So, you’ve heard some of these words that are bouncing all around the inter-webs recently: Carnivore, keto, plant-based, vegan.
But do you know the nuances of what all these different words mean?
What’s the difference between keto and Atkins? What’s the difference between clean keto and dirty keto?
I mean, we can get really complicated with this.
Whether it’s plant-based, carnivore, detoxes, cleanses—words are very confusing, more than ever.
And as it turns out, the meaning of words actually matters.
So today, we’re here to dial-in the meaning a little bit, so that you can actually figure out what to put on your plate.
No matter what identity or word you’re following, there are certain principles you can follow to take your health back into your own hands.
So joining us on the show today is our friend, Ben Azadi, best-selling author of 3 books—The Perfect Health Booklet, The Intermittent Fasting Cheat Sheet, and The Power of Sleep—he’s also a health coach, public speaker and host of the Keto Kamp Podcast.
On this show with Ben, we’re chatting about:
- Ben’s journey to shedding 80 pounds and keeping it off
- How to get a mental six-pack
- The difference between dirty keto and restorative keto
- Why to avoid inflammatory fats (and what to eat instead)
- How to use intermittent fasting and extended block-fasting
- Tips on developing the right mental attitude for long-term success
- How to transform from a sugar burner to a fat burner
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with Ben.
Ben Azadi: Transform into a Fat-Burning Machine to Drop 80 Pounds
Abel James: Alright. Folks, joining us on the show is Ben Azadi.
A bestselling author, coach, podcast host, and also a dude who just so happens to have shed an astounding 80 pounds of pure fat.
Welcome to the show, Ben.
Abel James, I’m so excited and grateful to be here with you today, thank you.
Abel: Yeah, well, you had me on your show a while back during pretty much the rock bottom of our lives.
And you helped get me back on the scene even before I was quite ready, so you were a more important part of our story than I think you realize.
But I’m really honored to have you on.
I think you’re an example of someone who’s really doing great work out there. Kind of a new breed of hybrid health coach and entrepreneur, which is definitely what it takes to survive in this day and age.
Whether we like it or not, you’ve got to be some sort of hybrid.
But your story goes back farther than that, obviously, and I didn’t realize that you were a vegan for a year and a half.
But catch us up, for people who aren’t familiar with your work, please just explain where you’re coming from.
Yeah, absolutely. So, I speak on stages.
People look at me, they see me as a young, fit person, and I always tell them, “Hey, you know what, for the first 24 years of my life I was actually obese.”
I was one of those kids growing up here in Miami, Florida where I had low self-confidence and low self-esteem.
I was bullied, I was picked on, and my parents, who immigrated to America from Iran in the 1970s, they were doing the best they can with what they had.
And my mom and my dad ended up getting divorced, so my mom was raising me and my sister, and she worked three jobs, Abel.
One of those jobs was an assistant manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Abel: Oh, the smell.
Oh my gosh. And I loved it as a kid, right?
She would bring me back the leftovers just about every single night and I would eat that, being a kid.
And it manifested into me just getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
And being that she worked three jobs I was left to my own devices.
So, I was hanging around with the wrong crowd, people who are doing drugs, selling drugs.
And I’m a true believer that we become our environment.I'm a true believer that we become our environment. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
So, low and behold, I was somebody who was doing drugs, and even selling drugs in high school, and that really transferred into my adulthood.
When I was 24 years old, now I’m fast forwarding a little bit, back in 2008, and this is the point of my life where I was rock bottom.
Because my ex-girlfriend broke up with me, I was depressed.
And when I say depressed, that is an understatement. I was actually on the internet looking for ways to take my life.
Because any time I was in a room by myself, the thoughts that I had, I was just tired of crying every day, I was tired of hurting, and I just wanted to end the suffering for myself.
But I would think about my mother. I would think about what I would leave behind for her and I didn’t want to do that to my mother.
So it stopped me.
And I truly believe that if I didn’t have my mother in my life, at that point in my life, I would have probably ended my life.
So, it kind of forced me to figure things out, because I knew I was not going to take my life.
This is the point of my life that, you see behind me if you’re watching the video, books entered my life.
I was handed books from Wayne Dyer, and Bob Proctor, and these amazing authors.
I started to see a whole new world that I never knew existed. And I, for the first time in my life, Abel, I took responsibility.
I said, “You know what, I’m actually responsible for the results I’ve been getting into this life.”
And I immediately shifted the moment I took responsibility, because it took me from being a victim of my past to being a victor of my future.It took me from being a victim of my past to being a victor of my future. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
And that’s where everything shifted. Nine months from that moment I went from 250 pounds down to 170 pounds.
I went from 34% body fat, down to 6% body fat.I went from 250 pounds down to 170 pounds. And from 34% body fat down to 6% body fat. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
So for the first time in my life, and I know you have a story that’s somewhat similar, I achieved six-pack abs.
And that was a goal for me back then, but more importantly than that, I tell people, I carved out a mental six-pack.I carved out a mental six-pack. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
And I take that over a physical six-pack any day of the week.
And that’s where my journey started in the health and fitness space when I went through my own transformation back in 2008, 2009.
The Transformative Quality of Books
Abel: And I love that you mention books being a part of your journey, because that’s the way to do it, right?
I think so many people are just like, “Yeah, I should read a book,” and then they read like maybe a book a month, or a few books a year, or whatever.
And they just kind of go through it at a very slow pace, and it’s hard to remember things like that. It is for me anyway.
And I’m, as many people know, an avid reader, as well.
I have great fun preparing for all of these interviews and just ravenously reading stacks of books in like a week.
Bingeing books instead of Netflix.
Because if you do it that way, not that everything that’s in books is true, that’s definitely not true, but what you don’t have is a feed that you’re scrolling through, where every five things is an advertisement that’s stealing your attention and selling you the wrong thing.
It’s tricking you into thinking the wrong way, right?
Books are different from that.
So, how did you get into books at the beginning and what would you recommend to people who aren’t into books yet?
Yeah. You bring up a great point. That’s an awesome question. Because for me growing up, I hated to read.
I was one of those kids who did the bare minimum in high school and college just to get by.
But once I started reading books that really resonated with my highest values, that’s what made the biggest difference for me.
But here’s a mistake I made.
I was so excited about books that I would read 15, 20 different books within a month from all of these different authors.
And what it did for me was just paralyze me.
Because I had this authority saying, “Hey, you should do it this way.”
And then I have another authority, “You should be doing it that way.”
So, I realized that instead of just spreading myself wide and reading a whole bunch of books, I’m going to select a hand few of authors that have a track record of covering what I want to accomplish.
I’m just going to go deep with them. And that’s where my results escalated.
Books are fantastic.
And if you’re not somebody who likes to actually physically read a book, you can listen to the audio book, you can listen to podcasts like this.
So, there’s so many options out there, but for me, it’s made the biggest difference in my life.
Abel: Yeah, and there’s no excuse to stop learning. We always need to keep that education going.There's no excuse to stop learning. Click To Tweet
And to your point, yeah, it’s wonderful in prepping for these interviews, too.
Because not everyone has books, but they all have something that I can go through, and we all learn in different ways.
I love learning through audio and reading. Video doesn’t do as much for me, but some people just love video and can’t get it without that other piece.
So I think that just goes to say that there are different ways to learn all of this.
And there are different leaders in this health space, as well, who are worth following.
We all kind of teach in different ways, we’re all learning from each other. But it can feel lonely out there, can’t it?
Especially as a health coach, I think it can be isolating in a lot of ways.
What would you recommend to people who might feel like they’re giving out a lot of advice, but aren’t necessarily receiving that education that they need and that stimulation to keep it going?
Because you’ve been doing it for long enough. I’m sure there have been ups and downs in your coaching journey, as well.
Yeah, it’s definitely evolved over the years. And with the amount of information out there, it’s a gift and a curse.
It’s really a double-edged sword.
A lot of people I interview wonder, “How can somebody decipher who to choose to listen to?”
We have educators out there, who for the most part agree on the fundamentals of it.
But then there’re some things that are completely different.
And then you have the person who’s watching or listening who’s just paralyzed, “Who’s right in this scenario?”
But you said it, whoever resonates with you, their personality resonates with you.mAnd they have a proven track record, and they have people they’ve coached and have a proven track record.
That’s probably a good idea for you to start finding out if that person is right for you.
And how do you know?
Well, you start experimenting, you start applying what you’re learning, and at the end of the day, if you’re getting results, then it’s working.
And if you’re not getting results, then that person is probably not the person for you.
So, I think, the results don’t lie. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.
For me and my coaching clients, I used to teach the whole eat every 2 – 3 hours, keep the metabolism revved up.
We have got to make sure that we’re feeding the body, eating right before bed to maintain muscle mass, taking high dose fish oil.
Now I do the complete opposite. I don’t recommend any of that.
So as I evolve, I tell my clients, “Hey, actually I was wrong, and this is what the science shows, and let’s try this for now,” and then we kind of go from there.
So, I’m always changing. Just like you, you’re adapting, that’s the way we should be.
Abel: Yeah, being locked into a dogmatic way of thinking isn’t going to work in this world.
It’s not going to work for long anyway.
I did that when I was a vegan for a year and a half.
Abel: Right, yeah. Talk about that, because I think so many people before they hit kind of our way of eating, went through the vegan, vegetarian thing.
I did for years, on and off, and it never quite worked for me.
How did it go for you?
Yeah, I did it back in 2013 when I didn’t really know how to read studies.
So I read The China Study, which is that book.
Abel: Yeah, which was not a study.
I know. So funny, right? But back then, I didn’t really know the difference.
And I really just believed the author, the credible authors.
Abel: It’s a convincing book.
Yeah, it is a convincing book.
Abel: I got to say, you read that book and it’s like, “Wow, this is the truth.”
And then, if you actually understand how to read studies, you go read what they list, and you realize, “Oh, this is actually not that convincing.”
It’s not that promising.
Abel: Right. Yeah.
So, I read the book and I read a couple of other books out there and I decided, “Okay, I’m going to become a strict vegan.”
“I’m going to experiment, see how it works for me.”
You know what? The first four or five months, I felt great.
My hormones were better, my energy levels were better, my skin was better, and then I hit the vegan wall, that plateau.
But at this point in my life I was dogmatic about it.
I thought it was the end-all, be-all diet.
I was saving the world, I was not contributing to animals being tortured.
And I put myself in this box and I stuck with it for a year and a half.
And my health just started to deteriorate every single month after month, four or month five.
And I realized that maybe this is not working for me.
And that’s when I got into your work actually, and Paul Chek, Dave Asprey, and I realized that maybe this is doing more harm than good.
So, I decided to actually get off of that and I transitioned to the keto diet from the vegan diet, which is almost the opposite.
And everything improved from there.I transitioned to the keto diet from the vegan diet, and everything improved from there. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
But I learned. I extracted what worked for me, and then I discarded what didn’t work for me.
And then I kind of synthesized that into an approach that worked for me.
Dirty Keto vs. Restorative Keto
Abel: So, the saving the world and saving animals piece is one thing that’s all over documentaries, and virtue signalling all over social media, and that sort of thing these days.
Maybe we can dig into that a little bit more.
Because I think making the world a more sustainable place, and treating lives better is certainly something that we should all try to do—whether they’re human or animal, or I think plant, too.
According to nature religions, ancient ones, the Earth itself is a being and is alive, and we need to treat her with respect.
And so, anyway, maybe you could just talk a little bit about your approach to transitioning from that.
Like eating something with a face after not for a while, is a transition.
So how did you handle that. And how do you think about sustainability now?
Yeah, great question. The way I handled it, I transitioned into some eggs and fish.
I had that for a few weeks and then I started having the other animal products.
But with that being said, I agree.
The similarities between the veganism, and carnivore, and keto, Paleo, they all agree on, “Hey, let’s stay away from animals that were tortured, that lived a bad life. I don’t want to contribute to that.”
So, the way I do it is I try to get the highest quality possible.
You teach a lot about this sustainable, grass-fed, grass-finished.
That’s actually going to help the planet. It’s going to restore our soil.
So, when I say I transitioned to keto and I teach keto, I teach a high quality restorative approach to keto.
And if you do it that way, that’s the way that the world is designed to be.
Abel: Yeah, that’s such a great point, too.
When keto really started to take off I was annoyed. And carnivore, and some of these other terms, when they take off, I’m just annoyed.
Because a lot of times the first thing that people see is the exact wrong thing. It’s like a caricature.
And so a lot of the things that I was seeing and the questions that I would get from people, it’s just like, they’re doing keto as if it were Atkins.
Where it’s just like, you eat nothing but meat and cream cheese, and it doesn’t need to be organic, you can have these fat bombs that are made in soda and stuff, and it’s totally “keto.”
So, can you help distinguish?
Words are so tricky these days. I don’t think words have ever been trickier than they are now.
But can you explain the difference between, I guess, dirty keto and your version of keto that you’re talking about?
Yeah, I love the question. Yeah. Keto is not necessarily a diet, it’s a metabolic process.Keto is not necessarily a diet, it's a metabolic process. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
It’s been around since humans have been around. So it’s not a fad, although it is, in fact, trending.
It’s just a process the body has been designed to go through.
In fact, every single society, every single culture in the history of this world experienced some form of ketosis.
Because of their environment, right? So, it’s not really about eating a whole bunch of fat.
It’s about the carbohydrates getting low enough to tap into this alternative fuel source which can be actually a very healing fuel source if you do it the right way.
Abel: Great point.
Yeah, thank you. With keto being so popular, we have all these keto products.
We have all these keto educators out there teaching you how to go to McDonalds and be keto.
And I respect them for trying to educate their community, but that’s not the way that I teach it.
The way I teach it is, yeah, you can get into ketosis by eating inflammatory fats, but you’re not going to get healthy.
A lot of people come to me to do keto for weight loss, but I teach them the way I teach it and then they stay for the health benefits.
Because we don’t lose weight to get healthy, we get healthy to lose weight, and that’s how you get long-term results.We don't lose weight to get healthy, we get healthy to lose weight. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
So the difference between “dirty keto” and I’ll call it “clean keto,” the version that I teach.
There’s a few things to distinguish here. Number one, the types of fats that you’re eating.
The worst ones out there are the vegetable oils.
So canola, corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, even sunflower oil and peanut oil.
These are inflammatory fats that stay on our cell membranes creating inflammation for a long time.
In fact, there was a study. There’s a study in that book called The PEO Solution by Professor Brian Peskin.
He’s been on my Keto Kamp Podcast.
He showed a plate of french fries that was fried in canola oil resulted in 132 days of cell membrane inflammation.
So that means, Abel…
Abel: That’s a long time.
Yeah, so that means 5 minutes of pleasure, 5 months of dysfunction, from this inflammatory fat.5 minutes of pleasure for 5 months of dysfunction from this inflammatory fat. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
Now, you might be hearing this and thinking, “Yeah, but french fries aren’t keto.”
But it doesn’t matter.
If you’re frying your eggs, or you’re cooking your beef in these inflammatory fats, it’s going to create inflammation and you’re not going to get the results you want.
So, that’s inflammatory keto.
Even a lot of the pasteurized dairy can be inflammatory for a lot of people.
So, I would recommend, at least as you’re transitioning into keto, to maybe reduce your dairy and have some raw, grass-fed dairy instead.
Stay away from the pasteurized stuff.
I mean, you have a whole list in your The Wild Diet, you could just follow that, that’s a variation of clean keto.
So, it’s important to understand the difference, because you can be doing keto, but doing it the wrong way.
And if that’s you and you’re hearing this, hopefully this is awareness for you to transition to more of a clean approach.
You’ll get the results you want if you do that.
Abel: Yeah, and it’s worth it, too.
And if you get any results by doing it the wrong way, which a lot of people do, then actually you’ve kind of got one step up.
Because you’re on your way to doing it the clean way.
Especially if you’ve developed the biological machinery to start running well on fat and utilizing your fat stores.
Then once you start eating clean, you’ll notice. There’s a big difference between those crappy oils and a clean one.
Your body knows the difference.
But I was reading some more recent research. The more we’re finding out about inflammation, they’re starting to link it to a whole bunch of different emotional problems and mental illnesses, including depression.
And so, I know that I struggled a lot more with the way that I thought, and anxiety, and things like that when I was eating what I consider the wrong way.
Using these more processed carbs as fuel, or using sugar as fuel, but not in the form of sugar.
Even when I was doing it then, I was trying to be healthy, right?
But mentally, I experienced a different state than I feel now a decade later after running on fat as my primary fuel and really just fasting most of the time.
Most of my life, I am not eating fat. I’m not consuming fat to burn fat, and that’s another big thing that you mentioned.
I think it’s such a great point.
You don’t need to be blasting through all these amounts of fat in order to burn fat. That’s not how it works.You don't need to be blasting through all these amounts of fat in order to burn fat. That's not how it works. Click To Tweet
So, yeah, what else do you think helps people kind of make that transition from, I don’t know, having these fat bombs, and then, “Wait a minute, I accidentally lost a bunch of weight.” But then they’re in that dirty keto “I don’t know what to do” mode.
Let’s help them transition a little bit more to that clean keto. What else do you do to help them get there?
The number one thing that I see, the most important missing piece that I’ve seen with keto, is having healthy bile flow to break down the fat.
So, so many people don’t even have a gallbladder, right? So let’s rewind for a second.
The liver produces bile. Bile, this greenish fluid, is stored in the gallbladder, and then when you eat fat, that fat needs to be broken down.
And what breaks it down is the bile.
The bile helps absorb all those amazing nutrients, the vitamin A, D, E, and K, and bile removes toxins from the body.
Toxins get bound to bile and the body removes it. So bile is so important.
And a lot of people, their liver has been beat up. It’s this four and a half pound organ I call “soccer mom of all organs.” It does everything and anything.
And it has been beat up, right? Because it has to detoxify toxins, it has to deal with this overload of carbohydrates.
So when we go into keto, a lot of people can’t break down the fat. And they have digestive issues and they don’t feel that good.
So I always recommend adding in a lot of bitters.
And my mentor, Dr. Pompa and also Dr. David Jockers, talk a lot about this, for good reason. And you do, too.
Bitters are going to help your body stimulate healthy bile flow.Bitters are going to help your body stimulate healthy bile flow. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
Especially if you don’t have a gallbladder.
And artichoke is a super keto food.
Because not only does it help build bile, it also has fiber, which can help slow down the absorption of fat to help with your digestion.
I also like thyme and rosemary—just smelling these herbs helps stimulate these pancreatic juices.
And lemons and limes, apple cider vinegar—these are key things to add to a ketogenic approach.
They will go a long way with breaking down those nutrients, absorbing it, and helping to remove toxins.
The Carnivore Diet: There’s a Place for It at the Table
Abel: I agree with that. Yet, carnivore is taking off more than ever.
One of the reasons I was annoyed when I saw it taking off is because, well, number one, it’s not quite carnivore.
Because a lot of people are eating some amount of plants with it, which makes it omnivore.
But also that people are kind of doing it the same way. Just muscle meats, or hamburger patties, or whatever.
So, what’s your take on how that’s going down and how do you answer questions about it?
Because the way I see it is, it’s a pretty easy sell to say, “You know what? You never have to eat veggies again. You never have to cook or eat any plants at all.”
It’s like, that’s a little too easy, I think.
Not that there isn’t a therapeutic benefit, but anyway, what’s your take?
I think there’s a use for it. I think it’s a tool in the health shed. Like all diets.
I think all diets work, just not long term.I think all diets work, just not long term. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
Even keto, the way I teach keto.
Abel: Yeah, they’re all tools, right?
They’re all tools. So the way I would use carnivore, which I want to do 30 days of carnivore by the way.
Abel: Cool. I’ve considered it, too, just to see what happens, you know?
But the solution, I believe, is not to stay carnivore. Why are you doing that?
Once the gut is fixed, then you can start incorporating some plants.
Because there are benefits to it.
Yeah, it can be a stressor to the body digesting plants, but it could be a good type of stress, as long as your stress bucket is not overloaded.
So, I think the carnivore diet is a great tool, like we said, to use short-term.
Especially for somebody with leaky gut.
As you fix that gut, and then you transition away from it.
Abel: It’s a great thing to keep in mind too, just because there’s a tendency to get carried away with anything.
It’s like, “Oh green smoothies are good? I’m going to have eight pounds of vegetables every morning.”
And then you’re just like gassy all day and you’re having hundreds of grams of fiber, and it’s completely unnecessary.
So, it’s like, I think it is a good reminder that you never get there, you’re going to have benefit from consuming things sometimes and from taking a break from things sometimes.
And the pendulum will swing back and forth. But it’s interesting, because if anything’s popular right now, it’s just elimination diets.
It’s extreme elimination diets. And I think that can be a really excellent thing, because those are very powerful tools.
Exactly, because a lot of people are eating things that they don’t realize is causing inflammation.
And the top culprits are the high-oxalate foods.
So, if you have an oxalate sensitivity, then a short-term carnivore approach would be a great option for you.
I have my Keto Kamp Academy, and I take somebody from being a sugar burner, to being a fat burner within 28 days.
And in the first 28 days I tell them, “Okay, we’re going to transition you. I want you to avoid these suspect foods.”
And you know, Dave Asprey has his bulletproof chart.
So, we have the nightshades, we have even almonds and spinach, because they’re higher in oxalates, and then pasteurized dairy and grains.
And if you just remove that short term, you should see and feel a reduction in inflammation.
And it helps you feel better. And then you could kind of fix the gut and then transition those foods back in.
But what we’re doing is what you just said.
We’re eliminating these foods, letting the body heal, and then we can start to reintroduce and see how the body reacts to that.
Abel: What about when people are eating this way and then they just don’t for a while and totally fall off the wagon, how do you save them?
Because a lot of times, that’ll happen, and then you lose them forever, right?
So, if they’re eating keto and then all of a sudden they get off and they’re just like, “This didn’t work for me,” type of thing?
Abel: Yeah, well, okay. So I think what happens, especially if there’s a vegan who accidentally eats a hamburger or a little piece of cheese pizza, then it’s like, you’re not a vegan anymore, right?
And so you can’t be vegan, or you have to keep it a secret.
You’ve seen a whole lot of meltdowns on social media from these influencers, right?
Who are just like, they accidentally ate a piece of fish one time.
Abel: Their careers and lives are ruined. So I think that’s just a high profile example of what you don’t want to have happen in this life, right?
Where it’s like, none of us are perfect, and it’s not like being in ketosis and measuring your ketones, and having them always be low is the goal either.
And drifting out of ketosis sometimes shouldn’t be something that pulls you away from ever being healthy again, right?
So, what’s your recommendation there for people who have a tendency to go from extreme diet to extreme diet, and being like,“Oh, this isn’t working for me anymore because I had some fish,” right?
Right. I would say that it’s never about the setback, it’s always about to get back.
And a lot of people they dwell on that wedding they went to over the weekend where they had all these foods that were not part of the plan.
And then they just think about it for days, and they’re like, “Oh, I already messed up, let me continue this mess up.”
It’s fine. The body actually could get benefits from having a day or two where you feast.
Now, we don’t want to have those inflammatory fats, and of course, we want to feast on healthy food, but that’s not the reality of it.
We’re going to have days, we’re going to have events.
It’s also important to enjoy your social outings with your family and your friends and not just be in a box.
We want to live longer, but also have a higher quality of your life while we live longer. We don’t want to just be isolated.
So, I think there is a balance there, but the message I would say is, what I just said. It’s never about the set back, always about the get-back.
If you have a coach, your coach could help guide you back on track. But the body likes it when you create adaptation.
So, the way I teach it is, to get keto-adapted, get into ketosis for about 2 – 3 months.
If you don’t have something like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, or diabetes, then let’s start having one day or two days out of the week when we have a feast day.
We’re doing a paleo-ish type of version of eating. We’re having healthy carbs.
We’re intentionally getting out of ketosis, but then we’ll go right back in the next day or two.
That’s what it’s about, that metabolic flexibility.
The body will actually give you better results doing that than staying in ketosis, at least from what I’ve seen.
Abel: Yeah, metabolic flexibility is the big term that’s come up on the podcast recently talking to a whole bunch of different people.
And I think that’s what it is.
It’s less about this ultimate goal of seeing keto and ketosis as where you always want to be.
It’s more about having the skill of burning fat, the body’s ability to do that, and the machinery to do that.
Where you want to have that flexibility to be able to go back and forth between those different things.
Historically, looking even in the animal world, at how they use fructose and sugars to fatten up and to start fat storage. Because they need fat, fat isn’t a thing that’s always bad.
We need to be less binary, I think, in our thinking, and accept that it’s all kind of grey area. But there are fundamentals that kind of stay the same.
And real food, it’s hard to go wrong with. And same with single ingredients, as well.
I think also getting diversity into your diet is extremely important.
But I just want to tie the diet piece up in a little bow so we can move on to another piece that’s unique about you.
Where, at least growing up, you weren’t an athlete. And you weren’t someone who was always out there getting after it and kind of like the fitness type.
And I know a lot of people listening aren’t, as well.
And so, if you’ve never really got into doing crossfit style workouts for example, that can also be a difficult and challenging transition.
So, let’s talk about that.
Getting Into Fitness For the First Time
How did it work for you and how do you train people to get over that hump of, it’s embarrassing when you don’t know what to do and you first start doing it.
You’re going to be bad. How do you get over that?
Yeah. When I first started working out when I was 250 pounds and I wanted to drop my weight, I did P90X.
I was working out at home, because I was embarrassed, like you said, to actually go to the gym and not know what I’m doing and look like a fool.
So, I did that and that worked for me.
But what I would recommend, and what I teach now, is let’s start where you are at.
If you are doing nothing, not even going for walks, let’s start doing some walking.
Walking is so underrated, but let’s go for some walks.
The body loves to move, you talk about that all the time.
Movement is more important than exercise.Movement is more important than exercise. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
Meaning, if you go to crossfit five times a week, but you’re sitting at your desk the remainder of the day, you’re not better off than the person who’s just on their couch all day.
Because you’re actually more susceptible to injury and getting sick.
So we want to actually move. And, yeah, we want to workout, we want to train intentionally.
But if you’re somebody who has not done it, we wouldn’t just be a couch potato and do a crossfit WOD tomorrow. That’s going to look ugly.
So, I would start with walking, and then I would start working on those foundational movements, like the squats.
Even if it’s just sitting down to a chair and standing, doing some shoulder presses, some bench press.
The foundational multi-joint recruitment movements, start with that.
Less of the curls, less of the isolated movement.
And then you just build from there.
How do you know if your exercise is too much or too little?
I always tell people, “If you feel worse after exercise, like the remainder of the day, you probably did too much.”
Your mitochondria, your cells couldn’t handle it, your adrenals couldn’t adapt. So, scale it down a little bit.
If you feel better, if you’re energized, then you could start building and working from that.
So, that’s a good way to gauge it and that’s the way I teach it.
Abel: What about building fundamental strength in the right places?
So, many people are unable to do a deep squat.
To get up from the floor, for example, without putting their arms down in awkward ways, or leaning against something.
What do you see as some fundamental skills that people should build that way?
Yeah, the fundamentals are important when it comes to fitness and all areas of health.
Squatting is one of the best exercises that you could learn to do the right way.Squatting is one of the best exercises that you could learn to do the right way. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
So, you would start with a chair. You would start with a chair and then you would kind of get a chair that’s a little bit lower, so you go a little bit deeper.
If you work with a personal trainer who understands this, that’ll be a great option if it’s in your budget for sure.
But if you’re just somebody who wants to do this on your own, there are amazing resources on YouTube that you could find how to actually progress into a deep squat.
But squatting is paramount.
If you could get to a natural squat without using assisted, that’ll be great for the body.
Getting into a sprint.
Sprinting is so great for the mitochondria within our cells to start duplicating and creating more energy.Sprinting is so great for the mitochondria. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
So, sprinting, squats, push-ups and bench press. These are the foundational ones that you want to work and build towards.
And then you could revolve, add other things to that, but that will be the base of your fitness.
Abel: Yeah. And then, how do you adjust that down the road for people?
Because sometimes it’s a matter of, they get into it and they want to get stronger, and stronger, and stronger, but eventually you hit whatever that plateau is.
And you’re like, “Wait why am I doing this again? Do I really need to be running 430 miles in my 30s, or in my 40s or 50s?”
So many people come up against that. So how do you manage goals and expectations?
And once again, make sure that people don’t fall off.
Because a lot of times people go so hard and then get hurt or get too burned out to keep going?
Definitely. Having a goal, a target you want to hit, would be important.
Whether it’s, I don’t know, you want to bench press 200 pounds, or you want to back squat a certain amount of weight, could be for somebody for that approach.
Or if you want to walk 30 minutes, or go up five flights of stairs without getting out of breath.
Whatever your goal is that you want to have, keeping it in front of you.
I’m a big believer in writing down your goal, keeping it in front of you.I'm a big believer in writing down your goal, keeping it in front of you. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
In fact, I have a notebook by my night stand that I’ve written down my goals, before bed and in the morning, for over three years.
I haven’t missed one night or one morning over three years.
Along with my gratitude, because it helps me feed the beast, I call it.
It keeps my goals in front of me and I’m less likely to fall off track when I’m doing that.
So that’s one way.
Abel: Do you want to share a couple, real quick, before we get to the next one?
Yeah. My goals?
Abel: Yeah. I’m just curious.
One of the goals is to have the podcast reach over 100,000 downloads per month, the YouTube channel to hit a million subscribers by the end of this year.
I have a goal to speak on more stages. I want to speak and influence more people.
The overall goal for myself and Keto Kamp is to educate and inspire one billion people.
That’s the life-long goal, alright? So everything is kind of reverse engineering towards that.
So, those are a few of the goals in terms of business. Business-related goals.
Abel: Very cool. Keep on rolling if you want.
Because that’s such an important thing, is being clear about your intentions, your goals and where you’re headed, where you’re going.
Yeah, and I also have, I have a goal card that I read I keep with me all day.
So, this says, “I am so happy and grateful now that my Keto Kamp YouTube channel has one million subscribers.”
On my desktop here, my computer has, it’s Photoshop, but it has me holding a gold plaque saying, “Congratulations from YouTube for having a million subscribers.”
So, I do things like this, because it helps me really just visionnaire it, in a sense, but it keeps it in front of me, it keeps me on course.
I learned this from Bob Proctor, by the way. Yes, so keep your goals in front of you.Keep your goals in front of you. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
It’s important to always change up your workouts.
A great personal trainer, a great coach, is always going to vary your workouts.
One day you’ll be doing squats, one day you’ll be doing burpees, whatever it is for your activity level, but always change it up.
And then here’s the missing component: It’s, if you hit a plateau with your fitness, it’s not about exercising more.
It’s probably about getting more sleep and recovering from that workout.
Because we don’t burn fat and build muscle in the gym, we do it during sleep.
So, I would go in that area and really focus and hone in on your sleep. That’s what I would do.
Abel: Do you quantify your own sleep?
Yeah, I use the Oura Ring, so I do quantify it.
Abel: Yeah, me too.
Have you noticed with that ring that you get a whole lot of sleep during the time that you’re in bed, or are there missing hours?
There are times I’m in bed that I’m not asleep.
There’s a name for it in there. But, yeah, there’s a period of time where it takes me usually about 15 minutes to fall asleep, Abel.
And then, depending on the night, I just moved into this new apartment here and there’s just a lot of EMFs, and my sleep has been worse because of this.
So, now I sleep on a grounding mat and I do a few things there.
Abel: And that helps?
Yeah, it’s been helping me. I’ve been using a little bit of some CBD oil before bed.
So, I experiment. I also wear earplugs and an eye mask, so I do things. Big fun of sleep.
I think sleep is the most underrated thing out there. Too many people sleep on sleep, I believe.
Why Not to Sleep on Sleep
Abel: Totally. It’s interesting when we were going from place to place this summer, not really having a place to live.
We were in Steamboat, Colorado for a while, which is a big place where Olympians train.
And so we were in a couple of Airbnbs that some legit people who train own this place and they just rented it out other times for people to stay there.
And I can tell you, in those houses, pretty much everything in those houses was spartan.
The bedroom had a mattress that must be thousands of dollars, every single inch of the shade of the light was blocked out, completely black.
What else? We had face masks, we travel with those, ear plugs, just all sorts of different things in the bedroom were decked out for sleep. And we slept like babies there.
But one thing that I’ve noticed tracking with Oura Ring in particular.
Because I tracked with a Fitbit and a few other pieces of technology just on and off over the years.
Is that some of the early sleep tracking stuff would say like, “Good job, good on you, you were in bed for nine and a half hours last night.”
And I wake up and it’s like, “Oh, good on me.”
The Oura Ring is just like, you were in bed for nine and half hours, but you got five hours of sleep, and it’s like, “What? No. I thought I was doing so good though.”
And that’s a really interesting thing that happens when you start to quantify it.
Because you have to be honest.
Sometimes you wake up feeling pretty good, but later on in the day, all your energy is gone, and that’s because of a poor night sleep.
You wouldn’t necessarily track that though if you were in bed not sleeping but half conscious and not knowing why.
So, to your point, the EMFs was the big thing that we ran into in Austin as it grew, and grew, and grew.
And these apartment buildings and hotels got bigger and bigger, all of sudden WiFi instead of…
You drop down a little thing to choose the network instead of seeing three, you see 65 or 250 things drop down, and all those are going into your body.
Another big thing that interfered with us, sleeping at different places, traffic outside the window, the sound, the sirens, the backing up buses.
There are so many things that you wouldn’t even know. Oh, another big one, this was so huge:
At an Airbnb, there was a water heater timer that was manual, and every night I tracked on my Ring, I would wake up at the same time.
And I didn’t know this because I was sleeping, but it was a hard funk when that thing turned on.
And so it’s like, long story short, I’m trying to say that most people should try to track this from time to time.
Even if you think you’re doing a really good job with sleep, once you track a little bit more, you can be more honest about those weird things that might be interrupting your sleep without you even knowing it.
And there are a lot of them, there are a lot of them.
Yeah, you make a great point.
Because if you could figure out if you’re getting good sleep or not, if you’re not getting good sleep, and you’re doing so many other things right, the keto, the fasting, the working out that we talked about, but your sleep is just not the way we want it to be, it’ll be very hard to get those results.
But if you could change your sleep habits and kind of get into that groove, getting quality sleep, everything else you’re doing will upgrade just automatically.
It’s so important. Because you could go weeks without food, you could go weeks without exercise.
But you cannot go weeks without sleep, your body will turn into a crazy person.
So, you have got to really start with the foundation, and like you said, the Oura Ring is a great way to track that.
Abel: Yeah. And there are other ways of tracking it too, but keeping your eye on it.
I was so surprised and I still am, where it’s like, I’m good about being in bed for a long time, but I’m not always good about sleeping.
Even if I’m in bed for 10-11 hours, sometimes it’s five or six hours of sleep, other times I can crack seven or eight, but very rarely do I get any more than that.
And I think it’s really difficult to sleep in this modern world, it just is.
Because so many of us are assaulted with all of these different lights, sounds, and various sensations that we’re not used to, and it cracks us out.
So, it’s just another excuse to go and unplug and go camping or go to the beach in Miami, get some grounding in, that’s another thing that can really help.
How Health Relates to Entrepreneurship
And we do have just a little bit more time here, Ben, but I want to make sure we talk about the entrepreneurship piece as well.
Because I think a big thing that happens, hopefully, is that once people get their way of eating and moving, down, they get extra energy and extra time.
Also with fasting, you’re going to get hours of your day back to do cool stuff with, and fasting also I feel like can give you a little more revved-up energy.
And so it’s a big thing for entrepreneurs. Let’s talk about that. I’ve seen a lot of…
People start businesses right when they nail the health thing, and it seems like you kind of are doing that, and have done that, and it’s just my favorite thing to say, I got to say.
Oh, that’s awesome, Abel. Yeah, thank you for that. And you’re so right, it’s like a superpower.
I do feel like doing keto and fasting the right way is a superpower that really sets you apart from anybody else who’s not doing this, because…
Let’s talk about fasting real quick.
I did the math, because I speak a lot in front of entrepreneurs, and real estate investors, and I teach them how to utilize this to grow their business and scale up.
Because I believe health is our true wealth. What good is all that money, if you don’t have the energy and vitality to use it?
And being unhealthy is the most selfish thing you can do.
Because not only are you robbing yourself, but your family, your friends, your business partner, they don’t get your truest personality, truest version.
So, health is so important.
When you fast, for instance, let’s say an entrepreneur listening right now, or business owner, they spend 15 minutes a day for breakfast and they spend 15 bucks for that breakfast.
After a year, if they just did fasting and they skipped that, and they used that time to meditate, or they used that time for whatever reason to build their business, they get back two and a half days after a year…
They also get back $3900 that they could use for their business.
So you get time, you get money, and your body is pumping you full of these counter regulatory hormones when you’re fasting.
Which the body starts to think when you’re fasting, “Oh, crap, I haven’t had any food in 16 hours, 18 hours.
We need to keep this body alert, focused and driven, so we could go out there and hunt and kill our next meal.”
The body does not give a crap and does not know that I could go on my phone and hit the Uber Eats app and have a millennial knocking on my door in 30 minutes.
The body doesn’t care about that. We’re hard-wired for the old school.
So, it will raise counter regulatory hormones and literally pump you full of energy to go hunt and kill.
But the ultimate hack here for an entrepreneur is, we’re going to use all that energy, all that focus, to crush the task at hand.
To crush the interview like I’m doing right now. I’m fasting right now to crush a talk, a sales conversation, whatever it is.
So, it’s one of the most potent tools you can have in your entrepreneurial toolbox.
Abel: I think of it as an extra gear.
It’s like an overdrive, where you’re just in cruise mode, but also I find it easier to listen to people and I find it easier to talk.
Whereas it’s not quite as fast-paced and intense of a conversation a lot of times over dinner.
That’s more of rest and digest mode.
And so I think it is in many ways a different state of the body, and the mind, and the physiology when you’re in that doing work, hunting mode before…
Like, this is the work mode. We are getting food so that we can rest and digest and have fun later.
And unfortunately, so many people haven’t really experienced that mode and built that machinery, because it does take a few weeks. There is a transition.
But before we go, what advice would you give to other people who are flirting with the idea of making this a life’s calling?
The coaching piece or starting their own business around health.
If they want to… Could you ask that again? What do you mean specifically?
Abel: Yeah, so there are a lot of people who, in their journey, they find health and then they’re looking for something to do with it.
And they don’t want to work that dead end job anymore for the corporate machine, and they want to do something like you’re doing.
How can we egg them on, because we need all the help we can get?
Yeah, we do need a lot of help. There’s a lot of people who are hurting out there. I would say that it’s…
If you’ve gone through it yourself, health transformation, and this is your highest value, you really love studying this and sharing it, then you have a duty and a responsibility to really get it out into the world and make a difference.
So my answer now on this day, in this day and age today, would be to utilize a platform like YouTube and podcasting.
I think those are two major platforms that you can reach the world with.
YouTube is my biggest platform followed by the podcasting, so I would recommend that.
And sharing it with your friends, with your family, and building that community.
And then, as you build that tribe and you just show up every single day, you’ll develop a following.
As long as you continue showing up. And it’s not going to happen over night.
Look, for me, it was crickets. Even for my YouTube channel, but I committed to it.
I committed to putting out two videos on my YouTube channel every single week.
Six months in, I was a little frustrated with it, but I said, I committed, and if you commit, there’s no quitting, right?
So then, all of a sudden, one of my videos about keto fruits takes off, it almost has a million views right now, and the challenge just grows.
I think it was the universe really testing me to see if I’m committed to this cause.
And I am committed to this cause.
So, I broke the universe and I pushed forward. So that’d be my advice right there, break the Universe…
Abel: That’s great advice.
Abel: That’s what it feels like. It really feels like that.
When you make something like that happen and it’s big, you broke the Universe. In a good way.
In a good way. Yeah, exactly. So the last thing I would share is that, there’s going to be times where I felt like a failure.
But I truly believe that failure does not really exist until you quit. Until you give up. It’s really just feedback.
And if you could keep adjusting your eyes on your goals, like I talked about on the prize, then you just use that as a stepping stone to navigate.Nothing is really in the way, it's all on the way. @THEBENAZADI Click To Tweet
Just keep pushing forward and surround yourself with people like Abel, people who are an environment that you want.
Because you do become your environment.
And that’s what I did, I surrounded myself with those who saw greatness in me and had the results that I wanted to accomplish.
And that’s what I would share.
Where to Find Ben Azadi
Abel: Right on, man. Alright, so what’s the best place for people to find your books and everything else that you’re working on?
And then I also have my Keto Kamp podcast which Abel was on.
And if you type in Ben Azadi on Amazon, you could see all my books.
Abel: Right on. Ben, you are doing such great work, we need you more than ever. Thanks so much.
I appreciate you. Right back at you, Abel. Thank you.
Before You Go…
He gave it 5 out of 5 stars, and he says…
“Must have in the kitchen!
Great book full of tasty recipes and also great information. The food pictures make your mouth water 😋.
I found this book to be a big help as I stepped into the world of paleo style eating and I’m happy to recommend this book to anyone.
Definitely a great book worth every penny.”
Hey, John, thank you so much for that. I appreciate it.
For those of you who don’t know, The Wild Diet is my dietary approach that we’ve been doing for many years now.
It was a number seven trend on Google before they started censoring us.
We had a massive following all over the world, many thousands of people.
He was able to go from 352 pounds and 52% body fat, to being 87 pounds below that and going rock climbing for the first time.
And so I love the transformations that I see in some of you, and I love that we can keep in touch over the years. Because a lot of you who transform your body and your life then become coaches yourselves and start a podcast and write your own books. And Ben on today’s show is a wonderful example of someone who’s done just that.
Now, before you go, I just want to say–thank you for being here on fatburningman.com. You can find every episode of this show here on the website without outside advertising.
Make sure you sign up for our newsletter. We have many, many cool announcements coming out soon, no matter where you are.
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What did you think of this interview with Ben Azadi? Drop a comment below!