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The Peter Attia Drive – Tom Bilyeu on Nutrition, Fasting, Meditation, Immortality, and the Secret Formula for Fulfillment

  • Tom is the co-founder of Quest Nutrition
    • They’re most famously known for Quest Bars (these are really good if you haven’t tried them)
    • They also make MCT Powder
      • This is great stuff because in the powder form, you can consume more (compared to the oil form), without any digestive discomfort
  • Check out Tom on Youtube and Instagram
Diet and Nutrition
  • Tom used to be fat-phobic (around the year 2013), but now his views have been completely reversed
    • He used to religiously follow a high protein diet, eating only about 1,200-1,500 calories a day
    • 80% of his calories came from protein – he ate lots of steamed chicken breasts
    • This diet, although not optimal health wise, was very good for allowing Tom to keep his body fat relatively low
  • Now his views are completely reversed
    • His first experience with the ketogenic diet, involved eating 80% fat, 20% protein+carbs
      • This would consistently get his blood ketone levels into the 3mmol+ range
      • Upon trying the ketogenic diet, he noticed his chronic wrist pain went away completely
    • “There were all kinds of things about the importance of fat, that I wasn’t appreciating before”
    • Ever since trying the ketogenic diet for the first time, Tom has followed either a ketogenic diet, or a standard high fat/low carb diet. His current eating protocol is discussed below.
      • “I went from thinking only about strength, to thinking only about asthetics, now I think about performance.”
    • For more on a ketogenic diet, check out these Podcast Notes from Dr. Dom D’Agostino’s appearance on Peter’s podcast
Life, Work, and Tom’s Quest for Immortality
  • Peter doesn’t think immortality is achievable in this day and age
    • “There is something reasonable about death. It closes the loop on the carbon cycle and forces a sense of urgency.” – Peter
    • However, Tom doesn’t think he’d lose his sense of urgency related to work, if he was given the opportunity to live forever
      • It’s similar to how he currently has enough money to sit on an island for the rest of his life, but he chooses to bust his ass day in and day out
      • “If I could live forever, I would live forever”
  • Tom has decided not to have kids
    • “I really want kids. The only thing I want more than I want kids, is to not have kids”
    • Peter – “Why has having kids, become a default thing?”
  • “Construct your life around things that give you energy, and fill you with joy”
    • A deep sense of fulfillment is necessary – some people find fulfillment through kids
    • For Tom, he’s found fulfillment through work
      • “I have such a level of excitement for the things that I call work, that it’s hardly work”
  • Check out the book Einstein’s Dreams 
    • It’s a book of short stories that explore the nature of time
    • In one of the stories, people are given the opportunity to live forever, and some interesting things happen…
Quest Nutrition
  • Started by Tom in 2009 with Ron Penna and Mike Osborn
  • The trio previously created Awareness Technologies, but this was something Tom absolutely did not enjoy
    • He only did it for the money, and was burned out to the extreme
  • Quest was started after the trio had finished with Awareness Technologies, and was looking for something new
    • As Tim Ferriss says, Quest served to scratch Tom’s own itch
    • Tom was deeply passionate about nutrition&health, and very concerned about the obesity epidemic
  • Social media is a megaphone
    • If you give people a reason to say something good, they’ll say something good. If you give people a reason to say something bad, they’ll say something bad.
    • “Because Quest was so early in the age of social media, we exploded”
    • Quest was pre-Instagram, so Facebook and Twitter were the original growth catalysts
  • The goal was to build Question Nutrition around value creation, with a core community, to help people lose weight and end metabolic disease for good
    • They wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the way food was made, sourced, processed, understood, and eaten
Impact Theory
  • A show/podcast Tom hosts
  • The origins:
    • In the early days of Quest, Tom wrote the 25 bullet points for employees – a belief system which lays the groundwork for approaching life with the right mindset
      • “When I’m at my most honest, I love helping with the body, but helping with the mind is what I’m meant to do”
    • He created a show called Inside Quest, where he interviewed successful people to help Quest employees see what’s necessary for success
    • Inside Quest eventually became Inside Theory
  • Note from Podcast Notes – check out this Impact Theory episode with Tim Ferriss if you’re just discovering the show
  • Tom says he didn’t feel any different after Quest went public as a company
  • We tend to think, all the insecurities we have will be wiped away when we become rich
    • This isn’t the case – you feel exactly the same
    • Tom compares it to losing his virginity – you’re not a different person after it
  • “Money won’t impact how you feel about yourself, it is merely there to extend your capabilities” – it can facilitate things
  • If you want to realize how powerful money is…
    • Think about how much of your own life, is determined by work/what you get paid to do
    • Imagine controlling that money – you’re able to aim incredibly intelligent people at problems YOU want solved
  • Who does Tom think, has been a good example of using their wealth for maximum impact?
    • Elon Musk – think about how paradigm changing his companies are
Quest and the Hiring Process
  • Tom used to interview every single employee in the hiring process for Quest (in total around 1500 people)
    • What did he learn that surprised him the most from doing this?
      • Tom would ask every person what they would wish for if they had 1 wish from a magic genie – Nearly every person wished for $1 million
        • This fascinated Tom, because to him, why not wish for something like $1 billion
        • “You only dream as big as you think, and you only think as big as what you see”
  • Tom would also always ask interviewees what their plans were, for after they worked at Quest
    • It’s important to realize, and Tom did, that most people just don’t stay in a job for longer than 3-4 years
    • If Tom believed he could help them get there through their time at Quest, he knew they could work together to make something amazing happen
    • “I would rather have an employee who believes I’m making their life better every day, than to have an employee for 20 years, and they hate every bit of it” – The way these two types of people will work, are dramatically different
  • Fulfillment is a neurochemical state – it ebbs and flows
  • “Fulfillment comes from becoming someone you’re proud of, and building a skill set that’s incredibly hard to build, that serves not only yourself, but other people
    • Do the hard things, not things that are pleasurable – this is when you feel f*cking awesome, when you do the hard things while other people are playing
  • “The cool stories, are the one’s that while you’re in it, suck”
  • Peter – “It’s very hard to be fulfilled, if you’re not servicing someone else, at some point”
  • Think about much suicide goes against the idea of evolution, yet it’s so common
    • It’s so ubiquitous, that almost no person’s life hasn’t been affected by it
  • Tom thinks the rise in suicide, might just be tied to something happening to the microbiome
    • 95% of serotonin (the happy horomone) is stored in the gut
  • How might the microbiome become damaged and less diversified?
    • Restrictive diets – like the high protein, 1,250 calorie a day diet Tom used to follow
    • Heavy antibiotic use
    • Over sanitizing and hand washing
  • Peter – “I wonder if people feel more alone today than 100 years ago”
  • “Don’t lose playfulness”
    • In life, we tend to focus solely on “doing” and work, we forget how to have fun and be goofy
  • There’s no off switch in life – we have our phones all the time, we’re always connected. Natural stop and kill points don’t really exist any more.
Diet, Exercise, and Sleep
  • “I don’t f*ck around with my diet, my diet is on point”
    • Tom eats whole foods whenever possible
    • Also variety of vegetables, eggs, healthy fats (olive oil), some read meat, some chicken, some lamb, and some pork
    • Tom rarely ever cheats (he estimates twice a year)
  • Once a year, Tom will do a 5 day water fast
    • Tom will usually follow a ketogenic diet for a few days up until a fast
    • He’ll usually lose 3-4 pounds over the course of the 5 days
  • Typically, Tom will follow a ketogenic diet one week, and the next follow a higher protein/very low carb/high fat diet
    • While following a ketogenic diet, Tom will intermittent fast (IF) from 6pm to 8am
      • He doesn’t IF during the high protein week of his diet – but he’ll never eat outside of a 12 hour window
    • During the high protein week – he’ll eat about 140g of protein a day (while following a ketogenic diet, he’ll eat about 100 grams of protein a day)
      • Fat intake will also get slightly reduced during the high protein week
  • Tom works out 5 days a week – he hates it, but it’s critically important to him
    • Peter on the other hand, “really enjoys deadlifitng” – It makes him upset when he misses a workout
  • Sleep
    • Tom is a psycho about sleep
      • He’s in bed every night by 9pm, and sleeps until he wakes up without an alarm
      • “Being tired is a form of misery. You’re worse at everything you do.”
    • Peter recalls a study in which people became twice as insulin resistant after getting 4 hours of sleep a night for two weeks
    • It’s very difficult to consolidate memories with a lack of sleep
    • For more on sleep, check out these Podcast Notes, a fan favorite, from Why We Sleep author Dr. Matthew Walker on Joe Rogan
      • Also check out The Sleep Elixir, a post from us which compiles various sleep tips from the podcast world
  • Meditation
    • Tom meditates every day 
      • He sits and just follows his breath with his eyes closed
      • He doesn’t specify how long he does it for
    • “I don’t know where I’d be in my most stressful years without it”
    • Tom meditates right before every public talk
    • Peter brings up a good point
      • All the negatively valenced emotions (anxiety, fear. sadness, depression etc.) are rooted in the past or future
      • Meditaiton, which helps cultivate a present state awareness, can be used to combat these
Peter’s Exercise Routine
  • Rule #1 – don’t get hurt
    • Every 1 out of 5 times Peter goes to deadlift, he’ll stop if he feels his glutes aren’t firing, or something feels off
  • His deadlifting routine
    • Warm up – Unspecified reps at bar, 135, 225, and 315 lbs.
    • “If on the way up that ladder, I don’t feel perfect, I’m done” –
    • Peter has the same rule when squatting
  • Tom hasn’t read email since reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
  • “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor”Joseph Campbell
  • “I want to make sure that no human being on the planet fails to encounter an empowering mindset”
  • Peter – “I could eat a bathtub of plain white rice. That’s how much I love carbs.”
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