nutrition-fitness-wellness-weight-loss-health-coach

 

Today, hosts of the Ketogenic Athlete podcast and two phenomenal ketogenic athletes join us – Brain Williamson and Danny Vega. Brian’s journey into the ketogenic lifestyle started a few years ago after his son was diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 11. Over the course of the first few years following this diagnosis and finding that his son wasn’t responding well to the pharmaceutical medications he was prescribed, he decided to learn more about the ketogenic lifestyle after the neurologist mentioned – in passing – that some patients saw positive improvement by following the diet.

As a powerlifter, Danny has always been interested in how diet and exercise impacts a person’s strength and conditioning. In 2004, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, then later earned his Master’s degree in Science and Human Performance from the University of Florida. Following college, he became the strength and conditioning coordinator for the BCU Basketball team.

Today, Brian and Danny share their story on how they got started with the ketogenic diet. Brian explains how it has helped him overcome depression as well as find positive results for his son with epilepsy. Danny shares how the ketogenic diet can affect athletic performance as well as the mental health effects that are common in people following the diet.

 

“You can perform at the top level, and you don’t need carbs as energy.” – Danny Vega

 

On Today’s Episode of the Low Carb Leader:

  • How Brian treated and managed his son’s epileptic seizures with the ketogenic diet.
  • The effects of eating too much protein while on the keto diet.
  • How to measure your ketone levels.
  • How effective the keto diet is for aerobic sports athletes.
  • The mental health effects of a ketogenic diet for people struggling with depression or recovering from a concussion.
  • Brian and Danny’s thoughts on “exogenous ketones.

 

The Takeaway:

  • Know yourself well enough to know how you operate best. Ask yourself: Am I the type of person that needs to ease into things or do I tend to jump all-in to situations? If you ease into things – start by eliminating sugar, period. Then build from there.
  • Know why you want to start the ketogenic diet. Set your goals and repeat them to yourself every day. Learn more about yourself as you are doing it.
  • Instead of focusing on the things you are restricting, focus on everything you are gaining.

 

Connect with Brian Williamson and Danny Vega:

 

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It’s a fun way to get started on your journey towards optimal performance and a better, happier you!

 

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Read Podcast Transcript

023 – Ketogenic Athletes and More with Brian Williamson and Danny Vega

DAN:
Hello, and welcome to The Low Carb Leader. You have joined us for Episode 23. On today’s episode we have the podcast hosts of The Ketogenic Athlete and actually of two other podcasts, Brian Williamson and Danny Vega. We recorded the episode last week, so I know you’re going to enjoy it. We talked about all things ketogenic. We talked about Brian’s son who has epilepsy and how that was treated and managed with a ketogenic diet. We talked with Danny about how athletes perform with a ketogenic diet. We have a Q&A at the end, and then we find out what they eat on a ketogenic diet. And that may surprise some of you. It is a very entertaining interview. Jacob and I enjoyed it very much.

But first I want to encourage everybody to participate in the 14-day Tabata challenge. It’s free. It should be a lot of fun. We’re going to post videos. You’ll get a motivational email every day. Right now we have 360 people signed up – actually 550 people have signed up. And I want to remind everybody that you must confirm with your email before you will be put on the list because I want to make sure that I respect your preferences and your privacy. So when you sign up please remember to confirm on your email, and this is the first of many challenges. And if you don’t know much about Tabata, it’s a four-minute per day work out. So it’s going to be pretty cool. So please sign up for that. To sign up go to TheLowCarbLeader.com/Tabata, t-a-b-a-t-a.

All right, and so I’m very excited. Tomorrow I am going to Breckenridge, Colorado. They are having a low-carb conference, so a good way to spend a weekend, for sure. At the conference I’m going to be interviewing two people on video, for sure, Dr. Jason Fung. He is a physician and a worldwide expert on intermittent fasting, and I’m really looking forward to talking with him. And then I’m going to do a video interview with Maria Emmerich who has been on the podcast before, and she is the author of nine ketogenic cookbooks and an amazing cook and a great person, so looking forward to meeting her in person. And I’m going to be doing Facebook Live for the first time. So that should be pretty interesting. So there’s going to be a lot of high-quality speakers there. So I hope to interview several of them through audio for the podcast and through video. So more to come on that conference next week.

Just to remind everybody, I do have a Facebook page at The Low Carb Leader. Right now we have 40,000 followers, and I post every single day. I post a lot of stuff. So check that out. I’m on Instagram @thelowcarbleader and on Twitter @DanielLPerryman. So please participate in social media. And one last thing; I would ask that if you know somebody who could benefit from the podcast or from the information on the website please share it. So I think the more people that can understand, that can get to know about the low-carb lifestyle or ketogenic lifestyle, the more that can benefit.

And before I introduce the guests, I received a very cool message from Diane in the Philippines. And her message says, “Hi. I just wanted to reach out to you and say that your podcast is fantastic. I’ve learned so much, and everything that I’ve learned is doing wonders for me and my family. We’re trying to slowly move to a ketogenic diet, although it’s difficult to do in the Philippines.” I lived in the Philippines, and it would be very difficult. They have a lot of awesome food, and it’s high carb. We’ll say that. And she goes on to say, “But we’re trying to do things by increment.” So very cool. Thank you, Diane, for that message.

So on to the interview. A little bit about Brian Williamson. He is a 40-something husband and father of three. Brian says his journey toward a ketogenic lifestyle began with researching the methods to alleviate the effects of epilepsy for one of his children. And his son did not want to go on a ketogenic diet because I’m sure most children don’t want to give up McDonald’s and everything that they typically eat. So as an example, Brian went on the ketogenic diet and proved to his family that you can enjoy what you eat through the ketogenic lifestyle. So Brian will talk about all those things.

And then Danny is a power lifter. Danny weighs 220 pounds, and he has squatted 640 pounds. He has a 400-pound bench and a 700-pound deadlift. So pretty amazing stats there. He is a native of Miami, Florida. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2004 where he was a member of the football team and a three time Dean’s list recipient. He earned his Masters of Science in human performance from the University of Florida where he worked with the national championship men’s basketball team along with women’s basketball, tennis and golf programs. He then went on to become a strength and conditioning coordinator for VCU basketball, helping the Rams to the 2007 conference championship and making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. So I know you will enjoy this interview. So here we go.

Brian and Danny, welcome to the show.

DANNY:
Thanks for having us.

BRIAN:
Hey, Daniel. Thank you very much for having us on.

DAN:
Yeah, and so Jacob is here, as well. Jacob, howdy.

JACOB:
Thank you, Dan. A pleasure as always.

DAN:
You’ve been here a couple times in a row.

JACOB:
Yeah, it’s been fun. It’s a good day.

DAN:
Yeah, good stuff. All right, so Brian, do you want to kind of take us through your history and how you got involved in health, fitness and the ketogenic movement?

Brian’s Experience Using the Ketogenic Diet as a Tool to Help Treat Epilepsy and Depression

BRIAN:
Sure, no problem. Those are kind of two disparate paths that sort of verged onto each other. I’ve always been active since I was a kid. I’ve been active in youth sports. I’ve been in the martial arts since I was 14, and I’ll turn 43 this year, so that’s something I’ve always been a part of, so I’ve always been in the gym, I’ve always been running, I’ve always been working out in some way, shape or form. I actually met my wife in a martial arts school. Joined the Air Force, continued to work out there. I was actually a member of the Air Force tae kwon do team in 1996, I believe. And fast forward to 2009 when my son who at the time was – let me think – he was 11 I believe at the time, and he had his first seizure. And we didn’t exactly know what it was because we weren’t at home when it happened. His older brother was the one that let us know that there was a problem. So we got home. We took him to the neurologist, and the neurologist said those words that no parent wants to hear, yes there was abnormal activity.

So he was diagnosed with epilepsy, and we spent a couple of years trying to figure out the best form of treatment. And when he wasn’t responding to particular combinations of medications, in passing his neurologist said oh, you know, the ketogenic diet has been known to help some people with epilepsy symptoms. And I had heard of the ketogenic diet from my days in the gym. It’s primarily used by folks who are trying to cut body fat. So I knew a little bit about it, but I went home and I did a lot of research on it and educated myself and realized that okay, there’s some promise here. And when I talked to my son about it he was not interested because he liked junk food, basically, and he didn’t want to give it up. And the ketogenic diet is pretty much the opposite of what you would consider a standard, Western diet. It’s certainly not the Orthodox nutritionist way of eating. So it’s a counterintuitive healthy diet. It’s very high in fat. It’s very moderate in protein. And it’s very, very low in carbohydrates of any kind.

And my son didn’t want to do it. So I decided I would model it for him, my thinking being I could show him that I wasn’t suffering, I could show him that it was sustainable, and I could show him that it was fine to do. And lo and behold I lost a bunch of weight. And it wasn’t my intention, but it just happened, and he noticed that. But for me the bigger aspect of it was I came out of a massive depression that I was in at the time. And I didn’t know I was in a massive depression, obviously, because I think a lot of people who are depressed don’t know it a lot of times. And it dawned on me that after a few months that I felt good, and I turned to my wife one day and I said is this how normal people feel? Because I can understand why people get out of bed now. And she said yes, this is normal. So when you’re cringing at all the happy people this is why, because they feel this way.

How the Blog and Podcast Began

So that’s how I got into the ketogenic diet, and that led me to decide I need to tell people about this. My son was on board. My wife was on board. We started feeling – the house just started feeling better. Everyone was feeling good. The clarity, all of the things that are espoused as benefits to the ketogenic diet were taking place. So I decided I needed to tell people about it. So I started my Ketovangelist blog. Shortly thereafter I started a podcast, created several keto groups on Facebook. And part of the process that I noticed that people go through when they start the ketogenic diet is typically a lot of people start keto when they are trying to lose weight, and they’ll go from a sedentary life to they’ve lost weight and they have a lot of energy, which is very unusual for them, and they want to start working out. So I started thinking let’s create a resource for people both at a high level and at a regular Joe level, Joe or Jane, so they can turn to to understand how to do keto to maximize their physical performance.

And I was formulating this idea, and I was getting ready to start this podcast, and I got an email from someone, and he had said hey my name’s Danny, and I’m a powerlifter, and I’m keto, and I listen to your podcast. I just wanted to let you know if you need any help with anything let me know. And I replied to him saying, oh, that’s interesting that you emailed me because I’ve got an idea for you. So I had him on the – he was my first interview on the podcast, I believe, and I asked him immediately after. I was like do you want to be a cohost? And he’s like yeah, sure, why not? So The Ketogenic Athlete podcast started out of my desire to help people who were experiencing the desire to work out for the first time in their lives and for people who were gym rats or road rats and they just decided to change their way of eating so that it would give them resources that they could augment some of the information that they’re getting and to shore up their training. So Danny and I started, and we evolved from just talking strictly about the food and like workout routines to incorporating the mind-body connection and working on the mental aspect of things, you know, the success mindset, those sort of things. So that’s a really long, rambling answer, so I apologize. But that’s where I – that’s how I got to where I am.

DAN:
Yeah, and Danny we’ll get to you in one second, but I was in martial arts, as well, tae kwon do. So actually my family owned a karate school when we were younger, and so my claim to fame that nobody believes or hears about is I was the youngest black belt in Iowa at the time.

BRIAN:
Oh really?

DAN:
Yeah, because I’m turning 49. So back then it was – it took a while to get a black belt, not like it really is today where you can get it really quick.

BRIAN:
Was yours like pre-Karate Kid or post-Karate Kid?

DAN:
Oh yeah, pre-, back in the ‘70s. It took like four years to become a black belt. Yeah, so martial arts. But I was going to say when I was in the Navy I trained just on the side with a black belt who was on the Navy tae kwon do team. I can’t remember his name, but he was really good. My point to this entire story is that you must have been really good to be on the Air Force team.

BRIAN:
Well, I don’t know about that.

DAN:
This is no time to be humble.

BRIAN:
I will just say I was in the right place at the right time, and I have long legs. I’ll just leave it at that.

Danny’s Background

DAN:
Danny, I am looking at your bio, and it says that 700-pound deadlift, 400-pound bench and 640-pound squat – 610 raw. That’s a true power lifter there that has to be very specific about what he has accomplished. So tell us a little bit about your background.

DANNY:
Oh yeah, the whole raw versus – and it’s crazy because there is raw, which is just knee sleeves, and then there’s raw with wraps. And so my 640-pound squat was raw with wraps, and some purists would say that’s not raw. So I had to show that my raw squat was not that far off. A lot of people who wrap their knees well can get 60, 70, 80, 100 pounds extra out of their wraps. I just never – I guess I never knew how to wrap my knees well enough to get that carryover. So first I just want to say that one thing that Brian said that I am thankful for in both our situations is that our families were on board, and I think that anyone who is considering this would try to learn a little bit about it before you talk to your significant others so you can make a good sales pitch because it’s going to be much more helpful for everyone involved if you got, your house is kind of on the same page.

I am born and raised in Miami. I played high school football, college football, and I’ve always been – I got my Masters in physiology, and my first career was a strength conditioning coach. I was the head strength and conditioning coach for VCU basketball in Richmond. And so I’ve always been obsessed with strength and conditioning and nutrition. But even in nutrition classes everything I’ve read I actually used to joke about the fact that I had learned – any book that I would pick up like The Zone or The South Beach Diet, or all of those books I learned more in those laymen’s people’s books than I did in nutrition classes. They were just much more straightforward, and they made more sense. I’ve cycled carbs. I’ve done all the different types of diets. But back in the days I used to think that carbs were necessary.

So I was – I had a torn meniscus that I could trace back to about 2014 that I couldn’t just continue to compete with until finally this year – or last year, March of 2016. I just decided to let me get an MRI because this really hurts, and let me just see what’s up. And I had a meet coming up. So I said if this tells me what I think it is then I’m going to pull out of this meet, and I’m going to reassess. So sure enough I found out my meniscus was torn, and I had some other issues with that knee, and so I decided that I was going to switch gears and focus on power building, which is basically using powerlifting as the cornerstone of your programming, so basing everything still off of the squat, bench and deadlift, which is what powerlifting is, but focusing on trying to body build with that type of program. And it was something that my friend, Brian Carroll, and I were talking about because he had written a book on powerlifting. And we were going to expand it into power building. So I decided let me use these next several months to do that. So I dieted, and my friend, Tucker, who is also collaborating with us on the book, he had me – he was a bodybuilder turned power lifter, so I thought that’s perfect. Let me get his diet and work on that side of things.

And so I got really, really lean over three months doing a low-fat diet. And my wife and I did it together, and then we were just both miserable after three months. And I know you’ve done some bodybuilding, so you know how that can be. At the end it’s just miserable. And we did like two or three weekends in a row where we binged, and we’re like this is not right. So we wanted to go low-carb because we had done paleo before. But I had people telling me about keto, so I said let me do the crazy keto thing. And so from day one I wanted to learn about it as much as possible. So I learned about it, and in the first week I already felt better. And so about a few months into it I felt really, really good. And that’s when I reached out to Brian. And that’s exactly what he said. I said look, if you want to do something with athletes, let me know. I didn’t even know what it looked like. I didn’t know what it was or what it was going to be. But he was like, funny thing. Funny you say that. I’m actually starting a podcast on this. And so the way he is with Ketovangelist, that’s how I feel about The Ketogenic Athlete. I really want people to understand that you can perform at the top level, and you don’t need carbs as energy. And we’re finding from the people we’re speaking to that it seems like we may be right and you may not need carbs. And so I know in my personal experience I continue to lift – nowhere near as heavy as I did before, but I still lift, and I’m actually doing my first half marathon in two weeks. And so I have all this extra energy, and I’m doing all of this really with a ketogenic diet. So that’s my – tried to condense it, but that’s my background.

More about Epilepsy and the Ketogenic Diet

DAN:
Oh yeah that’s great. A question about the epilepsy, and then I want to talk about the athletics and performance around ketogenic diets. But Brian, did the ketogenic diet really help your son, right?

BRIAN:
It did in a couple of ways. So typically the stats on the effectiveness for keto and epilepsy are essentially drawn into thirds. A third of all patients on a very strict, well-formulated ketogenic diet will essentially never manifest any epileptic symptoms at all, period, for the rest of their lives. About a third will have a dramatic reduction in both the frequency and duration and intensity of the seizures. And about a third see no change whatsoever. My son is in the second of those three categories with a combination of medication, which wasn’t working prior to keto, when we kind of combined some of the medication that he’s taking with the ketogenic diet the medication seems to be much more effective in combination with the ketogenic diet. So he was seizure-free for about two years, and he had last year he had I think three seizures in total, which was a dramatic decrease because he was having a seizure every month and a half or so prior to keto, and it was getting as bad as once a week when we finally put him on keto. That was like the impetus for it. Like we can’t see this getting any worse. And when we put him on it, it was dramatically reduced. It went from that level of frequency basically two years without a seizure, three over a 12-month period and where at this point it’s been – it’s been probably six months without, that he hasn’t had a seizure. So it’s dramatic improvement. It’s not – and the thing about epilepsy is you can never say for sure that you’re done with it, that you’re cured of it because you just don’t know what’s going to happen from moment to moment. So we are cautiously optimistic about it at this point.

DAN:
But pretty remarkable progress really.

BRIAN:
I think so. And one of the frustrating things for me is the neurologist that we were visiting – and I have nothing against her. She’s great. But she mentioned it in passing as like a last resort sort of thing, and that was kind of my frustration. It’s one of the impetuses that I had to get the word out about the benefits of keto. And over the last several years I’ve met several parents who have epileptic children, and they express very similar frustrations. It’s like why didn’t they tell us about this first? Why wasn’t this the first thing they told us about? Prior to the pharmaceutical revolution in the 1930s, 1940s, epilepsy was treated with keto. It was formulated at Johns Hopkins by a particular physician because it was shown to work. When they could write a prescription for a pill, that’s when it kind of went out of vogue. And we’re hoping to change that. But it’s slow-going.

DAN:
I think I read that calorie restriction was a big part of the epilepsy trials, correct?

BRIAN:
Yes. There were a number of different facets of the research that was done into it, and they did very, very low – very, very restricted caloric intake in addition to keto, and they found some pretty interesting results. When you have a caloric restriction that is keto in its composition, that seems to be the primary methodology for the most effective treatment for it. Of course that combines a lot of the fasting aspects of things with the fact that you’re using fat as a cleaner fuel for burning inside your body, and it causes less oxidative stress. There’s a whole biochemical aspect of it as well. But the caloric restriction seems to kind of play well with your body’s natural tendency to want to not overindulge in food.

Advice on Entering the Ketogenic Lifestyle

DAN:
How do you advise people that want to start keto because you have to give up quite a bit your old way of eating to start a ketogenic diet?

BRIAN:
That’s a good question, and you generally have two schools of thought. One school – my wife, for example, she’s a wade in nice and slow and take your time and ease into the lifestyle. I am a jump through the plate glass window, off the cliff, into the water headlong without even looking to see how deep the water is. So those are kind of the two schools there, and my advice is know yourself. If you are my type of personality, wading in is a sure sign that you will never succeed because you have to go whole hog or you’re not – you’re going to be straddling both worlds, and that’s the worst possible scenario. The other option – so you have to know yourself first. So if you know that you are the one that needs to wade in nice and slow don’t go dive in full force all into it because that’s a good way to feel resentful, and that’s a good way to feel like you’re being deprived, and you’re not setting yourself up correctly.

So my first like meta-advice is know yourself well enough to know how you operate best. Are you the kind of person who needs to ease into things? You don’t handle change very well? Or are you the kind of person that can just pivot on a dime, jump on in and you don’t worry about it? If you’re like me it was like okay this is what I don’t eat anymore, period. That’s it. If you’re the other way my suggestion, my primary suggestion no matter what is just eliminate sugar, period. That’s your starting point. From a tactical perspective that’s your starting point. Just start with that. Identify all the foods that you eat. If it’s got sugar in it, don’t eat it anymore. Find an analog or find a substitute of some kind, but that’s my advice. And then just kind of build off from there. You’re right; I don’t think of it as restrictive. What I think of it is as there’s a lot of bad stuff out there that you may have gotten into the habit of eating that you’re going to have to relearn that is not good for you, if that makes sense.

DAN:
Oh yeah. What I do is if I stay on the outside aisle of the supermarket that’s pretty much my tactic.

BRIAN:
Exactly. I do a third podcast with Carrie Brown who is a world-class chef, and she’s keto as well. And we did an episode on how to go to the grocery store and how to do it correctly for keto, and that’s exactly her advice is stay on the outside. That’s where the produce and the meat are, and that’s really what you need.

How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

DAN:
I still glance down the Pop-Tart aisle though. And I think one of the bigger mistakes that people make with keto is, especially people who have worked out before, lifted weights, their protein is way too high. Talk about that a little bit.

BRIAN:
The issue with protein is – first of all, it’s an individual thing. So different people handle different levels of protein in different ways. Obviously there’s an activity level thing. There’s an individual metabolic thing. Those are all variables that take place that you have to account for. When you ingest excessive amounts of protein there are certain constituent amino acids that make up those proteins which are particularly susceptible to be converted to sugar, particularly in the form of blood sugar. And the whole point of keto when it comes to hormonal balance is to make sure that your insulin levels are not too high because insulin is this big daddy rabbit hormone that has a massive cascading effect to a lot of other hormones, and one thing leads to another, and all of a sudden you’re in metabolic distress because there’s way too much insulin in your system all the time.

So reducing the amount of carbs that you eat, eliminating sugar, is a good way to start getting a metabolic level of insulin. If you ingest too much protein what happens is your liver starts to see the excess amounts of amino acid because you don’t need it. So it’s demand driven. So if you’re lifting and you’re working out really hard, you’re doing high-intensity work or you’re just running a lot, your body sees this and says okay I need to repair all the damage. So if you’re eating a lot of protein at that point, that’s fine because it’s going to be used. But if there is no demand for the amount of protein that you’re eating it’s got to go somewhere, and it’s not just going to be sitting around waiting. That’s not how your body works. The only thing that your body stores is fat. It doesn’t store protein. So it’s not going to do that. Now it will store a certain amount of sugar, but that sugar is going to come from amino acids being broken down into glucose, into sugar. So an excessive amount when you’re not working out enough to need it to rebuild those soft tissues is going to be converted to sugar. Again, that cascading effect is that insulin level – your insulin level then stays relatively high when compared to not having too high of protein, if that makes sense.

DAN:
Right. And one more question, then we’ll jump to Danny for some sports advice. But do you measure your ketones or blood, and how often, and through what method? And do you measure the glucose ketone index?

BRIAN:
I did early on. Very early on I did measure, and it was mostly like the novelty of it. Like I wanted to see how I – what – okay this is what I had; now how does that affect me? And the novelty quickly wore off because mostly I am all about the lack of hassle in my personal life. So when I had to constantly be measuring stuff, that just kind of ground on me a little bit. So I don’t measure anymore. But there are two primary ways that I would recommend anyone who wants to measure – first of all, if you’re going to measure do it for a reason. Don’t just do it because someone told you to, and don’t just do it because you’re doing it. If you’re going to track it, track it for a reason. And what I mean by that is track it and correlate it to something so that you’re actually learning something about yourself. Just tracking data for the sake of tracking data to me is an exercise in futility. Learn something about yourself if you’re going to take the effort to go through all that.

So there are two primary ways that you can track it. There’s blood, and there’s breath. They both have benefits. They both are accurate in their own way. The real question that has yet to really be answered with any kind of clarity is which one is actually accurate from a general or universal perspective? My opinion is that breath measurement is probably better than blood measurement, and the only reason I say that is because breath measurement is actually measuring the breakdown of ketones in your body as opposed to blood measurement, which is the volume readily available at any given time in your body. So in other words if you are burning more ketones that means you are generating more ketones in order to burn, which means you’re burning more fat or you’re more active. If you just have a bunch in your blood that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re burning a whole bunch because they could be just sitting there floating around waiting to be used, if you know what I’m saying. Does that make sense?

DAN:
Oh yeah, that’s a great explanation. And I like your advice about do it for a reason because over the last couple weeks or so, actually the last month, I’ve been doing a lot of measurements, but doing it for a reason. So if I ate – didn’t have a chance to eat, and then I ate one big meal with my daily protein I wanted to see how that affected me in the morning. And you’re right; I think after probably a couple months of doing it you kind of know how things are going to affect you. So I don’t think you have to continue measuring them forever. And you know, the ketone strips are pretty expensive as well.

BRIAN:
I will say this, though, and this of course what I failed to do is the context of my advice is in a sort of generalized health or weight loss context. If you are in a situation where you’re treating your cancer or you’re treating your epilepsy, then you need to be testing every day, and you need to be very consistent about it, and you need to be tracking it on a regular basis because that is far more important. And you need to keep on top of that. So if that’s your situation then yes, absolutely I would be testing with blood and/or breath every day and making sure that [inaudible 0:30:19.6].

DAN:
That’s a great clarification. We don’t want anybody with diabetes stopping their measurements because yeah, we said you got a trend going. All right, so kind of switching gears to Danny, or both of you. So I’ve got to tell you my son, he was like a junior power lifter, so he’s like a really strong guy, and he listens to this podcast all the time. So he actually gave me a question he wanted me to ask you.

DANNY:
Very cool.
Keto’s Application in Various Sports

DAN:
The question is if you are doing a sport where it’s aerobic but there’s anaerobic bursts – and I’m thinking maybe – well he’s in jujitsu, but say like soccer where they kind of do the aerobic running and then they have to sprint, how effective is keto for those type of athletes?

DANNY:
Well, I’ll say this. Man that is such a common question. I’ve asked the question a lot of times. I will say that like soccer is still considered a heavily aerobic sport. They run – I think the average is – I want to say the average is five or six miles a game. I remember doing a needs analysis for soccer in grad school. But even let’s say football. We just had Dr. Jacob Wilson on, and we were talking about sports that are anaerobic and sports that require, that are higher intensity. And for all sports keto is applicable. You don’t really need carbs. In some situations for some people if they want to try out carbs and see how it affects their performance, Brian and I and I always answer try it out. See how it feels. See if it helps you. I haven’t felt the need to do it yet. So I haven’t.

But one thing that he, that Dr. Wilson did comment on for football that was interesting was we talk about and we’re looking at the neuroprotective benefits of a ketogenic diet. So he was saying if you’re a football player you should probably be doing a keto diet or not if not at least supplementing ketones because if you get those concussions you could possibly be helping yourself out with the ketones to repair the damage that was done. But this is where like all of my powerlifting friends are still kind of just looking from the sidelines and seeing because I haven’t done any meets, and I don’t even know if I’m going to do any meets anymore. I might be past the powerlifting thing. I might be moving towards more endurance because I love it. But a lot of people are kind of curious to see if you can do keto. And Dr. Wilson’s answer was yes, absolutely.

For a sport like powerlifting, you’re really – for instance, powerlifting or sprinting, those things are very short activities that don’t even really rely on carbs that much because when you think about it you’re looking at like the first energy system is the creatine phosphate system, and that’s like activities from like zero seconds to about, I think it’s like 30 seconds, and then you get into the glycolytic stuff like the glycogen energy system where you have like those intense bursts. You can – and the other thing is you can operate at a higher percentage of your VO2 max using fat as energy if you are fat adapted. That’s one thing that Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek talk about is that once you’re fat adapted you can actually – you don’t need to switch to a carb source because you’re actually – your body has learned how to use fat even at the higher intensities. So that’s kind of my thoughts on it. What do you say, Brian?

BRIAN:
So we actually had Professor Tim Noakes, who is an endurance athlete himself as a well as a medical doctor and a professor, and he’s a keto advocate or a low-carb advocate. And we asked him this very question, and his response was essentially that for 99% of the population there is no need for it. However, if you are in say, for example, the Tour de France and you are in a situation where you’ve got a – it’s a five-hour leg of the race and you know that you have to sprint 12 times during this particular race during that five hours, and a sprint is not like a five-second sprint; a sprint is going to be like a 3- to 10-minute, all out, everything you’ve got kind of thing. In that event he would say yeah, you probably want to carb up a little bit prior to. So that’s an extreme example. But other than that – I know we keep dropping names, but that’s just because these are the smart people we talk to so it allows us to be able to say things with confidence. Dr. Wilson, Jacob Wilson, the gentle gentleman that Danny just referenced, one of the things he also mentioned is – and also Dr. D’Agostino when we talk to him, is there’s not enough people trying it right now to say whether or not – because right now what you get is a lot of people saying no, you need carbs. Like sprinters saying no, I need carbs because it’s fast burning stuff. But no one’s actually going out and doing it and proving that they do.

Like your son is asking do we need this? Well here’s the thing. First of all, if you’re in the middle of a competition don’t change anything because competition, that’s, you know, you want to win that. So don’t start goofing around with stuff right before a competition or during. But if you’re in training and you’re in the off-season and you can experiment a little bit, then try it and see because it’s not a matter of okay, so I’m going to get keto adapted, and I’m going to work out, and I’m going to do it with some intensity, so that’s going to give me like six weeks to eight weeks of training right there, and then all of a sudden I find it doesn’t work best for me, it’s not like you have made negative or you’ve gone in the wrong direction. You’ve tried something; it didn’t quite work. You can then get right back up on the horse where you were before and get yourself into your previous training plan, if that makes sense what I’m saying.

So there’s not enough data to say that what would be offered as commonsensical or Orthodox kinds of ideas are legit at this point. What I’m curious about and what’s going to happen over the next five years there’s going to be a lot more research done on this. I’m really curious about how much of this is just a mental block and how much of this is actually physiological because I think what’s going to happen is people are going to realize that they don’t – this is their woobie, right? So they don’t want to give it up because they’re afraid they’re going to lose their gains or they’re going to lose their speed or whatever. So my suggestion is it’s the off-season. You’re training. Try it. Try it under load. Don’t go halfway. Give it your all when you’re working out because that’s how you train your body to adapt anyway. My suspicion is that folks who do that will see that they will bounce right back to where they were after that initial dip because they’ve got to change their fuel source.

Mind-Body Connection and Health with Keto

JACOB:
Both of you touched on a couple things here with keto and mental health. I want to talk about that a little bit. Danny, you talked about the concussion and brain repair, Brian your son and epilepsy and you with depression. How much – either one of you would like to discuss a little bit about going keto and the mental health and the brain health associated with that.

BRIAN:
Do you want to go first, Danny?

DANNY:
You have a lot more experience with this. The only thing I’m going to say is that I started this diet in June of last year. I’m going to talk about it from the mental performance, and Brian has more experience from not only that but the mood changes and of course with his son. But I started in June of last year. I’m in medical device sales, and I am on the verge of winning my first sales award because I have won like rookie of the year awards but not like the top salesman award. And so I, like the final numbers aren’t in yet, but it’s pretty much sure that I am going to win. And ever since I started I just felt my brain go into overdrive. And of course I responded by being the person that I am, by just putting, piling on everything that I could onto my plate. So I’m still really, really busy, but I can handle so much more of a workload, and I can do so much more, and I just think so much more clearly now. And I just know that it’s keto. I know that’s the X factor. So that’s been my experience. Brian has a much more clinical experience with all the stuff, and he’s had neurologists and people on that can speak to it much more in-depth.

BRIAN:
From a personal perspective, yeah, the whole depression thing. And depression is not – and I’m sure you guys have been made aware of these things. Like depression is not like a thing. It’s a series of things that manifests in various different ways. So the point of what I’m saying is there are lots of different causes for depression, and there are lots of different presentations of depression. But it roots down to a chemical effect inside your brain. So for me when I became keto the clarity was almost euphoric. That sounds kind of like woo-hoo, but that’s just the best way I can describe it.

DANNY:
I agree, too.

BRIAN:
And it wasn’t like oh man, this is so cool. It was a situation of like I don’t hate myself right now. Like I can talk to someone, and I don’t want to just run away. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still a curmudgeon. I will always own that. But my point is that the chemical cascade that takes effect whenever you stop burning sugar inside your brain, there are a lot of things that happen. You’re burning ketones. You have less oxidative stress inside the neural pathways, which means things fire cleaner and faster. The inflammation goes down. So all of the noise gets reduced so the signal is much, much stronger.

Then in addition to that what happens is you increase certain productive chemicals. For example, adenosine inside your brain has been shown to be tremendously helpful for neural pathways to sort of, for lack of a better term, clean up and fire cleaner. Not only that, but what we’re finding is that with a very low-carb, very high-fat diet, the ability for the stem cells inside your brain to produce more brain cells, which 50 years ago this was thought impossible, but it’s proven now that neurogenesis exists. You can actually rebuild all of the damage that has been caused from years of eating poorly.
So all these things sort of come into play. Like not only are you rebuilding the cells, not only are you rebuilding the electronic pathways between the cells, and you’re reducing all the noise that was there, but it manifests itself in certain ways too, to where you can actually understand yourself a little bit better. And I’ve always been a person where I’ve always been like curious about improving myself and curious about knowing myself better, that sort of thing. But one of the things that for sure I realized that is directly attributable to keto is the clarity to which I can direct myself now. And what I mean is I still experience stress. I am now able to understand that oh, you’re stressed. Like I can step outside of it and realize from a meta-perspective that this is what’s going on. I am no longer stuck in the middle of it and unable to recognize that I’m in the middle of it. Does that make sense at all, what I’m saying?

DAN:
Yeah, those are great points. We are coming up to the time limit, but I’ve got a few more things I want to ask you guys. So kind of do a lightning round. I’m just curious; I’ve got like five questions.

BRIAN:
I’m sorry – I just want to say I’m sorry I take up so much – I talk a lot.

Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting

DAN:
No, this has been an awesome discussion. Okay, just go back and forth with your answers. Do you guys have a – do you do intermittent fasting, or do you have a window of eating each day?

BRIAN:
Not each day, but I do intermittent fast.

DAN:
Do you eat in a window, or do you just eat all day?

BRIAN:
Window.

DANNY:
Yeah, I like to intermittent fast on the weekends, and I don’t really – I try to go as long as I can. And sometimes it’s 18 hours. Sometimes – once it was 29 hours. But it’s anywhere usually between 18 and like 22, and if I am satisfied with my one meal I won’t do a window. I’ll just eat that one meal. And if I’m not, then I’ll just keep eating. So I don’t like really set out to do like an 18-6 or a 16-8 or anything like that.

Favorite Foods

DAN:
What’s your favorite food?

BRIAN:
Oh man.

DANNY:
Brian, come on. Yours is easy. You’ve got to –

BRIAN:
I have a reputation for being like the Neanderthal of foods. Salami. Like I’ll just – like I don’t care.

DAN:
You walk around with a salami?

BRIAN:
Exactly. I’ll just go grab like, okay, just more salami. I could eat the same thing every day. It doesn’t bother me.

DANNY:
He doesn’t slice it. He eats it.

BRIAN:
Yeah, so for the last three days in a row, I kid you not, what I’ve eaten is a package of bacon. I’ll just put a package in the oven, cook it, and I eat it as one meal. And I’m done for the day basically. That’s what I eat. So I am a – I am the Rainman of keto foods.

DAN:
That is hilarious. Danny, what’s your favorite?

DANNY:
I love food. I would say if I had to pick one it would be ribeye, a nice like 24-ounce ribeye, 22-ounce bone-in ribeye.

DAN:
Yeah, I eat ribeye just about every day. Do you guys drink Bulletproof coffee?

DANNY:
Absolutely, yeah.

BRIAN:
I do not. I drink ballistic coffee, which is my own –

DANNY:
Oh yeah.

BRIAN:
It’s my own concoction of stuff, but it’s very similar.

DAN:
It’s crazy because you talk about the mental clarity. I get up pretty early in the morning and drink some Bulletproof coffee, and I get so much done. People need to experience it.

BRIAN:
It’s nuts. I agree.

Higher Energy and Fewer Hours of Sleep

DAN:
Have your hours of sleep decreased since you started keto? Because I find I sleep less. I can sleep like six hours and wake up just completely refreshed now.

DANNY:
I totally – yeah, I sleep like 6 ½ hours. I go to bed, like I try to be in bed like at 9:45, and then I wake up at – my alarm is 4:45, but I usually wake up before it, like 4:30 or so. And so yeah, definitely. My sleep has gone down like an hour.

BRIAN:
I find that I can sleep less. I’m in bed by 10:00 usually. I’m up by 4:00, although usually I wake up at 3:00, and I just kind of stare at my phone until it turns to 4:00 because there’s no way I’m getting up at 3:00.

DAN:
That’s exactly how I am. The difference is I don’t have a salami sitting next to me on the counter.

BRIAN:
You should try it.

Thoughts on Cycling In and Out of Ketosis and Tracking Macros

DAN:
All right. Do you cycle in and out of ketosis, or do you stay ketogenic all the time?

BRIAN:
All the time.

DANNY:
All the time for me, too. I don’t do any targeted keto either. I haven’t tried it yet. What I will do in the – after my race I’m going to do like a three-month experiment with using super starch as a carb source, which is 21 g. So I’m going to push my carbs up to about 50 total, including the super starch. And this is a carb that has little to no effect on your insulin. So I want to see what that does. But that’s the closest I’ll ever come to doing any type of extra carb type of stuff.

DAN:
That’s cool. What are your grams of macros right now? Or percentages would probably be better.

DANNY:
Brian’s answer is going to be very profound, so get your notebooks out.

BRIAN:
I have no idea. I don’t track any of it. I know because I’ve been doing this so long I know what’s allowed, and I just eat that. And I mean I really don’t know. I do know that I eat a lot of fat. I do know that because that stuff’s delicious.

DAN:
How about you, Danny?

DANNY:
I noticed that my fat has gone down from before. Like I did a – I told myself I was going to stop tracking because I’m kind of like OCD and so like at the end of the year I stopped tracking. And I did that for a few weeks and then I was like well, my excuse was that I needed to track again because I have a race coming up and I’ve got to be on point.

BRIAN:
He is so underselling this. He was like you know that meme of Dave Chapelle where he is like the – he’s the crack addict and he’s – that was Danny. That was Danny holding his phone like there was no data on it for the day, and he’s like I don’t know man. I just think I probably need to – for the race I need to track.

DANNY:
Yes.

Exogenous Ketones

DAN:
And the final question, what are your thoughts on exogenous ketones?

BRIAN:
Danny, do you want to tackle that one?

DANNY:
I like – I think that if you try to use them I think it’s something that you’ve got to do often to feel like any type of effect. I participated in an Indiegogo campaign for a ketone drink that Brian told me about that has some electrolytes in it, and they will be shipping me out 72 of the bottles of that. So eventually I’m going to do an experiment where I can really truly say what it does, how it affects my performance. But right now I don’t really – I can’t really say. I don’t know enough about it. But I obviously for the therapeutic effects of it, it’s awesome. I’m still not sure about how it affects performance.

DAN:
But you have to be following a ketogenic lifestyle. I think maybe Dr. Oz, those raspberry ketones or whatever where people think they can eat carbs all day and then throw a couple pills down, it doesn’t work, does it?

BRIAN:
Raspberry ketones are not ketogenic in any way, shape or form. They borrowed the word ketone and used it for the thing. It’s totally not ketogenic at all. Exogenous ketones, beta hydroxy butyrate in powder form, that’s kind of what we’re talking about, or in liquid form because it’s depending on how you’re getting it, those exogenous ketones, the research seems to indicate that there is some benefits to it for certain individuals. There is a large portion of the population, though, that seems to benefit in no way, shape or form, and that would make sense. The bell curve of everything is essentially going to be statistically similar. So there are people who don’t seem to benefit from it at all. And really what it comes down to is finding the company that you like the best because essentially the ketones are going to be basically the same. In fact, the one company in the country that produces beta hydroxy butyrate ketones in powder format just signed a contract with a single distributor. So they’re going to basically monopolize that for a while. And those are ketone salts. Ketone esters are a completely different scenario, and they taste terrible. So they’re going to have to work on that a little bit before they can mass-produce that outside of –

Quick Tips for the Keto Beginner

DAN:
Those are great answers. Real quickly, we are almost out of time, but what would be the – each of you, what would be one or two tips that you would give somebody who is looking into a ketogenic lifestyle?

BRIAN:
First and foremost is know why you want to do it. Set your goals. Repeat them to yourself every day and learn about yourself as you’re doing it. The food stuff is easy. The stuff between your ears is the hard part. You’ve got to figure out how to master that, and that’s my in a nutshell sort of thing.

DANNY:
I would say that the why is the most important thing. And on top of that when you’re doing it if the why is strong enough that’s going to really help you with the other part, which is realizing that you’re not restricting yourself from anything. You’re gaining a lot. So instead of focusing on what you’re going to be restricting, focus on everything that you’re gaining. And that should inform your why. Other than that, the stuff that you mentioned, you know I’ve heard your podcast and you’ve talked about it; it’s absolutely true. Make sure the protein is not too high, make sure the carbs are low, and make sure you’re not starving yourself of fat because if you’re getting rid of one fuel source and you’re not replacing it with another one you’re just going to be miserable.

DAN:
Absolutely. So how does somebody get a hold of you? You have a website. You have a podcast. If they want to connect with you, you have training plans. Tell us about that.

How to Connect with Brian and Danny

BRIAN:
So I have multiple websites. So I’ve got ketovangelist.com. Danny and I both have The Ketogenic Athlete. I’ve got Ketovangelist Kitchen, which is the partnership with Carrie Brown that’s all the food stuff. You can find us and contact us through any of those things. We’re on Facebook. We’ve got probably the largest keto group on Facebook, Ketogenic Success, and you can join that and learn a lot. We’ve also got The Ketogenic Athlete on Facebook. It’s another group. And did I miss anything, Danny? I think that’s about it, right?

DANNY:
That’s it. And if you want like pictures and recipes of all my food, my Instagram is @ketocounterculture because it is a counterculture. Pretty much everything I do is counterculture, so it just fit.

DAN:
That’s great. And we’ll link all this in the show notes so people can make sure they find you. This has been an awesome discussion. Unfortunately we are out of time, officially. So Jacob is – I think he just ordered a salami through Amazon.

JACOB:
I did. Two-day shipping Prime.

DAN:
Yeah, it should be here tonight. Thank you, Danny, and thank you, Brian, for being on the show today. We really appreciate it.

BRIAN:
Thank you.

DANNY:
Thank you for having us.

DAN:
Jacob, thank you.

JACOB:
Thank you.

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