Dom D’Agostino on Ketosis – the most googled diet of 2017 #140
Ketosis. It's the most searched-for diet this year, and with good reason - it really can be very effective.
Ketosis is a natural state for the body, when it is almost completely fueled by fat. This is normal during fasting, or when on a strict low-carb diet, also called a keto diet. (Excellent further description here)
I've been using the ketosis diet for the last 4 months. (Click here if the word ketosis means nothing to you)
My reasons: Well not weight loss (although I've toned up - he says modestly), but for decreased inflammation, better digestion, improved skin and sharp thinking, And all that is working quite well. I'm really enjoying it, but it takes a month of feeling a little tired (they call it the Keto Flu) when you first get into it. At least that's what happened to me. Want more details? Check out today's podcast.
Incidentally, this podcast is with one of the world's biggest expert in Ketosis - Dom D'Agostino. He's an absolute legend, a thoroughly nice bloke and I'm thrilled to be able to chat to him about so many important aspects of Keto, how to get into it, the benefits and the pitfalls and so on. Thanks Dom!
Click here to stream now...
When you listen you'll hear
- The most Googled diet of 2017 [4:20]
- The benefits of nutritional ketosis on your digestive system [7:20]
- Why do you need ketosis? [13:00]
- How to control your appetite and cravings [14:36]
- How to get rid of the keto flu [18:40]
- The keto cookies [26:38]
- What is exogenous ketone supplement? [30:00]
- Recommended keto supplements [45:52]
- The keto sweet smell [49:13]
- What is the optimal ketone level [52:44]
- Creative relationship and downtime for more energy, vitality and motivation [57:41]
For more information
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
And for all the resources that Dom mentions in the podcast and loads more, you can visit KetoNutrition.Org here.
Ep 140: Ketosis with Dom D’ Agostino
Tony: Dom D’Agostino, how you doing?
Dom: I’m doing great Tony, thanks for having me.
Tony: Good, yeah. Well thank you for coming on, we were just talking about how, before this interview, I kind of hoovered up all the podcasts interviews that you’ve done on ketosis because i think when you get into this stuff, there’s just a thirst for knowledge from world knowledged experts, and I just lapped up all the interviews you’ve done already so I’ve got a long laundry list of questions to ask you.
Dom: Thanks tony, I appreciate it. Yeah, I have given quite a few, I think over a hundred, I was counting them the other day and just trying to compile them. It’s great there’s a lot of interest in this area. Especially as the science is emerging too, so there’s a lot of new information coming out, so always new things to talk about.
Tony: This, I mean, the thing is, it’s still not a great deal out there for people, and actually in this country, it’s even harder. I think it’s even harder to be keto than in the states. Because in the states, you’ve got all these delicious supplements and stuff like that. I’m coming to the states in the next couple of days and I was googling, over there you’ve got the keto cookies, and you’ve got bites and all these kind of things. we don’t have all that stuff over here. I think we’re about 5 years behind you, so it’s not as easy for us.
Dom: It’s right, I kind of forget that sometimes, I’m a little more linked in the clinical application and Matthew’s friends located there in the UK. Yeah, even on the clinical front though, it’s just not as accepted and implemented, and even from a broad scale perspective. The foods aren’t there, the supplements are not really reaching that area yet, but I think, I think they are, I do communicate with quite a few people abroad. And I know they’re getting bits of information and getting more curious about.
Tony: Because someone told me this week that Ketosis is the most googled diet of 2017.
Tony: which is amazing, isnt’ it? When you think about a few years ago, it was probably # 52 or something in the list.
Dom: It is, yeah. They’re off the charts. (unclear)
Tony: Yeah and you know, I think when I talk to my friends about it some of them kind of definitely got into it, have heard about it, or even interested in it, and some of them will say, you know, it’s hot right now but will it always be hot, what would you say to that?
Dom: Yeah, well you know, it’s been around for a long long time, since well, about a 100 years actually. And I would say, it’s probably gonna gain more momentum as it has in the past just simply because it works. And people just tend to stick to things that work. From my perspective, It’s obviously not a fad diet because it is the standard care for seizures, that’s what I study, and even more applications are emerging. So, I think what’s new and kind of refreshing is that we acknowledge and recognize that the ketogenic diet as it was developed by the Mayo Clinic and implemented early on by Johns Hopkins does not have to be as super strict, you know…
Dom: as far as 90% fad like we thought. And now the modified Atkins or modified ketogenic diet, and then the keton supplements, and now, various food products that allow you to eat like a ketogenic cookie or brownie, can allow you to be in a state that gives you practical advantages like not getting hungry, and just having more energy throughout the day and of course, weight loss right? That’s a big one. I’m actually not that interested in that, but it is something that I acknowledge and see it quite a bit. I’d say most of the emails that I’d get are you know, testimonies from people just saying that it was the only strategy, dietary strategy that worked for me for losing weight.
Tony: Yeah, well, me too. I mean I’m a spindly, chicken-legged individual Dom and I don’t want to lose weight, that’s not the reason I’m doing it at all. But I must say, I’ve toned up, it gets rid of the old muffin top doesn’t it? It’s great, you know..
Tony: I’ve been doing it really, for digestion. As well, as a kind of shot as in this podcast is all about energy, you know, that’s why it’s called zestology and I had a whole load of neurological symptoms for a while after contracting a virus which also meant I was in bed for a few months which is another reason I was interested in ketosis but I definitely, have noticed that my digestion, I don’t know if it acts as a reset or, I mean, my digestion is a lot better than it has been in years…
Tony: and I wonder if that is because of the ketosis diet.
Dom: It’s great that you bring that up because I do get quite a bit of emails from people with celliac disease, or crohn’s disease, or just inflammatory bowel disorders and it seems to work remarkably well for that. Not for everybody, but for most people, and that could be due to a number of different things. The volume of food that you’re eating is a little bit less, that may help. But I also think, you know, it is an elimination diet. So when you’re eating the ketogenic diet, you’re eating mostly like protein, fat, and veggies too. And a lot of the things that maybe irritant to your gut are grain-based or wheat-based, and there, you know, they’re eliminated just by virtue of, you know, macro nature and composition of the diet, eliminates all of the things that cause GI issues for people and now, adding lots of MCT and coconut oil can also kind of stimulate GI motility, so you have, you know, you may have the runs for a little bit, with all the fat coming through depending on your fat source so a lot of people kind of feel better in that regard depending on how they’re, whatever they’re coming from. I’ve always kind of fast digestive tract. A lot of people, yeah, has corrected their GI issues so, it’s that something that is looking into. I think it’s even studied now, there might be a clinical trial out on that, on various inflammatory…
Tony: Oh really? yeah.
Dom: bowel disorders; yeah…
Dom: also, with the virus that you mentioned too. I’m actually working on an NIH grant, that is, probably I shouldn’t talk about but it’s…
Tony: Oh, go on..
Dom: it’s addressing, I don’t want to give the idea away, but it’s addressing the issue of, you know, viral induced neuro inflammation which a lot of the viruses that are most pathological…
Tony: That’s what happened to me!
Dom: yeah, due tend to hit the nervous system pretty hard and the virus can be damaging also to the central nervous system so we think that nutritional ketosis has some beneficial effects there and you know, I’m no, I’ve picked up viruses here and there, and my wife got hit with dengue fever…
Tony: Oh, wow.
Dom: and it was threatening back, this is kind of a year ago, and she was hospitalized and almost like in a coma. The emergency kind of fly in, and she was like in an area where you wouldn’t expect to get dengue, dengue fever and just it was a reminder of how vulnerable we are to these viruses and how hard they can hit your system too. I mean she’s recovered…
Dom: like full from that, and she’s not keto, but she’s eating more keto, you know, around me now. But it did manage, it was kind of a sobering, eye-opening experience to see how devastating a virus can be. There’s just certain strains of virus.
Tony: Yeah, and it’s funny, you know, because when you go to the doctor and they say, look we can tell from your, I can’t remember the exact term, but it has something to do with my blood count, red blood cell count. We can tell you’ve had a virus, but we can’t tell you what it was, because modern medicine hasn’t figured it out yet.
Dom: Yeah, depending on what kind of virus. Yeah, it goes dormant, right? So they’re looking at anti-bodies that you make. They can even be in our present if the virus is not active at the time, so it could be tricky depending on the virus…
Dom: But there’s a lot of common viruses that people have that even 2/3 or ? of the population have, like, the herpes virus that cause shingles and chicken pox can re-emergence and cause things like, herpes simplex virus, it gives cold sores, of course HIV, and you know, a number epstein barr, human secomecolo virus. All these things, really are, when they manifest, they are chronic, inflammatory state or hurt you..
Dom: and there’s a lot of potential there for nutritional intervention, maybe even fasting and even, maybe other disorders like lyme’s disease. You know, lyme’s disease has been, I don’t know the situation over there in the UK but…
Tony: It’s just coming in a little bit, apparently, getting it in Richmond Park now, yeah.
Dom: yeah, well where I come from in the northeast, originally where I come from, it’s quite prevalent out there. And a number of people I’ve connected with, that I’ve done podcasts with, even guys like Tim Farris, have you know, he got lyme disease and it was pretty devastating and some of the only things that worked for him was fasting and nutritional ketosis and I have dozens of emails from people who’ve had the same experience too. Not say you shouldn’t do antibiotics and other things, but it can enhance those things, and actually work, and even sometimes when they don’t.
Tony: Hmm.. and actually, do you know that’s a really good point because everything medical I tried when I did get this far, 4 years ago, nothing worked. The moment I tried invented alternative health practices. I actually think it worked better for me than anything, was tapping emotional freedom therapy. That’s when it really started to get better. And then, all these other things I’ve kind of layered on top of it like trying different diets, and so on. But this is one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you Dom, because I know, from your other work that you’ve done and your interviews with Tim Farris and everything else that you’re capable of going to massive depth and you’re really into the research and the studies. But also I feel like, the person with the casual interest in health, you’re very good at selling them the benefits of alternative ways of looking at their health that might not be a necessarily traditional pharmaceutical approach. And I just wondered, you know, for the persons listening thinking, why I need ketosis? What would you say; do they need it?
Dom: You know, if they are, I would say, they definitely need it if they’re suffering from any seizure disorder, or neurological disorder, it could be… it could potentially be, the only thing that helps them which often the case. Many cases in the literature where, for example, drugs did not work for them, and seizures can resolve, the ideology of seizures and epilepsy are largely unknown. It could be caused by a malformation of the brain, it could be caused by a metabollic impairment, things like that. For example, Charlie, the son of Jim Abrahams, the hollywood producer, you know, he tried everything and his son implemented the ketogenic diet and it was the thing that worked for him…
Dom: when the drug therapy failed you know. He made a movie out of it “First Do No Harm”, starring Meryl Streep. Most people don’t know Meryl Streep did a movie about the ketogenic diet.
Tony: I didn’t know that.
Dom: yeah, just google Meryl Streep, first you know harm, it’s a great movie that she starred in about Charlie Abrahams, Jim’s son. And you know, it was needed by him, it was truly truly needed by him.
Tony: Most people listening to this, I guess, wouldn’t necessarily have, hopefully, don’t have kind of you know, fairly serious neurological problems but a lot of people seem to find keto helping them just for general senses of energy and well-being don’t they?
Dom: Yeah, that’s like the main application or what I like to say, the low-hanging fruit, is really type 2 diabetes, like here on the states, it’s a big problem on obesity. And the problem really is people cannot stick to a diet, well, they can lose weight right? But keeping them off is very hard. So the real benefit of the ketogenic diet, where it really shines, and it doesn’t have to be ketogenic, it just could be like low carb or a modified ketogenic, is it controls your appetite, it controls your hunger cravings better than anything that we know of so it helps you adhere to and maintain the diet, you know, while you lose weight, and after you lose weight. So that’s the main benefit. So I would say, people who really want to lose weight, which a lot of people do, the diet is, could be a necessary means to do that.
Tony: Yeah, that is true. I mean, especially like, you know, this morning for example. I don’t know how you start your morning, but I kind of bulletproof-ish coffee in the morning, really not hungry until lunch, and don’t really wanna eat until lunch, and am quite happy about that.
Dom: Yeah, you know what, I have been eating more cause I was involved in a project actually you know, the NASA Nemo project, I was a crew member..
Tony: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about this, yeah.
Dom: sure, I kind of wanted to lose weight. My starting weight was about 220lbs like a hundred kilograms. Do you guys do metric? And I brought it down to like 90 kilograms, whatever, so I lost about 10 kilograms just to kind of fit the requirements, or just to get my BMI down a little bit cause they look at that. And now, I’ve been gradually trying to gain weight, which you may be trying to gain weight, so I really needed to add that morning meal in and that for me, like this morning, it varies, but I had 4 eggs, and I had some pad thai which is you know, (unclear)..
Dom: and it was a pretty dense meal, and I had the bulletproof coffee, if you wanna call that. You know, I make it in different ways. But I had butter, and MCT oil powder, I don’t know if you guys have that over there…
Tony: I’ve seen it on sale. Is it the perfect keto one that I’ve seen and I really wanna try.
Dom: yeah, I haven’t tried that one, I’ve tried their keto product but I use the quest nutrition mct oil or coconut oil powder and add one scoop of that, maybe like a quarter thing of butter and I brew up, people send me different coffee but it’s like a ginseng based coffee and blended up until like a frothy drink with a pinch of stevia and a pinch of cinnamon and it’s really good. And that really, so I have many going-on, I wake up kind of early, more than 12 hours now and that really sustains me throughout the day.
Tony: I’m surprised Dom, that was a massive breakfast. It’s huge. Pad thai, eggs, and bulletproof coffee.
Dom: Yeah, you know, but if you look at it on a plate, it wasn’t that much. You know 4 eggs,I guess not that, I used to eat a dozen eggs in the morning, I used to really be into bulking…
Tony: Wow, yeah.
Dom: and just a little piece of padtey like a third of the size of my fist, maybe. But it was sustain, it’s not like what I used to eat. Like 2 bananas, egg whites, I would never eat the yolks, and a big bowl of oatmeal and that was my…
Tony: So, this was pre-keto?
Dom: pre-keto, I was always bloated and gassy and stuffing my face a couple hours later. I just thought you had to do that for athletic performance, for gaining muscle, to gain weight, you know, if you do have a fast metabollism, I’ve always had a pretty fast metabollism. And I thought I just needed to do that but with keto it’s really easy cause the volume of food is less and you don’t get hungry and it kind of, you know, really energizes me throughout the day.
Tony: Now, where do you stand on, I’ve been doing this for about 4 months, and I must admit, the 1st month, I’ve found it really hard. And to be honest, I never even thought I wanted to do it but I decided to try it for the digestion and I must admit it’s had a massive difference. But the first month, it is tough at first isnt it? I just felt tired and I say if anything, my digestion got slightly worse as my body was adapting to it. If only you can come and get away without having that first month, it would be really better. But now, am into it, it seems quite easy. But, it’s hard to get into it for people I think.
Dom: Yeah, it is and like you pointed out, a lot of people’s energy may take a dip in the beginning. They may get, I didn’t get it, but a lot of people get what they call the “keto flu”…
Dom: you know, you gotta realize if your brain is used to running on sugar and glucose as it’s primary energy source from carbohydrates and you’re depriving your body of that major energy source, your body can make glucose through gluconeogenesis, but it’s gonna be getting less, and it’s not gonna get the spikes in glucose that kind of make your brain happy and kind of stimulate, and induce some other things. When you’re on a ketogenic diet, those spikes are virtually eliminated and your brain becomes hungry for glucose which puts you in a bad mood and until your body starts making ketones sufficiently and up regulating the transporters to ketones to help get them into your brain sufficient levels, and also boosting what we call ketoletic enzymes, so that the proteins and enzymes inside the cell that actually enhances your, the bio energetics of the cell, which actually allow the cell to use the ketones for energy and that’s a process that happens not in a you know, 24-48 hours, it happens for weeks to months. So, I didn’t really get into my stride say, until 3 or 4 months into following this diet, of course, there’s a learning curve to the diet, so i probably wasn’t doing well, so once I realize, I could add a little bit of mct oil and do it to a point where I can tolerate it…
Dom: and then, my ketones would get higher and I realize what foods work for me. High dairy foods didn’t work for me, and for many people that’s the basis of keto diet, tons of dairy fat. And I realize that, I had to kind of, reduce my dairy fat and replace the heavy cream with like coconut cream and some other things. So, you know, as the number of things that I had a learning curve with that allowed me to kind of thrive on the diet instead of just doing it to see what it’s like to do the diet. I became curious because the basis of my research was on studying the effects of it. So I wanted to actually experience it for myself. It was a learning experience for sure but I’ve stuck to it so, my research, I’ve become my own research project.
Tony: Yeah. And how long have you done it for now?
Dom: Yeah, I’ve started experimenting with it in 2007 and 2008 and didn’t really get the blood meters and actually start weighing out everything very specifically until about 2009. It’s been about 8 years solid that I’ve been on in some form of the ketogenic diet. So now, I do couple days ketogenic and couple days where I sought low carb which could be a 100-150 grams a day, but really high on fiber on these low carb days and not a whole lot of like what we call net carbs here, am not sure if you guys do the net carbs system over there.
Tony: Yeah, it’s slightly different over here. I never know what you guys mean in America when you say net carbs so I think we just have total carbs and that’s it or something.
Dom: Yeah, it actually makes it a little bit better since, a good friend of mine, Mike Dancer, whose like a body builder, and really into strength training, and he had epilepsy, and he’s in the UK, and he’s been more or less the adult spokesperson for the ketogenic over there for epilepsy and he always had, struggles with that too, he looks at the labels, when he’s here in America and am hosting him, I mean he…
Tony: What’s his name?
Dom: Mike Dancer
Tony: I have to look him up, because yeah, it’d be great to organize an event with him over here. I’ll have it checked, please.
Dom: Yeah, he’s right in your backyard. If you just google Mike Dancer and epilepsy there’s a number of really interesting articles that are written about his experience with the ketogenic diet.
Tony: Brilliant. Yeah; and so, do you ever, one of the things I’ve read about is in every once and a while doing a carb up, perhaps once a week or something. I’ve tried that a little bit, once or twice a week having some carbs. Firstly, I think if am gonna have a few drinks, does that help otherwise am enough of a lightweight as it is. On the keto diet, I couldn’t really handle about 3 sips of wine. But what I’ve had on these carb ups, I’ve personally, haven’t felt that feeling, that really full feeling in the stomach when you’ve had 4 roast potatoes. I haven’t had that feeling in a long time, and that said, I almost didn’t really want it.
Tony: Do you carb up?
Dom: I don’t carb up in the traditional sense, you know, so what I call, I used to do that and when I first started doing that, I kind of take the weekend off or do like some cheat meals if you call it. So I have, you know, I kind of enjoy ketogenic food, so if I go off of the ketogenic foods, I don’t enjoy it anymore plus you know, I have ketogenic brownies; I have ketogenic cookies; I have ketogenic crepes and like all these snack foods that companies send me to test. And some of them are awesome, like keto cookies, and now foods brand is really good, like I’ve been testing their products, they’re not keto but they’re very low carb, high fiber…
Tony: Now foods.
Dom: Yeah, now foods,you know I don’t even know if they’re in the UK yet. I didn’t even know of them, they connected with me and they’re the most impressive array of foods that I have ever seen and I’ve been, the last couple of weeks experimenting with those foods, checking my ketones, checking my blood glucose, doing some measurements on myself. So it’s kind of fun to kind of experiment, I do go out to eat, at least like probably twice a week, with my wife. It’s pretty easy for me to get low carb options, sometimes keto can be a little bit of a stretch…
Dom: but I don’t. what I do is on two days out of the week and I try to train heavy, like in the gym like 2 days out of the week if am not travelling too much, on those 2 days that I train, I will get an extra 500 to a thousand calories of foods that I normally eat anyway…
Dom: you know, which could, usually just more protein and veggies. I like back off on the fat a little bit. But kind of stay in shape myself with some extra protein cause I need it to build things, or trying to add a little bit of weight.
Tony: I was saying, I’m in the states in a couple of days time, one of the things that I tend to do is, when am over in the states, I order an enormous of everything that I can’t get over here, and have them delivered to the hotel where am staying. And I was looking at these keto cookies, they’ve been a huge thing, they kind of exploded from nothing to very popular – these keto cookies. But it looks like they actually kind of like a lot of carbs in them, like 24 grams of carbs or something.
Dom: Yeah, that’s interesting that you point that out. I’m trying to look around here to see if I have any at my, around my desk with the label, but I have them in my refrigerator at home. So yeah, we’re talking again of net carbs right? So, are the carbs do they have glucose or glycemerin…
Tony: Do they sugar?
Dom: yeah, so there’s 2 kind of things that those cookies are made of. A lot of it are made with like a nut based flour and nuts are pretty heavy in fiber so most of the carbohydrates will be a type of carbohydrate that doesn’t get absorbed in the gut. Actually, a lot of soluble fiber makes its way to the GI tract where the gut microbiom can kind of digest it and erythritol is a sugar based alcohol sweetener that causes less GI problems than other kinds of sweeteners, and it’s also beneficial for your gut microbioms. So maybe beneficial if you know you have some GI issues. So those 2 things, kind of make up the carbohydrates. And then they also incorporate a lot of coconut oil, and even mct oil, which can in a way, artificially elevate your keton levels. Because they are what we call ketogenic fats which means when you eat them, the fat rapidly is transported to your liver and they get broken down so fast, they get burned so fast, they tend to make ketones. So when you burn fat at a high rate in the liver that fat can proportionally produce more keton bodies in your blood and elevate your, it’s like little tricks that you can do and putting these foods together with non-glycemic carbohydates in the addition of ketogenic types of fats actually which makes the food kind of palatable too, so it makes kind of smooth, can increase the palatability of the food. So that’s what a lot of the food engineers are doing now.
Tony: Right. Yeah, so total carbohydrates, am just looking at the keto cookies, 21 grams. But total sugars, 1 gram.
Tony: So that’s actually a relevant number.
Dom: Yeah, and you know the label tells one story but what I find, I test a lot of these foods, about 20% pass the test. You know, our test, and those foods make it to my website ketonutrition.org…
Dom: I have compiled you know, some of the foods on there, that we actually tested with blood measurements. One of my students too, Andrew Kutnick, is a phd student of mine, he has type 1 diabetes, he actually does, he thrives on low carb diets, and if there’s a food product that comes to us he has an insulin pump and a dexcon meter that continuously measures his glucose levels. So, I will basically go to Andrew, and hey I got something for you to test, and he can consume it, and sometimes he consumes like you know, double dose, like 2 of them if it’s like a quest bar or something like that…
Dom: or keto cookie. And then we can track his glucose levels fairly continuously, he takes a measure every 5 minutes or so. And then we can look at the glucose to sugar response to that food and we can also measure keton levels to the keton meter and you know , we tend to do this with that out, I guess you would say. The foods that are really low carb or really keto, and these are like, I follow up with the company and be like you know, we love your product it kind of passed the test. I want to promote the product to the community. It has helped a lot of people who followed the ketogenic diet for weight loss and metacores. And also kids too, you put a kid on a ketogenic diet for seizures and he feels ostracized and if he’s going to a party and he can’t have cookies and cake, these things is actually possible to make some of these foods. The Charlie Foundation, you go to their website and they have really nice recipes where you can source out the ingredients and buy these things…
Dom: and recipes that are you know, that are fairly easy to do at home.
Tony: And for people listening, when I was talking about my experience on my first month and how it, and you were saying, it took a few months until you come and got really into it. There is something that I only realized that is it’s quite a helpful shortcut, and that is this thing known as exogenous ketones, which is essentially a tub of what looks like a kind of protein powder or something but essentially creates ketones in the body instantly isn’t it? Now to Dom,…
Tony: this is one of the best working supplements I’ve ever taken, and I think I’ve said this before on the podcast. The only thing I can compare it to is illegal drugs. The energy rush that, I mean, it’s absolutely astonishing. That something can be legal and make you feel this good. I’ve not had these with virtually anything else I’ve ever tried…
Tony: but why do they work so well?
Dom: Well I mean, you have to understand and I’m kind of, people look to me, as the exogenous keton guy cause that’s kind of the cornerstone of the research that I do…
Dom: actually, research that was brought to my attention by a Dr. Richard Veech at the NIH and Dr. Karen Clark over at Oxford has done some great work on some keton ester. So, you know, I’ve been studying this for about 10 years now and you know, from the very beginning and I started reading about ketones as an energy source, like an alternative energy source for the brain. Your brain basically runs off glucose, 100% on normal diet, and if you stop eating and enter a state of fasting, you go into fasting ketosis that actually, for many people, it puts them into a heightened state of awareness. Their thinking is more lucid and the energy from the brain is, for the brain, is coming from these keton bodies. So this idea, and that’s, you know, these keton bodies are generated with the keton diet, and the ketones help to stabilize brain energy, brain neuro transmitters to prevent seizures. So they make the brain run more efficiently to prevent seizures from happening. It became obvious to me, at least in reading the science behind it. Why can’t we, this is basically a source of energy like glucose, or creating monohydrate which athletes take for energy. It enhances ATP production. So I embarked on this whole project and wrote grants and became the cornerstone of my research to further develop the science in the application of exogenous ketones and like you said when you consume them orally, the blood levels are elevated and they become a source of energy that your brain in many states preferrably uses ketones, especially if there’s impaired glucose metabollism which can occur from a wide variety and even stress…
Dom: so, and they’re made now to taste fairly good, companies, the technologies are being developed to make them palatable, tolerable, bio-identical so they actually become like a food source right? So you have carbohydrates, you have fats, and you have proteins. That’s what we call our macro nutrients, now keton bodies are water soluble small molecules of fat so there’s somewhere in between. I actually like to talk about them as like the 4th macro nutrient because they contain calories just like oil would, fat would, and protein would but the difference between fat and ketones is that when you consume ketones they’re small enough and can readily cross the blood brain barrier to enhance brain energy and whether you’re sitting at your deks, on your high power CEO of the house, or 12 or 15 hours a day, or you’re an athlete that really needs to super charge your central nervous system and your muscles for energy, there’s numerous applications there, or therapeutic applications obviously, which is kind of what I study mostly. But we also do performance applications even undersea, living in an undersea environment is an extreme environment, and living in space is an extreme environment and that’s a really the cornerstone what we do to studying the application of these ketones in response to physiological and neurological changes that occur underwater and also in space environment or simulation of the space environment.
Tony: And in terms of, when I was like to, be as natural as possible and I actually think that the ketosis diet is a very natural, is a very primal diet. Obviously, it doesn’t feel that primal, scooping, a scoop of kind of bright white powder into a glass of water every morning. And I guess, there’s not a tremendous amount of long term research on exogenous ketones, are there any dangers to them?
Dom: You know, that so, there’s been various forms of ketones like sodium beta-hydroxybutyrates, and now the keton salts are multiple minerals that can bind with beta-hydroxybutyrates, so these have been around for decades and actually given intravenously at really high concentrations, I have maybe about, 10 articles where they have been given one of the lands of article for a lead, and showing that you can do this, you can administer ketones via IV or through orally and that they have, they can promote metabollic health and people who have say impaired energy pathways and things like that. So only recently, did they get to thepoint where they’re commercially made and synthesized on a large scale where you have a fairly large percentage of people consuming these things. In the united states, some of the bigger companies have sold something like 5 million or up to 10 million doses of them have been consumed and there hasn’t been any adverse events reported…
Dom: so things like red bull, there’s lot of reports of people getting sick or hospitalized. Where as, ketones, exogenous ketones, now are, the keton salt products are consumed in massive quantities and so far, there hasn’t been any reported adverse effects atleast, that are showing up on the FDA website and we do a lot of research. We do very high dose studies, even long term studies, and then we do all the clinical chemistry and we havent seen any evidence of like, liver or kidney impairment, actually, we see that these organs tend to work better…
Dom: if you administer, and that may have to do with the reductions of certain inflammatory markers, and chronic inflammation, and high blood glucose are things that can destroy your kidney function over time. And even your liver over time, and even your brain. So these, bio markers are things that improve over time with continuous and daily sustainment of ketones with these exogenous ketones.
Tony: You must be very proud though Dom, because you know, you’ve been looking into this stuff for 10 years and you get an upstart like me who heard about it 4 months ago, yeah these exogenous ketones are great. You’ve been looking into this stuff, researching this stuff for 10 years, and it really has hit the mainstream over the last year or two hasn’t it?
Dom: Yeah, it has. And I can’t give myself credit for this, it was really…
Tony: I’m giving you credit for it, Dom.
Dom: Thank you, I appreciate it. A lot of the early pioneers on this and I want to name them because they really motivated me to go down this path. Dr. George K. Hill of Harvard Med School and he did some studies with fasting. Definitively showed that ketones can replace glucose largely replace glucose as a primary source of energy for the brain. And Dr. Richard Veech at the NIH, former student actually of Hans Krebb. The krebss cycle, am sure you’re familiar with. Brilliant biochemist and you know, really spearheaded a lot of the early keton research and Dr. Annerie Bruninggruber of Case Western, really started, I mean, this is a couple of decades ago, this idea, but no one really latched on to it. And I think it’s because in the medical literature, ketones where, designated as metabollic poison because they showed up under conditions on what was called ketoasidosis, which is a condition that results from an insulin insufficiency, that is a tribute to type 1 diabetes or alcoholic ketoacidosis. This is something that happens.This is a very rare and distinctly different from nutritional ketosis or even administering exogenous ketones. Very different. But in the medical literature, I teach at the medical school here, the students have a lot of questions about this…
Dom: am actually doing a workshop, with all the MDs and many clinicians here to kind of give an overview of this, and because more and more medical doctors are approaching me and saying, I read this book and I implemented my patients and it’s the only thing that have cured their non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which is very prevalent here, or the obesity, or the only thing to bring their weight down. So that’s kind of why, and maybe I picked up on a recognizing the utility and application, I also like to talk about it to podcasts. I got the word out through various media channels, I think that we’re otherwise most academics kind of hide in their lab, and publish in high impact papers. That’s what we have to do in academia but it doesn’t necessarily get the attention of the mass media. So, when you promote it and you have people out there who actually try it, and then stories get picked up, you could publish 50 nature papers and it doesn’t get picked up but you have a few celebrities that try it and say, it helped with my inflammation, lost weight, then it gets put on every body’s radar and people fact check, and when you fact check the ketogenic diet and go to pubmed, then you have validation. You’ll see all these studies that are coming out that really validate the neuro protective, anti seizure effects, and also the emerging applications of nutritional ketosis. The beneficial effects so that, I came in when I started studying this in 2009, pediatric epilepsy was the only thing that it was used for. And now, we have dozens more applications that physicians are using it for.
Tony: And in terms of, exogenous ketones, if you’re not actually into ketosis. Let’s say, one of my mates, eats a pretty standard high carb diet, loves to eat pie, and you know, quite a few pints of beer. Could, if he let’s say, have a bad back or something like that. Could he still take exogenous ketones to help with inflammation even if he’s not on a ketonic diet?
Dom: My answer to that is yes, but it may work better with a low carb diet or maybe even a ketogenic diet to on top of that. So, we actually study exogenous ketones in the context of a standard high carb diet…
Tony: Oh wow.
Dom: it’s like a rat and mouse studies, we give them, the 60-70% diet that’s carbohydrates, and then we mix in key exogenous ketones into that diet, or we do like a tube feeding, feed them everyday like in the morning, and then look at the effects. The very first study that we did was a seizure study where animals were on a standard diet and high carbohydrate diet and administering, oral administration of a keton ester, prior to a high concentration of oxygen which would stimulate like a very deep dive, navy seal, that uses a particular breathing apparatus with high oxygen. We found that just 30 minutes, it takes like, a couple days and maybe even a week or more to get into a therapeutic ketosis sometimes and 30minutes you can achieve that with exogenous ketones. So that’s really one of the benefits we demonstrated the neuro protective, brain enhancing effects of exogenous ketones on and in the context of a standard high carb diet. And my colleagues at Yale University incorporated a keton ester into a standard diet and looked at various inflammatory markers, one being, the NLRP 3 inflammazone, it’s a complex, a molecule within cells, within the body that when it’s activated it produces a lot of inflammation in the body. So, the ketones have impart in effect a suppressing the activation of the NLRP 3 inflammazone, so you are suppressing a driver of systemic inflammation. And the type of inflammation that’s associated with auto immune disorders or age related chronic inflammations, there are a lot of people get…
Tony: Wow, that’s amazing isnt it?
Dom: and that’s just keton supplements. Yes, the obvious experiment would be, may be, to get optimal results is to do some form of a low or modified ketogenic diet with keton supplements. We’ve done a little bit of that, we’ve published that, but we’ve really, that’s on the frontier like doing multiple things in addition to keton supplements, but the effects are pretty remarkable.
Tony: You have to be careful though when you first have them don’t you? You don’t want to take too much at once.
Dom: Yeah, well…
Tony: You may have a bit of social issue on your hands.
Dom: Exactly, that’s the case with medium change hyglecride. One of the side effects is that it can go right through you. It can pass, it can give you diarrhea, and lose stools that you have to titrate the dosage overtime and then you can actually, tolerate more, the more you take it, the better it works and the easier you can tolerate it overtime. And even the ketones sold on the market, especially, the ketones, some of the products out there, can because of the mineral load, the high amount of minerals which can be beneficial in some ways, but it creates an osmotic shift in the gut where it pulls water into the gut and you can have some loose stools so you really have to, when you get these things, my recommendation is to, when you get a product, to do a half dose and try it at a half dose with lots of water, and even maybe a little bit of food to help you tolerate it. And then there’s a couple of products out there that irritate my stomach more than others so I just stick to a few products that I kind of vetted out and that worked good for me.
Tony: Yeah. Actually, you know what, the one that I’ve been using, I’ve never had a full scoop. Because it’s so strong, and it works so well. I’ve had max of half a scoop and often about a third of a scoop. This stuff is great.
Dom: Which is brand is that you use?
Tony: The perfect keto is the one that I use. You can get over here now.
Dom: Yup, I had that product too. That works good. Over here, I’m not sure, no i don’t think, it’s sold over here, but there’s a couple keygenics, (unclear), and also the newer one, which is probably similar to keto perfect or perfect keto would be keto logic over here. And that comes, it tastes, it really tastes like a fruit punch like apple, and in all sorts of brands, all sorts of flavors. So you probably aware that Ketone Esters, they taste pretty…
Tony: Tastes like petrol or something is it?
Dom: they do, you know, they do. I think eventually, food technologies and food masking strategies will make them palatable but you have, you have 2 issues there. A keton ester is very expensive to produce at least currently. Things could be scaled up. And they’re quite popular in the UK, the cycling, this team Sky…
Tony: Yeah. Do they really?
Dom: Yeah well…
Tony: I’m not surprised, I would use it. Anything that gives you an edge, I’ve been having this stuff before I go to the gym and it’s brilliant.
Dom: Yeah, you know, I think there’s quite a few elite level athletes that get their hands on these compounds and use them in ways to enhance athletic performance. I don’t think they’re gonna be banned because your body makes ketones, it’s almost like creatin right? I mean athletes, football players, strength athletes take creatin monohydrate…
Dom: and it’s you know, made in a lab and your body makes it too and you’re just consuming it to boost your levels to supra physiological levels. And people do that with things like testosterone but testosterone, is kind of synthetic and…
Tony: Yeah, that’s not so good with testosterone.
Dom: Yeah, definitely not good. But with keton, I can’t really see any, if there’s a performance advantage and there’s not an over health, consequence, negative consequence, so it doesn’t seem like it should be on the ban list. But it’s one of those things that people are looking at because as more things come on board, and of course that attracts a lot of attention if someone knows that they could take a substance and get that, even at 2%, 1 or 2% increase in your power output for like a cyclist or something is gonna be the difference between a bronze and a silver and a gold medal…
Dom: so that tends to drive a lot of interest in these things like Ketone Esters. And in our hands, you feed them to mice, they ran fester, they ran longer on things like tread….
Tony: I’m not surprised.
Dom: and in addition, I mean, we published recently that their anxiety behavior goes down so their fear response, their exploratory behavior, they’re kind of more social. There’s all these benefits, even things like wound healing, and stuff you wouldn’t even expect.
Tony: Well, really. It’s definitely a mood elevator as well.
Tony: But listen Dom, I do need to ask you about one thing and that is we need to talk about keto smell. When I first having keto, I’ve been told that keto smell. Sometimes people smell us, some way when they go on keto. And I felt like I smelled it on a friend of mine, it’s not kind of a bad breath smell, it’s kind of almost a sweet kind of skin smell. Is this a thing because my experience with my girlfriend suggests it is, and for the first month, she could smell keto on me but now it’s gone, it’s fine.
Dom: Yeah. That’s interesting. It’s interesting you mentioned your girlfriend too because around the same period of time, when I started dating my girlfriend whose now my wife, I kept asking her when I got into this thing, she thought I was crazy, she’s an assistant professor and a cognitive neuro-scientist. She knows about this stuff but she just thought I was doing this myself and taking these weird compounds by myself. I kept asking her do I smell? Do I smell? I was kind of paranoid about it. And of course, you always think, I mean, I always think, people think their own smell as natural like when you go into a house and sometimes people have dogs and there’s like, big dog smell here but they probably don’t realize or something. I have asked people and told them to give me their honest opinion, including my wife, whose pretty straight, she’s from Europe, she’s very straight up and tells me like it is. And I only under certain conditions if I get dehydrated or sometimes if am out in the sun, I notice that I start smelling a little bit funky. And it’s that sweet smell, I wouldn’t describe it as like a BO, no, but, I noticed during the course of the day, especially, when am doing intermittent fasting and I kind of do what you did I guess, you would call it modified intermittent fasting, when you’re taking some calories like bulletproof coffee in the morning and don’t eat until like 6pm and then snack on things until about 10pm, I noticed that during the latter half of the day, towards the end of my fast, I’ll have, I can taste it in my mouth..
Tony: Oh really.
Dom: I start to taste it in my mouth a little bit, and that’s, we make keton bodies, beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is the salts that you have, the perfect keto product, the ketologic product, and we have a cero as ot take now, beta-hydroxybutyrate needs to be converted to residual acidacetate to be used for energy. And the acidacetate, is a keton body that can break down to something called acetone. And acetone has actually has neuro protective, has some interesting effects and one of the effects is that It’s volatile and if it’s in your blood and in your saliva, it will evaporate out and then you smell it. It has a particular smell. A fruity smell. And that’s in type 1 diabetics, that’s how they used to actually diagnose it. They used to have this really fruity smell. That’s only for people who don’t produce insulin. So that is more, can be higher in some people than other people. So some people experience it, and if they do, I just tell them, stay hydrated, if you drink enough water, and if it’s really bad, you can just chew gum or something like that.
Tony: I also recon it might be stronger when you start out because there might be toxins out into it as well.
Tony: For me, it was stronger over the first month or two, and now it seems to have abated a bit. I don’t know, cause in terms of measuring, I know you’re a fan of blood measuring. What do you measure on a daily basis, what’s a kind of good number for you?
Dom: Yeah. For me, I’m a good keton utilizer, which means my tissues are pretty hungry for ketones and then I transport them and burn them pretty well so my ketones now, don’t really get, rarely get above 2 or 3, they usually stay about 1. When I wake up there’s something like 0.5, which puts me into a very mild state of ketosis and through the mid part or latter part of the day, am about 1 to 2 milimolar on the blood meter which is considered mild to moderate ketosis. And on some days, if am just getting some extra protein, some days I do pretty strict keto, some days I do low carb, I can be really low on ketones or not, until I consume exogenous keton products and it can shoot straight up. It varies but typically about 1 or if I feel best, I tell people, people say, ask me, what is the optimal keton level to be in and it’s really, kind of, a personalized dependent. I will tend to, identify a point, various points in time, where I feel really good and energized and I will measure my ketones at that given point in time and I consistently get til like 1 or 1.2, that level seems to be where my brain and physiology is optimized. Where my mental acuity and my total energy levels are kind of optimum so I kind of shoot that.
Tony: That’s so helpful, because I’ve been hitting those levels between 1 and 2. And I was thinking it’s a bit low. And now hearing you, am like great perfect, am happy with that.
Dom: Yeah. And you know, if am sitting at my desk now or standing at my desk now, and I have to go walk around and do some physical activity, I can drop that pretty fast and that blood level is sort of dropping fast because my tissues are using that energy source as fuel similar to a type 2 diabetic who has blood glucose if he exercises that glucose levels goes down the blood. So the same thing happens for ketones right cause it’s an energy source. So they tend to, they get an accurate measure of your keton levels be sure to measure, at the same time everyday, and also, make sure you’re relatively sedentary for at least 30-60minutes to make sure everything is kind of stable, your metabolism is stable, you draw some blood and that gives you a snapshot on what your true keton levels are.
Tony: Dom, this is something I have asked everyone in this podcast is what is one book you’d recommend and what is one tip for living with more energy. What would your book recommendation be? it can be as high brow or as low brow as you like.
Dom: Yeah, wow I have so many books and that depends. So you know what, as I speak right now, I am opening up my, audio book and actually, the last book I read or listened to was called, the subtle, I listen to 2 at the same time, one was called was the subtle art of not giving a f, which is really good, I enjoyed it. And then, the other one, my wife and I are listening to is that, I was, blown away to see that you had him on as a guest – john gray, beyond mars and venus. So, it’s kind of a follow up book to men are from mars, women are from venus and I have the audio book of that. Which is a little bit more the science behind, the biochemistry of men and women and why they’re different from a fundamental point of view. You asked for one, but I gave you two.
Tony: That’s great.
Dom: I’m listening to it at the same time.
Tony: He’s great, John Gray. We got to have dinner with him when he was at london. He was such good company. He has lived a very interesting life.
Dom: Yeah. I kind of delved into, I looked into, what are people’s backgrounds, like why should we listen to him and I realized that he has an enormous, tremendous amount of experience, really no substitute for experience, and that guy has heard it all. I really enjoy lsitening to it. It’s a very good use for your listeners out there. So many people listen to his book, if you havent listened to it and you’re a couple out there. It can help you out tremendously.
Tony: Yeah. So, brilliant. What would one tip be? Would it be ketosis for living with more energy?
Dom: That’s too much of an easy one.
Dom: You know, ketosis is not for everybody, it is for me. Actually my wife does not follow, she does low carbs sometimes and likes trying the ketogenic foods but I think one tip that I’ve learned to, that I need to stick to really is to carve out time for creative downtime. And really that time, I like to allocate towards relationships. Healthy relationships, living a life, with purpose is important to your work. That’s one thing but it has to come second to healthy relationships so I think, family, and friends, and for me, first and foremost my wife, so if I don’t do it. I don’t put it in my calendar each day, to allocate time each day, it’s so easy to get caught up in work especially when you’re super passionate about things. And that can be walking the dog, talking, reading, listening to John Gray’s book together or something like that. Doing something on a daily basis, kind of like going to the gym, to build and improve in that area of your life. You need to carve out time and some kind of plan for it. So, I call it creative relationship time or creative downtime. So everyday you have to carve out, and meditation too, that’s something I’m just getting into now. Different breathing exercises, one of the things am studying is buteyko breathing and Wim Hof, actually, you’d be a great guest.
Tony: Actually, I’ve had him. I’ve interviewed Wim Hof. Yeah. He’s a great guy.
Dom: Oh really, that’s great. Yeah, he totally is. Hopefully, am gonna make arrangements to study him.
Tony: That would be amazing, yeah.
Dom: It would be. And to learn to extract what I can out of his methods and apply it to my research and to really study it from a fundamental level something that am very interested in doing. and even, our funding agencies, are very in know of him and are actually willing to maybe even support some of his research which is kind of unusual. I’m really excited about that. You’ve had some really awesome guests out there. I’d have to look them up.
Tony: Yeah, really, that was #72. But you know, when you’re in London, you must let me know and we’ll get John Gray here, Wim Hof here, and you guys can become a massive panel geek out and basically solve the problems of the world within an hour.
Dom: That would be an eclectic… am all up for it. So I do make a couple of trips to Europe, I think I will be coming out there maybe in May, and March. I will give you an update on that.
Tony: Yes, please do. We kind of met because you met my mutual friend Tim on the oxygen conference didn’t you? That’s really interesting stuff. He had amazing results with the hyperbaric oxygen.
Dom: Absolutely, and that’s a whole another topic I could talk about. And even things like, lyme’s disease, it’s really has helped quite a few people so, and emerging area, lot of potential there, cost of understanding, the healing properties of oxygen and how best to apply it in different scenarios. It was great meeting Tim. Glad to meet him and connect with you that way.
Tony: Yeah. Dom, thank you so much for coming on, really do appreciate it. I’ve got a long list of things to put into action now that we’ve been chatting.
Dom: Thanks for having me Tony, I appreciate it and I really enjoyed your podcast and will be a very devout listener from now on. I just listened a couple of weeks, and great to finally connect with you. We had that big hurricane so it kind of..
Tony: Thank you. I will devout listening to you as well. So thank you.