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"Achieve metabolic flexibility with intermittent fasting strategies and ketosis” - Ben Azadi

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

There are only brilliant speakers at the Ultimate Wellness events and retreats, who have achieved the ultimate level of knowledge and mastery in their chosen fields. We are honored to have Ben Azadi @thebenazadi, Founder Keto Kamp @ketokampofficial as a speaker.

In 2008, Ben Azadi was an obese man who went through a personal health transformation of releasing 80 pounds of extra weight, and getting metabolically healthy. Ever since, Ben Azadi, FDN-P, has been on a mission to help 1 billion people live a healthier lifestyle.

Ben is the author of four best-selling books, including his latest Keto Flex. Ben has been the go-to source for intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet since 2013.

He is known as 'The Health Detective' because he investigates dysfunction, and he educates, not medicates, to bring the body back to normal function. Ben is the founder of Keto Kamp; a global brand bringing awareness to ancient healing strategies such as the keto diet and fasting.

Ben is the host of a top 15 podcast, The Keto Kamp Podcast which won Keto Podcast of The Year (2022) by The Metabolic Health Summit. Ben has the fast growing Keto Kamp YouTube channel with over 185,000 subscribers, and TikTok channel with over 330,000 subscribers and over 46 million video downloads.

Why Is Disease on the Rise?

The first question, which Ben has discussed at the last Ultimate Wellness event was: Why are so many people metabolically inflexible? Why is disease on the rise?

And here are some stats. According to the CDC, one in three women are diagnosed with cancer within their lifetime. For men, one in two. At least 60 percent of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. And you know it's a lot higher because people are walking around not testing their A1c.

They're projecting by the year 2032 that one in two children will be born on the autism spectrum. Harvard put out this article, they're projecting by the year 2030 that 50 percent of the American population would be obese, not just overweight, but obese. So what's the problem here? Let's look at hospitals, for example. A cancer patient getting chemotherapy, they're given this type of Frankenfood, which I would argue actually was probably part of the reason they were in there for the treatment. Hospitals allow fast food restaurants in them. It should be a place for healing. Hospitals should be a healing environment, yet they allow McDonald's and Burger King and Wendy's. The question is why?

We're going to get to that. Big Pharma is a cash cow. It's a brilliant business model that's very evil for the health of humanity. For example, Walgreens or any supermarket or convenience store, here's a simple example. We go to Walgreens, and what do we see? I think I have a little... yeah, we see a whole bunch of Frankenfood and Frankenfood products with artificial ingredients, seed oils, things we can't pronounce. People buy it because it's cheap and convenient. They eat that, then they come back to Walgreens to pick up their prescription for the symptoms they're dealing with because the food they bought at the front of the store is contributing to those symptoms.

Frosted by weakness of attention in poverty of imagination. I want to unpack that real quick. The subconscious mind, and this is going to tie into metabolic flexibility, I promise. When we think about weakness of attention, we see mainstream news, which is fear porn, social media, friends, family, and co-workers. But we're going to focus on TV commercials. And I'm going to ask you a question here. I don't watch television, but my mom does, and I have dinner with her every Thursday. I go to her apartment, and she watches these types of commercials. What percentage globally comes from fast food? What do you think this is? We already know. 75 or so. So it's 11 plus 11 to 29, depending on the country. So in the US, it's about 11. So pretty much every single commercial going into our conscious mind and subconscious mind is Big Pharma, Little Caesars, Papa John's, Big Pharma, Big Pharma, Little Caesars, Papa John's. It's non-stop. And even if you know consciously, "I don't eat fast food" or "I'm not going to take that medication," the government is telling you to eat and then do the complete opposite. Just like this. Just flip it upside down, and you're always going to be in the right direction. Have you ever watched the Seinfeld, George Costanza episode? The Costanza effect. Same thing. They're saying watermelon is good. Well, here's the thing. Yeah, watermelon is fine. I have no issue with watermelon, but they actually allow these big food companies to actually be listed instead of saying cereal. They're actually listing these specific things that I showed you earlier. We don't want that. I don't want that for any of you. We're not designed for that.

So I want to talk about this before I get a little bit into some keto and some fasting in the way that I teach it. We have the symptoms that are above the surface, and there are thousands of symptoms out there that people deal with. But then we have what's underneath, the root cause. So an example of symptoms, imagine this scenario. Somebody went out last night and they had an entire pizza and a bottle of wine. The next day, they wake up with a headache, they feel bloated, they feel tired, and they have brain fog. What do they do? They take an Advil, maybe two, and they drink some coffee. Those are the symptoms. But what's underneath the hood, the root cause? The root cause is the reason they had the pizza and the bottle of wine in the first place, maybe because they had a stressful day at work, they were dealing with some emotional issues, and they were using food and alcohol to cope with those emotions. That's the root cause.

So, how do you achieve metabolic flexibility? What is metabolic flexibility?

The definition of metabolic flexibility is your mitochondria are really efficient at using sugar when it wants to and fat when it wants to. In other words, ketones are glucose, and go back and forth. I'm not dogmatic, and I think we shouldn't be in ketosis forever, and I'll explain why. But keto is a very important metabolic process. It's not a fad diet. I don't even look at it as a diet. I look at it as a metabolic process that every single one of our ancestors went through. There's nothing new about it. It's just nuanced or maybe new to some people, but there's nothing new about keto.

If you could put keto in a pill or harness the benefits of Keto in a pill, you better believe big Pharma would be all over it. So that's the real fad diet: the Standard American Diet, which is the 'SAD' diet. I'm going to make the case here because look, babies that are breastfed are actually in a state of ketosis, and there are three PubMed studies supporting this argument. You might ask, 'But Ben, there's sugar in breast milk.' That is true, but the baby is so efficient at utilizing that sugar that it actually goes in and out of this ketosis, this ketogenic state because it's essential for the neurological development of that baby's brain. So, there's nothing new about keto.

Let's talk about the mitochondria. Now, we understand the mitochondria as this energy factory. It receives fuel sources and produces energy called ATP. But there's much more to the mitochondria. It's actually intelligent. But it is true that it produces energy, and it's crucial to have your mitochondria producing quality ATP and having an abundance of healthy mitochondria. So, let me ask you this: out of these two options - glucose on the left and ketones on the right - which one would get you farther? Which one would you choose?

Well, when we look at the electron transport chain, which is how your mitochondria produce energy, a molecule of glucose gets you about 32 to 36 ATP units. Compare that to a molecule of ketones, which gets you about 120 to 260 ATP molecules. That's about 400% more energy. That's why when people do keto, one of the first things they report is this mental clarity. Why? Because the brain has the highest concentration of mitochondria. That's the first thing you notice. But also, when you raise your cellular energy, it raises your basal metabolic rate, and you burn more calories just sitting down. Combine that with the lowering of insulin, and it's an effective way to lose extra weight. One of the reasons is that when you're in a state of ketosis, it's a stressful state. And I know many of you have heard of hormesis. This is the same thing with keto, meaning you apply stress, your body adapts to that stress, like exercise; you get stronger. Keto is a stress to the mitochondria; it signals times are tough, you're going through a famine, and it stresses the mitochondria and creates more mitochondria. That's where you get more ATP.

Here are some more studies on keto: it raises intracellular glutathione, reduces inflammation, repairs the inner mitochondrial membrane, cellular energy, it's more metabolically efficient and cleaner than glucose, turns on the SIRT1 gene, and so on and so forth. One of the biggest concerns, not mistakes, but people are afraid of keto and eating healthy fats and protein because they're afraid they're going to get heart disease.

This is an interesting study because it shows the complete opposite. It shows that ketones may provide supplemental fuel for the energy-starved hearts. Their cardiovascular effects appear to extend far beyond cardiac energetics. Indeed, ketone bodies have been shown to influence a variety of cellular processes, including gene transcription, inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial function, cardiac remodeling, and cardiovascular risk factors. The heart is also loaded with mitochondria. So when you think about mitochondria, ketones are a powerful signaling molecule for the mitochondria.

Now let's get into some four simple keto secrets:

Number one: your liver is very important. It's a crucial detoxification organ, especially on keto. When you eat more dietary fat, the liver produces bile to break down the dietary fat. This bile is important to break down the fat because we want to absorb and assimilate those fatty acids, vitamins A, D, E, and K. Many people have beaten up their livers with medications, alcohol, processed carbs, and now they increase their fat, and they can't break it down because they have hepatic biliary sludge, which is toxic bile. They feel awful. So, a simple solution is to eat more bitters for the liver. Always remember, if you're increasing your fat intake or suspect you have sluggish bile, or if you have no gallbladder, it's very important to support your liver.

One of my favorite things to do is to smell these herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary. They produce some of these enzymes you're looking for. Apple cider vinegar is a powerhouse for this, and glucose post-prandial (post-meal) is important.

Number two: Eat the right fats. Just because it's keto-friendly doesn't mean it's healthy. Dr. Cate Shanahan, who was Kobe Bryant's nutritionist for the Lakers, said that vegetable oils are worse than sugar and smoking in terms of their health effects. Smoking and sugar aren't good for you, but vegetable oils, particularly polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), are very unstable. They oxidize easily, and they can stay in your body fat for years, creating inflammation. So, avoid canola, corn, soybean, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, grape-seed oil, and rice bran oil. Instead, opt for saturated fats and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, duck fat, beef tallow, lard, and coconut oil. Make sure they're pure and not mixed with vegetable oils.

I have a gift for you. When you go to restaurants, they usually cook with vegetable oils. To avoid that, you can tell them you're allergic to these oils, and they'll often accommodate your request. However, I've made it even easier for you. You can download a "Seed Oil Card" that lists the bad oils and the good alternatives, making it simple to communicate your dietary preferences. You can find it digitally on the website

Number three: Remove specific keto foods that can cause inflammation and hinder weight loss. Spinach and almonds, for instance, are high in oxalates, which can chelate minerals and worsen leaky gut if you have intestinal permeability issues. Swap them for nuts like walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, peely nuts, pistachios, and cashews, which have a better nutritional profile and fewer anti-nutrients. Instead of cow dairy, which many adults have difficulty digesting, consider sheep and goat dairy, which most people can tolerate. Swap out almond milk for macadamia nut milk or coconut milk.

Number four: Don't stay in ketosis for too long. While keto is beneficial, metabolic flexibility should be the ultimate goal. The body needs to adapt to using different fuel sources. Consider cycling in and out of ketosis strategically. Here are four reasons why (and there are many more):

  • When you're constantly burning fat as your only fuel supply, your body will actually slow down fat burning for survival. This can lead to a weight loss stall with long-term ketosis.

  • Thyroid issues can arise because insulin is needed for the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone). Long-term ketosis with chronically low levels of insulin may hinder this conversion. Strategically incorporating what I call "keto flex days" can help make these hormonal conversions more efficiently.

  • Chronic oxidation of fat can lead to a buildup of hydroxyethyl radicals (HE), which are nasty free radicals.

  • Prolonged ketosis can result in chronically high cortisol levels because the body needs to create glucose via gluconeogenesis, sometimes tapping into your adrenals to do so.

To avoid these issues, it's essential not to stay in ketosis for too long. We are going delve into the details of how to cycle in and out of ketosis at our upcoming Ultimate Wellness retreat at Faena Hotel on November 17-18, 2023

Now, let's talk about fasting. I want to share my fasting experience with you.

I haven't eaten since yesterday at 4 P.M. I didn't plan on it, but I like to be fasted when I speak, and I'm going to explain why. It's interesting; I was telling Yakopo, my video editor, that when I fast for a longer period, I start feeling cold. There's a reason for that, and I'll explain it. Do you know the Guinness World Record for the longest recorded water fast? It was 382 days. The person's name was Angus Barbary. He underwent a medically supervised fast for 382 days, going from 450 pounds on day one to 180 pounds. His blood work looked good, and his electrolytes were in balance. This extreme example demonstrates that the body is designed to skip some meals sometimes.

Even if we're pretty lean, we all have fat stored in our bodies, and fasting allows us to tap into that stored energy. Autophagy is a buzzword, a very important process. The scientific definition is complex, so let me give you an analogy that will make sense. Autophagy is a biological process that removes the body's accumulated toxins and recycles damaged cell components. Think of it like cleaning out your refrigerator. You have groceries with expiration dates in your fridge, such as orange juice and produce. If you let all these groceries expire and continue adding new groceries, it will become a toxic environment.

The human body is similar; we have cells with expiration dates. When we are in a fasted state or when we exercise, we turn on the autophagy switch. This process is the body's way of seeking out and addressing expired cells, senescent cells that aren't functioning well, fixing them, or getting rid of them through apoptosis, and producing stem cells. It's incredible.

Dr. Thomas Seyfried, the author of 'Cancer is a Metabolic Disease,' said that a seven-day water fast once a year could reduce cancer risk by 95 percent, when combined with other lifestyle changes. Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut, and fasting is one of the best ways to stress the gut and create diversity. I'll explain further, but Harvard conducted a study showing that all disease begins in the leaky gut, making fasting an excellent way to help fix it.

Let me provide an example: imagine someone named Stacy. She works a corporate job, nine to five, for eight hours a day. By 5 PM, she's exhausted and about to head home, but her boss calls and asks her to return to the office for another five hours. This pattern continues, with Stacy working late into the night. If this keeps happening for weeks, she'll be exhausted. This is similar to what's happening to our digestive system when we don't allow it to take a break. Many Americans eat 17 to 23 times per day, with grazing on snacks and small meals. This overwhelms the digestive system, similar to Stacy's situation.

Fasting gives the digestive system the rest it needs. Imagine giving Stacy a month off from work; she'd return refreshed and ready to go. The digestive system also needs a break sometimes. Several studies show that fasting promotes bacterial clearance and intestinal IGA production, leading to positive health effects, including mitochondrial growth and a healthier gut microbiome.

When you're in a fasted state, your body pumps you full of energy, including BDNF, which is like a 'Miracle Grow' for the brain. Your body does this because it wants you to be creative, alert, and focused. For instance, I've been fasting for 26 hours, and my body thinks I'm in a famine, so it's providing me with extra energy and BDNF to stay sharp. This process dates back to our ancestors.

Here's a study showing how fasting increases counter-regulatory hormones like cortisol and human growth hormone, pumping you full of energy and preventing your metabolism from shutting down. Blood flow also increases because your body isn't busy digesting food, directing energy to your brain.

Women need to approach fasting differently from men, taking their menstrual cycle into account. We are going delve into the details of fasting for cycling women and post-menopausal women at our upcoming Ultimate Wellness retreat at Faena Hotel, Miami Beach.

Now, let's discuss the missing piece: mindset.

I believe that 95 percent of our success in health and life is determined by mindset. The rest is strategy. How many of you talk to yourselves every day? Raise your hands. Most of you, right? The average person has 60,000 thoughts every day, with 90 percent of them being the same as the previous day, and 85 percent of them are negative. This 'stinking thinking' affects our lives. Dr. Bruce Lipton has shown that our thoughts communicate with our DNA to produce proteins. Negative thoughts activate bad genes and produce inflammatory proteins, while positive thoughts activate good genes and produce anti-inflammatory proteins.

You have 60,000 opportunities every day to put your body in an anti-inflammatory state. The greatest biohack is mastering your thoughts. You are the most influential person you speak to each day. It's crucial to clarify your goals, live with purpose, and do what you love. Purpose is the key to health and longevity.

In conclusion, there's a powerful supplement that I didn't see mentioned earlier – vitamin G. This vitamin is anti-inflammatory and beneficial for various health issues. Studies have shown that vitamin G can lower cortisol levels and boost IGA production, protecting your immune system. It also reduces blood pressure and A1C levels. Gratitude is essential, and it's not a woo-woo concept. It's a universal law. What you appreciate, appreciates. Shift your focus from negativity to gratitude, and your life will transform.

  • Hemoglobin A1C, or HbA1c, represents the average amount of glucose in your blood for the past 90-120 days. If it is not used right away, glucose can bind to the hemoglobin inside your red blood cells. Unlike your fasting blood glucose level, which is the measure of glucose at the time it was drawn, HbA1c provides a measurement of your glucose levels over the period of several months. Elevated HbA1c is associated with an impaired ability to process glucose, increased fasting blood glucose levels, decreased cognition, and decreased longevity.This biomarker is one of 44 biomarkers in InsideTracker blood Test, 25% off with promo code SMILAPRO25

Sending You Optimal Health & Ultimate Wellness,

Julia Smila - Consciousness Entrepreneur, Biohacker, FDN-Practitioner, Pranic Healer

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