I’ve been reading Dave Asprey’s books Head Strong and The Bulletproof Diet this week. I told my wife that Dave should change the titles of these books to Scare Tactics. If you’re not scared after reading about the 3 dozen ways your environment and diet are slowly killing you by hijacking and disrupting your body’s mitochondria, then there’s something wrong with your brain. If you’re unfamiliar with Dave’s name you’re probably familiar with his creation, Bulletproof Coffee, where you add pure MCT’s and butter fat to black coffee and blend to create a smooth creamy beverage that resembles a latte. Asprey is considered by many to be the father of bio-hacking. His well publicized struggles with hormonal imbalance and obesity kicked off a decade long search for answers that led him down the rabbit hole of diet and its effect on not just physical but mental health.
Dave was down with Keto and its effect on weight-loss and fat burning long before it became a book and supplement selling multi-million dollar word. Dave’s bulletproof coffee recipe has been downloaded and copied millions and millions of times. I first discovered it myself back in 2011. It’s one thing I’ve returned to again and again each time I cycled through serious weight-loss and fat cutting routines. Like many people, my fitness is somewhat cyclical. I go through periods of intense exercise and dedication to eating healthy. Sometimes these periods can last months and even years. Then I get burned out and let it all go to shit. Eventually when the scale starts mocking me and my jeans become too tight and cut off the circulation to my nuts, I get back on the fitness train. Unfortunately I’ve begun to notice that the closer I get to 40, (4 months and counting) it’s taking longer and longer to return to my fitness goals.
Not long ago I cautioned people against going militant keto or paleo, and for good reason. I’ve seen people burn out quickly on these restrictive diets and then crash and burn straight into donuts and twinkies. It’s very hard for many people to keep these diets going long term and I advised using Keto as a temporary tool. That’s exactly what I plan to do in the coming weeks as I try to get rid of some bad habits that have been dogging me for the past 3 years. It’s all part of a larger goal to make 2018 a successful year physically, mentally, and financially. I plan to use some of the information I’ve gleaned from Dave’s books along with other sources to craft a nutrition plan to help me meet my goals.
I’ve determined a couple of things about Dave Asprey from reading his books. First and most importantly his youth spent fighting chronic respiratory infections from mold exposure seem to have severely impaired his immune function and left him sensitive to apparently EVERYTHING. Seriously over 12 years of training people in health and fitness, I’ve never even heard of someone with so many issues, allergies, and adverse immune responses. Which leads me to my next point. Dave is a great guy and his books, blog, articles, and website have a ton of helpful information on diet, environmental health and weight-loss, but you have to take everything he says with a disclaimer.
Most people just aren’t as sensitive to the number of things that he is. While he makes great points and I intend to take action in my own life and environment to remove harmful stresses, the average person just is not going to have as drastic of a reaction to many of the things Dave has in his life. You also have to remember that Dave runs a business and part of that business is selling books, supplements, and products. Its an age old truth in marketing that one of the best ways to sell a product is to have it solve a problem that you created.
Case in point the chapter on Mycotoxins in coffee. Dave touts his beans as being superior to all the other roasted coffee beans out there, most of which contain poisonous mitochondria damaging mold toxins and should be avoided. The truth, bulletproof coffee beans come from a local roaster in Portland, that uses the same beans and processes that dozens other companies use to produce their coffee beans and products. The fact is most coffee bean growers changed their washing and drying practices decades ago after recognizing the danger that mold toxins posed to the quality and taste of their product.
This is probably my biggest gripe in Dave’s books but it highlights a serious conflict of interest when it comes to promoting health and wellness, and a problem plaguing the integrity of the fitness community as a whole: people whose motives aren’t as altruistic as they present them to be. I think Dave’s books and website are troves of useful information. My concern is that the average person without the knowledge and practical experience of a fitness professional may take the information Dave espouses as holy gospel instead of what it really is, his personal anecdotal observations and experiences. You could say the same about many popular nutrition writers so I’m not going to knock Dave too much for it.
Tim Ferriss has been a long time friend and follower of Asprey, and a very vocal keto proponent after his struggle with Lyme disease. Like Tim I encourage everyone to self experiment and keep meticulous records of the results. I’m going to keep a journal over the next few weeks recording what I eat, when I eat, and how it makes me feel. I know Keto is very popular right now and I’m a little late to the party but that’s okay. If it works it works and I’m willing to change my opinion on it. We’ll see what happens.