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Before & After Keto: Losing Weight, Gaining Muscle, & Correcting Health ft. Crystal Reneau
43 min read

Before & After Keto: Losing Weight, Gaining Muscle, & Correcting Health ft. Crystal Reneau

Updated Dec 10, 2019
nutritionketo-dietfitness

Before keto, Crystal Reneau was overweight and fighting various health issues. Suffering from an overactive thyroid and facing the risk of cancer, Crystal was forced on a journey to take back her health.

After dropping the carbohydrates and going keto, Crystal not only corrected many of her symptoms, but developed a deep passion & expertise for a fat-fueled lifestyle. With years of practical experience and self-experimentation (such as Crystal’s “10-day Steak & Eggs Challenge”), she joins our podcast for an accessible episode digging into the ins and outs of personal health.

Geoff & Crystal discuss:

  • Adapting to the ketogenic diet: Staying ahead of dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, & carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms
  • Personalized health: Defining your own goals, balancing intuition with tracking biomarkers, & doing food challenges to flex your metabolism
  • Crystal's experience with intermittent fasting & the carnivore diet, along with her take on the Netflix vegan documentary “Gamechangers”

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Transcription

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I'm really excited to welcome Crystal to our program. Welcome.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Thanks for having me.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

There's a lot of different interesting key related topics to dive into I think with... and we were just talking about live all the new Game Changers movie that talked about vegan performance as well as a lot of discussion between carnivore and vegan. And then I know a lot on the fitness side, that's something that Crystal is big into.

Before we dive into specific areas of types of ketogenic diet and different types of fitness routines that one constructs around a ketogenic diet, I think it probably makes sense to start with how you came into the ketogenic diet, obviously within the last three, four years I think would really explode it, but curious to hear where you began and what was your journey into the keto diet?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Probably about four years ago is when I started getting into it, but there's a lot of events that led up to this. Now, I am currently 31 years old now, but at 25 years old, I used to be the high school athlete. I was always fit, I could eat 30 packs of Skittles, it didn't matter. My body was just able to metabolize it and I was perfectly fine, but going into my early 20s, I started being a full time student.

I was working two to three jobs, I had a lot of stressful relationships. Food quality completely went down, so I instantly gained weight, and then my mother also noticed the changes in my behavior. I was very sensitive, I was very frustrated all the times. I would be getting up and then going right back to bed, I was extremely tired.

I was extremely fatigued and that was one of her biggest concerns, so she noticed just large differences in my complete personality. And even though I wasn't extremely overweight, the weight started piling on, so my body wasn't responding the way that it used to. I ended up going to a doctor who did some blood work with me and he told me that my blood work looked completely awful.

My hormones were everywhere. I looked like a 56 year old woman going through menopause. It was to the point where it was affecting my reproductive organs and at that point they even though was unfertile, I couldn't have kids at 25 years old.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Wow.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

That's how bad my estrogen was.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

So estrogen is very low, and in terms of other blood work, were you fasting glucose, insulin, just if you can nerd out here. In terms of being all over the place, what were some of the highlights or I guess lowlights here that were so out of whack?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

I think I just was more so torn about all the information that he was giving me. I know he gave me the numbers. I didn't even look at them, I just started crying. So I don't exactly know what those numbers were off the top of my head right now being about six years ago, but I just know that he said my iron was dangerously high. I needed to start giving blood to just start reproducing new blood and to also just completely change my diet.

And that's where the diet started changing, but when it came to the numbers, I just know that he said I needed to start making a change with my food, otherwise I was going to be in a lot of trouble.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Got it. It sounded like I think a lot of Americans love just normal society today. We just passively eat what's in front of us, and it sounded like that was your case where in you're adolescent, just a growing high school student, you can just process anything. And then you hit a wall and this is like early quarter life crisis block, right? This is early 20s. You're not like a 50 year old woman, this is early 20s, you hit a wall. Going from there, curious to hear the journey from being like, wow, my health is in jeopardy to gravitating towards the keto diet.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

His first concern was to start balancing out my hormones, so he started suggesting the leafy greens to cut out the grains. He wasn't suggesting the keto diet, but he was at least getting me in that direction. And when he told me there like, "No rice," I was like, "You're crazy. I'm an Islander, this is my culture."

I will implement some of the things, being 25, I'm like, "I can do this. My body will bounce back." Just again, playing the youth card. So I started somewhat transitioning into more of the greens, less of the basic bodybuilding chicken and rice and taking some of his suggestions. And I did start to notice some differences with how I feel. It was to the point where when I saw him, memory loss was a really big thing for me. I remember wanting to text my personal trainer and I couldn't even remember his name and I've been working with him for over a year. I'm like, "This is awful. Something's really wrong." Again, he said that was something with my iron count being so high, so just trying to again reset my hormones and get me back on the right track through diet.

My goal was to not go back, or not go onto medicine. I did not want to go on medicine. I feel like if you go on medicine and pretty much you're always on medicine, at least that's what I hear from most people, so I really wanted to attack it through diet, that was our first strategy. Implementing, instead of doing the refined sugars, he would let me do sweet potatoes or yams for example.

We cut out the rice, we would do more of the proteins and the vegetables, and I did that for a while until I felt better. And then I started slowly going back to my old ways. Not as bad, I still had those healthy improvements, but occasionally doing the rice and going back to, all right, I want to get really fit. I have lost... at that point, I think I've lost about 15 of the 30 total pounds that I've lost up to today.

I wanted to start getting back into weight lifting, getting back into being an athlete as I was in high school and getting back to the gym, so I started incorporating more of the bodybuilding diet. Again, going back to the lean meats, somewhat the rice, keeping the vegetables, everything was very low fat, higher carb, and I felt good, but I didn't feel great. I was able to, yes, lift a lot of weights in the gym.

I was able to grow some muscle, but physically, again, I was just always fatigued. So there was some improvements and that's what I was looking for, but again, when you don't understand how great you can feel, you're just like, "Okay, I saw a couple of good things here, we're on the right track and we'll keep moving with it."

I did that for about a year and I ended up going to a dietician because I wanted to do my own little cut. I wanted to understand the bodybuilding world I know at that point that I had no idea how food really played into the body and how it did affect your hormones and your performance levels. So going to a nutritionist, I thought that he'd be able to at least teach me.

I was looking at it as a learning process and he told me that he really wanted me to do a show because I already physically built the muscle, which was great, it was just dialing in the diet. He ended up putting me on the keto diet, I have never heard of it. And I think this is the best way going into it because when people put a label on it, then they start thinking like the goods, the bads, positive. I'm like, "All right, he was putting me on the keto diet. I'm just going to be a little warrior and listen to him and do whatever he says." So I didn't have any bias towards it.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I'm actually just curious, what sport did you do in high school and how did you gravitate towards bodybuilding? Obviously, it's a pretty idiosyncratic sport, right?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Even though I'm only five foot four and a half on a really good day-

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Okay.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

... I was always really small, only about 117 pounds in high school, but I had a lot of power behind me. Just as a kid I had a lot of emotional issues growing up. I'm adopted and sports ended up becoming a place where I can recycle a lot of that energy, so it was in the weight room. Even in high school, my coach had me working out with the boys because I was able to lift much more than the girls.

I was able to just zone in and use that anger and just put it towards something positive. So physically I was able to put in the work. I've never had a problem with that. And when it came to bodybuilding, when you're like 21, 22, 23 years old, a little older, I'm not running track and field anymore, so what can I put that energy into?

And the gym was one of the... That's something I can go to every day and some friends go to that. And I also had a sister that was in bodybuilding at the time. She was doing bikini, so I got to see her make her own changes with her body and I really admired the work she put in, so I was like, "You know what? I'm going to try weightlifting." And it's just something that made me feel good, again, recycle that energy, it exhausted me. It allowed me to get better sleep at night because I got rid of all that energy, so that's how I ended up going into weightlifting.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Got it. So as you're comparing for your... or preparing for your first competition, the nutritionist was like, "Hey, try this diet that was without all the baggage around any specific label." Yeah, curious to hear about that first response because I think going from essentially the opposite of the food pyramid must have been counterintuitive to say the least.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

It was a very awful experience. There was no preparation on his side about this is what you may experience or this is how we're going to battle it. It was just here's your diet plan, we're switching it up and we'll check-in in a week. I have never felt more sick in my life, I thought I was going to die.

My manager that I worked with asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital because I was in bed for two days. I just thought I was sick. I had no idea what the keto flu was or how to even combat that, so I was doing nothing. I wasn't adding the additional salt, I wasn't drinking bone broth or electrolytes. I was just trying to go through this process thinking that I was just ill. That's one of the big reasons why I'm so passionate about teaching keto now is because I think people just need to be more informed from my own personal experience of just thinking I was dying, it was awful.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

That's really resonant with I think a lot of people's personal experiences. I think that it's a pretty drastic shift in diet and I think the keto flu or the keto adaptation, people get scared off really quickly if you don't understand that's pretty normal. What did you shift from eatings? It sound like you had a lot of lean meats, a typical low fat bodybuilder diets, and then what was that first week like?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

I believe he gave me whole eggs, spinach, some avocado and steak and another salad, maybe some vegetables. He had me on a very low calorie diet. Currently right now I'm eating anywhere between 1,800 to 2,000 and I maintain a very lean physique. He had me at that point, I think already between 14 and 1,600 calories, so already being in a huge calorie deficit and going into that transition, my body just fought it every second of the day.

I ended up reaching out to him for my check-in and just saying, "This was awful. I don't know what happened." And he was just like, "Oh, it's just a part of the process." And it's like, now that I have been through this over and over, it's like I really wish someone would have taken the time to just explain things and educate me a little bit more so that I wouldn't have to experience that as dramatically as I did.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Our listeners either have experienced some keto adaptation through the keto diet or long intermittent fasting, but I think probably a lot of the listeners are just starting to understand and maybe want to do this, so walk us through that first week. It sounded like you're shifting primarily to a fat-driven metabolism and your body missed that available glucose and it's sounded like you just low energy throughout that week of transition.

I think you mentioned a couple tips, which is electrolytes, make sure you're hydrating. Can you walk us through that transition phase where you were dying or thought you were dying to feeling much better? Can you walk us through that transition phase? How long did it take? What things did you start incorporating to help you get through that keto adaptation?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Once I realized that the keto diets specifically just completely changes everything on a cellular level and I started asking my dietician more about it, I decided to start researching on my own. Like, okay, if I'm going to do something, especially when it comes to my body, I should know why I'm doing it. So I started doing a little bit more research about what the keto diet was and I came across the keto flu symptoms, so the first thing I did was go over to my grocery store and start buying propel waters, I started buying bone broth and I was just taking those everywhere with me. And anything that I could do, making sure that my fats were coming from some of the best sources, no vegetable oils, making sure it was butter, which is what he gave me on my plan, all this grass-fed butter and just some light exercise.

Normally, I'm going into the gym and hitting as hard as possible, but during that transition, that was working against me. I just needed to be able to drain the fuel in my car without really just burning everything out. Taking it to light, to moderate exercises, if you feel good on those days, then go ahead with it, but just really staying ahead of the game, adding that sea salt, real sea salt was really particularly big for me. My doctor recommended a gracie salt, so just making sure get the salt, the leafy greens, I like to add a lot of avocado and again, those electrolytes, staying hydrated is really important. And as soon as I incorporated those, within a handful of days, not even, I felt much better.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I'm just remembering when I had started similar timeframe, almost about four years ago now experiment the ketogenic diet. I think one of the challenges that it's hard to get enough calories if you're not counting calories. It sounds like you were calorically restricted as well as dietary restricted, which is very hard to do all together at once.

But I think most people aren't used to eating that much fat where you have to really be adding butter, which is very counterintuitive or eating like a number of avocados. So I think when people make a mistake, I think... and I'm curious to hear your thoughts. I think some of the top mistakes are, it's like don't eat enough because you're just not used to eating that much avocados or that much steak all at once.

I think the electrolytes is a big thing because I think one of the interesting parts of the physiology, as you reduce insulin, your body starts to excreting up more sodium potassium. So the idea is that you want to be supplementing and make sure you ingest enough potassium and sodium to make sure your electrolytes are balanced. You're actually hydrating. Those two seem like pretty good top tips. Anything else that you've seen across your clients and or your personal experience that seem to be top issues when they start transitioning?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

When it comes to any anyone that wants to transition, I think that if you're going to do something, one; do it right, but also allowing your body to adjust can only benefit you. Jumping right into the deep end of the pole without knowing how to swim might not always be the smartest way to do it. Even with my clients, I usually give them a week period of start slowly cutting out the foods that you are more refined, those carbohydrates, your sodas and let's start transitioning more of a keto approved food list.

We give you that little week timeframe to one, to start mentally preparing, physically preparing before we go straight into the keto diet. And when it comes to fats, I think a lot of people do find it difficult, like where do I get fats? And I think the easiest way is again, yes like the butters, the coconut oils, avocado oils. I always tell them to add a little bit or cook with it. Who doesn't love like our rib eye cooked in butter? It's the best thing ever.

As well as nuts. I think nuts are just a great source, so there's little ways to add those fats in, but again, I think that if you're going to transition and make any big change like that, do it with time and I think that your body will thank you for it.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I remember explicitly when I was Googling ketosis for the first time, this is like four or five years ago at this point. The first result was ketoacidosis, which is basically a disease state when your blood acid gets so high because you're Type 1 diabetic and you're producing so many ketones that your blood gets acidic. I'm curious to hear about your experience. There just wasn't that much literature out there four or five years ago. This was definitely much more of a wild west experimental phase.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Mmmmm, I did not come across that. Thank God because I'm that person that would probably have read it and be like, "This is me." I just came across some basic information about what you experienced in the keto flu and thankfully it was... I will say even today, it was just very clean basic information that steered me in the right direction because there's so much information out there today that I think it's very intimidating.

Everyone is on the keto diet or a part of the keto diet now, or is trending with the diet and I think that we're making it way more over complicated. And even with my clients, they're like, when they're going through some of the keto symptoms, they even asked me, "Is this ketoacidosis?" And I'm like, "That does not really... it's part of what we're going through, but I can explain that a little further as you did." I'm thankful maybe there wasn't too much information at that point out there.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

No, but I think you're hitting on one of the things that people I think underestimate, which is you need to really experiment with yourself. Your biochemistry is going to be a little bit different from mine or different from all our listeners out there. Our DNA, your epigenetics, your environment, what your goals are all just different.

We have different baselines with different goals and you might want to be tweaking your different inputs like your food, like your exercise protocols, like your sleep to maximize the goal that you're trying to look for. So I think it is important as you say, to make sure you give yourself a little bit of wiggle room and experimentation time.

And I think some people might just treat it like too much of a science where... Yes, the science is getting there, but the science is not N equals one specific to you. And I think that's where I think coaches that are well-educated, that understand the science as is, can really help assist someone going through that transition.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

The one thing about society today, we so hooked on numbers. Now, unless it's coming... the numbers are coming from a doctor who understands your diet and your goals and things like that, that's a little different, but there's people that have to weigh themselves every day and they want to know exactly what every single meal should be down to the gram, and I'm like, "This is not what food is. This is not how you feel yourself."

And I understand somewhat the chloric intake and some calories in, calories out, but it's all about worrying about the quality versus the quantity. And it's like resetting our minds because we've been all about this. If I eat 100 calories less or even a little less than that, that's not how it is.

If you want to be able to perform based on your environment, if you're sick, if you're stressed, your body's going to need way more nutrients. If you're working out hard in the gym, you need to be able to give yourself the nutrients that it needs to carry out those tasks and starving yourself is not the way to do it.

Even coming from wanting to do my first show and being in a caloric deficit and making those changes, that's not what my body needed. I think I took a lot of great learning tips from it and I actually stopped working towards a show and just said, "On the keto diet, I feel so good." Why would I continue putting myself into a deficit which can be harmful, especially for a female to be that low in fat and whatnot.

I already had hormone imbalances. I go, "Why would I want to continue to do that to myself?" If I feel this good and this healthy, this is the ultimate goal. That's where keto for me took off and I just went running out the door like where can I learn more information about this diet because it completely changed my life.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Let's talk about that. You had the body building competition as initial catalyst. It definitely took off where your Instagram handle literally has the keyword keto in it. What were some of those big, I guess, literally life-changing realizations as you got keto adapted? And then two, what are some of the, I guess, popular misconceptions? I think one of the common questions is, as you're referencing like a hormonal differences between men and woman, and if you are potentially to lean on body fat, does that affect your hormonal state? Could you hit on those two topics?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Well, for women, we are meant to have some body fat. That's what we are. We have our estrogen, it's going to encourage fat storage rather than fat loss. For men, I've done work with clients as couples and it's amazing how quick the male drops the weight and the females just slowly stalling and maybe a couple of pounds here or there, might feel the same.

So for men and women it can completely be different with how they respond. I also think that as a female being estrogen dominant, there's a lot more issues that I really needed to manage. So I think that when I started seeing that one, my focus came back, my memory came back. I wasn't having these memory lapses where I couldn't remember names and things that I needed to do. I wasn't as forgetful.

But the energy levels for me were the biggest thing. The fact that I'd have to nap every single day and I didn't feel exhausted was huge because as soon as those energy levels went up, I was able to accomplish way more at work. I was able to accomplish more in the gym and I was able to actually focus on things outside in my life that needed to get done, so my overall quality of life completely improved.

And that's something that is completely priceless because for me to be able to go out and do things and one, be happy and confident and feel good about myself, those were the biggest rewards. And that's what I try to teach people that I work with is the scale is one of the worst tools we've created because it's just an overall sum of a total body mass, your fluids, your bones, your density, the muscle, the tissues where we keep allowing these numbers to define us.

So if you are able to at least take progress pictures is why I think taking pictures is way better than using the scale. You might be at the same weight or only a couple of pounds less, but those progress pictures are going to tell you a complete different story. And I think that using the mirror is the best tool that you're going to use.

And I know if I put in the work to diet properly and went to the gym, whether it's three times a week or six times a week, I know if I put in the effort and was consciously choosing my foods, then I can be happy with that. If I sat there and ate donuts all week and sat on my couch and watched Netflix, then I know I didn't do anything and then I can't be disappointed that nothing happened with my progress.

I think that it's coming down to more of a psychological challenge for a lot of us to really stop putting a number as a label for our health and start realizing that there's so much more. I know weight loss is the big goal, but I think that's just a bonus compared to everything else that goes on with keto.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I love that perspective and I want to dive into it a little bit more because I think folks that know my background, I'm a computer scientist and engineer by background and I think that feels it's very quantitative, and I think that was my initial approach coming into performance. I think the thing that a lot of engineers say is if you can't measure it, how can you optimize for it?

But I think what you're touching upon is the intuition of how the body performs holistically where I think the metrics around just like an arbitrary snapshot on weight or an arbitrary blood draw is a very small measure of overall performance. It is a nice tool to use and I think you would agree upon this, but it's not everything because I think you just can't quantify that clearly. Okay. How does my overall energy feel? Am I happy today versus yesterday?

And I think when people can over-engineer a solution where they get so obsessed with just chasing numbers, and I think I've seen this with some of the more engineering biohackers that are friends or friendly where they're very, very dialed in what the numbers, but they just don't even look that healthy.

And it's like you might have like the best quantitative results, but you don't seem very fit and doesn't seem like you're actually that healthy. And I think that's where you might miss the forest for the trees. So I think my perspective is that yes, use numbers as a way to orient to make sure that you're not completely going off the reservation, but the end goal is overall fitness and health.

And that's very hard to quantify or you need to understand what these numbers mean, and I think weight loss is a reasonable marker, or a facet blood sugar, or ketone numbers are reasonable numbers to help orient you, and I'm curious to hear your experience if you test those things, but it's not the end be all. I'm curious to hear your feedback from that perspective.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

I've learned to let go of the numbers and I think that takes a lot of time. And that also takes building that confidence in yourself and what you're doing in your own process, in your routines. Being four or five years in the keto now... Oh, I'm sorry, four or five years in my weight loss journey, but at least three years of keto, I've seen my results, I see how I feel and that's why I've been able to let that go.

And even being in the bodybuilding world here in Venice, California where I work out, I get to train among some of the greatest athletes and these are the physiques that I was like, "This is what healthy looks like." Now that's a different perspective because everything's so controlled, but I've been able to meet some of these girls and hear these stories where they are in such a caloric deficit and they're doing all this cardio and this training.

By the time they're done with this, their thyroids are shot, their bodies are shot, their hormones are off. It's like to me, "Why are you doing this to yourself?" But that's what the body building world is, so I know a lot of people that look physically healthy, they're lean, they've got muscle, but on the inside they're a complete disaster.

It's almost like counterintuitive like, "Okay, you're doing all these things to look great and you're hitting all your numbers. Your scale looks great, physically, you're lean, but you are just destroying yourself."

And that's where I've been able to see the best of both worlds, where like I've seen the improvements, I've been able to maintain this lean physique, I've been able to build muscle mass, but I don't have to take it to that extreme where I'm destroying my thyroid and hormones and go beyond what's necessary.

Again, I think it's just finding that good place that I'm happy with, I'm happy with my body, I'm happy with my performance. Again, it's like nutrition keeps changing. The keto diet's now new, what else is going to be new? It wasn't new five years ago or 10 years ago. That was really popular, so you have to be able to experiment.

And even if it's not true keto, but at least going in that direction and finding foods that work with your body, work with your hormones. It's about feeling good, so finding that balance, even if that means having a cup of rice every once in a while or maybe you really like potatoes, I'm all for that.

You don't have to go completely the extreme of ketosis, but being able to at least just eat a healthier diet so that you can live a better quality of life, I think that's just, again, the ultimate goal.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

No, I think you bring up a couple of good there, which is that when you work with Olympic or top star athletes, I think that's where you see a bifurcation or a difference between maximizing health span and happiness versus performance.

]It sounds like a lot of these women that are the elite bodybuilders, you hear just terrible stories where folks are infertile. Their hormones and dives are so jacked up, but even three, four years after their performance period, their periods haven't come back, and it's like, man, that sucks.

I guess it's not for us to judge or anyone to judge, that was what they want to do with their life, and I think that goes back to the point where all of us might have different goals and if your goal isn't necessarily to be the number one most lean bodybuilding person in the world, then you probably don't want to be that extreme on the calorie counting and the diet.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Absolutely. And I know that for those women or men who are doing that to their bodies, it can be a career and a lot of them become very successful and they love it. That's a passion, you have to be obsessive with what you're doing to take it to where they are. But at the same time the average American or just person in general, being a mom is a very important job or going to work, being the banker or whatever your job is, those are your priorities.

Where being a bodybuilder, that's their whole life where if I've got three kids and I go to a job every day, that's not going to be my goal. My goal is going to be able to just be able to maintain a healthy body and be able to get up, go to work, have the energy, take the kids to school.

Again, everyone's priorities are a little different. You've got to be able to find something that works with your lifestyle and that's really important, where that mother of three that has a job might not want to be a bodybuilding competitive person, but they might be able to find a female for example, what I like to try to be as a role model is just someone that owns my own business.

I get to work out once a day, I've got two dogs, I've got family and a significant other to take care of. I can have a life and do all these things and be able to maintain a healthy, lean state without having to go to that extreme.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah. I think one of the other part that I thought you touched upon is that nutrition and science keeps evolving. That's the definition of science, you keep running more experiments, collect more evidence and you get more and more refined idea of what is optimal.

And I think there's definitely, I would say a trend towards truth where it's very clear that over consumption of refined carbohydrate is not good for longevity. Don't start counting two liter bottles of soda to your face. I'm curious to hear from your perspective, what are some of the things that you've gravitated towards?

I hinted at the beginning of the conversation around some of the sub communities within keto, discussions between more of a carnivorous keto based diet versus the vegan diet. There's been a recent big movie, the Game Changers, a lot of people in the nutrition community have been talking about. Curious open that can of worms and dive into discussion there. Any initial thoughts?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

I that when it comes to diet, it's all about trial and error. And I again, have grown confidence through doing these little challenges over social media where there it's maybe an egg fast or a carnivore challenge. I've also done a single ingredient challenge where it can't come out of a box or bags because those are multiple ingredients.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Okay.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

So being able to do all these challenges, I've been able to see how my own body responds to things. When it comes to the carnivore diet, I love it. I think it's fantastic, and honestly, I'd never thought cutting up greens would work for me, but I never felt leaner. My energy completely spiked out of the roof. I was able to drop a couple pounds, which is pretty big because I'm already pretty lean. So that was pretty fun for me.

And I don't count calories, I don't really restrict, I'm very intuitive. I eat when I'm hungry, I skip if I'm not. I came out of a carnivore challenge and I loved it, and I think that if anyone has any GI issues like autoimmune diseases, things like that, from what I've read up on, I think that that's great for that.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

How long was the challenge?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

The carnivore challenge was only, I believe 10 days-

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Okay.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

... which was pretty simple.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

So a lot of like rib eye steaks, what was happening?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

All day.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Okay.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

I love my rib eye steaks, lots of eggs, but mostly just animal proteins for me and I threw on some oils and butters. When you're only doing something for 10 days like that, I'm not worried about getting like into the organ meats and stuff. That to me is a little too much, so I don't go true carnivore.

But when it comes to vegetables, I think vegetables are important. I don't think they're completely necessary. And again, this is just from my own experience in trial and error with my own diet. I think they're great for volume. I think that they are great for your gut, but I don't think completely cutting out proteins is the answer.

Now, I know the Game Changer recently came out and a lot of people have been asking me about it, so I had to watch it of course. I think that it's pretty bias. They kept talking about animal proteins and how meats are manly, but they kept showing like hamburgers. If you keep showing hamburgers and sandwiches and these really awful processed foods, anyone would not feel great eating that every single day. And unfortunately, that's ingrained into their standard American diet is very processed, quick, easy food.

And I know that they, for example, showed a group of firemen that they decided to take from their normal standard American diet and put them on vegetables. I think that's not a very great study because if you make any kind of improvements like that, of course they're going to see healthy benefits because you're taking them off all the refined sugars, the junk, the process, the chemicals, the fillers, anyone's going to see improvement with that.

So I would definitely like to see way more longterm controlled studies. And also from my understanding with documentaries, they don't have to put forward their studies because it's only a documentary. So the people behind filming it, if you really look into any of their connections, they have connections with a lot of vegan companies or plant-based products that they personally sell and have investments in.

So yes, I think vegetables are positive, I think they're great, but I also understand that being able to get your nutrients from plants can be a little more difficult. Plants don't want to be eaten. There's phytonutrients in them, so if I eat a steak, there's more bioavailable nutrients available that my body's going to absorb than eating plants, which you've got to be eating the right ones to get the right amounts of nutrients.

And I think if you really want to go vegan, you can, you just have to make sure that you're eating the right kinds of foods.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

And I think it's an interesting moral ethical question, and I think a lot of people are trying to use that as an anchor to spin the science and the data to justify a moral argument around it. I think that's the most interesting part of the question to me. I think that health side, that ancestral evolution of humans, we clearly consumed meat as we evolved if not primarily being able to access high fat diets, very bioavailable dense proteins allowed us to grow big brains and all of the stuff that you look at the data for Neanderthals and early humans.

If you look at their nitrogen ratios, it clearly showed high meat consumption as we evolved from lower apes. I think the data and the science around health and performance is pretty clear. We can see that there's an interesting moral discussion, is it okay to enslave animals and eat them?

And I think one could have like a reasonable argument there, but I wouldn't have anything that disagree with what you said in terms of... And look, I think it's possible to eat vegan healthy, but that opens up a can of worms. It's a very hard to supplement and eat the right amounts of plant material that get to a healthy state.

]When you work with different clients, have you tried like a vegan keto diets in terms of one of the challenges? That's been something that I've been curious to try myself. I've done four to six week cycles of carnivore and I had a very good experience, very enjoyable, but hard to maintain on a normal basis if you just only already eating like rib eye steaks. But I'm curious, have you thought about trying a vegan keto cycle or go on plant-base for a period?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

There's also a few questions that were raised just again, because they did a lot of... the athletes and their performance levels and the Game Changer. And I'm pretty sure most of them didn't start off vegan before becoming an athlete. They were all athletic and were able to improve their performance once making those diet changes, so again, I'd like to see more longterm studies with that.

My significant other is a huge body builder, very classic, very low fat kind of diet, but we watched it together and he would like to try doing vegan for two weeks and I'm just so against it. I love my proteins just with how I feel so lean, so healthy, my energy levels are up. I don't really want to mess with that.

Now, am I willing to try it? Yes, but I've also noticed that when I eat more vegetables, I do bloat a little bit more. I'm a little more sensitive to things. My body just doesn't feel like it's operating as well when there's more vegetables included. And am I willing to try it? I'm willing to try it because I feel like you can't say no to something without at least understanding it.

So I'd be willing to, not very encouraged by it, but I think that trying, it's the best way to understand it.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yeah, it's pretty open minded in terms of experimentation, right? One of the things that I think is adjacent to keto is time restricted feeding or intermittent fasting. Curious to hear your experience, your perspective on some of the adjacent nutritional strategies that doubled down on the metabolic changes that happens with the keto diet.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

With intermittent fasting, I think it's so natural and I know that it's such a great weight loss tool for a lot of the clients. And again, like my motto is eat if you're hungry and skip if you're not. And as soon as... there are usually like two or three weeks into it, they're like, wow, I'm really not hungry in the morning.

That's amazing, that's a great sign, then slowly start pushing that breakfast back, so they're starting to eat later in the day or maybe they stop eating a little bit earlier in the day before bedtime. So I think it's a very natural process once your body is one, fad adapted, but also just getting higher nutrient density diet plan overall, your body's getting exactly what it needs.

So rather than having all these cravings because you're not giving it what the body is asking for, again, most people in the standard American diet have lost touch with that and they just shove whatever they're in the mood for down their throat. When you're eating better quality foods, your body's able to perform better because it's got everything that it's needed.

I think when it comes to intermittent fasting, again, it's natural. I highly encourage it. I still think you need to get your calories in, just because you shorten that window doesn't mean you only need 1,000 calories a day. If you're going to go down to two meals, which is something that I do, I still get my 1,800 to 2,000 calories in.

When it comes to... some people like to do the whole OMAD. I've done it every once in a while, but I think I love food. I just want to eat, I just like to eat. And again, I think that's why keto is so good for me is because I love food. I love the taste of it, I love eating, I enjoy it. Because I have such a positive relationship with food, the keto diet does so well for me because I know I like to eat.

I usually do two meals a day. I try not to snack. I usually do sometimes, but again, when you get to snack on good jerkies or nuts for example, I'm a huge nuts fan, it's all high quality foods and it doesn't bother me that I get to be able to enjoy myself and not really stress out about how that food's going to affect me because I know it's very healthy.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I think if you just break down how people segment their food, it's caloric restriction, it's dietary restriction, meaning you cut out certain types of foods, or just time restriction. And I think you bring up a good point, which is that you don't want to be accidentally doing all three if you're not meaning to do it.

Meaning that if you're reducing the amount of time you're eating, don't accidentally just eat 1,000 calories. Make sure you get your full 2,000 or 1,800 your Ks, but for other people, maybe that's like 2,500 calories. So actually do what you're intending to do and not just accidentally kid all three all messy at the same time.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

And we shouldn't be afraid of food, and I think that's where it's come down with. One, people don't understand what they're reading on the labels. I think there's such a lack of education about how food interacts with our bodies. We've just been told if you eat 2,000 calories and you need to be in no deficit, cut 100 off or something like that.

I think that we need to throw that completely out the door and again, just focus on the quality of your foods and listen to your body. If you're hungry, then you do need to eat. If you're not hungry, maybe it's stress, it's boredom, maybe there's other factors that are coming into the comfort of having food around, but it's really understanding why we need food and how it interacts with our bodies.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Yep. Moving on to training side, I think when we talk to performance athletes, whether these are power lifting athletes or endurance athletes, one of the... I've seen more popular concepts recently is this notion of periodization or cycling of diets to different types of exercise. You can imagine that at the beginning of the season you might do a lot of fast workouts, and then as you're going up closer to a competition, you might be introducing more carbohydrates before the competition.

Curious to hear if you've thought about different ways of periodizing your food and training for different goals. I'm sure when you're performing or competing before a bodybuilding competition, you're doing a very different protocol than your maintenance state.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

As long as I've been doing this, I've actually never competed.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Okay.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Again, health is my overall goal and it's the point where I want to be able to preach, you can be healthy without being so dramatic about where you take it. You can have a positive relationship with food, you can have a positive relationship with yourself. And again, that's my overall goal to teach to clients.

And I've always had that little itch to want to step on, but I've never done it, so I recently did a 12 week prep program and my goal was to be completely keto. I don't really care to have carbs being keto for three years into it. If I have carbs, yes, my workout's really great the next day in the lower rep range, I can lift a lot of heavy weights, but my endurance is down, I feel hung over.

My body just is like, "Why did you give me this?" So going into a prep, I specifically asked... I did hire a coach and I asked for complete keto program only, that's it. And in 12 weeks my body made some major changes. It wasn't a huge drop in weight. I lost nine pounds, which I guess I would be really pretty big for someone of my size, but physically the changes that my body made, the appearance changes that it made in the waistline and whatnot were fantastic.

I never lost strength, even the nine pounds in weight drop, I never lost strength. I was able to lift as much if not more than when I started. I actually felt higher levels of energy and every once in a while I do test my ketones. You know if you're ketosis or not, you know if you feel that extra energy and you don't get to take the nap, you know if you're there.

I remember a few different days I was like, "What did I eat? I literally feel like I just took so much sugar." That's how much energy I had. And I started testing my ketones and my ketone levels were more than doubled what they normally are. I usually sit between like 0.8 and maybe like 1.3, 1.4. My levels just don't go much higher than that and all of a sudden I was in like 2.4, 2.6 range, I was like, "What's going on?"

Again, I looked at it as another experiment of what can I take away from how to meal prep and I learned one, how to save time by having consistency with my meals and learning how my body responds to it.

We did work with a little bit of a caloric deficit, but not much willing to drop my calories down a couple of hundred, but again, it was more focusing on strength. My physical appearance was making changes so I didn't need to change my caloric intake because I was burning off the calories and igniting all those hormones through my training.

But I never felt the need to include carbs just because of the few times that I ever have included carbs because of social outings, things like that, my performance levels have completely taken a hit the next 24 to 48 hours and I'd rather just not do that.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

I think that's an interesting caveat if you still flag for our listeners where if you are so keto adapted, you actually down-regulate your ability to process glucose. So it's like this inversion where I think most Americans on a standard American diet are just very, very glycolytic driven, so they really are poor at fat oxidation or fat burning.

And it sounds like you've really shifted your metabolism so much on the fat side where it's difficult or it takes some re-adaptation back to be able to burn off glucose, so it's like this inverse I guess glucose adaptation that you're feeling backwards.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Again, with my significant other being a bodybuilder, being on a carb diet, in the morning I get to go train fasted and I feel fantastic. He's got to get his food in, otherwise he feels like his workout takes a hit. And then as soon as his training's over, he's shaky, he's like, "I need to get food in," and I'm fine, I don't need to eat. I feel fantastic, I could go a couple more hours.

Food doesn't drive my schedule. I don't have to worry about when to eat, when to get my meals and carry my meals with me because being fad adapted, I'm completely tapped into this like somewhat almost unlimited reserve energy and I feel like it's super fuel. So it's completely been able to allow me to dictate what I'm doing for the day rather than worry about when I'm going to eat and get my next meal in, so it's great to be able to feel way more in control of what I'm doing than focusing on food.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Well, we have a lot of folks on the program, I think that usually like they get their partner to be on the ketogenic diet. It sounds like this is actually an interesting situation of where you guys are eating pretty much completely different things always. How does that work? Any practical tips? Have you tried to get him to try keto or vice... I'm just curious to hear about that dynamic.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

He's probably putting earplugs in at this point because of how much I talk about keto, but he's been in the bodybuilding world for 15 some years, so he knows exactly what to do at this point to dial in to be literally stage ready within a few weeks. Neither of us believe in putting in a whole bunch of weight to bulk and to gain muscle.

He believes in continuing to maintain a lean body, work hard, it's all about the right foods, but I personally do notice a lot of little flags. Like he does have to take naps all the time, he's physically exhausted. I'm worried about his thyroid, I'm worried about his adrenal glands. He's got a very stressful job.

I know he doesn't really get any kind of fats in, which being on the keto diet just stresses me out watching him, so I try to sneak them in every once in a while when I can. I've also just noticed that he's got a lot of inflammation, he's got injuries. He's always physically hurting. I've preached and asked him to try keto so many times, but I think that when you've done something for so long, 15 years, he's been in bodybuilding and he's gotten it down.

He's worried about making that transition and maybe losing the muscle mass. For him it's the unknown. Even though he sees how well I'm doing it, I think it turns his wheels, but right now, bodybuilding, that's his image, that's what he does, and hopefully I can find some people that are in the bodybuilding world that are just as big as him that might be keto.

That's my problem is finding those kinds of people on the diet or the big bodybuilders that do no carb, low carb lifestyles and are able to maintain their muscle mass. But I think one day, because he knows that he cannot continue to be so drastic with his diet and training and longterm be able to sustain that. I think he knows he's got to make changes, it's just when.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

That makes sense and I think it goes back to the earlier point around if you're such at a high level performance then that is your career, that is your livelihood, that is how you'll be able to survive. It's like what is the trade off there versus overall longevity or health span?

One of the things that folks might be looking at when they're entering a keto diet, especially when they're thinking about training are different types of supplements, whether that's MCT oils or exogenous ketones. Can you tell us a little bit of your thoughts or experience around those types of supplements or those types of products?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Beginning with my bodybuilding journey, I picked up any products that were at the gym, "This one looks good or this one's on sale." I had no idea the impact of how supplements can really help with your performance levels or how important the ingredients are, and that's something I've really come to learn and start looking into.

Most of these companies with mass production, they've got the proprietary blends or... You don't exactly know what you're getting, and I'll even read those ingredients labels and I have no idea what half of it is. That's my rule of thumb with my food, if I don't know what it is, I shouldn't eat it, and I feel like that should also apply to my supplements.

So when it comes to my supplements, the two major ones that I do take are HVMN, MCT oil powders and the collagen because you guys are so transparent with what's in it. Your labels, the quality is absolutely fantastic, the taste is unbelievable. So the fact that you guys have put out such an amazing product, it's something that I include in my everyday life because I believe in it and I can trust it. And that's just something I can't do with a lot of companies out there.

I know that companies are getting so smart with their marketing, whether it is the food or the supplements, it's hard to tell what's keto, what's not keto, is it going to spike your insulin, is it going to keep your insulin low. I feel like marketing has just been very deceitful and with HVMN, I don't have to worry about that. So I've really incorporated them into my everyday life.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Well, thank you. And then I'm curious to hear about the Ketone Ester because I think a lot of the performance has been focused on endurance performance and that's where the clinical research has been, but it's been interesting to hear some of the feedback with USA Weightlifting. I'm curious to hear about your experience there. I've seen you post some stories about that. Curious to hear your thoughts.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Most of the time that I use the Ketone Ester is after a... I don't want to call it a re-feed or day I got a cheat meal, but when I do have carbs because I know that my performance is going to go down in the gym the next day. So the fact that I can take the Ketone Ester, put myself into ketosis and run off those sugars for my weightlifting, my performance, yes the endurance is a little bit down compared to being completely in deep ketosis on my own, but I'm able to get through the gym, power through my training and then not feel as sluggish and as like my carb hangover as I say.

I feel like that Ester really helps me push through and not feel as depleted, so I definitely see a huge improvement for the following day after carbohydrates. And there's a few times that I do use it when I am in ketosis and I've done it, whether it's like Muay Thai or just as really high enduring training sessions and I am just like "Go, go, go." I've never felt better. So I absolutely see improvements and I think that's so cool that I can use it being fad adapted or not. It's just such a cool product.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

One of the questions I always like to end our conversations with is, if you had infinite resources and test subjects or even just experiments on yourself, what experiment would you like to run? What scientific question would you like to answer?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

I know everything's so scientific now. I honestly feel like if I could do anything it would be to get rid of all of that, to get back to the basics, stop putting labels on things, stop creating bias towards one way or the other and just get back to intuition, get back to the basics, get back to things that we need versus what we enjoy or what we're in the mood for.

I'd really like if anything, if anyone can learn something from the keto diet, it's to really just be more intuitive and understand their body and what it needs rather than looking for the information, or the why, or how it worked for somebody else. They need to do trial and error with their own body and diet and see what makes them feel happy and find the best results.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Well said. I think a lot of us don't just pay attention to ourselves anymore. I think there's like... we're too caught up in the game of capitalism and folks in your job and whatnot and it's like lose touch with what actually makes you feel good.

And I think even just thinking about it and trying to pay attention to it I think helps open up this door because I think again for me personally, I thought all this intuition stuff was unscientific or pseudo sciencey, but there's something with just...

Our brains are just synthesizing so much information that might not necessarily be quantitative, but there's some data processing happening there that just unknown to the science yet, and I think there's something there.

Maybe we can measure that at some point, but before we can fully quantify all the different inputs going into the human system, there's something valuable to tune towards with just like the intuition of ourselves. So I think that's something that I think maybe folks are too focused on quantitative numbers are missing.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Absolutely. If there was something that I would love to see with science, I would just love to see the longterm studies of people doing true keto or at least some kind of modified version and just to see their longevity and living a healthier lifespan rather than just the short term fad diets that people go through where they do it for a little bit and that's it. They feel good where... I've been doing it for three years.

I'm going to be doing it for the next 10, the next 20, I would love to see how science is able to start realizing or at least start putting out the information of why people should continue with it.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

That's well said. I think the studies don't exist for any diet. No one's on a randomized controlled trial for the standard American diet either and I think the hard part is that it's so expensive and so the times, the spends are so long. Are people really going to be tracking someone for 50 years?

But I think that's why we have these debates around fad diets. I think there is evidence and bodies of work that suggest different fads, but is there a gold standard randomized controlled trial over 50 years for any specific diet? And it's not real, it doesn't really exist. You have associational or epidemiology studies at best, which we can have another conversation about how stories those studies can be.

Cool. As we wrap up here, where do folks follow you? You're on social media, you're on Instagram. What are the exciting projects that you have coming up? Where do people follow along?

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Most of my posting is in Instagram. I feel like that's where I'm able to get my most reach and most engagement, and that's my goal is to be able to reach out to as many people as possible, to get to know them, get to know their stories and just help spread that inspiration and help them become their own inspiration in their stories.

You can find me mostly on Instagram at ketowithcrystal, and I will be putting all of my updates on there. I also have my own website, ketowithcrystal.com. And any of my favorite products, my blog's up there, anything that I think is beneficial to my life and something that my followers may love, I also put up there, but we've got some really big things coming up where I'm launching with my partner, a new company coming up end of November into December. It's going to be something that everyone can use for their meals or their meal prep. And we haven't announced it yet, but it'll be out there. We'll start putting little teasers out within the next couple of weeks.

H.V.M.N.
Geoff

Cool. Excited to see when that launches. Awesome. Really fun conversation, Crystal. Thanks for coming on.

H.V.M.N.
Crystal R.

Thank you for having me.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

© 2020 HVMN Inc. All Rights Reserved. H.V.M.N.®, Health Via Modern Nutrition™, Nootrobox®, Rise™, Sprint®, Yawn®, Kado™, and GO Cubes® are registered trademarks of HVMN Inc. ΔG® is a trademark of TΔS® and used under exclusive license by HVMN Inc.