Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof and author of New York Times bestseller The Bulletproof Diet, is a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur who spent two decades and over $300,000 hacking his own biology.
Dave lost 100 pounds without counting calories or excessive exercise, used biohacking techniques to upgrade his brain by more than 20 IQ points, and lowered his biological age while learning to sleep more efficiently in less time. Learning to do these seemingly impossible things transformed him into a better entrepreneur, a better husband, and a better father.
Dave and I are good friends, and today we’re talking about his new sexy hair—and just how he keeps it so meticulously beautiful…
Actually, we’re digging into the problems with ketosis—and what to do about them. Plus, how to easily feed your kids properly (yes, kids can like sushi and sardines), and the trick to tackling food cravings.
First off, Dave claims that there’s nothing in his hair– he simply stopped cutting it in January and has been using a lot of collagen… now it’s really long in just three months! He also has been floating in his floatation tank, which gives his hair a nice magnesium salt soak. So, he’s rocking this awesome 70’s style.
KETOSIS: TACKLING THE PROBLEMS WITH GREAT RESULTS
The listeners on The Fat Burning-Man show have been asking a lot about ketosis, and there can’t be a more perfect guest to answer those questions than Mr. Ketosis himself. Ketosis is what we like to call “fat-burning mode.” It’s when your body switches to burning fat instead of burning sugar.
Our bodies are stupidly lazy– which allows us to stay alive for a long period of time and reproduce… which is kind of important. But that means you’re going to burn sugar first because it’s easy, even though there are all kinds of metabolic consequences. Then when there’s no sugar it starts ripping apart muscle for energy, and your adrenaline plays a huge part.
Finally, when your body starts feeling like it’s too much work to make energy out of protein, it switches to fat and it’s like, “I feel amazing.”
Dave says he fasted for four days in a cave in the desert with no one around for ten miles, at the end of which he got into an incredibly clear mental state.
Fasting Isn’t a Fad
Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism (Alyson’s family is sort-of Mormon)– just about every major religion includes some form of ritual fasting.
A lot of people want to radicalize fasting as a ridiculous new thing, but it’s much older than the way we are eating today (hyper processed foods). Look back into history and the practice of what it means to be human in surviving times of feast and famine, and you find your body is adapted to under-eat at times.
Some people do well in a constant state of ketosis—like our mutual friend Jimmy Moore (Living La Vida Low Carb). He’s been in ketosis for a really long period of time and has lost over 100 pounds!
Dave also lost about 100 pounds but doesn’t stay in ketosis all the time—he uses cyclical ketosis. He has found that surfing in and out of ketosis provides the most will power, resilience, and energy without the metabolic consequences of long-term ketosis.
While I (Abel) do recommend peeing on trees—best place to go in the wild—I do not pee on sticks or use technology of any kind to measure my ketones. The cyclical timing of my carbs has just become a natural way of life.
“When you’re straddling ketosis,” says Dave, “It’s a nice balance for a lot of people.”
While it’s nice at first to think that if you learn this new thing it will be a golden egg that will solve all your problems, it’s not.
When you first start a ketogenic diet, you might feel your sex drive and energy dip—don’t just focus on that one magic bullet to solve everything long-term. It might be useful for a week or two or a few days… and it might depend on season, work travel. You can time your carbs by eating more of them if you’re feeling undernourished or have a super huge workout, etc.
HOW DO YOU TARGET YOUR CARBS IN THE RIGHT WAY?
When Dave first started experimenting with a ketogenic diet, he did zero carbs—which actually caused some food allergies and he lost his mucus stomach lining and couldn’t create tears. So, he switched to a carb timing approach:
NEVER carbs in the morning. Carbs at breakfast are destructive to productivity and focus. I recommend doing them at dinner or a little bit after dinner for better sleep.
Carbs before bed. I recommend a little raw honey before bed to raise liver glycogen, increase storage for carbs and feed the brain. You’ll sleep more efficiently and increase adrenal restoration.
We save our treats for the very end of the day—it’s a beautiful time to crash out.
Abel: I had always had a really hard time sleeping—it would be eleven or twelve and I’m staring at the fan—brain wouldn’t shut off. Now I avoid carbs in first half of the day and then if I’m going to eat them (honey, maple sugar), I eat them at the end of the night or right after dinner and I get a great night’s sleep.
Dave: I want any sleep I get to be high performance sleep.
The glymphatic system dictates what the body does at night. You lay down to go to sleep and then a cerebral spinal fluid bath comes into the brain and washes out toxic proteins that buildup during the day. Is that the primary reason we sleep? We’re still not sure, but we know it’s a maintenance cycle.
If you can increase performance of mitochondria, then they can burn at a higher rate and you can get that fuel from ketones or sugar.
Bulletproof Coffee in The Morning
In the morning I do bulletproof coffee with Brain Octane Oil— because it sparks the ketones the fastest. If you can get them up to .3 (not nutritional ketosis) or .48, you manipulate ghrelin (which makes you hungry) and the CCK (which makes you feel full). It essentially turns off hunger.
No sugar or protein at breakfast– just saturated fat and brain octane oil.
What‘s really interesting is that when you go on a calorie-restricted diet and lose fifty pounds without addressing the ghrelin production, you’re just as hungry as when you were fifty pounds heavier. Then you start to use willpower, which is a finite resource— Your willpower will run out eventually.
If you don’t reset your ghrelin, you lose the willpower and gain back the weight.
However, if you at least go into a state of ketosis at the end of the diet, you can use that ghrelin to reset your hunger level to your current wait requirements. OR, you can do that every day by doing a daily ketogenic fast—or carb timing.
Women and Ketogenic Fasting
Women are more sensitive to men because adrenals tied to sex hormones.
Every day of the month is another part of their cycle—in terms of paying attention to the daily state of your body I think woman are trained from puberty to pay attention. What does that mean? Women, when they are too low in carbs for too long, they have sleep problems sooner than men.
“When I was too low carb,” says Dave, “I was waking up 12 times at night. My body was going ‘eat some carbs, stupid!’ And I developed food allergies.”
For a lot of women, it doesn’t work all the time. For some it works! If your sleep goes away and you get symptoms, just have some clean carbs in the evening.
Women— should replenish their carbs at least twice a week.
Men— should replenish their carbs at least once a week.
Look at past week and month and then decide what you need? If you’re biking 100 miles a day it’s a different refeed than if you’re not.
Dave puts butter on everything. Putting butter on stuff is really fun.
People don’t have enough fun with their food.
Kids, however, have fun with their food. According to Dave, toddlers absorb half of their calories through their face. Food is a tactile experience, and they’ll smear food everywhere. So, when Dave’s daughter was three, they let her. They hauled all kinds of food outside and let her go crazy—and it’s an experience she will never forget.
HOW DO YOU FEED YOUR KIDS THIS WAY?
It is so easy—especially if you eat this way during pregnancy, they’re primed to eat this way. They’re like little birds, they will smear food on everything in your house. I’d hand them a bite of butter and it would be all over their face. They’d open their mouth, “Daddy can I have a bite of butter in my mouth please.” Let them have salt and butter. Of course, it’s Himalayan salt that’s clean and full of minerals. They try restaurant salt and it doesn’t taste right.
Assure them: You won’t starve if you don’t eat.
“I don’t like it. I don’t want to eat this.” Okay. We’ll have another meal in four hours. Be respectful and just let them know that it’s okay if they don’t eat anything. But then they don’t snack until the next meal—and they shouldn’t have to snack anyway. They won’t starve.
After a time or two doing this, they always choose to eat. Dave’s kids eat sardines, olives, anchovies, sushi (salmon eggs)—which are so high in nutrients that Indians used to dry the salmon eggs and save them for pregnant women to eat. That’s what’s normal to them.
Dave’s kids eat vegetables with lamb sausage on the top for breakfast—and they know when they need 1 ½ sausages verses two! They won’t eat a steak covered in a sickly sweet sauce, either.
When Dave’s son Alan was at school, his teacher asked him if he wanted an apple. He answered, “Is it organic?” YES. “Is it moldy?” No. So, he eats it. Dave is kind of a self-admitted freak about toxic mold because it messes with hormones, kidneys, liver… mold is behind a lot of chronic diseases. The daily oxidative damage adds up over time… And apples are one of the moldier crops.
If your kids want junk food let them know it’s not a treat. Junk food is junk food, it’s addictive. We don’t eat that. Kids who eat a high fat diet with the right kinds of fat and no junk food don’t whine!
If my kids go crazy and cranky it’s probably because they had sugar.
If they happen to get some food that’s not fresh, contains chemicals or sugar, you can give them some activated charcoal and you’ll see an almost immediate change in their behavior.
HOW DO YOU USE ACTIVATED CHARCOAL?
For about 10,000 years, humans have used charcoal as a digestive remedy. In Cambodia they sell capsules of it all over the place. The molecules are super crinkly so there’s a lot of surface area with a lot of negative charge so the positive particles stick to it.
Disclaimer: Dave manufactures the upgraded coconut charcoal. It comes in capsules and you take one or two and it opens up in your stomach and it sticks to protein and other bad stuff in your food.
Nutrient density is not the most important thing in food—You need calories for fuel and nutrient-only plans ignore the fact that you need calories for energy.
When you’re on the road, you can take a little upgraded coconut charcoal to avoid the crashes after restaurant meals—which often triggers hypoglycemia. Why? Because the toxins in the food divert attention from the brain—but you can avoid that by not allowing the toxins from the food to get absorbed in the first place.
What about for kids? How do you know you’re getting a right amount? “When they were little and they had a really upset stomach, we’d make a paste with activated charcoal and raw honey.” If it doesn’t constipate them, then it’s not too much.
You know you’ve had too much when it constipates you. “When my kids were really young they’d take one capsule. If they eat a meal and they both start melting down right after and I feel tired and Lana’s cranky, we each take a capsule. Then you have calm focused kids.”
THE BULLETPROOF COFFEE SHOP
I love it when virtual things come to real life, and Bulletproof is coming out in the flesh!
Dave has been working for almost two years on opening the Bulletproof Coffee Shop, which will feature a full menu of fresh local grass-fed meat featuring different ranches on a monthly basis.
Meat is no different from wine or choc or coffee… there’s an artistry to making good quality lamb and beef and pork. The café will also serve salad with salad undressing—amazing dressing and the salad is in the dressing as well as in the salad.
This is so far from a McDonald’s Salad Shaker it’s ridiculous.
Of course there will also be a selection of Bulletproof Coffees with all kinds of ways to stack upgrades. The goal is to feed you stuff that makes you not want to eat for a very long time.
No sugar, just xylitol and erythritol, fats, brain octane oil, avocado… upgraded collagen You go in for breakfast and maybe you’ll buy lunch to go and you’re good until dinner. You don’t have to fend off bagel cravings and that’s how I live my life now—it used to be a constant food-seeking behavior.
Once you get to this bulletproof stat of high performance– it’s an effortless state wherein your brain just works.
When Dave used to believe in cheat days, he’d go out and chow on sugary layered desserts and then feel awful for four days afterward. Now, the eating urge is completely uninteresting… even if the grass-fed steak with bacon sounds good, it’s not a craving. It’s a desire.
WHERE TO FIND DAVE ASPREY
Well, once it opens in May you’ll find him at his Bulletproof Coffee Shop in Santa Monica at the corner of Venice and Main—right beneath Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office!