Ryan Baxter: Eating More Carbs And More Calories To Look, Feel, Perform, And Recover Better

Ryan Baxter is a part-time Primal health coach, father to two young kids, a full-time software engineer, and an athlete.

In this episode, Ryan joins host Brad Kearns to discuss training strategies, effective recovery methods, and his experience with embarking on a personal experiment to consume more calories and more carbs. Ryan offers incredible insights about training and recovery in this show, such as when he talks about a 28-mile bike ride he did in Barcelona, saying: “I didn’t come home with a medal or a trophy or anything like that, but I came home with what was a once in a lifetime experience and probably the highlight of my endurance training this year, which speaks to a lot of things—it’s not about the medals and stuff, but when you can find that when you put your fitness capacities towards something that creates lifelong memories and once in a lifetime experiences, then that is the ultimate use of your endurance and your training.” We also talk about a 14 mile obstacle course race Ryan partook in—at 4,000 feet elevation atop a ski mountain!—how to look, feel, and recover better, and much more!


Ryan tells his story of his bike ride through the Barcelona wine country even though he had  not much training on long distance biking. [01:29]

You can find that you put your fitness capacities to something that creates lifelong memories. That is the ultimate use of your training. [03:45]

The fourteen-mile obstacle course is quite an endeavor. You can train for an obstacle course with many simple things around your home. [06:37]

Ryan has been on the journey of trying to figure out how to optimize diet and match to training. [12:03]

If training at a comfortable aerobic heart rate, there is a strong argument that that training can be sustained with a ketogenic diet.  Did Ryan find that to be true? [18:42]

If the diet and the lifestyle don’t match the outcome you want, and you keep trying to do the same thing over and over, and it’s not working for you, you need to try something different. [24:56]

There are some studies that show that ketones can be a performance benefit. [20:46]
If we could just all clean up our diets, then we’d have kind of an open road toward the pursuit of optimization rather than damage control. {33:51]

Ryan has been charting his diet quantifying his increase in caloric intake. [40:22]

When you are well nourished, you will naturally be more active. [45:46]

There are so many benefits from just eating more protein. [53:00]

During his study, Ryan increased his caloric intake by 700 calories. [56:16]



Brad (00:00:26):
Ryan Baxter. We said hi on the zoom call here from across the continent. And then we chit chatted a little bit, but then things got hot, man, we got stuff to talk about. I can’t wait to acquaint the endurance athlete, in particular to some of the experiments that we’ve been performing on ourselves and some of the concepts and strategies we’ve been talking about. It seems as though some of these, um, these fundamental pillars of, uh, fat adapted endurance training and the low carb movement and, um, more is better in this direction or that direction, like with your keto numbers. Um, some of this is being reflected upon recalibrated and, uh, we got, you know, some, some interesting, uh, reflections, especially with, uh, your experiment and so forth. So I guess we could start with it, just giving a, a basic introduction and tell us about some of your, um, your, your training strategies and goals these days. And then, uh, get into that, that food experiment too.

Ryan (00:01:29):
Sure. Absolutely. Well, thanks for having me on the show, Brad. Um, I’m glad the podcast is back again, uh, after it’s hiatus, so it’s, uh, good to see the Al Endurance podcast back. Um, yeah. Uh, for those who don’t know me, I’m Ryan Baxter, um, a health coach, uh, part-time Prma health coach, part-time. I’m a father to two young kids, um, and, uh, full-time software engineer and, uh, uh, an athlete, right? I won’t label myself as an exclusively an endurance athlete these days, but, um, um, I’ve dabbled in the endurance space in the past and, uh, still do to some degree. Um, and, uh, yeah, lately while I’ve, I’ve, I still do endurance event. I still ran a 14 miles Spartan race this year, and probably actually my, my endurance, my endurance highlight from this past year, um, now that, you know, fall is setting in winter is on its way, so most of the races are over.

Ryan (00:02:31):
But my endurance highlight from this past year was like a, I think it was like a 28 mile bike ride in the Barcelona wine country. I’m not a biker. I maybe get on a bike once a year <laugh>. So, uh, when I was presented with the opportunity to, to do this in Barcelona, I was like questioning myself. I’m like, I don’t know if I can go that far on a bike. I don’t really bike that often. Right? And, uh, but I was able to do it. I guess that speaks to some, some form of endurance capacity, at least for me on a bike. I know it’s not terribly long for bikers, but for me it was, That’s certainly by far the longest I’ve ever been on a bike that

Brad (00:03:09):
That was, Yeah, it’s highlight like the we hear about the cross training effects and we have super fit people that, uh, can, can tackle new challenges, but like when the quads fill up with blood and you haven’t been biking much, it’s just stunning, like, you know, to compare, um, the difference between maybe one’s fittest point and then having not been on a certain discipline, you don’t get a ton of crossover, even if you have other skills that are at high level. It’s just specificity of training is an important, important thing that you can’t, you can’t escape.

Ryan (00:03:45):
Yeah. I’m not, I’m not winning any races on a bike for sure. But I think the highlight there was that I was able to do it and I, it was super, like, it was an experience I’ll never forget, you know, Um, it wasn’t a race. I didn’t come home with a medal. I didn’t come home with a t-shirt or anything like that, or a trophy or anything like that, but came home with some, you know, probably a once in a lifetime experience, um, that, that I just, uh, you know, probably the highlight of my <laugh> endurance, uh, training this year. And I think that speaks, you know, to a lot of things. Like, it’s not just all about the, the medals and stuff, but when you can find that you put your fitness capacities to something that creates lifelong memories, you know, once in lifetime experiences, I think that’s like the ultimate use of your endurance, right? And your training. Um, and at least that’s where I’m at at this point in, in my life, <laugh>.

Brad (00:04:38):
Yeah, that’s nice to think about it that way. And of course, when I was deep into my racing career, it was all about, you know, very regimented training and an incredible focus on the competitive goals because it was my profession. It wasn’t a hobby or something that I would enjoy, you know, Hey, I’ll think I’ll take a bike ride this weekend. It wasn’t at all about that, right? As it is maybe for most people who are recreational. But looking back now on my career, you know, the racing was a great experience and great memories, but I also have just as rich memories from workouts and from adventures that we had, you know, off the race course. So if you’re, um, if you’re going very step of the way and, and supposed to be enjoying the process regardless of the outcome, um, that’s, it’s a good highlight. It’s a good plug there for just the, the value of, uh, the day to day workouts and how they make your life better. And especially, um, a lot of people in the, the knowledge worker scene is there’s not a lot of call for activity in your, in your career. And so we’re compelled to get out there and do something different.

Ryan (00:05:46):
Yeah. And I think that’s part of the reason why I started obstacle course racing to begining, like, to, to get into endurance racing, is because I think we all have this drive in us, or we should have this drive in us to do something challenging with it physically with our bodies, Right? And it’s missing modern day life, uh, for the most part, for, for a lot of us, myself included, a few years ago. So, uh, I think that that drive got out there. But I think once you can, yeah, once you, once you find that passion and you, and you realize that then you can actually use all this training for something else besides going out and racing on the weekend or, or whatever, uh, you know, the single race that you’re training for, it’s enjoying with your kids, going rock climbing with kids like my daughter’s getting to rock climbing and stuff like that. And like that stuff is, I think, where the gold is for most of us, uh, average everyday people that aren’t professional athletes, you know?

Brad (00:06:37):
But that 14 mile obstacle course race, that’s quite an endeavor. Tell me about the obstacles that you had to train for, besides the incredible endurance to cover 14 miles.

Ryan (00:06:50):
Yeah, so it was on a, it’s on a ski mountain, and granted, the ski mountain was in New Jersey, so it’s not like, you know, like mind blowingly elevation wise, but it was close to 4,000 feet of elevation, I think by the time we were done. Thirty different obstacles. Um, you monkey bars, walls, um, lots of overhead, um, you know, type of traversing obstacles, climbing ropes, crawling, carrying sandbags, buckets, um, you know, all that fun stuff, uh, you know, spread out throughout the course. I think, you know, once you get to a certain point in obstacle course racing, some of the obstacles, not all the obstacles are terribly easy, but some of them, you know, if you get proficient at doing the obstacles, they’re not, you know, terribly challenging anymore. And I think the, the challenge then becomes on these mountainous courses are like the elevation and, and knowing when you can push and when you can, you need to hold back because you don’t know what’s ahead of you, The route, you know, they give you an idea like what the route is gonna be, but like, you don’t know, you know, how this course is gonna be laid, even if you ran the course last year, it’s completely different this year.

Ryan (00:08:06):
So, um, you know, the, the challenge then becomes like, you can, they have obstacles, but if you blow up on the run and you’re, you’re just burnt, like you have no chance of doing any of the obstacles, right? Like

Brad (00:08:19):
<laugh>, you’re just in front.

Ryan (00:08:21):
You have to

Brad (00:08:22):

Ryan (00:08:22):
Yeah, you have to know up, you have to know and pace yourself and kind of, some of it’s locked and guessing, right? Um, but you have to know where, where you can push and when it’s time to push. And, and so that’s kind of the challenge of these obstacle course races and stuff like that. Once you get a little provision at the obstacles, initially, obstacles are always the challenge, but I find it challenging. I, I like obstacle horse racing because it’s the mix of endurance and strength. And so, um, you know, I, I think you know that, that you’re not just running in a straight line or on, on flat pavement or biking on a straight line or, you know, anything like that. Or just rowing on a flat surface for hours and hours and end. If that’s your thing, great. I love, you know, God bless you. But like the, the being on the trails in the woods and then having to use your body in some physical manner, I think is kind of, a better expression of fitness in some degree, um, overall fitness. And so I like it. I like the challenge. Um, and yeah, so that’s it’s fun. If you haven’t tried one, try it, maybe not the, maybe not 14 miles, stick with three, three to five miles first and, and go from there. But definitely try one.

Brad (00:09:35):
And you can’t really train or prepare too much on the obstacle specifically. So you go to the gym and try to approximate some of the things you know, you’re gonna be doing, like pulling your body up and so forth.

Ryan (00:09:48):
Yeah. So there are some, you can find some obstacle course gyms out there, right? Where they’ve replicated and built, built obstacles. Like I have actually I have a buddy here in New Hampshire, and he has a, like 22 acres of land, and he’s pretty much built, you know, all obstacles, right? Wow. Started off, started off with just a couple, and then like, it’s, it’s turned into this whole thing and I can’t remember how many there are. And, and he has this whole course in his yard. So I go there and I, you know, I can practice on, on the obstacles when I need to, but when you don’t have ops, you know, you don’t have, um, you don’t have access to them. Um, there are some things you can do, Like, there’s some things that you can do from home. Like if you’re gonna carry a bucket, like you can just go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or your favorite hardware store, get a bucket and fill it up with rocks, right?

Ryan (00:10:35):
Like it’s not, it’s super cheap and replicates exactly what you’re gonna be doing. Um, same, same, same thing with a sandbag. Go get a sandbag, you know, carry that around for a little bit. Um, uh, like things like the rope, even the rope climb. If you have a place you can hang, like I have a rope hanging in my, a tree in my yard, um, which my kids love, by the way. Also, if you have kids, that’s a good fun thing. Um, I can buy rings, you can buy rings and stuff like that. I have rings hanging in my basement that you can swing from to replicate what you’re gonna, you know, if you’re gonna be using rings and go to the park, find some monkey bars, go across the monkey bars. Um, you know, a lot of this stuff is stuff that you would normally do as a kid, <laugh>, uh, and you know, my kids are super proficient at doing all these things.

Ryan (00:11:18):
Um, but, uh, we kinda lose that, you know, I know Darrell Edwards talks a lot about like primal play. Like we, we lose some of that primal play as we get older. We don’t hang from things, we don’t swing from things, We don’t do that stuff. Um, we don’t pull ourselves up, you know, like if you’re gonna pull yourself over a wall, I mean, go do some pull-ups and pretty much replicate that. All you need to do is get, you don’t even need to do a full pull up, honestly, cuz you just need to like get to a point where you can swing your leg up over the wall and then hop over the wall. So you don’t even need to do a full pull up. But pull ups will certainly help you get there. Um, yeah, so there’s lots of things you could do at home actually from training for basic, some of the basic obstacles, some of ’em you’ll never be able to replicate at home. Um, so you can take some time practice, but, um, yeah, there’s, there’s certainly, certainly ways to do it.

Brad (00:12:03):
So you coach people, you’re trained as a primal health coach, and you’re also fond of quantifying things that you’re doing with your training and especially the, um, nutrient intake, your dietary pattern. So I’d love for you to talk to us about your journaling and, and logging and what kind of data you’ve amassed and especially the recent experiment that you, uh, were tweaking things and assessing the results.

Ryan (00:12:32):
Yeah, I think I can sum up what I’ve been doing is just like, eat more food, <laugh>, <laugh>. Uh, so it’s, um, you know, I started my whole fitness journey and health journey and, um, before becoming a coach, because I read the Primal Endurance book, like that was the first book I read. I didn’t read the Primal Blueprint till a couple years later, unfortunately, <laugh>. Um, but, um, that’s where I started, right? And I, that’s how I got into this, this whole space. And I really focused on the diet part to begin with because that was, you know, it was, the diet part was such a change from where I was eating before I was eating kind of the Standard American diet. There was no concept of health, you know, I was just exiting, uh, college when I found the book and started getting into this.

Ryan (00:13:27):
And so you could, you know, I was doing what CrossFitters do to drink and eat crappy food. Like that’s what we did. Um, and I wasn’t exercising <laugh>, so it was a bad combination. Um, and so I dove into the primal lifestyle and the way of eating and immersed myself in that. And it just started off just, you know, eating up, just eating primal foods, right? It’s just whole foods, right? Basically is what primal is, is just whole foods, right? If you, the stuff you find in the outer aisles of the grocery store, and that’s what it did. Um, and you know, as I kept an eye on the space, you know, keto was starting to come up, right? It was starting to take off as, as the new heart, heart trend. And there was obviously a lot of endurance athletes dabbling in that and promoting, talking about the benefits of fat adaptation, um, and becoming fat adapted.

Ryan (00:14:19):
And since I was in the endurance space and I was trying to run these races that I had no idea how to fuel for, I’m like, this is sounds pretty legit. Let me, you know, let me, let me dive this. So I started cutting out carbs and, you know, eliminating fruit and sweet potatoes and those types of things for my diet. And I was eating, I was probably eating a ketogenic diet at the time. I had never test, I didn’t know about testing blood glucose and ketones and stuff like that. That wasn’t really kind of a hot thing to do when I first started in, I was probably eating a keto diet for a couple years, um, strictly, you know, I, you know, I didn’t eat fruit, I didn’t eat potatoes. I, I was super strict about it. Um, and, um, eventually where I got myself in, in trouble, honestly. Um, and, and you know, I just, all my hormones tanked and I had GI issues and stuff like that, and then had to seek out the, the help of, of Chris Kelly and Dr. Tommy Wood. And they were like, just, this was, you know, back in 2016, they were like Dr. Tommy. I mean, I remember Dr. Tommy Wood just saying to me the first time I ever chatted with him. He’s like, just, just eat more food and eat more carbohydrates. Right.

Brad (00:15:31):
So 2016, Ryan, this is before the rise of keto and the, the books and the general knowledge. So, so how did you back into that by default? Who told you how did fruit ,vegetables and starchy carbs and whatnot?

Ryan (00:15:47):
Well, I think it was right where it was really starting to kind of take off. Like it was, you know, you’d hear like Ben Greenfield talking about it and kind of the people on the edge. You know, it was, there was no like keto Facebook groups then, like there, but there was people on, on podcasts talking about it. And I didn’t, I didn’t understand the whole, you know, the ketones get produced in your blood and all this other stuff. I just started to eliminate the foods, right? I was just coming to mouth, like, people say just, you know, don’t eat, There’s sugar, fruit, you know, don’t eat the sugar in the fruit. And, you know, that’s evil. And you know, potatoes are, you know, are hardly, you know, have a ton of carbs in them. And so I just, I just took them out. Um, I didn’t really know what I was, I didn’t understand that I was creating a mismatch between the way I was training in the way I was exercising and moving my body. I was causing more stress on my body than it needed to have. And that manifested in health issues later on down the road. Right.

Brad (00:16:49):
What kind of training were you doing at that time?

Ryan (00:16:52):
I was endurance training. I, I would reg, I would just run a lot. <laugh>. I wasn’t doing a lot of strength training, I could tell you that. Um, I would run, I mean, besides the strength training I have to do for obstacle course racing, right? Like, so it was, you know, there was some strength stuff involved. I was pulling, moving my body weight for the most part, but most of it was just long endurance, you know, you know, low heart rate, 180 minus age heart rate training. Um, and that’s, you know, it was just a lot of volume and very little food <laugh> because you can only eat so many, you know, so much meat and vegetables before, it’s just like, you know, I’m not terribly, my appetite isn’t there anymore. You know, I was also practicing intermittent fasting to some degree. You know, I would regularly just, you know, go out for runs completely fasted for multiple hours.

Ryan (00:17:41):
Um, and I was just, you know, it, it just all manifested in. Not to mention all life stresses cause I had a young daughter at the time and traveling for work, uh, across time zones and stuff like that. And it just all manifested in a bunch of health issues, <laugh>. Um, so in, and when I, you know, I’ve been on this journey of trying to figure out how to optimize my diet and match to match my training for a long time now. And, um, I think I’ve, I don’t know if I’ve, I’ll claim that I figured it out, but I think I’m in a, a hell of a lot better spot right now than I was four, six years ago. Um, and, uh, that’s mostly due to, you know, eating more food and like really dialing back the unneeded stress on my body. Um, and in kind of matching what I was trying to demand on my body from what I was putting into it, what I was giving back to it, both from a food, sleep, rest, and recovery point of view.

Brad (00:18:42):
So if you were doing most of your training at comfortable aerobic heart rates, there is a, uh, a strong argument that that type of training can be sustained with the ketogenic diet because you’re not having high glycolytic demand in your workouts. I wonder if you have some reflections on that and could have, could you have excelled by eating twice as many eggs, twice as much steak, but still made that commitment to, you know, prioritize, um, prioritize fat burning and force yourself into making keytones and, and doing all those adaptations that are, um, you know, highly touted? Or do you feel there’s some individuality here where your, um, your prescription from Tommy Wood and Chris Kelly was, uh, start eating more of everything, including carbs?

Ryan (00:19:33):
So I think that there’s, there’s as always, it depends on the person. So I think some people can get away with this, right? Some people, for whatever reason, their bodies are fine. They can go out and do this, you know, some facet training they can fuel exclusively on, you know, run on low carb diets. And I think if your goal is really to go super long and you need to be at a low heart rate, like to some degree it makes a lot of sense. But I, and if you have, if you’re healthy doing that, that’s fine, right? For me, I was doing that and I was not healthy. It was, I was not healthy, right? Some people’s bodies just, they’re okay, right? For whatever reason. Maybe it’s because they have less other stressors in their life or something else, right? I mean, they’re just genetically okay with it.

Ryan (00:20:21):
I don’t, I don’t really know how to explain it, but clearly some people, at least for myself and I’ve others, they they start to see some issues both from a performance point of view and a health point of view that doesn’t look so good when they, when they, you know, eat that type of diet. Um, and I think I, it’s hard for me to say whether if I just slammed more eggs and more butter and whatever, more fat and whatever, if I was, if I would be okay if I could match the demand that I was asking my body with the training I was doing, but I just didn’t have the desire to eating that diet. Like I just wasn’t hungry, you know, <laugh>. Um, and yeah,

Brad (00:21:01):
That’s an interesting’s an interesting comment there cuz when you’re not hungry, it’s often touted as an attribute. And now I’m even second guessing that, sorry to interrupt your flow, but like, um, you know, getting to the point where you’re not hungry and meanwhile you’re depleting yourself with, uh, not enough food and, and too much exercise that can mess you up. Uh, sorry, what were you saying? Were you wonder?

Ryan (00:21:27):
I just, I just kind of, I have no evidence of this. I just, I just often wonder this in myself. If, if, if, uh, ancestrally ketogenic diets were meant to be a benefit for us humans in times where food was scarce, that that might be an adaptation to that situation. So if you purposely put yourself in a, in a, in a state of ketosis and your hunger goes down, that might be because a thousand years ago, or 2000 years ago, whatever that meant, there was no food around <laugh>. So you had no drive to eat anyways, right? So that was like, why make this person hungry? If they’re not, they’re not, there’s no food around. So this is a, a survival adaptation for humans. I I, I often wonder that, right? Same thing is,

Brad (00:22:17):
You know, that sounds very reasonable and it’s a survival adaptation to turn down your body temperature one degree, right? And to recover more slowly from your last workout and all those things where we turn all the dials down.

Ryan (00:22:31):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s, you, you, you start seeing low testosterone, you start seeing low thyroid, which is what I saw in myself, right? And like, these are just, you’re just, it’s just because that’s the signal you’re sending to your body. It’s like there isn’t a lot of food around, so I’m gonna start dialing things back because I don’t really know if this guy’s gonna survive or not. <laugh>, you know? And, uh, so it, and so it’s, it’s, it’s maybe a natural thing and some people don’t experience that, but I, I, I experienced it myself and I see it sometimes in other people, and I think a lot of people unknowingly might experience it. Um, so I just didn’t have the drive to eat enough food in that using that style diet. Um, and so I’ve just been experimenting, eating more food, um, you know, and seeing what that did.

Ryan (00:23:15):
And the results have been better health markers, objective health markers, my thyroid, my last test was great. Like the best it’s been in a long time. My testosterone’s always been a normal range since I’ve added more food back in my diet. Um, I’ve, I don’t have any more GI issues and, um, my performance is like, you know, night and day. Like I, I can, I can tell you that. So, um, you know, it’s all positive stuff all around from, from all aspects, you know, I’m just a, a happier person to <laugh>. Um, you know, I don’t feel as restricted or, or, you know, my social life is, is better for it. Like, you know, I don’t have to turn away the, the, the potatoes or whatever, or the baked potato at the steakhouse or, you know, cause I think that I’m gonna destroy my fat burning capabilities anymore.

Ryan (00:24:02):
Like, I’m still gonna be able to go out and if you ask me tomorrow to go out, run two hours faster in the morning, I could still do it. Still gonna do it, you know, even though I had a, you know, 400 grams of carbs the day before, um, and I’m gonna burn mostly fat doing it. I, I won’t have to take any fuel with me. You know, I didn’t all of a sudden undo all this, this fat adaptation that I’ve built up over the past year. So, um, I think that might be just a little bit of a common misconception that a lot people get hung up on, um, when they start diving down this low carb, you know, low, low heart rate training route. Like, they just think that they, once they’re there, they need to maintain that style of eating and that diet and that training forever or else it’s going to be lost. And I don’t think that that’s the case. At least that’s not what I’ve seen in myself both subjectively as well as quantifying it with metabolic carb data and stuff like that. So, um, yeah.

Brad (00:24:56):
Yeah, I referenced way back when, when I was training for triathlon, eating that extremely high carbohydrate diet, uh, a lot of processed carbs, a lot of energy fuels and all that stuff. And then once in a while, um, you know, we, we’d go for a hundred mile bike ride with no food and did just fine. And so I think if you’re conditioned well enough, and then you reference people that some people can get away with, or some people can perform well at adhering to this really low carbohydrate ketogenic diet and then going out there and winning ultra-marathon runs and, um, you know, excelling at, at great challenges, um, maybe they’re also in supreme condition and they have minimal stress factors in the rest of their life and, and somehow they’re, they’re making it work. But I’m pretty curious about this individuality aspect and how, you know, this lines up with, um, what’s possible versus what’s optimal. So maybe some people are doing just fine and report that things are humming along. But are they at optimal level nine or are they at level seven doing pretty well because they’re really fit and they work hard? Yeah. And could they, could they do better? Is there potential for better with dietary modification? Like, like you explored?

Ryan (00:26:17):
Yeah, and I think it’s, it’s very much individual individuality, right? If you, if you don’t care about performance and you’re just happy like running the four and a half hour marathon and you’re just out there, have fun, slap hands and give high fives and just go with the flow and, and you don’t really care, like go for it. Like run it fasted, do it keto diet, it, it’s okay. Like, I think that’s, that’s great. Like I’m all for that. If that’s matches the goal. I think what the problem is is if the, the diet and the lifestyle doesn’t match the outcome that you want, and you keep on trying to jam the square peg into a round hole and it’s not working and you do it over and over again, and then trying to expect better results in fear of like losing your health or losing your performance.

Ryan (00:27:07):
Like some, at some point you just do to try something different. And that just might mean eating more food slash eating more carbohydrates. And I think the other thing that a lot of endures athletes don’t understand, or like they don’t, they don’t realize is that you have more room in the amount of carbohydrates that you can eat because you’re an endurance athlete. Like you are burning this fuel off before it get stored or like it’s gone. Like it’s just done. Like if you’re, if you’re slamming some carbohydrates while you’re out there on a two hour run, you know, on the weekends, even if it’s at one in your, your MAF heart rate, even if that’s the intensity you’re running out, it’s still like negative effect. Like you could probably consume 200 grams of carb drinks and still be in ketosis, you know, player in that day. Like

Brad (00:27:55):
Yeah, Sami Inkinen improved it and he has great, uh, journaling on his website where he did a, like an eight day mountain bike stage race, and he was in high level of ketosis the whole time with his readings and he was consuming, I think it was at least 200 grams of carbohydrates a day. So, you know, we’re, we’re here that, um, 50 grams is your limit and after that you’re not gonna be, uh, you know, making keytones at the right levels. But yeah, it’s, it’s like am it’s like a, a fireplace burning a lot of fuel for sure.

Ryan (00:28:28):
Right? And I, I think you hear this, you know, 50 grams of your limit is if you’re sedentary, in my opinion, and you’re not, like, you can be sedentary and be an athlete, like I’m talking about like, you’re a sedentary, you don’t exercise as you sit in front of computer screen eight hours a day. Like yeah, 50 grams is your limit, but if you’re exercising, uh, and you’re moving your body like you should be, you’re really following the primal endurance, you know, primal fitness, lifestyle, that type of thing. You’re moving your body throughout the day and you’re exercising like you’re limit. Like you should, you should try and find your limit. I would encourage you to do that. Like, cuz it’s probably gonna be mind blowing to you, um, how much you can get away with if you’re an endurance athlete. Um, and, and if keto is your goal. I, I mean, I don’t, I also am not sure I understand the, the goal of still producing keytones, like when performances your goal, you know what I’m saying? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like if you’re looking for optimal performance, you know, I haven’t seen very many studies that show that whether it’s, uh, endogenous or, uh, external forms of keytones offer any performance benefit to athletes. Yet there’s, you know, study after study after study that shows carbohydrates do, um,

Brad (00:29:46):
<laugh>. Well, I think there’s, there’s some studies that show that ketones can be a performance benefit. Phinney and Volek would probably come on and, um, argue that, that, you know, you can, you can get that edge because um, now your, your muscles can, uh, burn more fatty acids and especially when you’re, uh, doing something that goes long duration, the challenge of taking on onboard calories can be a performance limit. 30% of all finishers in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships, the best Iron Man athletes in the world report stomach distress. That’s a ridiculous statistic for the very, very best people in the world who qualified to race at the highest level and all the age groups. And they’re all ripping up their stomachs out there. So there is some problem with the current model, but I think you make a super important point is that these are sort of, um, peripheral benefits.

Brad (00:30:41):
Like if you can, if you can get by consuming fewer carbohydrates in the race, that might be an advantage because you do all that hard work with your diet, but that’s not a direct benefit of being in ketosis. It’s just incidental. And then we have to think about all other, other ones, like, oh, people have more mental clarity, they lose excess body fat. Uh, they report all these wonderful benefits from the ketogenic diet and that’s possibly largely driven by what they left behind. So the major benefits of such a diet are that you stopped eating your pizza and your beer from your college days, you know?

Ryan (00:31:19):
Right. Uh, so it’s an interesting, another interesting kind of thought to have is like, are they having GI issues? Uh, because of, like, I was having, like I was just overstressing my body and having GI issues cuz I was too low carb Right. And too little fuel. Right? So, you know, is it, is it a benefit or is it a, is a, a side effect of what you’re trying to do? Uh, so yeah, it’s an interesting experiment. Uh, but yeah, I agree. Like if you’re, I think there, there is a time and place to use, uh, a low carbohydrate diet for performance if that matches what you’re trying to do. Like if you’re trying to run a hundred miles or Iron Man or whatever, like, and again, like, you know, did Kipchoge just, you know, not use carbohydrates to, to run a 2 0 1 0 9 or whatever he ungod number he just didn’t the marathon in, I mean, no, the guy was slamming carbohydrates the whole time, Right?

Ryan (00:32:17):
<laugh> and, uh, and so, you know, if performance matters, I think it’s, it ends up being carbohydrates. If you can tolerate them right then if you have GI issues and eating and that stuff, and like, that’s your limiting factor, so be it. I would hope you’d be trying to adjust the GI issues the underlying cause of the GI issues. But some people they just don’t do well, you know, eating while exercising and that’s completely fine. And if you need to do it in a low carb state faster or whatever, because that at least allows you to do something you love to do great. Like that, I have no problem with that. Yeah. I think it’s just, um, the mismatch that gets us in trouble.

Brad (00:32:51):
I feel like, um, like this, this compulsion to continually backpedal to a bigger and bigger picture. I don’t know if there’s a term for that, like in software development where you’re, you’re drawing some umbrellas and underneath this umbrella as another one, but I’m backpedaling to this point where if you have processed foods in your diet and these processed foods are compromising your ability to generate cellular energy internally, you’re kind of screwed in so many different ways. And so you’re like putting bandaids on all these wounds, including leaky gut syndrome. So that’s a good analogy that you’re, you’re trying to tape up your leaky gut by going on these restrictive diets and you feel better fasting. People report they, they work out better when they’re in a facet state, which of course makes sense. But you know, overall, if you’re trying to work around the problem of still having nutrient deficient processed foods in your diet, that is gonna color every single decision and every single result.

Brad (00:33:51):
So if we could just all clean up our diets, , then we’d have kind of an open road toward the pursuit of optimization rather than damage control. And I think, I, I started thinking of this when you’re talking about the people that, um, report GI distress. A lot of that is possibly due to conditioning and you’re trying to race at a pace too fast. You’re not good enough to go 10 hour pace. And so your stomach blows up at the Ironman. Well, I’m sorry to say that, but maybe if you had gone 11 hour pace, your stomach would’ve been just fine. Or if you had cleaned up your diet from all processed foods and that includes now the plant toxins with the rise of the carnivore movement. It’s not only the potato chips, but maybe the kale smoothie that’s compromising your, your cellular energy potential and then you’re trying to go and look for, you know, alternate pathways like getting into strict ketosis or whatever it is.

Ryan (00:34:45):
Yeah, I think, I think the first step is obviously eliminating all the processed foods. Like, and I think the unfortunate thing is we eliminate all the processed foods and most of the processed foods are lumped under this carbohydrate bin. And so you just eliminate all of them, right? Yeah.

Brad (00:34:59):

Ryan (00:35:00):
Carbohydrates are bad, right? Right. And that includes potatoes. And that’s the same thing as a twinki. You know, they’re not the same thing, right? Like there is some value in the banana and the potato in the white rice and that type of stuff, right? Um, and so unfortunately, we cut all those out, they’re gone, right? And then we feel better and we feel, you know, we lose a bunch of weight and we look better and we perform better. And like, and then the mindset becomes, well, I I’ve, I’ve improved myself and I’m doing better. Um, but maybe like you said, I’m at a level seven and I could go to level nine. Well, maybe you could bring back in those whole food carbohydrates, right? That are, that are not the problem. Like it’s not, it’s not the Twinkee, it’s the banana and the watermelon or berries or whatever you want, you know, white rice and stuff like that.

Ryan (00:35:49):
Bring that stuff in, maybe that takes you up, right? And then, and there there’s this happy middle ground where you’re, you’re eating carbohydrates again, they’re whole food carbohydrates, they’re not as offensive. Right? And then, um, you get to that level nine, right? I do think, and and to your point about the plant toxins and the kale and stuff like that, I’m not as bullish against vegetables as some people are. I consume a lot of vegetables, right? And I feel fine doing so I don’t have any GI issues that, you know, I would honestly be sad if I couldn’t eat them <laugh>. I like them that much. Um, and, uh, my GI is very, very much okay, um, from doing so. Um, but I have had clients in the past where they can only do very little vegetables and, and that’s fine. Like if, if, if you option is just, I can only stick to these vegetables and that’s stuff that makes me feel my best.

Ryan (00:36:41):
Okay. That’s your, that’s your scope of feeling. Okay. Um, I get a little concerned when I hear like blanket statements of like, all vegetables are bad for all people all the time because that really, again, it’s just not my experience and I don’t, and I, I hate making blanket statements, um, uh, you know, across that are get applied across the board to all people. It’s this, it’s the same thing with like blanket statements. Carbs are bad. So throw out the fruit and the potatoes and, and all that stuff, including the Twinkees and all the processed fruit and all that stuff too. Um, to me that’s the same thing. You know, like, just find what works for you and I’m okay if, if that means zero vegetables or that means, you know, uh, these certain vegetables, or it means all vegetables, Like it’s just whatever works for you, right? But yeah, you have to, you have to get it yourself to a healthy spot first. And I think that’s priority number one. And sometimes that means eliminating a lot of stuff, but it also people get afraid of bringing that stuff back in because they’re afraid that maybe if they do, they’re gonna backslide. Whether that’s from a fat adaptation point of view or help point of view, whatever. Um, but it’s, if you have to experiment a little bit, and that might take you up to that level nine where, where you’re trying to get to.

Brad (00:37:51):
Sure. And then when you heal, you probably have improve tolerance for whatever those things are that you might be compelled to remove right now in order to, you know, eliminate that. Um, it was an eye opener to me when, uh, the argument was presented by folks like Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Paul Saladino, that, um, if you, if you love this stuff and it makes your life better and you can’t live without your salad, that’s great. Um, but don’t think that that is the nutrient dense centerpiece of human eating right. When by comparison and very difficult to argue, if you do a micronutrient analysis in microscope, the slice of liver is gonna blow away the salad, the kale smoothie and the stir fry in terms of nutrient density. And so now, um, when I’m, you know, looking at my salad since 2019 when, when Paul Saladino first got into my head, I’m looking down going, okay, I know that this is not my go to for nutrition and therefore it would be for enjoyment.

Brad (00:38:54):
And of course the, you know, the validated health benefits of some of the ingredients. But it’s, it, it’s get blown away by the pastured eggs and the grass fed steak and the liver and the bone broth. And so to recalibrate that way and reflect on, well, where’s, you know, how can I consume the most nutrient intense diet that I really enjoy and be part of the social fabric, as you mentioned earlier, right? You know, all those things are pretty important, but I don’t think anything’s as important as healing yourself, getting good digestive function, um, doing a, uh, a very strict and regimented, elimination diet to assess for improvements in symptoms. And if anyone’s listening that has nagging health conditions like gut distress, uh, associated with training or, you know, with, with meal times or elimination period, um, it’s worth it to, uh, to play around and see what happens.

Ryan (00:39:48):
Yeah. Yeah. I don’t disagree like that. I think that animal foods obviously, um, are superior when it comes to the nutrients it provides. Like, um, but for me, you know, that just cuz I eat plants doesn’t mean to exclude things like liver and bone broth and right. And stuff like that. I, I still consume the right amount of that stuff. I, you know, I just, you know, I have a heart sitting on my counter that is frosting for tomorrow night, right? <laugh>, um, I still, I still eat that stuff. It’s just I also enjoy eating vegetables and I tolerate them fine. So I’m not gonna eliminate them for my

Brad (00:40:22):
Diet. <laugh>, you’re just eating more of everything, man. So, um, I know you, you’ve been charting your, your macros and your calories. So tell us like, um, how far back did that go? Was that happening when you were struggling with that ketogenic period or, um, and then when did you go into that, uh, that true experimental phase where you quantified your increase in caloric intake? And then how fat did you get after that, uh, after that experiment kicked off <laugh>?

Ryan (00:40:51):
So I think I’ve started, this has been a journey for me over at least a year, if not more than that. Um, um, you know, in, in 2016 when I first spoke to Dr. Tommy Wood, I was like, Oh yeah, yeah, I’ll eat a little bit more. And like, I’d have like a half a banana or whatever like that. And I look back and it’s like, it’s progress, but it’s not, it was not so much of this is mental, it’s like just getting past your own self. Like, just realizing like, we’re honestly afraid of eating more and gaining body fat and we’re losing fat adaptation or whatever your fear around eating whatever food it is, right? There’s a fear there. And trying to get out of your own head and get past that is probably the hardest part. And sometimes it takes a long time.

Ryan (00:41:39):
And it took, it took me a long time to like get past it. And I think that probably the most eye opening thing experience I had that really kind of turned my mindset a little bit was I was doing these intervals. Um, I can’t how long they were, they were just like intervals on, on the rower, the concept to rower. And I was, they were pretty tough, you know, they were, they were, they were pretty brutal. I was pretty depleted when I got done. And, uh, one day my coach, you know, at the time I was probably eating around like 200 grams of carbs a day or something like that, you know, which is probably, you know, mind blowing to some people, but it’s half of what I’m eating right now. Um, so I’ve come a long way. But he was like, Hey, you know, he was my coach, Dr.

Ryan (00:42:29):
Mike, team Nelson, He was like, Hey, why don’t you, you know, the day before you do these intervals, why don’t you go ahead and eat, you know, like 300 grams of carbs or like 350 grams of carbs? And I was like, I don’t even know where to begin on how to do that, right? So it took me a few weeks to like even come with the foods to reach that number. Like, that was mind blowing to me. So I was like, All right, you know, I’ll, I’ll work on it. So it took me a few weeks to kind of, to get up to that number, but once I did the amount of power, I think I produce like 50 to a hundred more watts on these intervals than I say when I was doing it right. And I was like, Holy cow. Like I saw the data in front of me.

Ryan (00:43:02):
Here’s last week at two, or here’s, here’s what I did at 200 grams of carbs and here’s a couple weeks later at 300 grams of carbs, right? And it was just exponentially better. Like, and so I wasn’t in at the same time. Like, I was like, All right, well what is, you know, how’s my fat adaptation? Or like, am I losing that or am I, am I, am I gonna put on a bunch of body weight, uh, fat from, from eating all this food and stuff like that? And all those fears have never realized, like, they’ve never come true. Like, like I said, I’ve, I have a, a metabolic carb data that shows that I’m still plenty fat, adapt, updated, fat adapted, um, then the fastest date also while exercising during like vo two max tests, um, uh, I can, like I said, subjectively I can go out.

Ryan (00:43:47):
If you ask me to go out, run and do two hour fasted run tomorrow, I could do it, no problem. I wouldn’t need to bring food with me. Um, you know, and my body composition is virtually the same. Like, if anything I put on muscle mass, like that’s, that’s been my goal over the past year or so. Really my past like eight months is like, I’m trying to eat more food so I can put on lean body mass and it’s pretty tough job to do <laugh> cuz I’m just eating more and more and more. And finally at this point I’m starting to see the scale go up a little bit, which is a good sign that I’m putting on some, some lean mass. Obviously I’m strength training at the same time, um, to get there. But like it’s, uh, it’s just, um, yeah, I, I think that, you know, more food for active people is just, i, I don’t really see much of a downside. Like once you’re at an optimal, once you’re at an optimal body composition and you’re, you’re an active person and your strength training and you’re exercising and you’re doing your, your endurance training, like, I I just try adding as much food as you possibly can eat <laugh>.

Brad (00:44:51):
Well, I, there’s, you know, as we get more into the research about caloric expenditure, I’ve had Dr. Herman Pontzer on my podcast twice and, um, his life’s work in that, in that area and many other people. Um, you come to these realizations that the human finds ways to be more active and more thermo if you fuel it properly. So you’re gonna be that person at the office who jumps up from their desks, and trots down the hall to grab a another pad of post-it notes and, and hustles on back and your legs tapping during your phone calls, or you’re inclined to, uh, get up and walk around the courtyard to take your phone call. And all day long your alert energize your cognitive function is strong. And of course then you’re going performing well in the workouts and perhaps capable of doing more overall exercise in your training program because you’re recovering faster.

Brad (00:45:46):
And it’s sort of like a hidden, it’s like, it’s like a hidden benefit of being well nourished and, and being good at, uh, generating energy is that you’re a more active, energetic human. I love Robb Wolf’s one liner on this topic where he was talking about rethinking some of this obsession with fasting and calorie restriction and how the scientific data that we’re fed is oftentimes distorted, for example, studying an unhealthy, unfit inactive population. Yes, you need to eat fricking less and Ryan Baxter telling us to eat more, what’s he talking about? And what you’re talking about is facilitating an active energetic lifestyle. And that that’s a big one, especially when you learned diving down that that sinkhole where you were trying really hard to be putting in your workouts. You had that motivation drive and goal setting and focus, and meanwhile you’re like, you know, slipping away into declining testosterone levels and all those other adverse symptoms.

Ryan (00:46:43):
Hmm. Yeah. And I think, you know, that’s, that’s the thing to keep in mind is that a lot of, you know, context is very important and we hear a lot of, you know, benefits to fasting and to keto and to low carbs and to eliminating vegetables. And you have to keep in mind the context of the person who’s coming from. Like, for example, if, if, if a, you know, you have a lot of GI issues and you’ve tried all kinds of different things, and maybe your last ditch effort here is like, I’m gonna go carnivore, and you feel amazing. Like, you feel great, like great, like, and then you’re shouting to the top of the world that carnivores a thing, Vegetables are the devil, I feel great, you know, this is what it’s done to me. Look at my body composition, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Ryan (00:47:22):
You have to remember where that person was coming from in the context that they lived their life. Like that’s com that could be completely different for you, right? And, and I’m happy for that person. I want them to keep doing that stuff because they feel better doing it. But applying that same thing to you, go ahead and try and apply it, but it’s likely you don’t expect the same results because the context of the individual is very different. So when we hear fasting and keto and all this stuff and the benefits of a standard American person that is not you, you, you’re already down this primal lifestyle. You sleep well, you eat well, you’re exercising, you’re moving throughout the day. You’re, you know, you have great social connections, your stress is well managed, you have more freedom to do stuff. Your, your, your body is more robust and more capable, so you can eat more food.

Ryan (00:48:12):
You can, you know, uh, maybe handle, uh, additional stressors a little bit better than that person can. Like, it’s a, it is a different world, right? <laugh>, it’s a different space. So we need to put that all in, in the right, you know, right point of view, uh, for the person we’re talking to. I always try to keep in mind when I’m talking to someone, what is, where are they coming from? What is their background? Why are they experiencing these things or why are they saying they’re getting these results from this, this way of eating or way of living or whatever. Um, and then look to see whether I can apply that to myself that makes sense for me. Um, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. So I think that’s an important thing that people, people need to keep in mind.

Brad (00:48:53):
Yeah. Um, I’m even reflecting based on some of my personal experiences. Even someone who’s inactive, excess body fat, poor metabolic health, you know, diet full of, uh, processed foods, they might even benefit from a similar strategy where you get up and make a devoted effort to consume more nutritious foods. So even if you’re someone, there’s a lot of people that fast until midday, man, and then go and get, uh, their, uh, takeout or, or what have you, uh, or, you know, are, are really trying hard to turn it around with a calorie restriction diet. And we know what a disaster that usually is. Yeah. So if that person comes outta the gate and they are charged with consuming as much nutritious food as they can, it’s going to crowd out the Ben and Jerry’s pints in the evening, which are representative of a hectic, overly stressful day where they weren’t well nourished for whatever reason. And also, you know, not exercising, not moving, you’re not doing your metabolism any favors either. But maybe that starting point of saying, Look, you gotta go and find yourself some nutritious food in hopes that it might make you more active after all, and crowd out the junk food in the alternative ways that you’re, uh, generating energy.

Ryan (00:50:13):
Yeah, I have, I have plenty of lifestyle clients that have come to me. Um, you know, they, they’re not athletes. They don’t have, you know, athletic goals or anything. They, they just wanna be healthier and have improve their body composition. Right? I try to look at everything from an athletic per, from an athlete point view. If they don’t have athletic goals, like I want them to be active, I want them to train. Maybe they’re not training in different ways, but like, that’s, that’s important to me. But one of the things I always do is when I look at their diet, and if they’re fasting to me, if they, and say that they’ve been fasting, but they can’t stop snacking, I immediately, like my alarm bells go off. I’m like, I want them to start eating breakfast because they’re waiting so long to eat. And they’re like, I’m not hungry.

Ryan (00:50:57):
I, I’m fine. But then once I start eating, once I start eating, I can’t stop. And I’m like, Well, that’s because like, you’re distracted all day. You’re, you don’t listening to your body, your body isn’t getting, you know, so you’re, you’re like, fine, you’re not worrying, you’re not in tune with what’s happening in your body. Then you come home and you make dinner and now it’s like your brain hits the signal. It’s like, Oh, time to eat. I haven’t eaten all day. And they can’t wait till dinner is done, make being cooked before they’re in the cabinet grabbing bags of chips and snacking on chocolate and handfuls of nuts and all the stuff. And before they know it, they’ve eaten a day’s plus worth of food in the time they’ve had dinner because they just haven’t eaten anything all day. And then I tell that person, I’m like, I want you to, you know, we work towards eating three meals a day.

Ryan (00:51:39):
I wanna see you eat breakfast, I wanna see you lunch, and I wanna see you eat dinner. And the whole idea is that by doing that, by the time they get to dinner, they’re no longer consuming a day’s worth of calories in that single sitting because they haven’t eaten all day. They’re ended up consuming a lot less because they had, you know, eggs and some vegetables or bacon or whatever, or avocado for breakfast. And they had, they’re salad for lunch. And then, you know, they’re not starving by the time they got to dinner. They’re, they’re somewhat hungry, but they’re not starving. And that makes a huge difference. And even like, a lot of clients come to me and they’re just not eating enough protein and like, they’re like, I don’t understand what’s going on. You know, I’m putting on all this body fat and I can’t lose it.

Ryan (00:52:19):
And they expect me to be like, We’re, you know, we’re cutting out all this stuff. Like we’re cutting out this, you know, that thing. The other thing, I don’t care. No ice cream, no, no popcorn. You can’t have anything. Like, I’m gonna, they expect me to do that. And I’m like, all I really want you to do is eat this much protein. Like, let’s see what happens. <laugh>. You know, And like, it’s something about getting enough number one food, like proteins most macronutrient. Two, it also, like we talked about, poor provides most nutrients. Like, there’s that protein leverage hypothesis that says like, if you don’t eat enough protein, your body’s just hunting for nutrients. So then you just, you’re trying to find whatever you can to like, get some nutrients into your body cuz you’re just looking for nutrients, right? Those amino acids and stuff like that.

Ryan (00:53:00):
So like, there’s so many benefits, just eating enough protein that like, I can not touch anything else about their diet and they’ll just automatically eat less because they’re more satiated, they’re more, their, their nutrients are, they’re getting the right nutrients they need, um, their hunger signals are regulated. It’s just, you know, you don’t have to restrict all the time. And I like, I like to tell my clients also, I want you in a mindset of abundance. I never want you in a mindset of restriction. I want you thinking about I can eat all this food and still get to my goal. Like, I, I never, very rarely do I put anyone in a, in a restrictive mindset. Only if they have very specific goal for a very short period of time will go there. But, uh, most of the time I want people in a mindset of abundance instead of a mindset as a restriction. That mindset alone can make a huge difference to people. Cuz they’re like, I, they don’t feel deprived. You know, they don’t feel limited in like, that mental shift is, is big for a lot of people.

Brad (00:53:58):
Wow. Really well said. And yeah, with the protein leverage theory and the mindset of abundance, guess what happens when you treat your body, right? Your appetite and satiety hormones, normalize or optimize. And there comes a point, just like you described, um, you can only eat so many omelets for breakfast. And, uh, not many people are raising their hand saying, Oh, I, I ate so many steaks last night. I, I feel terrible this morning. It’s always coming from, um, perhaps from that mindset of scarcity or, um, nutrient deficiency where you’re having that, uh, desperate attempt to give your body the biological drive, satisfy that biological drive, arguably for protein via the Ben and Jerry’s pint, which is only 4% protein and the potato chips are 6% protein. And so your brain’s telling you, continue, continue, continue, because you’re still not nourished in the way that you, uh, the way that you want to.

Ryan (00:54:56):
Hmm. And I think that was part of the problem, especially for then, then you put this in the context of an athlete too, who’s doing the same thing. They’re, they’re exercising on top of it and they’re fasting. So they also have like, they even have even higher demands for the nutrients that they need and they’re limiting the nutrients by like fasting, Right? And like, and it’s time that they can get those nutrients, right? You can only fit so many and, and you’re eating whole foods, right? You’re only, you can only fit so much food in your body

Brad (00:55:25):
That’s right before

Ryan (00:55:27):
At that point. And like, if you’re oat, like forget it. Like I, I don’t even know how it’s humanly possible. Like I, I automatically think an athlete doing oat is like in some serious trouble, but, you know, two meals a day, maybe, you know, you can maybe convince me to some special people that might be able to do that. But I, I think for endurance athletes that are put in a lot of volume during like, you know, prime time training, like three meals plus a day of just nutrient dense foods is like, is necessary just to maintain what you’re trying to put your body through.

Brad (00:55:58):
That’s wild. New insights, man. You’re, you’re a controversial guy there. The humble software engineer from New England throwing down. And speaking of that, your quantified experiment was to the tune of, was it an average of 700 additional calories per day from your previous patterns? Yeah,

Ryan (00:56:16):
Yeah. Over the course of the year, I’ve increased my, my caloric intake 700 additional calories in, uh, via dxa, via bo, via dxa. I put on, they were virtually the same. I put on no body fat. I had zero visceral fat measured on my body as of June. Um, and yeah, I put on no body fat over that and just increased performance. Um, and so, you know, those calories go to different places. I think when you’re active, like your body’s gonna find a way to use them. Um, my goal is to hopefully put on some muscle mass, which I’m still trying for. Uh, so I want those calories to go to building muscle. But, um, yeah, your body will put them the good use, like I said, you’ll work hard, you’ll be able to put more volume in training and like, you just compensate for it. It’s like, Oh, you’re fed me a little bit more money. You, uh, little more money, a little bit more calories. You can, you can, you know, do you know an extra set of exercises your strength training or you can run an additional five miles today, or you can put out x more watts on the, on the bike or the rower, whatever you’re training, right? Your body’s like, Okay, we have the fuel to do this stuff now mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna do it. Um, yeah.

Brad (00:57:29):
Not only that, behind the scenes, um, you have a little bit better sex drive, male or female, a little bit better repair immune function, all those things. So if we can look back over our athletic careers, and when I was a a triathlete, I was getting a minor cold, oh, five or six times every year times nine years. That’s a lot of illness because my immune system was so suppressed by extreme exercise. So, um, if we can dial in the fuel part, which is, you know, pretty, pretty simple and straightforward and then optimize the energy output so it’s not excess, which I think a lot of endurance athletes are guilty of as well. Yeah. Um, then we kind of meet in the middle and notice these other flames turning up and living, um, an optimal life, not just, uh, you know, teetering on the edge of breakdown, uh, with a few good performances sprinkled in here and there.

Ryan (00:58:22):
Right. Also, like from an injury perspective, like could the fuel be going to just like healthier connective tissue tendons and stuff like that, right? Yeah. If you’re constantly getting, and we see this at the extreme edge of things like, you know, female athletes that are, you know, suffer reds relative energy deficiency syndrome, right? Like it’s common for them to have bone fractures. Like they’re restricting their diet to the point where they’re, they literally can’t maintain bone health anymore. And so like you see that to the extreme and so it, I often wonder like how many like soft tissue injuries might be prevented by if, if someone just eats a little bit more food. Like are they under fueling to the point where their body just can’t maintain those soft tissues? You got that nagging whatever, you know, Achilles tendon or whatever tendon in your knee or hip flex or whatever is that maybe not due to poor exercise form, but more just due to like you just needing the food mm-hmm. <affirmative> or a combination of the two, right? Um, so yeah, I just, you know, immune function, same thing. You know, my kids are always like, Well, dad, how come you never get sick? I’m like, I dunno. Just, you know, cause

Brad (00:59:29):
I eat 700 extra calories a day,

Ryan (00:59:32):
Right? Yeah. Eat.

Brad (00:59:33):
Ryan, I wonder, um, have you ever come across any detractors that think you’re full of baloney and will try to, nay say this, this guy who actually quantified everything and eats additional 700 calories per day doesn’t gain any fat. I mean, what, and what do you say? Like, have you, have you bumped up against someone who who thinks you’re, you’re, um, you’re goofy.

Ryan (00:59:57):
Uh, I’m sure there are probably people listening to this podcast right now that probably wanna strangle me. You know, because I’ve, I’m challenging their beliefs and I’ve been there, like, I’ve been that person been like, you know, I’ve heard other people speak to this like carbohydrates. What are you talking about? Like, you’re gonna get diabetes, you know,

Brad (01:00:11):
<laugh>. That’s right. Yeah.

Ryan (01:00:12):
So <laugh>, so, uh, I, uh, I, I, I definitely run into people that are, are like that. And I honestly welcome a, a thoughtful, respectful discussion about this. Like, I, I’m open, like I’ve said a number of times, this podcast, everyone is individual and I believe that there are different diets that are gonna work for different people. This works better for me. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to work better for someone else, right? I don’t automatically prescribe a cl you know, something that comes to me like this. You’re eating the Ryan diet now. Like that’s not what I’m, I prescribe. Um, we, we experiment to find what works for them the best, right? And if that means a keto diet is still the thing that works best for them, and it allows ’em to feel their best and their health looks great and everything’s fantastic, I’m, I’m all for, like, there are people like that, that are eating a ketogenic diet and are eating that way a low carb way because they’re managing some type of condition.

Ryan (01:01:11):
And I 100 respect 100, 100% respect that that is a different context from where I’m talking from, right? Right. Um, I would never tell someone who’s managing a medical condition to change the way they’re eating just because I, I eat this way and I feel great. They, they might eat that way and it might cause serious issues. Like that’s not what I’m about. Um, but I always welcome, you know, discussions and I accept the fact that there are going to be people, like I said earlier, that can do the ultra-marathons on no food and whatever and be fine. Like, there just wasn’t the case for me. And I think, you know, some people get afraid that they try that and they don’t feel their best and they don’t have a voice or someone’s telling them that maybe they can do the opposite and they might feel better. And I don’t, you know, you don’t hear that voice enough. So I’m just providing an alternate, you know, way of trying it out because it, it might be better for you, but you have to try. Right?

Brad (01:02:06):
Might as well try it out. People. And I should report in that I’m now in month five of making a concerted effort to consume more daily calories highlighted by, um, a big increase in nutritious carbohydrates. So I start my day now with a huge bowl of fruit and a huge protein smoothie that also has a bunch of frozen fruit in there and, and protein and, and frozen liver chunks. So it’s, it’s a high carb, high protein, high fat, nutritious smoothie with all that fruit. And then on the back end of the day as well, trying to, to go deliberately and go find more calories. Uh, I weigh the same, my body composition’s the same. And so I contend like you that these calories are going to good use to fuel my active, energetic lifestyle. And probably, uh, most people listening that are putting in sufficient exercise might wanna look at, um, some experimentation, uh, for further optimization.

Brad (01:03:01):
And I should, uh, bring up one more point here where, um, we, we talk about, um, subjectively feeling better when you don’t eat until noon, when you do a workout in a fasted state, All those things, um, it should be acknowledged that, um, when you don’t, uh, give yourself food, you’re kicking into stress mechanisms to liberate energy from storage. Jay Feldman talks about the increase in cortisol, gluco glucagon and adrenaline to mobilize glycogen, to mobilize fatty acids, to make ketones, whatever you need to do to fuel yourself and feel alert and energetic during your busy morning. Um, but that has to count on your stress scoreboard on the same side of the scale as your workout, as your argument with the boss, as the traffic jam. All those things in contrast, uh, again, quoting Jay Feldman energy balance podcast, when you chow down that bowl of fruit for seeing the morning, you are essentially, um, turning down the stress hormone response that we rely upon when we wake up. And that might be a good thing for an athlete who’s looking to allocate a lot of stress resources to their difficult workouts and climbing over those obstacles for 14 miles.

Ryan (01:04:12):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, um, you know, Jay has some interesting thoughts on that, that model. And I, I think, uh, a lot of people are kind of up in arms because again, he’s, he’s saying a lot of things that are contradictory to what people believe. I kind of fall somewhere in between, you know, what he is saying, I think there’s a time and place for everything. Um, but he’s providing a counter point of view to what we’ve heard a lot of in the past few years, and it’s interesting to listen to him and others in that space speak more about that. Um, you know, that, that that mindset of, of just eating a lot more, you know, food and not fasting and not not doing the cold plunge and, and all the stuff that we’ve, we’ve talked about, um, I, this is ebbs and flows to extremes, right?

Ryan (01:04:59):
Like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we have to counter one extreme with another extreme, right? And I think we, you know, just keep in mind that there’s probably a balance. There’s a sweet pot. Doesn’t mean that you can’t fast, doesn’t mean that you can never go in the cold plunge. It doesn’t mean that those things don’t have their time and place, but maybe it’s not an everyday thing, right? Or maybe it’s not, you know, it’s an occasional thing under less stress. Like, you know, fasting when you’re not working out well if you do that, but if you fast and watch Netflix all day or something Yeah, Right? Or fast on, fast on the plane or, you know, whatever during travel days that that’s where you take your opportunity to fast. Um, so love it.

Brad (01:05:35):
Just, well, I think you’re doing a great service to advance the conversation, especially when you quantify things so that people can’t really dispute it or, you know, question the data. And I know you’re helping a lot of people too, so maybe we should, um, uh, you can tell us how to, uh, connect with you and look at the services you offer one on one and all the other content, the great newsletter that you put out, that kind of thing.

Ryan (01:06:01):
Sure. Um, yeah, so if, if anyone has any questions that you know, they, they wanna, you know, counter what I said today, uh, I’m happy to have a discussion. Like I said, you can, you can reach out to me. I’m very easy to find on online. Um, but, uh, I have a, my health coaching website is, uh, Ryan, or sorry, rjb health.coach, um, so it’s not.com, it’s dot coach. From there, if you click on the top, there’s a, a newsletter link. You enter your email address on there, and I send out a blog post and a little short blurb, and then like a video, usually every week is usually like three newsletters a week. So I’m not gonna, umm not gonna trash your inbox with a bunch of stuff. Um, I don’t ask you or anything. It’s just all free content that, you know, I hope that people can put to good use, um, uh, in their, in their daily lives. So, um, if you’re interested to hop on that, and I do do one-on-one coaching. Um, so if you’re interested that if you go to the same website, there’s a schedule discovery call right on the homepage, you can fill out the form there and I can, we can talk a little bit more about that.

Brad (01:07:02):
Ryan Baxter, everyone, thanks for listening. Da da da da.

Brad (01:07:08):
I hope you enjoy this episode and encourage you to check out the Primal Endurance Mastery course at primalendurance.fit. This is the ultimate online educational experience where you can learn from the world’s great coaches and trainers, diet, peak performance and recovery experts, as well as lengthy one on one interviews from several of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, not published anywhere else. It’s a major educational experience with hundreds of videos, but you can get free access to a minicourse with an ebook summary of the Primal Endurance approach and nine step by step videos on how to become a primal endurance athlete. This minicourse will help you develop a strong, basic understanding of this all encompassing approach to endurance training that includes primal aligned eating to escape carbohydrate dependency and enhanced fat metabolism, building an aerobic base with comfortably paced workouts, strategically introducing high intensity strength and sprint workouts, emphasizing rest, recovery, and annual periodization. And finally, cultivating an intuitive approach to training. Instead of the usual robotic approach of fixed weekly workout schedules, just head over to Primal endurance.fit and learn all about the course and how we can help you go faster and preserve your health while you’re at it.

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