Typically, if you want to lose weight and be healthy, conventional wisdom would tell you to just exercise, eat less carbs, and eat more vegetables. You’d most likely be told that there are absolutely no shortcuts to doing this and you must go through the pain in order to see positive results.
But what if someone came along and told you that there was a shortcut? Meet Dave Asprey, a successful entrepreneur that sold his first company for $6 million when he was 26, realized he was overweight and unhealthy, then sought change. He then began on a long journey to “biohack” himself. After 15 years and $300,000 later, Asprey claims to have lost 100 pounds and increase his IQ points by over 20 through his “Bulletproof Diet”, check out his before and after photos below:
But what’s insane is this, Asprey claims that his Bulletproof diet will give you the results you need with minimal exercise and — wait for it — EATING BUTTER EVERYDAY! From my minimal research, the idea of the Bulletproof Diet is that it’s basically an upgraded version of the Paleo Diet; a high fat, balance protein and carb diet. You eat high dense nutrient foods while avoiding anti-nutrients. Basically, you ingest a lot of healthy fats in order to burn bad fat. Dave’s work has been featured on Men’sHealth, Forbes, CNN, msnbc, VOGUE, and more.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to Dave to talk about his history and how he came up with his crazy diet. In this exclusive interview, Asprey talks about why his diet works, his message to harsh critics, and why limiting your orgasms to every 30 days as a man will lead to a healthier and happy life.
Here is the transcript of the interview:
What brings you to San Francisco?
I was out here to meet some friends, had a series of meetings. I run the Silicon Valley Health Institute. I’m the chairman of the board. It’s a 20-year-old anti-aging nonprofit group. I came down to moderate the meeting and hook up with the other board members, and we had the head of the Neurology Department from UCSF down to give a talk about brain function. It was pretty cool.
What were your entrepreneurial accomplishments before you became this crazy bio-hacking health freak?
I kind of have been a biohacking health freak for a long time. What most people don’t know is that I am the first guy to sell anything over the internet — literally, the first example of e-commerce in all of history. I sold Caffeine T-shirts out of my dorm room while studying computer science at UC Santa Barbara. I was featured in Entrepreneur magazine and like 80 other other magazines — I think I was like 22 at that time. This was before the web browser was really manufactured. I realized that I like caffeine; I sell Bulletproof Coffee, that’s what I do. I realized that there were no T-shirts for people like this, so I started a T-shirts company. And I put this idea together and when I went to Usenet and the communities I already knew, I told them, “Hey guys, I am one of us, and I have these cool things. Do you want it?” What I did not expect was that I would sell those T-shirts in 12 countries the first month I started selling. So it’s kind of cool that I paid for my undergrad computer science studies by selling caffeine T-shirts over what became web and then the cloud. It bodes well being an entrepreneur if you are kind of young and scrappy. So there was a year in college I was working Baskin Robbins — I got this ginormous muscle right here from scooping all the time [laughs]. Fortunately, it’s gone now. But I was like, “What a waste of my life. I have zero interest in doing this. So what am I gonna do that is in line with my passion?” And you did the same thing — I am going to find something. That’s the mindset that makes good entrepreneurs later in life.
What led you to biohacking your body? How did you lose 100 pounds and raise your IQ by over 20 points?
It’s been 15 years and I’ve spent $300,000 upgrading every system in my body that I could think of, and I am still doing it; I am not done. I will be done when I die. So, how did I get started on this? I weighed 300 pounds, and this is actually kind of funny — if you are fat, you actually know that you are fat and you like it that you’re fat. Who’d have thought, right? So, I was working out. I said, “I’m really gotta get rid of this.” I had three knee surgeries before I was 24. I had arthritis before that. I had chronic sinus problems. I wasn’t very healthy. But I was becoming already a successful entrepreneur. I made six million dollars when I was 26; I did well. But I was working out six days a week, an hour and a half a day, and I wasn’t losing weight. And I looked, and I’m like, “Wait, my friends are eating French fries.” I was eating the damn chicken salad at Carls Jr. or something, and why is it I was really eating less calories and working out more, and I am still this fat after years of trying this? So I started saying that something isn’t right here, and being a computer hacker by way of background — computer science, I work in computer security — I’m like, this can be hacked. There’s got to be something else here and I started paying attention to these things. That worked till I lost 50 pounds in three months when I eliminated gluten and a lot of carbs from my diet. But it wasn’t a classical carb diet; I was just eliminating some of the toxic things. But then I got stuck, and the other 50 pounds needed four years. You see this a lot when people go on the Atkins diet or something; they’ll lose half their weight and then they got stuck. Well, getting past what’s stuck requires a nuanced understanding, kind of like you can get past the outer firewall if you’re hacking a company but if you want to get into the inner sanctum it’s going to take something else. So I just applied that idea, which is very much entrepreneurial. In fact, hackers and entrepreneurs think exactly the same way. You come up to a barrier, something that’s stopping you, and you say — if you are a quote normal person — you say, “Oh there’s a barrier. I guess I’ll stop.” And if you are a hacker or entrepreneur — it doesn’t really matter — you go, “There must be a way around.” You will start poking and prodding, looking and feeling; pretty soon you blow the thing up, dig a hole through it, dig under it, whatever it takes. You kind of have to be got to be unstoppable. And that perspective on everything, including your health and your human performance, you need to do it for your company, and you can do it in yourself. The other thing that’s really important for all those three disciplines is numbers. If you are not watching the data, and you’re a computer hacker, you are not really hacking if you don’t know how many packets did I send, how big were they, things like that. Same goes if you’re an entrepreneur. What are the metrics from your company? How’s it growing? How’s it not growing? Where are you spending money? Where are you not spending money? And on yourself, where are you spending energy for yourself? Where are you getting return for what you do for recovery? Where are you expending the most energy, and where are you getting the most return? Very few entrepreneurs have been taught this. And they should be taught this in business school actually, if they go to business schools. I’m fortunate I went to Wharton, but I did it when I was 30 after I’d already had a very successful career.
Did they teach you at Wharton?
They actually did. This guy named Stew Friedman, one of my professors who wrote a book called “Total Leadership.” And it was the craziest exercise ever. You go through and you actually identify where you are spending your energy and what’s giving you return, and pretty soon you’re like, “Oh wow, I spend 80 percent of my energy where there is no return at all. Maybe I can do something more efficient.” And when start thinking of your energy the same way you think about the other things in your life, all of a sudden it’s like, “Wait, I have more energy. I have more time. And I can get more done.” And it’s not about just achieving more but it’s about achieving more of what you want to do. And it doesn’t matter if achieving more is adding 20 iq points here or adding 20 percent month over month growth in your company. Whatever it is there you have got to apply that energy in a certain way and don’t waste it.
Are there people out there who say you’re full of shit? How do you respond to them?
I get a couple of people who say I’m full of shit. There is this 16-year-old kid who really doesn’t like what I have to say. On the Joe Rogan show, I mentioned the data for my book, my book with 1300 references that is widely published. I mentioned that if your mother was a vegan that the odds of you having a lower IQ and inferior genetic expression were higher,[/highlight]and I think I offended him, but I am not that worried about it. So do some people criticize the diet? Sure, the radical low fat crowd straight out of the 70s who are still doing that, yeah they don’t like it. But for the most part, people love it. Anyone who tries it, within a week, they say, “Wow, My brain turned back on for the first time ever.” And then they in two weeks go, “I lost like 8 or 10 pounds in two weeks.” Frankly that’s easy to do; any low carb diet will do that. That’s water weight. But then, 90 days later, like, “I lost a pound a day for 90 days. I would win ‘The Biggest Loser’ right now except that it would be the most boring TV show ever because the guys who are on the rapid fat loss protocol that does that, they don’t even have to exercise.” They are like, “Oh I just had some Bulletproof Coffee, and then I wasn’t hungry for a while. Oh look, another pound fell off! Damn!” So there is no chasing potato chips and crying. And really, what is happening here, because biohacking is a system thing, we’re hacking your willpowers as much as anything else. By using Bulletproof Coffee, which if you haven’t heard of this, Bulletproof Coffee is grass-fed butter, my upgraded coffee beans that have no coffee toxins that cause cravings and performance problems, as well as medium chain triglyceride oil, something that I manufacture; it’s six times stronger than coconut oil for giving you energy. So you put these three things together, you blend it, and when you drink it you will have no food cravings whatsoever, total focus and no hunger for about eight hours. So food becomes optional. Right now, let’s say, you are an entrepreneur, okay, and you’ve told yourself that “I am not going to eat a bagel today.” So then, someone sets the bagel on the table in front of you, and when that happens, the part of your brain that’s 10 times faster than your thinking brain goes, “Bagel, eat!” And you go, “No! Stop!” “Bagel, eat!” “Stop!” so you go back and forth. Every time you go back and forth you are making a decision to not to eat a bagel. Every decision you make comes out somewhere from your energy. And we have science. I just blogged about this, and we show that willpower is a finite thing, and you can wear down your willpower. So if you’re an entrepreneur, do you want to wear down your willpower kicking ass for your company? Or do you want to wear down your willpower by looking at a bagel a hundred times every minute going, “No, no, no”? That’s what we’re doing. Bulletproof Coffee turns that off, and that’s one of the many reasons that it does what it does for people, because they stop being distracted by other things. When you lose distraction, you gain focus. And yeah, that sounds a little crazy — how is this coffee recipe doing that? Well, it just works. If you can’t feel it on day one, you’re in the 2 percent minority. Everyone else goes, “It sounds gross, but it’s amazing.”
Does the Bulletproof Diet suppress your fight-or-flight response?
So the Bulletproof Diet and Bulletproof Coffee aren’t going to turn off your fight-or-flight response. Other biohacking tools will definitely do that, and that has been a big part of my own progress. But, what they do is they control your cortisol levels so intermittent fasting can do good things to make you more resilient. For instance, and more resilience can affect your cortisol. But one of the things that people don’t understand when they are on a low fat or like a vegan diet is they’re stressing their body out, because you’re telling the body there is a famine, and your flight-or-fight response will get triggered in a different way by sending a signal from the environment that there is a famine. And you say, “ I think I’ll have a salad with no dressing.” There is almost no calories in the salad; what you’re telling your body is, “Oh my god! There is no real food here.” The human mind is made out of fat, your hormones are made out of fat, specific kinds of healthy unoxidized, non-mechanically separated weird fats, but fats nonetheless. So, if you’re going to tell yourself that there is a famine so all I ate was a few leaves I found, and you do that everyday, your body will get stressed out just like they do in a famine. So, the idea of eating just less calories and having more energy is biologically lame. You don’t put less gas in your car and expect it to go further. If you want to be a high powered entrepreneur, you better fuel yourself very consciously, and eating the low fat chicken breast, and some skimpy vegetables, or even worse pizza and Red Bull, is not going to work. It’s not going to end well. And you’ll do what a lot of young entrepreneurs including me do: you burn yourself out, you get adrenal dysfunction, you get overweight, and you basically burn up your health and resilience that you should be saving for when you are 50. And you’ve burned it by the time you’re 30. So, in my case, when I was 26 — actually that was when I made $6 million — I must have been 24 when I did this. I was working at 3com, which is one of the pioneers in the networking industry that’s now been acquired, I think, by Dell. So, I’m sitting there and I realize I have no idea what happened in this meeting, like I’ve been there the whole time and I’m like a zombie. And I was feeling like that some days I was strong and that some days I wasn’t, and I couldn’t figure it out, so I burned myself out so hard growing my career already, and of course I was eating the wrong stuff and was exercising too much, which also burns out your adrenals, and I was exercising inefficiently which also put more stress on the body that doesn’t return anything, so I was making all these mistakes. So, I started to feel it in my stress response, and I didn’t know it was my stress response. I just felt it in my brain: fog and fatigue, and just tiredness and lack of drive and all that. So that was when I went and I got a $5000 scan where they inject a radioactive sugar in you, and then they tell you to think while you’re inside the scanner — it’s called a SPECT scan — and when I was trying to concentrate I had zero metabolic activity in my prefrontal cortex. No activity. So wow, that was kind of a big thing to discover. The interesting thing about discovering that though was that, hm I knew that I had room for improvement. While was I doing this though, I was getting my MBA at Wharton while working full-time at a startup we sold for $6 million. So, my brain had problems but I was still kicking ass, and what I would suggest to any entrepreneur out there is that your brain is not perfect by a long shot and you are still kicking ass. But if you take a small amount of your energy in your time and you put it back into upgrading the systems in your body, it will pay for itself 10 or actually more like 500 times over and what you could do for your company and for whatever it is you are trying to change.