I am delighted to have Chris Irvin joining me today! Chris is a health researcher, writer, and coach. He has his Master’s degree in exercise and nutrition science, where he studied the effects of low carb diets on human performance and therapeutics. Chris is the education manager at Perfect Keto and is the author of Keto Answers.
When finishing his Master’s degree at the University of Tampa four or five years ago, Chris was unsure whether he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. or go out and become an entrepreneur in the exercise and nutrition industry. While doing an internship at the University of Southern Florida, however, he realized that following the Ph.D. route was not for him. He had also started studying keto in grad school, and it frustrated him that all the research information was locked away in journals that were either inaccessible or hard-to-interpret. So he decided to make all the information about the ketogenic diet more accessible to the general population.
In this episode, Chris goes into the history of the ketogenic diet and explains how it evolved. He also talks about carbohydrates, reducing food cravings, and moving towards better metabolic health. Stay tuned for more!
“A good diet looks like no food labels.”
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- How Chris pivoted into becoming the Ketologist.
- The history and evolution of the ketogenic diet.
- Much has changed, and there has been a lot of misinformation about keto products over the last few years.
- Why a poor keto diet could be better than the standard American diet.
- Navigating the correct threshold for carbohydrates.
- Chris unpacks net carbs versus total carbs.
- Some of the contributors to obesity and metabolic inflexibility.
- Two things you can do to move towards better metabolic health.
- Things that happen in your body when you eat less frequently.
- How a low-carb or ketogenic diet help to reduce food cravings.
- Some common mistakes people tend to make with a ketogenic diet.
- Chris has written a book called Keto Answers.
- What you need to look for to find a good quality MCT oil.
- Products and supplements that can boost autophagy and ketosis.
Connect with Chris Irvin
On his website
On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Why We Get Sick by Dr. Benjamin Bikman
Keto Answers by Chris Irvin and Anthony Gustin
Connect with Cynthia Thurlow
- Follow on Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn
- Check out Cynthia’s website
- Check Out Dry Farm Wines: www.dryfarmwines.com/cynthiathurlow
About Everyday Wellness Podcast
Welcome to the Everyday Wellness podcast with Cynthia Thurlow! Cynthia is a mom of 2 boys, wife, nurse practitioner, and intermittent fasting and nutrition expert. She has over 20 years experience in emergency medicine and cardiology, but pivoted to focus on food as medicine. She loves to share science-backed practical information to improve your overall well being and is grateful to be interviewing leaders in the health and wellness field. Her goal with Everyday Wellness is to help her listeners make simple changes to their everyday lives that will result in improved overall wellness and long term health.
Presenter: This is Everyday Wellness, a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve your health, and wellness goals, and provide strategies that you can use in your real life. And now, here’s your host, Nurse Practitioner Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia: Today, I’m delighted to have Chris Irvin. He’s a health researcher, writer and coach, he has his Master’s degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science, where he studied the effects of low carb diets on human performance and therapeutics. He’s the Education Manager at Perfect Keto, and is the author of Keto Answers. Welcome, Chris. It’s so nice to connect with you.
Chris: Hey, thanks for having me on today. Super excited to get to chat.
Cynthia: Yeah. So, explain to me how this guy, who has this really strong science background and academia, how you pivoted into The Ketologist? How did that process take place?
Chris: Yeah, so, it was about four or five years ago, I was just finishing up my Master’s degree at the University of Tampa, and I was in this in between spot where it was, “Do I want to continue in academics and pursue my PhD,” which was my intention when I started my Master’s program, or do I want to go a different route and get out and do my own thing, and do some entrepreneurship get into the industry and I think it was– I had a very interesting internship at the very end of my time in grad school, where I got to do some animal research at University of Southern Florida. It was an opportunity for me to get to catch a glimpse of what the PhD setting would be like and figure out whether or not that was going to be something for me. Going through that for a few weeks, I quickly realized that that was not the route that I want to go as much as I enjoyed like getting to learn from incredibly bright minds. I wasn’t a huge fan of doing all the animal research, getting bitten by rats every day, just stuff like that.
Chris: That was just wasn’t really my thing. But also, at this very same time, I had this realization, where once I started seeing– I started studying keto in grad school, and during that time, I started really reading all of the available research out there to stuff on diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, and cancer, which at the time, there wasn’t as much, but there was still some starting to come out. I started to have this sense of frustration, where it was like, “This diet is a great solution for a lot of problems that people are facing.” But all of this information that these incredible researchers are putting out there is being locked away in these journals where either they’re not accessible by people, or they’re just really hard to interpret like, not everybody is trained to be able to read a research paper.
So, that was my lifetime moment of realizing that, I wanted to do something to make this information more accessible to the general population, and that’s where The Ketologist came out. It was like, “Let’s create a brand where I can take more complex scientific topics and break them down in both ways that are easy to understand, but then also easy to apply,” which at the time back in 2015, 2016, that was lacking. There’s a lot more of that out there now. But back then, there were very few social media accounts doing that, not many blogs putting out information. So, it just seemed like this wide-open opportunity to get in there and do that. So, yeah, I think, it was just a perfect timing for me really. It was like right before keto was really starting to blow up and get big, but still at a moment where there was enough information out there, and enough validation for this diet, and its uses for different health problems.
Cynthia: I think, one of the common misnomers is people assume much like they do with intermittent fasting that it’s new or novel. So, based on what I know of the ketogenic diet is that, it initially started in the early 1900s use primarily for epilepsy. So, people that have seizure disorders, and so, it really isn’t something that is–, it’s all of a sudden just sprung up in 2015. But walk us through the history of how the ketogenic diet has evolved, and shifted, and changed. Because I think, in many ways, even based on your own experiences that keto in many ways has evolved into things like dirty keto, and keto bars, and so, it’s like taking the tenants of ketogenic diet, and taking the standard American diet and trying to make it a scooch healthier. Then out of that comes a ketogenic junk food and you could apply that to any paleo primal, I mean there’s plenty of it, it’s out there.
Chris: Right. Yeah. So, I think when you look at diet history, you can trace back roots of keto like dieting back hundreds and thousands of years. I think, the way that we see diet trends like ebb and flow today, that’s been going on throughout history. But we didn’t really start seeing the term ‘keto’ popping up until the early 1920s. The situation was there was–, at the time fasting was the go to treatment for epilepsy, and that’s something we’ve known for a long time, fasting is very effective for epilepsy. One of the issues for– with fasting for children with epilepsy is that, it’s hard for them to maintain their typical growth curve.
So, that was an issue is that, these children need to eat so that they can maintain proper development. So, at the time, there was two different doctors. One was studying the effects of fasting and was able to find that a lot of the benefits of fasting were coming out of the ketosis that was occurring. At the very same time, there was another doctor who started realizing that you could mimic the state of ketosis or mimic this fasting state by just eating a– removing carbohydrates from the diet and eating a lot of fat, which you know now, we know that the eating the fat part isn’t necessary for ketosis to occur, but that’s what they found at the time.
So, born was this ketogenic diet its intention was to mimic the– what’s happening in the physiological occurrences of fasting, while allowing the children to eat. It was used for, I don’t know the exact amount of years off the top of my head for how long it was used for, but was used for quite a while as really a standard treatment for the condition. Then what happened is, we invented anti-epileptic drugs that were very effective, and everybody would much prefer the pill over the hard work of having to maintain a diet. So, keto really died. It fell off, and you see, when you look at the trends of research, you really see it fall off after the 20s. You just don’t really see it popping up very often. There’s a couple starvation research studies where you see ketosis popping up a little bit more, but really not much mention of the ketogenic diet.
Then in the 90s, you see it start to circle back a little bit. You start seeing the low carb movement starting to grow, and then, I would say probably late like 2008 to 2012 is when ketogenic diet really started to pop back up more in the mainstream. At this point, it was more for weight loss. The low carb craze, the Atkins craze, we’ve already cycled through that. We knew that low carb was effective for weight loss, but didn’t really know much else besides that. There wasn’t as much research out about the effects of insulin, and insulin resistance wasn’t as popular than it was just that, “Hey, this low carb diet tends to help people lose weight. This keto diet is a little bit different from Atkins and it’s not as high protein, it’s a little bit lower protein, a little bit higher fat.” That was the reintroduction of keto.
Then during that time, there was a lot of scientists that were starting to come out, putting out really good research. I know around like, I think it was 2008, Dr. Jeff Volek put out some really interesting studies looking at blood lipids, looking at cholesterol and things like that on keto. I think that further helped just solidify that this diet had some staying power. Then I would say probably around 2015, 2016 was when we really started seeing a big boom in keto dieting. Search terms, if you look at Google Trends, it was booming during that time. Everybody was talking about it. During that time, we saw two things happen. One was that, there was a lot more people putting out information which turns into the telephone game where it’s like, “Okay, this person is getting information from this blog, who’s getting information from that blog, who– downstream 10 people from the actual research paper.” So, we ended up with a lot of misinformation out there. So, a lot of not really sure how to do the diet the right way, not really sure how to understand like what happens with cholesterol on the diet, is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? There’s a lot of misinformation.
Then at that same time also because of the popularity of it, we saw a whole industry created around it. Now, all of a sudden opportunity for food products and supplements to come into the space and target the many people who are interested in the ketogenic diet. So, you mentioned in the intro, I work for Perfect Keto. Perfect Keto is actually one of the first food companies in the keto space. Actually, at the time, they weren’t a food company, they were just a supplement company, but one of the first ones in the space and I was actually a product user of Perfect Keto for about two years before starting to work for them. I remember when they first came to the market just being like, “Wow, I’d been studying keto for two or three years. Now, there’s actually a keto brand out there.” There’s somebody putting some products out there.
Perfect Keto has always done a real good job of having a clean label. They do a lot of testing with blood sugar to make sure that their products aren’t spiking blood sugar, testing to make sure products are keeping people in ketosis, very strict guidelines on what’s allowed in the products and what’s not. I would say a lot of the first few keto companies that came around were like that. There was kind of this want to be really clean and to have a product that has some staying power. Then over the last couple of years, we’ve seen that completely go out the window. We’ve seen like you mentioned, a ton of really just it’s back to just process foods. We have these foods that are labeling as keto friendly, we slap the keto friendly low net carb label on them. You take any one of them, and you test your blood sugar, and your blood sugar goes through the roof.
I know there’s one brand in particular, where I’ve measured my blood sugar response to a product that they marked as three grams of net carbs, and my blood sugar doubled after taking it, which is insane, if you know about blood sugar. So, definitely a lot has changed over the last few years. I always say, it’s easy to say that it’s a bad thing that all these companies have come into the space and that all this misinformation is out there. But I still think that at the end of the day, even the worst version of a keto diet is probably better than the standard American diet. So, if all of this popularity is getting more people aware of monitoring their carb intake and prioritizing protein and healthy fats, then I think in the long run, it’s a good thing. But it’s definitely, we’re getting to the point now where we need some more controls on it. We need somebody moderating the conversations a little bit more to make sure that they’re going in the right direction. I think we need more food industry controls that are monitoring for what’s actually considered keto, that’s something that we don’t have right now.
There’s in the food industry, for every other label that you want to put on your food product, there’s a defining– There’s like a, you have to fall within a certain reference range to make this certain claim and to label your product as keto friendly, those reference ranges don’t exist yet. So, I think those are some things that we need to improve on. But yeah, it’s crazy to see how things have changed just over the last five to 10 years to. Like I said, I’ve only been in the space for probably about seven years now. But just even in that short timeframe going from, I would bring up keto and nobody would know what it is to now I have people asking me like, “Hey, have you heard of the keto diet?” I’m like, “Yeah, I know all about it.”
Cynthia: [laughs] Well, I think it’s really invaluable to have that historical perspective, and for full disclosure, I’ve tried perfect keto bars, because I’m always trying things for clients like, “Let me try this out. They’re actually really delicious.” I have no doubt whatsoever much like– I think about primal kitchen is another option. People that are looking for whole 30 compliant or ketogenic type products that they can have at the ready as opposed to having to make everything from scratch, and I’m a complete realist. I got lots of questions for you, but one of them that I got in and I also too have to explain this quite often. When we’re talking about a ketogenic diet, there’s a lot of variability on the amount of carbohydrates someone can consume. I’ve seen things as low as 20. I’ve seen 30, I’ve seen 50.
If the average American is consuming 250 to 500 g of carbs a day, which is unbelievable, but if 88% of our population is metabolically unhealthy, that makes sense. I would imagine any reduction in carbohydrates would be beneficial. But for you personally, where is your threshold? Because I see even within the keto community, there’s a lot of differences and how this question is answered. Since I get answered it–, I get asked so frequently, I thought I would ask you what your definition of what the threshold for the carbohydrates are?
Chris: Yeah, definitely. So, it is a really tough question, because it does change a little bit for everybody, and it depends on we’re talking net carbs or total carbs, which we can get into that a little bit. But in general, my recommendation is, if you are a beginner, then I think you should stay below 30 g of total carbs. That’s not net carbs, that’s total carbohydrates with the majority of that coming from leafy green vegetables, fiber sources. Now, as you get a little bit more adapt, and that’s just assuming that, if we’re talking to the masses here, the majority of people that are going to be starting a ketogenic diet are probably doing it to lose weight, which means that they’re probably as you mentioned, metabolically inflexible or metabolically unhealthy. Meaning that, if you are insulin resistant metabolically unhealthy, you don’t metabolize carbs well.
Like you said, any reduction is going to be beneficial. But the more we can bring it down, the better, and to get into ketosis in that situation, it is going to require a little bit more severe carbohydrate reduction than for say, somebody who’s metabolically healthy. Now, as you follow a ketogenic diet, and you start to become more insulin sensitive, because we do know that that happens, you start to restore your metabolism in some ways, and this is when you can start to experiment with a higher carb intake. I think at that point, once you get– we quote say, we fat-adapted is the term that we use. Once you get to that point, then I think your carb amount depends on what’s required to keep you in ketosis. If staying in ketosis is your goal. So, we don’t have to stay in ketosis all the time, but if your goal is to stay in ketosis, then I think that carbon mount changes to what’s the threshold that allows you to maintain ketone production. But as a general rule of thumb, the snapshot answer is less than 30 g of total carbs for somebody who’s starting keto.
Cynthia: I think that there are a lot of people that– and there are a lot of products again, it gets very confusing for consumers, I think, it’s even confusing for probably researchers and healthcare professionals as well to try to navigate because the net carbs throw everyone off. So, for purposes of our explanation, let’s unpack net carbs versus total carbs, so that people fully appreciate and understand, there are a lot of nuances to this. So, if you’re really focusing on net carbs, you might be way over the threshold you were just talking about.
Chris: Yeah, for sure. Big difference here is total carbs are all the carbohydrates that you consume. If you pick up a food product and you flip it around, you look at the label, you’ll see a breakdown where they’ll say, “Total carbs,” and then you’ll see fiber, sugar, and then for a lot of the low carb products, you might see sugar, alcohols, or additional sweeteners in there. Total carbs is all the carbs you’re consuming. So, that’s your fiber, that’s sugar, that’s everything. Then net carbs is when we subtract fiber from our total carb count. If you were to look again at the back of a food product, you would take a say, the total carbs are 17 and the fiber is 11, you would subtract that to get six net carbs. The thought process here is that fiber is a non-blood sugar spiking carbohydrate. Because it’s not going to be spiking your blood sugar, which is what kicks you out of ketosis than the idea that for proponents of the net carb approach is that, if as long as we’re not getting over say, 20 or 30 g of net carbs, then we’re not going to have to worry about our blood sugar spiking.
My issue with this before– When I first started keto, I was a lot more about the net carb approach. Because if you were consuming carbs, they were coming from vegetables, that was really all you could do. But now with all of these food products that are coming into the market, it’s very easy for you to consume 30 g of net carbs, but then have your total carb count be 80, and those fiber sources that we’re talking about actually spiking blood sugar, that product I mentioned earlier that doubled my blood sugar. There was, I think, 17 g of fiber in there, which was a reason why that was listed so low. People could be eating 10 packs of this product a day and think that they’re staying in ketosis, but if they test their blood sugar, they’d be just as good if they were eating a candy bar, just not even close to being in keto. So, I think that’s the biggest reason why I make that recommendation for total carbs.
Even outside of that, like even before those food products came around, if you’re somebody who’s new to keto, what happens when you start tracking net carbs is that you can get 30 g of sugar in, and then another 20, 30 g of carbs, and again, now you’re up at 60 g of total carbs. Now, for somebody who has been following keto for six months, eight months, a year, that might not be an issue, but for somebody who, again is metabolically inflexible, doesn’t handle carbohydrates well, this might prevent you from ever really getting into a state of ketosis.
It’s one of the main reasons why you’ll hear people say, “I tried keto, but it didn’t work for me or I was never able to get into ketosis.” I was like, “Well, what were you doing?” It’s like, “Well, it’s tracking net carbs and sticking below 30.” I was like, “Well, let’s take a look at your, MyFitnessPal or whatever you use.” It’s like, “Yeah, well, your total carbs were at 75. So, you never really gave your body a chance to get into ketosis and get adapted.” So, that’s the thought process with it. I think, I’m not so married to my ways to say that net carb approach won’t work for some people, but for the people that I work with and whenever I’m talking about keto, I always like to talk about total carbs, because I think it’s just a better way to look at the diet.
Cynthia: Well, and I think if most people are coming to a ketogenic-ish, paleo-ish lifestyle, I think most people are looking for weight loss and body composition change. If that’s indeed the case, for the same reason, when people come to fasting and they want to have these super fatty coffees and try to explain like the nuances of, “Yes, technically a teaspoon of MCT oil is not going to be an issue. But if you’re trying to lose weight adding copious amounts of fat to your coffee is probably not the right strategy.”
Cynthia: [laughs] really meeting people where they are. So, I think it goes without saying that, we are in unprecedented times and I’m not referring to the ongoing/previous pandemic really talking about the metabolic health of not just the United States and most westernized countries, and so, obviously, you’ve been deeply steeped in the research, and I’m curious, because I like to talk about this topic in particular with a lot of our guests.
I’m curious what you think are some of the bigger contributors to the degree of metabolic inflexibility, the degree of obesity, and those being overweight? As I mentioned earlier, I think the most recent statistic is that 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy. So, that really speaks to the fact that those of us that are metabolically healthy are becoming more and more of a rarity. So, what do you feel like are some of the bigger contributors to this unfortunate situation that we’re in right now in terms of not only looking at the potential changes that will come to the healthcare system, but looking at the fact that we have generations now that may not be as healthy as their parents or their grandparents.
Chris: Yeah, for sure. Well, I think to answer the question, you really have to look at, what is the root cause of our most common chronic diseases? There’s a really great book I have to recommend to you out there called Why We Get Sick by Dr. Ben Bikman.
Cynthia: It’s Fantastic. I love Dr. Bikman.
Chris: Yeah, Dr. Bikman is just like, he’s one of my guy. If I’m making a Mount Rushmore of scientists-
Chris: -he’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore. But his book really breaks it down, I think the best for everybody to understand. But if you look at all of our most common chronic diseases, so look at diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer, cardiovascular disease, all of these conditions we see obesity, insulin resistance is involved in all of these things. With some of them, there’s the question of chicken or the egg, like, is it a cause of the condition or is it causing the condition? In my opinion, I don’t think it really matters because I think when you see insulin resistance in these conditions, I think that offers a therapeutic target like that’s what we should be targeting because there’s something we can do about it. That’s the beautiful thing about insulin resistance is it’s very treatable. So, knowing that insulin resistance is a root cause or at least playing a role in all these chronic conditions, then what’s causing insulin resistance is the next question.
I think there’s two primary things. There’s a lot of contributing factors, like not getting good sleep, and not exercising, and being too stressed out like, those definitely are causing it. But I think the two things that are moving the needle the most are refined carbohydrates or processed carbohydrates, and seed oils. I think are the two biggest things. So, insulin resistance at its basis is our body having way too much carbohydrate, way too much blood sugar for too long causing our insulin to stay high for too long, and then, this leading to ourselves becoming resistant to insulins actions which leads to a ton of downstream effects that cause all the different conditions that we just talked about. So, carbs definitely play a role here. Now, it doesn’t mean that we should demonize carbs, it doesn’t mean that nobody should have carbs. It means that if you are overconsuming carbs for a long period of time, you develop insulin resistance and when you are insulin resistant, your body does not handle carbohydrates well. It’s pretty easy way to look at it.
Big difference between a sweet potato and a processed carbohydrate like a potato chip. Those when we’re talking about carbs, for somebody who’s insulin resistant, carb source probably doesn’t matter that much. But for somebody who’s healthy can probably tolerate some of these other carbs or natural whole food carbs a little bit better. But for everybody the processed carbohydrates that contain all of the refined sugar that caused the big blood sugar spikes, those aren’t going to be ideal for our health. That’s starting to get a lot of attention. I do think people are starting to realize that the second one though that I think people aren’t looking at enough is the vegetable oils or the refined seed oils. It’s in every food. We know fried foods obviously, but even packaged foods that are labeled as healthy are loaded with these refined seed oils. What we’re talking about here with vegetable oils and seed oils is, they get thrown into the same group but canola oil, rapeseed, safflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, and you look at some of these food products I always laugh. You’ll see that it’ll say like corn and/or canola oil. They don’t even know what’s in it, you know? [laughs]
Cynthia: We just know, it’s all bad. [laughs]
Chris: Yeah, there’s something bad in there. We just don’t know what it is. What this does is, this is a fat that one can cause insulin resistance. So, we have research showing that these fats can cause insulin resistance. They can get stored in our bodies, they can get stored in fat cells that can become overactive and start shuttling these damaging fats into our bloodstream. This leads to inflammation which is a big issue. So, that’s something that we’re not thinking about that enough. So, when you look at like standard American diet, in my mind the first thing that always comes to mind is like a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries. To me, that seems like what the standard–
Cynthia: It’s essential.
Chris: It’s yeah, it’s essential. You look at that and it’s like, all right, we got a grain fed patty with a processed carbohydrate bun with high fructose corn syrup, ketchup on it with French fries that are fried and whatever they’re using probably peanut oil or soybean oil, whatever it is. It’s like that is a recipe for metabolic distress. That’s a recipe for insulin resistance, which is a recipe for all the chronic diseases that we’re seeing today. So, probably an oversimplification for anybody who’s really educated in this space looking at it. But I think from a practical standpoint, if you want to know the two things you can do to move the needle the most in the positive direction towards better metabolic health, it’s going to be getting rid of those seed oils, and it’s going to be getting rid of those processed carbohydrates. If you do those two things, I think you’re going to be really making moves towards better health.
Cynthia: Well, I have to wholeheartedly agree with you, and I think in particular, seed oils, the more that we understand how they work, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Cate Shanahan. I know that Ben Bikman recently said, “The most consumed fat in the United States is soybean oil,” because it’s a proliferative in the processed food industry and anytime you go out to a restaurant, you very unlikely are getting your dressing or maybe your steak. I mean, all these things are being cooked in these refined– and the refined inflammatory oftentimes rancid oils. But the most important thing you could do is, if you do nothing else, just read food labels. So, much to the embarrassment of my teenagers, they know. I’m like, “Don’t even put anything in a cart that has canola oil.” Every once in a while, I’ll do these segments in Costco or TJ Maxx, Trader Joe’s, and every once in a while, I will be fooled and I’ll get something home because I’m going to do a video, and I’ll realize I just take it back. I have no shame. I mean, it has not been open, but I take it back because I refuse to give this to my family.
But I think it’s important for people to understand that seed oils like at a cellular level, they damage our mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells. My understanding and correct me if I’m wrong is that they can actually disrupt the health of that cellular membrane for up to two years. So, our bodies really take this massive hit between oxidative stress, inflammation making us more prone to insulin resistance. I know Cate Shanahan talks a lot about how seed oils will beguile carbohydrate addiction, which then drives that insulin resistance in your pathway so, certainly, things that you want to be thinking about– I even think about, just how people like Ancel Keys in the 1950s really pushed the needle to make the focus on fat as opposed to sugar and really suppressing a lot of information, cherry picking, which I’m sure something drives– you as a researcher, I’m sure probably drives you crazy.
Chris: Oh, yeah.
Cynthia: But I think, it’s really important for people to understand there’s been this big agenda that, the processed food industry, big Ag, I mean, a lot of the foods that are subsidized by the federal government are exactly the foods that you find in all these processed foods. So, I guess from– and I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I just like spreading information to make people aware. So, reading food labels is certainly one piece of the puzzle, changing your diet is another, but I love how you–, I know that you’re a fan of eating less often, and so, let’s walk through some of the changes, some of the things that happen, pathophysiologically or physiology wise that happened when we’re eating less often as opposed to more frequently, because one of the things that happens when we come out of these highly processed, hyper palatable, highly addictive standard American diet is that people are eating it more frequently, which means they’re secreting more insulin. The insulin goes up, fat burning is down.
Then let’s walk through on a basic level, some of the things that happen in the body, when we’re eating less frequently, some of the beneficial things. Because I always find this so interesting, especially for people maybe who need to hear it for the 15th time before they’re really receptive to the value– I will say eating less often as opposed to saying fasting because for some reason, the thought of not eating for some people triggers them in very unfortunate way. So, I said, “Okay, let’s eat less often and see how that works.”
Chris: Yeah, I like putting it that way, too, because I think when you say fasting, people only think about the not eating breakfast or whatever in the morning. But eating less often also the not eating as much in between meals, which I think is an additional benefit of just like the fasting approach. So, I really like that. I think it’s funny. Outside of the bad recommendations that we’ve made to eat vegetable oils, and to remove plant protein–, or to remove animal protein, and all of that stuff, I think, one of the most criminal recommendations that we’ve had is to eat a bunch of small meals a day to ramp up our metabolism. There’s never been any science to support. There’s never even been bad science to support that. It just doesn’t exist. I think, theoretically, it makes sense to people, so that we like to say that, but that’s just not what happens at all. So, like you mentioned the bad things about eating frequently, you’re basically bathing your body in a pool of insulin when you’re eating all the time and that’s what’s happening when you’re having meals every two hours.
When we start eating a lot less frequently, what happens is a few things. One is that, we allow our blood sugar and our insulin levels to lower. Having insulin present and having blood glucose present is not a bad thing. It’s when they’re constantly being stimulated and they’re constantly elevated is when it becomes an issue. So, even if you’re not eating, let’s say a ketogenic diet, just eating less frequently and consuming even if it’s still in moderate to higher carb diet, you’re still going to be allowing your metabolic machinery to take a break, you’re going to allow blood glucose to come down, you’re going to allow insulin to come down, and we know there’s a ton of benefit to that. But at the same time, we’re also going to allow our body to start dipping into its own energy stores. So, even the leanest of people we have like tens of thousands of calories in stored fat that is ready to be used, it’s ready to be shelled out and to be used for energy, and we want to be using that energy.
We want to– when we’re constantly in a fed state, we’re constantly running on the energy that’s being supplied in our diet, but we want to clean out and use that stored energy so that it’s just like anything else, like we got to remove the clutter, we just want to get it out, use it, put it to good use. Then the added benefit to doing that is that when you’re getting rid of those stored fatty acids, you’re metabolizing them, some of those get converted into ketones, which is going to happen at varying levels depending on how long you’re waiting in between meals. So, if you’re just fasting for a few hours in between–, eating less frequently for just a few hours, that’s going to be–, or maybe a small level of ketone production. But when you start talking about longer duration fast 16, 20 plus hours, now you’re talking about much greater ketone production. We can get into the benefits of ketosis and ketones. But there’s a lot of benefits to that. Even just very simple ones, like having more energy, mental clarity, better mood, just those lifestyle things that make us feel better, and help us get through the day. So, those are a few things. Then, the obviously, the other thing is the digestive part of it. I think the idea, we think is that we can metabolize a meal and we’re done with it like two hours after eating it, is what people think. But this isn’t true at all. There’s been some really interesting studies that have shown that, you’re still digesting food for 12, 14, 16 hours after you eat a meal. So, when we’re constantly eating every two, three, four hours, we’re creating this backlog of food that needs to be digested which is going to mean that, one we are not able to– for one, we’re going to be overworking our digestive system. So, that’s problem number one. But two, we’re not really going to be allowing for optimal nutrient absorption because we have this backlog of food that we have to work through. So, this is a huge issue.
When we talk about insulin resistance, this is even more the case. So, people who are insulin resistant, not metabolically healthy, this even affects their digestive systems where their digestive systems will move slower. So, for somebody who is maybe has a high metabolism and people think that that’s related mostly to digestion, it does play a role into our digestion. People who do have a little bit better metabolic health are going to digest foods a little bit easier. But for the standard person who is not metabolically healthy, like we’d keep throwing that term out there, but not metabolically healthy, for them to eat every two hours, every three hours in an attempt to restore their metabolism, it couldn’t be more counterproductive. So, I think that definitely ranks up there. If I were to make a list of the top, the best to worst diet advices that eating every couple hours definitely ranks up in the top three.
Cynthia: Yeah, no. It’s interesting to me, because that was what I was taught, and I attended a big research institution, that’s what I was taught, that’s what I told my patients, and I told all my cardiology patients that they needed to avoid saturated fat and use low fat, nonfat. It makes me cringe to even think about [unintelligible [00:33:17] brown, and all these plant-based seed oil garbage crap that I used to recommend to them. I’m glad that now we know better, but there’s still a lot of bad science, there’s still a lot of bad information. I think about my plate, the food guide pyramid has digressed into my plate, and my kids would always get into “trouble,” because they would tell the teachers that isn’t right.
Cynthia: My mother would never say how this three quarters of my plate be carbs, a little smidge of protein and no fat. They just said, that’s not consistent with what my mom teaches, and the teachers, I would always end up getting a message, and then I would explain context, and then they would just let it go.
Cynthia: But that’s even being propagated with our children. What I find really interesting about meal frequency as it pertains to digestion for many people may not know there’s something called the migrating motor complex, and so, I think this is such a cool mechanism in our bodies. But it’s how our bodies pushing food forward, the small intestine and it has anti-microbial properties, meaning, it’s supposed to kill off pathogens, and you really do need several hours in between eating for this to work properly. So, what ends up happening for many people is that, meal frequency disrupts this. We have multiple ways in our body that it helps protect us from pathogens. But one is like hydrochloric acid in the stomach and a [unintelligible [00:34:44] bile, all these other things. We started thinking about this domino effect on digestion. Is there any wonder that people are chronically constipated or they think, it’s normal to have irritable bowel syndrome, or they think, it’s normal to just have things not be normal? I don’t need to poop every day, and I tell people all the time, if you’re not going to bathroom every day, there’s a problem. [laughs]
Cynthia: So, really kind of looking at those nuances. So, when we’re thinking about a ketogenic diet, we’re thinking about ketosis, and we’re thinking about eating less often, and you’ve touched on some of the benefits, how do you typically navigate/handle when people are still having cravings despite doing this. Because I think that the other piece of the puzzle with this history of hyperpalatable foods, highly processed foods is that we have people who are– they’re looking for something salty, they’re looking for something sweet. I’m not just referring to women. I think this happens to both genders because I hear questions all over the place. But how does the ketogenic diet or even a low carb diet help mitigate some of those things? Because I think the macro structure for anyone who’s listening who’s maybe not as familiar as with that can definitely benefit satiety and feeling satisfied, which a lot of people when they’re already metabolically unhealthy, they have disruption in communication between key hormones like leptin and ghrelin, and so, they don’t get hunger and satiety cues like the rest of us do. So, I think that’s really an important piece to touch on.
Chris: Yeah, for sure. So, the reduction in cravings and hunger on keto is something that’s been well documented. I think, some of the first studies on that came out in like 2010 or 2011. So, we definitely have a decent amount of research on it. There’s a few mechanisms that allow this to happen. One is the macronutrients that you recommended. So, for one, if we have low carbohydrate intake, once we get adapted to that, we’re going to have much more stable blood sugar levels, which is going to, in general, just prevent us from having hunger when we have big peaks and valleys in our blood sugar, that’s going to cause us to just stimulate more hunger, especially, at that low end of the valley. So, that’s a big one. Eating more protein is another one. So, protein, we know is a satiating nutrient. It’s going to help us just stay a little bit more full, a little bit more satisfied.
Then fat, same thing. When we have more fat, our body kind of– fat from an energy standpoint contains over double the amount of energy as protein and carbs. So, when we have some of that, our body recognizes that we have good energy availability so, we’ll help reduce our hunger and cravings. Then same thing with the ketone. When we’re in ketosis, the body recognizing that we have ketones present in the blood, that’s another energy source. So, that’s going to be another thing that’s going to help, signal to the brain, “Hey, we have enough energy. We don’t need to stimulate hunger.”
Now, on the physiological side of things, there’s also changes in hunger hormones that happens. So, we know that when the body is in ketosis, we see changes in many different hunger hormones and many different hunger mechanisms that allow us to just not experience as much of that hunger. So, there’s a lot of science out there to support this, but not everybody experiences it. Like you hear all the time, people saying, “Well, when does that happen for me? I haven’t experienced this yet.” A few things that happen here, why people don’t experience it. One is that, you have to get there first. So, you’re not going to start a keto diet tomorrow and all of a sudden, your hunger and cravings are gone. So, the first things first is that, you do have to allow yourself some time to get adapted. But the second thing is, you talked about hyperpalatable foods and this increase in the packaged food space– the keto friendly packaged food space has allowed us to create a lot of foods that are still hyperpalatable despite being low carb.
Even though you might not be getting– even with the best ones of these, you might not be getting the same blood sugar spike and some of the physiological stuff that would make you hungry, you’re still going to be getting that mental component of it, you’re still going to be you know, when you taste something sweet or you taste something very palatable, whether it’s salty, savory, whatever it is, it can stimulate more hunger, and when we’re doing that frequently, that’s going to cause us to have more hunger. So, that’s a big thing, too, is I always say, if you’re not experiencing the reduced hunger and cravings benefit of a keto diet, one of the first questions I have is, “What’s the diet look like? Are you eating more of a whole food keto diet, which is kind of that should be like 90 plus percent of what our keto diet should look like or are you consuming the keto diet where it’s fat bombs, and cream cheese, and butter on everything, and that approach?” So, I think that’s a big one.
But then, going back to the macronutrients for a minute too, I think that, I’m personally not a big fan of what’s become the conventional keto macronutrients. I think that 20% protein is too low. Those recommendations have come from you know, people say, they came from epilepsy when we first started keto for epilepsy, but it was even lower. For epilepsy, it was 10% protein. So, I don’t really know where the 20%, 25% protein came from. I know there’s the fear that protein is going to kick you out of ketosis. So, maybe that’s why we’ve decided to eat less, but there’s no reason to be overly restricting our protein. When we do restrict our protein that low, that is going to cause us to see increases in hunger. It’s almost inevitable that if I have– and I do see this a little bit more common with women versus men is the lower protein approach. Women, sometimes barely getting to the 20% threshold. Let alone 25% or 30%, and having hunger problems, and when I look at their macronutrients and say, now, let’s just make one switch. before we do anything else, let’s just try to bump this protein from 15%, 20%, up to like 30%, 35%, and just see what happens.
At this, you’re talking about when you do that, now, each meal that you have is you’re getting closer to 25 to 35 g of protein in that meal, which is going to help keep you satiated between the meals. So, I think that’s a big thing with it too. The low protein– the low-calorie approach too like, if you’re somebody who is doing keto and you’re used to that calorie counting like, “I’m going to eat 1200 calories and hop on the elliptical bike for two hours,” that’s going to put your body in a state of hunger. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to feel satisfied doing it that way. So, I think when we talk about the hunger and the cravings aspect of a keto diet, it’s all predicated on doing the diet the right way and giving your body time to adapt to the diet. Because, we do know that when you first start keto, there’s a lot of changes that have to occur, and there’s a lot of, you know, talk about the keto flu symptoms and things like that, there’s a lot of things that will get in your way those first couple of weeks. But once you get through those and you continue doing the diet the right way, that’s when you start getting to some of these big benefits that we love seeing, which is the reduced hunger and cravings.
Cynthia: I think it’s really important for people to understand and I’m a huge proponent of hitting your protein macros. In fact, I am a big proponent of protein being the most important macronutrient, especially, for women and men at this stage of life like I’m obviously in my 40s, and there’s something called sarcopenia that I seem to talk about probably with every podcast lately.
Cynthia: This muscle loss of aging is going to happen unless you do the things to ensure that it doesn’t. One of those things is strength training, and number two is getting adequate protein intake. Now, I love that you alluded to some of the mistakes you see people making, what are some of the other more common ones? I can tell you just from personal experience, I see a lot of people that well-meaning people that overeat, I would say of the ketogenic type foods, more hyperpalatable. like cheese and nuts because it’s easy. In fact, I have to portion out my macadamia nuts. It’s like, I give myself one portion, and that’s it because they’re perfectly salted, and they’re delicious, and I savor every single one. But cheese and nuts are one thing.
The other thing is how often people start fasting is one example. They may not even be technically doing a ketogenic diet, and they think electrolytes are a joke. When I say to them, “I really want you to take electrolytes, and then they develop,” which I’m sure you’ll probably allude to the side effects when you’re losing quite a bit of renal sodium salts in your urine that they develop symptoms that don’t make them very happy. So, let’s touch on that, because I think, it’s always good for listeners to hear it from someone other than myself. What are some of the other more common mistakes that you see?
Chris: Yeah, so, you definitely hitting on a lot of them there. I’d say number one is actually, there’s probably three that I would put right up there as all being like the most common that I see. The low protein is a big one. Just seeing people start going to low protein seeing plenty of side effects from that. Just because if you go to a website and you type in keto macros, what comes up is already too low. So, your base thing that you’re going to find is too low. Number two is eating too much fat, which I get so much flack for bringing this one up. People are like, “What are you talking about? It’s keto.” I always laugh. It’s like, “Do you understand the concept of too much? I didn’t say eating fat. I said, eating too much fat.” Eating too much of anything is a bad thing.
Chris: We get caught up in this, “Oh, it’s keto. If there’s more fat in it, I need to douse everything in oil, I need to put butter on everything.” That’s fine, and you can definitely see some benefits doing it that way, but it’s not necessary. I think that prioritizing protein over prioritizing fat on a ketogenic diet is a great strategy for being successful. So, that’s a big one. But then the electrolytes that you brought up, that’s one that– electrolytes. I was still learning about the body and learning about what happens under conditions of low insulin, and was not aware that how much your body dumps electrolytes, and then also not realizing how important electrolytes are. If you look at the function of any organ or the function of any cell in the body, they are heavily relying on electrolytes, which kind of with the most common ones being the magnesium, sodium, potassium. There’s definitely plenty of other minerals out there that are important. These are the big three words like, if you’re deficient in them, you’re going to know it.
This is where you get these keto flu symptoms. Everybody always talks about keto flu. Sometimes, I think it’s mistakenly called carbohydrate withdrawal-
Chris: -which I don’t love referencing it that way because I think it hints at that like your body needs carbohydrates, and that if your body’s having a withdrawal from not having them like, “Oh, I need to have a few to wean off or something like that.” What’s really happening is that, when you start, you’re dumping a ton of water, you’re dumping a ton of electrolytes, and this causes the digestive issues, it might come up at the beginning, it causes the brain fog, the muscle cramps, muscle weakness, fatigue, all of those things that you’ll hear people complain about, which are a lot of the reasons why you’ll hear somebody again say, “I tried keto, it wasn’t for me.” A lot of it was because they were dealing with those symptoms, and they didn’t know what to do about them.
Supplementing with electrolytes– both supplementing and consuming them in whole food forms is important I think on any low carb diet, no matter where you’re at in your journey you are, but especially for a beginner, you really want to have those electrolytes. Then, I think the other two that I would add, one kind of going along with the protein and fat thing, I think not prioritizing red meat, I think is a big thing like we mentioned the fears that we have around saturated fat and everything like that. I see a lot of people doing keto diet, where they are doing lean meat like chicken and turkey, and then adding in fat in the form of dairy or oils or salad dressings. I think that’s okay, every once in a while, but red meat is really the most nutrient dense food that we can eat, especially, as it relates to us. We know it’s loaded with nutrients, but if you read any study looking at the way that we absorb nutrients from red meat, it’s for and way superior to any other food source. So, with keto diet, with fasting, with any type of diet, I think too often we get hung up on the–
This is what I’m taking out of my diet, and not thinking about what I’m putting in my diet. It’s not just about what’s coming out, it’s about what we’re putting in. While we want to cut back carbs, and seed oils, and all of those things, we want to make sure that we’re replenishing it with nutrient dense and bioavailable foods, which red meat is one of those big ones. So, I think, I always talk to people who are seemingly doing everything else right, and then you look at what the actual food is that they’re eating, and I see them eating a lot of either going plant based with their protein or doing really lean white meats, and making that switch to red meat really helps. That goes along the same lines of the last one for common mistake I see which we’ve been hinting at the whole podcast. And that’s just not consuming enough real foods, going for packaged foods. It doesn’t matter if there’s a–
I worked for a company and we put keto– Our products are keto friendly. You should not have–, the majority of your calories should not be coming from our products. I think we have the best products out there right. It’s just that’s not what a good diet looks like no food labels. It looks like whole foods that are being consumed in their natural form, because when you really look at– it’s interesting when you look at even omega-6 fatty acids and linoleic acid that we’re talking about, those fats are also present in things like fish and eggs. But when you look at the research on them, those foods come with other compounds and molecules that go along with the linoleic acid, the omega-6 fatty acids that either keep them in check or allow them to do beneficial things in our bodies. When you extract those omega-6, you know those nutrients out or just you’re extracting anything out of a food to put it in a packaged or processed form, you’re losing, what was intended for that food. How it was supposed to be consumed, and how it was supposed to interact with our body, and now introducing a foreign substance into your body. So, long winded way of saying just I think we need to be eating more real food.
If you have a farmers’ market around you, I think the best thing for you to do is go to the farmers’ market and get the majority of your food there. Getting your plants, getting your fruit, getting your meat, whatever it is there, the more that we do that, and the more we avoid stuff with food labels and stuff with really long ingredient lists, the better off we’re going to be regardless of what diet we’re on. So, that’s the Big Five for mistakes that I see on keto.
Cynthia: No, there’s so much good information in there, and I’m glad that some of the things that I talk to my patients and clients about are definitely things that resonate with you. I feel like in many ways, we’re starting to hit another plant-based focused agenda. You’re starting to see, I think Harvard came out with something on Twitter the other day, which I shamelessly retweeted and shamed to them.
Cynthia: You can never convince me that a primarily plant-based diet. I’m not saying, I don’t eat plants. I just focus on animal-based protein is equivalent. I think, if someone’s trying to navigate a ketogenic diet or a low carb diet being primarily plant-based, it really can be challenging. I think it was– Dr. Gabrielle Lyon was saying that, “A four-ounce piece of steak or a six-ounce piece of steak is equivalent to six cups of quinoa in terms of protein, and there’s really no woman certainly and certainly probably most men wouldn’t be able to finish six cups of quinoa to get the same amount of protein. So, I think that’s something to give people time to think and ponder about.
Chris: Yeah. Not to mention that the calories would be– I always think with every time they do those comparisons where it’s like, “Take this much of quinoa to meat, this much steak, but it’s like, ‘Yeah, and your calories would be like probably triple with six cups of quinoa.”‘
Cynthia: Yeah, and certainly, middle aged women really have to be mindful of their portions of carbs. I don’t care what kind of carb you’re eating. You have to be mindful of it. Now, I want to be super mindful of your time. But there were some things in the book that I definitely wanted to get to, and Keto Answers is Chris’ book, and I was telling him before we started recording that I’m just very grateful to have another resource available to refer patients to and clients to that want to learn more. It’s really great and accessible information written very clearly, lots of scientific research, but written in a way that it’s for the lay public or for clinicians that want to learn more.
Chris: Thank you.
Cynthia: Let’s talk a little bit into MCT oil. This is something that is obviously very popular. My standard joke about MCT oil is you have to be careful with quantity that you’re consuming because some people can really give them some digestive distress or as Dave Asprey likes to call it ‘disaster pants.’ So what do people need to look for when they’re considering utilizing MCT oil as a fat source in terms of quality? So, I know that this is a byproduct of coconut oil, but what do they need to look for to find the best quality product to utilize?
Chris: Yeah, definitely. I think the idea is like most times when you’re searching for a food that has a food label, if you’re getting an MCT oil, there shouldn’t be anything else on there, but MCT oil. Unless you are getting– I know there are some flavored MCT oils out there, but really it should be just MCT oil. When you start looking at some of the powders that are out there, so like there’s MCT oil powder, means, it has to be bound to a fiber, that’s when you really want to start considering fiber source. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of a tapioca fiber versus a soluble corn fiber. Just don’t really love the way that soluble corn fiber interacts in my digestive system, and I’ve seen that in a lot of people. So, that’s usually the one that I’ll opt for. Then, now, with more people coming into space, we also have to– with the powders, we have to consider the sweeteners that are being used as well. So, I think, you’re better off looking for a like a monk fruit or a stevia allulose, something like that as opposed to a cane sugar, or a xylitol, or something like that. So that’s kind of the big thing.
But one thing that I think a lot of people don’t know what MCTs, I like to point out and this isn’t necessarily from a health standpoint, but you are starting to see more where it will be like MCTs derived from coconut or MCTs derived from palm. From what I’ve seen in the research, I haven’t found a difference in the benefits of doing the palm or of doing the coconut, the MCTs from either one. But one of the key things is that palm is very destructive to the environment. So, if you’re somebody who cares about the– that’s something like when I buy food, I think I’m thinking health, I’m thinking environment, and then I’m thinking economy like that’s just probably not how everybody needs to think about purchasing food, but that’s just the way that I look at it. So, if you’re getting something that source from palm, you want to make sure that says RSPO certified on it, which means that they’re just taking more sustainable manners when they’re harvesting the palm. So, that’s going to be the better option.
I think in general, if you have a choice, I would choose MCTs from coconut versus MCTs from palm. But I haven’t found anything from a research standpoint that says, one is better than the other besides the environmental part. Besides that, there’s really not a whole lot else to look for on the labels other than there’s the different MCT types. There’s the C8, C10 are the more popular ones. You also see C6 popping up every once in a while. There’s a little bit of research showing that having a straight C8 might be more beneficial for getting a short-term increase in ketones. I’ve tested them myself and haven’t found a huge difference between the two. Kind of seen it to be a little bit marginal. I think probably a better approach would be just to do a blend of both. If you get a standard MCT oil, there’s going to be a blend of C8 and C10 in there. If you’re doing coconut oil, then you’re going to have C8, C10, C12, you’re going to have basically all of the medium chain triglycerides with it.
I think, if your goal is ketone production, you want to opt for an MCT over a coconut oil. Lauric acid which is the C12 that you find in coconut oil has its own benefits. Not really related to ketone production, minus there is some research showing that lauric acid may lead to ketone production in certain cells in our brain. But generally speaking, if we’re talking about like liver production of ketones, doing a C8, C10 is going to be a better option. So, that’s kind of the basics with it. So far, I haven’t seen the MCT world get tainted too much yet. There’s not a whole unless– I don’t know if you’ve seen anything but I haven’t seen any companies in that are completely putting trash out like most of it is just MCT oil that you see. But when you start getting into the powders, that’s when you definitely have to be a little bit more aware of what they’re putting with the powders.
Cynthia: Well, I saw that pop up on Instagram, a chef friend of mine was using it and I asked her what she thought of it, and I think that one is actually from– derived from soluble corn. So, not sure I would want to be utilizing that. I think, it starts becoming these nuances like obviously palm oil derived, I would be less interested in and for anyone that’s listening that says, I don’t understand what you guys are referring to. My understanding is that palm oil extraction impacts orangutangs, and forestry, and those kinds of things. That’s my very minimal understanding. So, that what’s been plugged into my brain. I have a grad school roommate, friend, who normally pre-COVID did a lot of traveling and so, her photos from being in Africa really brought that home for me. So I’m glad that you thoughtful about sourcing.
Now, two other areas that I wanted to touch on, because I did get questions around both of them. I know it’s not at all uncommon for people to want to do things to boost autophagy. This kind of waste and recycling process in the body that goes on when we’re eating less often or for fasting. So, I started to think about things like berberine, and I know that you have several options in the book as well as nootropic agents got questions at both of those. So, I’d love for us to end our discussion talking about how some of these products can be beneficial from a health benefits perspective, they can boost some of the benefits that you’re getting in ketosis or with autophagy or both.
Chris: Yeah, for sure. The one downside about autophagy is that, we have no great way of measuring it unfortunately. So, I hope that that’s something that changes over the next few years because I think, it would be incredible to have a little meter on you that would like be able to track when you’re dipping, you kind of reaching that level of autophagy. But when it comes to that, berberine is definitely one of the top supplements for that. It’s one that’s been known to mimic metformin. It’s been shown to put out very comparable results which if you’re not familiar with metformin. Anybody who’s listening that’s just a commonly used diabetic drug. We see a lot of great research on these, what we call, insulin sensitizing agents. We see a lot of great research on them being able to get our blood sugar down, improve metabolic health, and then in some cases, theoretically induce autophagy which is not again not something that we can really measure.
Now, there’s a lot of other really good ingredients out there like chromium, and there’s like cinnamon, and some other things like that, that can be used to lower blood sugar too. I think, berberine, far in a way is the most effective. I think combining those other ones with berberine may be a good strategy, but in terms of what’s going to move the needle the most, I think berberine is the go-to there. When it comes to stuff that’s inducing autophagy, it’s a pretty short list. Really the only things that I would refer to as having a chance of being able to induce that, nothing else is going to– besides like a berberine is going to be able to move the needle as much as just, let’s say, fasting or ketogenic diet, low carb diet. So, trying to find a diet in a pill type of thing, I think you’re better off most times going for the diet itself. We should think of these supplements as a supplement to the diet not as something that’s going to be like–, if you’re doing a keto diet in fasting, berberine is going to probably offer a very marginal benefit unless you’re somebody who’s very metabolically damaged, pre-diabetic, diabetic, really high blood sugar. So, that’s the info there.
Now, nootropics is something. I’m super interested in nootropics. I love them. It’s something I’ve played with for a long time. I do some experimenting where I just get like raw powders. I have a friend, who– I’ll give him a little shoutout. His name is Will Wallace, and just like when it comes to brain supplements, especially, he’s brilliant. He’s always got something new that he’s sending my way to check out. In my opinion, the best nootropic combo out there which arguable on whether or not this is a nootropic, but I like alpha-GPC and caffeine together. I think that is– and really any choline source so. Not my area of expertise here, but essentially our brain has different nutrients that it runs on. Choline is one of them. So, we want to make sure that– We can get choline through natural sources too like eggs and whatnot, but something like alpha-GPC provides that choline source to our brain. I found that just pairing simply, I actually did it right before this podcast just having like, I think, I do like 600 mg of alpha-GPC with caffeine in some form. For me, I’m a lower caffeine dose kind of guy. So, maybe like a 100 mg with that and that’s usually about it. That’s probably my favorite combo and there’s some other really interesting nootropic compounds out there as well. I like the ones that are a little bit more on the natural adaptogenic side. I like using more of like a Rhodiola rosea or an ashwagandha. For me, that’s like– I’m not a big stimulant guy. So, I’m not really looking for some of the racetams and some of those other things that are going to– for me, that’s a little bit anxiety provoking, I don’t really need. I’m a pretty high energy guy anyways, so anymore, I might burst.
Chris: So, I like to stick to the things that more get you like an even keel type of thing, which another one that goes really well with that combo, too, is a theanine, so doing a theanine with a caffeine, great combo for giving you the boost of mental clarity, but having a little bit of a calming effect, kind of reducing jitters and things like that. So, those are my list of favorite. Again, it’s not the most exciting list. For somebody who’s really into nootropics, you’re probably wanting to talk about, like I said, the racetams and some of those other things. That’s just not really my wheelhouse. I like the more natural approach to the nootropics.
But I do– one more that I will plug to, because there is a lot of negative connotations to it out there. But I actually really enjoy using exogenous ketones as well for a nootropic. I hate the way that exogenous ketones have been marketed. I really think that they’ve gotten a bad reputation for us trying to market them as a replacement to the keto diet and things like that. It’s just not the case. But when it comes to providing your brain with a fuel source, it can definitely help with that, so that’s something that I love using an exogenous ketone like in the afternoon when it’s, “Okay, I don’t want to have caffeine because I don’t want to impact my sleep.” But I still have a few more hours of work that I’d like to knock out. I’ll reach for an exogenous ketone during that time. Not an everyday thing, maybe a couple times a week. Again, not something you’d classify directly as a nootropic, but can have brain boosting benefits for sure.
Cynthia: I think, you and I are definitely very aligned, because for me, I’m very sensitive to caffeine and l-theanine is like one of my favorite things to stack if I feel like– At the end of my day, I need to wind down, but in the morning, green tea is a great source of a little bit of caffeine as well as some l-theanine. I love the adaptogenic herbs that you mentioned. I’m a huge proponent and ashwagandha is really interesting, because it can be both calming and can also provide a boost in energy. I always say, it knows exactly what you need, but I love things like Rhodiola, I love relora. They’re definitely all beneficial, and also– [crosstalk]
Chris: What is that last one you said?
Cynthia: Relora. So, it’s derived from magnolia bark. It’s R-E-L-O-R-A.
Chris: I don’t know that one. I’ll look that and look into it. [crosstalk]
Cynthia: It’s really beneficial. I mean, I use quite a bit of it with people that are having trouble sleeping, because it’s definitely more calming. I can just take the edge off, and people can drift off to sleep pretty easily. So, I’m curious, what are you up to next? Are you writing another book? We obviously have amazing social media content. I was just saying, Chris, before we started recording that I really enjoy the content that you put out there, and making it clear and evidence based. What your suggestions and recommendations are?
Chris: Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate that. Well, continuing to put out the content, that’s a big thing. I had a little break in between, I would say, over the last two years where I had somebody hired out to do my graphic design work for me, like I would plan the graphics, have them do it, just wasn’t finding the work that I wanted getting done on that. So, I went back to doing them all myself. I actually enjoy doing it, but it is very time consuming. So, that’s something that just continuing to put those out is a big thing. But for big projects coming up, we’re relaunching the Keto Answers Podcast at Perfect Keto, and I’ll be hosting that. So, super excited about that. It’s a podcast that we had in the past, and then now we’re bringing it back. So, we’ve already started recording episodes, we’re going to be launching that in August. So, that’s a big project.
The other one is, I’m launching a coaching program through The Ketologist. So, I have a small team of dietitians and health coaches that I’ve assembled to help with this and we’re working on putting that together. Now, we’re actually just starting to accept clients in this last week. So, pretty excited about that. It’s one of those things where I used to work with clients when I first got into the space, and then I got out of it. Working with clients for me is a really great way to keep my ear to the ground on what problems are people having, what questions are coming up frequently, what issues are people having with keto, whether they’re beginner, whether they’ve been doing it for a while. So, it’s a great way for me to keep my ear on the ground and continue flexing that muscle of actually helping people and not let that go away. So, that’s a big one.
Then, of course, writing I’m always working on some form of writing. So, I just started a new book project that’s hoping to put out in– probably, it’s going to be 2022, it’s going to be when that comes out. Just finished writing a carnivore cookbook, that’s going to be coming out later this year. I think, it comes out in October. So, now that that’s off my plate, I’m going to shift to more– Cookbook style writing not really my favorite thing to do. So, I’m going to shift back into more of the science style writing and work on another keto book here. So, pretty excited about that.
Cynthia: Yeah, that sounds amazing. Let listeners know how they can connect with you on social media and on your website.
Chris: Yeah, so, go to @theketotologist on any social media platform. Instagram is the main one for me where if you have a question, you shoot me a DM, I’ll be in there to respond to you. Then I have my website, theketologist.com.
Cynthia: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Chris. It’s been a pleasure. We’ll definitely have to bring you back.
Chris: Yeah, thanks for having me out. I appreciate it. Had a great time.
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