Dr. Peter Attia: Longevity, Diet, & Finding the Drive – The Get Over Yourself Podcast

Check out The Get Over Yourself Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Aim to optimize exercise, nutrition, and sleep
    • “Those three things probably have the biggest impact on your physical health. It’s hard to say that somebody who’s achieving 80% of their potential on each of those three isn’t also achieving 80% of their longevity potential.” – Peter Attia
  • The best nutrition advice you’ll ever hear: Don’t eat anything your great grandmother couldn’t have eaten
    • This eliminates processed sugar, refined carbs, and processed hydrogenated oils
  • In regards to nutrition, forget the argument – “Everything in moderation”
    • “The only reason to embrace moderation within nutrition when it comes to the bad actors is if it’s the only way you can maintain sanity” – Peter Attia
  • The lower the amount of insulin you produce throughout your life is predictive of longevity
    • This is a function of the type of calories you’re consuming – the more starchy/junky carbs you eat, the higher your insulin levels
  • When time-restricting your eating, you want to be the most insulin sensitive when you eat your largest meal of the day
    • (We’re most insulin sensitive in the morning and after exercise)
  • Never skip a workout
    • If you’re not feeling up to it, just lower your performance expectations 

Intro

The Life of Peter Attia

  • The Peter Attia Drive
    • This is Peter’s podcast which he started in July 2018
    • One of Peter’s goals for the podcast – being able to generate enough revenue to cover some of the research his group is doing
  • Peter’s Research Team
    • Bob Kaplan is his head researcher
    • What do Peter and his team work on?
      • “Projects that we deem internally interesting and relevant that eventually becomes relevant to the patients” – Peter Attia
  • Peter’s Medical Practice
    • He has two offices, one in NY and San Diego
    • The biggest difference between going to your primary care physician and seeing Peter for a visit – it’s proactive as opposed to reactive (AKA going to the doctor to prevent rather than treat a symptom)

The Big Three Killers (and how to fight them)

  • Heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer are the three things killing most Western citizens
  • How do we prevent the above? – Aim to optimize exercise, nutrition, and sleep
    • “Those three things probably have the biggest impact on your physical health. It’s hard to say that somebody who’s achieving 80% of their potential on each of those three isn’t also achieving 80% of their longevity potential. – Peter Attia

Optimizing Nutrition

  • Instead of worrying about whether to eat keto, paleo, vegan, low-carb, etc. – examine what each diet has in common when done correctly 
  • In general: Don’t eat anything your great grandmother couldn’t have eaten
    • This eliminates processed sugar, refined carbs, and processed hydrogenated oils 
  • What about the argument – “everything in moderation”?
    • It depends on what you’re comparing it to. Smoking in moderation is undoubtedly better than smoking in excess, but definitely not better than not smoking.
    • “The only reason to embrace moderation within nutrition when it comes to the bad actors is if it’s the only way you can maintain sanity” – Peter Attia
    • It also depends on you’re starting point

The Ketogenic Diet

  • Many people, when transitioning to a ketogenic diet, have trouble adapting
    • This results in difficulty sleeping, difficulty exercising, and general fatigue
    • Why does this occur? – The body isn’t fat-adapted, and it now has to manage a different balance of water/electrolytes (due to carbohydrate restriction)
  • Peter spent three straight years in a state of ketosis 
    • Why’d he stop? – He wanted to eat more vegetables (you can certainly eat them on a ketogenic diet, just not extreme amounts)
      • (After deciding to end his stint with the ketogenic diet, Peter began intermittent fasting as he started to eat more starchy carbohydrates)
    • Some notes on Peter’s experience with the ketogenic diet:
      • Peter estimates it took him ~1 year to fully adapt when it came to intense exercise and not experiencing any deficits/detriments 
      • Overall, he felt great doing it – particularly mentally
        • Another benefit: the lack of hunger swings
  • One advantage of the ketogenic diet (especially one that Peter personally experienced) is its binary nature
    • Deciding to eat keto reduces decision fatigue and takes thinking out of the equation – you know what you can and can’t eat without question
    • “In many ways, ketosis becomes indirectly valuable. It’s directly valuable for several reasons, but it’s indirectly valuable for the psychological and behavioral component.”Peter Attia
  • Every gram of glycogen (stored glucose) carries 4 grams of water
    • Because of this, when people first begin following a ketogenic diet (or when entering a fast), they’ll lose a lot of water weight as a result of depleting their glycogen levels

Insulin Area Under the Curve (AUC)

  • Peter has stated in the past that, in general, the lower the amount of insulin you produce throughout the course of your life is predictive of longevity
    • This is a function of the type of calories you’re consuming – the more starchy/junky carbs you eat, the higher your insulin levels

Something to Think About

  • In the realm of nutrition science: “There’s uncertainty in everything” – Peter Attia
  • Dom D’Agostino has said something similar – “Watch out for scientists that speak in absolutes; they’re probably crappy, but those are the ones that get on TV.”

The Power of Cycling | Peter’s Diet and Fasting Routine

  • “It might be the case that you can minimize lifetime insulin AUC while still cycling periods of anabolism and catabolism… You might actually produce the best outcome if you’re cycling periods of growth and autophagy.” Peter Attia
    • For this reason, every quarter Peter does a 7-day water-only fast sandwiched by a week of following the ketogenic diet on each end
      • Entering a fast while following a ketogenic diet makes adapting to the lack of food much more manageable (because you’re already in a state of ketosis)
      • Breaking your fast by forcing yourself to eat keto makes it much harder to go off the rails (in simple terms – you’re forced not to eat three whole pizzas)
    • When he’s not fasting or following a ketogenic diet, Peter time-restricts his eating
      • On the days Peter lifts weights (3x a week), his feeding window is wider (~10 hours) to accommodate his anabolic needs
        • More specifically, he wants to prevent the breakdown of muscle 
      • On days he’s not lifting, but does cardio (4x a week), his feeding window his 6-8 hours 
  • When time-restricting your eating, you want to be the most insulin sensitive when you eat your largest meal of the day
    • (We’re most insulin sensitive in the morning and after exercise)

The #1 Rule of Nutrition

  • We eat what’s present, so make sure you always have good food around the house

Anger

  • Every time you feel anger, ask yourself:
    • Does this really matter?
    • Will his matter in 5 minutes?
    • Will this matter tomorrow?
  • The thing that probably gets Peter most angry nowadays? – Drivers who have it out for road cyclists 
    • This primarily originates from one of his friends dying after getting struck by an oncoming car

Peter’s Current Athletic Goals

  • “I don’t really have many performance goals. My first goal is to show up and do the workout. My first goal is completion; call it the attendance goal. Don’t miss a workout… ever.” – Peter Attia
    • If you absolutely feel horrible, just lower your performance expectations – you’ll always be glad you did the workout when it’s done
  • That said, Peter does have some strength goals (like hitting specific targets with his deadlift)

Finding the Drive

  • “I think for many people, including me, mastery is a need. The journey of getting better at something is really important.” – Peter Attia
    • Peter finds it hard to experience pleasure with recreational activities – he needs the competitiveness, whether with himself or others

Peter and Brad Talk Endurance Sports

  • Back when Peter used to do a lot of swimming, his go-to drink (fuel) of choice was Hammer Perpetuem
  • Living in San Diego, one of Peter’s favorite swims was around La Jolla Cove (despite there being regular shark sightings)
  • Peter once swam the Catalina Channel
  • One of Peter’s favorite documentaries is Breaking2 – the documentary follows three of the world’s most elite distance runners as they set out to break the 2-hour marathon barrier
  • The fastest sprinters generate incredibly high levels of downward force with each stride
    • This results in more air time between each step
  • The best swimmers in the world get across an Olympic-sized pool in 12-14 strokes
    • If you take the average person and throw them in the same pool, they’ll get across in ~25 strokes
  • With endurance sports, whether cycling, swimming, or running, the faster you go, the more aerodynamics plays a role
  • While cycling, you can output more power in an upright position, compared to when you’re cycling in more of an aerodynamic position

Additional Notes

  • Peter has three kids, ages 10, 4, and 1 (at the time of this recording in September 2018) 
  • Check out Peter’s TED Med Talk
  • One of Peter’s favorite talks is David Foster Wallace’s This is Water commencement speech
  • Peter used to be able to tear a phone book in half (a result of super high grip strength)
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