Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Zack Schreier to the podcast. He is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business in high school, and then co-founded Quevos, a category leading company that pioneered the development of healthy chips made from egg whites. His true passions are health and philosophy, where he co-founded Lifestacks to bring his vision for healthy high-performance living to the market. In this conversation, we discuss how he maintains his personal health and fitness, while building and scaling his companies.
Some questions asked during this episode:
How do you define good quality sleep?
What are the quick-wins where sleep is concerned?
If I wake up with a racing mind what should I do?
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The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.
Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance, in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long-lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have, I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We are into whole food nutrition, and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.au, and take a look. Okay, back to the show.
This week, I’m excited to welcome Zack Schreier to the podcast. Zack is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business in high school, and then co-founded Quevos, a category leading company that pioneered the development of healthy chips made from egg whites. His true passions are health and philosophy, where he co-founded Lifestacks to bring his vision for healthy high-performance living to the market. In this conversation, we discuss how he maintains his personal health and fitness, while building and scaling his companies. Over to Zack.
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Zack Schreier to the podcast. Zack, how are you?
Doing great. Thanks for having me, Stuart.
No, excellent. Looking forward to the conversation today. But first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.
Sure, yeah. I’m a food entrepreneur, and most recently we’ve gotten into the supplement space, and we’re looking at creating delightful supplement medications that you look forward to, that make you feel better immediately, and that also support long-term health.
Okay, interesting. So tell me, what’s your interest in food entrepreneur? I mean, that tells me that you’ve certainly got a little bit of knowledge, interest, experience in that realm. Why nutrition?
Yeah. So I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type I when I was in sixth grade, and that kicked off my interest in health, and really understanding the body and optimizing it. We’ve got one body that we’re working with, and it’s obvious that all these different inputs impinge on our body, and basically enable us to unlock the capacity that we have within. You have better foods, and better supplements that really do support long-term health in a way that if your diet is crappy or insufficient, then you won’t be able to basically do the same things for the same amount of time in your life.
Yeah. Tell me about, perhaps then how you were introduced to the diagnosis of Type I Diabetes, and the guidelines that you were given, and how that affected perhaps the way that you articulated those moving forward. Because I would imagine that Type I Diabetes is radically different to Type II, and you could take it one or two ways. You could go, “Well, look, it doesn’t really matter what I eat, and how it affects my blood sugar because I’m in control of the insulin here, so I can eat what I want, I can do what I want because I’m in control,” versus, “I can take another angle and look at health optimization, and perhaps lessen the want or the need for insulin, and hopefully manage to grab onto all of those health benefits that come about with that strategy as well.”
Yeah, absolutely. Totally. I think my approach is definitely leaning on the second of those two paths that you named, but I also allow myself to be a regular person, and if I have a blood sugar spike that results from having extra bowls of carbs, I’m not going to punish myself mentally for that. I want to live life as well. But you’re exactly right that, well, Type Is are insulin dependent so there’s no way around it, and we just have to do the amount of insulin that’s required for our diets. There are strategies that allow you to keep your sugar flatter and do less insulin, and those have longevity benefits associated with them. Having high sugar, it’s tolerable, diabetics typically have high sugar pretty darn often, and for years and years, and it’s not like the morbidity is that much higher than the rest of the population. Our life expectancy is lower, but it’s roughly less than a decade lower at this point given modern treatment.
Our bodies can handle some amount of blood sugar fluctuation, but that said, you generally feel better and have better outcomes the flatter you can keep your sugar, and actually the less insulin that you can do. Looking at some reviews of Type Is and their outcomes, it looks like the lowest quartile of insulin users actually have the best outcomes, and that probably corresponds to regular folks as well. Everybody is releasing insulin to deal with the carbs that they eat, and that’s a dose dependent thing. So with you and your functioning pancreas on a day where you’re having a lot of carbs, you’re probably releasing a lot of insulin to deal with that, and on a day when you’re having fewer, you’re using less, and probably having flatter sugar, and that would make you potentially feel better, and have better health outcomes for the long run also.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s fascinating as well because I’ve experimented with diet for decades. I’m genetically lean. I have a fast metabolism. I could get away with eating whatever I want, but that … sure, that’s great on one hand, but on the other hand, I don’t want to be beholden to food. I don’t want to feel like I’m in a calorie prison and always searching and hungry. Over the years, I’ve transitioned more to a lower carbohydrate solution, three meals, whole foods, a good mixture of protein and fat. It’s like putting a log on the fire versus putting paper on a fire, from a fuel source perspective, it’s just slow-burning energy, and I don’t need to snack. Tell me about how you eat then from the perspective of you’re in it for longevity, you’re in it for optimization and performance, and you really want your health span to be as long as your lifespan, right?
Exactly right, yeah. Ideally we want both of those to be as long as possible.
Yeah. I wouldn’t say that my food strategy is something that everybody should necessarily emulate, but I’m trying to be better and better each year at having a healthy diet, rich in whole foods, and one that keeps my sugar as flat as possible. I typically like to … actually at this point, I like to fast in the mornings, that’s just compatible with my appetite. Also, one analogy I like to give for thinking about the management of Type I, it’s kind of like flying a plane pretty low to the ground, and obviously you don’t want to hit the ground, but you also don’t want to go too high, because by analogy high sugar creates excess damage. Now, as I said, it’s not … a single bout of excess sugar is not going to cause significant damage, but chronic high sugar over a lifetime definitely can.
Anyways, we’re trying to keep that nose as flat as possible, and anytime you have carbs, it’s like a big gust of wind that pushes the nose up, and it’s immediate. The higher the glycemic index of those carbs, and the less you’re buffering with other macronutrients and fiber, then the quicker the rise is going to be. Insulin actually takes a little while to work, and so over the course of two hours, we’re getting the benefit of pushing that nose back down, and getting level again. The higher the glycemic load, the longer it’s going to take for your insulin to basically offset that spike in glucose. What that means is we should be looking to basically buffer the uptake of those carbs that we’re eating by surrounding them with macronutrients that slow the absorption of those carbs. For me, I like to start with fiber and fat, and protein as well, that that’s both for appetite management, and also to buffer that glucose spike.
An optimal first eating experience of the day for me, excluding my morning supplementation, which we can talk about later as well, I’ll usually start with some multi-nutrient greens and a fiber source. I cycle through with the fibers, but I’ve used things like psyllium, and chia seeds, and inulin. I’ve even enjoyed OLIPOP, and these other prebiotic sodas that they have in the states. You can get nine grams of quality plant-based fiber, and maybe two grams of sugar in total in a delicious soda-like beverage. So sometimes I’ll bring [inaudible 00:08:54] something like that, and then I go straight to eggs usually. I’ll have two to four eggs even, in olive oil, and if that’s my first meal of the day, and then I’ll follow that up with my supplements that I use for that lunch occasion, and usually that’s fish oil, and sometimes other things like a multivitamin or magnesium.
I’m currently using a product called Cistanche from Nootropics Depot, which is a hormone optimizer. It just makes me feel pretty clearheaded. But anyways, that’s my first bowls of food of the day. You’ll notice there’s no carbs there other than the fiber that I mentioned, and so basically … There is such a thing as gluconeogenesis, and what eat in terms of protein and fat also has a marginal impact on our blood sugar, so I have to be conscious about having my insulin be a little elevated in the hours post-first meal, even just to have carbohydrates, but that’s how I like to do it. Then usually in the evening I’ll go for something like a stew, or a soup, or chili, something that’s rich in vegetables, might have a fibrous starch like quinoa or lentil, something like that, and ideally a lot of vegetables too.
Talk to me about then the carbohydrate intake, because obviously vegetable is carbohydrate, so is a bread roll, and then we’ve got this glycemic index scale that puts white bread, white rice right at the top there, but very few people will eat those in isolation. It’s going to be pretty rare that you come in and make yourself a sandwich with no filling, or you have a bowl of rice on its own. So how do you sit in terms of the types of carbohydrates that you consume, given the fact that you’ve got a good understanding of the pairing of fat and protein to blunt that glycemic load in the first place? A lot of our listeners may be thinking, “Well, I’m still unclear about carbohydrates. Is rice a bad carbohydrate? Is bread a bad carbohydrate? Should I go white potatoes? Red potatoes? What should we be doing, and are they damaging to me?” Also, I’m keen to understand how you track what’s happening with your insulin. Are you wearing a CGM?
I am, yeah.
All right. Okay. So then if you’re wearing a CGM it makes it really, really easy for you then to track what is actually happening after you consume a variety of different foods, which has probably led you to be where you are right now. So tell us about your carb journey.
Sure. Yeah. Well, as I said, there’s what I might prescribe to somebody, and then what I actually do, and hopefully those are coming into more alignment over time. But what I’ve noticed for me is that white rice, bread, things like that have just immediate drastic impact on my sugar. Even if I were to have a sandwich, or pizza, or something like that, where there’s other macronutrients besides just the carbs, my body is definitely quite responsive to those carbs pretty immediately. If I were to take the filling, and have that ahead of time, and then have the bread afterward, then I would have delayed impact of those carbs, so that’s definitely something I’ve noticed. I’d say for your audience, probably the rule of thumb is the more fibrous the carbs, the better, so that’s going to help you have a smoother, basically energy levels post-meal and smoother glucose. In the modern food ecosystem, one of the things that these companies do is actually strip the starch of its fiber, and so you’re getting this just crazy hit of glucose that doesn’t have anything to buffer it.
Yeah, ultra-processed is just a big health plunder, for sure. Have you-
Have you tried … Well, have you heard, firstly, of the Glucose Goddess? It was a lady that we had on the show last year, and one of the hacks that she professes to use is the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and water pre-meal, which seems to have a radical effect on the way that insulin is affected by the meal.
Very interesting. Yeah, actually I had seen her on a podcast or two, and I was quite impressed. Her analysis of how to handle carb intake by buffering it definitely confirmed my own anecdotal data from having watched this stuff for a long time.
Yeah. No, definitely. So I heard, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you are a runner or were a runner, but use running as part of your exercise and movement strategies. Is that correct?
Yeah, absolutely. I am a runner, but I’ve had about a 10-year career now, and in the first five I was ramping up and doing more and more mileage every week, of course with periodization and all that, and a run injury, there’s always the requirement to rebuild and all that. But in these last five years I’ve been more focused on the entrepreneurship side of things, and running has had to take a backseat and be more of a maintenance activity for me. I’ve gone from, at my peak, say in 2018, I was running 80 to 90 miles at the highest, in maybe five weeks a year, I was getting up to that level, but since then it’s been more like 30 to 40, and even sometimes 20 potentially.
Tell me then, because typically I think the masses would assume that you would carb load for that, so you need lots of fuel. So let’s have a big bowl of pasta the night before or big bowl of oats before you start on your run, kind of old school thinking, because we can utilize fuel in different ways as you would know. How did you used to fuel yourself or were you already over that side of things when you were running? Has it changed as to how you think about fuel for exercise now?
Yeah, it’s very interesting. As I started running, I noticed pretty quickly that my sugar would go low during the run with a normal level of insulin going in. There’s two kinds of insulin, and they can actually be achieved by the same actual pharmaceutical, but they have two different functions. So one is the basal use of insulin, and that is basically your liver’s always releasing glycogen into the bloodstream, and that’s effectively going to raise your blood sugar, and that’s a fuel source that’s always dripping, available, and then insulin has to take that fuel and shuttle it to the cells. As a Type I, I don’t make that insulin that’s going to take those carbs into my cells, so I have to always have a basal rate of insulin that I’m releasing. That can be achieved by a 24- hour acting insulin that just keeps a steady amount released over time, or it could be achieved by short-acting insulin done continuously, and they can have the same effect effectively.
When I started to run, I was on a 24-hour insulin regimen, and what that meant was I couldn’t selectively reduce my insulin load before it runs. But for you, when you go and do any exercise, unless it’s very intense exercise, which actually is going to have the opposite effect, but when you do a a steady state style exercise, your body’s going to actually decrease the amount of insulin that’s being released during that exercise. The reason is that actually our muscles and brain don’t actually require insulin, especially during exercise, to allow glucose in, and so you’re actually going to need less insulin because more of that glucose is going to get uptaken by, by the muscles during exercise.
But for me, basically I was just stuck with that basal level that I had set as my 24-hour rate, so my sugar would just plummet every run I did, especially easy runs. I actually would have to pre-load with carbs in those days, but I’d much prefer not to do that, both for the way it made me feel, and also because I don’t want to have all that variability in the amount of glucose in my bloodstream. But now I’ve got the privilege of being on a insulin pump, and basically with that I can set a … that’s the latter strategy of always releasing a small amount of fast-acting insulin. I can preemptively reduce that amount of fast-acting insulin in station of it along easy run, and so I don’t have much of a low plummet in that case so I don’t need any sort of carbs, carb source beforehand.
Brilliant. Fantastic. Love that tech. Tell me, have you experimented then on the flip side with resistance training? So lifting weights, because you mentioned the uptake of glucose into the muscles, and that’s a hack for, after eating at least, just walking using those leg muscles, or lifting heavy in the gym, because there’s that knock-on effect that can go on for hours that impacts the way that your insulin is utilized. Do you lift weights?
Yeah. During the first five years of training, I did a lot of core and lifting, and sort of thing, mostly upper body actually, to augment the lower body stuff with the running. Now, I think I probably have done much more lower body than I did to optimize for running performance too. But yeah, what you mentioned there about the knock-on effects, I’ve noticed that pretty extremely, and especially with lifting heavier weights. My insulin sensitivity will be through the roof for the 12 to 24 hours after doing heavy lift. So yeah, I noticed my … basically what that means is my insulin goes way longer way. I would ordinarily use four units for something, maybe I can use one to achieve the same reduction in glucose.
Yeah, it’s fascinating. I’ve had a couple of longevity experts on the show previously, and one of the guys, I asked him, “Well look, tell me what we could do if we wanted to live as long as possible.” I’m thinking that he’s going to talk about a magic supplement, Metformin or whatever it may be, just to try and stretch out those magic years, and he said, “Well, it is just one thing that I can think of right now,” and he said, “Just lift weights. Everybody needs to be lifting weights, metabolically, physiologically, it does wonders for the body,” which I think is pretty good advice.
Yeah, I think so too. Even if I’m sick, I’m at least lifting. Over these last handful of years, I’ve had some periods where I’ve done it more regularly. But if you’re running, and that’s your exercise of choice right now, even throwing in short hill sprints actually can make a big difference there, it’s a similar effect. You’re basically recruiting more of those [inaudible 00:19:39] typically, and it’s like a stressor that you can recover from quickly, and sends a signal to your body to basically improve its resistance to stress. I think there’s a similar effect there, but I definitely want to get lifting back on my schedule too.
Yeah, exactly. It sounds like a good idea. So let’s just go on back then to your supplements, because I’m keen to understand those in a little bit more detail. So just run us through those supplements again, and I’m keen to understand whether you, or what you’ve tried and tested and just ditched, and perhaps supplements that you are considering trying based upon tech, entrepreneur, biohacking, all that kind of stuff.
Sure. Yeah. Well, I’ve done a lot of experimentation in this space, and 99% of the things I’ve tried I no longer use, because maybe I bought a bottle in order to understand how that supplement worked, and what the effects would be for me. So I’ve really tried almost anything that you can think of, especially in the cognitive performance in health space, that’s my main area of having really explored the domain. I would divide supplements into a few categories in order to understand how they might fit in your life.
The first would be essential nutrients, and so talk about your vitamins and minerals, but also that would include things like protein and omegas among the threes. Actually, the list of essential nutrients is actually much more expensive than the FDA label shows us. There’s all sorts of components that are needed to build up healthy tissue. There’s certain things that have been coined putative longevity nutrients, which are basically things that aren’t on the label, that don’t necessarily present immediate signs of deficiency when you’re lacking them, but they will lead to accelerating aging if you’re deficient in those things. So that would include things like creatine, and carnitine, and folic acid, and actually lutein, zeaxanthin for the eyes, for example. So that’s the essential, conditionally essential, and putatively essential nutrients.
In terms of which ones I consume regularly in that group, [inaudible 00:21:53] I’ve probably taken every day for five years, and I make sure to get a gram of EPA and DHA in my supplements. I cyclically take a multivitamin, and there’s actually mixed outcomes with higher doses of vitamins, especially from supplements and not just on the diet. Part of it is that these are co-factors and enzymes that speed up certain reactions to the body, and so while they can help healthy tissue recover and function, they can also help unhealthy cancerous tissue, and so there’s some risk with B vitamins in that area. Then certainly with the antioxidants too, there’s this thought that aging was just oxidative damage, and then people were trying high doses of Vitamin E, and Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, and actually that turned out not to be the right thing to do. The damage that you incur in going about your day actually serves as a signal to your body to actually off its defenses, and so if you block that signal then you actually may have less resilience over time. So that’s an issue with the antioxidants.
I’ll sometimes intermittently take a multivitamin, especially after bad scratches of eating, or if I was out. Like last week I was out at an expo, and it was like we’re up late, and we’re having crap food, and maybe some drinks and whatnot, and so as part of my recovery process to feel healthy and fresh again, I’ll sometimes include a multivitamin. Then, I guess, on the putative longevity nutrients side of this equation, I have taken a good amount of carnitine, lipoic acid, PQQ, Coenzyme Q10, some creatine, although I’m careful with that because of my kidneys as a diabetic, things of that sort. Imagine I’ll have … actually lutein, zeaxanthin as well, I’ll probably have them, those cycling in and out of my diet somewhat permanently.
Go for it.
Yeah, I take all of those amino acids, but I actually take them in steak form.
Oh, nice. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Right? It’s really tricky because food has it right in terms of the right ratios, the quantity, the quality, the bioavailability, because we all know that, yeah, magnesium’s really important, zinc’s really important, so we rush out to the drugstore and grab a bottle of zinc, and not realize that has an impact on copper, and so we take something else. Then we’ve got this juggling act happening that assumes that we can optimize something that is so intrinsically complex, that I think we probably know so little of at the moment, which is the majesty of the body and all of the interactivities that occur from a biological perspective. I’ve done exactly the same as you. I’ve tried everything under the sun, all of the neurological stimulants, and mushroom drops, and tinctures, and fulvic minerals under the sun, and I dialed a lot of it back now just to diet it because I figured, “Well, nobody ever really overdosed on steak.”
That works. But personally, I’ve stuck with collagen. Collagen makes a lot of sense to me, it’s supported by a lot of science. As you age, we require it more, and certainly for those people that are active in terms of skin, and bone, and tendons, and ligaments, and things like that, that works for me. A question that I had about your fish oil, how can you mitigate quality issues with fish oil? Because I know olive oil, supposedly olive oil is cut with so many other oils, and never buy it in a clear bottle because you’ve got rancidity, and it reacts to UV light. I’ve heard that a lot of fish oil supplements out there on the market could potentially be rancid before they even make it to the shelf. So what do you do?
That’s a great question. I also worry about the quality, and potency, and purity of the supplements I take in general, including fish oil, and the issues you named specifically with fish oil, the rancidity issue. I don’t have a broad recommendation for everybody for evaluating any given fish oil, but what I have is a trusted source, so I suggest Nootropic Depot for anybody that wants to buy quality stuff that they can trust. They do tons of in-house testing and they publish all the results, and so rather than worry about testing and vetting the quality of all sorts of different suppliers, I just stick with the ones I really trust.
Yeah. No, that’s good advice. Certainly where fish oil is concerned, cheap is not always the best. I would avoid the cheapest fish oil at all costs.
Yeah, for sure. I named that one category of essential or potentially essential nutrients, but then there’s also two other uses of supplements, and actually these are where I tend to actually take more than I take it on the essential side of things. Those are basically for metabolic optimization, and for setting state, and in certain cases something can actually be all three. So take acetylcarnitine that can basically serve as a … you might find it at steak or in a supplement form, but it’s going to help you basically optimize that metabolism. But it also has this … it’s an essential component, so if you’re deficient in it, you’re going to have faster aging. It’s going to play a role in optimizing metabolism, and it’s going to have a subjective impact potentially. So that’s the third category, setting state, basically enhancing immediate performance.
So for metabolic health and optimization, there’s interesting things like adaptogens, and Trilogy, which you mentioned containing fulvic acids, and things of that sort, that are in my daily stack. Then on the state setting side of things, that’s really where we’ve explored nootropics quite a bit, and actually a lovely combinations of nootropics and adaptogens actually go the farthest for me.
Okay. Yeah. Interesting. Let’s then take a side step onto tech, and also strategies for optimizing perhaps your mindset, your mental state, your metabolism, utilizing natural therapies such as meditation. So meditation and mindset strategies, cold water therapy, ice baths, saunas, all of the above, all of those things that can have a radical impact on things like human growth hormone for instance, or in terms of an ice bath, I mean, that seems to really ramp up metabolism, and puts you in a very specific mindset if you do that earlier on in the day. Do you get involved in any of those pursuits?
Sure. Yeah. I’ve done [inaudible 00:29:05], actually that was mostly in my earlier running days when I was hyper obsessed with recovery, and I do that later in the season. But I’ve done some, I’ve done cold showers over the last couple of years as well. I’ve really enjoyed sauna. I belong to a climbing gym this last year and they had sauna, and I pretty much did that every day. It was fantastic. So things like that. I really understand that whole basket of things as hormetic stressors, they’re like exercise in the sense that you get those response from an acute, and a relative amount of stress. If you’re sick and starving, you don’t also want to do a nice bath, because that can just push you over the edge. But as just a little dose of something that your body’s going to respond to adaptively, I think those things are great.
Yeah. No, that’s brilliant, and tech, in terms of gadgets, you’ve said you’ve got CGM, do you track any other health metrics with wearables, Oura Ring, Garmin, Fitbit, things like that?
Yeah, I do. Actually, at this point I’m just using my Apple watch, and the things I pay most attention to are heart rate variability. I check my oxygen levels overnight also, just to make sure that I’m not showing signs of apnea. Actually, I’ve noticed depending on my sleeping position, I can have lower or higher oxygen, so that’s the thing I look at. Then, also nighttime heart rate lows, for me it’s a good sign that my body is healthy, and not under excessive stress, if my low heart rates can be, basically close to my minimum heart rates that I ever see … I guess, just to be more clear about this, the lowest I’ve ever seen is 34 or 35 at night.
Yeah, it’s low, for sure. The running definitely helps with that, but I like to see 40 at any given night basically, as an indication that I’m close to [inaudible 00:30:58], and I’m also thoroughly recovering. There’s many things that actually make it so that I can see 45 or 47 as a minimum, like I did last night. Things like going to bed late, eating close to bed, drinking, high level of stress, hard workouts, all that would raise my heart rate.
What might you do to try and increase HRV? Because I know that that’s a tricky baseline to really get into. I know that breath work has been shown to move that needle in the right direction, but I’m also intrigued. It’s probably one of the metrics that I’m continually trying to push little by little, but what would you do?
Yeah, that’s interesting. At this point, I’ve been blessed with a fairly high HRV when I’m healthy, when I’m doing just baseline set of things. Actually I’ve noticed, especially during times when I’m under some marginal amount of hyperactive engagement with something, like a busy week for business, or I’m in a convention or something like that, it’s a little more stressful, but also my body’s responding with warmth and excitement, that’s when I noticed the highest HRV. Actually there’s one exception to that, that I think is actually probably a bad thing. Occasionally, my HRV could get up to 280 or 300, and that usually follows an HRV reading of 20 or 30 a few hours prior. I think that’s a mode of hyper compensation where the body is just doing everything it can to get aggressive rest in basically. I prefer to see 100 or 150, pretty flat rather than huge dips and huge spikes, because that to me signals that something’s a bit off.
Given that you’re going to be a super busy gus, so you’re going to … businesses and everything that comes with that, which we’ll talk about in a second, health strategies, optimizations, and then of course just the rigors of everyday living and life, and the stresses that come with that, how do you switch off the monkey mind? The thinking brain when it’s time for bed, because I’m pretty sure that you know the importance of quality sleep, which can often be wrecked with all of the input of the day, and also tech leading up into the evening as well.
Sure. Do you mind if I approach this from a strange angle? I’m not [inaudible 00:33:20].
No, I want strange. I love strange.
Okay, good, good. So there’s this notion in biophysics of basically the perceptual system and action are both in the business of minimizing surprise, and where a surprise is actually basically thought of as unexpected environmental observations. So if you got a tiger coming at you that’s surprising, if you thought you knew where your keys were, that’s surprising, and so it’s not surprising necessarily in the fully colloquial sense that we know it, but it’s more like a deviation from the expectations or the priors that you have as organism. Then there’s this classic challenge, I think from a 2010 paper, why not just lock yourself in a dark room essentially, then you can minimize surprise. But the answer turns out to be that the priors, that against switch you’re trying not to deviate include social interaction, and getting food, and mating, and having kids and all that. So it’s actually more surprising to be in a dark room than it is to be in your actual eco niche, basically occupying the role that you’re actually designed to play as the organism that you are.
But anyways, I think I’m stealing this from a researcher that’s a friend of mine, because I think he said this first to me, but he said, “Not so fast, I think we do put ourselves in dark rooms.” So we actually do sometimes gate the potential for surprise from the environment by essentially avoiding sources of variation. When it comes to my monkey mind, I think that’s how I manage it actually. I’m not actually that sensitive to environmental stimulus. I’m not on media. I try to actually keep an arm’s length away from things that are going to disrupt my flows so usually … I remember in middle school going to bed and being quite anxious and hyperactive, and all that sort of thing at night, but now I’m not really stuck with my day when I’m going to sleep. It’s like I’m just in my own flow, in my own dark room essentially.
Yeah, that’s good. I guess, if you’re over the systems of the business as well, and you’ve got a good handle or you’ve got good people that are over all of the systems, then you know that it doesn’t really matter there because that’s in somebody’s hands, or that’s being managed to the best of your ability. It’s tricky as well because you can’t generally solve a lot of things at two o’clock in the morning. The time just isn’t right.
So it’s a problem for the morning. Wise living, I’ve heard you use that term, and I would love it if you could just explain to our audience where that came from, and why you use it.
Yeah, sure. Let’s see. There’s a handful of different angles to unpack on this one also.For me, there’s a sort of philosophically-oriented, the big questions I definitely want answers to, and I think that we can actually summarize the big questions in two questions. What the hell’s going on? What are we doing about it? I think the wise living, you should also notice that those are actually not entirely detachable, they’re really two parts of the same system. If you think of our brains, we’re perceiving, and we’re acting, and we’re mediating the transitions between perception of action with us. So what we are as creatures is that perception action loop in effect, we are the thing that that’s inducing these transitions in a sense. The question of what the hell is going on, that’s effectively a perceptual question. The question what to do about is a pragmatic or action-oriented question.
I think wise living is basically the recognition that we have one life, and one mind, and one body, and there’s certain outcomes, really a constant stream of outcomes in body, mind, and environments, and there’s different values associated with those different outcomes. We all want certain things to happen. We all find other things very detestable, and we want to avoid those things happening. So I think wise living is basically in a sense on the management of your own causal power to bring about certain outcomes. It means managing the stream of things that you’re consuming because that’s going to have an effect on your body mind. It means managing the stream of things that you’re thinking for the same reasons. It means managing your relationship with others in your life.
Now that sounds like it gets out of hand pretty quick, and that’s life, that’s the experience we’re familiar with, that’s like there’s a lot going on, and a lot of different things that can go right or wrong. I think, fortunately, we’re potentially facilitated in making this a sense on wise living because we have some sense of things that are more or less meaningful, and that point to more or less integration. I think what we’re really looking for are ways of being that generalize as well as possible to all the kinds of circumstances that we find ourselves in, and so that would be the completion of wise living.
You are almost explaining or outlining life is a complex system, there’s so much going on, too hard to handle, but ultimately it comes down to the program. Well, what program are you going to run to try and navigate the complex system? Because we are emotional beings, and oftentimes we elevate our stress and anxiety levels thinking about things that haven’t happened yet, what strategies, tools, techniques do you use to mitigate that in terms of … In business, obviously, you have lots of opportunities, and you also have lots of areas in the business that could just be time wasters, do you manifest, do you have a system or a program that tries to call order to this complex system?
Yes, I think I do, not to say it’s highly refined because I’m still getting a handle on all this, but I think what I would say is, for me, beneath any given pragmatic consideration is a somewhat core philosophy about who I am and what I’m after. Then there’s the [inaudible 00:40:04] thing for my understanding of the business, which is, “What is the business? What is it after?” Then that decomposes into a bunch of functions that are required, and I like to basically push away anything that’s not on that path. I don’t respond to solicitation. I don’t want to deviate very much from what we think we’re doing, unless there’s a need to. If we find ourselves encountering a surprise, then we have to make an update, either we change our perceptions or we change our actions to minimize that surprise again, but I think that’s it.
This is like a machine that produces transactions, and depending on the simplicity of the business, like my businesses are simple at this point because we don’t have that much reach, we don’t have that many different areas of the business that generate revenue, and so we can pretty much decompose all the different functions. Then if it’s not on a list of requirement, then it’s basically not something I think about.
Yeah. No, good. That sounds good. So then talking about the business, tell us about Lifestacks, and how that fits in with your philosophy on nutrition optimization, cognition, et cetera.
Yeah, for sure. So at Lifestacks, our goal is to create consumption occasions that you look forward to, that make you feel good, and that support long-term health. We do that using supplement stacks infused in delicious consumable products, the very first of which is an add to coffee product. We’re all used to getting up in the morning and having a cup of coffee, and maybe adding something to it, and that is a Nootropic occasion that actually satisfies these three criteria. People look forward to it, they feel good after they do it, and then they have lot of health benefits from it. We realized that would be the perfect place to plug in a stack that basically optimized each of those aspects. You’re already treating this as your daily energy occasion, so what if we can also deliver nutraceuticals that support energy, focus, and brain health to an even greater set?
Yeah, love it. Love it. You mentioned that you were fasting. Is that part of your morning routine? Would the Lifestacks, presumably you’re not going to have a big milky coffee with that in it as well. If you’re taking that black, would that affect fasting at all?
Right. Yeah, exactly. No milk, no nothing besides our creamer, and our creamer is actually MCT-based. MCT is just a great ketogenic fat, and we’ve got 45 calories that are from the MCT predominantly, and also from a acacia fiber, and both of those things we view as fasting-friendly. They support the pathways of [inaudible 00:42:47] fasting without really compromising the benefits. So that is how I start my day with, with a couple of coffee with our MCT creamer, and then typically I’ll fast until the early afternoon.
Yeah. Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, look, we’re kind of coming up on time, and I know that we’ve got just a few more questions that I’d like to just throw your way. One is your non-negotiables, so clearly very driven person, but what are your non-negotiables, daily non-negotiables, the things that you do every day by default on autopilot that you have to do to crush your day? They don’t have to be business-related, they could be quirky, it doesn’t matter, but what would they look like?
That’s very interesting. I don’t have many actually, other than the … the real non-negotiable is just maintaining blood sugar, and making sure that I’m checking the boxes in that domain. Exercise, for sure, is something that I really would rather not go without. I’ve always been in the habit of taking one day off a week, but at different times of the business, maybe it was three or four days off a week, and I’d really much rather not get there. I also, I do like to walk, and typically get sunlight when I’m walking. Over the last year or so, that was a predominant mode for me. I would take almost all my calls on walks and that sort of thing, and I really would … I’ve gotten into a bad habit the last month or so, where I sit down at the computer early in the morning, first in the morning, and I’d really rather stop that immediately and just make sure to get out in the morning, and fresh air and sun first thing. Those are some.
The one that actually really stands out to me as a true non-negotiable, not for days necessarily, but more weeks and months, is I do need time alone to return to my core considerations and outlook. I find that when I’m solo and I have my thought space, I build up a perspective, this is my dark room and this is where I get my models in order, and actually see the world through my eyes. Then when I go socialize, I find I spend that model, and it’s a blessing. It’s really nice to have accumulated something to talk about in some way I see the world, and then to go and socialize from that perspective. But then I need, after a month of that or so, or a week even, I need to collect myself again.
Yeah. No, fantastic. No, that’s good. Introspection is super important. It’s such a crazy world in terms of distractions at every corner on every device, whether we are wearing it or holding it, carrying it, connected to it in some way, shape, or form, definitely good to unplug, and start to think retrospectively. So what’s next? What have you got in the pipeline for the next 12 months?
Sure. Yeah. So the biggest thing is we’re trying to get this MCT creamer into as many hands as possible, so we’re on lifestacks.com, and Amazon. We just launched Amazon, and that’s the highest priority, that’s my fiduciary responsibility to investors as well. We’re also hoping to launch our electrolyte product pretty soon, and that product is also fasting-friendly, a fasting supporting product. We use the key electrolytes for fasting, so sodium, potassium, magnesium, and then a stack of adaptogens, and nootropics that support fasting, and support the exercise occasion. I’ve personally been loving our prototypes. I’ll have those before longer runs and just feel really smooth.
So hoping to launch that this year, and then maybe slightly broader timeline, less defined, we’re in a strange time in history. I’m really Oppenheimer right now, and there’s almost an analogy to that period where we’re looking at a real shake up of geopolitics with AI in this case. For 15 years I’ve been telling my parents that it’s about to be game over, and we’re going to have AI, it’s going to change everything, it’s going to obsolete us as humans, and we will potentially upload and enjoy digital euphoria. Now I think the world is coming around, and actually viewing this as a near-term disruptive possibility.
I really want to do something before we no longer have some role to play in the market. I think it ultimately is the best thing for humans to not have any economic obligations on them, because it liberates us to do things that are meaningful that are not required, like the need to have food every day, and shelter. I think that’s going to be a better world for us, but at the same time, I don’t want this game to end too quickly because I think it would be a … it’s real opportunity to do something of worth, and I don’t want to lose that.
It will be an interesting time, I think, or it is an interesting time because my … I was trained classically as a graphic designer back in the day, a long time ago, even before the first Macintosh came out, then we migrated over to the very first Macintosh, the black and white one with the little mouse, and it was all diskettes, and things like that, all the way through to where we are today when you can use things like Midjourney and ChatGPT. You’ve got website builders that can intuitively build you a website based upon very minimal input, but a whole heap of intelligence, much faster, and oftentimes much better than a human can do, so I’m very intrigued to see what happens in that space. Because as you know, again, I come from a time before mobile phones and computers, and now we’ve got so much technology, but I feel like we’ve never been so busy and distracted with this technology.
Right. Yup. Yup.
I would like to get to that nirvana where I can just go and breathe, exhale, and tend to the garden, and figure out what is life all about, and what do I need to do, but at the moment there’s so many distractions, who knows? So we’ll see, see how we go. Interesting times.
Yeah, I’m hoping that that’s what’s going to happen here. I think people have learned to dread new technology because it’s brought us to this current state, but I think maybe they’re growing pains, and we are about to actually start to really benefit from a well-being perspective from the tech.
I hope so. Hopefully it’s that, and it isn’t Skynet.
Yeah, right. Exactly.
All right. Well, look, Zack, this has been a great conversation, our listeners have learned a huge amount. Where can we get more of you, your work, your businesses, all of the products that you’ve spoken about?
Yeah. The best place is lifestacks.com, that’s where we publish blogs about what we’re doing, and we’ll keep new products updated there, and podcasts will be posted there as well, so that’s our hub for information.
Wonderful. Thank you so much. I will post that link, and all of the details that we’ve spoken about in the show notes, but fantastic, again, really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks so much for your time.
Yeah, thank you.
Thank you. Bye-Bye.