This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Dave Asprey.
“Dave Asprey, founder of The Bulletproof Executive, is a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur who spent 15 years and over $300,000 to hack his own biology. Dave lost 100 pounds without counting calories or excessive exercise, upgraded his brain by more than 20 IQ points, and lowered his biological age while learning to sleep more efficiently in less time. Learning to do these seemingly impossible things transformed him into a better entrepreneur, a better husband, and a better father.
From private brain EEG facilities hidden in a Canadian forest to remote monasteries in Tibet, from Silicon Valley to the Andes, Dave used hacking techniques and tried everything on himself, obsessively focused on discovering the answers to this one persistent question:
What are the simplest things you can do to be better at everything?
What emerged is the idea of being “Bulletproof”, the state of high performance where you take control of and improve your biochemistry, your body, and your mind so they work in unison, helping you execute at levels far beyond what you’d expect, without burning out, getting sick, or allowing stress to control your decisions. It used to take a lifetime to radically rewire the human body and mind this way, if you were lucky enough to even know it was possible. Technology has changed the rules.
Dave founded The Bulletproof Executive to make these breakthroughs – and the body and brain you deserve — easily available to you in your everyday life.
“One of the greatest pleasures of sharing this information on The Bulletproof Executive is the opportunity to provide proven guidance and helpful products to millions of people. It is rewarding to hear the incredible stories of how our readers simultaneously improve their performance, lose weight, and become more productive! People have more potential than they realize, and being in the Bulletproof state unlocks that potential. Because my strengths, failures, and growth have become solutions to other peoples’ problems, I am honored to share these solutions.” – Dave Asprey”
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. An extra special show for you today. Have an individual who is out there making waves on a massive scale but also on an individual scale because I had the opportunity to meet this wonderful gentleman. On this past years, Low Carb Cruise. I can tell you from firsthand experience that he is a genuinely nice dude who really does just want to help people and has done a massive amount of work on his own. At great expense to speak definitively about how to help people based on that experience.
He is the founder and CEO of the Bulletproof Executive. He is the host of a wildly popular podcast of the same name. He is the co-author of the “Better Baby Book” with his lovely wife. He is also coming out with his own book called “Bulletproof Diet Book”, which you will learn more about at bulletproofdietbook.com. My man, my friend, Dave Asprey. How are you today, brother?
Dave: Jonathan, I’m really stoke to be on with you. I spend too long since Low Carb Cruise, we got to hang out soon.
Jonathan: Yes. We’re actually, relatively close to each other which is nice.
Dave: I don’t hear that very often. Living up here outside Victoria, British Columbia on an island surrounded by trees. So it’s good to hear you’re a hermit, too.
Jonathan: Dave, a lot of people are very familiar with your work and in fact, with your success. I think because of that sometimes despite your best efforts and despite who I know you are as a man, some people might be a little intimidated by you. So I wanted to spend this podcast really exploring the story behind the story because I know this is a deeply personal story for you. So with that in mind, can you take us through your journey to the state of being bulletproof?
Dave: Yeah. What a great question, man! I started out life fat. I was just swollen as a kid and overweight. I had asthma. I had arthritis in my knees when I was 14 and rashes all the time and bad skin. The things that a lot of people are doing with now. The problem was that I was on antibiotics almost all the time because I kept getting strep throat. Then, I get sinus infections. It was just a never ending treadmill. So I just say I started out not that healthy.
I went on up to 300 lbs. by the time I first finished my first 4 years of college. I’m like this 300lb pound fat guy. I started working out. I’m serious about this. Six days a week and an hour and a half a day. Half cardio, half heavy weights. About 1,800 calories. I did not lose weight over 18 months of that regimen. I got stronger. I had some muscle under my layers of blubber but I just was “Something’s wrong.” I cut gluten out of my diet, accidentally. This is mid 90’s. No talk about gluten back then.
It was because I decided I was going to try eating less carbs because I read about it in some magazine. Lo and behold, I lost 50 lbs. and my personality changed in 3 months. That was kind of cool. I was really happy about it. Then, I went on to this amazing Silicon Valley career where I ended up making $6 million when I was 26 years old in the dot com times. Of course, the company got bankrupt two years later. $6 million didn’t last. But, man, it was nice to be able to spend on upgrading myself for a little while.
During that time, I started getting severe brain fog to the point that “My god! What they told me in 7th grade is true.” I was not only fat, I was getting stupid, too. I couldn’t remember meetings. I felt like a zombie. I measured my brain function during the day. Some days I actually kind of was a zombie. Given all that money I just mentioned that I had for a little while, I went out and I started spending money on anything that might work.
I did masses of research to the point that I run an anti-ageing research group today. It’s been around for almost 20 years. It’s called the “Silicon Valley Health Institute”. For all that time we had, some of the top researchers and physicians on the planet come in and give lectures in Palo Alto. It’s been an amazing educational experience to talk with more than a hundred leaders in fields like that and to put their knowledge to work on myself. Then, to have that fortunate situation in my career that let me invest in myself.
I lost my other 50 lbs. I turned my brain back on. I raised my IQ by more than 20 points. I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that it is possible and it’s not even that hard to get 10 points. So all this stuff happened. I kind of kept it to myself. I’ve been a Silicon Valley Adventure Capitalist. I’ve been a Vice President at multiple multi-billion companies. I’m here on strategy for billion dollar billion publically traded companies. In fact 2 weeks ago, the Huffington Post named me, “One of the Top 100 Most Influential Bloggers about Cloud Computing” because of my main career in Silicon Valley.
What I did 2 ½ years ago is I started putting all these knowledge that I’ve accumulated from managing myself and the things… my biggest secret is the things that works best. I started putting them online and sharing them with people. Because it’s not really fair that I was kind of randomly lucky. In the right place, the right time and some skills and I have all these money and time and ability upgrade myself that way. So I thought, “Well, what if other people who are struggling with the same stuff that I am? What if they had the ability to upgrade themselves, too? It’s a matter of knowledge. It’s not a matter of willpower. So by showing people the things that work fastest for the least amount of effort, maybe I could help a lot of people.”
That’s what made me start writing. I didn’t start the Bulletproof Executive to start selling coffee or to make a lot of money. I started it to help a lot of people. I started creating things that I couldn’t buy that I wanted for my own performance. It turns out there is market for things that make you feel awesome that actually work. Who would have thought? So that’s kind of the story in a nutshell.
Jonathan: Dave, in that journey, correct me if I’m wrong, has also continued because recently we spoke briefly about your collaboration with your wife on the “The Better Baby Book”. You continued this journey of upgrading yourself to create new life. Is that accurate?
Dave: That is accurate. When I met my wife, she’s a [inaudible 0:06:47] trained physician. She had polycystic ovary syndrome which basically means you’re infertile. She was 35 and we wanted to have kids. So I put together a program using the ideas that I’ve been working on for years around anti-aging. But not just reducing aging but increasing human performance. Fertility is one of the best markers of your health.
If you’re not healthy enough to reproduce and you’re still within the normal age for doing that, there’s something seriously off biologically. So the anti-aging techniques that turns out work really nicely for fertility. Using the programs that I put online for free now, you are… let’s just say, we were able to reverse our polycystic ovary syndrome. We had one child at age 39. One at 42 with no fertility treatments.
[Lana 0:07:40] now, runs a fertility consulting practice where she helps people over Skype understand what they should do lifestyle wise, stress wise, nutritionally in order to get pregnant. In order to turn fertility back on without doing IVF or resorting to kind of dramatic pharmaceutical or surgical intervention around fertility. These techniques work. They work really well. I have 2 wonderful kids who are extraordinarily healthy because of it. This is a program I did for my own kids.
I was concerned that if we could get pregnant that they would have autism because it runs in my family. I even had all the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome until my mid- 20’s. People don’t really recognize me sometimes. Now, they’re saying, “You look different. Your face looks different. Your skin looks different. You talk differently. You make eye contact differently. You don’t stutter the way you used to sometimes when you’d get nervous.” All that stuff, it’s totally hackable.
I’m really grateful that we were able to improve our own lives so that we could reproduce and have wonderful kids. That’s what the book is about. I wrote that book before I wrote anything else because you have the most leverage when you start before you even get pregnant. If your mother was extraordinarily healthy when she got pregnant with you, your life is going to be much easier than if your mother was struggling with her health and then got pregnant. I’m all about leverage.
Jonathan: Dave, two of the many things that I think we can attribute your wonderful success to… it is wonderful because you are helping so many people is as you’ve mentioned a few times, as we can just see by your life, you live what you preach. You serve as a personal example. You’re focused on things that work. If they don’t work, you threw them by the way side and you, correct me if I’m wrong, but you let results be your guide. Dave, why is it that you feel?
So much of what you do is so contrary to the quote and quote conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom doesn’t work, hasn’t work, continues to not work but continues to be held up as gospel. How can something that is untrue scientifically and doesn’t work practically continue to be talked about when there is so much evidence and concrete examples like you to the contrary?
Dave: The core of our problem is that there is not a quantitative way today to measure the quality of your wellness or your health. It is one thing to say, “I fed this chemical or this food to this person and they ate more of it of they ate less of it. If they ate more of it they must like it. It must be good. Let’s make more of that.” So we end up making decisions with that kind of logic.
If we had a needle that said, “Okay, every time we do something is that good for you or bad for you?” Most people most of the time would choose the good for you needle and quality of life would improve. However, since half of the recommendations out there are for things that you’ll do more of that aren’t necessarily good for you because we don’t have that measure. We end up getting bad advice that self-replicates.
Here’s an example. You’re the restaurant. You think “Wow, I want to sell more food. So I want to make the food people like the most. I’ll add this spice mix of the food.” Now, the spice mix doesn’t even say on the label that it is 74% msg. but it is. The bio hacker let me knows that msg. is going to cause cravings for sugar to help your body have more mitochondria energy to suck that extra glutamate out of your synapsis so your synapsis don’t effectively burn out.
For a restaurant owner perspective, “I put the spice mix in, people ordered more. They clearly liked it. I’m going to put more in the spice mix in next time.” Not understanding that he’s put people on a treadmill of blood sugar spiking, blood sugar cratering. Not understanding that “Yeah, you sold 30% more dollars. You sold dessert to most people because you caused a craving with what you put in in the thing.”
It’s not that there’s an evil cabal of restaurant owners trying to do that other than maybe the fast-food companies. But what’s really happening there is this kind of feedback loop where we are looking at “What if people do more of?” instead of “What made people feel the best?” The signal for what’s best is “How do you feel right now?” If you can cultivate that awareness, it doesn’t matter if you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something. What happens is did it work? Do you feel good when you’re done doing it?
Jonathan: But Dave, how do we…how have you found to get people to have that inner compass because it seems that the diet and exercise world. If there’s any example of people looking for the “Just give me the blueprint.” or “Just give me, again, that external focus. Someone else tell me what to do and tell me what’s good or bad versus what I heard what you just say, which is the only person who can tell you if something is good or bad due to that absence of that needle is yourself.”
Dave: It’s kind of funny. You got to develop trust. If I’d learned to trust myself, I would have known very well that when I was a raw vegan that it probably wasn’t working. Actually, I did learn that kind of quickly. I was a raw vegan for about 4 ½ months. The first 3 months I felt amazing and lost some weight. It was good. Then, I started to get weaker and weaker. I did trust my getting weaker and weaker but I had to go pretty far down. I developed new food sensitivities and probably did some damaged to myself that way before I caught it.
But a lot of people if you do something and it works for a week then it’s good. You stop thinking about it. So that single question “How am I doing right now? Do I have a new pain in my body? Why?” So “How am I doing?” and “Why?”, if you put those 2 things together and you just ask that hundreds of times a day as a background process, you’ll do more than any health guru, anything else.
The way I make my recommendations on the bulletproof diet is that it’s a road map. I’ll tell you, these are the foods that caused the least inflammations, the least cravings. Try eating those. Once you do that, try eating once that caused more inflammations and see how you do because you may tolerate them really well. Because most people, frankly, suck at being aware of the state of their mind and body, I also have an iPhone app that’s called, “Food Sense”.
This app uses the changes in your heart rate after you eat to tell you if you just ate something that’s effectively kryptonite for you. Everyone I know has some foods that make them slower and make them more tired and less aware than other foods. If you can identify those things, not only does weight loss become kind of effortless, but cravings go away and your amount of willpower available for changing the world goes up.
So I’m not telling you what to do. I’m saying, “Here’s a road map. You might want to try and walk on that side of the map and see how you do.” If we can show people just one day where they feel bulletproof. Just that limitless kind of feeling where, “I have all the energy I ever wanted. If I want to think about something, it’s there. If I want to recall something from my memory, I don’t have to struggle. The word is right there. It’s not on the tip of my tongue. It’s just… it comes before I need it.”
If your brain works like that for one day and you go, “Oh my god! What an amazing day! I want to do that again.” Great. Now, you’re on the path. Most people haven’t felt like that since they’re little kids, if they ever have. It’s something that we’re all capable of as soon as you kind of solve the Rubik’s cube of what you put into your body and what you do in the environment around you.
Jonathan: In the spirit of channeling that sense of effortlessness about life and feeling bulletproof, some people may hear your story, Dave, and say, “Oh. It’s great. Dave was a high-powered executive. He had 300 grand to spend and all this gadgets and such. I’m not in that position. I’m have barely enough money to keep the lights on.” or “I’m struggling. I’m in between jobs right now.” What have you found through your experience to be… you talked about small changes, making a big difference but let’s say small and affordable changes that make the biggest difference?
Dave: This whole high-powered executive thing sounds pretty cool. I made a lot of money as a kid but I didn’t come from a wealthy family at all. I certainly… one of the things that really mess my health up was I couldn’t afford to live in Silicon Valley when I started out there. So I lived kind of on the bad side of the valley over by Hayward. It turns out that 2 bedroom kind of ghetto condo that I bought had toxic mold on it. It totally thrash my health. But it’s the only place that I could afford. I didn’t even know it had toxic mold on it.
So my career and my financial success has been up and down. There’s times when I’m like, “I’m not going to this month spend money on the things that I think would be best for me because I don’t have enough money to make rent.” So it’s not like it has always been amazing and wonderful. I tell you being wealthy before your 30 and then losing it all because your company goes bankrupt and it’s illegal for you to trade. Just to watch your bank account go away day after day after day was one of the more painful experience of life. I felt that I don’t have enough right now feeling for sure.
Here’s the thing, that’s when it’s most important to have leverage to do the thing that didn’t cost anything that gave you an advantage that let you have more energy. So many people when they get tired or even when they get stressed because they did just lost their job, that’s when stress hormones are highest. That’s when they are most tired. That’s when they need the stuff the most. I don’t think anyone needs to spend $300,000. I did it because I had it and because my brain was turning off and I was fat and my joints hurt all the time.
It was enlightened self-interest. But from that, I’m sharing for free the things that worked for the best. A lot of those things don’t cost anything. If they do cost something, I’ll tell you. “This is the thing with the most benefit for X amount of dollars.” Some of the technologies I talked about are $99 bucks. I don’t even make them. I’ll just tell you “This one turns your nervous system down when it’s over-activated. I don’t know a way to do it for a lesser, I’d tell you about it.”
So maybe, that’s $99 bucks is too much for you. So maybe you’re going to walk bare foot on the grass because it lowers the inflammation and increases calmness. Maybe, you’re going to optimize your sleep. Those don’t cost anything. They just help you. All that info is free on the site. There’s a quarter of million words up there. It kind of bothers me if people say, “You’re doing this all to make money or something.” What I’m trying to do is keep people from wasting the $300,000 that I spent.
Because honestly, probably only a $100,000 of that really move the needle. The rest of it was more of data collection and experimentation and figuring out what didn’t work or didn’t work very well. It wasn’t sustainable. Things like that. So there’s not a call for you to spend your life’s savings on upgrading yourself. It’s a call for you to spend your intention on upgrading yourself.
Jonathan: The distinction between spending intention and spending money is a profound one, Dave, and to anyone who has any inklings of Dave doing this to make money, Dave is one of the few – very few individuals I’ve met and whose work I’ve seen who is like… this gentleman is doing unique work. I don’t want to go over the top here, Dave. But do check out Dave’s site, bulletproofexec.com. Because so much in the field of health and fitness is derivative. It’s just how we spend of the same thing, Dave is not doing that.
Dave has got some amazing, very unique, very cutting edge content. It’s exciting stuff. It’s not for everyone. But it is exciting stuff for those who does appeal to. As you can tell from our dialogue today, a very wise man who has his heart in the right place as he provides this unique and empowering information. Dave, what’s next for you?
Dave: In the next few months, I’m launching the bulletproof diet book. The bulletproof diet has been trialed on hundreds of thousands of people at my blog. The bulletproof executive has now reached the top 23,000 websites on earth. Millions of people have seen it. I put down the very latest research that goes into the diet into a book that explains why all of this stuff works and exactly how to go about using your food as a way of improving your performance cognitively.
When you do that, the inflammation and things just turn off. So check out bulletproofdietbook.com. You get the incredibly detailed info graphic that tells you the basic diet. The first chapter of the book as soon as it’s done, will come to you for for free when you sign up for free. Just give us your email address and we’ll keep you updated on the book. You’ll also have the ability to help me know what to put in the book over the next 3 months.
Jonathan: So that’s bulletproofdietbook.com. Listeners if you are in the process of or expect to be in the process of creating new life, Dave, what is the name of that book again?
Dave: The Better Baby Book. You can go to betterbabybook.com. There’s 1,300 references that went into that book. I did it for my own kids. It’s the real deal.
Jonathan: Then, of course, you also just produced an 18 hour comprehensive course on the bulletproof lifestyle with creative live, which folks can search for in the web, correct?
Dave: Yes. Just search for the bulletproof life on creative life. If this podcast was cool for you, there’s a lot more where I just shared the stuff that’s worked the most for me in a structured format. Lots of extra materials. But you can upgrade yourself pretty dramatically with that kind of info.
Jonathan: I love it. Then of course, the umbrella over everything bulletproofexec.com. Today’s guest, Dave Asprey. Dave, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today.
Dave: Jonathan, thanks for your show.
Jonathan: Listeners, I hope you enjoy this wonderful conversation as much as I did. Please remember this week and every week after. Eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.
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