Peak Carnivore: The Ironman Champ Who Only Eats Meat ft. Pete Jacobs

Peak Carnivore: The Ironman Champ Who Only Eats Meat ft. Pete Jacobs

Authored by Zhill Olonan and Geoffrey Woo • 
June 28, 2019
 • 54 min read
fitnessnutrition

In the world of sports nutrition, a constantly evolving field, more and more athletes are adopting low-carbohydrate diets. Especially in the case of long distance endurance racing, an aerobic-heavy activity, wouldn't it make sense that athletes could benefit from being fueled by fat vs. carbohydrates?

This is a popular debate with conflicting evidence and anecdotes presented from both sides. In this podcast, we capture the personal story from a former Ironman Champion: Pete Jacobs. He's not a carbohydrate athlete, nor a traditionally ketogenic one...Pete is purely fueled by meat.

Pete has faced a life-long battle with his personal health. Ever since he found it nearly impossible to get his heart rate up during high school sports, along with rough bouts of fatigue and gut issues, he knew he was facing an uphill battle. Although he marched on to successfully pursue a sporting career, Pete has struggled in the health department as he pushed his bodily limits in the performance department.

With intuition that the core root cause was linked to his metabolic health, Pete gave the ketogenic diet a spin. He saw notable progress, but eventually found his nutritional calling to be one (or two) steps further...

The carnivore diet.

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • Why the carnivore diet worked for Pete and what health issues were corrected
  • What Pete eats: Organ meats, seasons with salt but no pepper, what animals he's tried, and more
  • Tips for endurance performance: Using ketone esters & caffeine, the power of positive mental reinforcement, and applying endurance ideals to normal life

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Transcription

Geoff

Pete, thank you so much for coming on to the HVMN Podcast. It's really an honor to have you on the program.

Pete J.

I'm excited to be on. Great to meet you.

Geoff

For folks that don't know your full background, 2012 World Champion in the Ironman. Obviously, the top of the top and in that universe, but also a pretty interesting story around diet and nutrition, obviously, at the performance level, you're dialing in for performance, but it sounds like you got into some of the nutritional and physiology side of things from solving a personal problem with health. So, perhaps to start off the conversation, curious to hear about your interest in diet, nutrition, health, and then probably as a segue or maybe a parallel question, how did you get into endurance events or triathlons?

Pete J.

I guess my interest in what's going on in the body was when I was a teenager and I started getting a bit of fatigue, I just would not be able to get my heart rate up. And I was always a good swimmer, did surf lifesaving competition, so I was always swim training. And some days, I just could not push my heart right on my body at all. So that was the beginning of getting tests done. And fast forward through till I was about 30 years old and I'd had a lot of ups and downs and fatigue issues during my racing career so I became a professional triathlete when I was around 21 years old or so. And if I felt good on the day, I would smash it and I could win races and show a lot of promise. But if just body was not responding on the day, I would just dig myself into a hole and then that hole would last for a day or a week. And then I managed that basically progression through till when I was 31, I won the Hawaii Ironman. And in my training, I would have had days where I didn't feel great, but I'd learned to manage it and I'd learned that my weakness was I couldn't do as much as other people. But that also became my focus of my strength.

Geoff

So you were streaky. So there's some really on days and some really off days, it wasn't just like low energy overall, because I can imagine that if you were just always low energy, you wouldn't realize you had a talent for endurance events, right? So you were very streaky it sounds like?

Pete J.

Absolutely. And then some days, I could go from feeling terrible the day before and not being able to get my heart rate up to just jumping on the bike or running or swimming and feeling amazing the next day. And so, yeah, it was pretty tough, but I'd learned a lot of things about controlling ego and not worrying about missing a session when I felt a bit tired. And that's partly what got me to such great shape in 2012. I would have had days where I trained quite poorly but I was happy, I was like, no, this is the best that I can do, I don't need to do as much as everyone else, and just focused on as much as I could do without any ego or guilt and turned that weakness into a strength. I was able to get there and winning in 2012. And then after 2012, obviously I was a bit older, I'd done by then about 30 something Ironman races, and a lot of them not when I was that well. Like I said, just fatigue, there was not a lot of other symptoms other than, excuse me, I developed some psoriasis in my 20s, which is, now I know it's directly linked to leaky gut issues.

Geoff

And usually associate with alcoholism, right? I presume you weren't binge drinking for your psoriasis.

Pete J.

No, no. Now I don't drink at all. I might have one drink once a year sort of thing. But after winning, that fatigue went from a day or a week to a month or two months. And the muscle weaknesses then got a bit worse. So I would have more imbalances that sort of appeared to be sort of just someone would say it's injury or it's weakness or this or that, but it would always come around the time when I was also feeling fatigued. So I'd push through as best I could, got in good shape again for a race every now and then and I kept trying to go back to Hawaii for a few years in a row trying to, after winning, I kept going back to try and do it again, but just couldn't get my body in shape because I couldn't string together more than about six weeks of training. And in six weeks, I could get quite fit and be like, yup, I can still do this, I've still got it. And then I would just fall in a hole for a month or two.

It became a pattern of chasing the answers to my health and also then a period of fatigue. When I was fatigued, like it was brain fog, it's aches and pains, it's depression, just there's no joy in it anything. And it became, I would be okay, let's work this out and I'll figure it out and I'll change something and I'll get better and I'll do testing and I'll change diet. When I'm fatigued, there's nothing that I feel like doing. There were times when Jamie was the one that was really my wife, Jamie, she would, okay, let's get to another doctor, let's try and find someone else. And I just, you know, when I'm fatigued, it's like, I don't care, I just want to lay in bed and I'd have no motivation to try and figure it out.

Geoff

That's a good question. I mean, I'm sure you're as you're talking to all these doctors, different experts, did they ever diagnose you? You sound like you were puzzling through a lot of these doctors and they weren't necessarily able to perhaps help you.

Pete J.

Yeah, no, I've never been diagnosed with anything until recently, the leaky gut is a prime problem definitely. But I've been to a lot of people, done a lot of stool tests since I was 16, 17, all the sorts of hair, urine analysis, everything, you know, lots and lots of dollars worth over about 20 years because I'm now 37. No results ever. I've tried a lot of therapies and some worked somewhat and definitely kept me going. Oh, okay, I'm improving, I can get back into the career again. But then it would be a bit of a false lead where I would feel better for a little while but then I would just reform back into the same old patterns. And so yeah, things eventually came around to diet a few years ago, and I started working with Phil Maffetone. And he's brilliant around health and performance, very holistic approach. And I started cutting out grains and sugars and really getting my diet much better. And again, I saw improvements each time I change something but nothing that really, really stuck.

So, it was in 2000, end of 2017 where I raced again and I just had terrible, terrible feelings in the rice. And I said, okay, I cannot race again until I'm 100% sure that I've gotten like an answer that is going to improve my health. So, I took all of 2018 completely off. And for the first part, I was still feeling very, very achy and fatigued even without training, and finally sort of started seeing a couple of doctors that started giving me a bit more information. And then finally I got into really low carb, and Low Carb Down Under has been a fantastic resource with all the conferences that they've had and all the videos that they post. I've learned so much from that. And I was able to get in contact with Dr. Paul Mason, who's got some amazing videos on their websites for Low Carb Down Under. And being an Aussie and interested in sports as well, he's been able to lead me towards the carnivore lifestyle, and I was already getting it a little bit in about August last year when I had the year off.

I listened to some podcasts and one of them mentioned low fiber can be good for people with irritable bowel syndrome issues. And another one that said that high protein, you won't get out of ketosis or it's not going to raise your blood sugars because I got into ketosis years ago, probably three years ago or so. All the things back then was don't eat protein and fasting and these other things that aren't good for me metabolically. I shied away from protein, ate a lot, a lot of fat. I was feeling better but again it stalled. And then I sort of started to revert back a little bit. And I definitely didn't lose weight and trim up like people say you should on keto. So when I was able to talk to Paul Mason earlier this year, he said, just go 100% keto. So I'd been feeling better with more protein less fiber. And then he said, now just 100%-

Geoff

Carnivore.

Pete J.

Yeah, but then I was only on about coconut cream, cacao powder, coffee. I'd already minimized all my plant inputs but as you would have heard many anecdotes of, that some people just need to be 100% off certain foods to feel better. For me, it's 100% because even now, you know, I'm 99.9% carnivore, but if I have a supplement that has a little bit of something in it or a mouthful of something that isn't 100% plants, then I get a little bit of my psoriasis back, little bit of redness on my face back and dry skin. And it's a direct link to leaky gut. So I just have this really great autoimmune reaction, even though I've never been diagnosed with autoimmune issue or a certain disease. I still have this great reaction, and my mom has a couple of autoimmune conditions. So, there's something genetic there as well.

Geoff

So how long have you been 99.99% carnivore? So this has been four or five months now?

Pete J.

Yeah, yeah, four or five months, but I was still trickling in a little coffee here and there like just decaf because I don't believe that the caffeine is good for me with some other symptoms that I've had with over brain stimulation and that kind of thing. I'd always shied away from caffeine the last six months but I was still giving in I guess, it is that just giving into something, I'd go, maybe it's still okay for me. So I would taste it and then I would get some symptoms back. So, I really do have to be 100%, and that's been yeah three or four months of just fish, meat and eggs. And you know, I'm quite happy with that and I'm experimenting with different ways of cooking meat and aging meats and adding different meats to meet.

Geoff

Or eating organ gut meat, I mean, I know there's like a nose to tail version of carnivore where you try to have not just ribeyes and muscle meat, but you try to have the liver, the kidney, the heart, the gelatin. All of it are or how deep have you gone into this territory?

Pete J.

I eat liver every week or two. And then just in terms of trying to still be creative and taste different foods when it's quite limited, I've tried lambs brains. I eat heart fairly regularly actually, lambs heart, ox heart. Partly because it's the cheaper cuts but they're still quite tasty to me. I can't afford ribeyes and my career had a a year off and I'm still on the comeback trail. So, ribeyes would be lovely for every meal but I definitely can't afford the prices they have here. So I eat those, I eat a bit of game meat, kangaroo meats. What else do I do? I have a little bit of bacon. I hadn't had bacon or pork for quite a while, but as I said, chucking in just a little bit into my slow cooker as I'm using the slow cooker a lot, those extra depth of flavor really, really matter. So it's just salt.

Geoff

And then for seasoning, just salt?

Pete J.

Just salt and bacon is my seasoning. And eggs.

Geoff

Definitely I've heard a lot of people that are going that way. I think there's concerns around black pepper, for example, very popular seasoning, but there are people are concerned with the oxalate content to have an anti-nutrient within pepper. I think this is an entire fascinating space because I think for myself, I've experimented with the carnivore diet but I don't have the reactions of having pepper or vegetables or grains. Unfortunately, and I think most people don't have those harsh reactions to a more classical diet. But absolutely, it sounds like for folks like yourself and we had Mikhaila Peterson on who's a fairly prominent vocal carnivore who talks about having a little bit of pepper will throw her off and there's clearly something going on with autoimmune, leaky gut sort of access that people have been talking about.

Pete J.

And when you're adding the stress of training on top of that and any other stresses in life that affects vagal tone, which is another thing I've worked on to try and get the gut to be more relaxed and accept more things, it's hard when you, yeah, maybe I could tolerate more in the future if I really was like a monk and totally relaxed all the time. Maybe it would improve over time. But as long as I'm still training, I think I'm going to have that heightened sensitivity.

Geoff

Clearly, there's likely some genetic component to having a predilection for autoimmune issues. But I also imagine that if you're doing heavy endurance training and you're fueling in an Ironman, you're probably slamming a ton of carb goo shots, all this stuff, and that's not necessarily good for leaky gut. I'm curious, this is speculation, but curious where you think that it was kind of genetic predisposition that you were a little bit unlucky to have a likelihood for autoimmune or leaky gut issues versus how much did your career as a professional athlete push you further down that line because you were using your body so hard.

Pete J.

I think it's a combination of both, you know, environment and the genetic factors as well. So I got some pretty bad gut issues in my early 20s, like in terms of a virus that hung around for a month or two. And then years later, I was getting tested and had Blastocystis hominis. So antibiotics throughout this time every now and then, as well as taking all the sugary supplements, as well as training very hard and doing hard races. And that blastocyst, then at some point, I got anybody under anesthesia to be placed directly on the side of the blasto. So I had this really powerful antibiotic placed in me. And that didn't even get rid of it but I did feel terrible for a couple of months.

And so, I have a lot of antibiotics, a lot of sugars, and a lot of gut bugs that shouldn't be there over the course of about 10 years or so. And I would always have bad gut symptoms, and I'd try and do what I could to mask them while training so I wasn't stopping on the toilet every every few minutes while going for a run. That hung around for quite a long time. And again, a lot of stool tests, a lot of different people trying to fix it to no avail. But eventually, now, my guts are absolutely great. I feel they're the best they've ever been with the no fiber, high meat diet.

Geoff

Yeah. Which is wild because likely when you were coming up in your career, the dogma or the practical advice was completely the opposite, right? A lot of fiber and carb load like crazy, right? When the average person hears about marathons or Ironmans are like carb load, eat a bunch of pasta beforehand. So, I imagine that's what you were doing. You were focused heavily on carbs and then fueling with all this sugar bombs as you're competing. It sounds pretty amazing that you were able to do well even with your guts, like, you know, I guess blowing out every now and then. I mean, do you have stories where you're competing in a race and you just need to, you know, you have diarrhea? I'm likely sure that you do have some of those stories, I'm just curious, I mean, how bad did it actually get?

Pete J.

It was probably about 2009 or so when during the marathon in Hawaii, I'd run into the top 10, I was having a really good run and I could see the next guys just in front of me, I was gaining on them. But then I suddenly had to stop in a porta loo, take a quick little break, and then get back running. And I could never bridge back up to those guys in front of me again. And another Australian world champion, Chris McCormick said to me after the race, "Mate, that was the most expensive shit I've ever seen anyone take." He felt like having to stop at a loo probably lost me a few places. And I think I finished about ninth that year. So that's one.

But then the following year it was quite tough. I was always having to stop a few times before I could get out the door. But I ended up finishing second that year. But after finishing second, it was like, right, what do I need to do to win and I just stepped up my game big time, mindset and what I was doing, all the boxes I needed to tick. And so, I just was able to take a few supplements, you know, sort of slippery elm and other intestinal helpful supplements. And that year leading into Hawaii, I actually didn't have any gut symptoms for the last couple of months. So, doing a bit extra helped. And obviously, it helped me trying to get better and get the win that year.

Geoff

Incredible. So basically, you had enough of a stable gut to push enough months where you had a clean race and you were world champion that year. And now it's been a struggle to get your body back into that shape where you're not having to go to the bathroom every few hours.

Pete J.

The bathroom thing probably subsided a little bit again because I wasn't even training that hard for that long. It was about five years of trying to get back there without any really good training going on. I just kept trying different things but I'd always eaten pretty healthy. And I think that kept me or helped me win, that I was eating pretty much the same meals regularly. My regular meal was brown rice, some beans and tuna, lots of oil, and maybe a few nuts. But it's not necessarily a great meal for anyone that's got some issues. But, for some reason, it worked because I was eating the same very similar ingredients day in and day out. So that may have had some help that my body just got used to those particular foods and I was able to get through okay.

Geoff

And then when you were shifting more into this low carb lifestyle, were you measuring your blood glucose or hemoglobin? I know a lot of our listeners who are either in keto or eating low carb or exploring it, a lot of folks like to measure and compare stats and all of this. How metrics driven were you with potentially wearing a continuous glucose monitor, were you measuring ketones or was this more intuitive and you were just trying to feel how you're performing?

Pete J.

Yeah, when I first got into it, I didn't really get a lot of blood tests done. Phil Maffetone was just trying to guide me through some of these changes and saying, look, some people are going to feel much better in ketosis on a keto diet. And he did have a strong suspicion that I was, I did have some metabolic syndrome issues. And so, then I did buy a glucometer and started testing, and it was really, really unstable. And that was frustrating, that my blood glucose in the morning would be high and sometimes it would be low. And it was just all over the place. So yeah, very erratic blood glucose for probably a good year and a half or more maybe before I started to see some consistent numbers and it starting to settle down.

And ketones were always low ever since I first did ketosis. It's like .2 is as good as I'll get day to day. Which, chatting with Dr. Paul Mason about the mechanisms there, like, we're both really interested to know exactly what would be going on that, you know, are you using because you're more metabolically efficient or you're not producing enough as as much because you're metabolically efficient? So is it like you're not producing more than you need or you're using it very quickly? A few unanswered questions. But eventually, blood glucose improved as I was more and more on a low carb diet over another year or so. And then ketones, if I would drink MCT oil, basically, I could get ketones up. So there was a period where I was trying to chase ketones. And again, back a couple of years ago when everyone was like do this, do this, don't do that. And since then, I'm aware that MCT oil can be bad for leaky gut and cause issues. Stay clear of that now.

Geoff

Yeah, I've had personal experience where you have a little bit too much and your gut wants to go. I mean, I think that's the fine line with MCT. Obviously useful for its use cases, but a little bit too much, you get diarrhea pants.

Pete J.

Yeah. By that point, I could handle a lot of, quite a bit of fat. But there'd still be times where it's like you have too much fat. And then, I guess as I've increased protein, I've seen it really stabilize. I've seen no drop in ketones. They're still always the same, about .2, except after exercising, a longer low intensity training session.

Geoff

And they'll pick up.

Pete J.

Yeah. So, I've done some good testing lately and I did wear a continuous glucose monitor a couple of months ago for two weeks. And yeah, that was quite interesting just to see what was going on throughout the days. But by that point, it was quite stable. My blood glucose is really stable nowadays. But I did notice a few things such as high intensity training, my blood glucose would go up. So, I was getting a release of glucose from somewhere because I would do these without taking on any carbs or sugars whenever I could. And the next day, it would be higher, a little bit higher all day. And again, I asked Paul about this and he said, it generally it's okay if it's a little bit higher. It's just that the fluctuations of insulin that you want to avoid. If it's stable and the numbers are a bit different, that's fine. It is more the insulin fluctuations you don't want.

Geoff

I mean, glucose is a downstream effect of insulin. It is interesting in terms of reflecting in our experience in my personal experience, yeah, when you're doing heavy and intense exercise, it makes sense that your blood glucose elevates because your glycogen is being released, you're actually using that as fuel.

Pete J.

And stress response from cortisol.

Geoff

Exactly. So it stands to reason. One thing that I was curious to hear about and I think you'd be a good person to ask here is that a lot of people when they talk about shifting into a keto diet or a low carb diet, there's a keto adaptation period where you're going from heavy carbohydrate metabolism into more of a fat dominant metabolism. They feel like that takes a while to shift and maintain performance. So a lot of people feel like a keto flu or any of that. And obviously, you are performing at a very, very high level. Did you feel like you've lost performance in that transition period or did you very quickly transition into being predominantly fat fueled?

Pete J.

It's probably hard to say exactly what I felt because I was having-

Geoff

You were just kind of sick the whole time?

Pete J.

I was still having some health issues at the time. But looking back and if I was saying what other issues are going on, there's so many factors that change when someone crosses over. So yes, there's definitely changes in the mitochondria that they can become better at up-taking ketones and burning fat for fuel. But at the same time, I think it takes a while for people to figure out the nutrition that they need. So like, for me, for example, I'm feeling much better eating higher protein. And I think a lot of people that go into the keto diet perhaps in that first couple of weeks, they are just not eating enough. So they probably have gone low protein because this whole perception, and perception is an amazing thing. You think, oh, that steak that I used to eat, that 200 grams steak, now it needs, you need to eat twice as much of that now, even more than twice.

And so, there's definitely going to be some changes in people's perception that need to occur before they can really dial in their diet. So eating more meat, and obviously the salts and getting used to that change as well, a lot of people have issues with. And then I don't feel like it's so much do with the training, I have seen other people who sort of coach in the low carb area go, oh, well, we need to do high intensity efforts to try and keep you have a high end, to try and keep your legs fast. And it's like, well, that doesn't really make sense because there's nothing really changing in your energy production. It's still just energy. It's just a matter of where is coming from.

So as you said, if you do high intensity efforts, you're going to have a good level of blood sugar anyway. So I don't feel that whether you do high intensity efforts or not or whether you, I think it's more of where you're at in your health and other health issues, like whether it is the calories or whether it is that you're training the wrong type of training in the first place, whether you're just training too hard. But definitely, you would probably want to have a period where you just have a bit more aerobic training perhaps in that transition phase because perhaps you can, in too much high intensity, you will deplete glycogen from your liver or your muscles a bit too much maybe. And that could put strain on your body where your blood sugar's low. After a hard session, your blood sugar could probably drop. And you are just going to feel tired.

But that's where, we might as well mention the Ketone Ester. Ketone Ester, because I've been experimenting with that a bit, and being fully keto adapted. But as I've said, my ketones are generally kind of pretty low and my blood sugar's really stable, but generally a little on the low side as well and I don't even notice that it's in the low fours, I won't even notice. But when I go out for a long aerobic ride nowadays, for example, and keeping my heart rate quite moderate, there can be a little bit lull between the dropping blood sugar that goes quite low and the increase in my ketones that I then find at the end of the session. And I think that's just similar to when people are changing out the diet. You're just getting used to having that lower blood sugar and then when the ketones pick up a little bit. And I think that's all it is, it's just a brain fuel.

So for a lot of people, it's just the perception of effort. So, the ketone drink could be used in that period of adjustment between not using blood sugar as predominantly and also increasing your ketones just like in, you know, so you might need it over a couple of weeks or you can just use it in a particular session as well to get over that little hump. And as I said, I don't do coffee. So, that's something else that can replace that need for caffeine, that need for that stimulation, that perception of how hard is this effort. And I had a friend say that he was feeling a little bit flat on a bike ride the other day. He stopped, he had a hamburger, chilled out, I think he probably had a coffee as well. And then he felt much better after that stop. And it was sort of like, well, was that the blood sugars or was that this or whatever? And I was like, it's probably just because you felt happy. You had a break, your body got a little bit of a rest so it probably just built up a bit of extra energy in storage. Like maybe it was the chemicals that are helping produce your ATP and everything just got a little break. And you're happy, you had a hamburger, you relaxed, you felt like hey, I'm on the way home now. I haven't got as long to ride. So there's all these different factors of mindset that play into how your body is feeling and working.

Geoff

I think that's interesting. I think you're touching on some of the new aspects of our ketone ester that I think are particularly interesting. One, obviously, the fuel partitioning, we think that one of the main benefits is that you're just having an additional fuel that helps you transition between these states. I think one of the points that you're referencing is, if you aren't fully adapted and you go heavy into anaerobic areas of heart rate and fuel usage, obviously, if you have a limited amount of glycogen stored up because you're eating low carb or keto, that might be a difficult transition state where you lose a little bit of top in power.

So I was curious to ask if you felt like you lost some top in power as you're transitioning, but it sounds like you've been able to manage that transition pretty smoothly. And I imagine that your aerobic threshold is probably very, very high. I mean, most of the super elite endurance athletes I see just have, basically, up until VO2 max are still aerobic until like a little bit over and they just completely dropped. So imagine your VO2 anaerobic aerobic threshold's like very, very high. I'm curios if you actually have done that study to see exactly where that turnover point is. But I think the Ketone Ester use is like still very, very, very new. I mean, it's been out for a year, year and a half. But I would say that people are still figuring out exactly how to best utilize it. I mean, it's still like a cutting area of research.

I think one part that you mentioned, the central nervous system, the neurological impact is an exciting area. I think there's some data pending publication around improving content performance and I think part of it is that can you just deliver a little bit of extra fuel into the brain where you feel a bit better, feel a bit sharper. And that might play one of the most interesting roles for boosting performance as opposed to necessarily being a "superior fuel." I mean, I think this is some combination, again, of different factors here because physiology is so complicated. But I thought you hit a couple of different interesting points that I wanted to quickly address. But I guess going back to a specific question, I'm curious, have you looked at your aerobic anaerobic threshold, your VO2, VCO2 turnover point. Because I imagine again, in my experience, your turnover point is probably super, super high. I mean, you can go aerobic almost indefinitely.

Pete J.

Yeah, it's on the cards for July, August sort of thing. Really just want to get a couple of really solid months of aerobic work in to feel that my fitness is really gaining some bigger steps. Getting back to where I was when I was 30, kind of trying to get back there a little bit before we then go, okay, let's see what's happening. Make sure we've got some really consistent results in training so that those days of fatigue here and there, you know, those little supplements that are screwing up my leaky gut a little bit, we've really just cleared out everything and had some really long periods of aerobic training. But yeah, not having coffee is interesting. And obviously, the world of endurance sports and sports in general and everyone in general lives on caffeine and they love it.

Geoff

I have some interesting perspective and thoughts on this topic too. And I think, I mean, is one of the most fascinating stats, two billion cups of coffee consumed a day. And it's been a personal vice that I kind of grapple with because I know I should be cycling off of coffee or caffeine more. But it's addictive, it makes you feel good, it's hard to pull away. I'm used to that ritual. But it sounds like you've been able to wean off of it. And I can tell you my story why I felt this is an important area of self improvement. But curious to hear your story, when did you get to caffeine as a point that you wanted optimize?

Pete J.

I never really drank caffeine much until I was about 30. The smell of it was like, I don't really like this. And eventually I got more and more into it. Living with someone who likes coffee, you start to then have a little sip. And then it goes from a sip to my own cup. But I still have never had a lot. I never, you know, it was always, I could have it every couple of days or something like that. So I was never fully addicted. But seeing a holistic doctor earlier this year who's a brilliant guy. And he is very much about the neurological side of what could be inflaming some of my issues. And he just said the caffeine is just no good for you. He doesn't believe it's good for anyone and then there's no really good time to be overstimulating your brain to that point.

And it becomes that pattern of suddenly, a cup or two is okay in the morning and then it's like, oh, well, I'll just have one in the afternoon as well. And then that's wrecking your sleep. It's a slippery, slippery slope. And I was able to, I cut back to decaf for a while because I wasn't doing it for the caffeine, I was doing it for the placebo. The taste of it, the hot drink, and the placebo of it tastes like caffeine. That was my perception of it. I very rarely got a buzz out of coffee. It was much more the taste that gave my brain the, oh, you've had coffee so you must feel good. I could have decaf and be like, you know, I feel great now, I've had a decaf just from the taste of it.

Geoff

Well, there's still a little bit of caffeine in decaf, there's like 12, 24 milligrams, which is nominal, but just for the folks listening, there's still a little bit.

Pete J.

It was the habit.

Geoff

Yeah.

Pete J.

Absolutely. Which is why I then went okay, I've got to have no decaf, not even, that's too much of a stimulation to try and get everything, vagal tone and body as healthy as I can. And then it became, okay, I've got a not habit because of the inflammatory autoimmune leaky gut issues. But it just, it's just a habit. It helps if you can replace it with something. So if you're not on a no plant diet, then you can easily replace it with some decaf tea very, very easily. Awesome herbal tea that's decaffeinated, caffeine free.

Geoff

But this is very, I would say that almost 99% of athletes that we work with or we talk to, I mean, they pound 200, 400, 600 milligrams of caffeine before the race. I mean, I'm sure you have competitors, colleagues, folks you train with that are just right before the big day, boom, like a huge hit of caffeine. And people swear by that and there's good data on suggesting why that is actually useful. Curious to get your thoughts, I mean, this is, the data for caffeine is very, very good. I would generally say that it's one of the performance enhancing things that generally people accept that work. As you're a competitor, you're an athlete, do you feel like the net gain of not having to rely on caffeine is going to give you more long term performance or do you feel like okay, maybe I just don't train on caffeine and then I just save it for the once every quarter type thing where is use it as a huge hit before race? Curious, as as you start being really thoughtful around caffeine, how do you imagine using this as an ideal protocol?

Pete J.

It's pretty tricky because everybody's different of course and I've chosen the food and the drink and what I do because of I'm trying to get my health best and I've got certain health issues that need to be addressed in a certain way.

Geoff

So you're saying that from the leaky gut perspective, caffeine's just a non starter. So just even getting you gut to normal is going to be a bigger performance gain than any potential risk from the caffeine addition.

Pete J.

Yeah, and just having my brain at a more relaxed state more often and not relying on caffeine. It's also, you know, I think it's an issue when people are saying, I can't get going until I've had my coffee in the morning. And it's like, well, if you can't live like a normal human being without a stimulant every single day, you know, you may as well be addicted to any drug really, it's an addiction, and you need it.

So out of the way, these are my choices for my personal health issues because I don't want to tell everyone that they're doing the wrong thing because it's something that they love and they're very passionate about. But it's sort of like, if there's, as with going carnivore or as with going keto or cutting caffeine out, it's one of those things that you can do if you've got some health issues. So if there's something in your body that is not as good as you need it to be or want it to be, then these are things that you can improve on.

So I went taking it out because I believe that I've still got plenty of room for improvement in my health. But I will use it say towards the end of an Ironman race in the marathon, and I'll just use like caffeine tablets. But I only went I need it and still only in moderation. I wouldn't be taking like hundreds of milligrams. I think the year that I got second, there's a bit of a video of me, and I look like I'm showing my fingernails as I'm running, but I'm actually just biting half a tablet off the other half and then wrapping the other half back up and putting it back in my pocket. So I only had half at a time.

Geoff

Which is what, like 50 milligrams or something?

Pete J.

Yeah, it would have been about 50, 60 I think at a time. So things like that. And then there's the side effects as well of actual having the coffee. And a lot of people, a lot of athletes are getting stress fractures and other issues of so, let's say, first of all, they're not really eating a lot of protein and the bones are made of proteins.

Geoff

Or minerals, calcium, right?

Pete J.

Yeah. Predominantly, it's the proteins that build them up. So a lot of athletes aren't eating enough protein. The coffee can also leech a bit of those minerals out. And then you've got the small amount of protein that they are eating if they're eating red meat with iron in it, chances are they're probably having coffee around some of the food that they're eating, and the coffee can limit the amount of iron that's absorbed as well. So then you might have people with low iron issues as well, those that are drinking a lot of coffee. So a lot of coffee, low red meat intake, a lot of low iron issues as well.

Geoff

On top of I imagine, I mean, just repetitive motion. If you're running marathons, that's a lot of impact. Still, yeah, I mean, I think on the margin, I would agree that after just doing and heavy, heavy training, that's a lot of impact, like a lot of fractured damage, your bones are accruing. And then if you do the nutritional deficiency on top, that's where risk happens. I can see where if you tied those two together, you want to be thoughtful around the caffeine and nutrition intake.

Pete J.

Again, even anyone with osteoporosis type issues or just general people with low iron even if they're not athletes, it's a slightly detrimental, it's a stimulant and it's also not great for your brain. The whole living in the moment.

Geoff

So how often are you taking caffeine then at this point? Like zero times a year?

Pete J.

So I don't have it.

Geoff

None at all?

Pete J.

I'll only have it in racing, like half a dozen times a year in a race. And that's where I'll use the Ketone Ester instead of caffeine. And people could say, oh, it's so expensive for what you get, but I've found I can bump up my ketones by about .5 by having about five mil. It's almost the price of a coffee to get a healthier benefit that's going to do more for my body and my training and better for my brain for basically the same price if I just had five mil at a time. That's my take on it anyway. That's what I'd rather have than the caffeine.

And when people are really addicted to it, it comes back to another big point that I really try and practice and what I was doing when I won in 2012, which was being in the moment and not letting ego rule what you're thinking or feeling like, oh, how far have I got to go or geez, I haven't had my coffee today so I still feel tired. Or you're in the moment and that is all that you know, you don't know anything else outside of this very moment. And it's hard to be, and if you add a little bit of gratitude into this moment, then you can't be feeling like you haven't had your coffee, and therefore, you're still cranky. Oh, my gosh, I've still got this far left of run, therefore, it's going to be such a tough thing to do, I don't think I can do that. So, that's something that I try and practice quite a bit as well, to be in the moment, not rely on the thoughts of the past or the future to rule how I'm feeling.

Geoff

Yeah, I'd love to unpack that more. Over conversations like these and me dabbling into the endurance events and doing marathons or doing ultra marathons and cycling and doing miles on the bike, you just realized that, at least for me, I've found to do these types of events more of training my mind versus training my body. Obviously, I like the aerobic benefits and the body composition benefits and longevity health benefits of exercise. But I think what matters for me because I'm not ever going to be, I'm not going to be a world champion athlete, but I care about my mental performance and mental acuity as a business person and all of that.

I think the most interesting part of talking to folks like yourself is that you're in the pain cave where you're in your own thoughts for five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 hours at a time. And it sounds like just hearing you talking about gratitude and being the moment I think is something that I've come to appreciate at a deeper level. I'm curious to hear you talk through some of the like maybe the obvious question when even people ask me and I don't think I'm like a big insurance person, but they're saying, you're running for three hours, what do you think about? I mean, even at that level, maybe we unpack it from that level. You're out on a triathlon, you're on Ironman, that's, you know, depending how good you are, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 hour ordeal. What do you think about?

Pete J.

Just trying to be as efficient as possible in every single second of the race basically. So, there's 1000 decisions that need to be made throughout the race as well, as in when to drink, when to pass somebody, when to be patient and stay behind, how hard you should be going, is this hill, you know, should I push over this hill or should I just kind of cruise up? So many decisions that can affect the outcome of the race. And if you're not calm and in control and in the moment, then you're going to make the wrong decision somewhere along the line that can affect the outcome of the race.

Geoff

You're actively in the mind. I mean, do you ever just zone out and just kind of autopilot? Because like sometimes there's, you're out there for like eight hours. So for eight hours straight, you're very much conscious, like I got to keep my form good. Should I try to pass here, should I accelerate here, should I feel here? You're looking at your watch, you're checking your power. So you're very active throughout the entire ordeal?

Pete J.

Pretty much, yeah. And it's a bit like driving a race car. You're kind of going pretty quick so there's always movement, you've got to stay pretty aware of everything. Even on the run where you're not moving as quick. For me, it's really about keeping my form. So, I'm trying to really focus on form and stay completely in the moment. It was a big thing that I practiced in 2012 in training, was getting rid of all doubts and fears so that my mind was not distracted by any of those and that I was able to concentrate on form and technique and getting as efficient as I could. And I'd seen a kinesiologist before the race and he said, through muscle testing, he's like, you need to use the word love more. And I was like, oh, all right.

So sure enough, I'm out there training and I'm, this is the year where I was really doing everything I could because I wanted to win. So I was visualizing the rice a lot and I'd been there quite a few times. So, every time I hit certain hill in training, I was picturing a certain hill in the race. So I was living the race in training all the time. And I would visualize, like, say, a sprint finish between one of my major competitors. And even just visualizing that in training was enough to give myself a little bit of doubt while I'm doing my run effort. And just by saying the word love, that was enough to bring me back into the moment of feeling grateful and feeling that sense of gratitude brought me back into the moment and cleared all the doubts, and I was running strong in my effort again.

So, it's not so much, so the word love was what I used at that point because that's what I'd got. But it's, looking back now that I've learned a lot more about how it was all working, it was just a thing that I'd practiced, a word that got me back into the moment and cleared all my doubts and fears. And there's 1000 different ways that someone can do that but it is something you need to practice to be able to switch it on quite quickly.

Geoff

It's like kind of a totem, like a verbal crutch, or a totem, a reminder that set you back into what I imagine is a flow state where you're sort of calm. And that's interesting because it sounds like when people are in competition and not everyone's competitive, but I imagine people have done some competition or some performance where they feel nervous or nervous energy, and it sounds like that might be beneficial in some cases. But what you're saying especially on these long multi-hour races, you really want to find that flow state of being calm in the moment and almost have this sense of gratitude that you're happy to be moving and alive.

Pete J.

As as you asked though, do I zone out. And being in the moment in a way is kind of zoning out because you have no thoughts in your head whatsoever. I mean, that's when you've really practiced it well. You can clear your mind at the snap of your fingers and there's no thought. So it's not exactly you're zoned out. You're totally aware of everything that you're doing, everything that is around you, but only what exists in that very moment. And in that sense, there is no thoughts because generally your thoughts are the future or present, or our future or our past. So yes, clearing your mind helps you stay calm, helps you make the right decisions, helps your body be relaxed, helps keep their central governor compressed. I loved your-

Geoff

Tim Noakes.

Pete J.

... chat with Tim Noakes the other day. I've listened to a lot of his chats before. I really love the central governor theory. So, that's just one way of minimizing the energy loss I guess and a way of making sure that your body is feeling safe. And that's kind of a word that I use a lot as well is that if you can give your mind the sense and the body the sense that it is safe, that it's not under stress, that it's not starving, that it's not in a worrisome fearful place, then you can just control the central governor reaction and therefore get more out of your body. And so, I was able to be totally calm and in control in 2012. I even, like I'd practice, and I knew that my back would tighten up off the bike when I started running. So, about six or seven K in, I was eight minutes down from the leader in second place and I needed to stop and do some hip stretches because I knew that that would loosen up my back. So I quickly did some dynamic stretching. And looking back, that's such a key point of what helped me win was that I was eight minutes down but still calm enough and in control enough to go, I know what I need to do to get from A to B as quickly as possible with the least amount of stress.

Geoff

And you can make up eight minutes in a marathon even while stretching out, which is incredible.

Pete J.

He'd blowing himself up on the block pretty hard, that's how he had such a big lead, and he got about halfway in the marathon and pulled out right there and ended his race there on the side of the highway.

Geoff

Brutal. I was going to say, making up eight minutes on a marathon.

Pete J.

Well, that's not a lot.

Geoff

But I think it is like, you know, you're shaving off 20 seconds a mile for 26 miles. It's hard to make up that much time for that long.

Pete J.

But when you're at the end of an Ironman and if it goes pear shaped, it goes really pear shaped. Guys will end up walking, you know, I've done plenty of Ironmans where I've ended up walking and that's, seven minutes will go very, in about one or two kilometers, seven minutes will be lost

Geoff

It's a long day out. I think what you talked about with the mindset reminds me a lot of what meditators or folks who practice a lot of the sort of inner mind training with meditation or Zen practices, they talked about very much in the same language you just described, which is, you're 100% clear and have acuity on the world, but you're in flow, you're not really thinking about anything but you are fully present. I think that's one thing that I talked to a lot of my colleagues in the office around endurance athletes, getting that state of flow is very much like being in an enlightened or very meditative state. And I think there's definitely some parallel there. And I wonder, if you have a brain scan of you in that state versus a Zen monk who's in a meditative, enlightened state, if that's a similar brain pattern. That would be an interesting experiment to run. I'm curious, have you thought about meditation or sort of the visualization side of things? I mean, sounds like you've obviously been thoughtful around your mental state. I'm curious, have you done meditation practice and all of that.

Pete J.

Not that I don't believe in it, but it doesn't work for me. The sitting there or laying there doing nothing while quieting my mind, I don't get much benefit from that. But I've worked with a guy who does some amazing tremor therapy, and it's all about quieting your mind while doing gym exercises. So, while you're under load, so while you're putting your body under stress, you've got an incredibly present mind and you're not even acknowledging that the weight is there that you're moving. And that for me is, and I can do the same thing while running or riding or swimming, you're trying to not acknowledge that you're doing an effort while you're doing an effort. So you're getting this much, much more powerful connection and much more powerful adaptation through your mind, your cells, because it's not just about the mind that needs to be trained to relax, you know, everything's connected. So if you can train your muscles to do a heavy load or any effort at all, even just moving without acknowledging that you are doing that effort or that movement, the connection just is like tenfold in terms of the impact that you get, the adaptation for training your body to be relaxed while you are pushing it. And therefore, then your mind is more relaxed because your body's more relaxed and vice versa.

Which one comes first? I don't think you can sort of, you can't separate them. They're very much joined. If you walk around with your shoulders tense, your mind will be tense. And if you have a tense mind and everything is going wrong, then your body will tense. But you can change one by changing the other but you've just got to be aware of at least one of them. But yes, this gym work, his name's Ken Ware and does some amazing rehab with people who have had issues of all sorts, whether it's a friend of mine, John Mclean who's in the Hall of Fame in Ironman. He was the first wheelchair athlete to complete the Hawaiian Ironman. And he was a partial paraplegic. He went and worked with this guy, Ken Ware, and he was able through being completely present in the moment and having the belief that he could move his feet and not letting any other doubts or fears block that pathway, he was able to reactivate more nerves after 25 years in a wheelchair, you know, and he no longer needs a wheelchair. So, it's incredibly powerful if you can trigger the presence of being in the moment, a calm mind with a belief of I can do this, at the same time, not acknowledging that you're doing something that should be difficult or hard. It's an incredibly deep response that you can get. Yet, I just find that type of training much, much more impactful than sitting there or lying there trying to meditate without any movement.

Geoff

Yeah, that seems to be my experience as well and my sort of correlation of this concept is that I think the end mental state is similar if not the same, this sort of flow, calm, 100% sharp acuity state. But there's different ways to get there. One might do that through a sitting meditation versus meditation through sport or practicing your craft. And my sense is that, depending on the personal journey of that person, there's different ways to get to that same sort of enlightened state.

Pete J.

People might just get it from a hobby. Sitting there calmly doing a hobby that just clears their mind of all other thoughts and anxieties, that's why hobbies are so important.

Geoff

I think there's something to that. And hopefully, I'm not sure how one would formally study this. But that is my suspicion that some people really, you know, I imagine that some people can really get to enlightened state with meditation. I think one of the points that really struck me was that how many tens of hundreds of thousands of people are Zen monks spending 12 hours a day sitting there. Are they all super enlightened? I don't think all of them are super enlightened. So I think that, so I think to me, that suggests that's one specific way that might get you there but it's not the only perhaps way to get you there. But I wanted to get to the point around feeling relaxed in that state, because, and maybe this is me being in a state and not feeling relaxed. I mean, I can hold that state of I'm running a marathon, okay, like the first 20 minutes, first 30 minutes, okay, like, I can self talk and motivate myself and, okay, I'm going to keep flow and keep focused.

And obviously, you've been world class at this, to be able to hold this at a very, very high level, world class level. Are there any practical tips for listeners? For me, like how do you, is there self talk or some sort of mantra that you can bring yourself back to that state or is just practice and visualization and just doing it over and over again to break down that magic? That sounds obvious, right? Like, okay, just feel relaxed when you're running a marathon. Okay, I get that. Okay, try to do that when you're 20 miles in and you got six miles to go and you're tired.

Pete J.

Definitely takes practice. But yeah, you need a few cues, as I mentioned before, like, for me, it was the word love back in 2012. Nowadays, it's probably more just an awareness of where my breath is going is a good start. So, if I'm breathing up into my upper chest, I'm more likely to be tense and not letting my body relax. So I focus on breathing into my belly which relaxes everything. And I try and practice that day to day when I'm doing anything, you know, sitting in a car driving or reading a book, I'm trying to do five seconds in, five seconds out. And that's really good for vagal tone as well.But obviously, you're not breathing that slowly when you're running. But just by recognizing where the breath is going, you can relax the rest of your body a bit. Definitely, a lot of it's around the neck and shoulders and the trapezius.

That's a key, like even just a tiny bit of tension there when you're running will give you tension in your mind. So that's super important just around the shoulders and neck. And then in terms of mentally what you can change, I use a sort of trick where I try and pretend I'm already at home on the couch having done the session. And so, you take your mind to laying on the couch totally like relax, let your body go completely floppy as a ragdoll. Now, feel that while you're running. And if you can practice that, so it's particularly towards the end of the run when people in training or in the race, when that's when you'll be most tense and be like, I'm nearly there, I'm nearly there because your ego's starting to get ahead of you. So in training, when I'm getting close to home, and I'm nearly done, I'm nearly done, I pretend I'm already done.

Geoff

You relax even harder into it as opposed to like-

Pete J.

And just be like, just let it go and be, a, be in the moment so that you're no longer thinking how long do I have to go, you are just totally in the present moment. And b, that feeling of how it will feel once you're done. Let that tension go while you're still running because everything's visualization and perception. Perception is everything. So, just perceive that you've already done the run, you're already chilling with your mates or lying on the couch relaxed. Whatever it is that you get that sense of calmness and that release of tension doing, whether it's, the opposite is, if it's a really, really hot day, though, don't visualize jumping in a cold pool at the end of it because suddenly, it will feel much hotter. If that makes sense.

There's a catch 22. If you're in a really hot race and this is what I visualized training for Hawaii Ironman is, imagine telling yourself it's really cool and that you can feel a breeze on your skin. So in training, if I was running in the middle of the day and it was a hot day, I would take my mind out of the heat and put it somewhere where there's a breeze on my skin, the sun is not actually that hot. And I would tell myself it's not that hot. So that's a mental trick if you're struggling with something that is present right now. Just reverse it and just say it's not that hot or this is not that hard.

And that's what, I mean, to me, that's what heat acclimatization is, is the mental side of it more so because the physical aspect of it is you sweat more, which isn't really beneficial come race day. And training in the heat can help increase a little bit of blood volume I think just because it's harder, though. You get the same from altitude training. It's just harder. So potentially, that's good for some people that can handle training harder. But for some people like me, training harder is not necessarily going to be the best way to get my body to respond well. So back to you ignoring that it's hot is a really good way. And it's a bit like listening to the seals who train in the cold. And they're very good at it, you know, they've been pushed in the ocean and stuck out there freezing and they very much have to tell themselves, this is not that cold. So it's the same thing. Mind over matter is absolutely how you can have a better performance.

Geoff

No, these are very good tips and I think some of the concepts that you're mentioning are things that I've been trying to adopt and implement. And I think for the folks listening, it might sound easy. Think about a cool breeze while you're seven hours into an Ironman. It's not that easy when you're actually out there sweating and tired and hurting with blisters on your feet. But I think that's how to get there. I think that's where I talk about endurance sport as really a mental training for other aspects of my life.

Again, I presume that most of our listeners are never going to win an Ironman, right? I mean, just, there's very few people that can even genetically, athletically get there and put all the training on to get there. But most of us have jobs or livelihoods that deal with stress. And I think that if you have confidence to be able to deal with stress in a very physical context, where you can overcome it and train your mind as you're running 10 miles or five miles or whatever miles that you need to do that's challenging for you, some of these same principles I imagine, at least I found for myself personally, translate really nicely into the, I was going to say civilian world but all of us are civilians, the business world or the non sport world.

And I'm curious to get your thoughts there. I mean, clearly, you must have some confidence that you've gained from being the best in your field and perhaps have you been able to translate that confidence or that endurance into other aspects of your life. Do you feel like you're just a more enlightened, calm, efficient person because you've just gotten so deep in, and it sounds like you were clearly self reflective on the process to even get there. Curious to see if you've been able to channel that thoughtfulness to other aspects of life.

Pete J.

Yes and no. There are periods where I'm quite good at, okay, this is what I need to do and I'll practice it, such as just taking five minutes to do some slow breathing and totally be present. And if I can do that a few times a day, I know that I would have a calmer mind for the other 23 and a half hours of the day. But I haven't been doing it lately and I noticed that so if I don't keep up the practice of actively taking a few minutes here and there to calm my mind, then I am noticing that I'm slightly more anxious, slightly more distracted and less in control of my own choices I guess.

So ego starts creeping back in. And your ego, if you're not practicing, staying on top of it for myself, it is creeping back in and it's distracting me, it's giving me anxieties, it's giving me doubts and fears, and I'm not able to concentrate on what needs to be done immediately as well. So, I do need to do that a little bit more often. And even if it's 30 seconds of just breathing and staring at a dot on the wall, and just thinking of completely nothing and being in the moment, when I do that, I feel better. So I just need to bring that practice back in a little bit more. But otherwise, I've got all this information and like I say, I'm really, I know, I understand how it all works, but yet, being in control of it, of myself more often, it's something that I have to practice or else there's no good. I've got the information but without practice, it doesn't come to the forefront at all. So I think that's all I can say is that it takes practice all the time to be aware of it. Some people, it's better and easier.

And I think, as I said, I mentioned before, some issues that I've had with brain activity in the past or issues of feeling depression or just leaky gut issues that are affecting my dopamine and other hormones. So maybe it's not 100% of my own devices, of my own control that sometimes are affecting my hormones that mean I can't do things as well and feel these other fears more often. And certainly, even, let's say, my doctor, he said, your estrogen is quite high because I've had low testosterone for a while as part of fatiguing my body that I've done. And he said, so you might feel a bit anxious or emotional, he said, just try and ignore and let it go because it's just the hormones.

So there are times and for certain people that yes, you do need to practice quite hard and some people will practice, need to practice more than others. And others just have the hormones that are just going to keep them absolutely centered and in control and motivated. And that just comes more naturally for some people because of their hormonal balance. And they don't have to go to the lengths that I have to go to try and work on getting my hormones and getting my cells and energy systems and everything working well.

But when you really look at those people that on the outside, they seem good, sometimes there's just those little things that, they're not, if you don't look at the health in the whole big picture, there'll be some things happening there not attributing to their lifestyle or their nutrition, and they just got, that was bad luck. And it's like, you know, you and I, those that have actually like understood how is all connected, are probably more likely to be able to go, well, I can give you like half a dozen reasons why that's happened to you because of the things that you've done or the things that you've eaten. So yeah, it comes easier for some but others got to work harder at it.

Geoff

No, I think it's well said, and some of my understanding of the experience as well. I mean, no one's a robot who's just perfect. And I think there's times where you need to just, there's effort every single time. I think people that have practiced at a high level. And again, you've very much achieved that to a very high level. It was just a lot of practice and dedication and all the factors that you mentioned. But I think to our listeners here, it's not because Pete is like a robot. It's like, there's effort on your part as you're doing this effort when I'm trying to put myself into very strong, grateful, clear mindset, it's this effort involved.

Perhaps the takeaway message here is that don't be disheartened if it is hard. It is hard. Just get back on the horse and keep trying and it eventually gets easier and easier and easier where it's more of a second nature. But even an expert like yourself, you sometimes have that lows, and it's fine, that just like we're not static, perfect beings. There's some on days and off days where we just got to be, trying to lean more towards the on days, right?

Pete J.

Absolutely. I mean, looking back to what I was doing in 2012, I mean, I trained almost all on my own for two or three months. And that means riding about 17 hours, 15 hours awake, mostly out on the road just with some music playing in my headphones. And that was incredible training for being in the moment and just being present and not concerning myself with any other thoughts. I had nothing else going on in my life back then. Jamie was looking after the food for me. All I had to do is train, eat, sleep, and had no worries or anything. So, there are times in your life when it's going to be easier and times in your life when it's harder. But using exercise as a time to be really calm and relaxed, as I said, that's a really good time to practice that being in the moment and making it easier for those other times to trigger into that state of gratefulness or being in the present moment.

Geoff

I have nothing to add there. 100% endorse that. Curious to hear your plans for the future! So obviously, you're on the comeback trail here. Sounds like you're really healing your body up. What are your plans for rest of 2019? How do people keep track and get your updates?

Pete J.

Yeah, well, they can keep track and get my updates on Instagram and Twitter. Twitter, I'll use mostly for the health side of things. I don't really mention on Instagram the stuff about me, only eating meat and not eating plants because it's not really the platform and people tend to push back quite a bit, particularly in my community, the triathlon community. I mean, they can be quite anti low carb, let alone anti plant as well. So that's quite interesting. But yeah, I love Twitter and getting involved in some of the health conversations that you post and all the other doctors that I follow are into. But I'm racing a couple of races in Asia in June. So Jamie and I actually excited we're getting to race Japan 70.3 Ironman, and then spend a couple of weeks living in Kyoto, we're going to stay there for two weeks. And then race challenge half in Korea. So, that's a couple of good races in June, and then come back and just do a big block of training.

And then the summer here down under, we'll start sort of September, October, November, and start racing quite a bit. And then if I'm continuing to improve, I'll race an Ironman full distance early next year and try and qualify for Hawaii 2020. And I'm only going to go back to Hawaii if I think I can, if I'm in better shape than I ever have been, if I believe that I can run faster than anyone has run there before. Because I know that's what it will take for me to get on the podium again. So, I only want to go back if I'm going to do really well there. So, it's a long way off, it's a long journey to there. I've still got a hell of a lot to learn because it's quite, you always mentioned that there's so many nuances just with the carnival diet or just with looking at ketones or this or that. Then you throw in the trying to train for an Ironman.

Geoff

Yeah, the training. Training itself is another beast.

Pete J.

As basically a zero carb athlete. And I'm trying to google and read articles and not just articles, but trying to read some of the papers around what's going on with gluconeogenesis and all the other factors that is going on, and where's my energy coming from, where's the glucose coming from, where's it going? What's happening to the ketones, where are they going? All of that kind of stuff. And figure out the optimum level for fueling because it's quite hard. Because on race day, the adrenaline, the heart rate, the cortisol, like everything is higher. So, you're going to get a different response in blood glucose in a race than I am in any training that I would do. So even if I can test my blood sugar 24 hours a day in training and my ketones, it's going to be a different story on race day. So just, it's going to be a bit of a journey figuring out how can I get to Kona 2020 with just a complete understanding of what's going to be happening in my body on race day? And how can I fuel it best for that task? And yeah, it's really interesting. There's not a lot of papers on zero carb athletes training to be an Ironman athlete.

Geoff

No, absolutely, you're at the cutting edge.

Pete J.

And I just want to stress, it's not something that I'm like, hey, I just want to do this to test what's going on. It's like, I'm doing this because I've found out that my autoimmune reactions that have plagued me since I was a teenager have ended me up here, not being able to eat plants without getting a leaky gut symptom. I still cop it from athletes that just say, you're just being extreme or you can't do it without carbs or why don't you just do this. And it's like, they just completely overlooked the fact that this is an issue I've been dealing with for 20 years and it's affected my career greatly. I'm just doing everything that I can to try and get back there.

It just so happens that it's on the other end of the spectrum that no one has really even looked at before, let alone tested and figured out, as you talked about, like respiratory quotient tests and how fat adapted can we get and then what do we fuel with to optimize that level of adaptation. But it's a good time. Basically, it's an exciting, I've come along and family sold out at the right time. If I'd found this out 10 years ago, and let's say the esters were still 10 years away, I would be scratching my head about how do I optimize this in a race because it's, it's just exciting to know that I can, I can basically, it's just doubling down and be like, hey, I can take in a minimal amount of carbs in training, which is great for my guts and not have to put in anything much at all. And some days I put in nothing almost. And then to know that on race day, I can not risk blocking up my guts and having cramps or having any IBS type issues and cover that energy with an ester and be like, hey, I know that I'm going to be okay.

I think there's always an aid station. If you get to that point where it's like, oh my God, I've run out of sugar, it's like, oh, there's a coke just here. Okay, great, I'll have that. It's really interesting time anyway. And with all the doctors and all the conferences that are out and published online and podcasts like yourself, and I can listen to all these amazing doctors, and people that have also experienced it and researchers and journalists, it's a really exciting time. So, I don't regret that it's taken me 20 years to figure it out. It's just been a really long learning process. And the timing is right. So, I'd love to get back to the top of the world and show that there's there is a different way to approach it than the high sugar approach that is affecting your health potentially.

Geoff

Incredible journey, incredible story. I think when people realize the extent to which you've understood your body, I think hopefully they understand that this is not just some extreme stunt that you're doing in terms of going completely off plants. I mean, you've almost done every other possible "traditional intervention" here, and this is the only thing that's working and sticking. So, I'm very excited to see the journey, follow the journey and hopefully we'll see you on the podium in 2020 Kona. I mean, that would be an incredible ride.

Pete J.

Like I said, we're a long way off that and I can barely even think about it. I'm just trying to take it basically still day by day. It's still like, I'm still trying to nail down exactly what's going on in training for my blood glucose levels, for my fuel where it's coming from. It's a long process, but yeah, it's a really interesting one and I'm really enjoying learning all that I'm learning.

Geoff

Awesome. All right, thanks so much, Pete. This was a fun conversation.

Pete J.

Thanks so much for having me.

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