“The people who do big things, they learn and consciously choose how to be smarter, how to be faster, but also how to be happier” – Dave Asprey
On June 25th, Mark is presenting a free webinar to help you lead and coach those around you. Whether you are a leader hoping to coach others on your team, or you are working toward starting or growing your own coaching business, go to unbeatablemind.com/freetraining to sign up for this webinar.
Dave Asprey (@daveasprey) is extremely well-known as one of the pioneers of biohacking and using technology to increase health and performance. He is the founder of Bulletproof and the inventor of Bulletproof coffee. Today, he and the commander talk about how to increase performance through biohacking. They also discuss two of his most recent books, “Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life” and the upcoming “Super Human: The Bulletproof Plan to Age Backward and Maybe Even Live Forever.”
- Intermittent fasting is easy with nothing but a cup of coffee in the morning
- 40 years of Zen initially came from neurofeedback practices
- Successful people focus more on relationships, sleep and exercise than money or power
Listen to this episode to hear how you can manage your own biology to increase your performance and abilities.
As you all know Mark is a big fan of Neurohacker overall and uses their products. They just launched the newest product called Eternus. They spent years of research with some of the best scientists they have created a formula to combat aging where it all begins; at the cellular level. It’s a 38 ingredient formula containing the most researched and premium ingredients on earth for supporting cellular health, which is the key to combating the symptoms of aging.
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Dr. Parsley’s sleep remedy was designed to help Navy SEALs to overcome some of the sleep challenges that they have as hard-charging individuals. Doc Parsley believes that proper sleep and recovery is absolutely essential to maintain our ability to perform at a high level. His sleep “cocktail” includes a number of supplements to provide our bodies with chemicals naturally produced by the brain to encourage sleep. Commander Divine is a huge fan and encourages members his tribe to try it out for themselves. Enter “unbeatablemind” at the checkout on www.docparsley.com to get 10% off.
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Hey folks. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. This is Mark Divine your host. Thanks so much for joining me. We’ve got an amazing guest, my friend Dave Asprey, today.
Before I introduce him, I’ve been asked to remind you to rate the podcast if you get it on an alternate source than iTunes. We have five hundred and some-odd five star ratings on iTunes – which is awesome, thank you very much – but now we’re available in Google Play and SoundCloud and Pandora and I keep forgetting the other one… Spotify. Which is probably the biggest one of all.
Because the reason we don’t have that many reviews. So if you like the podcast please review it. If you don’t like it, forget I ever said that.
Dave. (laughing) Well said, Mark. Very subtle.
Mark. Thanks Dave. Hey man, I’ve learned to be completely transparent almost to a fault. I say shit that I probably should never, ever say. And I don’t know. I haven’t gotten too much trouble yet. So I’m gonna keep doing it.
Dave. Oh you’re pretty funny.
Mark. Anyways, Dave, thanks for being here. So let me give them the formal intro in case people haven’t heard of you.
Mark. So my guest is Dave Asprey – who’s the father of biohacking. Founder of Bulletproof a couple times New York Times bestselling author. Most recently of the book “Game Changers,” which interestingly I got a little copy of like six months ago. And I was excited to see that yours truly was featured, as one of your interview subjects. That was kind of cool.
Dave. Yeah you’re in there.
Mark. I am. Webby award-winning – I don’t know what that is…
Dave. It’s like a Grammy for podcasts. It’s kind of a big deal.
Mark. How do we get on that? Do you have to apply?
Dave. (laughing) I don’t know. They called me and said “you won.” I’m like, “are you serious?” this is cool.
Mark. That is cool. So Webby award-winning podcast Bulletproof Radio… I have a lot of people tell me they heard about me through Bulletproof Radio. Which is kind of cool.
Since we haven’t really spoken in a couple of years that’s gonna kinda cool. And everybody on this Unbeatable Mind podcast does Bulletproof coffee. So thanks to you.
Dave. Thank you.
Mark. So how are you doing buddy? Thanks for doing.
Dave. Oh, you’re welcome. Happy to be here for you. And I’m a fan and I still – every now and then – just tell stories I’m like “man, I met this really awesome guy. And it was kind of intimidating, cause he has a porn star name. Mark Divine, I mean, what a…
Mark. (laughing) I was a porn star. Back before.
Dave. (laughing) you have probably the most memorable name of any guest on the show. Except for a stem cell scientist who should have been a rapper named Amy Be-killin. That’s a pretty good name too.
But Mark Divine you take the award for like the toughest guy with the most surprising name.
Mark. Thank you. And it’s my legitimate name. I didn’t have to change it.
Dave. I love that. And you’re in “Game Changers” too. “Game Changers” is the study of 500 people who have been on Bulletproof Radio, who have done things at very elite levels. And what makes them tick. And even then, it’s a structured survey where I didn’t want to do what one person recommended… I wanted to do what most people agreed on. And then call out the stories that illustrated the concepts for high performance there.
And you definitely made that shortlist for it.
Mark. I was an elite porn-star.
Dave. (laughing) Because you’ve done some really cool stuff, and you’re still teaching people.
Mark. That’s true, yeah. I’m actually just getting warmed up teaching people. For most of my life I was a warrior. Still a warrior, but I’ve set down the machine gun and picked up the pen and now the microphone.
Dave. It’s definitely healthier.
Mark. I’ll probably live longer, yeah.
Dave. Yeah. You probably will. Are you hooked up with lieutenant-colonel Grossman? Have you interviewed him on your show?
Mark. I have.
Dave. Yeah, you guys would be buddies. Like you said that thing “put down the machine gun, picked up the pen,” you kind of remind me of each other at different stages.
What’s interesting is I’ve been teaching box breathing and breath training for years. And he actually references that as a tool that some of the elite soldiers were using when he was doing his research. So that was kind of cool. To see that.
Dave. Yeah, in fact it was his book that specifically had me start talking about box breathing in some of my early writing. I was like, “well if it works for first responders…” that’s one of those extreme situations. If you can handle your shit when you’re literally out there on a battlefield and it’s life or death, I’m pretty sure you could handle it in a boardroom or in traffic using the same tools.
Mark. Yeah, he calls it square breathing in this thing. I think I’m the first one to coin it “box breathing.” I tried to trademark it, but I failed miserably in that department. (laughing) “You can’t trademark breathing, sorry.”
Dave. It’s really hard. Big pharma’s been trying for a while. They haven’t managed.
Mark. They haven’t, hunh?
So before we get into some of the things you learned in “Game Changer” – which I definitely want to talk about – tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into this this whole passion of yours – hacking? I know that I heard a little bit the story when I met you earlier, but I don’t know if everyone knows. So give us a little bit…
Dave. Sure. I used to weigh 300 pounds… I haven’t been on my crazy high-tech scale lately… I’m probably about 208 given my muscle mass and around 10 percent body bat.
Mark. Lean, mean, fighting machine too, right?
Dave. I’m doing all right. I’m 46 now, but I ended up having weighed not just 300 pounds, I had my brain completely not work in my mid to late 20s. As my career was taking off. And I had a brief period where I made 6 million…
Mark. How does one tell if your brain doesn’t work? Especially if you’re inside your own brain?
Dave. There’s things that you can do. And then suddenly they don’t work anymore. You can’t remember names, or you really want to pay attention in a meeting and your brain’s gone. And someone asks you to solve a problem and this is a simple problem and you just look at it and there’s just nothing there. Or you can’t find your keys in they’re in the refrigerator. And you go to the store, you don’t know why you’re at the store, you don’t know what you’re gonna buy.
All that was happening to me and I wouldn’t hire myself. Because I’m too flaky.
Mark. So you see these patterns you’re like “oh-oh. 300 pounds and I’m finding myself in my underwear at Walmart and not knowing why I’m there.”
Dave. I thought that’s what you were supposed to wear. You go to Walmart without underwear on? Dude…
Mark. (laughing) Well I try to have something else on over it. Usually…
Dave. All right. Speaking of Walmart, I gotta say this – as of 3 weeks ago from when we’re recording this Bulletproof Coffee just became available in almost 2000 Walmarts. I’m so stoked about that.
Mark. So you can get a cup of it or it’s available like in some sort of packaging?
Dave. We’ve got the cold brew that’s ready to drink. We’ve got the beans, the oil I think the collagen…
Mark. I pictured some kind of like performance station for the Walmart crowd. You walk up and they’re transformed from whatever a Walmart person is to superhero.
Dave. It’s kind of hard to say there’s such a thing as a Walmart person. They’re the largest retailer in the world, so I think everyone goes to Walmart.
Mark. Not me. Geoff and I are going, “What?”
Dave. Really? Guess it depends on where you live and all.
Mark. I can’t stand Walmart. It’s literally it’s like – what is that creature on Harry Potter that sucks the life out of you? Dementor.
I walk into Walmart and I feel like there’s a Dementor that just sucked my entire life force out of me.
Dave. Oh I know what that is. It’s the same thing in every big-box store. That’s the lack of oxygen, the high amount of formaldehyde in the air and the crappy lighting. I get that in almost every big retail environment. I don’t know if that’s Walmart specific.
Mark. Okay. Now I know a lot more about that.
Dave. But I’m serious, doesn’t that happen if you go to Bed, Bath & Beyond or somewhere? You kind of feel the same way?
Mark. It’s true. You’re right.
Dave. It’s all of them. It’s the way they build their environments. They’re not that compatible with human biology.
Mark. It’s weird… I buy more when I feel good. So you think they would do something about that.
Mark. But see you’re different, Mark. Most people buy more when their brains are turned off. And they actually do studies. All over the big retail industry does studies that show okay if you over illuminate the environment – you know how you go into a store, it’s evening, and it’s like there’s an arc light on in there. And then it’s glowing bright and you kind of squint.
People buy more under that environment. Because it turns off some of your logical thinking. You’re spending so much of your brain energy filtering out all the crappy light and circadian disruption, that you just throw some extra crap in your car.
It’s real. I don’t think they know that’s why, but….
Mark. You need the dopamine hit to start to feel normal again.
Dave. Yeah, I probably look like an operator. I put on a baseball hat and glasses – like sunglasses – before I go into any large store. And I spend less money.
Mark. David, there’s a new product for you…
David. I have a company called “TrueDark” that makes glasses for sleep. Those are the glasses I’m wearing…
Mark. You could create the shopping Halo or something like that. That protects you from all that crap.
Dave. Hey, have I sent you the jet lag glasses do you know about that stuff.
Mark. No I need some of those.
Dave. Oh my god. Yeah, I started this company called TrueDark and we’ve got specific types of glasses for training circadian rhythm, so you go into a bright environment at night you can still get really good quality sleep. I don’t have jet lag anywhere on the planet anymore. I’m gonna send you TrueDark glasses.
Mark. Okay. I’m flying tomorrow could you overnight those please?
Dave. Man. We have on Amazon. Maybe they do one-hour delivery in San Diego.
Mark. That’d be nice.
So 300 pounds. Your brain stops working. So you just what? Put some butter in your coffee and the next day you were feeling better? What happened?
Dave. Well, I spent $300,000 originally – now more than $1,000,000 – hacking my biology I was a computer hacker. I worked in the company that held Google’s first servers. And I said “all right. I got this. I don’t want to be fat anymore.” they diagnosed me with arthritis in my knees and I was 14. I’ve had three knee surgeries by the time I’m 23. I said “but I’m gonna go to the gym. I’m gonna go every day, six days a week. I’m gonna do an hour and a half – half weights, half cardio. I’m gonna be on a low-fat, low-calorie diet. And I’m just gonna do it until I’m thin.”
18 months later I still weigh the same amount. I can max out all the machines. I could do 45 minutes wearing a pack at a 15 degree incremental – going uphill, but not running, just walking fast. And I’m just frustrated, and tired, and irritated. And I just realized…
Mark. You didn’t lose any weight after all that work.
Dave. No. I’m sure I replaced some fat with muscle, but I didn’t shrink my pants at all. The same size pants as before. I was about a 44 to 46 inch waist. I’m a 33 inch waist right now and I’ve kept this off for more than 10 years, without being hungry.
And so I just got pissed off – I went to the doctor and he basically said “vitamin C could kill you and maybe you should try to lose weight.”
I’m like, “dude, I do everything.”
And he thinks I’m lying. He literally is like “yeah, right. You’re eating Snickers bars.”
So I fired the doctor and I got really pissed off and decided to learn all this myself. And I would study biology for a couple hours a night. Every night.
And eventually I started running an anti-aging nonprofit group. And I lost the weight and I turned my brain on. And I realized most of what they tell you at the doctor’s office about health is wrong. They’re really good at patching up really sick people or damaged people, but they’re not really good at taking people who are…
Mark. Well they want to keep people coming back.
Mark. Otherwise they’d be out of business. They’d all get fired…
Dave. If you’re at 50% performance you’re the perfect patient. “Yeah, come back next month. We’ll take care of it.”
But if you’re 100% healthy you’ll go to the doctor once every two years and that’s not great. And it’s not that the doctors are evil – doctors are… I’m married to a doctor. Some of them are my very closest friends.
Mark. You’re married to Dr. Evil?
Dave. Is there any other kind of doctor? No. I’m married to a former ER doctor. But it’s kind of its kind of frustrating, cause individually all doctors want to heal people. Like if they owned it, they would never do that…
But we created a system where the output of the system – which has kabillions of decisions in it – ends up doing that. So I just realized I was caught up in all that. And I said “I’m gonna hack it,” and I did. And I started the Bulletproof blog. I was a VP at a big company, I just had a couple kids. And the blog was meant to just “hey, if someone had told me this when I was 20 it would have saved me a few hundred grand. And a heck of a lot of suffering.” and it was just meant to share information.
And it became a company. I said, “I’m gonna make this coffee that doesn’t make me crash without these toxins.” and so I made it. And the market size was pretty good. And then I made this brain octane oil thing that works way better than coconut oil or MCT oil. And collagen protein so if you see MCT or collagen or high-performance coffee, those are things I started because you couldn’t buy them. And now they’re whole industry categories and it’s kind of cool.
Mark. That is pretty cool.
So what…. Let’s talk about food. What did you change about your diet?
Dave. What I found was this idea that “oh you got to eat a low-fat diet.”
Man, let’s go back to like Mr. Graham the guy graham crackers are named after.
Mark. That’s an actual dude?
Dave. It’s an actual dude. And he hung out with either Mr. Post or Mr. Kellogg – I’m forgetting which one – I think it was Kellogg. And they believed – and I’m not making this up – they believed that sexual desire, especially male sexual desire, was the root of all evil in the world. So they set out to make foods that would reduce male desire.
Dave. This is real. It doesn’t sound real.
Mark. Where’d you find that little tidbit?
Dave. Oh, it’s on Google. It must be true. It is true and it is on Google.
Dave. And I mean this is going back 100 plus years right? And so these guys were well-meaning and said “well, what happens if we took all the fat and cholesterol…? You know, the cholesterol that turns into testosterone that is not bad for you when you eat it. If we took that out of food and what’s left is sticks and twigs and all that kind of stuff. You eat that stuff regularly and it works pretty well to reduce testosterone levels.
And as you and I well know men and women with lower testosterone yeah you have less zest for life in general and you can also have too much testosterone, but I guarantee you eating a good diet isn’t gonna do that.
So what I did…
Mark. Explains so much, by the way. Like, why we had an entire like two generations of angry white men…
Dave. Pretty much. Who looked like marshmallows, right?
Mark. Thank God we’re beyond that.
Dave, exactly. And it got to the point with my diet where I tried everything… I was a raw vegan, a devout raw vegan for quite a while actually. Because it made me feel really good for a while and then I started getting serious health problems from it. Very common health problems from going down that path. I did the Atkins diet, I did the Zone diet… All these different things I could lose 20 pounds, gain 30 – lose 40, gain 50. And eventually – mostly from hanging out with people twice as old as me in the anti-aging world at the nonprofit that I was running – I just realized there’s some rules here that stand out that are the opposite of what people said. It turns out a low or a high fat diet is bad for you if it’s the wrong fat. So oh my god what if you ate a high fat diet with only the right kinds of fat? And what if different carbs did different things to the body? And some carbs were inflammatory and some carbs were useful? And what if some proteins were terrible for you? And others are really good for you? What if the time that you ate mattered more than how much you ate?
And it turns out those are all real. And I came up with this framework – it’s called the Bulletproof diet roadmap and it’s free. It’s on the Bulletproof website search for roadmap and you could just download it. And it’s the structure of the Bulletproof diet my first big New York Times best-selling book.
And the deal here is look if you’re gonna pick a vegetable, these are the vegetables that almost everyone benefits from these are the vegetables that may trash your biology and may be good for you depending on your genetics.
And these are the things you should never eat. And you can do it for protein, you can do it for fat, you can do it for veggies, you can do it for starches. And so I just went through and I stack ranked everything based on the preponderance of evidence.
And what it turns out is whole grains? They’ll trash you. They are simply not healthy. No society ever ate whole grains on purpose. Only the poorest of people would eat them because they couldn’t afford grains has been stripped of the irritants that they cover themselves with to keep animals like us from eating them.
So I rejected the things that make you weak first. Then I added in more of the things that make you strong. And I found a level of resilience and cognitive function and physical health and lack of pain and just a sense of ease in my life that’s pretty damned amazing.
Along the way I started Neuroscience facility. Done – right now – about three months of my life with the electrodes glued to my head, doing advanced meditation. That’s called 40 years of Zen. And I do it with executives
That’s been my path. It’s super weird to be really clear. I just suffered so much… I was tired of being a fat ass, and having no emotional regulation, and having a brain that betrayed me. And so I said “alright, I’m done with that.” I put all of my effort into it.
Mark. Replaced 40 years of obesity with 40 years of Zen. That’s good.
Dave. That’s actually legit. I’ve never thought of it that way but, yes. I’m stealing that line.
Mark. So where do graham crackers fit in? Because I can still think like every once in a while you stuff graham crackers with either ice cream or marshmallows.
Dave. Yes, s’mores.
Mark. S’mores, yes. So Geoff is nodding his head like yes. So they’re okay right?
Dave. What you do is you take the graham cracker and just drop it right into the blender with your coffee and your butter and you’re good to go. (laughing)
Mark. Just not every meal, we’re okay there.
Dave. Now the sad thing is that most people are like “I know. I get it. Weed isn’t that good for me. I’m just gonna have it every now and then as a special treat.”
But if you put on your warrior hat alright? You’re living in a city – like let’s say you’re in New York City – and once every 20 to 50 years a building falls down because terrorists do something bad. You get over it.
Now if you’re living in a city like – I don’t know – Kabul. Where a building blows up about every 3-4 weeks – if not more often. You’re in a constant state of reactive trauma.
And your immune system is not very different from you. So if once every week on Friday night you throw a grenade into your gut well your nervous system and your immune system never get a chance to just chill out. And every now and then something bad happens, but generally things are things are chill. So you end up with a hyper-reactive inflammation state in the body. And that’s why the Kryptonite foods on the Bulletproof diet – eventually you learn those aren’t food. And someone can put it in front of you “I don’t want to eat that. And I don’t want to eat my kid’s crayons either. Because they don’t register as food because… And I’m not craving, I’m not starving, I don’t feel like I’m gonna die if I don’t eat.
In fact I could fast 24 hours any time. In fact I just did fast 24 hours. I just broke my fast right before this interview.
Mark. I could tell, man. You’re like on fire. I fast 36 hours every month – once a month.
Dave. That is a great way to live a lot longer, build resilience and toughness and in fact I’m just starting this with my employees across my portfolio companies. I’m starting with the Bulletproof team. It’s optional but we’re gonna do it every couple weeks. We’re gonna do a 24 hour fast as a team. So you can sign up and you’ll actually get on a video cast with people when we were gonna have a meal and just talk about “hey, how’s life and how are you feeling?”
And if you can’t do 24 hours without eating without just losing your shit, you’re broken. Like you are you’re lacking something.
Mark. You’re addicted or you got some sort of physiological thing going.
Mark. So let’s talk about intermittent fasting and then fasting like we’re talking about here. I’ve found them just anecdotally in my life to be really, really helpful. It helps keep me metabolically flexible. Can go between ketosis and glycolytic kind of at will or with just a few tweaks.
And I really enjoy it. Now that I’m… My last meal is like between 6 and 7 and I don’t eat again into 11… Between 11 and 12 the next day. And I’m not hungry at all. Like zilch.
The only thing I do have is coffee with my collagen. So I’m drinking right, it’s not eating.
And then the fasting itself has a whole different feeling. My body feels like it goes through a complete reset. And also there’s the psycho-emotional effect, where you really have to… It’s almost like a mindfulness practice right? You really pay attention to the cravings that come for literally only for me about an hour, and then they go. And then it’s all light and it feels really good.
My little soliloquy. What do you say about those two?
Dave. You’re right. I mean the idea of fasting to me as an obese person, it was so abhorrent like “don’t you know, you’ll start going into starvation mode if you don’t eat every three hours. And then you’ll get really mad at everyone around you and yell at them because you’re hungry.” which was just kind of what would happen to me.
Mark. “Hangry” we call that, right?
Dave. So that wasn’t a good state. But you just think it’s how it is. And now the power of intermittent fasting the Bulletproof diet book – the paperback just came out – but it was first written in… First published in 2014. And I did most of the research on it of 2010-2011. And I started doing these intermittent fasts, where you just don’t eat for 18 hours, or 16 hours a day… Which is kind of easy – you have dinner kind of early like 6:00 and then wake up and don’t eat until 2 o’clock the next afternoon. And as long as I had some coffee in the morning I felt really good.
But the transformation in my biology and then this research on something called autophagy – where your cells basically eliminate the weak ones – and even the weak mitochondria. It’s really powerful, and I kind of doubled down with that in my book “Headstrong,” which is about how metabolism affects the brain and cognitive function. And I gotta say intermittent fasting every single day is probably bad for you. Especially on days when you’re sick or tired or overworked and especially if you’re a woman. Doing an intermittent fast where you have Bulletproof coffee in the morning for the specific reason not because it’s the stuff I make but because if you have fat with zero protein and zero carbohydrates – well, all of the gut bacteria that eat carbs can’t do anything so they think you’re fasting. In fact, some of them will go away because they don’t like fat.
And all of the stuff in your liver and your pancreas that makes protein digestion enzymes won’t turn on. It’ll actually continue making enzymes for healing the body. And you get most of the effects of a water fast by doing that. And you can still have enough energy to do work.
So I did that. I still do that. I do that for breakfast quite a lot. And I sometimes do just black coffee in the morning. And it’s just life-changing.
But every day? You probably don’t need to do it. So do it three times a week. And if you’re a guy and you’re at your prime and you’re getting enough sleep. You might want to do it six days a week and then have gluten-free waffles the other day. Because well you got a live.
Mark. Why not? Yeah absolutely.
What food does your brain want to eat…? Or want you to eat?
Dave. Your brain wants two foods. And a lot of this comes out of “Headstrong” – your brain wants fat. It’s made out of mostly water and then fat. But it doesn’t want canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, because it doesn’t have a lot of that in it.
What it wants is undamaged fats. About 45% of your brain is saturated fat, so you can eat about 45 than your diet in that. I like to think of that as the wax bricks that your cells use to build their membranes.
And about 25% of your brain is monounsaturated fats. And think of them like the mortar between the bricks. Like they’re useful, they’re kind of a bit of a gel there.
And then you need a little bit of lubricant to allow receptors to go through and that’s about 25 to 30 percent of the cells and that’s omega-3 and omega-6 oils. And your brain really wants more omega-3s, but you eat a lot of crappy oils even if you don’t mean to. So you tend to get too much omega-6 which creates inflammation and not enough omega-3.
But that’s what your brain loves is except – I lied. Because even though the cells throughout your brain are made of those fats, your neurons want to eat ketones which is what happens when you metabolize fat without carbs.
But the repair and maintenance and pruning and immune cells in the brain called the glial cells – they want sugar, they want glucose. Your body makes glucose from eating some types of protein, or eating a lot of protein, or from eating carbs. Whether it’s starch or sugar you’ll get glucose from both just at different rates.
And that is the conundrum. So did you want your brain to repair itself? In which case I guess you should just drink soda all the time, and eat cake. Well, that’s not gonna work well.
But if you eat just fat you go into this – I call it the “Keto-Bro” state. “My ketones are higher than yours. I’m tougher. If you eat a gram of glucose, you’re a bad man.”
And you get this weird… It sounds an awful lot like when I was a raw vegan. Like “oh my god, you ate a piece of animal protein. You’re a bad person.”
Like both sides are kind of off the rails. I cycle in it back and forth. I’ll do a day with no animal protein. And then I’ll do it with moderate animal protein or whatever. But what your brain really wants is sometimes ketones and sometimes carbs and what you can do and what I do most the time – I eat a low but not a no carb diet and I get my ketones because…
Well, new study came out last year, the amount of caffeine contained in two cups two small cups of coffee doubles ketone production in humans.
Mark. No way. That’s awesome.
Dave. And get this. Brain octane – which is a type of MCT oil – but one of multiple types that are available in the market it raises ketones four times more than coconut oil and coconut oil raises ketones no more than just sleeping all night. Which is an eight-hour fast. So I’m like “let me get this straight – my neurons wanted ketones, I take my Bulletproof coffee which has the caffeine effect in it, I add brain octane to it which is part of the recipe which gives me more ketones. And all a sudden my neurons like “yeah, I got my ketones.”
And then what I have for lunch, god forbid I had some sushi with white rice I’m not a keto bro anymore, but my glial cells like “all right, we got this. We like this.”
And my gut bacteria are pretty happy about it too. And I monitor my gut bacteria. So it’s this idea how do I be in ketosis sometimes? How to eat tons of veggies all the time? And how to eat some carbs all the time while avoiding toxic proteins and damaged fats. And you do that – don’t eat too much – don’t eat too often – everything is easy.
Mark. That’s awesome.
So yeah I know you’re frustrated cause you want to talk about “Game Changers”…
Dave. No, I love talking about what makes people work better. Actually, you know what I want to talk about? I just think you a note an email to say “hey give me your address and I’m going to send you some TrueDark glasses.”
And I get this auto-bounce that says “as a way to avoid electronic distractions I don’t use my computer. I’m hiding in a cave in the Himalayas. And I accept carrier pigeons and they normally take weeks to reach Tibet, but ours are trained to achieve 20 times…”
What an arrogant message. You asshole.
Mark. (laughing) Most people think it’s funny you’re the first person…
Dave. (laughing) I’m totally joking. It’s not arrogant at all. I laughed.
I just wanted an excuse to call you an asshole when you couldn’t thump me for saying it because we’re remote.
Mark. You must be impressed with my internet coverage here in the Himalayas though. From my cave actually…
Dave. I am impressed. You know what it’s really funny – speaking of Tibet – I really did come up with the idea for Bulletproof coffee on the side of Mount Kailash when I first had yak butter tea. Which the Himalayan people in Tibet and other Himalayan areas – they figured out you could mix butter in tea and somehow when you mix it up you get this keto effect and some other things with water chemistry. And it’s just a core thing. I noticed I felt much better, but what I haven’t really talked about on that trip this was a long time ago, it was like 2004, there was no internet coverage.
So being a dumbass IT computer hacker guy I brought a three pound laptop. You couldn’t even buy one back then – it was really hard to find one. And I’m like “yeah, I’m gonna do my email this whole trip. I’ll be so connected.”
And I would go to an internet cafe and I’d wait ‘til no one was looking, and I would unplug one of the computers from their network. And plug it into my laptop. And like I’m gonna download my messages.
But the spammers at the time – there was no spam filter – I was getting so much spam that I couldn’t download the spam faster than the internet connection available in Tibet. So my laptop was just a brick I carried with me. Which forced me to meditate for three months.
So that’s why I became mindful.
Mark. And you got in really good shape hauling that thing around.
Mark. That is awesome. What a great story, huh? Yak butter. Can you buy yak butter anywhere in the United States?
Dave. When I came back from there I’m like “I want to feel that brain thing I felt the first time I drank it.” so I tried to buy yak butter. I mean, I searched around. I found a guy who was selling like tiger meat. I’m like “that’s disgusting and wrong on so many levels.”
And they’re like “oh, if you want to pay $1,500 you can buy certain organs of the tiger… The male organs.” and this is even more horrible. I’m not joking. I found that.
But they didn’t have yak butter. I’m like “this is not okay.” so I tested like 25 different butters. And that’s why if you see someone say “you gotta have grass-fed butter.”
Well, I kind of did that, because only grass-fed butter would create the effect. All the other butters made from animals that eat corn and soy, it’s the wrong fat. The butter doesn’t work that’s why Kerrygold butter and coffee became a thing. Because I tested 25 butters. Just in search of yak butter like effects.
Mark. (laughing) I’m glad that you had the patience to do that. I never would have done that.
So again I got this… Well you know that I’ve been a meditator for many, many years… Well maybe you don’t know that… But I have. I’ve been studying Zen since I was 21.
And then I went down the eight-limb yoga path, but I’ve always considered myself a Zen guy.
And then I learned that I can get 40 years of Zen in one week. And I feel like I’ve wasted my life. Like how come I didn’t learn about… That I could do it all in one week? Like forty years?
Dave. Actually, more to the point why didn’t the military invest in giving you that kind of training? Not necessarily my 40 years of Zen.
Mark. I wanna know that too. They are now… So by the way this is good news for you and all the listeners… The seals are now – they’re not calling it Unbeatable Mind – but they’re starting to deploy Unbeatable Mind breath, and concentration, and visualization training at BUD/S.
Mark. Isn’t that cool? They’re not paying me for it. They’re just borrowing…
Dave. Well they should.
Mark. They have this weird thing. They don’t like to pay other seals for stuff because they figured that I developed it all kind of on their watch. Which is not true, because I actually developed all that outside of the seals. Or before.
Dave. I’m pretty sure that when you were out doing yoga when you were deployed and everyone was looking at you funny right? You told the story on Bulletproof Radio. 35:01 it was a while back, but I remember this. And you’re that crazy guy who’s gonna go out there and do yoga… And everyone else is doing whatever they do.
So I think you put in your time with the military, but you also did some things that were not on the menu. And that’s where the value came from.
Mark. That’s right. So tell me about 40 years of Zen… And by the way I definitely want to go but when I looked at it I was like “I don’t know if I can slide ten thousand dollars for this.”
So what is the program? And why is it so valuable that you can command this kind money – that kind of money for the executives… The people who go?
Dave. Well it’s 15 grand. I’m sorry about that.
Mark. Oh, man. Can I get a discount?
Dave. Let’s talk. Especially if I can get some flexibility in your calendar so when a spot pops open I’m happy to chat with you.
Mark. I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what… I’ll let you come to Kokoro camp if you let me come to 40 years of Zen. That’s a fair trade, isn’t it?
Dave. It might be. How long is good Kokoro camp?
Mark. It’s only 50 hours. You’ll be done in no time.
Dave. Yeah, 50 hours plus like six weeks of recovering, right?
Mark. (laughing) Right.
Dave. I’ll hook you up, man.
Here’s what 40 years of Zen is and I wasn’t planning on talking about it… But 20 years ago I went to this neurofeedback thing… I wanted my brain to work better. I mentioned I was fat… My brain wasn’t working.
I was desperate. I would try anything. I bought Russian machines that rainy electricity over my brain, and all kinds of weird stuff. And I went to neuroscience or… Frankly it was a chiropractor, but it was the only guy in the bay area that did neurofeedback.
And I love chiropractors – I have tons of friends who are chiropractors – they’re just not where you’d normally think of going for neurofeedback. But he was so cutting-edge, like “oh, I have this in my office.”
I go in there and this little kid runs up to me and just starts screaming and runs in circles around me over and over and over. And there’s like beads and a fish tank.
And so I did my neurofeedback. I went in every day for I think 20 sessions or something. I noticed an awareness dawned on me – this is before I had much of a meditation practice.
But what swung the needle for me most is about maybe seven or eight sessions in, I walk in and this same little kid’s in the lobby. I’m looking for a corner to hide behind a plant in because I didn’t really respond well to the screaming like that. And the kid walks up to me I’m going “no!”
He looks me in the eye and he shakes my hand he goes “my name is Bobby.” and he was eight or ten years old or something. And I’m like “what just happened here?” and he was an autistic kid who was getting better from autism using neurofeedback.
Mark. Awesome. Wow.
Dave. So I went home and I bought a machine. I’m like “alright I’m gonna buy a clinical-grade machine.” I’ve had my own neurofeedback equipment for 20 years. After a while I realized doing brain surgery on yourself is kind of stupid, because if you have the powerful gear you can break your brain. You can induce PTSD in a healthy person in a couple hours of bad feedback.
Mark. Yeah, I believe it.
Dave. Even now I have two neuroscientists who work for me. I ended up opening… And I would bring executives through neurofeedback using partners and develop the 40 years of Zen program just saying “alright, I want this to happen. And I want this to happen.”
And finally I just said “you know, I gotta open this place.”
So we developed custom hardware and software available nowhere else. And a whole program, executive chef, five days – ten hours a day. Where we use five different technologies on your brain and show you what’s going on in there. And give you a set of tools that come out of meditative practice with the goal of giving you the same brainwaves that you achieve after decades of daily meditation practice.
Mark. Are they durable or will they disappear?
Dave. They stick. We’ve tested people a year out and the brainwave changes are there. And the testimonials on the site are pretty amazing. And we’re training things that aren’t supposed to be trainable. But we now know what a gamma brain state is. We know what meditation does to a gamma state.
And I’ve looked neuroscientists in the eyes who say it’s not trainable, and then I show them a graph or well at the beginning of the session it was here the end of the session was here and the graph is up and to the right. This looks like a training effect.
And the answer is “that can’t be.”
“All right. Then it isn’t.”
But that’s the kind of stuff we do. Alpha, Gamma, theta and just custom stuff based on 24 channel brain scans. As well as ways to increase neuroplasticity.
And this is Professor X cool. And I wanted this for myself desperately so I could progress the way I want to. And I wanted it to help the people who… People who are having a big impact on others.
And I apologize for the price. My goal with this institute… And but I don’t get paid from 40 years of Zen… It’s a company I started… But it’s there to do good. Bulletproof is my paycheck and my main focus.
But 40 years of Zen eventually is going to get to the point where we can replicate what we’re doing in high schools for a much lower price…
Mark. Why don’t you make it a nonprofit and just raise some money and let it be free.
Dave. You know, I’ve considered that. And there’s various reasons why that probably wouldn’t work as well, .that have to do with the legal system and what nonprofits are allowed to do, and decision making and things like that.
But when I’m done… Anyone who’s been through high school, has been treated by others by other kids in a way that’s mean. And a lot of times it’s bullying. Other times it’s just, you know, stuff happens…
So everyone who goes through 40 years of Zen, it’s like did you know at some level you probably have an issue with your parents and your teachers and all this. Because you’re human.
Why don’t we edit out that responsiveness? And then you get people that have been through massive trauma – and we’ve had veterans come through – and I don’t mean brain trauma I just mean they were in a horrible car accident or they were horribly abused emotionally or in other ways as a kid. And they’ve learned to manage their life as an adult and to show up and perform at the highest levels.
But it costs them. Because they’re overcoming the biological responses there. What if you edit out the pattern? So that you just don’t have the responsiveness. And you have to put the work into going around it.
That’s what I did. That’s why I can do the stuff that I do now, because I got rid of my garbage.
Mark. Does editing out the pattern neurologically or changing the brainwave associated with a particular state – is that the same as changing the subjective experience? Or is it ideal or would it be ideal to come at it from both ends? Work with the subjective experience through psychotherapy. And in pseudo-invasively change the brain state. I’m not sure they’re the same thing.
Dave. What’ll happen is that the need for the psychotherapy – I’m becoming aware of it – it’s helpful to have awareness ahead of time, but imagine that it’s like this. There’s a distributed unintelligent pattern-matching system in your body. And it’s designed to keep you alive. That’s all it cares about. It doesn’t understand time. It doesn’t know past or future. It doesn’t know anything other than “is something going to eat me or kill me now? If so, react.”
And that’s where that prickly sense of intuition comes from. In fact, when I interviewed you Mark, I asked you about a long-range patrol.
Like a reconnaissance friend of mine was saying, “I know when I’m in someone’s crosshairs. Like I feel it in my bones.” and I said, “Is that real?”
You said “yes, that is real.”
And that system that knows when there’s a mortal threat, it’s a real thing. And how it works and all that, we don’t know everything about it.
But what we do know is that when you’ve felt extreme painful emotions at any time in your life the younger you are when it happens the stronger the effect is. That pattern-matching gets embedded in your system.
And from then on if you walk into a board room and someone says something or something happens that triggers that pattern-matching system you’ll immediately feel anxiety, stress, fear, anger, boredom – any of the ego associated things. Or you may go into fight or flight mode – your sympathetic nervous system gets triggered and now you’re in fight, freeze or flee mode. Not effective as a human being.
But it’s just there to keep your meat alive. Well what we’re doing – effectively – is going in, showing you when that pattern is triggered and going in and turning off the pattern recognition, because it’s not functional.
And after that you’ll walk into the same situation and you don’t have the emotion. You’re like, “Oh look, it’s a board meeting. Oh, that guy just told me I’m a jerk and I’m failing,” but instead of feeling like you were gonna die and reacting like you’re gonna die, you’re like “actually I did screw that up.” or you look at the guy and tell him to pound sand because he’s wrong, right?
But it’s not it’s not a psychotherapy discussion at that point because you didn’t have that negative emotion. You didn’t have to tell yourself a story about why the emotion happened, and all that kind of stuff. So it’s about removing all of that work that we all do because we’re humans. It doesn’t matter how strong you are.
I had a guy come through the training who’s lost a half a billion dollars in one day and walked away from that. And he’s got the same stuff as someone who walks in and had a very different path through life. It’s just part of being human.
And if you’ve done the stuff that you’ve done if you’re a warrior and you’ve seen people get shot and all that stuff… There are some people who go through that and they’re not traumatized.
And there are people go through it and they’re traumatized, but they’re carrying it and they’re still functioning. But there’s usually stuff in there that you can just let go of. And it’s part of being tough and the first step of being tough is pushing through it and walking it off. And the second part of it is
Mark. Letting go.
Dave. Yeah. Thank you. Those are the words I couldn’t find. To letting go – you nailed it. But that’s how it works and you can do it with EMDR, you can do it with the breathing you talk about.
EMDR and Neurofeedback
Mark. Breath and EMDR are both awesome tools that I have experience with… Both actually… Quite extensively. And EMDR works at kind of a more of a deep nervous system level – it kind of bypasses the brain – so would these be complimentary? Or are you saying that the biofeedback working just to the brain wave level will also have the same effect as EMDR?
Dave. They’re related. I have done EMDR and I’ve done extensive neurofeedback and I mean my wife has done both. I find EMDR works really well when you know what you’re going after. And when you’re sort of like “I know there’s stuff. I don’t know what it is.” there’s kind of an inquiry process that works really well with neurofeedback. And a very high-end EMDR practitioner can also erase patterns.
I find that with neurofeedback you sit there for two hours and you’re sort of like going through just wantonly killing patterns left and right that aren’t helping you. It’s a different experience than EMDR which is that sniper – one shot, one shot, one shot… But man, anyone listening, listen to Mark… He says he’s done EMDR, I’ve done EMDR… That stuff is legit. If you have stuff that pushes your buttons and you know what it is, just go in and take it out, because your life is so much less work…
Mark. I’m gonna make a broad statement here I think pretty much… I was gonna say everyone, but maybe that’s too much… But for most people at least in the West have some form of early childhood trauma. It’s really unavoidable
Dave. Hold on a second. Were you born, or did you have a C-section.
Mark. No, I was a cyborg in the seals. So I actually wasn’t born, I was created. So I didn’t have any childhood trauma of course, because I’m a cybernetic being. But most people do.
I mean, sounds like you agree with that. And I’m joking – I clearly had it. I grew up in kind of a pretty fractious, violent environment. And I love my parents and they did an actually amazing job, because they created a future Navy SEAL. I’m really grateful for them for that. They did their job karmically speaking, but then I had to kind of unwind some of that trauma which happens… Really the worst part is the first six years when the brain is just a pure emotional sponge and when love is not there or things are chaotic and there’s a feeling of lack of love then you basically adopt everything that’s happening in your environment as yours. And that’s trauma and it’s sucked right into the nervous system.
At any rate, now we got to deal with that and everyone who’s listening… If you’re a male, and you think that therapy is not for you take a look in the mirror and ask what’s holding you back in life. And it’s basically your emotions and you can track it all to patterns developed in early childhood. The first 13 years.
Dave. Mark, one of the things I just love about you is that you’re a Navy SEAL commander and you just said that. And yes. That is that is the thing. I’m a CEO of a venture backed company – same freakin’ stuff.
And guys aren’t supposed to talk about that. “I got no problems.”
No. If you’re alive, I guarantee you there was a time when you wanted the boob because you wanted milk and you didn’t get it. And you got really, really freaking angry and it actually left a little mark. And it’s probably still there today, unless you’ve taken steps to get rid of it.
And that is a trauma. And it’s a tiny one that everyone goes through.
And then you get the stuff that you talked about. Or you get the kid who’s pinned down in fourth grade and five people kick them. Or your parents beat you. Or all the other bad stuff that happens, not because we deserve it, but because your parents were traumatized, because their parents were traumatized…
Mark. It goes back many generations.
Dave. And not even to mention you got the major world wars… Children of major world wars experienced trauma in the most possibly big way. And how could it not affect their parenting, and then affect their kids?
So it’s just how we are. But if we know this, you have a moral obligation to go deal with that on yourself so you don’t pass it on to the people in your life.
Mark. Or run for president or something like that.
Dave. How can you not laugh? Well, Mark, we’re coming up on the end of the show because I have a call…
Mark. Are you serious? We just got started.
Dave. We just got started, I know. I got a call with my legal team…
Mark. Hey, you wanna talk about your book?
Dave. Yeah, we’ll just talk about “Game Changers” a bit.
Here’s the deal – if you like what we talked about today, imagine 500 people as cool as Mark, where you interview them for an hour and go through the statistician to find out things they all agree on – or at least mostly agree on – and you boil down 46 laws that the people who change the world in their own field – what they follow.
This is the book. The highest rated book of any book I’ve written – almost all five-star reviews and it’s the highest ROI book I’ve ever done.
And it covers your story, and it talks about what sex does to performance, it talks about what plant medicines like ayahuasca do for performance. And breathing. And meditation and mindset. And community. And…
Mark. What were the top three things that you learn from the book that would be interesting and applicable to a reader?
Dave. Three big buckets in Game Changers were that the people who do big things they learn and consciously choose how to be smarter, how to be faster, but also how to be happier. Not one of the people I interviewed ever… When I said “what are your three most important pieces of advice to perform better as a human being? Just based on everything you’ve learned in your entire life?” no one ever said “money.” no one ever said “power.” no one ever said “fame.” no one ever said “get laid a lot.” the things that you might imagine.
They’re all focused on relationships. On taking care of their bodies, having proper sleep and it didn’t matter if these are Nobel scientists didn’t matter if they’re Navy seals.
These are the common elements for the people who cracked the code on making a big difference. So I would say the big things – smarter, faster, happier.
But if you want the totally unusual stuff – the chapter on the fact that there is such a thing as an orgasm hangover is definitely worth reading. And it’s very different for men and women. I interview John Gray a friend – guy who wrote the Mars Venus series about different hormones and sex and timing and things.
And so hey if you don’t consider relationships, sex, food, environment as a part of your performance variables, you’re probably doing it wrong. Because the five hundred people I interviewed all notice that those matter.
Mark. They all do. Awesome. Game Changers. I’ve got the book and I love it so everyone I think it’s definitely worth checking out, so please do.
I have two more questions and then I’ll let you go, because I know you got another call.
You said last time I checked in with you that you wanted to live you plan to live to 185. Is it still 185? Or is it…?
Dave. It’s at least 180. So anything north of 180, I’m gonna feel pretty good about. And really I want to die at a time and by a method of choosing.
Mark. I like that. Yeah, I’m with you on that. But if the power went out today and you survived the Mad Max and the Zombie apocalypse, do you think you’d still make it to 180? Or do you need technology?
Dave. For that number, you need technology.
Dave. Assuming that we don’t run out of food – or more likely topsoil – and an asteroid doesn’t hit the planet – I don’t think 180 is even particularly aggressive as a number. Because I know the people doing the anti-aging research.
Mark. Based upon where things are going with nanotechnology and anti-aging.
Dave. Yeah, just the things we understand now that we didn’t before about genetics and microbiome and the advances. And some things I’ve done. I have friends who they can double the life span of a rat – at least 90% improvement – reliably. Over and over and over. Mark. How soon before the average person – or the listener – will be able to access some of this tech?
Mark. It’s almost like you’re asking about my next book called “Super Human,” that just now hit pre-sale. And that is my “hey, here’s what I’m doing to live to 180.”
And some of the tech is already out there. And stuff we talked about. Intermittent fasting, breathing exercises, learning how to sleep – these all extend your life in meaningful amounts.
So people who are not going to spend any more than they already do now can meaningfully change their risk of dying from the big four things that kill them which is cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer. So those are the big four.
We already know what to do there. That’s just changing some habits you have. And that’s gonna give you a lot more health span – but it probably give you extra years. So you might you might not live longer than you’re supposed to, but you won’t die as soon as you would have. If that makes sense.
And then there’s seven things that we’re working on. And I tell you here’s what to do that’s free, here’s what you do that’s cheap, and here’s what I did that was stupidly expensive but will be cheap in five years. And here’s what it felt like.
And the idea there is I am a human guinea pig, but the stuff like stem cells it’s plummeting in price. The stuff you can do now is 10% of what it cost a few years ago. And it’ll be 10% the cost of that in another five years. So the idea here is this is meant to be part of the human condition.
Mark. We’ll have stem cells in our coffee in the morning.
Dave. (laughing) absolutely. Blend some bone marrow in there. It’s gonna be good.
Mark. Okay, one last question – gosh we could do this, I know we gotta go – so I eat well, I sleep well, I move well. I’ve done 40 years of Zen. I got all that. Check, check, check, check, check.
And I’m a busy executive. I have literally one hour – or a half an hour – let’s say, a day, extra time to do Dave’s training. What do I do?
Dave. You have one hour a day and you do all those things? You probably don’t need my training. You might lay down and do some red light therapy. You might go to upgrade labs and do some intermittent hypoxic training. You might do vaspera with blood flow restriction and ice water at the same time. There’s things you can do that they give you advance benefits, you know, cryotherapy, hyperbaric oxygen for anti-aging – things like that.
But if you’re covering the bases you did there… An hour day is a big investment. Spend it with someone you really care about.
Mark. I love that. Dave, thanks so much for your time. Really appreciate you, brother and I’m gonna follow up on 40 years of Zen…
Dave. All right, Mark. I’m going to hook you up. It’s gonna be a very cool adjunct to the amazing stuff you’ve already done. And already developed.
So thanks for your work and just I love it you talk about trauma and you’re a Navy SEAL. Keep doing that. Like, everyone needs to hear your message cause you’re a unique human. Mark. Thank you. You are too. We’ll see you soon.
Dave. Thanks, brother.
Mark. Thanks again.
Alright folks, that was Dave Asprey. What an interesting, fascinating, really cool dude and you got to get his book “Game Changers” and look out for his new book. I can’t wait for that. “Super Human.” It’s great stuff.
And also Bulletproof.com. And stay focused, do the work, be unbeatable. I’ll see you next time.