Ayyyy! Your Diet May Not Be Cool Anymore – A Karma Sense Update

Executive Summary

The Urban Dictionary defines the phrase “Jump the Shark” as:

A term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality and popularity. Origin of this phrase comes from a “Happy Days” episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. This was labeled the lowest point of the show. Other examples include the introduction of Cousin Oliver to the “Brady Bunch” or Scrappy Doo to “Scooby Doo.”

Now my biggest beef with this scene was wondering how the Fonz planned on keeping his leather jacket dry. But sticking to the shark thing, how do you know when a diet craze jumped the shark? This post will uncover some of the sure-fire signs.

Buttering Your Coffee – Jumped the Shark

If I told you that simply by adding some butter to your morning coffee you’d be smarter and better looking, would you believe it? The many followers of the Bulletproof Diet believe it. The Bulletproof Diet is a high protein, low carb, paleo style of eating with one major quirk. That quirk is that the only thing you’re supposed to have for breakfast is a cup of coffee blended with unsalted butter from grass-fed cows and a proprietary concoction of coconut oil. The purported benefits of this breakfast, according to the diet’s creator, Dave Asprey, are as follows:

  • It helps you lose weight.
  • It’s satiating.
  • It’s a source of good fats.
  • It makes you smarter.

People who swear by the Bulletproof program include the L.A. Lakers (who haven’t done so well since they’ve picked up the habit…just sayin’) and Kevin Bacon. And we all know that if Kevin Bacon does it we’re each only six degrees away from being next. But are there any actual merits to the claims? Let’s look at them one by one.

Bulletproof Coffee Helps You Lose Weight

Following a Bulletproof lifestyle will possibly help you lose weight. A cup of bulletproof coffee is about 440 calories. That’s pretty good if that’s all you have for breakfast. If the rest of your day follows the Bulletproof diet, you will likely be in a calorie deficit, you will likely lose weight, and that weight loss will most likely be due to loss of fat as opposed to muscle.

Bulletproof Coffee is Satiating

A breakfast with more fat than steak and eggs will usually be filling.  This feeling of fullness also comes to you thanks to the low carbohydrate nature of the overall diet. There’s no magic here.

Bulletproof Coffee is Source of Good Fats

Bulletproof coffee is a source of saturated fat which is not an inherently bad fat (despite our previous brainwashing). But we Americans have no problems getting saturated fats in our diet. We don’t need to target them as something to get more of. Instead, we should be focusing on getting more monounsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. As saturated fats go, the ingredients in bulletproof coffee are pretty clean but this claim is still bogus.

Bulletproof Coffee Makes You Smarter

This is where the claims really turn from Bulletproof to Bull$hit. There is absolutely no research to support this. If people do feel sharper it is probably a combination of the almighty placebo effect and plain-old caffeine on an otherwise empty stomach.

OK, But Jumped the Shark?

All in all, the bulletproof diet is probably effective for some and is unlikely to cause harm to the general population. But you should recognize that Dave Asprey’s motivation for giving this gift to the world is less-than-altruistic. The first sign is that for best results, he thinks you should use his proprietary coffee beans because they have more bulletproof mojo than your Chock Full o’ Nuts. But the sure-fire sign of this fad jumping the shark is the opening of his first Bulletproof Coffee Shop.


Of course, this coffee shop will offer Bulletproof-branded beans and butter but I can get this at the hippie coffee shop up the street.BVMenue


But where else can I get “a grounding zone — a giant metal plate — that’s meant to help reduce inflammation by discharging the energy that builds when walking in rubber shoes?” A microelectronics fab, I would think.

There are many investments I’m sorry I missed out on. Bulletproof Coffee Shops isn’t one of them.

Eating Like Fred Flintstone – Jumped the Shark

The Paleo Diet is a little more mainstream. It was popularized by Loren Cordain but does not have the same cult of personality baggage of the Bulletproof Diet. The idea behind the Paleo Diet is that during most of the 200,000 year period that the human race has been around we didn’t eat grains, beans or dairy. These weren’t introduced into our diets until after Old McDonald invented the farm. Therefore, our bodies have not evolved to process these newfangled foods and they should be avoided.

However, many people who know something about what I like to call “history”, say that followers of the Paleo diet have a misunderstanding of what our earliest ancestors actually ate and what they avoided. These so-called “historians” and “anthropologists” say that the Paleo Diet overemphasizes the role of animal protein. They claim that hunters and gatherers gathered a lot more than they hunted. Some early races ate plants exclusively. Also, beans and grains were eaten in some geographies even in prehistoric times. Fred Flintstone’s brontoburger may have been served on a bun.

Finally, while the introduction of dairy into the human diet does seem to be a relatively modern phenomenon, it likely saved some cultures from total collapse. Sometimes in times or war and upheaval the breeding of livestock was simply not possible. Collecting cows milk as a source of nutrition was a much more sustainable way of survival than killing an ever dwindling herd. Sometimes allowing our eating habits to evolve is a good thing.

So, much of the background of the Paleo Diet appears to be hooey. Still, it can be a healthy lifestyle for those who stick to it with a common sense approach (a Karma Sense approach would be even better.)

But my personal tolerance for a diet like this only goes so far. When I see bacon on the grocery store shelf that is “paleo friendly” I know I’m being marketed too. And when I see a diet being sold in candy bar form…


…Yup, those cavemen sure did love their Oreos.

I’ve excoriated (which is a high-brow way of saying “pwned”) other purveyors of such products on my KSEP post on mantra #5, Eat Good Fats Daily and Get a Balance of the Different Types of Good Fats. In those cases, a scan of the ingredients indicated that these “healthy” snacks were at best, disgusting, and at worst, poison. Julian Bakery, the creator of the Paleo Protein Bar, seems to do a decent job of sticking to the spirit of good nutrition. The average bar is limited to only 10 ingredients. Most of the ingredients are whole foods. Perhaps the most questionable ingredient is tapioca which is considered a “junk carb” by many gluten-free purists and others who go against “the grain”.

In summary, keep your eyes out, folks. I’m not liking where this one is going.

Low-Carb Diets for Weight Loss – Jumped the Shark?

The health media is going crazy over the latest study comparing fat loss results in low carb diets as compared to low-fat diets.

The study’s conclusion? It’s right in the title “Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity.” Does this mean we fitness gurus have had it all wrong in excoriating (there’s that word again) the low-fat movement? Does this mean that fat isn’t “where it’s at”?

Well, not really. This study was designed to evaluate whether there was merit to all the talk about carbs and insulin spikes causing weight gain. The study was perfectly designed to do that evaluation. What it found was that there was no link. What it also confirmed was that the simple equation of weight loss still stands…to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.

It is true that over a 6 day period of highly controlled conditions, the small cohort involved in this study lost more weight with a low-fat diet than they did with low carb. But in real life we don’t live in metabolic wards where our macronutrient intake is micromanaged, our exercise equipment is constantly calibrated, and our metabolism is cross checked using both “dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry” and “indirect calorimetry inside a metabolic chamber.”

Even the authors of the study minimize how far we should go in interpreting the results.

Translation of our results to real-world weight-loss diets for treatment of obesity is limited since the experimental design and model simulations relied on strict control of food intake, which is unrealistic in free-living individuals”.

The authors recognize that we behave differently out in the wild. They respect the crapload of studies that say long-term, low-carb/high-fat diets have better adherence and better adherence means better results.

Conclusion? It’s not low carb diets that jumped the shark. It’s carb demonization. As was artfully presented in this post (remember abstract art is still art), you can have your carbs and lose weight.

Karma Sense Eating Plan – Jumped the Shark?

The easy answer is no. First I refer you back to the definition which says “A term to describe a moment when something that was once great…”. So I get a pass based on the lack of greatness.

But I’m doing what I can to try to make it great. Right now it seems like the book may land at about 300 pages but that’s before an editor has his or her way with it. I spent the last few weeks footnoting everything and there’s more than 100. That includes references to the research that backs up my claims and the blatant plugs for TV shows and movies that no one remembers but me. I added some more tools and just started working on the cooking/recipe section. Beyond that, I am exploring the real world experiences of people trying to manage their own health and happiness.

In the end, it is very unlikely that the Karma Sense Eating Plan will ever jump the shark. Dave “Bulletproof” Asprey and Dave “Davey H” Hellman have a lot in common. We both cut our teeth in tech. We both use our own bodies to experiment with the various approaches to better health. But his conclusion was that you should put butter in the coffee that you buy from him and discharge the static in your Nikes. My conclusion is there’s no one size fits all solution.

There will never be any KSEP bars (coffee, candy, or otherwise). Although if you want to meet me at a bar sometime and talk about health, happiness, and world saving, I’m there. There will only be a common sense program that you can freely access, a book that is a vehicle for charitable donations, and a health-geek/evangelist/clown to have your back if you need it.


2 thoughts on “Ayyyy! Your Diet May Not Be Cool Anymore – A Karma Sense Update

  1. Congrats on your progress with the book, Dave!

    I lived overseas for 10 years and visited the US about every 2 years. The rapid pace of cultural change astounded me, especially in relation to food. “Oat bran” was the miraculous additive of the 90s. It jumped the shark so long ago, I’ll bet no one remembers it.

    And then there was the time I asked, “What is Starbucks, and why is it everywhere?

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