on October 24, 2019
Joe Rogan is a stand-up comic, podcaster and UFC commentator. You might know him best from his gig on the hit show Fear Factor, which he hosted from 2001 to 2006.
Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has attracted a massive following, receiving millions of downloads per episode. On it, he interviews guests and goes deep on all sorts of topics from politics to astrophysics, but one of the most popular topics he discusses is his diet. Rogan is a vocal supporter of the ketogenic diet and touts its many benefits as well as the positive impact it’s had in his life. But does his advice hold water?
To learn more about Joe Rogan’s approach to the keto diet, how it has affected him personally and whether you should follow his advice, read on.
Over the years, Rogan has evolved from a standup comic to one of the most popular voices of his generation, and one of the things that seems to resonate most with his millions of followers is his stance on healthy living. Rogan regularly advocates for a disciplined diet and exercise regimen, sharing that he typically adheres to the keto diet for several months at a time.
In episode #1155 of The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan describes his diet to podcast guest Henry Rollins as such: “no bread, very few carbs, no sugar.”
In addition to following a low carb, high fat diet, Rogan practices intermittent fasting.
“I put myself into an eight hour feeding window and a 16 hour fasting window every day, and I’ve been pretty consistent with it over the last four or five months,” he said.
Rogan says dinner is the last meal he eats during the day, then fasts while sleeping and for most of the morning. When he wakes up, he sometimes drinks a cup of coffee or another no-carb beverage before working out and doesn’t have a meal until later in the day.
Rogan says after several months of eating this way, it became normal.
“I wake up in the morning and I’m not even craving breakfast,” he said. “My body is totally adapted to it.”
Rogan says he’s a fan of intermittent fasting because he feels like it allows his body to fully process and absorb all of the nutrients from his food before loading it up with another meal to digest.
“It’s like we’re always in a state of feeding,” he said in reference to the normal Western practice of eating multiple meals throughout the day. “Your body doesn’t have a chance to digest all that food.”
The one time Rogan breaks from his keto/fasting approach is when he plans on doing a high-intensity workout, like heavy weightlifting.
“I’ll run fasted, I’ll do yoga fasted, but if I’m going to lift, I want to have something [to eat first],” he said.
Speaking of working out, fitness is another constant in Rogan’s life that complements his strict diet. He believes the human body performs best when hard physical exercise is the norm rather than the exception. Thus, he works to keep his body under constant physical stress through regular strenuous workouts.
When you make exercise a regular part of your routine, he says, “it gives you more energy. You have more of a gas tank. You have more enthusiasm for things.”
Despite being a strong advocate for self discipline, Rogan recognizes the importance of taking a break and indulging from time to time. During episode #1165, he talks with guest Tom Papa about his approach to the keto diet. He says he’ll sometimes allow his body to slip out of ketosis for a few hours or a day if he wants to cheat and eat something delicious.
“One of my favorite dishes on earth is linguine with clams,” he said. “When I was in Italy a couple weeks ago, I ate it every day.”
Rogan says because he’s so disciplined the rest of the time, he can usually get back into ketosis within just a few hours. He uses keto test strips to help determine whether he’s in ketosis. He has also tried exogenous ketones, which helped him get into ketosis even faster.
Exogenous ketones are taken as a nutritional supplement to complement the endogenous ketones produced by the liver. Exogenous ketones increase blood ketone levels almost immediately, which help induce ketosis.
As Rogan discussed with ultra marathon runner Zach Bitter in episode #1110, for him it’s not so much about whether he is strictly in ketosis as it is about how his body feels and whether he’s able to perform his best.
Rogan is a firm believer that too many carbohydrates come with a truckload of downsides. He says he feels and functions his best when he keeps carbs to a minimum.
In episode #1165, Rogan says that following a keto diet has had major impacts on his appetite, cognition and mental clarity. When he strays from the diet, he notices a marked difference in his mental performance.
“There’s a certain amount of fog that comes with carbohydrate consumption,” he said. “Post carbohydrate consumption is a lack of mental clarity, like a downturn of the way your brain functions.”
If you’re interested in hearing Rogan delve deeper into the science behind the keto diet, check out episode #994 of The Joe Rogan Experience, which features guest Dom D’agostino. D'Agostino is an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and has spent years researching the keto diet and its effects.
Rogan may be a keto advocate, but he’s not a doctor or nutrition professional. So should his millions of listeners take his keto advice? We turned to science to learn how well Rogan’s statements about keto match up with the facts. Here are a few key research-backed takeaways from Joe Rogan’s keto diet success.
In the Dom D’agostino episode we mentioned above, Joe and Dom talk at length about the health benefits of following a keto diet. Research supports many of them.
Studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes can benefit from following a keto diet. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who followed the keto diet for a year lost weight, needed less of their medication and lowered their A1C levels.
The keto diet can also be highly useful for people who suffer from seizures. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, doctors often find success using the keto diet for patients who have not responded to other forms of treatment to mitigate seizures. In some cases, patients are even able to come off their anti-seizure drugs after getting on the keto diet.
One study suggests the keto diet may help prevent migraines. Doctors say more research is needed to establish whether it’s the specific low-carb nature of the diet or other factors, like the resulting weight loss or eating more healthy foods in general, that’s the key to preventing migraines. Still, it may be a worthwhile treatment option to try for those who suffer from the debilitating headaches.
If you’re new to the keto diet, it may seem extreme to practice both an extremely low carb diet and intermittent fasting at the same time. However, it’s a strategy Joe Rogan and thousands of other people swear by to aid in weight loss, experience mental clarity, lower inflammation in the body and break through performance plateaus.
What works best will be different for every unique individual, but it’s absolutely possible and potentially beneficial to follow a keto diet and do intermittent fasting at the same time. You might be a good candidate for this diet regimen if you’re an athlete, have insulin sensitivity, are looking to lower your cholesterol or break through a lag in weight loss.
It doesn’t matter how strict your diet is; if you’re not following healthy habits in other areas of your life, you’re not going to see much success.
Joe Rogan preaches the benefits of physical exercise; it’s widely supported medical advice that healthy adults should get plenty of cardio exercise and supplement it with strength training regularly. The Mayo Clinic’s recommendation is for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, plus strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
Planning for success is also key to actually achieving it. Rogan says even though he’s been practicing his diet and exercise regimen for a long time, he still sets aside time each week to map out a plan for what he’ll eat and the workouts he’ll do.
“Every Sunday I schedule everything that I’m going to do during the week,” he said.
Science supports this plan-for-success approach, with a number of studies demonstrating the correlation between setting ‘implementation intentions’ (basically a goal with a concrete action plan) and actually achieving the desired result.
Though the specific meal and fitness routine that works for Joe Rogan might not be right for you, there’s definitely a lot we can learn from his disciplined approach to reaching peak performance through diet and exercise. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new diet or fitness routine.
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