My Weekend at the Metabolic Health Summit

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Warning.  This is an extremely long winded blog post that has nothing but annoyingly positive things to say about my experiences at the Metabolic Health Summit this weekend.  I’m on my flight back from the event in Long Beach, California. I am completely exhausted and full of gratitude.  The Metabolic Health Summit is a keto diet conference that evolved from the Metabolic Therapeutics conference in Tampa, Florida back in 2016 and 2017.

The Metabolic Therapeutics Conferences of old have always been my favorite keto events.  It is where I first got to hear Dr. Seyfried present, where I got to learn about the incredible research Dr. Poff was doing, got to meet now friends like Jason Thomas from Pili Hunters, Kristopher and Victor from then Keto Kookie (now Nui), and tried my first sip of Dry Farm Wine.  Those events were amazing.

But they do not hold a candle to the experience of this year’s Metabolic Health Summit.  This year I attended as a member of the Perfect Keto team and I can speak for the whole team when I say the energy of this event was incredible!

From the time we arrived to the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel we felt the presence of the MHS staff who greeted us with clear eyes and full hearts.  Laser focus with purpose yet so genuinely happy and excited to see us.  That set the tone for this event.

Thursday

Thursday was spent getting the Perfect Keto booth set up and saying hi to all of our friends attending the conference.  Running into the likes of Danny Vega, Mary Newport (who has a new book coming out!), Josh Field, and Dr. Shannon Kesl who has published some incredible research regarding the wound healing capabilities of ketones.   

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Thursday night for me started with an incredible after party with wine pouring from Dry Farm Wines and music from Lauren Pappas.  In my eyes, this first night was important because it gave everyone an opportunity to connect, let loose a little, and set ourselves up for a weekend of fun. 

Friday

Friday morning for me was an early wake, quick movement session, and brisk walk (it was surprisingly chilly and windy in Long Beach) to the hotel to catch the presentation of one of my all-time favorite keto scientists, Dr. Stephen Cunnane.  Dr. Cunnane, who has published some of my favorite papers on brain energy metabolism, did an incredible job explaining how MCTs and ketones can improve brain health and need to be seriously considered as a treatment option for neurodegenerative disease.  New work from Dr. Cunnane has shown that 30g daily of MCTs leads to increased ketone uptake in the brain as well as improved cognitive function in the cognitively impaired.

One interesting explanation of brain energy metabolism that I really enjoyed from Dr. Cunnane was that glucose is pulled into the brain based on energy demand of the brain.  Eating ice cream isn’t going to drive more glucose into the brain.  Ketones, on the other hand are pushed into the brain based on their availability in the blood, thus suggesting that for some therapeutic applications, having higher ketone levels could be advantageous.

Image from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4937039/

Image from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4937039/

Dr. Cunnane was followed by amazing presentation from Dr. Jong Rho, pediatric neurologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital located in Calgary, who spoke on the use of keto for autism and Georgia Ede who gave an easy to understand but incredibly intellectual talk on mental health disorders.  My favorite part of her talk was her highlighting how many different ways keto can improve mental health outcomes and her mentions of the benefits of carnivore dieting. Since I think carnivore could have gut health benefits and many mental health disorders are rooted in impaired gut health, I am excited to see research begin to explore this area.

After these talks, I had to hit the Perfect Keto booth to sample out some of our favorite products to the keto community.  This was a blast because I got to see so many friends made from past conferences.  Our booth was right next to one of my favorite guys in keto education, Mike Mutzel.  It was great to get a chance to meet Mike for the first time after spending so much time consuming his content and if you haven’t, I would leave this blog and go listen to him now.

This was a quote we heard several times throughout the weekend ;)

This was a quote we heard several times throughout the weekend ;)

The afternoon session was my personal favorite, the cancer talks. Adrienne Scheck led off with as always a brilliant display of her work followed by the famous Dr. Thomas Seyfried.  Dr. Seyfried is THE keto for cancer researcher and my personal favorite keto scientist.  Any opportunity to see him talk is an opportunity to see how passionate this man is about his work and how much his work is actually saving lives (the man can also dance but you didn’t hear that from me).  Listening to Dr. Seyfried talk about cancer is entertaining as he throws quotes out like, “Cancer cells are up-regulating ancient metabolic pathways” and “I don’t have time to go through the genetic absurdity” when talking about the possibility of cancer being a disease of genetic origin. 

To go a step nerdier, my favorite takeaway (from my understanding) from Dr. Seyfreid’s talk was that cancer cells are resistant to chemo and radiation because they have a potent protective mechanism from excess glucose that is being shuttled towards the pentose phosphate pathway to produce glutathione, thus helping manage oxidative stress.  This is one of the ways cancer cells can keep oxidative stress in a range that benefits the cell.

Dr. Seyfried was followed by the person who published the first dissertation I ever read, Dr. Angela Poff.  Dr. Poff has research, which you can see here, that is paving the way on cancer research.  One of the most brilliant people I have ever met and such a pleasure to hear present.  Three years ago I came across Dr. Poff’s dissertation and reading it left a lasting impression on my heart for keto.  Any chance to learn from Dr. Poff has to be taken advantage of.

Friday evening was another Dry Farm Wine pouring.  I have to take time to give this company credit.  They make an extremely high-quality product that fills a huge void for many people in the keto space and they share so willingly.  Todd White, the DFW founder, has built an incredible team with the help of his right hand man Mark Moschel  They bring the energy to every single event, always the life of the party and always great to spend some time with. 

Friday night was also a treat.  I was fortunate enough to get an invite to a Redmond after party where I got to connect with some awesome people like supplement formulator Shawn Wells, the Jambo Superfood founders Kyle Brown and Jordan Maas, and Keto Katie!  The Redmond team even surprised us by having our new flavors of Perfect Keto Bars at the party along with other amazing keto foods.  Huge thanks to Redmond, the Perfect Keto team had a blast! 

Saturday

By Saturday we were really broken in and ready to have a good time.  Everyone at the event was buzzing with excitement, hope, and probably a lot of Kimera Koffee (I was pumped to have Kimera available all weekend!)

Saturday I spent most of my day in the Perfect Keto booth.  I skipped a lot of talks, this is not normally like me.  I love the research and the opportunity to learn directly from the most brilliant minds in the space like Dr. Dave Diamond, Dr. Dom, Robb Wolf, and Aubrey Marcus who spoke that day.  However, I was really liking the energy I was feeling in the Perfect Keto booth.  People seemed to be enjoying the products we were sampling, I would often get to engage in 20 minute conversations with conference attendees, I got pulled into an episode of Jimmy Rants with the Jimmy Moore, and got to walk around and see what new products were out in the keto space.   

My favorite part about being in the booth was getting to talk to people walking by like carnivore advocates Chris Bell and William Shewfelt and biohacker Siim Land, who are all doing incredible jobs spreading the word on keto. I also got to have several conversations with soon to be PhD Elena Gross who is doing novel research on keto for migraines (She’s the next rock star keto researcher).  Being around the booth also meant getting to spend some time catching up with guys like Ryan Lowery and meeting keto influencers Jen Fisch and Suzanne Ryan (check out their work here and here!).

Being in the booth gave me an opportunity to talk to the attendees and hear their stories.  How their keto journey is going.  Why are they doing keto? Which products do they use? What do they need to be successful? etc.  These are all such important details because it is what allows the many companies in the keto space to help push the industry forward.  The keto researchers and scientists are the most important piece of the puzzle.  Without them, there would be no keto and no science and information to support its growth and ability to impact so many lives.  The job of the industry is to do our best to support that whether it be through the development of products by companies like Perfect Keto, Keto Mojo, and Primal Kitchen, as well as sharing the information like many of the influencers and companies like Ketogenic.com are doing (Have you seen their rebrand? Looks pretty sick).  We can also support these researchers financially, which is something I will be talking about a lot more now.  Coming soon.

Saturday night was the Gala dinner.  This was literally a red-carpet event that had flashing lights, good music, and great food (the keto mousse was amazing!).  It felt like an award ceremony hosted by Victoria Fields and Angela Poff, the creators of the events (and literal super heroes of the keto space).  The evening, which was sponsored by The Charlie Foundation and MaxLove Project, began with an awesome speech from
Jim Abrahams, founder of the Charlie Foundation, dad of Charlie Abrahams who’s story of his struggles with epilepsy and how keto helped are highlighted in the movie …First Do No Harm, starring Meryl Streep. The highlight of the evening was former BMX pro Josh Perry, who has survived multiple brain surgeries, and is now managing his cognitive health with a ketogenic diet.

I want to talk about Josh for a second.  What a humble guy.  This guy is a former professional athlete, who participated in the X-Games, and the gratitude he displayed when talking about being in the keto conversation while he was telling his story was moving and spoke volumes about the keto community.  We could not be more excited to have Josh in the keto corner, helping spread the the word. 

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Josh followed up an intro to his story with an incredible half pipe show supported by scooter and rollerblade tricks.  Such an exhilarating performance that energized everyone and kicked of a big dance party to close out the night.  Keto scientists, influencers, CEOs, founders, and attendees all had the opportunity to unwind and have a good time with each other.  It’s safe to assume that the energy was incredible. 

Saturday night was closed out with great conversations with keto science writer Kristi Storoschuk and NUI founders Victor and Kristopher.  Let’s talk about these guys for a second.  Nui, formerly Keto Kookie, recently received investment from former Yankee Shortstop Alex Rodriquez on an episode of Shark Tank on national TV.  Talk about opening the flood gates for recognition of low carb dieting.  All I can say to these guys is thank you and what a job building a company driven by your passions. 

Sunday 

Now I have to toot the Perfect Keto horn a little bit.  By Sunday morning we were pretty exhausted, but we really wanted to close out the conference strongly.  I think the team did an incredible job continuing to bring energy to the expo floor by putting some smiles on people’s faces and nut butter and Keto Bars in their stomachs.  The dedication and passion of this team is hard to describe. 

Speaking of the Perfect Keto team, our Sunday wrap up meant getting to watch our great friend and coworker Jane Downes present on keto for women with her business partner, close friend, and power influencer Liz Williams.  I have to say, anyone who left early Sunday missed out a two really passionate people sharing how they have impacted so many women’s lives through their coaching and their stories.  Powerful stuff.

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Recovery Day

After the MHS ended, the Perfect Keto team took a day in Santa Monica to unwind and recover from the weekend.  We arrived to our Airbnb about halfway through the super bowl, hit Erewhon to get some grub, and enjoyed the company of some of my favorite friends and keto influencers Logan Sneed, Robert Sikes, and Rachel Gregory.  For those who don’t know these guys, Logan is a powerhouse on Youtube and has a great platform to help coach people through keto.  Robert Sikes is a coach, keto bodybuilder, has an incredible podcast and keto product known as the Keto Brick.  I can’t wait to get out to his neck of the woods and do some hunting.  Rachel, who is a long time friend, first came on the keto scene when she published her paper on keto and Crossfit.  A few years later and now she has a published book, a great website, social media account, and is being heard on more and more podcasts.  Her journey has been fun to watch!  After the game we spent several hours just sitting around a table and sharing conversation, something I wish we could do more often. 

Monday was spent relaxing, catching up on work, visiting the Bulletproof café, checking out the beach, and getting packed up to head back to Austin.  Back to the real world now but things feel a little different now.  This weekend was just a right mental flip I needed and I can’t wait to get settled back in Austin and continue this mission!

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Summary

To wrap up this long winded blog post, I want to emphasize how great of an event MHS was.  This blog post is as real as I am feeling after this weekend.  I have such a full heart and sense of gratitude for being able to be such a small piece in this incredible keto community.  Victoria and Josh Field and Angela and Lin Poff as well as the rest of the MHS staff put on an emotionally moving event that is going to produce a ripple effect that has not yet been fully recognized.  Everyone in the keto space should thank these people.  Their constant efforts to spread the education, fund research, conduct research, and bring life to this space goes beyond measure.

If you didn’t make it this year, put it on your calendar for next year.

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Here are a couple short lists of mine from the conference:

Top Things I missed:

Research I would like to see more of at this event:

  • TBI

  • PCOS

  • Endometriosis

  • Multiple Sclerosis

Best Booths

  • Keto Mojo

  • Perfect Keto- Maybe I’m biased :)

  • Dry Farm Wine

Favorite Talks

  • Dr. Stephen Cunnane

  •  Dr. Thomas Seyfried

  • Dr. Georgia Ede

New Products I’m Excited About

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Christopher Irvin