[0:00:58] About Today’s Episode
[0:01:50] Podcast Sponsors
[0:04:16] Runga 2019
[0:06:08] Guest Introduction
[0:08:49] Muscle Building or Muscle Sparing on Keto
[0:19:11] Whether the Metabolic Rate Decreases While on The Keto Diet
[0:26:59] How Ketosis Affects Glycogen Storage
[0:30:40] Podcast Sponsors
[0:33:42] Glycogen Repletion
[0:38:28] Most Common Mistakes People Make While on The Ketogenic Diet
[0:39:02] Being Concerned with Eating “Too Much Protein”
[0:52:26] Fats People Use to Get into Ketosis
[0:58:01] Oleic Acids
[0:58:47] Genetic Testing and Eating Omega-6s
[1:00:32] The Fish Oil Conundrum
[1:04:17] Liposomal Delivery Technologies
[1:08:07] Parting Thoughts
[1:13:31] End of Podcast
Ben: I have a master's degree in physiology, biomechanics, and human nutrition. I've spent the past two decades competing in some of the most masochistic events on the planet, from SEALFIT Kokoro, Spartan Agoge, and The World's Toughest Mudder, do 13 Ironman Triathlons, brutal bow hunts, adventure races, spearfishing, plant foraging, free diving, bodybuilding and beyond. I combine this intense time in the trenches with a blend of ancestral wisdom and modern science, search the globe for the world's top experts in performance, fat loss, recovery, gut hormones, brain, beauty, and brawn to deliver you this podcast. Everything you need to know to live an adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life. My name is Ben Greenfield. Enjoy the ride.
Well, hello. Today's episode is for all of you people who think carbohydrates are the devil. I've got my guest, Thomas DeLauer, on the show. He's going to talk about all the mistakes folks make on a ketogenic diet, how some of the modern bastardized version of a high-fat diet can come back to bite you when it comes to chronic inflammation. But it's not all bad news because we also give them some cool things about, for example, how to build muscle and enhance performance on a ketogenic diet and some of the ways that you can increase your brain health and a whole lot of other really kind of cool things I haven't talked about much before in the realm of keto. Not necessarily that I want to paint myself as a keto evangelist, but there are some advantages to that dietary approach if done right. And you'll learn how in today's show, which is brought to you by Kion.
Kion is my company where I formulate–think of it this way, it's kind of like my playground for all things health and wellness. I created it to scratch my own itch to take all of these different supplements and formulations and herbs and spices and modern nutrients and all the things that I've discovered to be able to formulate new supplements and to be able to give you really good research back, real-world tested supplements and foods. We've got the purest coffee that exists. We've tested it against over 45 different coffees on the market. It tests out as the highest most antioxidant-rich, mould-free, purest stuff you can get.
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Oh, and one last thing. Before we jump into today's episode, I want to tell you about this really cool high-end wellness retreat that I am going to be teaching at. There are only 14 slots in this thing. It's very high-end. It occurs in Napa Valley both this September and this October. It's called Runga and you get to spend four glorious days with me and my wife and a houseful of some of the best body workers and health experts on the planet, eating amazing food, doing Kundalini Yoga, doing breathwork, doing cold immersion, personalized fitness instruction, deep tissue therapy, movement coaching that I mentioned, the 5-star homemade organic meals. My wife Jessa will be there teaching food prep courses. I'll be there doing Q&As and just basically being with you, answering your questions, living in a very kind of like an intimate scenario where we're all in this mansion together in Napa Valley, this luxurious mansion in Napa Valley.
So, there's one in September. There's one in October. And to get in, you simply need to go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/runga. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/R-U-N-G-A. Share this with someone you know who likes to own nice things. It's not an inexpensive immersion but it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances to go to one of the most luxurious retreats that you'll ever experience in your life along with me and a group of homies that you get to hang with. It's going to be one of the highlights of your year, I promise. So, check it out, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/runga.
Well, there are a lot of nasty little secrets about the ketogenic diet that I think too many people are completely unaware of. For example, it can cause a buildup of a pretty wide variety of nutritional deficits. It can cause chronic inflammation, which a lot of people aren't aware of. It can create an imbalance in some of your omega fatty acids. It can exhaust your body's glycogen stores if you don't go about doing it the right way. And I wanted to get, for today's podcast episode, a guy who knows ketosis inside and out, and who has also been on this podcast before. He's been on this podcast actually three other times.
His name is Thomas DeLauer and he is really one of the world's leading experts in terms of nutrition formulating or nutrition product formulating chronic inflammation and the response of the human body to a low-carb diet. He is actually most well-noted for his personal transformation from being a 280 pound overweight corporate executive to being on the cover of health and fitness magazines. You may have seen him on the cover of Iron Man Magazine or Muscle & Performance or Natural Muscle or Icon or Platform. While his background is in sports psychology, he has branched out big time and he's really a wealth of knowledge on all things nutritional science, which is why I've had him on the podcast multiple times.
He originally appeared on an episode about quelling inflammation where we talked about curcumin and ginger oil and fish oil. He was on an episode about alcohol where he talked about whether alcohol makes you fat and what kind of alcohol is the healthiest and hidden ingredients in alcohol kind of like the ultimate alcohol damage mitigation guide. And then, he was in the recent podcast episode about magnesium supplementation, pretty much everything you need to know about dosing magnesium and timing magnesium and forms of magnesium.
So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to put a link to all of our previous podcasts, which are all very popular and very informative over in the shownotes for this episode, and you can grab the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ketomistakes. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ketomistakes.
Thomas, welcome back to the show, man.
Thomas: Ben, it's awesome to be here, man. Literally, my favorite podcast to always be on, man.
Ben: Well, thank you. You wrote me an email a couple of weeks ago and you were telling me some of these things about a ketogenic diet. I want to start on with the bad news. I do want to delve into some of the mistakes in today's show. But you were actually filling me in on some interesting things regarding a ketogenic diet that I think people would really dig hearing about. One of the first things you brought up was this idea of muscle building or at least muscle sparing on keto because that's like one of the big concerns for people is, “I'm going to lose all my muscle. I'm not going to have enough glycogen. I'm not able to stay, whatever, stay fit into my “Welcome to the Gun Show T-shirt” when I'm only eating coconut oil and butter. So, how does the ketogenic diet kind of pair with muscle building or muscle sparing? And you can feel free to define muscle sparing as well as you go.
Thomas: Yeah, yeah. I mean, this is a question that–it was coming up to me a lot because obviously, I'm a fairly, heavily muscled guy that follows a ketogenic diet. And I've built muscle while on the ketogenic diet. And so, people always ask me, it's one of those things like, “Okay. Well, whenever I go a little carb, I tend to lose muscle and it's like–so that's why I can't do it, et cetera, et cetera.” So, the first thing that I wanted to completely just get out in the open that if someone is a newbie to the ketogenic diet, let me first off say that you're probably not losing muscle, what's probably happening is you're probably losing intracellular water.
And that's just simply because when you don't have a whole lot of insulin or you're producing lower levels of insulin because you're on a ketogenic diet, the kidneys expel more water. I mean, that's just straightforward. They just expel more water and sodium. So, therefore, intracellular water goes down so your muscle volume looks like it's less. You didn't actually lose muscle. You didn't actually catabolized but you've lost water volume. So, it's set anywhere from 2.5 all the way up to 3.7 grams of water for every one gram of glycogen that's stored.
So, if you start draining glycogen at the beginning of a ketogenic diet, which we'll get into this a little bit later, but at the beginning of a keto diet, you do tend to drop a lot of glycogen. And then, as you become more keto-adapted, you store it again. So, you lose a lot of carbs, you lose a lot of water, so you kind of feel like you're deflated a little bit. So, for some of this new to the ketogenic diet, they do keto for a month and they freak out because they feel like they've lost all their gains. And then, the second they go back on carbs, they're strong again and they have the muscle again and they got up that keto diet and just lost a bunch of muscle. And as soon as I'm back on carbs, I got it all back.
Ben: Yeah. And it happens fast, by the way, because like when I was a bodybuilder–I mean, you'd show up for your morning weigh-ins and your morning posing. And you're of course drained of water and drained of carbohydrates and you do that morning pose and your freaking ass cheeks are in a full cramp because any muscle you contract just goes into a cramp because you've been, whatever, taking dandelion root extract and avoiding water for the past three days to weigh in. And then, you walk away from that morning show and eight hours later, you're posing on stage. But in those eight hours, I'd eat pancakes and ice cream and bananas and red wine and dark chocolate and everything I could do to refill my glycogen levels. I mean, you can see yourself fill back out within like eight hours.
Thomas: Oh dude, it's incredible. I mean, it's like we're talking. Like literally, I kid you not, I mean you can put on 20 pounds in a 24-hour period just by carving back up in proper sodium loading and water loading. I mean, it's unbelievable, depending on how much muscle mass you already have. So, that's just the first out in the open thing. If someone starts the keto diet, yeah, okay, you probably will feel like you lost a muscle. It takes a pretty serious deficit to lose muscle. And you as someone that does all kinds of obstacle racing and everything like that, you know that you put your body through the wringer and you still maintain a pretty darn muscular physique, Ben. So, I know that you're not just constantly wasting muscle. It's a lot harder to burn up muscle than people typically think.
Ben: Yeah, but I carb refeed like I eat a good 100 or 200 grams of carbohydrates in the evening, which honestly, compared to the typical recommendations for athletes, is still far below the 50% to 60% carbohydrate that you often see recommended. But I am refeeding.
Thomas: Yeah, you're refeeding at a much lower level than most people would say. But anyhow, the point is that as someone that puts their body through the wringer, it takes a lot more to burn out muscle than people generally think. There are a lot of these things that happen minute by minute. But the long story short is with the ketogenic diet, there have been studies have shown that just the presence of the ketone bodies alone decreases leucine oxidation by quite a bit, and they actually end up promoting a protein synthesis within the process. What's really wild is they found that when you have beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is the main ketone body in your blood, that there's a marked decrease in urinary nitrogen excretion compared to someone that's just on a regular carb-rich diet.
Now, that's pretty cool right there. I mean, so basically, just by having ketones present, your body is not executing as much nitrogen and you're not having nearly as much leucine oxidation. Now, leucine–that's the main thing that you really want to be focused on. And now, Ben, obviously, you're a big fan of the EAAs and stuff. Leucine is of course very popular, very important, and because it is so, so imperative just to overall protein synthesis but also just muscle sparing. So, it's pretty cool. You can actually find that this essential amino acid is really just preserved. And this particular study found that leucine oxidation ended up decreasing between 18% and 41%. And what was really cool is that the incorporation of that leucine into actual skeletal muscle protein increased between 5% and 17%. So, in that —
Ben: Okay. So, to interrupt real quick, what you're saying is that when your beta-hydroxybutyrate levels go up with that being the major ketone body that you're going to see increase from either ketone ingestion or MCT oil ingestion or carbohydrate limitation or all three, leucine gets oxidized more slowly and that then promotes protein synthesis or muscle sparing.
Thomas: Correct. Yup. I mean, that's really what we're focusing on. That's what a big goal is. So, then if you have more leucine coming in, whether it'd be through EAAs or whether it'd be through actual protein consumption while on a ketogenic diet, you have the ability to potentially keep protein synthesis elevated. Now of course, as you well know, you know a lot about the whole mTOR pathway. You're someone that I actually look up to in that world because you've spoken on it and it just fascinates me and the rabbit holes that you can go down that are just far beyond my knowledge based on it. But of course, there are other factors, but when you couple that with your mTOR activation at the right time by being in–still being able to be in a calorie deficit yet activating mTOR but still also having beta-hydroxybutyrate present, it leads you to believe based on the data and based on my own testing that I don't myself that you could actually be in somewhat of a deficit and actually still get leaner and somehow build muscle. It's pretty wild, I mean, if you kind of add up the studies.
Now, that's going out on a limb. I mean, the basics are like if you have BHB present then sure, leucine oxidation is going to decrease, which means that you actually lend yourself better to being able to be in a calorie deficit and not burn up your muscles. The trick is like with bodybuilders, a lot of times what they'll do is they'll go low-carb and they don't necessarily go keto, they drop all their carbs out of the equation, they eat a bunch of protein, they eat super lean, and then they always complain about why they're losing a bunch of muscle in the process during their “cutting cycles.” Well, if they actually focused a little bit more towards actually getting the fats higher and not being as worried about such an extreme calorie deficit and gave themselves a little bit more time, they preserve a heck of a lot more muscle.
Ben: One of the things that I think should be emphasized here though, and correct me if I'm wrong on these studies, is that if you're going to be on a ketogenic diet or kind of a close corollary fasting, and you want to get the muscle sparing effect, you still must have enough amino acids, and also preferably an anabolic stimulus such as weight training to be able to really take full advantage of that decrease in leucine oxidation because otherwise, you still are going to see some oxidation of amino acids but it's going to come from your own skeletal muscle mass.
So, I think that that's probably–you know, I know we're going to delve into mistakes later on but that's probably a mistake right there is people get on a ketogenic diet. They hear about this magical thing called gluconeogenesis that you might get from protein, getting converted into sugars. They're concerning that might raise their blood sugar or rip them out of a ketogenic diet and they see that muscle loss occur when, in fact, what you should be doing is limiting carbohydrate consumption, weight training, and then also introducing enough amino acids and enough protein to be able to take full advantage of that, that protein sparing or that muscle sparing effect of a ketogenic diet.
Thomas: Yeah, precisely. You nailed it.
Thomas: That stimulus of weight training is so critical to the ketogenic diet, and I can't overemphasize that enough. That's the stimulus that you need because a decrease in leucine oxidation is all fine and dandy but it doesn't do you a whole lot of good unless you have a stimulus that's going to help preserve muscle through another pathway, too. We certainly are speaking to a little bit more of an athletic crowd in this particular instance, people that are moderately muscled, they're heavily muscled that are concerned with doing the keto diet because they feel like they're going to lose muscle.
The trick is, like I've always said, is while you're on a ketogenic diet, utilize the creatine phosphate system in your body, which isn't really operating on carbs for lack of a better way of saying it. It's more just flat out chemical process. So, you can lift heavy. You might not have as much rep range or strength within that 8 to 12 rep range but you can still lift heavy and activate the different pathways that are going to really take advantage of that extra protein synthesis and that decrease in leucine oxidation.
Ben: Yeah. I know a lot of people ask this, and so I want to comment on this. People say, “Well, how much protein will enhance that muscle sparing effect or even allow one to build muscle on a ketogenic diet?” From the literature that I've seen, it comes out to somewhere in the range of, if you were going to do the math, about 0.55 grams per pound minimum. I think that for at least the muscle building effect, you want to get up closer like the 0.8 grams per pound range for your protein intake.
Thomas: There's no real reason to go above that unless there's serious training demand that warrants it.
Ben: Okay. So, when it comes to the next thing that you had mentioned in your email to me, you talked about the metabolic rate. And there is I think some suspicion out there that by lowering carbohydrate consumption to a certain threshold, you might see inadequate conversion of T4 to T3 hormone, or you might see some resetting of the metabolic setpoint that would lower your resting metabolic rate. Is there any data out there about the link between a ketogenic diet and metabolic rate, and does the metabolic rate actually decrease based on what you've seen?
Thomas: Well, there have been studies that have shown that the metabolic rate decreases in a calorie deficit period, right? So, when you're talking about —
Ben: Long-term calorie deficit like four-plus weeks.
Thomas: Exactly, because that's–again, we can go down a different rabbit hole of like what defines a calorie deficit. I'm not eating at this very important time, Ben, so am I technically in a calorie deficit? So, it's, yeah, how long do you look at it, what space and time you look at it. But yeah, for long-term, we're talking usually three weeks up. But yeah, so there are studies that have shown that so we know, sure, that there can be a decline but it's not really–it's correlated directly with the weight loss, generally. So, that's your resting metabolic rate. When you lose weight, you're not going to magically just incinerate as many calories as you did at 200 pounds, at 150 pounds. That's not going to happen. There are ways that that could happen but your body is smaller, like the thermic effect, everything is just–it's just less. You just don't need as much.
Ben: Yeah. And by the way, to comment on that, sorry to interrupt, when I ran a physiology lab, the people who came in with the highest metabolic rates were the most obese or overweight people because their bodies were actually having to work to sustain that mass to breathe against that mass and to sustain a normal metabolism against that mass. And so, I think a lot of people think, “Well, you get fat because your metabolic rate is low.” It's not that common.
Thomas: No, it's really not. And the T3/T4 thing is pretty interesting too because there have been a few studies that have shown that while you're on a ketogenic diet, you usually see a small decline in T3 but no change in T4, and generally, no change in thyroid-stimulating hormone. So, it's kind of interesting. Now, here's what's really wild, and I just found this out a couple of weeks ago, man. What's interesting is that, did you know that the metabolism of glucose itself takes a significant amount of T3 that's allocated specifically just for glucose metabolism?
Thomas: Yeah. So, this is cool stuff. So, now, it's actually connecting the dots where it's like, “Okay, we definitely did see like a small decline, not huge but a small decline in T3 and people that are on a ketogenic diet, but no change in T4 and no change in TSH. So, this is kind of implying that there's nothing like really going on other than decreased levels of T3 at that point in time.” So, then when they start finding that, “Oh well, glucose metabolism itself requires T3, and there's a portion of our T3 that is specifically allocated to glucose metabolism and nothing else.” So, when glucose metabolism is less because you're on the ketogenic diet, then, of course, it would make sense that your overall T3 levels that are measured are going to be less.
So, that's just kind of like, “Ah, okay, big aha moment for the ketogenic community.” It was like that explains this crazy thing because there are a lot of women in particular that were very concerned about that. I know a lot of our mainstream medical really instills a lot of fear surrounding the thyroid, particularly with women because I think that's usually an angle for them. So, I would get a lot of women that would come to me and hit my contact form page and say, “I'm afraid of the keto diet because I know my thyroid would crash.” But that's kind of [00:22:47] ______. That's just an interesting thing because you mentioned thyroid. But what's interesting with the ketogenic diet, the simplest way to explain it is, like I said earlier, if you have a 200-pound person that reduces their weight down to 150 pounds, their metabolism is going to adjust at a relative level to the fact that they're 150 pounds not 200 pounds now.
So, what was wild is this particular study, probably one of my favorite ones to reference, so there's a group of 20 obese patients and they had them go throughout just a low-calorie keto diet to instill weight loss. They wanted to induce weight loss. So, they were having like a 600/800 calorie deficit. They had them lose approximately 45 pounds over the course of four and a half months. What they found is that those that lost weight on the ketogenic diet didn't have any significant differences in their overall resting metabolic rate, whereas, those that lost weight without the ketogenic diet did have a slowdown in their resting metabolic rate.
Now, this doesn't mean that it's going–it's not the gospel. It doesn't mean it's going to be that way for everybody or it's going to be that way long-term. But over four or five months, this is pretty fascinating to see that when you lose weight via a ketogenic diet, you actually end up keeping roughly the same metabolism that you did, at least up to this 45-pound mark. Now, that's pretty cool because that just means that, okay, you can keep your metabolism a little bit more elevated. Now, I'm going to go out in the limit. I'm going to say that probably has something to do with the elevation of uncoupling protein-1 and the migration of some of the white fat over the brown fat just by getting fat-adapted. That's probably the case. You're probably just generating more brown fat, which is generating a little bit more heat. And at some point, that's going to stop, but still pretty cool for the short-term weight loss that you can lose a pretty large amount of weight in a short amount of time and not have a huge effect on your metabolism.
Ben: Yeah. And it should be noted too on some of these energy expenditure studies on carbohydrate limitation or even ketosis. I've seen some studies where they're not only using a resting metabolic rate analysis where you go into a lab and you put on a mass that measures how much carbon dioxide you're breathing out and how much oxygen that you're breathing in to analyze something called your RQ, your respiratory quotient, but they also have used a relatively new state-of-the-art technology that is called doubly labeled water. Even those studies, there's a couple of them you can find on PubMed. If you're listening and you just want to go to PubMed and do a search for a ketogenic diet metabolic rate, you'll note that there's some pretty robust technology that they've used to measure this. And it's shown over and over again that yeah, long-term calorie restriction can decrease metabolic rate, but the simple presence of a high-fat, low carb or a ketogenic diet does not appear even with body fat loss and overweight or obese people to decrease the metabolic rate.
So, I think the trick here is to of course make sure that, as we saw on the famous Biggest Loser phenomenon, not to pair calorie restriction and/or carbohydrate restriction with very excessive levels of physical activity for long periods of time without refeeds. I think that's where people paint themselves into a corner and decrease their metabolic rate.
Thomas: Yeah, totally. Yeah. And there's an opening up–starting to open up a can of worms with the ketogenic diet and the leptin response. It's all uncharted territory right now because people are now just getting interested about exactly what you're alluding to. Even on a ketogenic diet, we could probably do a whole separate topic on this alone, but there is very solid warrant for refeeds, whether they'd be carbohydrate refeeds or just high-calorie refeeds within the ketogenic realm. It's very important because leptin responds–all that still has a very important factor in this.
Ben: Yeah. Most of the athletes are very active individuals I work with. They, like me, will eat 100 to 200 grams of carbohydrates with their evening meal. And even the more sedentary less active folks who I train who have got on a low-carb, high-fat protocol, they've still got one day of the week where they're either eating ad libitum or they have like a big refeed meal. So, it's something that I certainly incorporate whenever I'm making nutrition recommendations. Another question related to carbohydrate is this thing about glycogen, like people get concerned that you're–especially athletes, they're going to exhaust their glycogen storage. They're going to run out of that storage carbohydrate that they might need for intense activity. What's the story right now with ketosis and glycogen storage?
Thomas: When you are first getting started on a ketogenic diet, your body will tap into its glycogen storage. But for all intents and purposes, the all analogy that's put out there to make things really simple for people is actually quite wrong. A lot of times people will say like, “You'll go through your blood glucose, you'll burn through that, and then the next thing, you'll burn through your glycogen. And then, once you're burned through your glycogen, your body starts tapping into fat.” That's kind of true when you first start the ketogenic diet, but once your body is what's called fat-adapted–which is a buzz term right now and it drives me crazy because it really is a real thing but it gets thrown around way too much.
Well, when you do become more fat-adapted where basically your mitochondria just become efficient at utilizing the fat or the ketones, then what ends up happening is your body actually preferentially uses those ketones. So, what ends up happening is you still have a lot of glycogen stored in your muscle. Now, this happens two ways. The simplest way is the fact that you are still having small amounts of carbohydrates come in your body throughout the course of the day. And they're still going to come in. They're still going to come in from your veggies. They're still going to come from little bits of starches. They're going to come in from fiber things like that. Okay. They're still going to come in, and eventually, they're going to trickle over and they're going to store, and they're going to aggregate, and they're going to build up in your muscles and your liver.
Now, your body is now wanting to use fats. It's its main fuel source, and that's mainly what you're priming in. So, that glucose that you're consuming, those small amounts, some of it is getting used by the brain but the rest of it is still going and getting stored. So, over time, you still build up muscle glycogen. But the cool thing is now you go and you work out. Well, your body is still using fats, for the most part, depending on the situation, which means that your muscle glycogen is actually still staying retained. So, you reserve basically this glycogen to be used when needed. Now, the other way that this happens is through gluconeogenesis, which is people jump on the bandwagon and be like, “Gluconeogenesis is bad.” We'll talk about this later, Ben, but I know we definitely will because you mentioned you want to talk about it for sure.
But you know, gluconeogenesis basically, the conversion of protein into glucose, very, very good thing. It's a very good thing, very natural process, and it's always happening, and it's always, always happening. And it's going to end up putting the carbohydrates that are created from protein into the muscle. So, we actually still store glycogen from our protein just as we would from carbohydrates. So, it's really cool as if like, “If I were to go out and I were to go for a run right now at maybe 60% of my max heart rate, I would probably, for the most part, be using fatty acids or ketones and some glucose because I'm pretty keto-adapted.”
But as soon as I hit a hill and I have to tap in an aerobic system, general theory would have it that I would fall on my face. I wouldn't have any energy because I wouldn't have the carbohydrates to pull from. But the fact is is I've become what's called dual fueled. It means my body, in the presence of these ketones, will operate off. But when I have to tap into my glucose, it will have that readily available, and the mitochondria will be just totally jazzed and ready to rock and roll with it. And it's simply because I still do have a lot of glycogen available because of gluconeogenesis and because of the fact that the ketosis process in itself is very glycogen sparing. I know that's a wraparound way of saying it, but it basically means that when you're in keto, you still have a bunch of glycogens and you can still tap into it when you ask for it.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show to tell you about Vuori. What is Vuori? Is it toothpaste? Is it soap? Is it some biohacking technology? No, it's clothing. Half the time you see me in a photograph, I'm wearing Vuori because it is comfortable. It lets your balls breathe. It's amazingly–this is a performance apparel company that created some really versatile clothing that can be used for just about any activity like running or training or spinning or yoga. But it's great to cruise around in the rest of the day as well or pop into a dinner or a cocktail party with. It's an athletic clothing company that finally is focused on dudes. And they have this new spring collection that is absolutely amazing. They have their new core short, their bank shorts.
I like to put these things on because my whole body just feels like it can breathe. But I can also, at the drop of a hat, go do a workout. If I need to walk into a meeting, I still look pretty good for a meeting. It's not quite a suit and tie but I'm not a suit and tie guy. So, it's called Vuori, but it's spelled differently, like what you'd expect. It's V-U-O-R-I. So, you go to vuoriclothing.com, if I can talk, V-U-O-R-Iclothing.com and you use code BENG25 at checkout. You get 25% off your purchase at Vuoriclothing.com, code BENG25 at checkout. It gives you 25% off.
Hey, I also have some pretty cool news about this biohack I guess you would call it called the Halo. It's a form of cranial stimulation. It uses this mild electrical signal and it increases your ability to be able to call on new motor neurons when you're strength training, playing a musical instrument, learning anything. It's used widely now by the military and Olympic teams, by players across the NBA and the NFL and the UFC and the PGA Tour. But it looks like a pair of high-end headphones, like Beats by Dre or something like that. But it sends this electrical stimulation to your brain to the part of the brain that controls movement and it puts your brain into this state of what the neuroscientists call hyper-learning; hyper-learning, hyperactivity.
So, anyways, anybody can get this now, and they just redid it as the Halo 2. So, it's upgraded and it has even more features. You can go read about all the new features and try one of these things out for yourself. And you can get it for less than half the price of the first version. I want to give you this code. So, you go to Halo Neuro, like H-A-L-O N-E-U-R-O, haloneuro.com, and use code GREENFIELD. That easy. Pick one up, try it before workout, I guarantee you'll notice a big difference [00:33:35] ______ you play musical instrument or paint or go bird watching too, it makes just about anything better.
And there was a very interesting study on ultra-marathoners and Ironman athletes. The keto-adapted them for like 20 months before this study. So, they obviously followed this diet for a pretty long period of time. And then, they looked at their rate of glycogen repletion post-exercise compared to the athletes who are on a high-carb diet, and the low-carb athletes, after the exercise, consumed like barely any carbs, like four grams, whereas the high-carb group did what they were supposed to and they were taking like 40 to 50 grams, at least what they were supposed to base on whatever the Gatorade Sports Science Institute recommendations.
But then they measured their rate of glycogen repletion and they were actually very, very similar. And the hypothesis by the researchers was that in the people who weren't eating a lot of carbs post-workout but still getting their glycogen restored that it came from a few different sources; number one, a lot of people aren't aware of this but lactic acid can be used to make glucose in the liver. And then, you also have the fact that gluconeogenesis, like you mentioned, from protein sources can also be used, and you can even use the glycerol backbone of fats to generate some amounts of glucose as well. And then, that just gets transported to muscle tissue and stored as glycogen.
And they've also looked at this with resistance training, and they found that even if you don't eat carbohydrates after a high-intensity resistance workout, if you just take in like protein, which we already mentioned, when you combine that with the lactic acid that you've already got in your system, what's called exercise-induced lactate, you see a replenishment of glycogen storage that's almost the same as if you finish your weight training workout and had your sweet potatoes and your Jamba Juice and your maltodextrin and your fructose and everything. So, it's very interesting, but again, these are in folks who have kind of stuck with this diet for long enough to begin to recognize some of these beneficial metabolic changes.
Thomas: Yeah. No, exactly. And the Cori cycle is just such a fascinating thing. I mean, the ability to take that basically a byproduct of our activity, it's like basically describing almost a turbo, a hybrid motor combined with a turbo. It's really interesting. It's like we're able to take our own energy byproduct and force it back into another energy substrate. Yeah. I think that study that you were talking about, that's probably the Jeff Volek one, which is a pretty popular one, pretty well-known. Yeah, it's so awesome. And they actually ended up being like 88% versus 56% in terms–88% in the low-carb group, 56% in the non-low-carb group in terms of the contribution of fat during exercise.
So, to make matters even better with that study, what they looked at was not only was glycogen replenish more but adipose tissue and fatty acid oxidation ended up being utilized or fatty acids ended up being utilized a lot more than the other group. So, you actually had the potential to having a body composition change too in addition to that.
Ben: Yeah. Dirty little secret. I was actually in that study. I was one of the adopted people. I remember quite notably because I was ketogenic but I was also eating a shit ton of calories–you know, I was still taking in a lot of coconut oil and organ meats and fatty fish and I walked into the lab on the first day and they gave me my pre-workout meal for dinner the night before the workout, which was a three-hour run on a treadmill. And it was like one strawberry in a small cup of heavy cream with–I think they had a little bit of whey protein in there, a paltry meal. And I remember laying in bed that night knowing I had to run on a treadmill for three hours the next day and just worrying about total calorie input total. So, not only did we see a pretty significant glycogen sparing effect but we were not eating that much before that workout.
So, we didn't have a lot on board to start with. It was literally like one strawberry in a bunch of heavy cream with a little bit of protein. Yeah, it was not a fun run staring at the white wall of Jeff Volek's lab. They didn't have a TV. They had like needles coming out of your arms all time. You were in this big clunky mask. At the time, I did not have much money and I think I was getting paid something like $500 stipend and getting flown out there. And for me, that was big money, so I did it, but I don't think I would repeat that test. It was not pleasant.
Thomas: I was going to say, man, the toughest part of that was just thinking of being on a treadmill for three hours.
Ben: Oh yeah, yeah. Hey, I want to talk about keto mistakes and the top ketogenic mistakes that people made. Now that we've cleared up the air that you can build muscle on a ketogenic diet, you can store glycogen on a ketogenic diet or at least spare glycogen, you can be able to create glycogen as well now, and the resting metabolic rate does not decrease as much as a lot of people think it does. But then people jump into this diet and they make mistakes. So, I'll let you take this one away as far as the first mistake that you want to talk about. But what are some of the most common mistakes people make on a ketogenic diet?
Thomas: Well, one that we started talking about a little bit before which I think is a big one is being concerned with too much protein, to a degree, I mean. There is such thing as consuming too much and having it get stored as fat. But this whole thing of like protein is going to kick me out of keto thing, like people are just taking it too far, and I have to fall on the sword here and say that there was a period of time where I thought this too until I started really diving into the research more and started connecting my own dots and realizing that, “Wait a minute, this gluconeogenesis thing, it's demand-driven, it's not supply.”
Like we talked about a little bit with gluconeogenesis, it's a very, very simple–actually, very complex but simple things happening in our body. I mean, it's demand-driven, meaning we're going to have gluconeogenesis or the conversion of protein into glucose whenever the body needs it, whether we are in keto or not. There are studies that show that there are some tissues that use ketones and some that don't. What's really wild, and I try to instill this in everybody interested in going keto or is just curious, is that no matter what, your body will always run on glucose to some degree. You will always have a glucose demand. You will always need carbohydrates.
When you go keto, carbs just don't exist in your body. Carbs are just carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, like they're made up of things and they're going to exist and your body is going to find a way to make them because up until now–I mean, I shouldn't say up until now but I mean there isn't anything showing that the brain can run on pure ketones. Like the brain still needs glucose, some parts of it can run on ketones, some parts of it run very well on ketones, but that is so the Wild, Wild West, like we don't even know the tip of the iceberg there. We just know that the body, when in a ketogenic state or in a calorie-deprived or carb-deprived state, it allocates specific sugars just for brain activity.
Most of those sugars are going to be coming from either the Cori cycle or gluconeogenesis. So, don't be afraid of protein and overeating protein because if you overeat on the protein, the worst thing that's going to happen is you overdo your calories. It's not going to necessarily kick you out of keto. And if it does kick you out of keto, it's going to be very, very temporary because the gluconeogenesis process is a relatively slow process, anyway. So, it's not like you're going to eat a chicken breast or overeat your chicken breast and it's going to immediately kick you out of keto. Your body has time to break it down, convert those proteins into sugars, do what they need to do, or put them through the process of actually repairing tissue.
Ben: Yeah. And your body is using your own building blocks to create this new glucose. It's like when you drink a cup of coffee, people–when I posted my recent continuous blood glucose monitor results, I think I tweeted them and showed that my morning cup of coffee spikes my blood glucose significantly like above 110 and people said, “Well, it turns out a cup of coffee takes you out of a fasted state.” I'm like, “No, no, no. My body is taking compounds.” And this is how gluconeogenesis works like lactate or amino acids or glycerol to manufacture glucose when there aren't any carbs around. And this glucose is coming from my own body, not from a bunch of blood glucose that already existed in my bloodstream that would be hampering my own fatty acid oxidation.
So, when you're using gluconeogenesis during a state of ketosis, all you're doing is creating new glucose from your own tissues which assist with sparing muscle, which prevents hypoglycemia, which fuels tissues. You mentioned that the brain needs some glucose to survive, so to red blood cells, right, so to parts of the kidney, the testicles, like the Leydig cells and the testes, those need some amount of glucose. It's about I think somewhere around like 70% to 80% of what your body needs that ketones can provide, but it's perfectly natural for your body to engage in gluconeogenesis.
But what you would ideally not want, especially if you're trying to spare protein like we talked about earlier, spare muscle like we talked about earlier, what you don't want ideally is for those amino acids that might be used for gluconeogenesis to come from your own muscle, right? And so, by consuming protein, by exercising and creating lactic acid, by loading the muscle, and by consuming a high-fat, low-carb diet, that gluconeogenesis is–it's vital for energy. I don't know how it got vilified so much, this idea of people fearing gluconeogenesis.
Thomas: Yeah. It's really interesting. Through my research in this, what I've also found is that–and you've probably heard some of this, but now they're saying that once you get very, very fat-adapted, the body, skeletal muscle specifically, actually has the ability to shortcut and not even go through the ketone production process where free fatty acids can actually be utilized in the skeletal muscle. So, this is the next and it kind of leads into the next mistake but basically, people worry about their glucose and then they also worry about their ketone levels being too low. And the fact is once you start getting fat-adapted, your body doesn't need to create as much in the way of ketones either because your body actually becomes so efficient the skeletal muscle actually starts being able to break down free fatty acids for fuel leaving ketones only to function what need ketones and leaving glucose only to function what specifically needs glucose. You become hyper-efficient.
So, that's why a lot of times when you're testing blood glucose and ketones, there's a lot of different variables and you'll see people that they go on keto and then they're in keto for six months and they're like, “I can't get my blood ketone levels super, super high unless I go do extreme exercise or fast for a long period of time.” Well, that's kind of normal. If you don't need to produce an abundance or an overabundance of ketones, why would your body? You're pretty efficient at utilizing them, like why would your body create extra? It's not trying to be inefficient, it's doing what it can to adapt and be efficient.
The same thing with glucose, it's like a lot of times when you–well, this is a common misconception too is like flat out. I mean, your listeners are pretty savvy and they probably get it, but a lot of times when you're talking with people that are new to this, they have this common misconception that you go on keto and your blood glucose just goes away, your blood glucose just goes to zero. Guys, like blood glucose is still there and I think that's a very common, very embryonic thing but it needs to be put out there. You go on keto like you're going to have instance of what's called ketonemia. You're going to have ketones and glucose in the blood, it's not like you have one or the other, and your glucose does not go to zero.
So, you should do what you can to support a nice, stable, moderate glucose level. I mean, you want it low, you don't want it super low. But one thing I respect about you, Ben, is you always talk about keeping–I think I saw something of yours and you talk about like the main thing for you throughout the day and throughout the morning is keeping blood sugar stable, period. That's like things that would instill any kind of blood sugar response.
Ben: Right. Restrict glycemic variability. And that's important because–like you mentioned, you need trace amounts of glucose but hyperinsulinemia, returning to this idea of muscles utilizing free fatty acids when you're in a ketogenic state, the one thing that can shut down the ability for that to occur is high insulin. And high insulin is going to occur in response to high amounts of glycemic variability. So, the interesting thing is that gluconeogenesis, this idea returning once again to that horse, not to kick it to death but the ability of your body to be able to generate its own glucose does not rely upon these large fluctuations in insulin.
So, if you're avoiding hyperinsulinemia, your body can still provide some amount of glucose. You keep trace amounts also coming in from the diet that will allow for muscles to be able to use these free fatty acids. Like you mentioned, they don't even need to use ketones as much. They can use the free fatty acids. The brain can use some of the ketones. It just works out. The cells that need glucose get glucose. The cells that need ketones get ketones. The muscles that need fatty acids get fatty acids. And this, of course, relates to–I don't know if you're familiar with Dave Feldman who runs the website cholesterolcode.com, but he's shown that in many cases, there are people who are–they have high, high triglycerides when they're on a ketogenic diet. Well, in many cases, that's not related to cardiovascular disease potential. That's just your body shuttling all these free fatty acids around or having high triglycerides available for some of that muscle utilization of these fatty acids.
Thomas: Yeah. No, that's wild stuff. I'm not real familiar with him, but obviously, I've seen some of his stuff or some people alluding to it and I've obviously heard of that site. I mean, it's so wild. And then, the fact is that a lot of that gluconeogenesis process goes into just restoring muscle glycogen, too. You mentioned that briefly. We talked about it earlier. So, it's like if you're training at a high intensity like heavy resistance training, the cool thing is that that excess protein is actually just going to restore glycogen and actually make it so that you can still get a pump and still gets–if that's what you're after. So, we shouldn't be shaming it. We should be embracing it. It's an amazing process the body can even do that.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And we also know that if you include something like the ingestion of ketones like ketone salts or ketone esters or even MCT oil, you can actually enhance mTOR signaling, and you can enhance protein synthesis. So, again, if you want to build muscle on a ketogenic diet, you get on the ketogenic diet, you do some of these refeeds when they make sense, and then you introduce ketones or MCTS, then you get the mTOR signaling up. In my opinion, if you also introduce–full disclosure, my company sells essential amino acids but I use them like every single day, 20 to 40 grams, to maintain muscle. And I'm in a muscle building phase right now but man, I think if you get the right oils like an MCT oil or a ketone salt or a ketone ester, you get the amino acids, you lift, you do some refeeds, you can build some significant muscle and definitely spare muscle on a ketogenic diet.
Thomas: Yeah. You're dead on it. And I don't want to drag this on too much with this particular thing but you mentioned MCT and I got to go rabbit hole really quick because I don't know if you knew this. This was so cool. I don't know if MCTs are shown to have a heavy catecholamine response that has been shown to actually trigger the metabolism to increase. So, basically, you're having a small adrenaline and epinephrine response when you consume MCTs because they absorb so fast. So, they absorb. Why I think that's cool is because it's activating mTOR signaling or it's triggering mTOR signaling at the same time as also triggering a catecholamine response, which is pretty cool because you're having a fat loss thing occur at the same time as having an anabolic thing occur. That's just really cool.
So, when you start looking at MCTs, you can do some really interesting things that are far beyond the scope of what a lot of just the marketing surrounding MCTs talks about. Different story for a different day, but yeah, look into that when you get some time. It's pretty cool. It's all like an overall 5% increase in just resting energy expenditure by adding 15 to 20 grams of MCT oil throughout the course of the day.
Ben: Now, not to stray too much from this idea of mistakes because I want to get back to a couple of mistakes but the last time I talked to you, you were talking about liposomal delivery mechanisms for things like curcumin, for example, I think is one thing that we talked about. When it comes to things like medium-chain triglycerides, is there a way to make those more bioavailable? Like, can you do the same thing with like an MCT?
Thomas: So, they are already by default pretty bioavailable. So, they don't require–MCTs don't require micelles for absorption. However, what's interesting is that they still can be micellized. So, if you have something that's pre-micellized and ready to go, it's going to absorb faster than an MCT oil that doesn't require micelles because micelles just have preferential delivery above anything else in terms of world of fat metabolism because they're already prepackaged, ready to go. So, normally, you consume something, it goes to the micellation process, bile salts, all that, yada, yada.
So, if you take MCTs which have different responses–MCTs are unique in two ways. They're unique in the way that they actually–they don't require micellization, they don't require that breakdown, they don't require to be encapsulated in a micelle and [00:51:42] ______ in a micelle to get through the small intestine. But then they also have other responses. They also can penetrate through the [00:51:51] ______ a lot easier, too. So, they can actually be used as an energy source a lot quicker. So, they trigger a catecholamine kind of adrenergic response in two different ways, mainly because of how it responds within the mitochondria. So, if you can take MCTs and still put it in a micellized form, it's going to absorb through the small intestine even faster and with more efficiency. And then, once it's through the small intestine, then it's allowed to do its thing, where it's still going to just be normal MCT oil. So, it's pretty interesting stuff. So, yeah, it can be done and it's pretty wild. Again, it's kind of the Wild West with that stuff but it's a lot of fun.
Ben: Alright, got it. Yeah. I know you've been working on some new formulations as well. Hopefully, we have time to dig into some of that. But another thing that I wanted to ask you about ketosis and when it comes to ketone mistakes was how people go about getting in the ketosis. Like I've joked before about how the wrong way to do it is to just eat tablespoons of coconut oil and put butter into every cup of coffee. But what are some of the other mistakes when it comes to particularly the type of fats that people might be using to get into ketosis?
Thomas: So, I'll preface this with saying like I admire and appreciate anybody that's making a conscious decision to improve their health. I want to make sure that that's out there because I know a lot of people there doing the ketogenic diet, unfortunately, they're just grasping for straws and they're looking for something that's going to work for them and something that's going to help them get that extra weight off. So, I appreciate and respect the heck out of anyone with that. But what's the problem is that because of the ketogenic diet becoming so mainstream now and getting so popular, everyone's just hopping on the heavy, heavy dairy bandwagon and the heavy–it's just so much in the way of omega-6, it's so much in the way of the wrong kinds of fats. And I'm not talking about saturated fats, I'm talking more about–I mean, there's still prevalence of trans fats but the trans fats are not as much of a problem as just heavy omega-6s.
So, you're putting yourself into a pretty inflammatory state. And there's something that I call the ketogenic wall. You hear about [00:53:48] ______, you hear about the keto flu but I sort of coined the term the keto wall. What I found, and this is with working personally, coaching hundreds of people on this but seeing tens of thousands of people experience this, was they would start the ketogenic diet and then 90/120 days into it, they'd start feeling like dog crap, like they just feel terrible. And I noticed the attrition rate was pretty high at about 90 days where people would have good results and then they would just–the results would still be there but they would just throw in the towel because they started feeling crappy. They started being like, “Oh, my skin feels oily. I feel inflamed. My joints hurt.”
The common thing that I would hear, “I feel like when I'm working out, I'm training my joints and not training the muscles anymore.” They're like, “I just feel it in my joints. I don't even feel like I'm getting a pump. I don't feel like anything.” And they're thinking that it's just this glycogen issue. I'm like, “It's not a glycogen issue.”
Ben: Yeah. That's very common.
Thomas: Yeah. What's going on is like it usually takes 60 to 90 days in a shift of the diet to start seeing, A, nutrient deficiencies and micronutrient deficiencies, and B, any kind of crazy inflammatory response that's going to occur. It's going to really—where exactly after like 60/90 days. Sure, on blood and blood work on paper. You'll see it almost immediately. But for the layperson, they're going to start noticing it at 60/90 days when they're actually going to notice a difference in how they feel.
So, when you start loading up with high omega-6 dairy and crazy amounts of cheese and crazy amounts of really low-quality meat because it's cheap and everyone's preaching the keto diet and how to do it cheap, well yeah, that's what's going to happen. You're going to have the initial results because keto in and of itself is inflammation modulating, like it's definitely going to modulate inflammation. There are multiple studies to back that up. But you're only going to have those pathways of modulating inflammation for so long before the omega-6 values are so out of whack that the spike in omega-6 and the spike in inflammation from that far supersedes any anti-inflammatory effect that you would get from the ketogenic diet just as a whole.
Ben: Okay. So, what it comes down to then, it sounds to me like, is paying attention to the inflammatory level of the fatty acids?
Thomas: Yeah. Paying attention to the inflammatory level, the fatty acids, and really working with fats that are not going to be–I mean, well, when you say inflammatory level, that obviously includes like the omega-6s. Focusing more on the omega-9s, focusing more on the oleic acids, and focusing on the omega-3s, the oleic acids make omega-3s more readily available. So, what I always like to say is, this is one of just kind of my hacks, is try to consume on a ketogenic diet actually relatively lean cuts of meat, especially if you have to keep it within a budget and you can't afford organic or anything like that. Eat leaner cuts of meat and add your fats from a plethora of different plant sources or other fat sources that you trust.
Ben: Now, why would you do that if the way that nature has packaged fats–you know, if I had a big fatty cut of ribeye, are you saying that that's improperly packaged by nature and I should have chosen a more lean cut?
Thomas: No, not by nature, but it's just a matter of what's in 99% of the meat that we're consuming these days.
Ben: So, if it's grass-fed, grass-finished, I'm getting, and I know this to be true, lower omega-6 fatty acid content and organic or–well, not organic but grass-fed meat.
Thomas: Precisely, precisely. So, in which it's getting harder and harder to come by. And you, obviously being in the industry, you know where to go and I'm sure a lot of your viewers and listeners know where to go. But the hard part is that there's so much marketing propaganda and labeling nonsense that comes along with that grass-fed and grass-finished. Like now, these days in age, it can say grass-fed if it ever ate one blade of grass. It has to be officially–you have to look on the label and it says grass-finished.
It's so easy. And again, talking to just educating the masses on this, it can be really difficult because 80% of the people are just going to go for grass-fed and they're not going to spend the extra money on the grass-finished. And that adds up because this is now your primary fuel source. It's not like this is just a small part of your diet anymore, like this is what you're trying to get your body to run on. So, it's like this just went up in priority. Your attention to detail when it comes down to the fats just went way up in importance.
Ben: Okay. Now, some people may have wondered what you meant when you said omega-9s, be referring to like the oleic acids like olive oil, macadamia oil, a lot of the monounsaturated fats that would be common and say like a Mediterranean diet, for example.
Thomas: Yup, exactly. And the cool thing about oleic acids and omega-9s is they increase the availability of omega-3s. So, what I mean by that is like they actually help the process, they help the body metabolize and utilize omega-3s more so like if you have–so you can get by with eating less omega-3s and be able to utilize more of it because I know and expect people to just be eating tons and tons of salmon and high omega-3 foods and things like that. It's just not always practical but if you at least get those omega-9s and there's sort of a neutral fat, if they're not oxidized and they're stored properly and used properly.
Ben: Yeah. Two quick things I want to note before we move on to any other mistakes that you want to bring up are that, A, you may want to get genetically tested because like I have been genetically tested, I have the APOE 33 variant, and that dictates that I actually have an inflammatory response to high saturated fat intake. So, despite me eating a relatively ketogenic diet, my ketogenic diet is basically a Mediterranean low-carb diet where I'm eating very little of the coconut oil, the butter or the coconut manna, et cetera, a lot of these popular foods on a ketogenic diet. And I'm instead doing a lot of olive oil, a lot of this omega-9s, a lot of sardines and cold-water fish and herring and mackerel and anchovies, a lot of olive oil, olives, et cetera.
And so, that's an example of how you could go about doing this the right way. And then, the other thing I should note is that, as I discussed in my podcast with Ann Louise Gittleman, don't stop eating omega-6s, don't stop taking in like hemp seeds and chia seeds and flax seeds and a little bit of nut butter and some of the omega-6s that you're going to get from meat, for example, because you do need some amount, just the ratios because we talked in that podcast about cardiolipin, a component of the mitochondria and how if you strip too many omega-6s out of your diet or too many of these so-called parent essential oils, like say borage seed oil or a pumpkin seed oil or many of the seeds and nuts related to those. You can actually create an omega-6 fatty acid deficit that could be just as deleterious for your mitochondria as an omega-3, omega-6 ratio issue. So, never get too dogmatic or myopic with this stuff.
Thomas: Yeah, precisely.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. So, a few of the things that I wanted to get into, one is, speaking of omega-3s, your thoughts on fish oil. Now, I know that fish oil is pretty popular with a lot of people on a ketogenic diet. I'm a big fan. I take about 5 to 10 grams of fish oil a day, but I'm curious how you tackle the fish oil issue.
Thomas: Yeah. So, it's getting harder and harder with fish oil because, A, I mean it's a lot easier for anybody to bring a product to market these days. So, you're seeing a lot of just kind of nonsensical, just low-quality fish oils. And of course, there's the heavy metal issue, of course, there's the EPA/DHA ratio and like what you're after there, and all it depends, right? Personally, I'm a big fan of–I love DHA, I love a highly skewed DHA to EPA level just because personally with the ketogenic diet, I feel that the DHA just provides a great sense of mental clarity. Not saying that EPA is bad by any means.
So, you've got docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. EPA is much more shown to modulate inflammation throughout the entirety of the body, whereas DHA is a little bit more brain-focused. It's all early research to be completely honest now. But I'm a big fan of algal oil. I love algal oil because it's getting more dense–
Ben: Algal like from algae like A-L-G-A-L?
Thomas: So, that's the thing is like fish aren't magically born with just omega-3s. I mean, they get it through what they eat, and phytoplankton and plankton. It goes up the chain. Now fish, when you get into fish oil, you have a fermentation process that naturally occurs that allows DHA to actually turn into EPA. So, that's why you have, like if you look on the label of the fish oil pills, sometimes the more low-quality ones, I shouldn't say all low-quality ones but a lot of—if you go to Walmart, you picked a random one off the shelf, you'd see it would probably have like 1,000 milligrams EPA and like 50 to 100 milligrams DHA. You want to be a little bit more even than that, usually a one to one or so, depending on what your goal is.
The reason that I like algal oil is it's heavy on the DHA but it hasn't been adulterated. Like you're going right to the source and you're allowing the body to do its own fermentation process. And there's a lot of interesting things that are going on with the sort of artificial fermentation of DHA or DPA that's just intriguing science, to begin with, but I think we're a long way away from really doing it right. So, algal oil, it's a very clean, it's a non-contaminated way to get, and it's vegan. I mean, if that matters to anybody that's listening, if you're focused on that then it's a really great way to get omega-3 skewed more towards the DHA, which I think lends itself well to the keto diet though.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. DHA is incredibly a point especially if you're doing a ketogenic diet for something like TBI or concussion. It's incredibly helpful for that. You got to use it a pretty high end. But is there a way to, very similar to some of our past discussions about curcumin to make DHA more bioavailable?
Thomas: Yeah. So, that's the hard part. DHA is fragile, right? DHA is very fragile. It's kind of like if you were to have fish on the counter and just leave it out for half an hour, it's going to start to stink. It doesn't take long. So, DHA is fragile. So, yeah, I mean using kind of the same technology that we've done with curcumin and that we've done even with glutathione and that we've done and things like that, we're able to micellize it so it's protected so that it actually gets absorbed a lot faster.
So, you're talking the micellization of MCT but also the micellation of omega-3s in a way where, oh, we don't have to sit there and worry if the body is actually going to uptick this. It's actually, or essentially, for lack of a better way of saying it, guaranteed that it's going to get through the small intestine a lot more so than just taking an ordinary fish oil. So, using that same technology, particularly the phosphoryl chloride bond, vitamin E, and also what's called receptor cell-mediated endocytosis, able to micellize algal oil so that you're getting a better absorption rate of it.
Ben: Yeah. I've seen a lot more companies these days using those liposomal delivery technologies to increase bioavailability. I'm a huge fan. The form of glutathione that I take is like that. I've used some of the supplements you've designed like that curcumin that we talked about in the last podcast. I like it because it tastes like an orange creamsicle, too. It's kind of cool how you can make some of these things in terms of putting them into a liposomal delivery mechanism. And it's almost like kind of this tasty little gel that you just put into your mouth with some of these compounds. I'm a big fan of liposomal delivery technology. I see more and more supplements going that way and straying away from capsules for certain compounds that need that enhanced bioavailability.
Thomas: Definitely. And that's interesting. We wanted to take it one step further. We knew that liposomal was popular and big. We're like, “Okay. Well, liposomal is great. There's really cool evidence behind that but how do we take it one step further?” What we've done is take a liposome, and then inside that liposome, we've put a micelle. So, liposome protects it through the hostile gut biome and through the stomach and the volatility there. But after that, you're still kind of left and you're still hoping that's going to absorb, and liposomal works. I mean, it definitely improves availability. But then what happens is, with fats specifically, is they get micellized. They get basically emulsified into what's called a micelle, mixing with bile salts and things like that. That's never fully digest. They just break down into really small microscopic droplets. And then, they get into this little capsule that [01:05:46] ______ capsule for this case but a micelle, basically, encapsulated into micelle.
So, what we've managed to do is we've managed to take algal oil, MCT, and collagen, put it inside the micelle then put that micelle inside a liposome. The way that I describe it is it's like express delivery with delivery confirmation because it's like you're getting the express delivery of the liposomal effect, getting it through the stomach and into the small intestine, but then you're getting the micelle that's ensuring that it's delivering through the small intestine.
Ben: So, the micelles are these tiny, tiny like nano-sized molecules and you're basically enveloping those into a liposome, which is basically just like a healthy fat cell. The liposome is protecting the micelle from primarily the acidic environment of the human gut. And then, as it travels through the gut and the micelle becomes dissolved or kind of peels away off that liposome, then what's in the liposome becomes actually bioavailable.
Thomas: Correct. Yup, correct. That's how it absorbs. So, when you actually do that with algal oil, with that algae oil, that omega-3, that's a much more stable way because it's a fragile oil. So, it gets a lot of it. It gets broken up just in your gut biome to begin with. You're getting that with the omega-3 but then, of course, the MCTs as well, which we talked about. So, we can still envelop those MCTs into micelle. It doesn't improve the absorption a ton because MCT is already absorbed but I mean we're already doing it with the collagen, we're already doing it with the algae oil. So, we might as well rope that into the mix, too.
And then, of course, you got the collagen, which the reason that we do collagen, and here's–I want to touch on this for a second because there are so many collagen products out there and I wanted to make a solid point. It's like collagen was not the reason we created this product. The whole reason behind it was how do we actually get those omega-3s? That was the issue. Collagen, it just turns out that a lot of the protein and amino acids end up getting utilized the most. And where people do become deficient usually is in the proline, glycine, and arginine areas.
So, it ends up making sense on a ketogenic diet. Okay. Let's go ahead and give the collagen so we can be nice and have these amino acids that sometimes get stripped because a lot of times your body will start breaking down some connective tissue in order for gluconeogenesis. So, if there is going to be a deficit, it's going to likely pull from collagen stores. Although in the grand scheme of things, it's going to pull from the aggregate. It's going to pull from wherever you have an abundance. So, collagens there just sort of round out the compound.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Interesting. Now, how are you measuring ketones these days? I'm always curious from people who are into the low-carb, high-fat diet, how they're quantifying.
Thomas: Blood meter all the way. I mean, you had to use a blood meter.
Thomas: Yeah. I'm a fan. I love the keto-mojo meter just because it's easy. Those are good guys. I always keep that thing with me.
Ben: The keto-mojo is the one where our company came out with a way to make the actual blood strips like highly affordable, a dollar a pop or something like that.
Thomas: Yeah, which is so hard to come by.
Ben: It's still outrageously expensive compared to blood glucose strips but compared to–I think it used to be like three or four bucks to measure blood ketones one time.
Thomas: Yeah, exactly. Now, it's significantly cheaper. So, there are three ways. There's measuring acetoacetate through the urine. There's measuring your blood by measuring beta-hydroxybutyrate. And there's measuring acetone through the breath. Now, the hard part is that acetoacetate, you measure on the urine strips. The hard part with that is that as you get deeper and deeper into ketosis, you're not producing excess ketones. Those urine strips are measuring excess ketones. So, once you're deep in keto and your body is efficient, you're not producing excess ketones, you're going to find you're not even registering on the urine strip anymore. So, everyone freaks out. They're like, “I'm not in keto.” Like, “No, you're just not producing extra acetoacetate anymore.”
And then the issue with using acetone breath meters is that acetone is actually sort of a randomized self-destruction of acetoacetate. It's a ketone body that doesn't really have a whole lot of use. So, there's huge genetic variance on what your acetone levels are going to be if you're in keto, because we don't really know why but acetoacetate will randomly self-destruct and turn into acetone. So, they're calling–and it also gets created by the liver. But for the most part, it's a byproduct. And it's still considered a ketone body because technically, by definition, it is but it doesn't really do a whole lot within the body, like the cells aren't running on it. The cells are running on beta-hydroxybutyrate. And the cells aren't really using the acetoacetate. The acetoacetate is this extra. So, as you get into keto deeper and deeper, you produce less acetoacetate, also less acetone. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is what you need to be measuring, and the safest, cleanest way to do that is through your blood.
Ben: Okay. Got it, yeah. I think there's some corollary for people who don't want to break their finger between breathe. There are devices, I've got them scattered in my office here behind me, like the Keyto, K-E-Y-T-O, or the Levl which is L-E-V-L. And they give you a decent approximation. I mean, they're quick. It's kind of like heart rate variability. To get the most accurate heart rate variability possible, you got to put on an actual Bluetooth-enabled heart rate strap, like the Viiiiva or the Polar H6 that's actually feeding that data straight into an app. But you can get a decent corollary from something like a fingertip measurement using like the Oura Ring or a wristband, using something like the WHOOP. But yeah, I mean there are certain things that you sacrifice for convenience and quickness. And I agree, gold standard is blood but I think a lot of people can kind of keep their finger on the pulse, so to speak, of their ketones with a breath if it's convenient.
Thomas: For sure.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I know we're running up against time. One thing I wanted to mention is that you mentioned multiple times about some of these supplements that you create, and I'll link to the previous podcasts that I've done with you on like the curcumin that you've created and the magnesium and some of these other things. And then, for the enhanced ketosis, some of the ingredients we've talked about on today's show. I know they're in this keto balance supplement that you developed that has the vegan algal oil. It's got the MCTs in there. You've got like a hydrolyzed collagen in there and you've kind of taken a lot of these common mistakes you've seen on a ketogenic diet and at least woven together some of the fixes into this supplement. You sent me a few bottles. They're actually up in my fridge right now and they're addictively good. They taste like chocolate gel. So, I've been squirting it probably too much. I think the serving is supposed to be like a teaspoon and I'm probably just kind of munching on that right before my morning smoothie. I'm probably taking in like a tablespoon or a couple of tablespoons.
People always ask me, “Ben, how many supplements can you take?” But then bastards like you, Thomas, will ship me stuff and I happen to be using this keto balance right now because you sent some to me and I actually like it. It's good. It seems like a well-formulated supplement. So, I will put a link to that in the shownotes and I know that everybody listening in, you get a 15% discount just automatically if you click on my link in the shownotes, which I'll put over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ketomistakes. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ketomistakes where I'll link to Thomas' website, all the podcasts that we've done before, some of the studies that we discussed, my article on how to track your ketones, and then yeah, pretty much everything we talked about, I'll put them through some pretty robust shownotes.
Thomas, anything else you want to throw in there before I let you go?
Thomas: No, man. We covered a lot of ground. I know there's a lot of stuff we could talk about in this world but I think this covers some of the myths, some of the mistakes, some of the outlying questions that have been out there.
Ben: Yeah. Cool, man. Cool. Well, thanks for coming on again for a four-peat. And again, for those of you listening in, shownotes are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/ketomistakes and until next time. I'm Ben Greenfield with Thomas DeLauer signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at bengreenfieldfitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
There are a lot of nasty secrets about the ketogenic diet that too many people are completely unaware of.
It can cause the buildup of a wide variety of nutritional deficits…
It can cause chronic inflammation…
It can create an imbalance in omega fatty acids…
It can exhaust your body's glycogen stores…
But in my podcast episode with four-time repeat guest Thomas DeLauer, you'll discover how to mitigate these issues and how to do a ketogenic diet the right way.
Thomas is one of the leading experts in the world of chronic inflammation as well as the response of the human body to a low-carb diet. He is noted for his personal transformation from a 280-pound overweight corporate executive, to not only being on the cover of health and fitness magazines worldwide but pioneering some of the mainstream awareness of auto-immune diseases and inflammation in general!
Thomas has been highlighted in over 20 magazines showcasing his transformation and has been featured worldwide on the cover of Ironman Magazine, Muscle and Performance Magazine, Natural Muscle Magazine, ICON Magazine, Platform Magazine, and Ironman Japan. His background is in Sports Psychology, although it is this passion for psychology coupled with a career in healthcare as a physician recruiter and owner of an ancillary lab services company that sparked his love for nutritional science and what makes the body tick.
I first interviewed Thomas DeLauer in the episode The Ultimate Guide To Quelling Inflammation: Why Your Curcumin May Not Work, Surprising Effects Of Ginger Oil, Vegan Fish Oil Options & Much More!
I then interviewed him again in the episode Does Alcohol Really Make You Fat, Which Alcohol Is Healthiest, Hidden Ingredients In Alcohol & Much More: The Ultimate Alcohol Damage Mitigation Guide.
Thomas's third appearance was in the podcast episode Magnesium Supplementation: Everything You Need To Know About Dosing Magnesium, Timing Magnesium, Forms Of Magnesium & More!
In this discussion, you'll discover:
-How the ketogenic diet can be used to build, or at least spare, muscle mass…9:12
- Rather than losing muscle, you're most likely losing intercellular water
- Lower levels of insulin mean the kidneys expel more water
- You'll lose glycogen at the beginning of the keto diet, then regain as you adapt to the diet
- Can see the effects in a very short period of time (24 hours or less)
- When you have beta-hydroxybutyrate, there's a decrease in urinary nitrogen excretion compared to carb-rich diet
- Leucine gets oxidized more slowly; promotes protein synthesis (muscle sparing)
- The stimulus of weight training is critical
-Whether the metabolic rate decreases while on the keto diet…19:40
- Metabolic rate decreases in a long-term calorie deficit (3+ weeks)
- Studies show a small decline in Triiodothyronine (T3) while on keto diet; no change at all in T4
- The metabolism of glucose takes a significant amount of T3
- Less glucose intake = less T3
- Importance of “refeeding” while on calorie restriction
-How ketosis affects glycogen storage…27:00
- When you become “fat-adapted” (your mitochondria becomes efficient at utilizing the fat) your body preferentially uses ketones
- Your body reserves the glycogen to be used only when needed
-Some of the most common mistakes people make while on the ketogenic diet…38:30
- Being concerned with eating “too much protein”
- You'll always have a glucose demand; same with carbs
- Brain cannot run on pure ketones
- Body allocates specific sugars for brain activity
- If you overeat on protein, worst you can do is eat too many calories
- Once you get very fat-adapted, the skeletal muscle has the ability to shortcut the ketones production process
- MCT has been shown to trigger metabolic increase
- Fats people use to get into ketosis
- Heavy dairy
- Omega 6s
- “Keto Wall”: 90 days good results, then hit a wall
- Pay attention to inflammatory level of fatty acids
- Pay attention to “grass finished” vs. “grass-fed”
- The fish oil conundrum
Resources from this episode:
–Kion Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)
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