our bodies. Now I want to kind of start because I think that the easiest way to think about this beyond the, of course the circadian rhythm is kind of an easy one to do, but most people think that relates to sleep and you believe it's relates to all of it, but I want to talk about particularly the four seasons of the year because like I said, it was fascinating to me.

Allan (11:17):
I thought of it from a nutrition perspective of okay, my ancestors would not have had access to this food, therefore it probably shouldn't be eating that food during this time of the year. I need to have a winter, I need to have a time of famine where I'm predominantly eating meat and fat and that's my food products because that's all that's available. And there's going to be a period of time when I'm eating leafy greens and then there's going to be blueberry season where I'm just going to go crazy eating the blueberries. So it was easy for me to conceptualize this from a, from a food perspective, but you take it across all four of those dynamics, the food, the movements, the sleep and then of course the relationships both with ourselves and with others. Can you kind of walk through the four seasons and kind of give us an idea of how over the course of four seasons that would impact each of those four pillars of health and then why we find ourselves today kind of stuck in this summer. Because we've had this linear, like you said, we've smoothed everything out and we just happen to smooth it out at a time when we love, which is that dopamine summer.

Dallas (12:20):
Totally. Totally. So I mentioned expansion, contraction cycle. So there is kind of the two sides of the coin there and I grouped the four seasons into two and two. So spring and summer tend to be all about expansion. They tend to be about stimulation and fun and novelty and excitement and exploration and hard work and stress and all of that is totally okay. Like that's a natural rhythm. So it's akin to kind of morning and mid-day and the experience of a, like the sort of the titillation of early spring when we're like, let's go do some work in the garden or clean the garage. Like that sort of spontaneous motivation to do things or to start a new exercise program or to go on a trip or like the draw towards new exciting things is driven by dopamine and then the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol, which help us adapt to that stress and maximize our sort of performance under stress.

Dallas (13:20):
And that's all good stuff. And I think that sometimes we make the mistake of sort of idealizing some other metobolic processes or neuro transmitters or motivational experiences and then demonizing others. And what I'm saying here is that actually all of these things have important functions because if we didn't have some of those motivational experiences to go try new things, go places, meet new people, we would stay at home and probably starve to death because we didn't have that spontaneous motivation to kind of go out and explore. So those are all really important things. So spring and summer are the expansion phase. Fall and winter are the contraction phase. It's the balancing point. And fall and winter are about slowing down, restoring and recovering from the stressful spring and summer. It is about coming home and reconnection and being grateful and being generous and knowing our place.

Dallas (14:16):
And it's all of the ideas that are really kind of epitomizes by American Thanksgiving. This sense of like gratitude and connection and generosity that are such hallmarks of fall. And then winter then is this experience of deep healing and restoration and contraction and what's wrong into like the most intimate parts of yourself and most intimate connections with people. It's not, it's kind of the opposite of the summer barbecues and block parties. It is sitting around the fireplace with your closest circle and all of those things are important. There's not, there's no good or bad here. What there is is this expansion and contraction cycle that works beautifully when it's in balance and works really poorly when it's out of balance. So fall and winter then are symbolized by the neurotransmitters of serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin as well known for its role in mood, in pleasure, in feeling a sense of contentment and connection and belonging.

Dallas (15:16):
And it's a very, it's a very peaceful, Placid, satisfied experience. And of course melatonin being the sort of darkness hormone, so to speak, is all about getting us into that very deep contracted, restorative phase of sleep or in the case of deep winter, a very kind of therapeutic experience. The problem is that back at the Dawn of agriculture, roughly 10 or 12,000 years ago, and as we started to kind of get civilization going and ownership societies and economics and urbanization, the whole thing sort of started to shift from being hunter gatherers in sort of integrated into their local environment to start to take control of the environment at first through agriculture and stabilizing the food supply. But then through, you know, later through the industrial revolution with artificial light, we started to kind of really craft the environment around us and that's where we went off course. Really kind of starting back at the agricultural revolution and then later through the industrial and technological revolutions.

Dallas (16:17):
Because what we did is we got stuck in this summer mode, this mode of success, of hard work, of accumulating resources of like go, go always on excitement and fun and expansion. And we got stuck there because it's good for civilization, it's good for the human species as a whole in that expansive mode. And of course you look at the population of humans on earth. We have done plenty of expansion, but it is out of balance. And what the challenge there, and I explained this in the book, but part of the challenge is that it's so fun and exciting to experience the dopamine and adrenaline and cortisol components of life. The excitement and the pleasure and the reward aspects of it. It's very difficult to tear ourselves away from that to have the corresponding contraction experiences. So I write in the book that we are stuck in a chronic summer and if you think about having the feeling you have at the end of summertime and let's say at the, in the Northern hemisphere sort of at the end of August and early September, you're like, Oh, I'm so tired.

Dallas (17:25):
I can't wait for the days to start to get shorter and they start to cool down and maybe the kids go back to school and like things start to kind of settle in and get a little bit saner because we're so tired. And that same sensation is the one that a lot of us have like deep in our bones over the course of years. And decades because we're living in a chronic summer. And the reason that's a major problem is because the behaviors in the summertime, if they are out over again years or decades, those chronic summer behaviors produce chronic disease outcomes. So all of this gets tied together as we can not only prevent and reverse chronic disease by stepping out of that chronic summer situation, but we can actually make all of the rich, beautiful human experiences better by reintroduced saying a balanced oscillating system.

Allan (18:15):
Yeah, and I think that's kind of the key of it is it's exciting. We're out there, we're doing stuff in particular as we start talking about sleep. I think food people get, it's like we have access to some foods all year round. And so we're, we're eating that all the time. We're getting all that sugar, all that, you know, the blueberries are there every day, every season I get and I'm everyday and if I keep doing that, my body's not getting that retraction, that contraction, that should be getting later. But with sleep kind of thing is an annual visits, the badge of honor that I only sleep five hours a night and do this stuff. You know what, I've got all these things, these, these responsibilities that, you know, put the kids to bed and then I've got to catch up with this and then I got to do that.

Allan (18:57):
And then I'm so wound up, well I guess I'll just go ahead and watch Netflix for an hour or so or four or six. And then I got to catch up on Facebook because totally all my friends that have been up until two o'clock in the morning, they're also posting now. So that's coming through and, we're one, we're giving ourselves all this artificial light, which wouldn't exist. We're not going with the natural cycle. And I think that's one of the, to me, that's where the, like the aha moment with what you were going into when you went through and said, when your book, you had your other book, which is, it starts with food. But in this book you said, you know, maybe sleep is easier, a better place to really think about this. And I'm agreeing with you here, if you sleep more when it's darker longer, that's probably how our ancestors did it for millennia, and it's probably a good life lesson for us. So can you kind of just talk about why sleep is so important to us and how we can use the seasons as a kind of a flag for us of better sleep and better health?

Dallas (19:55):
Certainly. There's this principle of evolutionary mismatch, which might not be a familiar term, but the concept is familiar and you've already spoken to it in that in our ancient past and the way that our bodies have evolved, we, our bodies expect oscillation. We expect certain types of kind of environmental conditions. And the modern world, the way we've constructed is extremely new to our physiology. We haven't had time evolutionarily speaking, to adapt to that. So we have a mismatch between what our physiology expects and what our environment provides us or what we provide ourselves through the modern environment. And that same principle. So you've spoken to food and said, okay, we can actually solve a ton of the problems with food by eating what is locally and seasonally available. And that's a beautiful elegant solution to food is literally just doing that one simple thing is eating what's available to you locally and seasonally.

Dallas (20:49):
And of course that takes into account what your local geography is. And in Panama you've got a different and certainly much smaller amplitude or smaller oscillations season to season, but there's a small change. It's of course much larger at higher and lower latitudes respectively, higher latitudes, North and South, North and South of the equator. And there's another principle that's akin to that with sleep, which is basically you should track or your sleeping patterns should be reasonably close to the sunrise and sunset times wherever you live. And that doesn't mean that in, you know, the Northern United States that you'd go to bed at 5:00 PM, you know, in the winter time because the sun goes down that early. But the closer you can track that this is like a beautiful, simple kind of heuristic or or sort of shortcut.

Dallas (21:38):
The closer you are to that, the better your health and wellness is going to be across the board. And that's true for a number of reasons. The single largest one is that our physiology is incredibly dependent on the light dark cycle. And that's something that has been, that I and many other researchers, have really underappreciated in years and decades past. And as we start to understand how significantly our metabolism is affected by that light dark cycle, we can start to identify the downstream consequences of mismatching, what's going on outside and the natural rhythms that are there with what we are with the environments we are providing with artificial light. And especially to your point, the sort of staying up late, which is basically a summertime behavior, right? Where the kind of long days, short nights, and what we basically have is a chronic shortage of sleep, but it's not just shortage of sleep, it's actually a deficiency of time spent in darkness.

Dallas (22:36):
So I kind of reframe that in the book where it's not just that people need to get more sleep and needs to go to bed earlier and whatever. They also need to spend more time in relative darkness. So there's this principle of mismatch that shows up in the realm of sleep because we, not only do we not have enough time spent in darkness and including sleeping, we also don't have enough exposure to bright, natural light. So, so much of our physiology is dictated by exposure to bright light because that is one of the triggers for our metabolism to say, Oh, I should be awake. Our nervous system gets regulated by that. And we have these, what we call clocks, these, these genetically encoded mechanisms within almost all of the cells and all of our bodies that have a roughly 24 hour rhythm, but they are made more accurate and more consistent by exposure to bright light.

Dallas (23:28):
So bright light early in the morning really helps to kind of reset and coordinate all of those clocks so that as we advance through the day, we have a more coordinated system. And as we get into the hours after sunset or approaching sunset, we are, we have coordinated clocks within our bodies such that we can start to wind down more naturally. And that requires that we avoid the artificial light after sunset. And that means dimming the lights at home. That means avoiding the computer and tablet and smartphone screens that have a lot of that blue light. Because if you think about blue light, especially when it's quite bright, blue light is effectively the signal that it is mid day. And this is sort of blue sky environment. Blue light tells your brain you should be alert, you should be active and you should have this sort of stress hormones on board so that you can perform maximally.

Dallas (24:20):
So this the experience of summer of having lots of sun, lots of light and lots of stress that goes along with all of that gets stretched over into the evening hours when we have artificial light that we get from all of these screens, so it's quite a well known recommendation at this point that we should be avoiding blue light in the evenings, especially in the hour or two before bed. I'll maybe extend that even farther and say the longer you get after or the longer you are awake after sunset and the more blue light you were exposed to after sunset, wherever you are, the more problems you are likely to have with your circadian rhythm. So it just hearkens back to this really simple and elegant solution. You should actually just follow the natural rhythm with a light dark cycle to the extent that you are able, just like you would follow what is present for you in food with local and seasonal foods. These, all of these, these really simple guidelines of like, this is how we go back and this is how we undo some of that evolutionary mismatch to improve our health overall.

Allan (25:23):
Yeah. I did some personal experiments to just kind of see what my sleep cycles were. You know, you wear wearable devices and things like that. About a year or so. And yeah, I'm right on the sleep cycle of 90 minutes. And I was going through that and I would say, okay. What I found was, yeah, in, in the summertime I, I felt okay with just sometimes four, but usually five sleep cycles. And then when it's the longer winters, and this really hit me when I would travel up to Calgary from Arkansas. And Arkansas, I'd go up to Calgary in July and it's, it's daylight at eight o'clock at night. And I'm like, ah, I just want to go to bed, but what am I supposed to do?

Allan (26:14):
You know? And so that would really mess with me. That would mess with me as much as traveling to Europe for sure. It really threw me off that there was that much difference in the length of a day and when the sun was out, when it wasn't. And so I recognize that my, my body had, was adaptive to the seasons and to the sun. And you know, obviously everybody knows about jet lag, but these were this kind of experiences of I sleep longer in the winter just naturally because I never set an alarm. I always go to bed early enough that I never have to set an alarm. I go through my sleep cycles and when I get through a sleep cycle, if it's after, you know, if I know I have to be up at seven, if it's after five o'clock I just get up. Cause I know 90 minute sleep cycles not going to work, I will, I'll sleep through the alarm if I even set one, which I typically don't. So I just kind of had these natural, okay I'm gonna I need to get five, sometimes six. Then in the winter I always found it was almost always going to be that extra sleep cycle, which you know, is just kind of one of those learning opportunities I gave myself by going to bed earlier. So I gave up a lot of Netflix watching for the sake of science and my health and that's where I found myself.

Dallas (27:23):
Yeah, well I love that you've already taken on so many of these experiments and just sort of naturally gravitate towards something that's very much in alignment with the entire model that I put forward in the book. Because what you, what I hear you saying is you have gotten better at trusting your own body's instincts and intuitions and, and not just like, like hearing them and trusting and acting on them in a way that drifts naturally over time to a much more harmonious and effortless place. I mean, the fact that you can go to bed and just sort of wake up without an alarm really speaks to the, the rested state that you're in when you do wake up. And I think that's extraordinary and beautiful. So I applaud you for doing those experiments.

Allan (28:05):
Yeah, but let my wife wake me up when I'm not like, my whole brain is off. I'm like, wait, where am I? What's going on? And it's like, Oh, we gotta we gotta go. And I'm like, Oh, I need one more sleep cycle. But okay, yes, I'm up. But, so yeah, I've done a lot of that myself cause it's, you know, when you're doing a podcast and doing the health and fitness and you know, this is my thing now, I make that a priority to, to experiment. And I think everyone should do these experiments. And what's really cool about your book is that you give us a lot of experiments. There's a lot in here that we can't get into all of it. But I did want to cover one more thing before we really get going. And because I do interview a lot of people and I'm fairly agnostic with what people eat.

Allan (28:51):
You're gonna eat the way you're going to eat and it's either going to serve you or it's not. So you need to do those experiments because experiments are good for you. But one of the things, like I said, I really liked about your book was that it just kind of broke through all of that and it said there's gonna be periods of the year that you would just naturally be a vegan because it's the blueberries are there, the vegetables and fruits are there and they're in abundance and you're going to be just doing that. You're still going to get your protein and do your thing. So I do want to get into the protein aspects cause I think that's another huge thing. But then you say, okay, when we get around to the winter time there's not any more blueberries, there's not as many leafy greens though our diet would naturally have changed. So you kind of break through the diet tribalism cause it gets very tribal.

Dallas (29:42):
Absolutely. Well, and I think, you know, one of the points I make in the book and I'll make here as well, is that one of the reasons why we have such sort of fractured tribal perspectives on nutritionist because this science is extremely inconsistent in its conclusions. You can find a you know, a research paper that says people should eat only meat. You can find a research paper that says research paper that says people should be vegan, they should be extremely low fat, they should be high fat, low carb and everywhere in between. We look at Mediterranean diets and paleo diets and ketogenic diets. Like there's all of these different things that are really often in quite sort of conflict with each other, but yet there's research to support all of them. And I view that like you, I mean I have a, a broad evolutionary template that says the things that are most likely going to nourish us well are the things that have been around for the longest.

Dallas (30:37):
So it goes back to the meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and naturally occurring fat sources, which from a conceptual standpoint, it looks like a quote unquote paleo diet. But I'm less concerned with what is technically paleolithic and more concerned with like, does this make me healthier? And the beautiful thing that is written into, and not because I wrote it in, but because it's in all of us, and this is to your point, the beautiful thing it's written into our physiology is the ability to adapt to many different nutritional inputs. And so what we have in the research is evidence that we can adapt in positive ways to a low fat, high vegetable kind of plant based or vegetarian diet. We can also adapt to a meat and fat-based low carbohydrate or even kenogenic dietary approach. We can adapt to something that is more moderate, like a sort of meat and vegetables, paleo approach.

Dallas (31:36):
We can adapt to something like a Mediterranean diet that is rich in many different types of micronutrients. But there's a lot of commonality in all of these things. And so what I look for is patterns and commonality. And what I see in commonality is that the nutritional research that across the board, the nutritional principles that make people healthier include whole food sources, adequate dietary protein, plenty of nutrient-dense plant matter and some variation across the course of time. And one of the weaknesses of nutritional research is that they're typically difficult to control short term studies. And so we can come to all sorts of different conclusions with these different dietary approaches. I think there's an opportunity to recognize that the human omnivore is so amazingly adaptable to all these different inputs that we have a seasonal opportunity to implement and gain the benefits of many of these approaches.

Dallas (32:35):
So for example, a springtime diet that is rich in tender greens and healthy fat sources like avocado and olive oil and rich in foods like poultry and seafood would look a lot like a Mediterranean diet. A summer diet of a wide variety of vegetables and starts your roots and fruit, especially fruit in the kind of mid and late summer and is lighter on the kind of meat and fat approach. Looks a lot like a sort of plant based diet that still does include some whole, some complete protein sources, but it looks a lot more like that sort of, you know, what is what we now describe as plant-based. A fall diet might look like a paleo type diet that is again still based on whole foods that has both meat and vegetables present in wide amounts. So there's an amazing opportunity there to gain all those benefits to not have to become really zealous and dogmatic about our nutritional approaches and also still to have all of the health producing benefits of these different dietary approaches.

Dallas (33:38):
So I think that's fascinating because it explains all of the nutritional, the conflicting nutritional information and it just sort of takes away the charge from the diet wars and says, actually here's what works, here's what we know and here's what basically everyone in the nutritional realm would agree on. And that's why I like someone like Michael Paulin, such a sane, moderate research and kind of research based and grounded approach. Like eat food, mostly plants, not too much. Like that's such a beautiful synopsis of that. And I really support simple solutions. So, I think that's a fun way to kind of take some of the charge and the confrontation out of discussions around nutrition.

Allan (34:22):
Yeah. Because if you eat that you're, you're not just going to die. But now I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

Dallas (34:37):
Ooh, that's such a great question. So I think, I like simple ones. So here's one in the realm of nutrition which is start moving towards eating foods that are, that are available locally and seasonally. And that in the summertime is really easy because there's a wide range of things, you know, going to your local farmer's market is a great way to do that. In the winter time, especially in the higher latitudes, that gets a lot more restrictive. So it might be more challenging there to be limiting some of the more processed foods and especially carbohydrate sources and introducing, and maybe you have to learn how to cook some new things. But the thing, there's also a real adaptive metabolic benefit to restricting carbohydrate to getting a really rich protein source and a lot of healthy dietary fats each meal because we have all of the instance insulin sensitizing and anti-inflammatory effects of that approach as well.

Dallas (35:30):
So there's lots of great stuff there, but it's literally just eat what's available locally. There is the, just tag us in there. Try to do all of your eating during the daylight hours. So not the lights, not the hours when you have the lights on at home, but during the daylight hours because that starts to introduce a natural compressed feeding window or we talk about narrow like early or late feeding window. We talk about intermittent fasting and I think that's a really elegant way to just provide some natural oscillation there. So in the summertime there's very long windows of time when you'd be eating in the winter, they're much, they're much narrower. And then around movement I haven't talked to much about movement so far, but if you are not currently doing a some kind of resistance training, functional fitness training, something that is based that is the anchor for a strong resilient body.

Dallas (36:21):
Introduce that now and lots of times we take, we take people who are somewhat sedentary or who kind of are underactive and we overemphasize the cardio metabolic or the cardiovascular fitness training and we underemphasize getting good joint mobility and having good strength because building strong muscles and bone density and joints that can tolerate very functional ranges of movement is highly correlated with the ability to maintain independence into our later years. So that's one of those things that is an anchor in my program. And I think the last thing I'll say, and again circling back to connection, most of us spend lots of time in easy, shallow, stimulating, fun, light conversations either with coworkers or people on social media or friends. We don't tend to do a much as much of that contractive fall type, deep vulnerable, intimate kind of open, present, grateful grounded communication.

Dallas (37:24):
That would be more like fall. So I would encourage you, whether it's with your partner or spouse or with some of your closest friends your family or children or parents invest in that experience and it's unfamiliar and it's scary and we don't quite know how to do it. And especially for us men, it feels awkward because our fathers didn't probably didn't do very much of that and it might not be viewed as sort of masculine, but really human beings need connection. And I think in general, if this is a safe stereotype, I think men are particularly isolated because society has taught us that we need to be strong and invulnerable and tough and we take care of ourselves. And usually it means it's hard for us to open up about what's going on for us, psycho emotionally, how we are feeling or what we're feeling, what we're experiencing. So this is my support for and suggestion that we do a lot more of that men and women across the board. But I think for us, men, it's a particularly difficult and scary and unfamiliar thing because it wasn't modeled to us in earlier generations. So those are my three.

Allan (38:32):
Great Dallas, thank you. This book, like I said, it really is an awesome book and I, I am going to be going back into it time and time again because there's so many lessons in there. We, we just, we just scratched the surface your, your concepts on anchors and how we're going to do this pivot. How we make it fit into practically fit into getting out of our summers and getting into the lifestyle that's gonna work for us. Again, there's so much there that's not just theoretical, but it's totally practical, really deep, good book. I appreciate the opportunity to read it. I really appreciate the time you've given us to the show. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?

Dallas (39:16):
They could go to dallashartwig.com. I'm active on Instagram, primarily has social media, which is @DallasHardwig. I've got a mailing list and the book is available on Amazon and Barnes, noble and everywhere else books are sold.

Allan (39:32):
All right. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/428 and I'll be sure to have links there, but do make sure you get this book. This is one of the best health and fitness books I've read in a long, long time. So Dallas, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Dallas (39:47):
Thank you so much for having me


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