Interview with Dave Asprey, bio hacker and founder of The Bulletproof Executive.

EPISODE 84
Bio Hacking – Dave Asprey – Raw Food Sweeteners

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Dave Asprey is a biohacker who has spent more than $300K on weird pills, science experiments, at-home quantified self gizmos, and extreme brain training sessions.

Perhaps best known for his “Bulletproof Coffee,” Dave is a pioneer in nutrition for cognitive performance not just physical performance. Basically, he’s the guy CEO’s go to when they want to get more stuff done and not die in the process.

In this Show, You’ll learn:

  • The importance of fats
  • How to boost cognitive function
  • Why mind is as important as body
  • Do tight pants increase flexibility
  • About getting into the side splits

Links & References from the Show

Got questions?

Lucas:

Yoga students, if you love to learn about yoga, health and wellness, plant-based nutrition, flexibility and mind/body biohacking, you have come to the right place, my friend. Welcome to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood, where my goal is to make your yoga practice just that much easier. Find us online at YogaBodyNaturals.com. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube. Check us out. Now let’s get on with the show.

So hello and welcome, everyone. Lucas Rockwood here, Yoga Talk Show. Thanks for tuning in. I’m here today with a special guest, Dave Asprey. Dave is a biohacker, and he spent over $300,000 on weird pills, science experiments, at-home quantified gizmos and extreme brain training sessions. He’s perhaps best known for Bullet-Proof Coffee, which is something we’ll probably get into. Dave is a pioneer of nutrition for cognitive performance, not just physical performance, and basically he’s the guy that CEOs go to when they want to get more stuff done and not die in the process.

So you can check out his website and get a full range of upgraded nutrition and life hacking products. His website is BulletProofExec.com, and you’ll also find his book which is called The Better Baby Book, on Amazon.com.

So thanks so much for joining us, Dave.

Dave:

Lucas, it’s my pleasure.

Lucas:

(01:20) So for people who are listening and who are unfamiliar with the whacky of world of biohacking and Dave Asprey, can you give them just a little brief intro, in terms of who you are and what you’re about?

Dave:

Sure. (01:32) I’m a guy who weighs around 200 pounds now, who used to weigh around 300 pounds. As a young man, I had arthritis in my knees when I was 14, and really wasn’t very healthy. I ended up having a lot of brain fog in my mid 20s, and I had some career success in Silicon Valley and I said I’m going to, instead of buying a fast car or something like that, I’m going to start spending this on myself so that I can make sure my brain works right, and I’d also like to lose this 100 pounds that I’ve been desperately trying to lose ever since I was a teenager.

(02:06) Because I had some financial resources, I was able to do things that were a little bit unusual, and I tried lots of stuff and I tracked everything, mostly because I’m a geek. Throughout that path, I ended up looking a lot into more Eastern techniques, as well as Western techniques. I’ve been to Tibet, I’ve done lots of yoga retreats, I spent 10 days at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal, went to Mount Kailash, the head waters of the Ganges, and spent five years doing yoga, believe it or not. And I’m not practicing as much as I would like to now, I have two young kids and I’m running the Bullet Proof Executive and spending lots of time on airplanes, but the breathing techniques and the movement techniques that I incorporated into my nervous system from doing yoga are part of how I can achieve some of the performance states I do.

(02:57) If you don’t know how to breathe or you don’t know how to do these other things, particularly around the way you move, the way you stand, you don’t perform as well. And that message goes far beyond people who are dedicated yoga practitioners. It goes to CEOs and everyone else.

Lucas:

Let’s talk a little bit about dietary fat and cognitive function. We’re kind of jumping right into the deep end, but I know you have such great information about this and so many people talk about real big generalities. They say eat more greens and they say exercise more, and you get really, really specific. So if you don’t mind, I’ll just throw you right into the deep end there. (03:30) Talk to us about dietary fat and cognitive function, because I know that’s something you optimize for. And in the pop health world, most people think that our brain needs sugar. So what’s your take, what’s your experience and what are you teaching that’s different than perhaps what most people listening have heard?

Dave:

(03:46) In one of the recent podcasts that I conducted with Dominic D’Agostino on Bullet Proof Executive Radio, we talked about brand new research that showed for the first time ever that your brain wants ketones before it wants glucose. Ketones come from eating fats, not from eating sugar. So the brain is capable of burning sugar, but if you give it a choice it wants the fat. Your hormones are made of fat, and one of the strange things that’s happened in yoga culture is we’ve got this sort of vegan direction that things are going because if you have taken your practice to that point where you want to integrate what you’re doing with the world around you, you care about yourself, you care about other lives and you realize I don’t want to participate in the killing of other creatures, what that can do though is it can actually harm your practice and it can make you less conscious because you need saturated fat for your brain to do all it can do.

(04:47) If you want to have the ultimate yoga experience from the perspective of your prefrontal cortex, the most human part of your brain, being turned on, being aware and being the orchestrator for the other parts of your brain and your nervous system and your body it’s going to need fat. And you don’t have to take that from me. You can take that from the historical practice of using ghee, which is clarified butter, throughout India and throughout other parts of the world where advanced meditation practices are used. I’m thinking of the Tibetan take butter tea, which was actually the inspiration for Bullet Proof Coffee. Why do I feel amazing at 17,000 feet elevation when I’m drinking this weird, salty yak butter tea, when I should be feeling awful? And I thought, well let me take this back to Silicon Valley and see what I can do with it. And with a few upgrades that wouldn’t be available in a Tibetan plateau, that’s where Bullet Proof Coffee came from.

I’ve had the experience of working with one of my yoga teachers, who had been trying to go vegan and teach five classes a day, with a very aggressive practice of his own and he was getting major brain fog, partly from lack of calories and also from lack of fat. So I sat down with him and said, at your level of physical activity you’re burning more food than other people. You need more food, and it can’t be just grains and sugars and vegetables, because as many vitamins are in something like broccoli there really isn’t much fuel in broccoli. And if you’re going to go have an aggressive practice, that’s going to take calories. And you’re going to sit and meditate for an hour, believe it or not, your brain can use up to a quarter of the calories that your whole body burns.

(06:35) So to have really a thinking brain and a moving body, it’s going to require fat and it’s going to require calories and it doesn’t work very well if there are a lot of toxins in them or if you’re eating things that have some good properties and some bad properties. If you want to reach that kind of blissful meditative state or you want to really rock that pose that you’re working on, having things that don’t inflame the body at the same time they fuel it is a good idea. By the way, that works in the boardroom as well as on a yoga mat. It doesn’t really matter. These are core principles for just living in a conscious state.

Lucas:

So I think what you’re talking about is good fat and bad fat. And in pop health world, all paths kind of lead to these yellow bottles that look like motor oil in the grocery store. So let’s just bust that myth open. Are these seed oils any good? What about corn oil and soy oil? Aren’t these amazing for our health? Polyunsaturated, aren’t they going to keep us from heart disease and reverse cardiovascular disease? What’s the story with this? (07:34) Why have people gotten so off track, and what is the difference between good fat or bad fat or are they all good or are they all bad?

Dave:

Well, it would be so simple for us if we could say protein good, sugar bad, fat bad or good. It’s not that simple. (07:52) Some fats are good, some are bad, some proteins are good, some are bad and some vegetable sources are more inflammatory than others. And that whole hierarchy of this one is less inflammatory than this one, this one has the most nutrition compared to this one, this one has better fat compared to that one, that’s how I organize foods.

So on the Bullet Proof Diet, these are all stack ranked and this is a free thing people can download. Go to BulletProofDietBook.com, it’s a free download of a PDF that’s professionally designed, it will fit on your screen or your refrigerator and tell you which fats are better or worse.

(08:28) But the ones that make you perform this best, this is really good news, things like egg yolks, assuming you’re not allergic to eggs which a lot of people are, things like butter from grass-fed cows, I typically recommend Kerrygold, which is an Irish brand of butter for the simple reason that in Ireland grass is cheaper than grain so the cows eat a lot of grass and it tastes really good, too. And other things like coconut oil, or what I use when I’m doing this advanced brain training that I bring some of my CEO clients through called 40 Years of Zen, we use an extract of coconut oil called Brain Octane, that’s available on my website on BulletProofExec.com. Brain Octane is 18 times stronger than normal coconut oil. It’s oil that’s just 4 percent of normal coconut, and that oil is one of the oils that your body will use to make ATP very quickly.

It’s the type of oil that you get when you’re fasting. When you go into this state of ketosis in fasting, you get that mental clarity, if you ever tried a cleanse without a lot of sugar and fruit juice but like a water fast. You feel, at first a little wobbly, and then after a day or two you feel sort of like this, I guess you could call it like a blissful state of awareness where you have energy and you recognize that you’re kind of hungry but your brain is on fire. That is ketones happening, and you can get that in a bottle, just by adding the right kind of oil so your body has enough of it to make energy straight from the fat instead of having to go through 26 steps of converting sugar into energy. This stuff takes three steps.

(10:09) And from there, grass-fed meat, they have fat in them as well and that fat is loaded with micronutrients, things like Vitamin E, Vitamin A, even Vitamin D can be in there. So that means if you’re going to go to the store and you’re going to buy some sort of main protein for dinner, tofu is a bad choice because it’s got the polyunsaturated oils in it, the ones that are contributing to inflammation in your body. You’re better to go with a grass-fed, grass-finished steak and make it a rib eye. Make it the fattiest steak you can get. Or a nice piece of salmon, which is going to have monounsaturated oils, as long as it’s wild-caught salmon. If it’s farmed salmon it’s kind of the same as chicken but it’s pink. Farmed salmon is actively destroying a lot of watersheds around the world, including where I live here in Victoria, British Columbia. I don’t recommend people eat farmed salmon.

Why is it this complex? I wish it wasn’t. That’s just how the science worked out.

Lucas:

For people listening, a lot of people are into mind/body practices and they’re hearing about fat. They probably never tried a high-fat diet. And for somebody who’s never tried it, it can be a revolution. I was really fortunate to have a really great teacher very early on, who put me on a mostly ketogenic program and it really, really changed my meditation practice and things like this.

I know you do something called 40 Years of Zen. A lot of people are going to hear this and they’re going to think 40 Years of Zen, this is some kind of gimmick. Can you help us understand about this? Again, I know you work with high-level clients. These are people who are trying to perform in the boardroom. They’re not necessarily trying to have the biggest biceps or trying to do the deepest backbends, but cognitive performance is something that I think everybody listening is interested in. (11:54) So this 40 Years of Zen is something you’re the only person I’ve ever heard talk about, and I sure don’t fully understand it, so maybe you can give us a little taste of what that’s all about.

Dave:

Oh sure. (12:05) Of course, during that program we use the Bullet Proof Diet, a very high-fat diet, in order to fuel brain states that are typically really hard to get into. What we do in the program is hook 80 electrodes up to your head so we can see what’s happening inside your brain, and you sit in a chamber where it’s dark and there’s a speaker on either side of your head and you do whatever you have to do inside your heart or inside your head or your gut, wherever it is, breathe, whichever way it works, but make the sounds louder. And when the sounds get louder your brain is moving towards the state of someone who has spend between 21 and 40 years of daily Zen meditation practice, what other Zen masters would call an advanced Zen practitioner.

(12:52) It turns out that if you look at the brains of multiple people with the same skill, doing the same thing, you can get a picture of what the brainwaves look like, and you can train others to do that sort of thing. So at the end of seven days, by the way this is seven extremely, extremely intense days of introspection and meditation, what you get is a brain that has the brain state as someone who spent up to 40 years of doing Zen practice. That is a huge claim, however it is my experience and it is validated by science. So it’s a real thing.

The reason that I originally did this was that I was looking for a cognitive boost from it. What I did not expect or understand is that along with that cognitive boost came something that any advanced meditator would probably talk to you about. It’s control of the ego. Because the thing that’s holding most people back, cognitively and in other parts of their life, is actually they’re getting in their own way and they don’t know it. The real thing that’s happening in 40 Years of Zen is you have a lie detector that’s pointed at your head and it tells you when you’re lying to yourself, so you can basically, for those of us who are listening who are advanced meditators, you can kind of part the vale of confusion that you put on yourself and you can realize, oh there’s that behavior that I had, here’s where that thing comes from, and you can then let it go.

And I walked away from this the first time I’ve done it, I’ve done it five times, actually five and-a-half times, and I’ve brought lots of clients through it with me or without me in the room with them, and what happens there is you realize more about who you are and you realize that if you want to perform at the level you’re capable of as a parent, as a friend, as a spouse, as an employee or entrepreneur or whatever else, that you need to be aware of what’s going on, the voices in your head, and they’re very slippery and they get away from you. If you talk to Zen master and you’re doing Vipassana for 10 days, you would face some of these same things. It just takes longer, because you don’t have a computer telling you when you managed to confuse yourself, even though you’re working hard.

(15:15) Think of this like a marathon for your brain, and what I found was most impactful for me, something that doubled my performance, my ability to sit in the chamber and put myself in this state for longer periods of time, was the Bullet Proof Diet and specifically the Brain Octane Oil. So I’m very cautious that every day I have the right kind of fuel in my body, to allow me to be as conscious as my biology is capable of supporting.

Lucas:

Some of the smartest people that I find in nutrition today, they’re bodybuilders and they’re Crossfit people, and I just think it’s hard for a lot of business people or just busy normal people to take them seriously because their priorities are so different. It’s one of the reasons why I was interested in your work and why I listened to your show. Your average working mom, she really couldn’t care less about her dead lift. One of my students actually said this to me. She said, Crossfit is great but I don’t actually want to do a dead lift, and I find that a lot of people are in this place, where a lot of the really smart people talking about nutrition are optimizing for their dead lift, they’re optimizing for their workout of the day and there’s not that many people really addressing practical issues that every day people are dealing with, things like their waistline, things like premature aging, things like out of whack hormones.

So my question is for you, and this is a really tough question, are there really any universals? You have people that throw out really generic statements like eat food, mostly plants, and then there’s people who throw out very, very specific things, meaning you have to have 40 percent protein and 30 percent carbs. (16:46) Are there really any universals, from your experience, or is it really just going to depend on the individual and what they’re trying to optimize for?

Dave:

Well, that makes me think about different paths of Buddhism, believe it or not. There’s the fast path, there’s slow paths that take multiple lifetimes, but the idea is if you’re working to get there, there’s multiple ways. So I don’t maybe recommend a 10-day water fast for people because there’s risks for your thyroid. I know there are people who have done that and magically they had huge improvements in their health and wellness. We know that people are genetically different.

(17:23) So part of biohacking is monitoring how you’re doing, and as powerful as self-awareness of your state is, sometimes it’s not enough and just writing how do I feel today on a scale of 1 to 10 and tracking whether it’s going up or going down over time, that will teach you something about what you’re doing. Writing down what you ate really makes a difference. What I do is I look at my stress using something called heart rate variability. It’s the change in spacing between each of my heart beats. There’s an app, it’s called HRV Sense, it’s $1.99, and this is an app that I put out online, you use it with a chest strap and it will monitor your heart rate variability all day long, and I can see when I’m more stressed and when I’m not stressed.

And I’ve actually driven in traffic with a heart rate monitor attached to my head, telling me not my heart rate, which isn’t that useful, but telling me when my sympathetic nervous system went into a fight or flight mode. And you know what? I convinced myself that I was calm, but I’ll tell you, my nervous system wanted to kill the guy who cut me off in front of me. When the technology taught me that, then I was able to really address that nervous system behavior, rather than what I thought I was supposed to be doing. It’s that level of monitoring, especially in real time, that enables us to rapidly progress towards being more conscious of our activities. That’s a part of biohacking.

(18:47) The other part is understanding the inseparable interaction between your body and your nervous system, and even your thinking and your feeling, and the environment around you. And by making subtle changes to what you put into your body or to the environment around you, you can have dramatic changes in consciousness, in happiness, in core metrics of who you are and what you are capable of doing. So change your environment to change your genes and to change your brain and to change your nervous system. You just need to know how to change the environment, and that’s what biohackers are working on.

Lucas:

And so this kind of loops back to another difficult, but I think important question, that I certainly don’t have the answer to but people come back to this thing about eating naturally. Again, it’s one of these broad, brushstroke words that people throw out there, and they say we need to eat like cavemen, and cavemen only eat this way, or we need to eat modern agriculture way. And I’m curious, the way you eat clearly isn’t natural. I wouldn’t say the way I eat is in any way natural. A huge percentage of the foods I eat are very, very strange, things like MCT oil, which you turned me onto and I’m a huge fan. Nothing about that is natural. You wouldn’t find that in nature, and that doesn’t bother me at all, and yet I think of myself on a holistic, natural health path. And I’m curious how you kind of address that and think about that for yourself.

Dave:

(20:11) It’s important that you eat foods that make you feel good and will help you not age more quickly than you should. My background includes time, in fact I’m still the chairman of the Silicon Valley Health Institute. For 20 years we’ve been bringing anti-aging people in to give lectures to the public, and a lot of the lectures are online and it’s all free stuff. It’s a non-profit. And that kind of knowledge is different than what you’ll hear from weight lifters, which are get big now. And there are some anti-aging weight lifters, for sure, but it’s a pretty small overlap. And then you get the meditation crowd, which is different still, so all of a sudden there’s kind of a smart drug, kind of cultish group, one I’m happily a member of. I take smart drugs that increase my mental performance and longevity of my neurons and I’m very happy to have found those.

(21:01) I also am a dedicated anti-aging person, I don’t want to get old. I want to look kind of like a weight lifter, but I don’t like to spend that much time in the gym. And certainly the awareness that comes with a meditation practice or a yoga practice is really important to me, because I don’t perform well when I don’t have that. I can’t prioritize which one of those is more important than the other, so I try to get them all and I try and balance all those things. The reason that I started the biohacking kind of movement and the reason I started putting all the information for free on the Bullet Proof Executive is that I realized the world is a better place when people have more brain energy. If you are not tired at the end of the day and if your brain is properly fueled and there aren’t roadblocks to, call it consciousness, that are coming into you from your environment or from your food, then people have enough energy to make progress towards feeling better, towards being kinder to other people and to basically treating each other well. So I want to live in a world like that, and I just wish someone had told me all this when I was 16 or when I was 21 and I hit 300 pounds and my brain wasn’t working and my joints hurt all the time, and all the things I managed to hack my way around. I didn’t really get a lot of that done until my late 30s. What if I had just known this?

And so every day I get emails from people saying, I had no clue what was going on and I just made these changes and two weeks later I have all these benefits, where my body feels better but most of all my brain feels better. And if your brain feels better your body will look reasonably good, and you’ll have the energy and the motivation to make the other changes in your body you want.

(22:45) But just changing the body and ignoring the mind will lead you to probably a low-calorie diet with excessive exercise, which will age you more quickly. You might look good for a little while, you’ll break your metabolism and you’ll end up gaining more weight when you stop doing that because it’s not sustainable. I say that having done that lots of times, before I figured out something that let me keep the weight off without hunger, without cravings, et cetera, et cetera.

Lucas:

Yeah, I love the message of optimizing for your brain, because at the end of the day the body is fleeting, but I think most of us want to hold onto our ability to think and reason and create, and all of that comes from cognition. You’re a guy who measures stuff, and the whole quantified self-movement, the biohacking movement is about keeping track of stuff and assigning a value and there’s the age-old axiom, what you measure improves. And that’s certainly been the case in my life. Any random thing I start measuring suddenly gets better.

And so I’m curious. This is like a really simplified question, but let’s imagine people are listening at home and there’s somebody listening and it’s a woman and she’s got three kids and she hears about this guy drinking butter in his coffee and meditating the equivalent of 40 years in 7 days, she’s thinking this guy is crazy but I want to give it a shot. Let’s say this person wants to just start measuring three things, doesn’t have $25,000, limited resources. (24:07) If you had to pick three metrics of your own body or your brain that you could measure at home really simply that would give you really tremendous insight into your health and longevity, what would those three be?

Dave:

(24:18) The first one is, on a scale of 1 to 10, how am I doing today. Am I happy, and what’s my energy level? If you want to get fancy you can say what’s my happy level, what’s my energy level, but just one number. How am I doing today? Or before bed, how did I do today? And this can be am I happy with my kids, am I happy with my career, am I happy with my relationships, am I happy with my community, et cetera. Just boil it all down to if I had to pick a number what would it be, and see where you are most of the time and ask yourself why was I a two today. Was that me or was that something outside of me? Was that what I ate? Was that because I got in a car accident? Who knows? But that will start focusing your mind on where the work needs to happen, and that’s a huge thing and it doesn’t cost a nickel.

(25:06) The other thing that I find to be terribly important is heart rate variability, and there’s two things that I recommend for this. One is the HRV Sense application. It requires a $60 wireless chest strap. You don’t have to use it all the time, but let your body work with your phone to tell you when your body is stressed. Most people aren’t very aware when their fight or flight response gets turned on. So you’ll sit there and some part of your nervous system, not your conscious brain, will get ready to either fight whatever’s around you or to run away from it, and that costs you energy that you should be using, in your example, to be a better mother or to take care of yourself or to go see your friends that you maybe haven’t seen in a little while. Whatever the things are that are important to you, if instead of doing those you’re getting ready to fight invisible tigers that your nervous system is inventing, you’re not going to win in the long term. So you want to address that.

One way is HRV Sense. The other way is you can actually train your nervous system. I’m an advisor to the Heart Math institute, and on the UpgradedSelf.com store we carry the training devices from the Heart Math Institute. These are called the EmWave or called the Inner Balance Sensor. It’s about $99. This is something that directly teaches you to feel what it’s like when your nervous system does that and then to turn it off. And it involves a breathing technique, but it’s a breathing technique where either your phone or this little device will show you when to breath, how, so that you can get that little meditative tweak that’s required in order for you to change the spacing of your heartbeats, which is a sure sign that your body has switched from fight or flight mode back into passive mode. In other words, it helps you become more in control of yourself. Those are two of the big metrics that I would look at.

(27:04) The other metric is one that only a person listening to this is going to know, and that is what are you hacking right now? What are you working on? Are you fat? If you’re fat, then what you should be tracking is your food intake but not your weight. You can know whether you’re losing weight or not just by looking in the mirror. The mirror is a much more powerful weight loss tool than scales, because inflammation is one of the things that drives fat and your inflammation changes in the mirror even if your weight on the scale moves in the other direction. So if you look puffy and you have these love handles you didn’t have the night before, you didn’t gain three pounds of fat overnight. You got inflamed because you ate something or were otherwise exposed to something that caused an inflammatory reaction in your body.

So you can start tracking what happened between yesterday and today and why do I look like this now when I didn’t look like this yesterday? That’s way more useful for weight loss than, oh look I lost a half a pound today. You didn’t lose that. That was all water. The day-to-day change is always water. The week-to-week change is actually potentially fat.

Lucas:

Interesting, I love it. I think most people listening have never even thought of, with the exception of number one, I don’t think they’ve ever thought of those metrics. In my world, people talk a lot about the science of yoga and it’s something that gets tossed around in workshops and seminars and classes, and my big gripe is there is no science. There was never any science. And the great thing about heart rate variability is it gives you science. And so for people who are listening who have never tried it, it’s absolutely incredibly because you can monitor your heart rate variability during different Pranayama breathing exercises and after different yoga practices, and it’s amazing the stuff you think is helping you, some of it isn’t, and some of the simpler or more basic practices can sometimes have much, much more benefit in terms of your nervous system than some of the more advanced stuff.

For me it’s been a real, real revolution. I’m excited to see the yoga community start to bring in some of the biohacking tools that you and your colleagues have really introduced, because it really changes the game and it brings a true science to something that has really been hearsay and passed down from generation to generation. While there’s huge, tremendous value in long lineages of learning and teaching and intuition, there’s also a really huge value in measurable, quantifiable data, and I think where the two meet is when people will start to see some really massive changes.

Dave, I wanted to ask you a little bit about kids. I know you wrote a book called The Better Baby Book, and for me I thought I knew about nutrition and then I had a couple of kids and I thought whoa, this is a whole different things. Meaning I eat bread, my body doesn’t like it but it’s not the end of the world, my kid eats bread and it’s like nightmare. It’s like somebody walks toward my kid with a cookie and I’m screaming and running across the room. I do not want that kid to put that thing in his mouth, because he’s going to be a terror. And so I’m curious about which came first, the chicken or the egg, the kids or the book. (30:07) How did that whole thing affect your work and your approach to nutrition?

Dave:

(30:13) The Better Baby Book came about from enlightened self-interest. I had Asperger’s Syndrome when I was a kid, at least all the symptoms of it. I wasn’t formally diagnosed with that until later in life when I was pretty far down the biohacking path, certainly was diagnosed with ADD, and my brain wasn’t working well because of constant neurological inflammation, eating the wrong foods and things like that. So I started working on myself and I fixed my diet and I found that I could have this level of focus that I only dreamed of in my 20s, even though I’m 40. My energy levels are way higher than they’ve ever been, and I’m so grateful for that.

(30:54) When it came time to having kids though, my wife had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. She’s a *** (30:59) trained physician from Sweden, and we probably wouldn’t have been able to have kids. So I sat down and said, well let’s do a little bit of research. And we looked at the dietary factors that would trigger fertility, and we looked at how the environment changes your genes. We ended up using 1,300 references to pull together The Better Baby Book. Wiley published this about a year ago, and my wife runs a fertility coaching practice where she helps mothers learn what to eat to become more fertile, but also to have kids with all the nutrients that they need in order to express their full genetic potential.

If a mother eats, say a vegan diet deficient in the right kinds of protein and the right kinds of fatty acids, it will show in the genes of the child. If you send a signal to your body or to the fetus inside you that there’s a famine happening right now because there’s a lack of protein and a lack of fat, then the genes of that baby will be set up to survive in a world where there’s not enough, and we wanted our children, their bodies, their biology, to believe that they’re in a world where there is plenty of room for them to get adequate nutrition, so that they should configure themselves to thrive and to grow instead of to survive.

(32:20) And a big piece of the philosophy behind the whole Bullet Proof Executive website is it’s that mindset. So if we can work on thriving not surviving, then the world is a better place. The world that you live in personally because your outlook, but also the way you behave towards other people and towards the planet will improve.

Lucas:

Awesome. Well great, thanks so much for sharing all of your insights. I know for people listening some of this stuff sounds new and revolutionary. I just encourage you to keep an open mind, and again, just start measuring things. And whether it’s as simple as measuring how you’re feeling in a day, or something a little bit more geeky like measuring your heart rate variability or taking your body temperature or your pulse in the morning, you can really start to get some really massive insight into your health. And we have this wonderful technology. Most people are carrying around a really, really powerful computer in their pocket, and you can start hooking that up to your body and learning some things so your health becomes less subjective and more quantifiable.

So Dave, thanks so much for sharing everything. (33:20) For people listening, where can they find out more about your blog and your podcast and your products?

Dave:

Actually before we do that, we need to give a shout out to Kenny Graham, who is one of my yoga teachers in the Bay area, and he live in Santa Cruz and founder of Simha Yoga. So Kenny, if you’re listening, which you surely are, hey man, thanks.

(33:40) Now, you can find me at BulletProofExec.com, and the stuff I’ve spoken about, the Brain Octane Oil, the heart rate variability equipment, things like that, collagen protein, that’s all on UpgradedSelf.com. My podcast is called Bullet Proof Executive Radio. We’ve been number one ranked on iTunes in the health category lots of times, and I would invite you to check us out at any of those places, as well as Facebook and Twitter and all the other places you’d expect to find someone like me.

Lucas:

Well thanks so much again, Dave, and I hope to talk to you very soon.

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. Welcome to the FAQ round. If you’ve got something that you want to ask, send your questions to podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com. And now, let’s hear what’s going on with our listeners.

Tracy asks:

(34:31) Can you tell me if wearing tights or tight pants increases your flexibility? I might be crazy, but I always feel like I can get into postures more deeply and comfortably when I’m wearing shorts.

No, tight pants does not increase your flexibility. I think we’ll leave it with that.

Alan asks:

(34:51) Regarding yoga, not leading up to the side splits, what about seated side legged forward bend? If you’re like me and 17 inches off the floor with the side splits, will sitting in that straddle stretch right muscle be able to do the straddle splits? I have noticed it is commonly recommended online as a preparatory stretch for the side splits, and it’s done in yoga.

Great question. Okay, so yoga poses, the splits. We have two different splits. We have the frontal splits and the side splits. The frontal splits is relatively easy to learn, most people can learn it pretty quickly actually, it’s not as deep of a pose as you’d think. The side splits is a really deep pose. That’s the one that Van Damme does between the two Volvo trucks on YouTube. In order to do that one, it takes quite a bit of stretching. One of the big challenges with it is that almost no poses in yoga lead up to it. I always talk about poses that are demonstrative, meaning they demonstrate flexibility, and then poses that build flexibility or strength. In yoga practice, unfortunately there are a whole bunch of poses that are demonstrative, meaning they demonstrate flexibility very, very well. So it’s like wow, look at that amazing flexibility, or wow look at that amazing strength. But they don’t develop it very well at all.

The side splits is a perfect example of that. There are people who have advanced yoga practices and are very, very open all over their entire body, but they can’t do the side splits. There’s a little bit of anatomy happening here as well. Some people, just because of the way their pelvis is structured they’re going to have a lot more trouble and maybe never get this as deep as other people. But more than anything, it’s just a pose that we do not do naturally. Your body has a tendency to protect your heart center, your gut and your groin. These are where our vital and reproductive organs are. If you imagine you’re walking down the street and suddenly you get scared or frightened, the first thing you do is you cover your heart and your groin. And the reason you do that is because those are the areas you need to protect and reproduce and carry on the species.

And so what that means is we don’t naturally open up those areas of our body at all. That’s why people do backbends and they start crying, because they have this big emotional release just from exposing their heart. It goes against our genetics in some ways. And people have that same kind of reaction with the really, really strong stretch reflex in and around your groin. So when you’re trying to do the side splits and you’re completely exposing your groin, your stretch reflex is so strong it will surprise you, and it takes a long, long time.

One of the reasons I teach PNF stretching for the side splits is because it helps you to overcome that stretch reflex. PNF stretching is proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and it basically involves the engaging and then the releasing of your quadriceps very, very strongly and then you release. What that allows you to do is it tricks your nervous system into relaxing deeper and deeper into the pose.

So Alan, to answer your question, does an asymmetrical side stretch help for building the side splits? I haven’t really noticed anything myself. I haven’t noticed any pose be very helpful. There’s a pose called Baddha Konasana, some of those hip-opening poses are slightly helpful, but more than anything you need to practice the side splits. 17 inches isn’t that bad. Use a chair, use a bunch of pillows, a whole, whole bunch of pillows, and stack them up underneath you and just start practicing the side splits. 17 inches is just fine. You can do it. You just need to get a bunch of props and a bunch of pillows, do it on the edge of a couch, anything you need to do. It’s going to be much more effective than those prep poses. It’s a deep, deep stretch and you’ve got to overcome that nervous system twitch stretch response or you’re never going to get anywhere.

Hope that’s helpful. If you have questions, send them into, Podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com, that’s our email, Podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com

The food you eat affects your body and mind every day. Welcome to the nutritional tip of the week, where we explore plant-based diets, super food nutrition, edible insects and new tropics. The goal here is mind/body biohacking for a better you and a better planet. So hey, let’s talk nutrition.

(39:13) Today’s nutritional tip is all about raw food sweeteners. Raw food sweeteners are generally thought of all wonderful for you. And so when I was a raw foodist, a lot of raw foodists get into honey, they get into maple syrup, they get into agave syrup and all this other kind of forms of sugar. Is a raw sugar better for you? For example, is a date sugar or an evaporated cane sugar better for you than a white sugar?

(39:41) Yes, but that’s sort of like saying is a dried turd better than a fresh turd; it’s really no good. Sugar is a huge problem, whether it’s raw or not. It’s a very, very, very big problem. We don’t need more of it. We don’t need more raw sugar, we don’t need more honey. We need less of it. Everybody needs less of it. I’ve never met anybody who needed more sugar in their life.

(40:01) There’s one particular sugar which is just horrible, which is agave. And agave should just be taken off the shelves. It’s pure fructose. It’s horrible. There’s very little difference between that and high fructose corn syrup. The raw food marketing industry has promoted it as this big health food, and it’s just a disaster. When I first got into raw food, we just sat around eating nuts and apples and pears and sprig salads and stuff. Suddenly, the raw food movement is all about selling these freaky super food volcanic ash compared with marine phytoplankton and big old gallon jugs of agave. Agave is horrible, horrible stuff.

(40:41) Just to give you an example of how agave really affects you, I never, ever touched agave in my life. My wife has been getting really creative in the kitchen. She knows I like raw food stuff. She made me this really great raw food chocolate custard kind of thing. I was like wow, this is amazing. And after I got done eating it I was like whoa, whoa, this is really, really sweet. I actually felt dizzy from it, and I was like what the hell did you put in that because that is just really knocking me on my ass it’s so sweet. No fault of her own, she had gone out and gotten some agave, and she thought it was a really great raw sweetener. For me, I’d much rather take white sugar than agave. That’s how bad it is.

(41:21) In any case, I felt absolutely horrible, absolutely horrible, and I thought hey maybe this is just psychosomatic. Maybe I do too much research. Maybe I’m just an orthorexic, crazy nutrition freak. So let me go figure this out. So I went and took my blood glucose. This past year I’ve been playing around with my blood glucose a lot, and my blood glucose about an hour after eating that chocolate custard sweetened with agave was at 140. 140 is really dangerous. It’s borderline dangerous high level of blood sugar. I’ve never been able to get my blood sugar that high, and I’ve tried. Never with anything, ever. Never after eating even wheat, even sugar, nothing. Agave is what got me to 140.

(42:02) And so agave is a terrible sweetener. Stay away from it. Stay away from all those raw sweeteners, honey especially. It’s another one. Yeah, sure, there’s some great antioxidants and interesting minerals and things like that in there, but stay away from it. It’s just sugar. You don’t need more sugar. If you’re going to use something, use an evaporated cane sugar or use a natural form of honey, but use very, very little. You want to use very, very little. A lot of these raw sugars are really high in fructose. Fructose is very, very lipogenic, meaning it turns into fat very quickly in your liver, and at the end of the day you need less of it. So don’t get seduced by the raw sugar crew, and instead focus on nice, rich, healthy fats, really great for you.

Hope that’s helpful, talk to you soon. You’ve been listening to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood. If you like this show, I always appreciate reviews and ratings on the iTunes Store. It helps other listeners find out about what we’re doing, and it keeps me motivated to dig around and find new and diverse topics to share with you. For complete show notes, links to everything discussed in the show, along with a ton of other free yoga videos and online resources, please head over to YogaBodyNaturals.com. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you very soon.