You 3.0: Get Better Easily, Calmly, and Consistently with Dave Asprey
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Jonathan: Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor, back, with another SANE show, and thrilled to be bringing you a long-time friend of the show, and my personal friend, the man, Dave Asprey. How are you doing today, Dave?
Dave: Jonathan, I’m doing really, really well. I am so happy to be chatting with you again.
Jonathan: Dave, I wanted to give our viewers and listeners a quick disclaimer, because if you are a viewer, there is a chance that you are seeing a try picture, and picture, and picture, matrix-like inception experience right now. We cannot figure out why this is happening, but can promise you, it will be worth it, because Dave Asprey is in the house, and it is always worth it when Dave is chatting.
Dave: Jonathan, are there two of you, or two of me? I have never been that clear on that.
Jonathan: (laughs) Well, Dave, one of the reasons I was excited to have you back on the show today is that I know you have been working on your Bulletproof Diet book, which is really exciting, and which we will certainly talk about, but more importantly, your name has come up quite often recently because Bulletproof is doing really, really well, and in each and every one of these conversations the things I highlight about you whenever I have the opportunity, and I am not trying to be overly nice here, but I want to get into your brain a little bit, you consistently come up with very innovative and nonderivative stuff in a wellness space that is so chock full of me-too derivative stuff. How do you so consistently do that?
Dave: I have spent ten years running an anti-aging nonprofit group called the Silicon Valley Health Institute. I am still chairman. I have struggled greatly in that time, trying to get people to come. This group meets the third Thursday of every month, four minutes from Google’s headquarters. How many googlers have shown up? Probably five over the last ten years. And they show up once, and then they would go away. I would think, “Wait, world class researchers are showing up and spending two hours just hearing a lecture about stuff that can change the quality of your brain. The guy who wrote the book, Smart Drugs, is sitting in the audience, sharing knowledge for free, the guy who wrote the book, Smart Drugs and Nutrients II, Steve Fowkes. He has been on Bulletproof Radio, he is a friend and advisor to the nonprofit. He has helped me out, actually, on a couple of the science things in my book. It is world class people sitting in there, and no one shows.
Partly, it is that I have this learning experience from them, and partly that I lost 100 pounds, and I had the strongest motivation ever known to humanity, which is survival, because when you weigh 300 pounds and you are inflamed, and you have had three knee surgeries before you are 24, and your brain starts to turn off, and you use your brain to make your living so you can eat, then you get really serious about it. So, I know it because I did the science for myself, and I know it because I have hung out with some of the great minds in the space, and I have moderated their presence on stage, and asked them questions. And all that has helped me to not only figure out the products that work really well, it is this innate feeling of what works.
And Jonathan, the other thing, and this gets a bit out there, but I talk about this 40 Years of Zen program that I do with my clients. I have been through this thing seven times, and each time you do it, you spend seven days with eight electrodes glued to your head, and you basically have a lie detector that is telling you anytime you are deceiving yourself. So, I have learned to get out of my own way. And, when you do some of the more advanced things you can do, you learn to flirt with something called a theta state, then the alpha state, and you are normally in beta. Alpha is kind of a relaxed-alert thing, but when you get to the very lower edge of relaxed-alert, that is where creativity, and even intuition, come into play. There are breathing exercises, there are relaxation exercises, there is heart rate variability training like the things I do with hard math.
But at the end of the day, I’ve really crafted and even would use the word engineered, a better connection to my intution. The ideas will come to me, and then the people to make the things comes to fruition will come to me, as well. So, I am mostly just grateful, and I work on my intent, which is to help a lot of people. And the more I can focus my intent, the more the ideas just appear, and then we take them and try them, and sometimes they don’t work out, but usually they do, like the new Unfair Advantage that is just coming out. Honestly, I would bet that there would be world records in athletics broken on stuff because it makes your mitochondria do things, at least it makes mine do things, that they didn’t do before. And people feel it the second they try it. This stuff just gets me going in the morning. It wakes me up. It gets me excited. I just keep doing stuff that I want, for me, and then I put it out there, and it turns out that other people have similar desires.
Jonathan: Dave, what you just mentioned, I want to unpack it a little bit, because you are an engineer by training, you are a very science-based guy, and you mentioned in what you were just saying that it is a little bit out there. It did start to get a little bit more into the realm of positive affirmations, and putting things out into the universe, and having things come back to you. How do you marry these two worlds of brute rationality and logic that is defined by science and engineering, and this more intuitive, put it out into the universe, side of your brain?
Dave: It is really cool. We have a rational part of the brain. This is the prefrontal cortex here. That is the part that most of us spend most of our days in. The rest of our body, actually, isn’t rational at all. It doesn’t even make sense. But here is the thing that unpacked it all for me. It’s not supposed to make sense. Is it possible that simultaneously you have an irrational part of your biology and a rational part of your biology? In my world, it is, and that is actually the way the body works. In fact, that is the way the world works. So, can you say that I am not a scientist? Well, I don’t know, you can say whatever you want.
But, one of the reasons I am such a fan of Quantified Self is that we find stuff that cannot be, and then the hardcore rationalist approach is to simply say, “Oh, that doesn’t agree with my world, therefore it doesn’t exist. Let’s just pretend it is not there.” But we have seen that your nervous system knows what is going to happen before it happens, and this should not be possible. They can detect a startle reflex, or basically, changes in your galvanic skin response, and changes in other subtle parts of your nervous system, when they are just showing pictures.
There is a study, and I’m sorry, I don’t have it memorized to tell you exactly when and where, it is one of the many things I have come across, but what they did is, they said, “All right, we’re going to flash a picture of a gruesome murder, or a picture of a smiling puppy.” I am paraphrasing this. I am not sure the puppies were smiling, they might have been frowing, but whatever it was. Something that stimulates a negative fear or revulsion response, and something that stimulates a positive response. And then, they are looking at it, but before the image hits their eyes, and we are talking microseconds, the body has a response to the more gruesome ones. This shouldn’t be possible.
I interviewed Commander Mark Divine, a Navy Seal commander who runs SealFit on Bulletproof Radio. And we talked about this. One of the things that an experienced soldier at that level does know, and several who are friend have told me over the years, “You know when you are in someone’s sights.” I would ask, “How do you know?” And one of my really good friends said, “It’s like a feeling of warmth that spreads across my body. I just know.” He was telling me because someone had him in his sights when there was no reason for this to happen in California, and he said, “It scared the crap out of me because I knew that it was happening.”
The scientist in me would say, “Yeah, whatever, you were probably high.” But the other part of me listens to these people who are absolute ass-kickers. These are guys at the top of their game, and they generally all say the same thing. So, either we just ignore the experts because it cannot be, or we say there are likely signals that our conscious brains are less aware of, and let’s explore, and let’s see what they are. I cannot prove right now that thinking happy thoughts makes good things happen. It just appears to be that case in my life, so I will keep doing it.
Jonathan: Well, that’s fair. And I wonder, too, there is this whole realm of science, and quantum physics, and stuff that is just so freaking advanced where it almost seems – the number one say I have heard that you can feel you are starting to understand quantum physics is you realize you have no idea what quantum physics is. The more you understand it, the more you think, “Wow, I have no idea what is going on.” And it seems to be almost like what has happened with nutrition, where we said, there was this huge scientific boom, and then there was nutritionism, and it, a little bit, just circled back to this simplistic notion of, eat things in nature. And I am wondering if you imagine that this cognition and Quantified Self scientific revolution around psychology will end up doing a similar circle, where that which seems blasé, and we’re better than that from a science perspective, will end up coming full circle and saying, “Hmm. Intuition is more important than we thought, originally.”
Dave: If you asked the great inventors throughout time, or you study their writings, what intuition does to them, they all rely on intuition. In fact, I would argue that intuition is an altered state of consciousness, and there are many ways to get there, but there are inventors who use hallucinogens as part of their – in fact, gee, what was his name, that famous guy? Oh, Steve Jobs, yeah.
Jonathan: Apples. Apparently he ate a lot of apples.
Dave: Yeah, exactly. So, that doesn’t mean that acid, or mushrooms, or whatever he was into, made Apple. No. In fact, it was very large applications of hard science and rational brain. But the intuition, and following your gut – I’ll tell you, no matter how hardcore of a scientist you are, if you don’t have the ability to listen to your gut and your intuition and what your biology is telling you, you will make suboptimal decisions. Francis Crick – how did he come up with the structure for DNA? Did he sit there and rationally deduce it using math? No, he had a dream. He woke up and thought, “Oh, wait. Okay, I just got that thing I needed.”
And I have dreams like that. In fact, you can run a gamma current across your brain to have more of those dreams if you want to. This is a biological thing that is in our bodies. It is in our minds. It is in what we are. Some of us are more adept at accessing those states, and it is trainable to enter these states. In fact, I have a software package I am working on. I don’t think I have told you about this before. It trains you to be more mindful of this state. When you go into a daydream mode you are actually starting to access that theta state. The difficulty there is that when you are daydreaming, you don’t remember what you are doing. “Oh, I had this really good idea.” And you notice, if you wake up and you don’t write down your dream or tell someone, it’s gone? Well, the same thing happens to you many times a day, because your brain can be in active mode or passive mode, or sometimes a default mode.
We used to believe, until just a few years ago, that it was all or nothing; it was binary. And then they just figured out, I think, it was at either Cambridge or Oxford, “Oh, sorry, it turns out it is a slider.” You are always a little bit in one or the other. So even while we are talking right now, fully engaged, with beta and some alpha going on, there is a thread of background daydreaming; it is just tiny. And then when we stop doing this, then there will be more of it, but we probably aren’t aware and we probably don’t remember what happened in it. But the more you can increase your memory, or the more you can increase your attention on those states in your awareness, without making the states go away by looking at them, the more intuitive you can be.
I didn’t always have this. I have always been a disrupter. I was the first guy to sell anything over the Internet. I sold caffeine T-shirts out of my dorm room on Usenet before the browser was invented. It was in the Miami Herald. In fact, it is pretty darn provable at this point, that was the first written thing. And I got famous, as a kid, because I flamed a Rutger’s professor who said, “No one will ever make any money on the Internet,” and I was laughing and said, “I’m already making money on the Internet, Dufus.” And a reporter called me the next day, and that was the first e-commerce ever. I sold T-shirts to 12 countries my first month, which was, in all, 200 T-shirts the first month, and I was thinking, “Oh my God, I’m rich!”
So, I disrupt things, I break things, and right now, the supplements business, and really, human health, it is time to disrupt that and to break a model that isn’t working, a model that made me fat, that gave me brain fog, and really, damaged my health. I am 6’4”, I am in really good shape, I look better than I ever fantasized I would look when I was 20, and this is through bio-hacking, but I am still carrying the burden of growing up, as a kid, eating crappy food, and living in an environment with toxins around me that affected my very biology. So, I am working on hacking that, and I may only live to be 150 because of that. I am really bummed about that.
Jonathan: Dave, a funny anecdote, because I think folks that see you know, and this is proof of that, would never believe where you came from. I was in the car with Angela, my wife, who you met, and we were talking about how Dave is doing real well, he has this book coming out, it is very exciting. And she said, “Dave just seems to be on top of things. What is going on with that?” And she was asking for the back story. And I said, “Well, you know, Dave used to be very sick and unhealthy.” And she said, “Wait. What do you mean?” And I pulled up your picture on my phone. And she said, “That’s Dave?” She could not even believe where you came from and where you are now, so certainly, you have been on a long journey. And I am curious. You have a lot going on, but one of the biggest things is this book that is coming out. Is this book your manifesto? Is this the Dave Asprey, “This is my life?” What can we expect from this book?
Dave: The Bulletproof Diet book is about how you do it, and I include some things about handling sleep and stress, but mostly, it is about how you learn how to eat to support your biology. I started out thinking it was all about my brain, to be honest, a very hardcore rational thing like, “Let’s see, I am 300 pounds, but I work out all the time, and I am not eating very much food; therefore, whatever, I am just going to keep doing more of that, even though it doesn’t work.” And then, my brain is starting to fail, and I am getting brain fog, and I am sitting in meetings at this amazing job at the company that ended up creating modern cloud computing. Google’s first servers were in our buildings. It is just this amazing dot.com boomtime, and everything is incredible, but I can’t remember what is going on during the day, and I am in meetings and I am like a zombie. And I would go to the doctor and say, “I feel like I have been poisoned. I don’t know, but something is really wrong with me.” All that time I wasn’t doing so well. I know you were asking me some specific thing, but I got all excited about the dot.com boom, so where were we going with this?
Jonathan: You have written a lot, you have been doing this for a long time, you have a lot of stuff already documented on the Internet. I was wondering if the Bulletproof Diet book is a culmination? A starting point?
Dave: Starting from back then, to where I am now, I spent $300,000, and 15+ years, figuring these things out, one experiment at a time, and meeting one researcher, and implementing this. It is not reasonable to expect a normal person with a family, and a job, and interests, to follow that same path. So, I spent an enormous amount of time boiling it down to, rather than let me argue, yet again, about calories in versus calories out — Jonathan, do you know anyone who wrote a pretty good book about that?
Jonathan: (laughs) Pretty good.
Dave: And do you know anyone whose book is mentioned in my book as, if you really want to argue about this, go there?
Dave: Because seriously, how many of those do we need? And you’ve done a good job there. The problem is that a lot of people run into implementation and they say, “How do I do this?” And I say, “All right. Here is why the stuff works: Lots of studies. And here’s how to do it.” And the how to do it has been the hard part for me, and it has been the hard part for others when they start trying to figure out, not how to lose weight, because honestly, if you want to lose weight, pretend like there is a tiger chasing you, and induce a famine. That’s called run a lot and eat few calories. You can do it. You’ll lose weight, reliably. You’ll gain it back and break your hormones at the end of the day, but hey, like you can lose it.
How do I turn my brain on all the way? That is what is in the book. How do you eat so that you remove all the sources of likely toxins? There are three categories of food, and it is a sliding scale, and you say, “All right. Some food is just kryptonite. Don’t touch it. Those are kryptonite foods. Some foods are suspect foods, and that is a lot of foods that you might think are healthy that simply aren’t, at least aren’t for large swaths of people. And then there are foods that are generally good for most people, and those are the Bulletproof foods. I walk people through a 14-day program in the book where you eat the Bulletproof foods, and you switch your diet to a high healthy-fat diet, and you have moderate protein, and low carefully-timed carbohydrates.
And you do this cyclically. You go into fat-burning mode, and you come out. You go in, you come out. And all I want you to do, in 14 days, you might lose a bunch of weight. In fact, it is pretty easy to lose seven or 8 pounds on almost any diet, so I help you go through that. But what I want you to do is feel the Bulletproof state of high performance, when your brain turns on all the way. This is manipulating your mitochondria, and that is really what is going on in the book. Get rid of the stuff that slows down mitochondrial function, get rid of the stuff that breaks your hormones, experience the state of clarity that you are capable of, make that your new baseline, and don’t do anything that takes you out of it, or add suspect foods back in.
There is a free tool called Food Detective, which we have released. This tracks your heartrate, and it will tell you, after you eat a meal, if something in that meal that is on the suspect list was actually a kryptonite food for you. Pretty soon, you have a customized list of the foods that work best for you, and when you eat those things, you kick ass, and when you vary from that, you get inflamed, your joints hurt, you wake up tired and groggy, with pimples. It is pretty easy to understand.
Jonathan: The focus on results, there, Dave, is so critical, because we constantly hear this myth of moderation, or just enjoy it a little bit. You can enjoy anything a little bit. You could bang yourself in the face with a brick a little bit if you want, but the consequences seem like what we really should be focused on.
Dave: I always figure that cyanide, mercury and spider venom, in moderation they are good for you, because “everything in moderation.” My mother-in-law, who may or may not be listening to this, is fond of saying, everything in moderation, and I just look at her. I say, “Really? Like, things that permanently change your nervous system, or make your immune system allergic to you, just have a little bit of that?” Like what do we call those things? Oh yeah, vaccinations. Just a moderate amount of vaccination can cause permanent changes in your immune system. Maybe moderation of things that harm you would not be a good idea. If a vaccination has this much power to change you, what else has that much power to change, you? And don’t have moderate doses of those unless you like the changes. That kind of thinking; I’m sorry, we have the science for that. The days of moderation are over. Eat the stuff that is good for you, and eat as much of it as is the right amount. And it is a moderate amount for some things, and for other things, you just shouldn’t eat those at all.
Jonathan: Mark Twain, I believe, said, “Everything I moderation, including moderation.”
Dave: Leave it to Mark Twain. I love that.
Jonathan: Dave, where can we go to learn more about all the great stuff you have going on, but specifically now, the bonuses and great, cool stuff you have around the new book?
Dave: I would be grateful if you would check out orderbulletproofdietbook.com. If you go there, and send your Amazon receipt, and I’m not trying to sell you on a bunch of other stuff, just send me a copy of your Amazon receipt that shows that you pre-ordered the book, and I will send you a whole bunch of different bonuses. You get videos and quick-start guides, and things like that; things that, honestly, some of my advisors have said, “Dave, you should be selling those.” The win for me here is, you are going to buy the book, and you are going to read it, and then your brain is going to work better. And if your brain works better, you have more emotional regulation and you will actually be nicer to all the people around you, and then I get to live in that world. So that’s a big win. And along the way, you might decide that drinking coffee lower in mold toxins is good for you and you might decide to try it, and you might not, too. But for me the big one is, read the book, and just do ten percent of what is in there, and it will move the needle in the right direction. And that is the win. So, orderbulletproofdietbook.com, get a whole bunch of free stuff, just for pre-ordering the book now. I would really appreciate it if you do that.
Jonathan: And folks, I will definitely give a quick endorsement to that, as well, because regardless of whether or not you agree with what Dave does, or you practice the lifestyle, we can all certainly salute, and all agree, that what he is doing is novel, and it is innovative, in a space that is full of so much derivative snake oil nonsense. Just the fact that you are able to do that so consistently, I think is worth the price of a book. I salute that.
Dave: Thank you. I really appreciate that, Jonathan. It is a labor of love. I left my career in high-tech. Until January of this year I was a Vice President at a big Internet security company. I didn’t start Bulletproof to make money. I already have had a successful career. I started Bulletproof to help a lot of people because I shouldn’t have had to spend 20 years and $300,000 hacking myself. I should have just gotten good advice when I was 14, and everything would have been different. So, every time I get an email from someone who says, “I just got rid of this chronic thing and it took a week, and now my brain works, and life is better, and I got a raise,” and I do get those emails, I am just like, “Yes! I win!” That is what it is all about.
Jonathan: I love it. Dave, give us that URL just one more time.
Dave: It is orderbulletproofdietbook.com.
Jonathan: I love it. Folks, go check out orderbulletproofdietbook.com. And of course, check out Dave Asprey, all over the web. Just type his name into a search engine and you will certainly get a bunch of wonderful and interesting results, but it is all innovative, novel, and helpful, which is great. Dave, as always, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dave: Thanks, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Listeners and viewers, I hope you enjoyed this chat as much as I did, and remember, stay SANE.