[00:39] Zip Recruiter/Human Charger
[04:49] About Mark Sisson
[07:43] Why Mark’s New Book Offers a Different Approach and How He Came Up With It?
[18:34] Why Mark Highly Recommends you Spend 21 Days of Low-Carb Before Switching to 6 Weeks of Ketosis
[30:56] Mark Explains Dr. Jacob Wilson’s Study on Carb Bingeing
[32:32] How Myogens Allows One to Gain Lean Muscle Mass While on a Ketogenic Diet
[37:25] Kion Lean/Oak
[38:53] Oak Meditation & Breathing
[40:30] Mark’s Take on Ketosis Promoting Insulin Resistance
[48:29] Will Drinking a Cup of Coffee Break a Fast?
[54:49] How Ketosis Can Reprogram Your Genes and Increase Longevity
[1:03:10] Mark’s Favorite Keto Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
[1:07:46] What Mark Eats Before Ultimate Frisbee
[1:09:18] Mark’s Take on TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy)
[1:17:49] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, you guys. I get to interview my fifty some year old clone in today’s episode. The Mark Sisson himself. I call him my clone because he and I share a lot of the same interests, however he is much better looking. He’s like the silver-haired fox whereas, I am the big lumbering gangly giant but ultimately, Mark’s a cool guy. I profess to be like him in many ways.
So we’re going to talk all about keto and no, it’s not going to be the same old ho-hum stuff you hear Mark talk about all the time because I didn’t want to do that to you guys, so we delve into some very cool things. I’ll leave it at that but this podcast is brought to you by actually by Zip Recruiter and if you’re hiring, you know that quality hires keep your business moving forward but it can also take a butt–load of time to find the right candidate for the job and what Zip Recruiter has is the ability to allow you to post your job to over a hundred of the web’s leading job boards with just one click so everybody sees it and they use this thing called Smart Matching Technology that notify qualified candidates not unqualified but qualified candidates who are necessarily French fry flippers but are actually people who maybe have that college degree that you’re looking for or that expertise say like, WordPress or coding of some strange computer language. So you get that notification, literally within minutes. Eighty percent of people who post on Zip Recruiter get a quality candidate through this site in a day. They call it the smartest way to hire and dare I say. I agree. It’s actually a pretty slick website, pretty slick dashboard and you get to post jobs on Zip Recruiter for free. That’s right, free. You just go to ziprecruiter.com/green that’s ziprecruiter.com/green.
This podcast is also brought to you by this thing that fixes the problem that the fundamental issue at least one of them with circadian rhythm dysregulation and with drops in serotonin and dopamine and deficits in mental alertness and mood relates to light and specifically our inability to get exposed to proper amounts of blue light or when it comes to the photosensitive proteins on the surface of our brain, a white light and there’s this device that fixes that. It passes a calibrated white light through these little MP3-like earbuds into your ears and they’ve done research on it and they found that it not only reduces the effects of seasonal effective disorder but it reduces the effects of jetlag. I use it to reboot my circadian rhythm when I’m waking up too early or when I need to get used to where I happen to be in the world. I mean, like light movement nutrition and those would be really the big three are some of the biggest determinants of how you regulate your circadian rhythm and the Human Charger is amazing. Just put it in your ears, go. Twelve and a half minutes boom! Done. So visit humancharger.com/ben and use code Ben20. You have 20% off of this bad boy humancharger.com/ben and code Ben20.
Alright let’s jump into the episode with Mark.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“But our self fasting is more like, okay, how long can you go without eating? Can you do a workout? A mild workout without eating and then not eat afterwards for a while. These are all indicators that you are becoming good at burning fat. And once you know that you’re becoming good at burning fat, from there it’s just a matter of finding another 40 gram carbs.” “During these 21 days we don’t recommend doing hard intense workouts because your muscles have not yet become used to deriving a substantial portion of their energy from fats. They’re still sort of carb dependent.”
Ben: Hey, folks it’s Ben Greenfield here and a few months ago I interviewed today’s podcast guest who is a former professional triathlete, accomplished marathoner and now one of the most respected icons in health and fitness. In one of what turned out to be my most popular episodes of the entire year was called Primal Endurance: How to Escape Chronic Cardio & Carbohydrate Dependency & Become a Fat-Burning Beast. Well, if you hadn’t guessed that guest is Mark Sisson of MarksDailyApple.com and also Mark Sisson of the Primal Kitchen which makes great mayonnaise, by the way. And Mark just released a brand new book called “The Keto Reset Diet Reboot Your Metabolism in 21 Days & Burn Fat Forever.” And I decided after reading this book literally yesterday, I wanted to get Mark on the show to take kind of a deep dive into some of the principles and the practices and the concepts about ketogenic dieting that you probably never heard before especially when it comes to ketosis.
And before listening in I mean, please realize I have a ton of articles and podcasts I recorded in the past about the basics of ketosis. Ketosis 101, what ketones are, how you get into ketosis, all that jazz. So just in case you’ve never even heard of the term keto or ketosis before, you may want to go back and access some of those other articles and podcasts that I’ve put out about this particular topic and you can access all those as well as the show notes for today’s show at bengreenfieldfitness.com/ketoreset just like the title of Mark’s book, bengreenfiedfitness.com/ketoreset.
And Mark admittedly, I am a little bit guilty having you on the show today because for breakfast this morning I ate what my children were so proud of having made but that was definitely not ketogenic. They prepared for me an oat-less oatmeal made with squash and bananas and maple syrup, so I’m a little carb-bloated as we delve into this discussion on ketosis, man.
Mark: I love it. I love it. Hey, how can you not eat anything your kids prepared so lovingly for you?
Ben: Well, yeah it was good. And they actually did put the entire can of the full fat coconut milk in there and they cut the maple syrup half and half with stevia. They’re doing a new food podcast now called Go Greenfields, and so every week they make a new meal or they go review a restaurant or they do like a plant foraging trip. So they’re really getting into it but it means that I occasionally am just having to eat what they happen to make so I’m not the dad who shoves my kid’s plates away with a turned up nose.
Anyways though, so this whole ketogenic diet, speaking of coconut milk, it has a reputation for being pretty restrictive as you know, and one of the first things that you say in this book when I was reading it yesterday one of the first things that leapt out at me is you say that unlike many other ketogenic programs that require challenging restrictions and deprivation or offer misinformation, this presents a unique two-step scientifically validated approach for going keto the right way. So I would love to jump off today by kind of expounding on why this book offers a different approach and how you came up with it?
Mark: Well, how I came up with it is I’ve been keto or close to keto for ten years and probably close to keto would be the more accurate term. So I’ve spent 10 or 15 years eating primal having already cut out sugars and grains and most legumes, having done the work cleaning up the nasty fats and oils in my diet. So I was at a point where I was [0:08:46.1] ______ 30 grams of carbs a day and absolutely stunned at how well I felt functioning extremely well, maintaining or preserving muscle mass. All the energy I thought I needed. Sleeping well. Never gets sick. Hunger doesn’t rule my life so I was sort of like, okay if this is all I do for the rest of my life that’s cool I’m good with that. But having written about keto for over the last decade and having observed a lot of what was going on in the keto world and being the inveterate experimenter that I am I thought well, you know what I’ll do a two-month keto deep dive for myself and I’ll see what I’ll notice.
And it was pretty interesting. I noticed some pretty profound changes. I had more energy and I already had enough then. I was able to thrive on fewer calories a day and hunger while I’d already had it well under control diminished even more and that was a good thing. No cravings and myself kind of odd as I could get by on less sleep per night. I think maybe that’s the benefit of the brain doing its work on ketones versus glucose. So I found a lot of these benefits that I was able to access even though I thought my life was great it was what I would call the next level primal stuff. The next level paleo stuff. And that’s me I was looking for you know, the next thing. And I know you’re that way too, Ben. It’s like this is a great life I have right now but what’s next? You know, is there more?
Ben: Right, you weren’t sick but you want to go from good to great.
Mark: Exactly. Or I want to go from great to exceptionally great, you know?
Mark: That was the original impetus for me getting into this arena. Now what I noticed is that really it was so easy for me to go keto because I literally only had to find an extra 40 or 50 grams of carbs a day to not eat, right? It was about the night carbs that I was eating mindlessly watching TV or something. You know, it was about just a couple of starchy things that I willingly gave up to enter into ketosis. It made the difference. So it was very easy for me to go from low carb to very low carb or from very low carb into keto because of the work I did in advance. And I thought well, if that’s my experience then it was so damn easy and the results were so profound. You know, maybe we take the average person who’s never experienced anything even low carb and kind of stair-step them down to
Ben: I gotcha.
Mark: To earn the right to go keto.
Ben: So basically, you didn’t get like this thing that a lot of people call the keto flu or experiences kind of like if you’d bonked during a triathlon or a marathon. You made the transition pretty easy because of something you had done before you actually went like a full ketogenic diet?
Mark: I stair-stepped my way down and of course, I did it a long time ago. So it was a really easy transition but the idea is that in order to take advantage of all of the benefits of keto and by the way, let’s just back up a second and say that the whole point of keto is to improve metabolic flexibility. Now that manifests itself in a lot of different ways, it manifests itself in the ability to extract energy effortlessly all day long from your own stored body fat. It manifests itself in building muscle even easier. It manifests itself in decreasing inflammation because of the metabolic efficiency you’re not burning off as many reactive oxygen species or pre radical damage. So the goal within the book and within my life is to improve metabolic flexibility and to improve metabolic efficiency.
Ben: Right, so basically you’re trying to adapt your fuel oxidation to fuel availability in a scenario where the body is actually able to take what you have any putting into it from a macronutrient standpoint and use that fuel source very efficiently. The concept being that the body has the ability to switch from one fuel source to the next based on what you feed it.
Mark: Bingo! And for most people, most people who have a carb-based diet they’re really good at burning sugar. They’re really good at taking in carbohydrate, converting it to glucose, storing it as glycogen or storing it as fat and burning that fuel in their workouts even in going about their daily lives. They’re really good at accessing a 120 grams a day from their liver to fuel their brain. Either their liver or the meal that they just had. They’re really good at burning sugar but they suck at burning fat. Let’s be very clear about this. Most people suck at burning fat. The converse of that is when you become really good at burning fat you also de facto become really good at making ketones. And by virtue of the fact that you’re good at burning fat and making ketones, you start to build the metabolic machinery that burns fat and ketones even more efficiently and unburdens you of having to take in literally any glucose but certainly less glucose.
Mark: When you’re a sugar-burner, that’s all you’re good at burning is sugar but you don’t really burn fats well at all and you certainly don’t burn ketones at all as witnessed by the fact that if you’re a sugar-burner and you skip two meals, you’ve got pretty nasty breath because you’re spilling out massive amounts of ketones that your liver is producing trying to keep up with your energy demands ‘cause you haven’t eaten the expected energy and yet you don’t have the metabolic machinery to burn that stuff, and so it comes out in your breath, your urine and your sweat.
Ben: Right, and it’s more than just being stinky by the way, you mention the liver and from what I understand when we look at the inability to be able to burn fats efficiently as a fuel especially in someone who just like cold turkey switches to a high fat or a ketogenic diet. One of the things I’ve come across is the induction of what’s called lipotoxicity which means you simply cannot burn those fats well enough you have what’s called the low triglyceride turnover, and when that happens you get accumulation of what are called the ceramides and diglycerides. And those actually impair insulin signaling so you can essentially if you don’t go about doing a ketogenic diet the right way, you can induce a form of toxicity.
Mark: Yup. In the old days of the Atkin’s keto program, it was go from 400 grams of carbs a day or 600 grams of carbs a day to 20 or 30. And it was such a shock to the system of the brain which was used to getting a 120 grams of glucose on its own and now it’s cut down to 20 grams a day. The brain has no idea what’s going on and has not yet been accustomed to burning ketones so the brain starts to frantically send signals to the adrenals to secrete cortisol. The cortisol goes out and strips the muscles of certain proteins and amino acids as amino acids go to the liver become glucose just so the brain could be happy. You by the way suppress the immune system you’ve done a lot of things and you feel like crap. Your brain feels foggy because it’s still not happening fast enough for that throughput that you required for the brain that was entirely glucose-dependent.
Now, if you go down the path of learning how to become fat and keto adapted and you build the metabolic machinery to more effectively and efficiently access stored body fat burning this fuel, make ketones in the liver, send those ketones to the brain which the brain by the way, seems to even prefer over glucose. You then get to a situation where you don’t even need to take any glucose and you could go the entire day without taking any glucose. I’m not suggesting that people do that but that’s how we’re set up and it’s an evolutionary adaptations. One of the most brilliant, elegant closed systems I’ve ever seen in Biology. It’s basically, we are wired in Robb Wolf’s book in “Wired To Eat” discusses this at length but we’re wired to eat as much food as we can cram down our pie hole because we evolve over millions of years in an environment of scarcity. There weren’t three square meals a day, are you kidding me? It was like when there was food available like, okay let’s eat that and …
Ben: Or if you were grazing you were grazing on like nettle or mint or plantain leaf and not like apple chips with canola oil on cane sugar.
Mark: Yeah, exactly. So over the years this propensity to eat lots of food and store it as fat was a good thing. It was a survival mechanism. So it’s great that we are wired to over eat and then store that as fat. It’s also great that given the right context we can live for the next two or three days without eating at all take that fat easily out of storage, use it for fuel as a byproduct of that part of that fuel partitioning, manufacture ketones, send those ketones to the brain to offset the need for glucose. As a result of that the acetoacetate and the betahydroxybutyrate which are two forms of ketones have strong epigenetic upregulating effects that increase the production of muscle and [0:18:08.7] ______ do not under the right circumstances, do you not lose muscle mass you could actually build muscle without eating for a couple of days. If you’ve done the work. If you’ve done the metabolic work if you’ve built the metabolic machinery to be able to handle all this stuff and that’s the beauty of the keto reset diet which is to stair-step you into this to get you to the point where you earn the right to go keto for six weeks.
Ben: Yeah, I actually want to ask you about the muscle-building thing in a moment but first is this the theory behind one of the first numbers that you throw in the book is 21 days. Is that the idea behind 21 days that you’re spending 21 days not going full ketogenic but basically beginning to restrict carbohydrate?
Mark: Yes. So that’s the introductory period; it’s 21 days to reset or reboot your metabolism. Twenty-one days to get rid of the sugars, the cakes, the candies, the pies, the sweets, the sweetened beverages, the lattes and also the refined grains, so the breads, the cakes, the wheat, the pastas, you know all that.
Mark: So you’re getting rid of those and what you’re left with is a pretty attractive cornucopia of food. You’ve got meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, I mean, all kinds of vegetables. You’ve got all of the herbs and spices and sauces and dressing and toppings that you could put on them obviously within that fit the profile. So you’ve got some pretty amazing meals that you can consume for having given up that other lift, right?
Ben: Walk me through what a typical day would look like on that first 21 days then.
Mark: You know, it’s an omelet in the morning with maybe a frittata with some vegetables thrown in there, a side of cheese, bacon if you want. Bacon is by the way, not obligatory on any of these stuff. Could be even a side of sweet potato fries for breakfast. You know, lunch could be a gluten-free pita, pocket sandwich. Could be a salad which is my favorite go-to lunch of all time. You know, dinner or afternoon snack a handful of macadamia nuts. A couple of spoonfuls of coconut butter and some beef jerky, something like that. And dinner could be some chicken with some grilled vegetable and maybe even a root vegetable ‘cause even that doesn’t exceed 100 or 110 grams of carbs.
Ben: Oh, yeah. I mean, well what you just described that’s not much at all, really.
Mark: That’s already really close to keto. And yet, you know it’s a pretty appealing menu particularly for those people who think that there are certain things that they must eat on a keto diet and certain things that they must not eat.
Ben: Right. What you’ve just described is somewhat similar to my own diet, you know still training and racing as a professional athlete I am indeed doing almost like a glycogen replenishment protocol in the evenings. And that’s not because I saw a performance detriment doing like a full ketogenic diet which I did for a couple of years on Ironman. It was more that I saw some hormonal issues which I didn’t like just trying to use a “natural” means like a ketogenic diet to achieve an unnatural end, pounding the pavement for 10 hours on an Ironman.
Mark: Now that’s exactly right.
Ben: Yeah, so for me I still do like sweet potatoes and yams and rice and stuff like that in the evening and then I’ll be ketogenic most of the day with the only thing that I do is I do before that dinner you know, I’ll use berberine or bitter melon extractor something that’ll kind of upregulate some of the glucose transporters to ensure that I am really shuttling that carbohydrate and the muscle tissue pretty efficiently and that is not creating oxidation or triglyceride conversion or things like that, but ultimately on this first 21 days the big picture, if I understand correctly, is you’re not being extremely restrictive. You’re not going through like a traditional whatever, 20 to 50 gram carbohydrate-based ketogenic diet, you’re instead kind of going ketogenic-ish?
Mark: Yeah, you’re going low carb. You’re going primal paleo low carb.
Ben: Okay. Got it.
Mark: And it gets your brain used to the fact that some of its energy is going to come from glucose but a little bit’s going to start to come from ketones. It gets your muscles used to the fact that if you’re doing a workout and during these 21 days we don’t recommend doing hard intense workouts because your muscles have not yet become used to deriving a substantial portion of their energy from fats; they’re still sort of carb-dependent. We’re going to get there but this is basically to stair-step you down so that when you do get and we have a midterm exam halfway through the book and you literally you have to earn the right to go keto from there. And we don’t use the numbers, we don’t use ketone meters and strips and urine strips and all these stuff because we can get into a discussion why that is later on but we’re just basically going how you feel. Like how do you feel when you wake up? And can you go X number of hours without eating and feel perfectly fine?
Mark: That’s an indication that you’re becoming better at burning fat ‘cause most people who don’t burn fat well and wake up in the morning and it’s like, holy, I’ve got to have breakfast. You know, for them breakfast is the most important meal of the day because the brain is so used to needing that first hit of carbohydrate to convert to glucose but our self-testing is more like; okay, how long can you go without eating? Can you do a workout? A mild workout without eating and then not eat afterwards for a while. These are all indicators that you are becoming good at burning fat and once you know that you’re becoming good at burning fat, from there it’s just a matter of finding another 40 grams of carbs in that daily routine 40 or 50 grams of carbs to remove to start to pull you in to ketosis. Now once you get in to ketosis now we are in a situation where we’ve lowered insulin enough that ketosis is happening in the liver because the liver gets the signaling that there’s not going to be any glucose or not much. That there’s going to have to be some fuel provided for the brain in the absence of this glucose. And I don’t know if you knew this, but do you how much ketones a liver can produce in a day?
Ben: I don’t. No.
Mark: It’s a 150 grams.
Ben: Oh, that’s a lot.
Mark: That’s a lot, man. And if you take a look at the energy demands of the brain for instance, that’s way in excess of the daily energy demands of the brain. And one of the things that happens when people get in to ketosis initially is, they start talking about the numbers. They start bragging about the millimolars that’s showing up on their measuring devices and sometimes it’s impressive. Some people can say, “woah, my gosh I’m at four or five millimolar on my glucose or shooting on my ketone strip or my breath meter.” Well, we’re not trying to have a contest about who can produce the most ketone. This is about becoming metabolically efficient and this is about becoming really good at burning fat.
Ben: And true efficiency because if you look at this from a biochemical standpoint and a Dr. Peter Attia has a great article about this. If you’ve taken Chemistry in college before you know that there’s an energetic cost to the use of certain things for fuel and glucose has a relatively high energetic cost whereas ketones do not. And although ketones don’t necessarily contain calories per se that you can actually look up and see on a label. What do you say, Mark it’s about 150 that the liver can produce per day?
Mark: A hundred and fifty grams.
Mark: I’m using a number that each gram of ketone displaces about if it displaces a gram of glucose it’s probably providing about five calories.
Ben: That’s exactly what I was going to say like a ketone is considered to provide about four to five calories per gram which means you know, if we are too conservative we say four, that’s still 600 calories of fuel for you to rely upon just from ketones alone which is very substantial.
Mark: Not only is it substantial but now it’s a closed loop. Like if you went a couple of days and didn’t eat which is the ancestral experience, to think that you have this stored body fat so if you pull 200 or 150 grams of fat out of storage, that’s 1,200 calories worth right there and then another and then produce another 150 grams of ketones in the liver, you’ve indigenously created 2,400 calories in a closed system.
Ben: Right. And not to mention, you’ve also got the decrease in glucose utilization and production and the proteins sparring effect which you’re not even including in that calculation and so yeah, it’s incredibly energetically efficient.
Ben: In terms of the state to be in.
Mark: Which is by the way, that’s rule number one in the evolution. Like how can I get the most work done with the least amount of energy and output?
Ben: Right. And honestly, admittedly, I break that rule all the time, right? I’m a bow hunter and if I really wanted to adhere to evolutionary principles I’d probably be a rifle hunter ‘cause it takes way fewer calories and your bear crawling lessen and you’re sneaking and stalking a lot less when you can take an animal at 200 yards versus having to sneak in within 40, but I bow hunt because I like it.
Mark: Of course.
Ben: It’s more fun. It’s more challenging but yeah, I get what you’re saying.
Mark: Yeah. So we’re back to talking about metabolically efficient human beings and metabolic flexibility which then allows us to use whatever substrate is available. To the greatest extent we can use it and with the most efficiency. So if there’s nothing available then you use your stored body fat, you create ketones. You make a little bit of glucose through your gluconeogenesis. You spare protein. It’s a beautiful closed loop system. If you’re eating and you’re eating a high fat meal then you’re able to extract the calories from the fat first because you know how to do that your body because it becomes so good at burning fat it’s become the preferred fuel even preferred over and above glucose. To the extent that you take in glucose through just choosing to have a carb refeed or falling off the wagon and having a piece of somebody’s cheesecake or whatever. It doesn’t matter in the body because you built this metabolic flexibility.
One of the things that happens is you don’t go into this foggy funk and so I exist in what I call the keto zone. So I’m not keto all the time, but I’m not keto probably most of the time. But let’s take a number of like say a hundred grams of carbs a day. I’m 50 points over or under on any given day. So some days I’m 50 under in which case I’m totally keto. Some days I’m 50 over which means I’m 150 grams of carbs but why does that even matter if I feel the same? If I don’t notice the difference because I’ve done the work, because I’ve built the metabolic machinery to handle the fuel that I give my body.
Mark: It’s a really interesting space to be in and I’m trying to coin this phrase and have it become kinda used throughout the industry here which is the keto zone. Which again as I say, doesn’t suggest you have to be keto all the time. It does suggest that you probably need to spend some time. It’s almost like training like, I’m not going to just jump at a 10K. I’m at least going to train for six weeks and if I train for six weeks I’ll do a much better job at my 10K, right? Well, I’m not just going to jump in to keto. I’m going to spend six weeks in keto, training for keto so that I can jump into a keto day and have it be with grace and ease and not noticing a thing and not missing a beat or get out of a keto day by having some extra carbs and not thinking about it, and not agonizing about it, and not beating myself up because oh, I said I was going to be keto and now I’m not. It’s really about how you feel. How do you feel?
Mark: And that’s the metric that we want to use throughout this whole thing ‘cause that’s really as you know, that the tagline of my company’s “Live Awesome” and truly how do you feel?
Ben: Yeah. I didn’t know that was the tagline of your company “Live Awesome.” I like it. Now on the same way, depending on which day of the week my wife happens to make a fresh baked loaf of sourdough bread but you kind of talked about this concept that you were just touching on a little bit in the book. When you talk about carb bingeing which I think is different than what you just alluded to, having a few extra carbs on a specific day, but you talk about a really interesting study I’m not sure if it’s yet published by Dr. Jacob Wilson that was actually done on carb bingeing. Can you explain what he did in that study and what they found?
Mark: Yeah, yes. So, some of them the carb bingers the ones that really binge tended to gain body fat and so that sort of speaks against this idea that one way to do keto comfortably is to have a cheat day, right? And to just say that you can even go keto all week to be really, really rigid and then have a massive falling out and binge on ad libitum on carbs. What they found was it takes a lot longer to get back into ketosis if you were starting from that point of view. They also found that people didn’t feel great. They felt kind of loggy and they stored fat at a higher rate than just somebody who was just say, just doing what I would call appropriate carb loading which should be something like you do the night before a hard glycolitic workout.
Ben: Right. And our entire weekend of carb but I thought it was very interesting though how the group that carb binged and this will be contrary to what a lot of people would have thought actually not only didn’t lose fat as efficiently but they also lost lean muscle mass while the group that was following the ketogenic diet without the carb binge, they gained lean muscle mass and you touched on this in the book. You talk about something called a myogen and I don’t see myogens discussed very much in books on keto. Can you go into the link between ketosis, myogens and the fact that ketosis doesn’t actually cause you to lose a bunch of muscle.
Mark: Yes, so myogenesis is the formation of muscular tissue and these myogenic factors are upregulated and it’s an epigenetic effect of ketones. Your upregulated in the presence of ketones. So there’s literally this opportunity to build muscle when you’re in ketosis that doesn’t exists when you are eating a standard American diet or eating a high carb diet. And it’s almost counter intuitive because most people think oh, wait a minute, “I’ve been in the body building in this industry, paying attention to what they say. They say, never skip your carbs. Always eat lots of carbs. Muscles need carbs to grow. You need to fill them.”
Ben: That or copious amounts of protein?
Mark: And or, I mean both usually most mass gainers have a lot of both but this idea that maybe all the good stuff that happens to humans happen when we’re not eating. You know, maybe all of the upregulation of the anti-inflammatory system. Maybe the autophagy that happens only in the absence of fuel. Usually, good things that happen and they happen in the absence of food. They happen when food is not present versus when it’s present. So this myogenic factors are one effect of a ketogenic diet so those back to the study those who stayed in ketosis maintained that myogenic factor release and therefore, preserved or built muscle.
Meanwhile, the group that went out of ketosis that another is carb binged and when they carb binged what happens is they just get out of ketosis. Insulin shuts off ketone production so now you have this bizarre situation where you’re brain which is now used to run on ketones has now had the ketones shut off. Has to go back to relying on glucose isn’t as happy believe it or not, with just glucose, a 100% glucose now would prefer ketones to certain extent and there’s this side effect of a release of hormones from the brain it caused the adrenals to secrete cortisol. Cortisol prompts the muscle tissue down to send a couple of amino acids to the liver to become more glucose for the brain and you literally lose muscle tissue.
Mark: So it’s a bizarre but that’s the entire sugar-burning paradigm which is if you’re a sugar-burner and you skip a meal or anything shifts on you, you are in deep stock because the brain expects glucose and you’re not giving it. Of course, we know the body doesn’t store that much glucose or form a glycogen, so you can’t go a day without eating, without suffering severe consequences.
Mark: So yes, that whole myogenic fact to the myogens is really interesting because it’s so counter intuitive to what people think about how do I the only way I must build muscle is by packing in the calories, lots of protein, lots of carbs. Pack it in, I’ll build muscle. When in fact, it’s not proven that a ketogenic diet a keto lifestyle, you can put muscle on, I mean, there are entire sites dedicated to it now. Keto Games is one of the top sites.
Ben: Yeah, it’s a great site.
Mark: Talks about how to build muscle on a keto diet.
Ben: Yeah, and that Dr. Jacob Wilson guy, he’s a skeletal muscle physiologist down in Tampa. He also has done some studies that show that, and this is probably why people who even consume lower calories on a ketogenic diet can still put on muscle is that it can lower the threshold to stimulate protein synthesis compared to being in a carbohydrate burning state so you basically need to eat less to put on muscle when you’re in a state of ketosis. So it’s really interesting how this kind of flies in the face of what a lot of people think you know, when it comes to restricting carbohydrates or restricting proteins but the research study show and I’ve tried this myself. My brother’s done it. He packed on like 20 pounds of muscle on a full on ketogenic diet. I’ve got a whole story of it on my site. I’ll link to it in the show notes for those who want to read. Or you can just Goggle him. He’s a model and you could see pictures of him. He’s keto Zach Greenfield. And yeah, I mean he follows his diet and just maintains muscle very efficiently.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today’s show to tell you about Lean. What is Lean? Well, if you look at this handful of blue zones or longevity hot spots around the world we find places like Bama County in China on the slopes of the Himalayans or Okinawa where we have some of the longest living people of the world and what we find is that in Bama County in China they consume something each day called the Rock Lotus which is like this potent liver cleanser. And then in Okinawa something very similar to Rock Lotus but more of like a blood sugar stabilizer that works really based on my own post prandial blood glucose testing just as well as the diabetic drug Metformin, it’s called wild bitter melon. I’m not a doctor don’t misconstrue this as medical advice. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent any disease.
However, wild bitter melon is what it’s called and it even activates what’s called your AMPK Activated Protein Kinase Pathway. And the activation of that metabolic pathway is very important when it comes to longevity and anti-aging. So what I’ve done is taking in Rock Lotus extract and bitter melon extract and combine them in one supplement. I take two before dinner every night and it’s called Lean. Kion Lean. You can get it over at getkion.com. Kion Lean. In my opinion, one of the best ways to get longevity and fat loss simultaneously.
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Ben: There’s something that’s kind of controversial, though when it comes to ketosis, Mark and that’s this idea about insulin resistance and from what I understand the argument is that a prolong state of ketosis could somehow diminish metabolic flexibility in some people by causing what’s called physiological insulin resistance that somehow the muscles because that you’re not producing enough insulin or something like that, they’re unable to respond to the signaling from insulin. What’s the idea behind that and what’s your take on this idea that ketosis might promote insulin resistance?
Mark: Well, you know there is discussion. First of all initially ketosis does rate at promoting insulin sensitivity. So initially people, particularly Type 2 diabetics who had insulin resistance their whole life find that there’s this amazing resurgence of insulin sensitivity. The insulin becomes now much more easy to store glycogen, to store sugar as glycogen for the muscles to take in nutrients. The idea I guess, from Mother Nature’s idea the theory behind why we would develop over time an insulin resistance is that you are now limiting the access to glucose to carbohydrate by your dietary choice. You’re teaching the muscles to become really good at burning fat. You are increasing what we call mitochondrial biogenesis. You’re literally increasing the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells and you’re increasing the efficiency of those mitochondria so they become more and more adept better and better at burning fat, less and less reliant on glucose from any source. Muscles still will store glycogen. There’ll still be restoration of glycogen after a hard workout because the truth is you can go at 85% or 90% of your max output. You can work your way up to that as a fat burner but you still are going to need some amount of glycogen to make up the difference on those high high efforts.
So the muscles do have retain the capability of synthesizing glycogen. There may even be a glycogen recycling process [0:42:54.9] ______ theorizes. But what it means and as you initially go into ketosis and get keto, the muscles now not having had access to glucose start they’re also yelling for ketones. Muscles are great at burning ketones if you give it to them. And so the muscles become good at burning fat, they become good at burning ketones but over time once the muscles become so good at burning fat they start to go, okay, we don’t need any more ketones. We’ll save those for the brain. And so you see that there’s a diminution of ketone production for those people who had been in ketosis for a long time, who have stayed in ketosis for years. They might not even register a .3 or a .4 millimolar on a test because their body is so good at producing the exact amount of ketones they need for the brain.
Ben: Right. I’ve actually gotten to that point and the only way I can get my ketones now, I used to be able to just fast and they’d go up and back when I was doing with Ironman I’d test and it would be one or three or four. Now the only way I can get that high is if I literally use exogenous ketones to just dump a whole bunch into my body otherwise yeah, I mean I’m using them so efficiently they’re not even showing up in blood tests or at least in much smaller amounts. Yeah.
Mark: And that’s a good thing and it doesn’t make you a bad person for not putting out big ketone numbers, Ben. Just so you know. You don’t lose that game, you win that game.
Ben: I know. I’ve been curling up in a fetal position and crying that I can’t self-quantify my ketones effectively.
Mark: Yourself. The quantifiable self.
Ben: But returning to the insulin resistance, go ahead.
Mark: So by way yeah, of explanation as to what’s going on here so it maybe that the muscles are doing the same thing now with glucose and saying, well, you know, we’re so good at operating without glucose that we don’t need that much and as a survival mechanism knowing that red blood cells need glucose that the brain needs glucose let’s spare what little glucose is coming into the body. Let’s save it for where it’s needed and let’s make ourselves a little bit insulin resistant. So we don’t soak it up as a sponge the way we would have in the old days. As in the old days, the muscles were like the first ones to fill with glucose as stored glycogen, the muscles and the liver. So that may be what’s going on. That may be this physiological insulin resistance, but you know I’ve got to tell you I don’t see it necessarily as a bad thing.
Ben: Oh no. I mean well there’s pathological insulin resistance which is where you get disease or adverse health consequences but if glucose is just rising in your blood stream because your muscles happen to be using fatty acids as their primary fuel source and the receptor sites to this physiological insulin resistance are turning like glucose…
Mark: And your stored fat.
Ben: It’s not as really a bad thing.
Mark: Yeah, you’re stored as fat but Ben, that…
Ben: And then you’ll burn it.
Mark: Bingo! That gets back to the original premise which is first of all people have to think of storing fat as not a bad thing but is an awesome thing. The fact that we stored fat is awesome because it was the reason that we’re here today. The only difference is that because food is prevalent at every corner and because we don’t do much in the way of activity we get caught up in the storing part of the equation and not the burning part of the equation. But the fact that we would be physiologically insulin resistant and shuttle those excess glucose calories into fat storage ought not to turn anyone off unless they tell themselves well, I’m over this keto thing I’m going back to where I was.
Ben: Right, yeah.
Mark: I don’t see that happening. I mean what I see from most people and what I see for myself is the reason I called this the Keto Reset Diet is I’m suggesting that six weeks that you spend in keto the one time will benefit you for the rest of the year. That you will be benefitted from the increase in mitochondria, from the improvement in metabolic flexibility. Even to the extent that you go off the rails a couple of times. Look I’m not advocating that you do this and then just go hohog with pizza and beer and ice cream everyday but I am suggesting that this is next level [beep] for a lot of people. For me, it’s next level [beep]. So I’m going to do this. We’ll first of all I do it a lot. I find myself four days into keto going oh, “geez I haven’t had any carbs for the last four days I feel great. I think I’ll hang out here for another week, right?” Then I become subconscious but the fact that it’s available to me to even make the choice or not is a result of the work I did during the six weeks of deep keto that I have that metabolic flexibility to even to chew.
Mark: And like I say, whether I’m in or out of keto now, I don’t notice the difference in how I think, how I feel, how I move in terms of my immune system because I have that metabolic flexibility. So I don’t think metabolic flexibility is negatively impacted by physiological insulin resistance.
Ben: Yeah, besides if I’m going to cheat I like to cheat on the good stuff. I’m kind of like a red wine, dark chocolate, sweet potato fry guy but when it comes to vices I am, you might consider this a vice depending on who you are, a big fan of my giant morning cup of coffee that I’ll usually have after I’ve woken up after an overnight fast. And I typically don’t have breakfast until about 10:00 or 10:30AM but I’ll have a cup of coffee around like 7:00 or 8:00AM.
And you actually have a section in the book where you talk about Dr. Satchin Panda who I just happen to be with. We were both speaking at an anti-aging conference over in Iceland and you talk about his laboratory research on circadian rhythm and restricted time windows of feeding and in that section you talk a little bit about coffee. What’s the deal with whether or not coffee is technically breaking your fast and how would it be that that would actually happen?
Mark: Well, first of all I have to say, I also enjoy my morning cup of coffee 100% and then of course a recent research there was quite a headlines a couple of months ago about coffee drinkers [0:49:13.5] ______ so I had to put that in my…
Ben: We’re smarter too, more sophisticated, we read the New York Times.
Mark: Yeah, but then may come along with the red wine and anything else. I’m back to kind of the initial statement I made one of the statements I made early on which suggest that the more time we spend not eating, the better our bodies are at doing the repair, doing the sort of anti-inflammatory process, preserving muscle. It’s those times when we’re most driving the benefit of a keto diet. So I eat, like you do although I eat in compressed window which is more like six hours a day. I eat from 1 o’clock in the afternoon ‘till 7 o’clock at night. Not steady, I eat at 1:00PM that I have a salad and then I eat dinner around 7:00PM and then that’s it.
But basically, what Dr. Panda was saying was that anything that you put into your body that the body has to work at to metabolize, and caffeine is one of those things and some of the other components of coffee that has to be metabolized by liver enzymes and your intestines. And so that just kind of gets the process is rolling of digestion which then become a little bit antithetical to the idea of your fasting.
Ben: Why with fasting somehow being like a longevity enhancing effect which what I know Dr. Panda has a lot of research on longevity and circadian rhythms and I know he talks about how meal timing and appropriate meal timing, and especially like a restricted feeding window can assist with like the gut microbiome, and insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial density, and lowered levels of growth factors like IGF1 for reduced cancer risk and I guess from what I understand his suggestions that anything, like any of what he calls a xenobiotic substance like a supplement or caffeine…
Mark: Yeah, herbal tea.
Ben: Yeah, or anything. He says that jumpstarts your digestive system and results in a disruption of your circadian rhythm that causes you to lose out a lot of the benefits of fasting, and so I kind of sort of see what he’s saying. I don’t think he’s going to take you out of like a state of ketosis or something like that but I don’t know, I’d have to see the bodies in the streets I guess, to know whether or not that’s true.
Mark: Oh, same here. Same here. So I’ve included the research that it’s actually in our appendix, added stuff, higher level stuff, trouble shooting stuff. To be perfectly honest, I’m not going to give up my coffee [laughs]. It’s a critical part of my day and you know, I could. I could ‘cause on a bed I can do anything, Ben. I could go off anything but…
Ben: Yeah, or turns to that concept of who wants to live a long time if you’re just cold and hungry and miserable for all 150 years, right?
Mark: Yeah, Roy Walford apparently, but you know, and he didn’t live that long. And you know who that is?
Mark: One of the original calorie restriction guys…
Mark: Anyway, yeah I mean like 1,200 calories a day for years at a time. By the way, much of it was carbohydrate which is a big mistake and that low intake. But our point here was with keto. What if you could achieve all the benefits of the Calorie Restriction Society without the calorie restriction? And I guess, one of the things we haven’t talked on yet but is really critical to this whole thing is appetite, hunger and cravings. One of the greatest benefits of going keto is this diminution of appetite, hunger and cravings. And most people live their lives as wannabe gluttons. I say wannabe gluttons and we are gluttons but the thought goes through your head well, what’s the most amount of this meal like and not gain weight? What’s the most amount of this meal like and not feel guilty. What’s the most amount of this meal that I finish and not be uncomfortable. But that’s how we live. You know, you just serve me a giant piece of cheesecake is that your idea of a serving? Okay, if that’s your idea of a serving then it’s just one serving, I’ll finish.
Mark: Versus okay, I’ll have three bites of that cheesecake and that’s a serving for me. I got it. I got the taste, I got the sensation. I got the sweetness. You know, I don’t need to finish it. I don’t need to make myself uncomfortable, and that’s one of the great benefits of keto and low carb in general is this mitigation of appetite as a leash on your life and how people live their lives from one meal to the next.
Ben: Which is especially a thought on my mind right now as we’re talking I’m tapering for Spartan World Championships which is actually this Saturday, right? So it’s Wednesday of taper week. And I remember back when I’d race Ironman triathlon and eat a lot of carbohydrates you know, my carb bloating week of working up to a gradual intake of 90% carbohydrates by the Friday before Saturday race day I’d be resting and not exercising as much but still famished. And now when I eat a lower carbohydrate or a ketogenic diet I can just bring calories from my usual intake of 3,500 to 4,000 a day down to about 2,000 to 2,500 a day and I’m fine as far as appetite regulation is concerned, simply because I’m in the same macronutrient ratio just fewer calories and yeah, it works wonderfully for that. But I think a lot of people really do know or like it’s not like groundbreaking news that a ketogenic diet helps you to regulate your appetite but I think there is something else that you discuss in the book that I haven’t seen talked about before and that’s not the ketogenic diet might actually affect your genes. What have you come across as far as what can happen with the genes in the ketogenic diet?
Mark: Well, I mean I’ve said this from the day of blueprint which was a tagline with reprogramming our genes for more energy and better health and longer life. I should be able to tell you now that so long ago that I wrote the book, but the idea of reprogramming your genes is not a new one, actually this is a new one because most people thought for the longest time that your genes were fixed and immutable and there’s nothing you can do about it. We now know that most of what happens is a result of epigenetic factors that turn genes on or off. And all we’re talking about here with the keto diet is that there are certain epigenetic effects of the keto diet or epigenetic effects of ketones of betahydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate and acetone that will again increase these myogens.
One example is of upregulating a particular gene that preserves or builds muscle protein. Another gene that causes the body to want to preserve amino acids in muscle tissue so that instead of deaminating amino acids because there’s too many of them in the body and that the amount of urine and starting over again with a new meal in four hours is the idea that we don’t need that much in the way of a circulating amino acid pool. Certainly not from meal to meal. Certainly not from day to day. It’s literally, I guess, from week to week if we could hit a certain minimum number of grams of protein intake worked fine. People think well, I’ve got to have 25 grams of protein at this meal, 25 grams of protein at that meal or 30 grams of protein at this meal and you know, the amino acids sink in the body, it’s pool of amino acids, it’s available for repair, rebuilding muscle, for making enzymes. It’s a pretty flexible and malleable pool that again if you cut back on the amount of protein you’re taking in, you actually alluded to earlier the fact that in order to turn on this muscle preserving component, this upregulation of that particular gene set, you literally have to decrease the amount of protein you’re taking. And that’s the body’s response like, okay if there’s not going to be plentiful resources to build muscle, plentiful resources from the outside let’s really preserve the resources we have on the inside. Let’s turn this into a closed loop for a couple of days. Recycle those amino acids. Use them sparingly. Certainly build muscle. Let’s not waste them. Let’s not pee them out.
And that’s another example of this sort of reprogramming of the genes. We’re just telling the genes, look I mean programming the computer is telling it what to do. Well, programming your genes is telling your genes what to do. And that’s based on the information that comes from the behaviors in large part here we’re talking about food. The information that comes from the food we eat that flips these certain genes on or off.
Ben: Yeah. One thing that I wrote about this a month or two ago this idea behind ketosis and in this case it was like actually using these fancy ketone supplements like exogenous ketones and these things that are being sold now to actually induce a state of ketosis. They found these in rodent models but I still think it’s really interesting. There’s this transcription factor called Faxo which is like a protein associated with longevity and what it turns out to appear to be the case is that when you consume something like a betahydroxybutyrate salt or BHP salt or you increase your own production of ketone bodies, what happens is you may not do what’s called phosphorelation of that protein. Meaning you get increased activation of this faxo proteins or more of them in the cell nucleus and they’re directly associated with longevity and things like the destruction of free-radicals. It actually looks like there may be whether by inducing ketosis or taking in ketones direct effect on longevity genes.
Mark: Oh, yeah. I mean, we’d take it back even a step further and say, imagine a cell in an environment that’s ripe with nutrients all around it and a cell which has a propensity to want to divide, to replicate and a cell thinks well. Jesus, plenty of stuff around here let’s divide. Let’s replicate. Let’s have fun. Party everyone. And that’s typical of what happens with people in general but you know, animals in general I guess, in equal and specific. Imagine that same cell now without any nutrients around it thinking, “oh my god what are we going to do here, there’s not enough food for me let alone for two of me, so I definitely am not going to divide right now. In fact, what I’m going to do is I’m going to look inward. I’m going to engage in autophagy. I’m literally going to eat some of my stack but I’m not going to eat good parts. I’m going to eat the bad parts. I’m going to eat the parts that were damaged protein, the damaged fat. I’m going to repair some of the DNA.” And so there is this house cleaning effect from a dearth of nutrients.
Now you’ve got not only the house cleaning effect and the repair of the damaged DNA but the cells taking longer to replicate but we know that certain cells have finite number of replication. But we really want is we do want ourselves to like exist as long as they can as that cell before they divide. And that may be one of the longevity effects of keto is that you create this environment where the cell is more inclined to do house cleaning to repair DNA and not want to divide, and therefore not speed up its inevitable end which is we can’t ignore the fact that we exist to pass the genes along to the next generation.
Mark: Humans are just bizarre permutations of millions of years of evolution of two strands of RNA and a primordial loose with a propensity to want to replicate.
Mark: So a cell thinking, “okay great. There’s lots of stuff around here. There’s lots of nutrients. I can replicate pass the genes along to the next generation even sooner. That’s kind of the evolution going. Okay, that’s my job. Just to pass the genetic material to survive long enough to get the genetic material into the next generation.”
Mark: We’re kind of cutting that off at the past with keto as saying, “nope, nope, nope we’re not looking, we’re not going there.” That we could do that if we just put gluttons all the time and age faster and die quicker, but what we’re going to do if we’re going to clean house and become healthier and live longer and, yeah. If I were to anthropomorphize the mindset of genes that’s probably how I would do it.
Ben: Cool. I like it. And you know, I guess, that means just at the Mexican restaurant grab the bowl of guacamole. Spoon that on to your plate to live longer. Skip the corn chips. I’m always the guy people get pissed off at the Mexican restaurant because I take all the guacamole and the salsa and I eat that with a fork instead of using the chips as a delivery mechanism.
Mark: Try the double carne asado with guacamole.
Mark: One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
Ben: Right. Exactly. And I was pleased to see that in the tasty recipes in the book you give me a shout out in the banging kitchen sink smoothie and you have a ton of other recipes in the book. And for people whose eyes have glazed over at the deep science, here’s a little fun stuff for you. Fun and tasty.
Mark, what would you say, you’ve got six weeks’ worth of ketogenic eating in this book. What would be your top recipe that you would choose? The one that you’re most proud ever close to the most proud of in here. The one that comes to mind as one of your tastiest ketogenic treats or meals?
Mark: Ah, Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi with brown butter.
Ben: Oh, I saw that one. That looks really good.
Mark: I mean, look they’re all favorites. I’m a pretty simple guy when it comes to eating. I don’t mean to say that wibbly but I enjoy every bite of food I put in my mouth but I have kind of a favorite five that’s my kind of go to dinners and I don’t stray off and from that.
Mark: In terms of my zodiac sign, I’m a cancer which means I’m a homebody which means I like my routine or whatever but I love a lamb chop. I mean, I could like just grill lamb chops and brocollini would be one of my favorite meals. I have a wagyu short rib that I make that the local butcher carries here that’s just literally to die for. It’s unbelievable. I’ll make that with some Brussel sprouts. You know to this day pretty much every lunch for me is a big [beep] salad. And by the way, that’s one of the interesting things about we talk about the keto diet, wait a minute, you can’t have a big salad on a keto diet that’s already too many carbs right there. Look if you look at big bowl of lettuce and chives and a little bit of onions and some celery and some carrots and some red peppers and some couple of cherry tomatoes, it’s probably less than 20 grams of carbs. All of which are by the way, locked in a pretty fibrous matrix that take a while to unleash itself. And then I’d put a 25, 30 grams of some form of protein whether its eggs or salmon or chicken or beef on top and then I douse it with Primal Kitchen Salad Dressing which is the healthiest fat you can put on a salad.
Ben: That’s so handy to have around. You put the mayonnaise, you’re Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise and by the way, for those of you listening in if you do visit the show notes I’ve got a little surprise over there as I’ve got a fat discount on the Primal Kitchen stuff if you go to the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/ketoreset but yeah, I’d drench everything in that and speaking of your mayonnaise, Mark. You know, I quit doing the big [beep] salad because I was finding that for like my workout like usually between around 5:00 and 6:00PM or so in the evening. That huge bowls of fiber just started to get me during my workouts, so I’ve switched it up recently and what I do is I take these miracle noodles which is still a lot of fiber but a little bit easier to digest, the insoluble fiber made from a Japanese yam. And I saute those up with some of a couple of things. There’s this guy named, Dr. Thomas Cowan who makes like an heirloom powdered vegetable powder in different flavors like winter squash and kale and three-fold blends and low-oxalate greens and I do that. I do a doll up of your Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise and then I’ll typically add like a handful of Macadamia nuts or a can of sardines or something kind of like on top of it. So I’m literally just having like pasta for lunch. I’ll twirl with a fork or I’ll wrap it on one of these seaweed nori wraps. That’s my latest thing. So I’m no longer doing the big [beep] salad but yes, you make a good point that mayonnaise works well on just about anything.
Mark: Well, and the other aspect of that is that people assumed, well I’m going to have bowel issues when I go keto because they’re all thinking back to the days of bacon and eggs for breakfast to [1:06:43.0] ______ with some plastic frank and cheese on top, whatever, no. There are a lot vegetables in… as a keto guy I probably eat more vegetable than most vegetarians. But when you break it down, most of these vegetables like I might eat three servings of what we would call a serving size, but for me it’s just a big heaping plate of broccoli, of broccoli steamed with some butter on it. I mean, seriously, might be 12 grams of carbs in that entire broccoli thing. There are no grams of carbs in either the chicken or the salmon or the steak that I’m having for dinner. So it’s quite easy for me to have a beautiful meal and maybe I’ll top that off with a paleo dry farmed wine, red wine that has no sugar and lower in alcohol. You know, tell me that I’m somehow giving too much up by having a nice steak, some grilled broccoli or steamed broccoli with butter on it with a glass of red wine. I mean, that’s just…
Ben: Right. Yeah. Totally. Hey, million dollar question. What do you eat before Ultimate Frisbee?
Mark: Yeah, so first of all I don’t eat before Ultimate Frisbee. So here’s what happens. I wake up that morning. It’s Sunday morning. So I wake up. I do have my coffee around 7 o’clock and then just before the game we play around 10:00AM so around 9:15AM I do drink a ketone supplement. I have found because I built the metabolic machinery because I know how to burn ketones, I’m benefitting from those ketone supplements during my 2-hour sprint-a-thon with these young bucks out trying to hit my [beep] on a Frisbee pitch.
Ben: I like it. I like it.
Mark: So that’s it. And then I again I get home and I don’t eat until probably 2 o’clock on Sundays. I feel so energized after the game but I’m not hungry and I don’t eat until I’m hungry which again we might finish around noon but I might not eat until 1:30PM.
Ben: Yeah, I’ve to send you a bottle if you don’t have them but one thing I’ve started to do before some of my longer workouts the more difficult workouts like that Ultimate Frisbee workout that you do is I’ll take those ketones but then I use amino acids. Not like the branched chain amino acids which has pretty high levels of leucine which can potentially spike your blood sugar induce a little bit of insulin insensitivity, but like an essential amino acids blend. And so I’ll take on aminos like about 10 grams of aminos a nice serving of the ketones and that’s like a non-calorie based rocket fuel when it comes to like a stack. So that’s something that I’ll do. The same as you like a ketones in a fasted state plus the aminos. Very interesting.
And for those of you listening in again, I’ll put links to all of these stuff. The keto reset diet, Mark’s ketogenic friendly food products like the mayonnaise of Primal Kitchen, some different articles and research studies on the things that we talked about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/ketoreset.
Mark, if you have time for one other question I know just in the week leading up to this interview I wasn’t going to ask you this but I know since you wrote an article on it, so I figure I’d throw it out there ‘cause it turned out to be relatively controversial from what I understand. You talked about TRT recently on your website and your own experience with using testosterone. You got a lot of interesting replies and comments on that. And so just as like a complete aside I guess, not much to do with ketosis but what’s your take on TRT ‘cause some people say like it’ll shut down your endogenous production and you’ve got to be on it for life and some people don’t think it’s natural. What’s your take on it?
Mark: Yeah, well first of all I’m 64 freaking years old so I’m at the point where I want to maximize my fun and enjoyment of life from here on now. And so I started doing TRT when I was about 60 or 61. I have an anti-aging doc friend who does a lot of research whose been advising people for a longtime and he’s been doing it for a while and he said, look let’s try, it can’t hurt. My free T which is really the testosterone that’s available produced was on the low side of normal. It wasn’t below normal but it’s in the low side of normal and his suggestion was let’s maybe raise it up to the mid-range or maybe even the higher end of normal and I thought well, that makes sense, let’s try that. I’ve done a lot of the research. Like I would not do human growth hormone. I wouldn’t touch that at this point in my life right now but I know enough about testosterone. My wife has been doing HRT, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for almost 10 years and it’s changed her life and I’ve talked about it on a bunch of other podcast. So it’s not a secret that I’ve been doing it. But I’m an experimenter, I wanted to see what kind of effects it might generate. I’d say there are slightly noticeable. I just went off for 60 days just as part of the experiment.
Ben: Oh you did? Interesting. So did you just feel like crap for 60 days or did it turn out to be okay?
Mark: No, it turned out to be fine. I went off for 60 days.
Ben: Of course, you’re living a pretty healthy lifestyle so.
Mark: Yeah. So you know, and I wanted to see if I could like wear my endogenous production would be at the end of 60 days and it was still at the low end of normal. So I haven’t lost any of my innate ability to produce testosterone. So I’m going to go back on. I do an injection 100 milligrams once a week it’s kind of a standard protocol for guys over whatever age. You know, look I was an athlete for a long time. I never not only did I not use any performance enhancing substances, I created my first company to create products that athletes could use to avoid getting tagged to enhance recovery naturally through vitamins and minerals. I spent 15 years as the Anti-Doping Commissioner of the International Triathlon Union, so I not only…
Ben: That’s right I forgot about that.
Mark: I wrote the drug testing rules for the sport of triathlon. I administered them. I oversaw every hearing for every positive test that ever came up. So I’m very aware of what people do and the benefits and so on and so forth, and so at some point in my life I thought well, you know, geez, I’ve been avoiding this because it’s the stigma maybe of having been an Anti-Doping guy and then I thought I’m not. What am I cheating at life? If I want to add more you know, like it’s taking creatine, cheating at building muscle?
Ben: Right. It’s kind of like our ancestors, right? I know that there were some of them and some that still do, they’d eat testies and gonads and the same way they eat liver and kidney et cetera and also use a mortar and pestle to make their supplements. So in a way, it’s not really flying in the face of ancestors. I was just curious your take on it. You’re a guy I look up to and I obviously I can’t use TRT because I’m still competing in USADA and a lot of sanctioned sports but it’s something that if and when I do hang up the racing hat I’m kind of interested in trying out, but I was just kind of curious to get your take on it and that’s encouraging that you were able to get on it, stop and still feel okay.
Mark: Yeah. I mean, you know, the primal lifestyle is about living awesome. It’s about getting the most out of life and for the most part that means doing things naturally. That means staying off the medical machine, off the medical assembly line. That means not getting involved in taking all of the painkillers when there are ways that you can manage pain more efficiently through diet. It means not taking anti-psychotic drugs because there are ways that you can manage that through diet and through other means. But taking a bio identical hormone something, I mean, look at all the people now and you know them well in the community, in the paleo community who take thyroid supplements, you know.
Mark: Is that cheating?
Ben: Thyroid, progesterone yeah, you name it, but thyroid’s a big thing.
Mark: Yeah, no but they’re depending on supplemental thyroid even though they’re doing everything else right and to the extent that you can dial in the exact amount. The minimum effective dose is what I would say is the appropriate way to approach this. The minimum effective dose then why not do that? It’s a choice I made. I’m happy with it and I’m good that I’m an experimenter I’m always looking for the next thing.
Ben: I love it, man. I love your experimentation. I love the book. “Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism in 21 Days & Burn Fat Forever.” Twenty one days and that’s the unique part of this book if you’re listening in. It’s kind of transition from low carb to keto. It’s got a lot of marked practical stuff in it, delicious recipes, it’s got Brad Kearns in it as well. Shout out to Brad, professional speed golfer who co-wrote this book with Mark or contributed to the book. So both great guys chock full of both knowledge as well as time in the trenches. So I recommend you check this one out and I’ll put a link to everything that Mark and I talked about if you just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/ketoreset. Grab the book, grab some mayonnaise, leave a comment or question of you have one and I’ll be sure to hop in and reply, and Mark, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all these with us, man.
Mark: Oh, my pleasure as always, Ben. Take care.
Ben: Alright folks, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Mark Sisson signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
A few months ago, I interviewed today’s podcast guest – a former professional triathlete and now one of the most respected icons in health and fitness – in one of our most popular episodes of the year, entitled “Primal Endurance: How To Escape Chronic Cardio & Carbohydrate Dependency & Become A Fat Burning Beast.“
His name is Mark Sisson, and Mark just released a brand new, excellent book entitled: “The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism in 21 Days and Burn Fat Forever“. In today’s podcast episode, we take a deep, deep dive into principles, practices and concepts you’ve probably never before heard when it comes to ketosis.
Mark is also the bestselling author of The Primal Blueprint and several other Primal Blueprint-branded books. His blog, MarksDailyApple.com, has paved the way for Primal enthusiasts to challenge conventional wisdom’s diet and exercise principles and take personal responsibility for their health and well-being. Mark, has a BA in biology from Williams College and is a former world-class endurance athlete, with a 2:18 marathon and a fourth-place finish in the Hawaii Ironman World Triathlon Championships to his credit.
Today, Mark directs his competitive energies into high-stakes Ultimate Frisbee tournaments against competitors decades younger. Besides blogging daily, Mark conducts seminars on the Primal Blueprint way of life and hosted 9 multi-day total immersion retreats called PrimalCon at locations across America and in Mexico from 2010-2014. He operates Primal Blueprint Publishing in Malibu, CA, publishing his own titles as well as work from other authors promoting ancestral health principles. Mark is married to Carrie and they have two children.
Before jumping into this podcast, please realize that I already have several articles and podcasts I recorded in the past about the basics of ketosis. You can find all those in the resources section below.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How Mark took the ketogenic diet, which has a reputation for being relatively restrictive, and instead presents a unique two-step, scientifically validated approach for going keto the right way…[7:40]
-Why Mark highly recommends you spend 21 days low-carb before switching to 6 weeks of ketosis…[11:30]
-How long it takes to get back into ketosis after a “carb binge”…[31:00]
-How something called “myogens” actually allows you to gain lean muscle mass while on a ketogenic diet…[32:30]
-What Mark thinks about some people saying that ketosis might diminish metabolic flexibility in some people by promoting physiological insulin resistance…[40:30]
-Whether a cup of coffee is technically “breaking” a fast…[48:50]
-How ketosis can reprogram your genes and increase longevity…[54:55]
-Mark’s favorite keto breakfast, favorite keto lunch and favorite keto dinner…[63:10]
-What Mark eats before ultimate frisbee…[67:40]
-Mark’s take on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and why he personally uses it…[69:40]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
My previous articles and podcasts on ketosis:
- 374: How To Maximize Ketosis, Should You Have Sex Before Competition, Do Power Poses Really Work & More
- How To Use Ketones For Longevity, How I Personally Use Ketone Salts & A New Chemical-Free, Clean Way To Get Into Ketosis
- Ketogenic Pizza, Ketogenic Toast, Ketogenic Cornflakes, High Fat Coffee & More: The Ketogenic Kitchen Cookbook
- 368: Building Muscle & Testosterone On A Ketogenic Diet, Food Combining, Psychedelic Experimentation, Natural Depression Remedies & More
- Cyclic Ketosis, “Thinkitating”, Bad-Ass Meditation, Morning Routines & More With Quest Nutrition Founder Tom Bilyeu
- Fast-Tracking Your Body To Ketosis, Biohacking Hypoxic Performance, Marijuana Legalization, Constipation & More With JP Sears
- A $17,000 Whole Body Healing Machine, Fish Oil Overdoses From Giant Steelhead, Eating Bones, Killing Tumors With Ketosis & More
- Six-Egg Breakfasts, Ketosis For Bodybuilders, Resetting Weed Tolerance, Kratom Experimentation & Much More With The Mindpump Guys
- Which Ketone Supplement Works Best: Ketone Salts vs. Ketone Esters With Dr. Dominic D’Agostino
- Elephant-Poop Coffee, Chocolate Ceremonies, Cold H2O Training, Holotropic Breathing, Nootropics, Ketosis, Meditation, Fasting & More: The Kevin Rose Podcast
- 362: Donald Trump’s Exercise Routine, Altitude Vs. Heat Training, Can Kids Take Smart Drugs, Can Ketosis Cause Muscle Damage & More
- Could This Ketosis-Based Elixir Hold The Key To Weight Loss, World Record Performances, Brain Healing and More
- Everything You Need To Know About How To Use Amino Acids For Muscle Gain, Appetite Control, Injury Repair, Ketosis And More
- Four New, Cutting-Edge Ways To Easily Shift Your Body Into Fat-Burning Mode & Ketosis
- Amino Acids, BCAA’s, EAA’s, Ketosis, Bonking & More With 41 Time Ironman Triathlete Dr. David Minkoff
- How Breath-Holding, Blood-Doping, Shark-Chasing, Free-Diving & Ketosis Can Activate Your Body’s Most Primal Reflex
- 10 Things Your Pee Can Tell You About Your Body: Taking A Deep Dive Into Urinalysis, Dehydration, Ketosis, pH & More
- 322: The Truth About “Starvation Mode”, Does Ketosis Work For Crossfit, Measuring HRV During Exercise & More
- Everything You’ve Always Wanted To Know About Ketosis But Were Afraid To Ask
- Ketosis Dangers: How To Maximize the Nutrient Density of a Low Carb Diet
- A Deep Dive Into Ketosis: How Navy Seals, Extreme Athletes & Busy Executives Can Enhance Physical and Mental Performance With The Secret Weapon of Ketone Fuel
- Combining Low Carb And Extreme Exercise – The Official Results Of The Great Ketogenic Ironman Experiment
- The Official “Ask Me Anything About Ketosis & Ironman” Premium Podcast with Ben Greenfield
- 245: What Are The Best Fat Loss Supplements, Controlling Blood Sugar During Ketosis, Natural Asthma Remedies and More
- The Great Ketogenic Ironman Experiment – Can You Go Low-Carb And Be A Fast Endurance Athlete Without Destroying Your Body
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