Today's topic is “You have to know the rules to break the rules”. Now, when I talked to a number of folks as they go on through their health and wellness, nutrition and diet journey, it's pretty interesting to go from folks who are Olympic level caliber threshold athletes or professionals all the way down to people that are sick, and just starting to understand and learn about nutrition and metabolism for the very, very first time. And there is so much prescription, gurus, diet advice, where people try to sell you the the one true way to eat.
And let me just break it down for you. There is no one single way to eat. And why is that? It's because that there is so much personalization, and different baselines and goals for every single person. So when some YouTube person or some guru or some professor or some random influencers saying hey, I have the magic solution, they're oftentimes likely wrong. However, are there certain rules and principles from which we can develop a framework and a systems approach to apply those contexts to your specific situation? Now, that's an interesting point, an interesting distinction. And yes, there are actual systems, ways to approach nutrition and metabolism in which you can actually apply that to your specific situation.
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So let me just describe kind of the levels or evolutions of people going through their nutrition journey for the very first time. Most people have no idea what nutrition is, most people just passively consume, whatever their social cultural context provides them. I grew up in Los Angeles, fortunate to have parents who gave me a lot exposure to a lot of different types of foods. And I would say have a pretty wide palette where I just love all types of cuisines and different types of exotic dishes and delicacies. But also know a lot of friends who grew up just grew up eating fast food, because that was what they were raised in. That was what their parents provided. They were just eating microwave dinners, and fast food. And that was the passive cultural context in which someone was raised. So that's default. And clearly this default is failing America. Just look at the stat 75% of us are overweight, obese, a third of us have diabetes, pre-diabetes, this is going in the wrong direction. Clearly this is what does not work. And a clear a lot of people are unsatisfied, that's what the diet nutrition guru space is a large market, a lot of gurus and influencers who have millions of followers just talking about diet nutrition.
So then comes to the next level, level 1, if you say default is level zero, it's about level one. And level one people are folks that passively construct consume mainstream media about nutrition. So these are people that's that see a headline from a magazine saying, hey, eggs are bad. And therefore they sometimes just avoid eating eggs, or they say, hey, vegan diet is really, really great. So then they start adopting a vegan diet, and they say, hey, eggs are good for you, and then they start eating eggs again. So this level of category is that one is starting to open up their eyes towards nutritional advice and just taking information from the broader, unfiltered universe. So there is inclination to learn, but there's no filter, no intuition on who to listen to, and how that actually applies, and to to one's own specific context, nor there is there a sophistication to actually dive into the evidence behind such recommendations.
Then you get into level 2, and this is when people start going into food tribes. Now that one has gotten their beak wet, they got their interest into a specific type of nutrition, they start falling or not falling, they start aligning themselves with a specific school of thought. So these are people that are in the keto tribe or the low carb tribe. These are people in the carnivore tribe. These are people in the plant based vegan tribe and on the most extreme, and one personal identity becomes their diet. So you see people with their social media profiles saying, Hey, I am plant based, literally, their identity is encapsulated by their diet. And, again, on the extreme side, they've gotten so deep into the literature, and they have their ego so wrapped up into their diet that one no longer perceives, or reviews, or even openly accepts data that might contradict or hamper the arguments that drive the metabolic basis of why one chooses a diet. And this actually applies to all specific schools of nutrition. Just while I eat, one can consider me part of a low carbohydrate camp or intermittent fasting camp, one that cares about metabolic flexibility. There are clearly folks in this school that are very, very dogmatic and are very argumentative or defensive, when there are interesting results that require nuance digest into one's framework.
So this, in particular, is when people start sticking to specific prescriptions or specific rules that one has read on the internet. So this is when one is following ketogenic diet, there is strong prescription, oh, you can only eat 25 grams of carbs, net carbs a day, or, hey, you can only eat between a narrow eating window between 2pm and 6pm. And there is not much thoughtfulness on why these prescriptions are given. It just simply, I must follow this, too, to stick with my tribe. So this oftentimes is a reasonable spot to be in because being level two, and sticking to any sort of diet regimen is likely better than an arbitrary standard Western diet. So I think when one enters a Mediterranean diet, or a plant based diet, or a ketogenic diet or a carnivore diet, oftentimes, all of these diets outperform a standard Western diet. And that's because their Western diet is essentially engineered to give you metabolic stress. So any sort of diet protocol is likely an improvement. So that's where I think you see this like short term success with almost ever actually any sort of program.
But what I venture, what I would like to suggest is that there's actually a level three stage, which is now that you know, the rules and know the principles on why people recommend a low carb diet, or why people recommend a high carb, low protein diet. Now you start understanding the rules, but not just the rules, you start understanding the actual mechanisms, action, actual metabolic pathways, on what made scientists or influencers or grows to even prescribe these protocols in the first place. And once you understand the system and the rules behind, you can actually personalize and construct your own regimens. So as I went through the nutritional journey, personally, I very much evolved through level 0,1,2. And hopefully I'm in the category of three now. I definitely went from not you know, as a kid, just eating whatever my parents gave me to, hey, I somewhat consider it important to eat healthily. So I will kind of passively digest and listen to a friend and some of the recommendations suggestions. And then as I studied more and more I was attracted and intellectually stimulated by the low carb ketogenic approach, and went through a very strict period of eating zero carbs a day, strict periods of testing my ketones multiple times a day to make sure I had over 1.0 millimolar bhB, doing multiple day fasts, experimenting with exotic ketones, doing everything to the book and into the tea. But in parallel, as I understood the levers, or why I was doing this, and how this actually ties in conjunction with intermittent fasting and time restriction of consumption of food, and also macro restriction in terms of the types of macronutrients And lastly, the amount of calories and it and the thirdly the calories and lastly, the exercise activity load. One starts being able to put this all together into a system where my current thinking behind nutrition now is you need to understand your baseline, your own genetic disposition. And you need to also understand what your goals are, right? So being an Olympic athlete at the peak physical condition, trying to compete for a gold medal is a very different nutritional and exercise and activity load and a risk reward profile than someone who is 80, looking to extend health span and lifespan to someone that is 35 and pre diabetic and obese. So there clearly is no prescription that applies exactly universally to those three different demographics, let alone a 12 year old child who is trying to just grow, to say that there's one uniform diet that is optimal for those four categories, is likely wrong. So when there are guru, say I have a magical diet, or be very skeptical, and probably turn that out right off, because there's a lack of nuance and a lack of understanding of the mechanisms of what each individual person's goals are.
So once we understand that there's a personalization, and there's a vector and where you start and where you want to go, that's different from every single person. There is a second concept, which is essentially homeostasis. There is an energy requirement and energy expenditure that our body goes through on a daily continuous cycle. And it's clearly not necessarily optimal to always have over abundance of energy, nor is it likely optimal to have always an under abundance of energy. Essentially, it makes sense intuitively, that there needs to be some sort of general balance in terms of energy expenditure and energy consumption. But within that energy balance, there's so many levers in which to drive energy balance, there is literally the amount of energy consumed as measured in calories. But within calories, you can also sub segment out the type of macronutrients because we clearly know that a calorie is not simply just a calorie from a hormonal level, or a signaling level. A calorie of fat is very different from a calorie of sugar, just different from a calorie of ketones. So there is a macronutrient sector that we should consider as a lever. Now there is a timing, dimension to think about, clearly, there is a different hormonal response in our circadian response when you eat a calorie at the beginning of the day, and a calorie at the end of the day. And then lastly, there's energy expenditure, there is clearly a difference when I'm a tour de france cyclists, and I'm biking 100 miles a day for three days straight, where versus a knowledge worker, or I'm in front of a computer, talking to a camera for 10 hours a day. So when you actually understand that these are the four primary levers to actually control nutritional outcome and a metabolic outcome, then you can start playing around with the rules. What do I mean by that? So a typical ketogenic diet, you would say, Hey, have max 25 grams a day, but of net carbs a day. But why is this a principle? Why is this a prescription? Well, it's simple. It's essentially the average amount of net carbs you can consume and burn through well likely reaching mild ketosis for the average sized human with the average size activity load.
But if you exercise way more than the average person, well, maybe you can have more net carbohydrates and yet still reach small ketosis. Maybe you are a really large person, and 25 grams of net carbs gets burned through really really quickly and you just dip into your fat reserves anyways. Or you're a really really small person and 25 grams of net carbs, a lot of carbohydrates and you will not dip into your glycogen reserves with even 25 net grams. So that 25 grams, net carbs are there 10 grams net carbs is a made up number, that is a triangulation of what kind of the quote unquote average person might be for an audience, that the guru or the influencer is talking about, or scientists is talking About, right? These are rules of thumbs that people just make up that generally work. And it is good enough for level two people. But as you master that mechanism is understanding why this even works. You can start actually understanding and tweaking it for what works perfectly for you, and you are a unique snowflake. So when people ask me now, what do I do for my diet or my protocol? I sometimes just say, hey, like, How much time do you want to talk about it? Because like, I can give you the PhD thesis around like exactly why I'm doing whatever I'm doing. Or I'll just say, hey, look, I generally take a low carbohydrate approach and incorporate intermittent fasting and high intensity interval training, right. And it gets us my goals, which is I want to cycle into ketosis endogenously. Periodically, I think, given the literature of cycling through your glycogen reserves, triggering endogenous ketosis, triggering AMPK, mitigating Mtorr every now and then, and then having ketones in my system, and for this longevity, signaling heaviness on my system is not beneficial for my performance, and for my health span and longevity. So my goal is to cycle into nutritional ketosis. And I can do that in a multiple different ways. I can get through there through fasting, I can eat one meal a day, and not worry about carbohydrate restriction to reach nutritional ketosis. I can eat carnivore and eat zero carbs a day, for a few days, and I'll be in nutritional ketosis, I can drink exogenous ketones, and not really restrict carbohydrate to have some ketones in my system. Or I can have a little bit more carbohydrate and work out super, super hard and burn through my stored carbohydrate, my consumed carbohydrate, dip into my glycogen reserves burn through that and start metabolizing fat and generating endogenous ketones. And I vary it depending on what I want to focus on. Sometimes. So practically speaking, when I'm really really busy with work, and I have less time to exercise, I have shorter eating windows oftentimes just eat one meal a day, and I'll be tighter on my carbohydrate intake. If I have more time on my hands, I want to workout twice a day and just really lift heavy and run, I'll have more carbohydrate because I want to be powering through and fueling my workouts. And yet I'll still be in ketosis really, really quickly because my energy consumption, my energy expenditure is so high. So is that a classic ketogenic diet that is 25 grams carbs a day? No. But am I reaching the same metabolic goal that is behind the prescription of a ketogenic diet? Absolutely.
So my point here is, don't chase the prescription. Don't just listen to some random person, whether they're professor or they're a YouTuber, telling you what to do, actually understand the mechanisms that I just described, and then personalize it to your specific schedule. Again, if you're a knowledge worker, you're going to have a different goal, a different baseline than someone who's Olympic athlete or a professional boxer. So understand your context, the vector of your goals, understand the different levers between amount of calories, the type of calories as in terms of macronutrients, protein, carb, fat ketones, understand your time restriction are eating for 12 hours a day, are you just eating one meal a day? Are you doing a 23? One fast or 18, 16 hour fast? And then lastly, think about your energy expenditure? Are it just on the phone all day long? Or are you working out throughout your day as part of your construction work, you're just doing heavy manual labor. And once you understand that, these are all interrelated. These are all different sides of the of the dice here, and they're essentially mimetics of each other. Exercise is essentially, a fast is essentially, exam just ketones essentially, a restrictive diet, these are all mimetics of each other essentially at the metabolic pathway level, then you realize you can fine tune these protocols for exactly your use case. So don't stress about following some dogmatic rule, understand the rules so you can break them to fit your own personal goals.
So that's this week's Free Fatty Friday. It's kind of great to actually finally get this off my chest in terms of I don't like to be up ss someone who just gives blanket prescriptions, so hopefully now you understand the nuance, when I break things down or sometimes wishy washy in terms of exactly what I do, it's because that being a robot is actually not optimal. So now you know why.
As always, love your feedback. appreciate the feedback and comments. I'm very active on Twitter and Instagram @geoffreywoo. A lot of exciting new projects, you might have seen that I just launched investment fund with Jake Paul, who's a popular YouTuber, and now professional boxer. really sharp, creative thought partner in terms of all the things we're doing from a human performance side, as well as a content and technology side. So hopefully, you'll see our game level up as we have his brain power integrating to some of the projects we're working on here at HVMN. As always, you know, I do this program, to educate, entertain, be background noise for you. So if there's stuff that you want me to do more of, just please drop me a line on those social channels. Until next time, talk to you all very soon. Onwards and forward.