Alessandro Ferretti, DipION
Alessandro graduated from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition in 2001 and formed Equilibria Health Ltd in 2004. With a growing team of Nutritionists and a Medical Doctor, Equilibria Health is now recognized as one of the UK’s leading providers of nutrition education.
2:13 Alex’s Journey: He went to a science based college and then trained with naturopaths. Things that worked for these naturopaths were unexplainable. Eventually, the science caught up with different terminology. He met Dr. Jack Crander from The Center for Health and Human Performance. They made a great connection. Alex became part of the team and learned a great deal about testing and research. Primarily now he does research and lecturing. It was a challenge for him to let go of the things he had been taught, but he was then free to fully explore.
7:01 Alex and the Ketogenic Diet: He came across the Bulletproof system and knew that we burn fat. But he began to understand when he went to see his father in Italy. He ate LOTS of fat and lost weight. He wasn’t training heavily, but became very trim. Upon his return, Alex decided to test using 10 people. This is how he devised his version of ketogenic/paleo diet. Having started from a very clean diet, after 3 months the differences were astonishing.
9:40 Researching Ketosis: True ketogenic state is not sustainable. It is for the performance athlete. The keto adapted diet is for health. Alex explored how many carbs you need during anaerobic training and monitored when you eventually fall off ketosis.
11:37 Unexpected Results: They found positive effects upon heart rate variability. Heart rate during anaerobic exercise had previously been steady and predictable, all other variables were constant, yet there was an improvement of 10%.
13:51 What is Keto Adapted? During anaerobic exercise, some people fall out of ketosis with a certain amount of carbs; whereas others, with the same number of carbs, stay in ketosis. Alex is finding that there is a genetic component. You can maximize your body’s ability to operate and you can maximize your glycogen store, but you have a cap. The analogy is that you get paid by the hour. There is a limit on how much you can be paid per hour and there are only so many hours in a day. That is your glycogen. If you work per job, that is your ketones. He tested two; one via breath and one via blood. He found that both guided him in his ketosis. Mainly, it is a ketogenic diet. But when someone is doing an anaerobic sport for an extended time a few times a week, we need a different fuel. He calculated how many carbs and how much fat was required. By feeding the body exactly what it needs, he experienced a muscle mass increase. He thought he would lose weight and deplete his glycogen stores.
19:16 Burning Glucose or Fat? Consume carbs early enough in the evening that it does not interfere with sleep quality. He modifies the carbs during the training so glycogen stores full and ready to go. It is not fully ketogenic or paleo. During high intensity anaerobic exercise, we want to utilize our glycogen stores. The rest of the time, we want to stay in ketosis. During anaerobic exercise, we use glycose and during aerobic exercise, we use fat. If someone has carbs to refuel and they do not do it properly, a hypoglycemic event will follow within 20 to 40 minutes. This can be avoided by using fat as a base for basic metabolic functions, with a body that has been adapted to work on fats.
23:31 Glycogen Stores: If someone does 20 minutes of high intensity training, even if they push themselves, Alex recommends that they only use flavored branch chain amino acids. But if it is a longer workout goes longer than 20 minutes, the maximization of glycogen stores may not be adequate and it needs to be refueled with sugar. If someone is new to training, their ability to store and synthesize glycogen in the muscles will be much less than someone whose body has adapted to their training.
27:04 Measuring Blood Sugar Levels: They were higher than expected within 3 or 4 hours after replenishing with carbs. After some research and tweaking, Alex found that if we correlate precisely the consumption of carbs with the anaerobic calorie expenditure, we can return to ketosis more quickly. His theory is that the more often you do this, the more quickly the body can return to ketosis.
28:31 Refined vs Whole Food Sugar: Alex continues to explore the forms of sugar to be used. It is a challenge to find sources that guarantee to have a product that contains no mold or have other health issues. He does recommend concoction of dates, maca powder and certain syrups that comes close to a 1 to 1 fructose/sucrose ratio. You can use natural products. If you are that the elite level and you want that edge, it may not work. You don’t want too many fibers when your body is barely accepting glucose. The amount of natural food to make up the 7 or 8 hundred calories per hour required is considerable.
33:05 Increased Heart rate Variability: Alex discovered the use of heart rate variability when searching for a way to measure an inflammatory response. Since working to increase his heart rate variability, he no longer suffers from over training syndrome and no longer injures himself pushing too hard. A drop in HRV shows that something is taxing your body, perhaps your immune system. HRV is a way to understand your sympathetic activation and a way to understand your inflammatory response. It gives you an understanding of where your body is at in relation to training. Even positive events take a toll on metabolism, bringing down HRV, impacting recovery. HRV provides practical data.
38:26 HRV and the Keto Adapted: Week by week in ketosis, HRV increased over the course of 6 months. Alex thinks that people, who are predisposed to have an increased response to glucocorticoid stimulation and have unusually higher levels of secreting glucose, could benefit more from a ketogenic diet and experience a reduction in inflammatory response and better HRV.
42:24 Heart rate Changes: Alex’s resting heart rate is now lower. During power session, his heart rate reaches higher than it has in decades. People who do aerobic exercise tend to have heart rates in the lower ranges, because that activity primes the body to be more efficient, and those who do anaerobic exercise have heart rates in the higher ranges. Crossfitters tend to have heart rates in the middle range. His and his “guinea pigs” heart rate’s range has been stretched.
47:03 Heart rate and HRV Monitoring: Alex uses a monitor that measures both heart rate and HRV. It is Body Guard First Beat. He is a data guy and loves the reports the monitor provides on how his body is recovering. He discovered that, he recovers in less than 1/3 of his sleep duration. It provides a very detailed lifestyle assessment. It is good to have biometrics to provide feedback, no matter what level you are at.
51:35 Alex’s Morning Routine: Alex used to commute to London in the tube and found that it left a negative “footprint” on him for at least 2 hours. If he drives, he relaxes while listening to podcasts and his HRV goes up. He gathers meaningful data from his environment. In the morning, his HRV is the highest. He reaches almost a meditative state and organizes and prioritizes his day in his head. After seeing his son off to school, he practices his forms very slowly, in a way similar to Tai Chi. He consumes fat with a stimulant of coffee or tea.
54:49 One Herb, Nutrient, Botanical, or Supplement: Alex would choose real food and supplements that contains real L-methylfolate. Everyone needs it to maintain health, especially if they want to perform. If you don’t support methylation during athletic performance, inflammatory responses are triggered.
59:22 One Lifestyle or Health Conversation for the Masses: What are we doing to our food? Food quality and safety needs to be addressed. Would there be enough food on the planet if everyone ate healthy. In addition, he considers the love that is imparted in the preparation of food important, as is personal responsibility and accountability.