Christian Lyons, Brisgtock Skin & Laser Centre’s Managing Partner, writes:

Dave Asprey’s makes some pretty bold claims about what you can achieve by following his Bulletproof diet.  Apparently we can all lose up to a pound a day by eating oodles of butter and washing it all down with his very own bullet proof coffee.  What’s more by following his meal plans we will increase our energy levels, improve our focus and upgrade our lifes in general.  So why am I telling you about this crazy diet. Well I’m intrigued by the diet and by Dave Asprey.

Before developing his diet, book and extensive Bulletproof range of products Dave (not David) Asprey was a successful Silicon Valley multimillionaire running multibillion-dollar computer businesses. He claims to have hacked his body like a computer programmer and by following his diet you will biohack your body too and achieve a fantastic body along with exceptional cognitive performance. Dave’s really keen to share this information with you and your friends so that we live healthier lives, accomplish great things in our new bulletproof state and also benefit from the anti aging qualities of the diet. Dave also sits on the board of the Silicon Valley Health Institute (SVHI), an anti-aging non-profit based organisation.

To be fair to Dave Asprey this is a well written book, is clearly extremely well researched and quotes some good pieces of scientific research. And much of his diet actually does make a good deal of sense. Some of his claims are a little hard to swallow (excuse the pun), but I’m willing to test them and see if his claims hold up. To this end I’ve performed a VISIA skin analysis on the clinics machine and weighed myself before starting the diet to see what effects if any it has.  84kg seeing as you’re asking.

The Bulletproof diet is actually very close to the Palaeolithic diet which does make a good deal of sense to me. Essentially human beings have not evolved since Palaeolithic times when evolutionary pressures abated and meant that not only the fittest survived and reproduced. This means that the modern diet based upon modern agriculture is not the diet our bodies have evolved to eat and this is why many people, particularly as they age, suffer from a whole range of chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, eczema cancers and so on.  That is the theory anyway and on examination it does seem to make sense and a more Palaeolithic diet is certainly what we encourage our patients at the clinic to eat.

When following the Palaeolithic diet you need to eliminate all grains, legumes, starchy vegetables and all dairy products; and this is where the Bulletproof diet differs, because Dave likes butter. Not any old butter though; just grass fed butter (most UK butter is grass fed). The truth is I like butter too and if this diet with delicious butter achieves the same health benefits as a purely Palaeolithic diet why not give it a go? The truth is a Palaeolithic diet probably also included things like grubs and some pretty unappealing vegetables that would never adore the shelves of Waitrose. So if it is possible to biohack your body in a way that makes it behave like you are eating a Palaeolithic diet without the grubs, why not give it a go? Most modern Palaeolithic recipes do not include grubs.

Dave also claims that his meal plans will help you loose a pound a day in body fat, by eating lots of fat. This isn’t as crazy or unhealthy as it sounds. The Inuit paradox illustrates why. Before the introduction of a modern western diet tribes survive on a diet of mostly protein and animal fats. Although the traditional diet also included some modest quantities of plants and roots over the short summer months and a very limited amount of summer berries, they were free from chronic disease and generally didn’t suffer from vitamin deficiencies. In fact the Inuit were in rude health.  Since adopting a modern western diet Inuit tribes today suffer from high rates of diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

Over the past 30 years the receive wisdom has stated that a healthy diet shouldn’t be anything like the traditional Inuit diet.  Instead we’ve been told that we need to reduce our fat and meat consumption, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and ensure that we eat sufficient carbohydrates and fibre. It does however now feel like the zeitgeist is changing.  There is a realisation that Ancel Keys 1950s research, that kick started the low-fat diet craze, was actually a piece of pretty poor science. So poor in fact that it has since come to light that he actually manipulated his research by throwing out data that didn’t fit his theory.  Most forward thinking nutritionist now agree our bodies need fat and a health diet includes plenty of healthy fats. Your brain is after all a large lump of mostly fat.  There are however some very unhealthy fats that we do need to avoid and these tend to include most polyunsaturated vegetable oils and transfats.

Dave’s fine with you eating vegetables, but not vegetable oil and not too much fruit. Fruit is too high in fructose, which is a cause of oxidisation and Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). AGEs are now thought to contribute to the aging process and some chronic diseases and this does indeed correspond with my own research into the effects of poor nutrition on aging. Dave’s also absolutely right about the vegetable oils.

I’m pretty sure the bulletproof diet will work if you are looking to loose weight. The diet plans in his book will stimulate your body to start burning body fat by triggering a metabolic state called ketosis. Many of you will be familiar ketosis from the old Atkins diet, which also encouraged high protein and fat consumption. Atkins wasn’t however too concerned with the quality of the fats or the protein you ate. Dave is, and one area of his diet I really like is its emphasis on high quality fish and meat.  This makes a lot of sense. If you eat sick animals you’re probably going to get sick yourself. Modern agriculture and aquaculture produces very cheap meat and fish, but this means that the fish and animals are generally kept in pretty poor conditions, are reared on a diet of cheap soya and are so sick they need huge quantities of antibiotics to keep them alive until slaughter. Whenever you compare a piece of wild salmon to farmed salmon you can see clearly what effect these intensive farming processes have had on the fish. The farmed flesh is pale, has a stick consistency and obviously does not come from a healthy fish.

In general I like the look of this Diet. It seems to be well researched and intuitively most of it makes sense or corresponds with much of my own research. I’m not however completely sold on Bulletproof fasting. Intermittent fasting should be an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Indeed this is probably why most ancient religions advocate fasting. Fasting stimulates a process call autophagy. This is a natural process where the body recycles waste products and problematic material within your cells by breaking them down into their constituent parts, like sugars, fatty acids and amino acids; just the resources your body needs when you can’t find any food to eat. This process has a number of health benefits and has been shown to impede the aging process in a number of ways. Dave Asprey claims to be able to stimulate autophagy without you needing to truly fast. Instead Dave claims autophagy can be stimulated through protein fasting. His weekly meal plan includes a one-day protein fast, which includes plenty of calories from rice and sweet potatoes.  Dave does suggest you can play around with this “fast” to see if you can be your own biohacker.  I’m not sure and will need to research this further, before I’m completely convinced.

The good stuff in this diet does however seem to outweigh any doubts I might have and I’m keen to test the diet to see if it does have a positive effect of my skin, weight, health and cognitive function. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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