“If you live in a modern environment, and you’re not fat, sick, diabetic and broken, you’re actually a failure from an evolutionary biology standpoint.” – Robb Wolf
Robb Wolf (@dasrobbwolf), a former research biochemist, is the 2X New York Times/WSJ Best Selling author of “The Paleo Solution” and “Wired To Eat.” He’s well-known as an innovator and entrepreneur in the field of nutrition and diet.
Mark talks Robb at the Spartan World Championships in Lake Tahoe, about a new approach to food and farming to include:
- Why traditional forms of farming are better for the environment, whether you’re a vegetarian or not.
- How humans have evolved to eat too much and live sedentary lifestyles (so it’s not much of a surprise that we do)!
- How emotional attachments around food can be a distraction from proper nutrition and farming.
Listen to this episode to understand that our diet is only the first step to a reform of your nutrition.
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Hey folks. Welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for being here.
I’m in Lake Tahoe at the Spartan world championships. And there’s a ton of really cool people up here. Some of my favorite, and one of my good friends Robb Wolf is with me…
Robb. Clearly they don’t have a high barrier of entry to let people in here. They let me in.
Mark. (laughing) I was stunned they even let him in the front gate. But he found his way in… He snuck his way in… Whatever.
They let me in here too.
Robb. There you go. Not a lot of vetting going on at this gig.
Mark. Well everyone else is doing the big stage stuff.
At any rate, I’m super excited to be here to talk to Robb. And I haven’t spoken to Robb in a few years.
Some big changes in your life. You got a new book come out “Wired to Eat.” Remember you were just putting that together last time we connected.
You’ve moved to another country – Texas
Robb. Pretty much. The independent nation of Texas.
Mark. Exciting, yeah.
New product out.
Robb. Element yeah.
Mark. Element. LMNT it took me a while to string those letters together into “element.” my brain works a little slower than most.
Robb. Right. There are no vowels in it. So it doesn’t lead you there.
Mark. Threw me.
At any rate, so Robb Wolf, author of “Paleo Solution.” I first met Robb when you had a big pissing match with all the CrossFit… Dave Castro… I haven’t evoked his name in a long time.
And that was pretty much when you basically turned your back on CrossFit. I mean, you didn’t your back on it, but you ended up kind of striking out on your own.
And that was probably tough, but probably one of the best things you could have done. To establish a more independent voice, right?
Robb. Yeah, independent voice. But I’ll pat myself on the back a little bit with being pretty good at seeing trends and seeing where things are gonna go. And I remember talking to Greg Glassman in 2003 and I just did some kind of back at the envelope right estimates… Glassman founder of CrossFit, and great mentor of mine, but I told him “by this date you’re gonna have 10,000 affiliates.”
And he’s like “no way. Impossible.”
But I was kind of basing this off of the growth and the ubiquity of things like taekwondo studios and different martial arts studios and stuff like that.
And they never even really believed that they would see where this thing would go. But even within that, because of the background that I had in martial arts and kind of seeing the QA/QC process… The quality control process that goes into doing that. Although you can end up in a situation where there’s a lot of folks doing the type of stuff that you’re doing in town, there’s still a very graduated process for people entering that. And the direction that the affiliates were going I was very fearful was going to create a commoditized scenario… Which commodities just becomes a race to the bottom in pricing. And I was super-concerned about that.
And our gym was quite successful. And we were held up as an example of success, but like 50% of our income came from personal training. And then we did other programs.
And I was just really concerned that the dream was being sold, without the realities of kind of how you needed to tweak and fiddle and all that stuff.
And I really didn’t feel morally comfortable without articulating that nuance. And I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t get me ultimately ousted out of the scene, but it was ultimately impossible to do that. Like, if I was going to tell the truth of our experience, it became a grain of sand for all parties involved. You couldn’t pass it.
Mark. For sure. Wasn’t the original friction with Castro just over you were promoting more of a paleo diet? And he was like really, really strict for the zone. And he didn’t want you out there talking about paleo and trying new things.
Robb. Can we get a little speculative?
Robb. Just a little bit speculative. And I’ll try to provide some background.
My mother and father had the most epic fight they ever had. And we called it the gravy-making fight.
And so my dad made gravy that was a little lumpier, but it was spicy. And my mom’s was more creamy and not as spicy. Both of them are good, but they were different.
And the thing that initiated this fight was over who was going to make gravy.
It had nothing to do with the gravy. It was the backlog of months or years of other stuff. So this bickering over paleo versus the zone was the gravy fight. That really wasn’t it.
What was going on… The interesting thing to me looking back within CrossFit is that they brought in talented people – which I was very fortunate to be in there – but they brought in passionate people. People that were kind of subject matter experts. And then they provided a platform for them to kind of grow and flower.
But then they really wanted uber-control over what the messaging was. Control the horizontal and the vertical and all that stuff.
And because of my background with autoimmune disease, and the real necessity in those scenarios for food quality to address that – and that includes all kinds of gut health issues and whatnot – you couldn’t really weigh and measure your way to autoimmune resolution.
But you could find a food quality path to autoimmune resolution. And I was pretty steadfast in that.
And now when we fast-forward 10 years since that black box summit and all that other stuff, we won it.
Mark. You don’t hear much talk about zone without talk about the quality. Like paleo/zone almost.
Robb. Yeah and now CrossFit has pivoted to CrossFit health. They see the need for a wellness initiative within the United States to stem the tide of type 2 diabetes.
And the unfortunate thing about that is I had an email that I sent to Greg in 2009 that said “hey, why don’t we diverge these into a health track, and a fitness track? And we can keep the messaging very copacetic, but somebody whose needs are more health-related need to be addressed in a way that’s different than a fitness track.” And for reasons unknown to me, that wasn’t tenable at the time. But we’ve been good at looking down the road and kind of seeing these trends as they pop up. Yeah.
Mark. So what’s the message of “Wired to Eat?” And where did you diverge from “The Paleo Solution,” with that concept?
Robb. Oh man. I’m always sticking stuff in a folder… Like, when I see cool research I just kind of file it away. And I try to jot down some ideas. And I really didn’t want to do just a “me-to” book… Like, god bless Barry Sears, he’s a great guy but he had like “The Zone” and “Mastering the Zone.” and the green beans zone, and the string bean zone.
It was like
Mark. (laughing) Zone 2 point 0.
Robb. Yeah, and how many different paints are… How much old wine in new bottles can you do here? And I’m just not super-comfortable with that.
And so I really wanted something that was qualitatively different in the approach. And the basic idea of kind of using a paleo-type diet in ancestral health at large… Like sleep, circadian rhythm, movement, community… Those things are there. Like I would say that that’s somewhat inalienable laws that humans need – and this is part of the reason why SealFit’s so successful. You tick all those… You tick community, you tick movement… Challenge and meaning and all these other things are critical to human health and happiness. You get all that stuff.
But I was really looking for better ways of implementing and tracking what we were up to. And there were two really interesting pieces of research that popped up.
One of them dealt with the neuro-regulation of appetite. Really looking at the way that the brain controls our hunger. And it was this paper – it was like “determinants to brain evolution: the omnivores real dilemma…” or something like that.
And it just struck me with this idea that it’s not your fault. Like, if you live in a modern environment and you’re not fat, sick, diabetic and broken you’re actually a failure from an evolutionary biology standpoint.
Mark. (laughing) Because you’re wired to eat all that yummy, tasty stuff.
Robb. Yeah. And we should sit on the couch. And we should eat a lot of food…
Mark. Because it might not be there tomorrow.
Robb. Yeah. And so any notion of this being about morality or like you know a lack of will and stuff like that…
Mark. Lack of discipline…
Robb. Yeah, it’s chasing symptoms. It’s not chasing root-cause. And so that thing was a really big light bulb for me. But it still really wasn’t enough, but this started helping me with an outline.
And then a piece of research came out of the Weizmann institute from Israel, and they did a fascinating study. They took 800 people and they did a full genetic analysis, a gut microbiome analysis, lipidology…
And then they started feeding these folks different foods and seeing what their blood glucose response was. And they took all this information and fed it into a machine learning algorithm, and the first thing that they found was that from person A to person B, if they both ate the same amount of carbohydrate, they might have a vastly different blood glucose response.
So like my wife and I… We did a test that we put on social media… We each ate 50 grams of carbohydrate from rice. Which is basically one cup scoop. And she’s 40 pounds lighter than I am, but at two hours, her blood glucose was about 105.
Mine was nearly 200. Like borderline diabetic level. And blurry vision, felt terrible… And I’ve always known that I just don’t do that well with carbs. They need to be real punctuated do a really hard workout, do some afterwards but only one meal.
And so this Weizmann institute information really provided this granularity for we need to be super-careful in how we control blood glucose levels. Because that feeds back into the neuro-regulation of appetite. When blood sugars go real high, and then they crash – it’s the crash that makes you hungry for food.
And typically it’s what we would call hyper-palatable food… Like, highly refined and it tastes super good and everything…
And so kind of a combination of those two ideas were grafted on to everything that I’ve learned about the paleo diet. But it’s interesting that both books have been quite successful. “Wired to Eat,” has been adopted within kind of medical clinic circles remarkably well.
Because on the front-end, it provides a way for unloading the emotional baggage around why we tend to eat the way that we do. And then on the back-end, it provides this really easy – using a $15.00 blood glucose monitor from a corner pharmacy – you can have pinpoint accuracy in the way that you respond to different foods.
And then if we take a little piece out of the paleo bag and think about what I would call immunogenic foods – like the possibility that maybe you don’t do well with gluten or dairy or something like that. So we start things with kind of a 30-day reset a la “Paleo Solution.”
We think about immunogenic foods, we kind of dial the carbs down.
Mark. And you do that through the process of elimination?
Robb. Initially, we just kind of get folks… An elimination diet effectively, where “here’s what we’re playing with. These seem to be the foods that virtually everybody does well with. Here’s some approximate amounts and ratios to play with that.”
After 30 days, we start tinkering with stuff. And part of the tinkering is doing a seven-day carb test. When we take a battery of the carbs that you might want to eat on a regular basis – rice, corn tortillas… Whatever it is… And we check your blood glucose level, the same way that my wife and I did.
And with that ability of kind of checking in to see how you feel, how you look, how you perform – but more kind of digestive health, brain fog, all that type of stuff… We can tick the box of the immunogenic foods and figure out which foods work well with people. Kind of empirically.
And then objectively we can track the blood glucose readings. As long as we keep people under about a hundred and fifteen milligrams per deciliter at that two-hour mark, they tend to do great.
If they’ve got something… Say like with rice – it’s not that I can’t eat rice – I just have to have a very small amount. Or my blood sugar goes too high and then I get super hungry on the crash.
So it helps you to figure out what amount, what types you can consume… So that’s really the big difference with “Wired to Eat,” versus “The Paleo Solution” is ten more years of coaching experience. And a really good way of unpacking the emotional baggage on the front.
But then also make it super-quantifiable and customizable on the backend.
Mark. It’s interesting. I don’t know if I can articulate this well, but it seems like if you give people too much of a pass on the emotional front – “oh, it’s not my fault. This is just how I’m wired.” Then you might take some motivation out of actually changing the habituation.
Robb. The way that I handled that was “now you’re enlightened, and now you’re responsible. And so now the work begins.”
And the next step with that was “you need to find a why. Because changing this stuff isn’t necessarily gonna be easy.” it can happen at the drop of a hat. It’s interesting.
Belief systems and frameworks are different from habits in that you can literally change them in a moment… And a great example, a friend of mine said recently “as a kid you believe with every fiber of your being in Santa Claus. And then there’s one day, one moment of one day, one minute of the moment of one day, that you no longer believe in Santa Claus. Something changes, it’s just done.”
And you can do that same type of change with your approach to food, but the interesting thing, people don’t need a good relationship with food. They need to understand what the results are of the food that they eat. We don’t need a good relationship with our car, or with our bank teller. You know?
I mean that emotionalizing food creates actually this other distraction area. It’s another symptom that you can chase. It’s like calculating the final digit of pi. It’s like, “when are you ever at the middle of a circle?” well, you can be a little bit closer and a little bit closer and you never really get there.
Mark. You do… In spite of the fact that we might be wired to eat like this, there are all sorts of family patterns around eating, and epigenetic patterning around eating, and you know… Like for me, I’m not much of a foodie, but my family is. And so where did that come from? I don’t know. It’s neither family conditioning nor epigenetics. There’s something else, right?
Maybe that’s a karmic thing. I don’t know.
I don’t need much food, you know what I mean?
And so that’s become part of my lexicon and inner dialogue. I think because our culture has been so focused on food and sustenance – and I think that’s part of the human condition – and ties back into your principle that we’re wired to eat – we’re always searching for food.
And people make over 400 decisions a day around food. Imagine the tax on the minds and your willpower. And so if you take a lot of that away and say “okay I’m just gonna fast for 16 hours – do the intermittent fasting. I’m gonna eat less and eat less frequently. I’m gonna eat when I’m hungry. And I’m going to eat high quality food when I’m hungry.”
And that solves a shit-ton of problems.
Robb. Yeah. You have to get out into the final two percent of people that have like gut issues or autoimmune conditions and stuff like that, and then you can get more granular. But for averting the tide of type 2 diabetes that’s going to like tank the US economy, like that’s really all that we need. Is that piece on the front-end.
And it’s ironic because on the one hand it’s very simple, but it’s not going to be necessarily easy. Because of the things that you mentioned.
Mark. Right. That’s interesting.
Mark. So are you working still with private clients? Or how do you stay on the cutting-edge right now?
Robb. Not a ton. I do a little bit… I’m actually on the board of directors of a medical clinic down the hill in Reno. And when I first moved to Reno, I met these folks and they were just wrapping up a two-year pilot study with the Reno police and fire department. And they identified 40 people at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in the police and fire department.
So the reason why this program was initiated – in one year at UNLV they had three… Either two heart attacks and a stroke, two strokes and a heart attack, within their police force. And each one of these folks, the on the books cost to retire them… All of them survived, so thankful for that – but the on the books cost for retiring these folks is about 1.5 million dollars. The real cost can be like five times more than that.
So somebody said “hey, is there any way we can find these people ahead of time? And do something to prevent this?” because whether they lived or died, it was very expensive in both economic terms and also in human terms.
So the clinic – “Specialty Health” down in Reno, they started off as an orthopedic risk assessment program. So they figured out all kinds of algorithms for discovering what… They handled 90% of the back-related workman’s comp claims for the state of California for a long time. And so they became very sophisticated in risk analysis and identifying what the factors were that made somebody high-risk versus low-risk and stuff like that.
So they said “yeah, we could probably take these same techniques and apply them to metabolic issues and find these people.”
And so they hooked up with Gerald Reaven of Stanford – who’s the guy that coined the term “metabolic syndrome.” like, he’s really the pioneer in that area.
And they started identifying people and they managed to scratch together some money for this pilot study. But the two-year pilot study with this basic health coach supervised dietary intervention – kind of a modified CrossFit, some better sleep hygiene. The changes in these folk’s blood work and health risk numbers – the conservative numbers are that we saved the city of Reno 22 million dollars, with a 33 to 1 return on investment.
So I thought “that’s pretty impressive. And naively I thought within five years I would have transformed the US healthcare system.
And we’ve made some pretty good headway, but we’re nowhere near where I thought we would be. But I’ve learned an enormous amount. But the main area that I’ve been focused on is the regenerative, agriculture side. Using animals in the regenerative agriculture scene.
And then also, this risk assessment program. Trying to take it, and scale it, and take it out to the masses.
Mark. Tell me more about this regenerative process…
Robb. People like Allan Savory, Joel Salatin of Polyface farms – there’s really a commonly held conception these days that animals – specifically grazing animals like cattle – are really injurious to the environment.
And there’s definitely ways that you can use cattle that can be very damaging to the environment, but what’s interesting is these folks have developed systems… Historically animals like cattle and buffalo were in these large herds. And there was predator-prey interaction between these animals. Which would bunch them up and move them along.
So they would eat everything in an area, and then leave the area. But the area got trampled, and peed and pooed.
And what’s interesting is that there’s a whole kind of life cycle that occurs there. Where we have microbes under the soil that mine minerals. That bring minerals up to the grass and those minerals make their way into the animals. And a pretty interesting cycle.
And folks like Allan Savory have suggested that these huge areas of land that have been desertified, that have shifted from say like grassland to desert, could be recovered by proper implementation of animal husbandry.
And this is a very controversial topic. Like it’s pretty much like bringing up religion, politics or any other thing at the dinner table around the holidays. Like you can get into a fistfight pretty quickly over this stuff.
But it’s something I’ve been tinkering with for a good 10 years…
Mark. Can you describe how that would work? Like in layman’s terms? Like if you had a desert, how could how could the desert reconstitute itself?
Robb. Yeah, so as an example, when we moved into a small farm that we bought in Reno, it had had four horses on it. The horses were allowed to go wherever they wanted to go on the property. And what these ruminants do is when a nice tasty new chute of grass pops up they eat it.
The grass needs some growth on the surface, but it also pulls a certain amount of energy out of its root system to initiate its growth.
So under ideal circumstances, animals move through, eat some of this plant material and then they’re gone for a certain period of time.
Grass is able to grow, the roots are able to grow – like, these perennial grasses around here – if you do a cross-section through the dirt the grass – if you leave it alone, it might grow maybe like knee-high maybe waist-high in some areas – the root systems go down like six or eight feet. It’s just crazy.
In the great basin, all this area used to be a giant grassland. And now it’s basically a desertified area.
But what happens is the way that you can mimic the predator-prey interaction is with electric fencing. So you fence off different areas, and you put the animals on one piece of pasture and they move through it. And you keep them pretty tightly bunched.
Then you move them to a new area, and a new area, and a new area. And they teach this methodology called holistic management, which isn’t just about the animals you’re moving, but what are the water resources on the property? What is the natural life cycle of other animals in that area?
And what they’ve found is that like different bird species have been rebounding, because they’re providing more habitat for these critters. There’s many more bugs in the area. There appears to be more carbon getting sequestered in the soil. Which then causes the soil to retain more water. Which reduces the heat footprint.
And so there’s all this kind of really cool knock-on benefit. And although the research is still pretty early, there are some test areas in Australia, in Africa, in Mexico where they literally have had a fence that runs down the middle of like a hundred thousand acre area.
And on one side it was holistically managed, and on the other side it was not. And the one area looks like the Garden of Eden. It’s just grassland and amazing.
And the other side is desert. And it’s compelling – although many of the critics say it’s still anecdotal or there could be some funny business with this stuff.
Mark. Who are the critics? The big Monsanto’s and the big…
Robb. I was just gonna say, this is where it gets a little bit… It’s hard, because of course everything is the evils of corporations, and stuff like that. But sometimes everything that’s wrong is the evils of corporations.
And what’s interesting about this system, for it to work well it would necessitate the revitalization of the small American farm. We would need massively decentralized activity on the food production level, while still taking advantage of the distribution channels that that we have.
We’re really good at moving stuff from point A to point B. Logistically it’s really amazing stuff but the mono-cropping and the tendency to really regionalize food production is going to cause us some problems.
Mark. We should start giving away land for this purpose. Just like Russia gave away land. I was talking about this actually earlier with the ATP guys. Over ninety percent of Russia’s food production comes from the small little dacha plots. Little home plots that right that were given to the population. Anyone that wanted one.
And all sorts of people took these little one acre or whatever plots and they go and they tend… So not only do they have the great emotional benefit of getting out and on the land and being in nature and tending to their little farm, but the food is grown by their own hands and they tend to be eating their own food. Which makes them healthier. Because the food will adapt to the humans that grow it. And then they sell the surplus into the system.
Talk about resiliency. Not only are they recuperating large swathes of Russia that have been, you know – maybe not desertified – but were not handled very well during the soviet union years… But what a great model for the whole world right?
So it’s fascinating and gives me hope, right? If I see what’s happening in certain areas. There is a big movement here in United States, but it just seems like the government’s so far behind and not supporting it at all. And doing nothing but biting each other.
Robb. Yeah, and this again gets super political and… Currently there is this sense that meat is damaging to human health, meat’s damaging to the environment. Maybe people are right about that – but if they’re wrong and the policies they’re putting forward to limit food production from animal husbandry and whatnot and limiting animal products for children – it could have really catastrophic knock-on effects, you know?
And I would make the case and there have been actually some really interesting pieces from some outlets that on the political spectrum you wouldn’t expect them to be say critical of say like a vegan diet. But they have made the case that the way that the vegans are tackling this climate change topic, and what they’re recommending on a food system level basically makes them puppets of the industrial food system.
Mark. It’s like this mock-meat, right? All the rage for these companies that are taking all this investment money… I forget some of the names of them.
Robb. Yeah, “Impossible burger” and stuff like that.
Mark. Yeah. It’s still manufacturing. And it’s still big, global… In order to do that at scale, it perpetuates the system. They just kind of shift focus you know from farming beef to growing it really.
Robb. Growing it in a lab. Which the just kind of strange the crazy thing…
Mark. Reminds me of Soylent Green….
Robb. Well, yeah. At least with Soylent Green they were making it out of people. So I guess you had some comparative advantage there.
But with impossible burger, there are these things that you can do called lifecycle analysis. It’s all of the energy inputs that go into doing something. And like if you do a lifecycle analysis on ethanol as a fuel, it’s not a good fuel. Like the people who raise corn to produce ethanol as a fuel additive, they still drive their tractors on gasoline, because it costs more energy than what you get out of it. It’s a net loss. Like a complete boondoggle.
And when you look at impossible burger and things like that – they are cultures of meat that are fed nutrients. Then this thing grows in a vac, kind of like a tissue culture – it’s basically a big tissue culture – but people seem to miss its fed nutrients.
Okay, where do those nutrients come from? They come from the industrial food system. Like basically corn and soybeans that get processed and turned into lab medium to then feed to these cells.
And when you really look at the lifecycle analysis on things like that, like, it is insanely inefficient versus sunlight, grass and ruminants.
Mark. Not to mention you’re basically just eating corn…
Robb. You’re basically eating corn that’s had all kinds of ungodly things done to it. But folks are really excited about this stuff.
And the political divide in the United States in particular, it has become so polarized.
Mark. So the green meme is not the same group of individuals – those who want to get back close to the earth and be organic. I mean, there’s got to be some overlap. But it doesn’t seem like at least at the large, political, nonprofit level, they’re really more about breaking down the system, and going vegan and you know big supporters of alternative foods besides you know meat. Cows, especially.
But it seems like the movement to get back to individual gardening, back to sustainable farming, local – close to farm-to-table – is much more of a grassroots, organic movement.
Robb. Yeah, and you know I’m not a religious person per se, but the interesting divide that I’ve observed – folks who tend to be maybe a little bit conservative in their political leanings, maybe a little more on the religious side, kind of Christian – they tend to go more towards like the traditional family farm. They’ve got a multitude of animals, they intermix them, they graze them in one area one year and then they grow food in that area the next year.
And it looks very much like that. And more of this – what I would characterize broadly as maybe a little more left-leaning, progressive, vegan – they’re trying to do things absent animal inputs or animal involvement in the process. And what’s fascinating about that is ecosystems are an interplay of plants and animals. And without one or the other – and I would say microbes…
But you have to have those or the whole thing fails. Like those globes that they stick like a shrimp in and they live for years sometimes? They have an algae in there, they have some shrimp, they usually have like a snail… But it’s a tiny ecosystem. But at the base of it is a plant that can absorb sunlight, produce food. And then there’s something that limits the growth of that plant to some degree. And then there’s something that limits the growth of the thing that eats the plant.
And that’s about as pared down an ecosystem as you can get. And if one little piece of that thing fails, it’s done. And what is being put forward with this kind of removal of animals from the food system, is a very brittle, very precarious food production system that is entirely dependent on chemical inputs.
Like, there’s this thing called the Haber-Bosch method where you take enormous amounts of energy, and you pressurize the atmosphere. And you’re able to extract nitrogen and then fix it into things like ammonia. Which then can go on and be used in different types of fertilizer.
It’s also how explosives are made. So it was developed – I believe just after world war one – but this method is different than the way that normal ecosystems function. In that the nutrients provided very superficially to the plants, which then the plants don’t really have the same microbial interaction that they usually do. So the plant roots are actually very short. And the topsoil tends to deplete, and it doesn’t retain water.
And again like if you want that system to go on, you have to use enormous amounts of energy – mainly fossil fuels – to produce nitrogen fertilizer. To grow this corn and soybeans and all this type of stuff.
Mark. That’s fascinating. It’s really interesting, it’s almost like there’s a parallel in this conversation between the quality of the food that’s produced at a mass level, and the lack of nutrients that it’s bringing into the human body… And so now we have to do all these interventions and figure out how to unwind all that.
And so one of the interventions is supplementation. And now we’re finding that you know that’s screwing people up just as much or maybe more than it’s helping, because we’re just take looking at all these little pinpoints, and not looking at the whole system of a human.
Just like we’re looking at all these little pinpoints and not able to look at the whole system of the earth as this really dynamic and adaptive system. It’s just mind-boggling to me that we lack the wisdom to look at the earth and the human beings and the animals and everything as this integrative holistic system that are mutually interdependent. And that has to go with our food, how the humans sustain themselves, and how the humans sustain mother earth.
It’s all related.
Robb. Right. You know, it’s interesting it just occurred to me so I haven’t rattled around on this thought, but at a gut level the sense that I have is there’s a really powerful swing towards people wanting some entity to come in and set everything right. Like, the world…
Mark. Because that’s what we’ve been trained, right? But there’s also this growing sense that that’s not going to happen. That the answer has got to come from the collective, this time.
Not gonna come from a governmental body, the UN or any powerful president or corporate body.
Robb. Well, I guess my sense is that people are really looking for that government intervention. But the thing that – and again, I haven’t… This is stuff I like to write down… So this may be bollocks, but you spurred a thought, which is this resilient food system that you described must rely on the faith of the individual being the key element to this.
Versus this reliance on some sort of a conglomerated outside entity that comes in and says “well, clearly this is the way that things need to be done.”
Mark. But we’re at an age where information flows freely, and there’s a lot of people – especially kind of next generation – who are not satisfied with the status quo, right? Have completely lost faith that those big industrial age organizations, and the geopolitical institutions that have traditionally held things together, really have any clue what they’re doing.
Robb. The scary thing about that is…
Mark. So now they’re gonna take matters into their own hand. There’s the good and the bad to that, too, right?
Robb. There is the good and the bad to that a scary thing on the information freedom front… People like myself, Chris Kresser, a number of people in the paleo ancestral health scene, and people that have been talking about regenerative agriculture… A month ago google did an algorithm tweak and I lost overnight 97 percent of the traffic that I receive.
Because paleo, low-carb, ketogenic diets are considered to be kind of dubious in scientific veracity. And so where once I had…
Mark. That’s political influence on google.
Robb. Well four months ago Glaxos-Smith Kline invested eight hundred and eighty million dollars into google. Not that long ago. And now they’re really going after entities like some sort of an ancestral health type diet. Some sort of a whole foods diet.
Get adequate protein, doesn’t matter where it comes from. Some exercise. You’re not going to be a consumer within the diabesity epidemic. You’re also probably not going to be much of a consumer of most of the refined food products, and stuff like that.
So, it’s interesting. And I’m optimistic that there will become other outlets that will allow this more free dissemination of information, letting people kind of self-experiment and equal one, and kind of find what works for them.
But we are currently in this very what I consider highly dangerous situation where information is being curated by our tech overlords, yeah.
And there was a study recently at Harvard – a survey – but Harvard law students were surveyed and asked if they thought that the first amendment should be modified in any way. And they said “oh yeah.” 70% of them agreed with the notion that some thought should be curtailed and limited in some way by the government. And these are law students.
And there’s a whole theory around the helicopter parenting experience has created this anxiety in these kids that they need some sense of something controlling the world. And maybe this is just a cycle that were we’re going through. But it’s a pretty precarious time.
Mark. It is precarious. I agree.
Mark. There’s a really interesting book I read recently by a guy named George Gilder, who’s kind of a futurist. It’s called “Life after Google.” and he makes this exact point that you’ve got these fangs and this consolidation of just technocratic and information power through Google, and Facebook and Amazon even. And of course the Chinese equivalent – Tencent, Alibaba and whatnot.
And now how they’re really in partnership – and in some ways more powerful than the governments.
So now there’s this kind of government partnership that they’re in, and major corporations. So you have this triad going on, right? And now what you see is… Like you said, the change in the algorithm, could completely take truth away from the hands of the individual seeking it.
Anyways his whole premise is that – back to our point about farming and sustainable living is there’s also – simultaneously – happens to be a growing number of individuals globally who see that. And who understand that the system is not resilient and that it could fall.
And then for their own needs and also because they want to do some good in the world -are taking it upon themselves to change from the bottom-up.
And that it really doesn’t need seven billion people to do this. It needs maybe ten percent – seven hundred million, or a billion.
So he’s you know proposing that this life after google is really gonna be driven by blockchain and cryptocurrencies… Things that can’t be controlled by any centralized authority… I’m not talking about like Facebook’s Libra… But by true decentralized blockchain, immutable information. Where the security is built into the base layer and isn’t like this race to find the next patch.
And the software world has become so corrupted with security flaws that you can’t trust anything anymore. So there’s no trust in the system. And you’re right, you have some people in the government and the corporations trying to push people to trust them. When most of that trust has already been lost.
And so people are really craving some sort of platform that can have trust in it. And so blockchain brings them that. Decentralized blockchain gives them that potential back.
And then all the other stuff – there’s a lot of other aspects to this – how soon can this come about? And are we in a precarious area, right now in particular?
Especially with the kind of a generational churning. Always been a point of conflict, and you know we have the conditions right now that are mirroring what happened in 1929, going into the great depression. And the world wars.
And it’s like wow. The wealth inequality. The debt structures…
Robb. And changing workforce…
Mark. And changing workforce. And rising nationalism. It’s just really is mirroring what happened a hundred years ago.
Robb. And we have much better things to go “boom,” right?
Mark. (laughing) Yeah, we got things that go “boom” bigger. And our shadow is being expressed globally through all this negative energy that we’ve had.
So it is 100% is a very precarious time in our history. And at the same time I’m just super-optimistic about just this massive flood of innovation, and thought leadership going on…
Robb. Because something like that block… So part of the healthcare initiative that we’re looking into, we’re looking at having a blockchain element tied into that. So that it circumvents all of the current shenanigans that occur within like the electronic medical records scene.
And something like that, (snap) it could happen that fast. It could happen so quickly, yeah. Which it could be just in the nick of time…
Mark. (laughing) Usually those things are, right? Saved by the bell, kind of thing.
Robb. Yeah, it’s funny how innovation happens that way. When the problem is like “hey, this is an existential threat.” then here’s that next solution.
Mark. I do love the creativity of people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, at the same time I really wish that we were investing that creativity and resources into solving mother earth.
Because it’s almost like they’ve just decided to walk away from mother earth. And we’re gonna go colonize Mars.
It’s not gonna be very fun living on Mars, trust me. And mother earth is way more resilient then these people give her credit for. We just need to tread a little bit lighter on her and give her some love, you know what I mean?
Mark. And the best way to do that is to have you know millions of people start farming little plots of land. Like they have in Russia.
You know and I learned a lot about Russia’s and gained a lot of respect… People are gonna think I’m nuts talking about it, because everyone thinks Russia’s evil and focus on Putin and all this election interference.
Whatever. That’s just surface level politics. The average Russian is just like the average American, they want what’s best for their family, and for their kids.
And they want to go out and farm. That’s awesome. We need more of that, you know what I mean? And then that needs to happen in Africa and Europe and all over the place.
Robb. That’s a really resilient, difficult to mess with system if people get that going. And it builds community and in this age when a lot of things are going to be automated… The past, as far as work most of the elements of something that that approximates the small family farm – you may find pieces where you could automate this or automate that, but it still…
Mark. Not saying walk away from technology, but saying just take it back to the local and use your hands.
Robb. You can employ a lot of people doing that. And currently the average age of farmers in the United States is something like 72, 74 years old… And virtually none of their children are entering that scene, because it’s become this really laborious consolidated thing. But more people are kind of opting out of that system and going more this regenerative Ag approach.
Mark. Fascinating. Tons of opportunity.
Robb. A huge opportunity, yeah. It’s both scary and very, very exciting. We just need to hustle to stay out ahead of stuff.
Mark. Right. And I’ve been racking my brain, as I live in coastal California. I mean, I don’t have any land of my own… I live in a condo, type of townhome on the ocean. The ocean is my nature.
But I can’t curate a plot of land in the ocean, right? I can’t go out and create my own little fishery. I think they might have a problem with that.
And we do love that aspect. But I’m just trying to think where would I or how can I get into farming? It might be like a community garden or something like that.
Robb. It’s CSAs, things like that where we’re providing the economic engine for people to get out and do this work.
Mark. What’s a CSA?
Robb. Community supported agriculture. So it’s where a group of local farmers – again, decentralized production, but then centralizing the distribution. So that we can get all of that food out to people in a timely fashion.
Mark. So to become a part of like one of these cooperatives, electives – where I can go out and work it, but it’s not my land. I don’t have to worry about all the knowledge and all the assets…
Robb. Or at a very minimal level, you’re paying somebody else to go do that. But the money gets decentralized.
Mark. I’d like to talk more about that. Just at a personal level. What’s possible out in my area?
Robb. Yeah and you don’t have to go very far inland before you have a lot of people that are doing small-scale farming and stuff like that. And have good CSAs.
Mark. Tell me about your supplement line.
Robb. Oh the LMNT, yeah. It’s funny because I’m trying to change the health care system, and we’re trying to do this, and we’re trying to do that.
And then this salt supplement is just going like crazy.
Mark. (laughing) Well, it’s important, right? Get the electrolytes into your body. Or else the electrical system doesn’t work that well.
Robb. Exactly. And so I’ve eaten kind of a low-carb, peri-ketogenic diet for like 22 years and that’s just where I operate best, but about four years ago I started hanging out with these two guys, Tyler Cartwright and Luis Villasenor. They founded this thing called “Ketogains” and they put six hundred people every six weeks through this this boot camp – online boot camp – and it’s mainly women it’s like 85% women, 35 to 50 years old, and they use a well formulated ketogenic diet, some basic bodybuilding protocols – and man, the transformations they get out of these people, it’s just mind-blowing. And they’re really great folks.
So I started stalking them and kind of hanging out and I’m like “hey, I want you to be my coach. I want you guys to steward my stuff.”
And so they looked at what I was doing, and they said “everything looks on point. You’re not getting enough electrolytes, specifically sodium.”
I’m like “no, I salt my food. I’m good.”
Mark. They got that from a blood test, or…?
Robb. No, no. Just looking at my dietary intake.
Mark. No kidding? Fascinating.
Robb. Yeah because I wasn’t documenting any intake of sodium.
Mark. What I love about this, by the way, is you’re like one of the one of the top nutritional experts. And you’ve got a coach.
And I’m the same way. Like I’m an expert in what I do, but I’ve got a coach too. You need someone to hold you accountable.
Robb. Yeah. I mean I’m half-decent at jujitsu now, but I seek out the best people in the world today I can get better than half-decent, you know?
And so it took me about a year to finally listen to these guys – because we talked about this I think, before we were recording – what does everybody do when they have a coach? They ignore them, for some period of time.
And so I finally listened to them. Started supplementing with electrolytes, but mainly sodium. And it was just night and day. Literally a light switch was flipped. And so I started working more with these guys, and we noticed that most of the problems that people experienced with kind of low-carb diets and also not even necessarily so low-carb, but high-end athletic endeavors and stuff like that. We’ve been told to avoid sodium and I think that people may be having some deleterious health effects due to that.
Mark. Cause sodium was supposed to have a heart risk, right?
Robb. Yeah, but they’ve done all these studies putting people on low sodium diets and it doesn’t budge their blood pressure because the problem is insulin, not sodium.
So they’re chasing symptoms again. And one of the key features of a low-carb diet is that insulin drops, and people pee like crazy, because they shed excess water.
So if you are eating any type of like kind of a whole foods, minimally processed diet you are probably not retaining sodium all that well.
And that’s good on the one hand, but you may need to supplement the sodium to really feel as good as you could.
And so we started telling people okay you really need to get on point with your sodium, potassium and magnesium primarily… Like, those are the biggies. And so we put together a homebrew formula… Like, take this much table salt, this much magnesium citrate… Do this, that, and the other and then in a liter, you’ll have something that works for you.
And this just took off, and people were going crazy over it. But then we started getting people posting on social media they’re like “hey guys, I was going through TSA and they didn’t like my three bags of white powder.” which was like sodium, potassium, magnesium. And this happened a ton.
So I was kind of like “I don’t know, would people want like a stick-pack type deal, they could put in water?”
And so we sat on this for a while, and then January of this year 2019, we launched the product. It was about maybe 8, 12 months prior to that, that we decided to get in. Really kick the tires on it.
And the first flavor that we launched was citrus salt, and just as a fallback I formulated it to be an amazing margarita base first, and electrolyte second…
Mark. Of course. Makes sense. Paleo-margarita.
Robb. Cause I was like “well, if this thing totally fails as an electrolyte, then we’ll just rebrand everything and sell it as a margarita mix. And probably like own the world after that.”
Mark. Yeah. I think you should do that anyways.
Robb. On the slide kind of well I think on the box it says “we have heard that this tastes great it as a margarita base.” which is kind of a funny way to dodge around the FDA and all that stuff.
So, yeah, that’s been going really well. We’re the sponsor for use weightlifting like their hydration sponsor. And the product’s called “LMNT.” Folks can find it at drinkLMNT.com.
And right now we’re doing a… I’m not sure when the podcast will go up, but we are partnered with an outfit called Wade’s Army which is a fundraiser for a young guy, two years old, that died from a glioblastoma. Good friends with John Welbourn of the power athlete scene. And the Welbourns put together this 501(c)3 to get funds that are… 50% of it goes to really good glioblastoma research and 50% of funds goes to helping the families. Like, if they need to go from Pennsylvania to California for the best treatment, it pays for that stuff.
So great thing, wade’s army, and for a block of time five bucks of every box that we’re selling is going to wade’s army.
Mark. Nice. Awesome.
Well, thanks so much for your time.
Robb. Mark, thank you. It’s a huge honor.
Mark. Could go on forever here. Talking about this, that and the other thing. But it’s really good to see you and good to have you back on…
Robb. Good to see you…
Mark. Want to talk more about the LMNT, and also how to get into some local co-op where I’m not necessarily at this point right now I’m gonna be out getting my hands dirty, but if I could support the movement somehow.
Robb. You know, even if you just shift like the bulk of your fruits and veggies and maybe even a bunch of your meat consumption to the locally produced stuff. And the cool thing is they drop it off at your door. So I mean it even cuts out the onerous part of going shopping half the time.
Mark. Yes supporting them with my pocket book.
Robb. Yeah, yeah.
Mark. That works for me.
All right. Thanks very much. Hooyah to you. Have fun down in Texas. I’d love to come visit you sometime.
Robb. Done deal.
Mark. All right. That’s it folks, Robb wolf. Check out drinkLMNT.com. Yeah and I’m drinking it right now. It’s really tasty.
Robb. The cocaine does wonders…
Mark. Yeah, the vodka was not the highest quality, but you know, next time…
See you next time. This is Unbeatable Mind podcast. Really appreciate you. Train hard, stay focused, eat close to the earth. And make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes.
See you next time.