Why A High-Fat, Ketogenic Diet Chock Full Of Saturated Fat, Coconut Oil & Butter Could Be Destroying Your Brain (& What To Do About It).

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genius life
Body, Brain, Diet & Nutrition, Longevity & Age Reversal, Podcast, Podcast-new

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Several months ago, in this weekly roundup, I commented about the book “Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life”, and said: 

“I’ve just finished reading an advance copy of this book, written by my friend and former podcast guest, Max Lugavere. At first, I figured it would be another “eggs, walnut and fish make you smarter” type of book, but instead, this manuscript took a deep, deep dive into specific genes that affect intelligence and how to pair them with food, mouthwatering recipes for everything from liver to avocado-salmon bowls, and some very good, step-by-step tips for optimizing your personal environment to enhance your cognition. It is a must read, with many pages folded over in my own copy.”

Max, a former podcast guest in the episode “The Surprising Facts About What Bread Does To Your Brain (And What You Can Do About It)” also created the documentary “Bread Head“. In the film, he explores the impact of our diets and lifestyles on brain health. In addition to being a filmmaker, health and science journalist and author, Max is also the host of the podcast, The Genius Life. Lugavere has contributed to Medscape, Vice, Fast Company, CNN, and the Daily Beast, and appears regularly as a health and nutrition expert on the Dr. Oz Show, the Rachael Ray Show, and The Doctors.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Why a decrease in walking speed and pattern, and forgetfulness of kitchen recipes in Max's mother inspired his latest book…10:30

-Why Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease drugs are so damaging…15:45

-The little-known but serious risks of MDMA and ecstasy…18:30

-Max's interesting perspective on dopamine and abstinence from hedonism…23:45

-Why Ben eats all the bones and cartilage and skin when he has chicken…33:15

-Why a specific population of Nigerians carry the genetic risk for Alzheimers but don't get Alzheimers…38:30

-The profound effect of ketones, fish oil and extra virgin olive oil on the brain…41:30

-How you can naturally increase blood glucose and ketones simultaneously…49:00

-The potential damage of using to much fish oil while excessively limiting omega 6 fatty acids consumption, and the actual percentage of saturated fats that you should eat…1:03:00

-When high HDL could be a bad thing…1:09:30

-Why Max is a bigger fan of tracking Homa IR versus tracking blood glucose… 1:16:45

-A blood test that can predict Alzheimer's…1:21:00

-And much more…

Resources from this episode:

Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life

23andMe genetic test

The Ketogenic Diet by Lyle McDonald


Mary Newport's books on coconut oil and the brain

Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan

Radical Metabolism by Anne Louise Gittleman

Are You A “Lean Mass Hyperresponder”

Episode Sponsors:

Kion Clean Energy Bar Stable energy, real food, no sugar crashes! Just a tasty punch of mouth-watering, chocolatey-salty-coconut goodness.

Blue Apron A better way to cook. Get your first 3 meals free using my link!

Harry's Razors Get the Harry's trial set, a $13 value, for FREE when you use my link.

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Max or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

29 thoughts on “Why A High-Fat, Ketogenic Diet Chock Full Of Saturated Fat, Coconut Oil & Butter Could Be Destroying Your Brain (& What To Do About It).

  1. Rock says:

    Over the long term, MDMA causes brain damage? That’s a pretty bold statement, especially considering that it isn’t well-defined. I agree that one should use caution, and if you are doing it every week for months on end you are probably going to get into a pit that will take a while to get out of. But let’s be clear. How long term is long term? What frequency of use are we talking about? Are there studies to back this up (especially ones that use the equivalent doses to what humans take)?

    Also, microdosing MDMA? Are people really talking about that? Because my understanding is that it only makes you anxious.

  2. luke says:

    I found this podcast so confusing! Saturated fat is bad? EVOO is good, got that. We shouldn’t eat butter? We should or shouldn’t eat MCT. I loved listening but i was also left completely confused.

  3. Emily says:

    How do we watch the movie? The link only takes you to a trailer

  4. Steve Margison says:

    Guys I cook my veggies in coconut oil and butter. Would I do better to cook with extra virgin olive oil or maybe a mixture ?

    1. Rosa says:

      In my opinion, avocado oil is best for cooking. Doesn’t impact on taste and can take high temperatures.

    2. radha says:

      If you cook in olive oil the heat has to be extremely low or it becomes toxic. I cook in coconut oil or butter with as little as possible than add olive oil after the dish is prepared.

    3. Damo says:

      Extra virgin olive oil is fine and safest. Its a monounsaturated fat. I think a bit of butter and or coconut oil is fine to but use in moderation!

  5. John says:

    Ben can you please do a podcast where you compare different diets something similar to joe Rogans recent episodes? Sometimes it’s hard to put all the pieces from your episodes into an actionable plan.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion, I'll see what I can do.

  6. Gary says:

    Well sourced ruminant animal fat sources are generally over 40% monounsaturated fat. I’m glad Max interjected that fairly low in saturated fat too!

    1. Mike says:

      what glucose monitor you using Ben?

  7. Natalie Nicodema says:

    Max, take your mom to see Dr Raphael Kellman in NYC, he has lots of tools and practices complimentary medicine.
    I feel your pain my mom had dementia also.
    I have ordered your book and look forward to reading it.

  8. Matt Lane says:

    Nina Teicholz deconstructs the Mediterranean Diet in her book The Big Fat Surprise. I’m curious if you have read her work and have found different supporting evidence or just disagree with her conclusions?


    1. Yes, she has actually discussed it on the podcast. Listen here: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutritio…

  9. Jim says:

    Max – you mentioned being cautious and mostly against utilization of butter due to negative effects of saturated fat but also said grass fed beef is good because being grass fed it actually has much lower levels of saturated fat due to non use of grains in the cow diet. My question is wouldn’t that same logic apply if using grass fed butter where the butter from the cows are grass fed? I would assume using grass fed butter would have less saturated fat and thus non harmful? Please share your thoughts.
    Thanks and great podcast!

  10. Paige says:

    What constitutes a high HDL?

  11. Dwight says:

    Ben, you mentioned that one morning after coffee and a workout your blood glucose was elevated to 117 and you ketones were at 3.8, measured by something called a “level” I believe you said. your glucose level makes sense to me but your ketone level does not. For me to have my blood ketones elevated to that level I would have to be 36 to 48 hours fasted. Also my levels drop after I workout. I realize our results will not be the same because of a lot of factors but I would be nowhere near your levels in the same scenario. My question is what is this device you measured your ketones with and have you checked it’s accuracy against a blood ketone monitor?

  12. Floyd Aldrich says:

    Well that was confusing,Sat fat vs EVOO . It seems so often people focus on some specific gene issue and ignore the larger population

    1. Max says:

      Hey Floyd, my recommendation for EVOO is for all people. It seems to be safe and even perhaps beneficial for the widest population, which is why I recommend it in my book.

      1. Chris says:

        What about just plain olives? I use them for a sizable portion of my calories while sustaining ketosis.

  13. Lise White says:

    Podcast mentioned Lewy Body Disease. That’s what Robin Williams had. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-lewy-body-dementia-gripped-robin-williams1/

  14. Ann Wilson says:

    I listen to you at the hospital where I work. I had to give up on a few fitness website podcasts because I cannot have the F bomb flying around during work hours. Can you maintain a professional presentation? I like your podcasts and the subject of Alzheimer’s if pertain to patients in this hospital.

  15. Ann-Marie says:

    Ben, if you’re going to keep starting podcasts off with disgusting slurping sounds, why not start them off with farting or belching sounds too? And then you can rename the podcast from BenGreenfieldFitness to BenGreenfield’sFrathouse.

  16. Dylan says:

    I don’t really understand why saturated fat is bad and damaging can you explain this further

  17. Brian says:

    what about ghee?

  18. Jacqueline Marroquin says:

    Ben, your episode talks about fake extra virgin olive oils. Please recommend brands for the best extra virgin olive oils. I usually buy Kirkland organic but if it’s fake I’d rather buy a different one.

    1. Mira says:

      Apollo oil

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