This week, we’re hanging out with Jimmy Moore talking about losing over 100 pounds by eating almost 100% fat. Jimmy is the man behind Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb and author of several books, including The Ketogenic Cookbook—this is the fattiest cookbook I’ve ever seen. For those of you who are interested in ketosis—and I know that’s a lot of you given the questions I’ve been getting from you lately—don’t miss this one.
You’re about to learn:
- How to get electrolytes on a keto diet
- Why Jimmy doesn’t do carb refeeds
- The sticky truth about “natural sweeteners”
- What to do about keto breath
- How to find out how many carbs are right for you
- And much… Moore
Alright, onto the show with the Livin La Vida Low Carb Man and podcaster extraordinaire, Jimmy Moore.
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JIMMY MOORE: HIS JOURNEY FROM COLA TO KOMBUCHA
In your newest book, The Ketogenic Cookbook, you describe the combination of Paleo and Keto. But you didn’t always eat and live this way – tell us where you started.
I weighed 410 pounds at the age of 32. I had just watched my brother have a series of heart attacks that nearly killed him… and then did kill him at the age of 41. Back when I was 410 pounds, my mother-in-law gave me Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. I read the whole thing and thought he was a quack, but I did it and lost a ton of weight.
That was my claim to fame in 2004. Since then, I’ve put a lot more energy into the health benefits of low-carb living.
I think we obsess way too much on weight loss. Click To Tweet
Sometimes we totally negate all the good stuff that’s happening. People might say, “I’m not losing anything on the scale, so I’m not successful.” If your triglycerides are down, your HDL is going up, and your blood pressure is going down—that’s all a positive change.
I try to focus on health benefit, and 10 years later this is what I love about eating this way.
One of the problems is that a lot of people in the industry are owners of companies and those companies serve a need—like supplements or products. Unfortunately a lot of the “health information” people get today is from the marketing arm of a big company. What’s so cool is that you’re kind of home grown.
Keto is exploding. In 2013 the most googled search terms in diet were 1) “paleo” and 5) “ketogenic.” More and more research has come out and there’s a hungering search for more. My low-carbers kind of went stagnant for a while, and they felt like there was something missing.
What they were missing was the ketogenic component. You definitely want to test your ketones. People assumed they were in ketosis just by eating low carb, but that’s a major mistake.
“It’s more than just eating meat and cheese and eggs.”
Just look at the picture on the front of The Ketogenic Cookbook—that’s not just protein.
That is one of the fattiest cookbooks I’ve ever seen. In a good way. Why would someone consider ketosis and low-carb?
>Anyone who is significantly insulin resistant should consider it. Insulin resistance could equal: morbid obesity, type 2 diabetes… This could also include, in the extreme, epilepsy and cancer. You should consider low-carb keto if you have anything indicating that your insulin response is not quite what it should be.
A great majority of the population does not have a normal insulin response. @livinlowcarbman Click To Tweet
Not everyone has an insulin response issue. Some people can eat carbs without a problem. But if you’re an everyday person that can’t look at a banana without your blood sugar going up, you probably need a ketogenic diet. But you kind of have to tinker and test to see where you are.
In the cookbook, we’ve got what we call a Ketometer. It ranks foods from high insulin response to low. If it’s 3 ticks, it’s really high. 1 is low.
But the thing about the food on a ketogenic diet is that there’s no harm in it. It’s just real food.
Some people have health concerns over a very low carb diet, including kidney, liver, and thyroid issues.
I’ve never seen that happen. Even people in the Paleo community have put out some of those things, which is really frustrating because Paleo, keto, and low-carb kind of go hand in hand. It’s baffling to me that there’s this friction between these communities.
“Find what works for you” has always been my mantra. Let’s stop vilifying one end of the Paleo spectrum.
One of the issues with Paleo recipes is that a lot of authors and bloggers use high glycemic tapioca starch and honey in abundance. I use The Wild Diet because at least no one is co-opting that for marketing purposes.
It seems that some of the choices are arbitrary or need some timing to figure out why that might work. Tapioca starch or honey, for instance—why wouldn’t that work for your body?
I just know that so many carbohydrates are going to produce an insulin spike, a blood sugar spike, and a triglyceride response. If it’s as simple as eliminating those and choosing lower carb moderate protein, that’s good for me. It comes down to personal choice.
The thing is people blindly follow gurus. If your guru says a white potato is good, try it and pull out my ketometer an hour later…
I’m all for people self-testing, seeing how things work for them. It’s all about the individual.
When it comes to special considerations for people and keto—what should you be thinking about? Why might it be right for you, especially beyond insulin resistance?
“If your elevated blood sugar is in the 90 – 100s, you probably have insulin resistance. Skin tags are also a sign, so are acne breakouts on your face. You may not think you have it but you probably do.”
Even people who aren’t insulin resistant want to keep from getting there. Keto keeps blood sugar at a stable level. You’re working your pancreas to deal with blood sugar. How does it go up in the first place? Too much carbs… or even too much protein. Take out the carbs and cover all those calories with saturated and monounsaturated fats. Those will shift your metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat.
Plus you get lots of great benefits like hunger control and kicking the sugar cravings.
I gave up diet sodas, and I switched to kombucha—and it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done to shift my body and help with my gut health since going low-carb.
Keto can be a great hack. Give it 30 – 60 days. And if you feel like crap please stop doing it. One of the downs is that people don’t eat enough calories when they first go keto—and that destroys the thyroid. Do it well. Get a good resource and do it well. Go from there and see how you do.
DITCHING DIETARY DOGMA
Do you recommend counting macros?
Yes, and calories as well at the start to make sure you’re getting enough. I was having some issues with iron levels. I wasn’t getting enough calories—I was eating like 2,200 but really needed more like 2,600.
How would you know? Tinker and test. See how you do.
Too often in this health community, we try to have an answer. But “this is the answer” for Abel James can be dramatically different from “this is the answer” for Jimmy Moore.
Just the idea that we would all have the same dogmatic plan that we should all follow is ridiculous. That’s why we have so many diet books. There are thousands upon thousands on Amazon which speaks to the fact that people are looking for answers. One book might be the one for someone, but not necessarily for you.
What can happen to young people who are especially active when they go too low carb for too long is that they don’t get enough calories. They get sleepy, low sex drive, low thyroid. This happened to me. But that’s why it’s important to know what you’re testing and test it.
What do you recommend to people just getting started who are trying to figure this out with their own body?
Get a glucometer. It costs about $10 – $15 at the drugstore and about 50 cents for the strips. That is first and foremost. And a blood pressure machine would be really awesome, too. I have device you stick on your forehead that gives a readout on your smartphone—heart rate, body temp, etc. These kinds of things are really cool for tracking and measuring yourself.
There’s so many things at home you can do. If you’re trying to be ketogenic you have to be measuring ketones. Blood is definitely the go-to, not urine. You should also be testing your blood sugar, blood pressure, and tracking your calories.
We’re so used to the opposite. Does it make counting calories fun again?
Counting calories is never fun. But at least it’s not restriction.
Dr. Jeff Volek is one of the big low carb researchers. He did a study one time where he had one group of people on a low-fat, high carb diet with a calorie restriction. For the low-carb high-fat keto group, he did not restrict calories—you’d think they’d eat way past the other group, but they didn’t. They ate the same number of calories.
WHAT DOES JIMMY MOORE EAT?
You ate 1 – 2 meals a day. Do you consider that intermittent fasting? What does your daily menu look like?
If I wake up in the morning and I’m not hungry, I just don’t eat. And I’m sorry Dave Asprey, I don’t like coffee. If I need bulletproof anything, I’ll make some bone broth with butter.
I agree with the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day… I just don’t agree it’s in the morning. It could be 1:00 or 2:00pm.
I’ll eat most of my calories in mid-day, and it’s generally my only meal. This has shifted a little bit since I started.
My meal has a base of bone broth with the butter. Then meat—generally something from the farmer’s market. Grass-fed meat, pastured pork, pastured eggs. I’ve become very fond of slow-cooking a lot of my proteins, too. Easy to throw some meat in the crock pot with bone broth and spices. Home grown basil, cilantro, and dill spices everything up.
Low and slow is the way to go.
Then a bunch of vegetables—everything from squash to spinach to kale. Low carb, green leafy, non-starchy vegetables are going in that pan. Throw an avocado on the side and that’s a meal. It’s so stupid easy and yet so tasty.
Recently we went on vacation, and I made all the food for the week ahead of time and it was awesome. You don’t need to mope around on vacation wondering what to eat.
Plus, a lot of stores and restaurants are starting to become more accommodating. They’ve got kombucha in airports now!
What do your macros look like these days?
I stopped counting a long time ago. Only because I’ve done this so long… I’m not a fan per se… when I did a guide, people saw mine and were trying to copy mine and that’s not what they should do.
I counted all those things dieting, now I’m just focusing on living. @livinlowcarbman Click To Tweet
If you’re just starting off, then yes, do it. I’m in the habit that my carbs are around 25–30 grams a day. Protein: I try to keep it to around 80–100 grams a day. Maybe like 5 ounces of meat and a few eggs and that’s pretty much it. The rest is fat and fiber in the vegetables.
Should I count net carbs or total carbs?
Net carbs get people into trouble. If you look at a popular low-carb protein bar, it has 28 grams of carbs—mostly polyols. That’s not good for you. If you’re sticking to real food, the only thing you subtract is fiber.
If you’re looking at real food and deducting fiber from carbs, that’s fine. Gut health: You want those fibrous vegetables to feed the good gut flora.
Let’s talk sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol. What’s your take?
My personal stance on all of those sweeteners is that if you can avoid them, do. It’s probably better to have a little bit of sugar than a whole lot of artificial sweetener. If you can give it all up all together, that’s the goal.
In The Ketogenic Cookbook, we say to choose your favorite sweetener. If I’m gonna use a sweetener it’s going to be a little bit of stevia, and then if you have to put a little erythritol for mouthfeel okay, but less is more.
It’s really interesting monitoring our hormonal response to stevia… The sweet stevia taste in the morning can have a powerful effect of increasing hunger on the rest of the day.
I’ve moved away from sweetening things too often—then you start to notice a little bit of sweet even in meat. I used to drink 16 cans of Coca Cola a day, so it took some time to adjust after getting rid of it. Now I drink kombucha.
What about keto breath?
I don’t see that as a big deal. At the end of the day that’s a smokescreen to get people to not want to do this. Just drink more water. Flush it out.
Carb re-feeds are not something you would do. What is your stance?
I can’t do it. Kiefer has a lot of great ideas—wacky but great! If someone is trying to max performance and they feel like a refeed will give them a big boost, go for it. It’s one of these individual things that you could try and see how you do.
Obviously it works for some people. There are people who find great success. The thing is, when you’re carb backloading, five or six days a week you’re pretty darn keto. Try it. See how you do. Test all those markers and see how you do! I’ve just never seen the benefit for me personally.
Do you have sweet potato or regular potato or popcorn, ever?
I’ve never had popcorn since going low-carb. If I’m going to have a potato, I’m gonna have sweet potato.
Christina and I were visiting my dad in Tennessee. We went out to dinner and I got a baked sweet potato with a little cinnamon and a ton of butter. I ate that thing and it was amazing, but I know my blood sugar went up after that. Once in a while it’s not gonna’ hurt. Just don’t do it day after day.
How do you manage electrolytes on your low-carb Keto diet? Salt, magnesium, potassium?
This is a biggie. People start on keto and they fall into conventional wisdom that too much salt is bad. But when you’re in keto, you’re dumping your glycogen stores so you need more salt.
WATER is another one—which is why you go pee alot when you start keto. Once the glycogen is gone and you switch from sugar burner to fat-burner, that will stop.
Potassium and magnesium: you don’t have to eat a banana to get potassium. There’s twice as much potassium in an avocado than a banana. I use magnesium in supplement form right before bed and it helps me sleep.
A lot of people don’t think about stuff like this until it hurts.
I’m amazed by how many people who exercise a lot don’t watch their electrolytes while exercising.
JIMMY MOORE ON FITNESS: MAKE IT FUN
What are you doing these days for exercise?
I love Daryl Edwards from The Fitness Explorer—it’s primal playtime. I’m doing things in my backyard and setting up a little course. I got an old tractor tire, kettle bells, and obstacles— it took a while to find a tractor tire. But I’m trying to get into a regular routine of doing that.
I’m more of one of the people where exercise needs to be fun or I’m not going to do it.
LEARN HOW TO DROP 20 POUNDS IN 40 DAYS WITH REAL FOOD
WHERE TO FIND JIMMY MOORE
You can find Jimmy’s podcasts and books on his website: Livin’ La Vida Low Carb, or follow him on Twitter @livinlowcarbman.
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