Josh Clemente: I felt a tremendous amount of personal stress about those decisions, because we hadn’t even really formed the company for the most part in these cases. And I was just thinking like, I really hope that this is what I feel that it is.
Ben Grynol: I’m Ben Grynol part of the early startup team here at Levels. We’re building tech that helps people to understand their metabolic health. And this is your front row seat to everything we do. This is A Whole New Level.
Ben Grynol: When starting a company, you’d think that one of the biggest considerations would be around growing a team. The more people that you bring on board, the more people that you’re responsible for, the more people that you impact, you have a direct connection to the work they do, you have a connection to their livelihood, to their input, to their contribution as a team member.
Ben Grynol: But for Josh, Josh Clemente, founder of Levels, things were a little bit different. He felt this innate sense of responsibility. He felt this connection to the co-founding team that as more people joined, the more he had to be aware of how the team was going to grow in order for Levels to get traction. The reality was that each of the co-founding team members had all taken this leap of faith for Casey Means it was leaving her medical practice.
Ben Grynol: For Andrew Connor and David Flinner, it was leaving Google. Everyone had risked something to come and be a part of Levels. And for Josh, that really meant a lot. It was something that I thought about quite often until they started getting orders. And once Levels started getting traction well, that’s where things changed.
Ben Grynol: That’s when Mike DiDonato came on board, he helped out with operations, member success and even getting orders shipped and Jhon Cruz from Columbia, he was the first developer that was brought on board. And so in January of 2020, the team started to grow. Everyone was instrumental in getting things moving, whether product or orders Levels was getting traction.
Ben Grynol: And so Josh and I talked about all of these things and eventually the conversation became pretty loose. We digressed, we started talking more about metabolic health and some of the macro considerations around it. We reflected on some of the inefficiencies in the system, some of the things that need to change in order for Levels to really make an impact in the world.
Ben Grynol: If we’re going to solve the metabolic health crisis, there’s a lot of work to do.
Ben Grynol: So where we left off, we were talking about Mike DiDonato coming on board and Mike went through all the scrappy phases of putting Libre sensors into corrugated boxes without any real labeling. And there was the bot at the time. So you were the first bot, there was the David bot, there was the Mike bot and there was a time in, I guess it was early 2020 when the product started evolving into an app.
Ben Grynol: And it was really interesting because when you, you build an app, you think like, okay, we’re going to make it perfect and polished, but that wasn’t the case, like there was a lot of scrappiness still in that initial product.
Josh Clemente: Absolutely. I mean, when Mike started, we didn’t have an app and I think January timeframe, 2020 is when the very first app iteration like rolled out in test flight.
Josh Clemente: And it’s funny, that was essentially a static image of your CGM data with a single meal tag. So really the goal for the first iteration of the app was like, we need to import glucose data and we need to present it in a visually appealing way. And we need to indicate that this is not just a random trace, you know, like a curve with no context, but it’s relevant to something I did. So we decided that the meal response was the first visual that we wanted to get out into the world. And so we just put together an app and I say, we, I was not at all involved in anything other than those types of words. I did not write a single line of code, but and app that could take in a meal tag, so description and then show the CGM data that is relevant to that timeframe.
Josh Clemente: So 30 minutes before and two hours after. And if we could just get a Levels branded visual for that we could then start to share it, you know, on social media we could post on Twitter, talk about like, get people, you know, interested in what we were doing. And that felt like a visually appealing way to do so.
Josh Clemente: That is essentially what the very first app version was. And what’s hilarious is that, you know, when it actually shipped out to our phones, the meal tag, it was read only it did not allow editing. And so every meal that you entered into the text box just popped up as tacos. It was overwritten by something in the code base.
Josh Clemente: And so we were in a situation where I just remember being like so overjoyed when I downloaded it and had my CGM data, like importing into the app and saw the tacos tag and just saw, like, even though I had eaten, I dunno, blueberries or something, like I saw tacos with two hours of CGM data after it. And it was like, it was really the first technological hurdle, separate from device accessibility, which was a huge hurdle.
Josh Clemente: But the first step towards the end goal, just to build an insightful behavior change platform on top of hardware. So it felt to me like the first step after a long period of preparation, you know, in the right direction. And you know, there’s a ton of backstory to getting to that version. You know, we, we even had, so before we, we had, you know, access to the data coming off the Libre device, we were thinking of ways to quickly like reverse engineer the data coming off the Libre app.
Josh Clemente: And so one way we were doing it was like people were texting us these screenshots of their Libre view software that comes with the CGM. And it’s kind of crazy. We use this like a computer vision program or a visual interpretation software that just a friend, a contractor wrote for us, which essentially took
Josh Clemente: a raw image, like a raster image of this app screenshot, and then parsed out where the curve was and turned it into data points. So it like actually read the X and Y axes of the screenshot and sort of plotted out data points, like interpolated the data points from the dark line on the screenshot and turned it into live data.
Josh Clemente: And that allowed us to actually interpret the screenshots people were sending us with more precision, you know, for the David bot for the Mike bot. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it was a way of us, like not just taking this static image and trying to interpret it visually, but actually be able to run the cursor over the data points and see, you know, where the peak was, where the sort of change in glucose started and be able to better engage with our users about it, that image recognition or image interpretation software was, I guess even earlier than the tacos version of the :evels app, but luckily we did not ever have to ship that to users as an implementation.
Ben Grynol: Nice. And were Andrew and Sam both like writing all the backend stuff or who is doing all the dev work.
Josh Clemente: So Andrew was doing a ton. But he was also setting up the systems behind the entire company, you know, like the website and the database and all types of stuff.
Josh Clemente: And I remember Sam just jumped into the code base and would like crank out like the tacos version of the Levels app was largely Sam’s code as far as I recall it. And David was also super instrumental in like figuring out ways to get access to the Libre data stream and working on essentially just working all angles to find the best path forward with our first software, if that makes sense.
Josh Clemente: So Andrew was working on like kind of a holistic view of what systems we need to build, how we need to structure our data management systems, how we need to set up payment and like order processing and it just really looking at the full spectrum. Right. Sam David and I were thinking more about like, okay, we have customers who have paid once we have access to the devices, what are they going to use?
Josh Clemente: And then once they were in the system and we were David botting them with, with SMS exchange, it was like, all right, how can we improve this experience in like one incremental step? And so Sam like blitz through the very first food logging the very first, like I said, you know, visual of a meal score, not even a meal score, a meal response.
Josh Clemente: And then David was really instrumental in getting like, sort of initial features, like what are the core features of the Levels of app architected. And, and then we brought in Jhon, who was our first full-time developer and that’s when the pace just like, it was wild to see how fast things accelerated when we had someone who was dedicated to mobile dev, not thinking about fundraising, not thinking about product architecture.
Josh Clemente: Strictly transforming ideas into execution.
Ben Grynol: And so how did you connect with Jhon? Because Jhon John lives in Columbia. I mean, Jhon is the epitome of being a remote company.
Josh Clemente: Yeah. If I’m recalling correctly, the way we first got in touch with Jhon specifically was through a posting that Andrew put up. And I don’t remember the website that he posted that to.
Josh Clemente: I think he put a few up, but we were looking for a developer. We knew we needed to improve our capacity. Yeah, so we put a quick post up. It was nothing fancy. We were like a nobody company, but we were remote and we were working in an interesting space. I think there was, you know, the post was, it caught your attention, I think.
Josh Clemente: And since we were remote, we were just looking for a US time zones, but had no geographic considerations in there, you know, it was like, wherever you are, as long as you can work on US times. Yeah. Great. And Jhon had worked on a number of mobile development solutions that were in the health and wellness space.
Josh Clemente: He had a ton of experience specifically with the tech stack that we were working on, and this was late 2019. Fall 2019, right around the time really that Mike was coming on board as well. So once we had the few calls with them, did a technical with them and it was obvious that he was awesome. And I just remember like that ramp up from like the posting going up to having somebody in the code base working was so fast and it was amazing because yeah, like you said, he’s in Columbia, South America.
Josh Clemente: You know, hadn’t met any of us. It was all phone screens. And that was the first like team expansion beyond having met in person. You know what I mean? So that was like a truly remote team acquisition, which was pretty awesome and really a milestone for the company.
Ben Grynol: It felt exciting, but overwhelming, like, I don’t know what, like what were the feelings around when you’re in the trenches and you’re founding something and you’ve got co-founders, you’re responsible for yourself.
Ben Grynol: Right. But then you go to this point where you have one employee of like two, you have a team team of 10, you have a team of a hundred or a thousand. Okay. Sudden, like, did you ever think about, oh, now we are responsible for the livelihood of somebody else. Like, we actually have somebody who is a team member that is not a founding team member.
Ben Grynol: Like what were you, what were you sort of thinking and feeling? Was it excitement? Was it what was going through your head when you were experiencing this?
Josh Clemente: Well, I definitely felt that way. I actually felt more strongly that way when the early co-founders were joining, because I had a lot of insecurity about the concept.
Josh Clemente: I was like, you know, I’m putting a huge amount of emphasis on the value this is going to bring to people’s lives. And you know, it’s benefited me tremendously. It’s hard not to second guess that, you know, I had learned more about my body and my lifestyle than any other educational vector. The internet textbooks, my education, all of it.
Josh Clemente: And yet when people were talking about leaving massive opportunity on the table, you know, at their current jobs, whether it’s Andrew, you know, leaving Google or David leaving Google or Sam giving up like his multitude of entrepreneurial options or Casey, you know, spending less time on her practice, her private practice, I felt a tremendous amount of personal stress about those decisions because.
Josh Clemente: We hadn’t even really formed the company for the most part in these cases. And I was just thinking like, I really hope that this is what I, I feel that it is. And I can, I was able to, you know, always work through that mentally. But once we got to the point where we had, you know, like, honestly some demonstrated demand. By the time John and Mike had joined us full-time employees we had sold on the order of a hundred or a hundred plus customers who had paid the full price. And we had been able to raise money, you know, from legitimate strategic investors who were amazing at vetting business opportunities. And so that had really helped to increase my conviction.
Josh Clemente: And I felt much more secure, I think by that point than I did six months prior, if that makes.
Ben Grynol: Yeah. Like I could see that now, because you went through this journey, like call it 2017, right? Like you went through this really long journey that just felt like you were always pushing uphill and you get to this point where I don’t want to say that you have checked out mentally, you came to terms right in April. And then all of a sudden like Sam is interested and invested in it and says like, let’s do this. You know, like, okay, well it’s just Sam and I, that’s fine. We’ll see where this goes. And then it’s David and then it’s Andrew. And then it’s Casey. And you, I could see that where you feel this immense sense of responsibility that you’re like, man, I did this thing for years and it like didn’t work. And now there are all these people that are like, somehow I dunno if it’s me or if it’s Sam, but somehow we’ve convinced these people that like this thing’s going to work. And I’m just not sure that that’s true. I would imagine that’s sort of what goes through the head until you start selling N equals one, at least.
Josh Clemente: Definitely. Yeah. And also along the way, like the experiences of, you know, the other co-founders initially experiencing CGM and then being able to walk them through the experience that I had had, you know, that was a very rapid I think de-risking process for me mentally was just, you know, seeing little breakthroughs happen, little magic moments happen for them, whether it’s Sam with his morning oatmeal and like intense headache that he would get, that he would blame on caffeine or lack thereof or David, you know, eating Kit-Kats, you know, in his first week while he’s like moving across country and seeing just this massive blood sugar response and the qualitative. Yeah the mental fog that he experienced just, they were connecting dots so quickly in such a similar fashion to what I had experienced that I was like breathing a sigh of relief. And I think it’s funny actually, when David first started.
Josh Clemente: I don’t want to project, but I think he was a little bit skeptical because the first few days he had great glucose. I mean, nothing really was pushing him off his baseline. I certainly was feeling some jealousy of his metabolic privilege. He was displaying, but, but it took a few days. And I think that when he was most stressed out and he was actually moving, you know, from his place where he started to see some real connections.
Josh Clemente: And like I said, you know, started to see the effect of a few meal decisions. And, and that was when the light went off for him, that this tool was profoundly illuminating. It’s like these things would have happened behind the scenes. He would have blamed them on who knows. Stress, the all encompassing stress term that we use without really identifying what’s causing it.
Josh Clemente: And so as these were happening and I was getting to play the Josh bot, it increased my conviction again, like, okay, yeah, this is working. It’s doing the same thing for them than it did for me. I’m able to accelerate the process for them. You know, they’re not having to dive into research. I can just send them the article that I read, you know, or I can send them the primary literature that I already have in my data set.
Josh Clemente: And so it was helpful. I think to just quickly get through that process with, with everyone else and even Casey, who, although she had prescribed CGM to her patients, she had never used it herself. So by the time she was coming aboard, it was causing so many breakthroughs with her already exceptional diet, you know, her entirely plant-based home cooked diet.
Josh Clemente: She was able to also come to some real quick conclusions about how to optimize. So, I guess that de-risking process was just huge and invaluable for me.
Ben Grynol: It’s really interesting because even doctors don’t necessarily have, and I’m generalizing doctors in the past, for sure didn’t address metabolic health as a concern like Casey would have been different in the sense of that was the foundation of her practice was looking at first principles.
Ben Grynol: Like, let’s go upstream as far as we can. And see where we can find some insight. But I think in general, I remember like dating back. So this would have been 2008, 2007, something like that. There was this point where like every single day my head would want to hit the keyboard. Like I was so drastically tired and I couldn’t figure it out.
Ben Grynol: And I thought it, it reminds me of like, when you talk about, like, you thought that you had some terminal illness. Right. And so I actually finally, I was like, man, I’m going to like talk to my doctor. And I was like, Hey doc, I’m falling asleep at the wheel pretty hard every afternoon. I can’t keep my eyes open.
Ben Grynol: And he’s like, are you getting enough sleep? And I’m like, well, probably not. But he’s like, well, go get more sleep. And I never realized it. Like I thought at the time, I was like, I wonder if this has to do with like something I’m eating, but there was just like no way of exploring it. And it seemed like such a silly thing to even consider.
Ben Grynol: But what it was was two problems. One, I was like overeating. What I would have for lunch and two, it was like a terrible lunch to have period. But it was just like, probably something I should have avoided. And so like, Pam’s mom would pack me these lunches all the time. Like if we went to their place for dinner and she would make these massive plates of like white pasta, spaghetti and potatoes, like lemon potatoes, Greek potatoes.
Ben Grynol: And so I would. A ridiculous portion for lunch. And I think I was crashing so hard that like I was getting this massive spike and then I was all, all of a sudden hypoglycemic and I would be like shaky and all these things, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. And in retrospect, you like, if the doctor would have known and like, he helps us to be one of my friends too, so it’s like pretty funny, but if he would have been like, Hey man, what are you eating?
Ben Grynol: Like let’s start there. And it wasn’t even being measured. Like if he had insight about metabolic health, that would have changed the entire outlook of the way that you go about your day. And so it’s like really interesting to hear that everyone has these, as you call it these magic moments that reinforces like, okay, we have a lot of work to do.
Ben Grynol: And like, I can see the benefit of this.
Josh Clemente: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of the interesting things is Casey left surgery to become a functional medicine doctor. And you know, that’s a specific sort of label or really they, they offer certifications. But the goal is to identify the root cause of an illness rather than just treat symptoms.
Josh Clemente: And we hear that exact line. I feel like over and over and over again in society, especially when talking about what’s the ideal healthcare system and all that we like repeat that mantra, like treat root cause not symptoms. But only a few are actually doing that. And what’s sad is that throughout this process, this project I’ve come across many people who are experts and well-renowned and very good undoubtedly at what they do specifically in medicine who really dismiss the concept of functional medicine.
Josh Clemente: And what’s unfortunate about that is that functional medicine doctors are the only doctors I’ve ever met, Casey included who take data into account when evaluating a patient, they run a blood panel that goes well beyond the standard, you know, cholesterol, lipids, a few liver markers. Can you health markers, those types of things.
Josh Clemente: And they look at things like insulin. They look at uric acid, they look at all of these markers that are metabolites. They’re basically byproducts of the lifestyle factors that we’re playing with all day every day. And it’s so obvious to me that that is where the juice is to squeeze no pun intended. And yet they’re largely dismissed today in the standard, you know, medicine person in the medical system as it exists.
Josh Clemente: And I think that is going to change dramatically, especially as access to real-time data becomes more available. We’re going to start to see these improved outcomes and they will be a function of focusing on real-time biomarkers. That functional medicine doctors have been ringing the bell for a long time about, and I’ve been largely ignored by the main system.
Josh Clemente: So I think that’s going to transform functional medicine is going to be standard of care. It’s not going to be like a special term, but it is unfortunate to think about where things are today and how backwards it seems.
Ben Grynol: So why are they like that though? Like what has caused that to happen?
Josh Clemente: That’s a great question.
Josh Clemente: I mean, I think what could be involved here a little bit is that a few doctors, they really get jaded or in some way, they get disillusioned with the medical system they were trained into, they look at it as exactly kind of what it is, which is focused on symptoms, only focused on diagnostic codes for insurance to reimburse focused on all the wrong things.
Josh Clemente: And they kind of reject it and maybe overcompensate in other ways. And I think what that turns into is certain doctors will incorporate things that are not evidence based into their practice. And that ends up, you know, a few examples of that can end up sort of souring the entire movement. And I’m not going to name any names or anything like that, but there are specific people who like really weave in very fringe and largely unsupported examples.
Josh Clemente: Yeah, and this can be EMF, you know, like 5g concerns or there’s just a whole bunch of stuff that is like, it’s hard to decipher from an individual. What is, you know, an individual’s opinion about a technology and what is the practice of medicine. And when that starts happening, very rigorous scientists and physicians will reject the whole thing.
Josh Clemente: That is fringe. It’s not medicine. We need to ignore that. Randomly controlled trials, that’s the gold standard, anything without it is to be rejected. And so, anyway, that’s my perception is just that a few examples have sort of colored the entire movement and maybe a negative light here and there. And it’s ridiculous because when I look at the bulk of the functional medicine doctors that I’ve interacted with or read about, they’re doing great things.
Josh Clemente: I mean, they are the ones who are pushing forward movements around better activity, better sleep, stress management in our day-to-day lives and biomarker tracking as the first thing to look at, to discover the root cause. And it’s just like so obvious and it’s exactly the way I think medicine would have been practiced decades ago if they had access to the technology, we have,
Ben Grynol: There’s gotta be a sense of macro factors involved too. Like if we talk about macroeconomic factors, political factors, policy, like there are all these things that tie into it as well, where the incentive structures have been so skewed that that can just like bias people, even if they try to be open-minded it can bias them from not being willing to like, think about things from a different perspective. Right. You know,
Josh Clemente: The incentives in healthcare are really complex. We’ll put it that way.
Ben Grynol: Have you read that book Upstream by Dan Heath? I think he came up last. I think it’s last year it came up anyways. They’re like the Heath’s brothers did made this stick. Yeah. Ton of different books, really good books. But this book Upstream, they talk about this study that was done, where there were some doctors that were given x-rays and the x-rays had an outline, like a very clear outline of like a little plastic gorilla figure, like a toy kid’s toy.
Ben Grynol: And like, that should be something that if you’re looking at these scans, You should be able to identify, right? Because like the x-ray they’re looking at everything’s black and then there’s like this big white object that does not belong there. But the people in the study were told that they were looking for something let’s just call it.
Ben Grynol: They were looking for some type of cancer. And so like, all they were doing was looking for that one thing. And because this Gorilla shape didn’t look like that one thing, they just glazed over it and like nobody looked for it, and so like, the problem was no one was using this Upstream thinking of like, Hey, what else are we seeing in this picture right now?
Josh Clemente: Yeah. The 50,000 foot view or 35,000 foot view.
Ben Grynol: I’m just like, yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s very like understandable how it happens where back to the conversation about, like, I asked my doctor, like, why am I tired? And he’s like, are you getting enough sleep? Instead of saying, like asking the classic Toyota questions, like ask why five times, you know, like let’s really figure this out.
Ben Grynol: And it’s interesting to hear you say that, like you see healthcare moving towards it because it’s, there’ll be massive shifts when that happens.
Josh Clemente: I’m optimistic that, well, first of all, the technology that we’re working on can alleviate a bunch of that sort of Gorilla example background, right? Like if you don’t, as a doctor, have to personally review charts to look for patterns, that software that are well-established in literature and that software can do for you.
Josh Clemente: Then great. You can engage with the patient and ask the five questions, right? The five whys to figure out like what’s going on in their lifestyle that could be contributing to the pattern that the software can detect. So I think that’s going to be just transformational to improve the patient physician relationship.
Josh Clemente: And then, yeah, I mean, I don’t want to say that things are moving this way now. I think that people are like the patient population is showing signs that this is what they want. I think the push towards personalization, towards telehealth, all of the factors that we’re seeing, kind of in the digital transformation of, of healthcare and all these new companies, you know, servicing it are the signs that tell me that the system will have to adapt, you know, and not to mention just.
Josh Clemente: The unbelievable rate of expense, at least here in the U S versus outcomes. I mean, it’s like we spend twice as much as the number two country on the list for our healthcare here in the U S and we have, I think we’re like 26th in terms of health outcomes. And our lifespan has declined for the past three consecutive years, you know?
Josh Clemente: So it’s like, we cannot continue to deal with status quo.
Ben Grynol: People almost have this ongoing expectation of continuous gratification, continuous feedback loops where like you can get insight about anything or you can finally, you can search the internet for anything you want at any time. So people have that same outlook on things like data or things like technology.
Ben Grynol: And I mean, it’s a necessary evil to say technology has to start in a certain place, but like thinking back of things, so Pam’s dad would check his sugar because he’s Type 2, but he would just like randomly check his sugars, you know, you check his glucose levels and you’d be like, oh, I’m good. It’s like, it’s exactly what you were talking about on the Acquired episode the other day, where it’s like, while I would check in the morning and I would check at night and there was this big in-between period and you don’t know what’s happening.
Ben Grynol: And if those two periods where you do those spot tests are like, I’m doing great. Like that’s not telling you anything. It’s giving you no insight at all as to what’s actually happening. And so giving people insight continuously into like, this is what your body is doing, and this is how you feel. And here are the implications of the data you’re seeing.
Ben Grynol: That’s what’s going to drastically change healthcare.
Josh Clemente: Yeah, absolutely. That in between morning and evening is where all the magic’s happening. You know, that’s where the body is doing its thing. I’ve always been confused by the fasting plasma, glucose check. You know, you have to fast 12 hours before you go into the doctor and that’s when they’ll check your glucose to me, it’s like, why aren’t we doing the immediately after you visit the buffet check?
Josh Clemente: Where you go into the doctor within 30 minutes of eating an outrageously large meal. And that’s when they check your glucose, obviously higher resolution, more data points will always be better, but if you’re going to do one data point, why not look when the body’s being stressed? Not when it’s in an unrealistic, you know, sort of fasted mode that most of us are not in.
Josh Clemente: So always fascinated by that. And then just like, you know, as well as I, but if you tried to sell a car that didn’t have an oil gauge on it. Like people would reject that, but you could just put, well, if it breaks, you know, you just bring it in and we’ll figure out that it’s the oil. And then, you know, you can replace the engine or whatever at that point, you know, why bother with the oil until then it would just be like laughed at as an absurd concept.
Josh Clemente: But that’s exactly what we’re doing across all of our critical body systems.
Ben Grynol: Well, exactly. And even like, I’ll push back on one thing. Is, is it during the day that everything magical is happening or are there other points? So like one thing that I did. I mean, I did it until probably the fall, like until recently is I always love to eat pistachios and dried mango at night.
Ben Grynol: Like, it would be my thing that I would like crush while working. So like kids would go to bed and I would like. Knock out. Like, I mean, we have these like massive bags of dried mango and they’re not the like sugar-coated ones just straight up dried mango. Like I would crush like a big bowl of that, but yeah.
Ben Grynol: But like I had no idea. And so I think, I can’t remember when it started, but I would notice like some nights I was like, so sweaty. Like sleeping, I’d be like so hot feeling. And I was like, gosh, maybe like, I shouldn’t wear a blanket. You know, now I understand what was happening is like, I was eating so much of this and it would be at probably like 11:00 PM.
Ben Grynol: Let’s say, I’d go to bed at like one. And I think I was like, so hypoglycemic when I was going to bed that I was just like sweating. But like, you don’t know that until you start getting data about what’s happening. And I haven’t like, I haven’t done it since wearing a sensor, but intuitively I almost want to test it, but like intuitively I know like probably shouldn’t eat stuff that late period probably shouldn’t eat dried mango that late and shouldn’t eat a massive, like four liter bucket of it that late.
Josh Clemente: Yeah. You’re totally right. There is a ton of fascinating, obviously a ton of fascinating findings for night and sleep as well. And I never really thought about this. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until CGM that I started to think critically about eating late and not just because of glucose, like, I mean, eating anything, even a perfectly formulated low glycemic meal at 10:00 PM when I’m going to go to bed at 10 30, well I’m full, you know, like I have to digest that food. And I started to think through the process of two things, like one. All of that food is going to break down into energy, like into fuel. And if my body is not using energy actively, like that’s a just going to be strictly stored and be the energy to break down that food.
Josh Clemente: The digestive process itself requires energy. And so that means that my body can’t go into like a fullly turned off, like maximally powered down recovery mode. If I’m requesting of it to digest all of this food. And then you’ve got like the third component of just the sort of fast acting fuel. So, you know, if you eat a bunch of carbs, like eat a whole basket of dried mango just before bed. That sort of just like rocket fuel. I mean, that’s, if you’re on the bike and you’re, you’re spinning, like it’s going to be great for your muscles. You’ll be able to use it right away. But otherwise your blood is just like full of this highly reactive, like supercharged fuel and
Josh Clemente: I think that for many people, especially if you are not past the point of insulin resistance, your cells are going to try and use that for energy. In some, one way that it will do that is by upregulating your body temperature and like burning it off as heat. And so it could be your hypoglycemic. It could be as like an insulin crash response to that huge blood sugar spike.
Josh Clemente: It could also be that blood sugar is just like coursing through your veins and your body’s trying to literally burn it off the way, the way that alcohol does this to us, you know, alcohol is also. thermogenic, it increases body temperature as your body’s trying to metabolize it away. And so that’s why a lot of people have restless nights of sleep.
Josh Clemente: And I just, I didn’t start thinking about these things until I saw those late night fluctuations and I was like, huh, what’s actually happening. Let me picture what’s going on here. And it transformed my entire approach to late night meals.
Ben Grynol: It’s so funny, like intuitively I think this was probably 20 years ago had this thing where I was like, I’m going to stop and I didn’t read anything.
Ben Grynol: I just thought I was like, yeah, I’m not going to eat past 9:00 PM. And I remember telling my brother and like my best friend and a bunch of people I’m like, yeah, no, I’m good. Like I’m not having, I dunno, nachos or something that people would be eating. I’m like, no, it’s, it’s probably better to like, just not eat.
Ben Grynol: It was like people were perplexed. They’re like, you’re insane. What are you talking about? Like you’ve gone overboard, right? You get that lecture of like okay. Now you’re just, this is too far. Yeah, you’re totally unreasonable. Right. And so then like you go, yeah, it must be, even though you try to keep it up for like however long, like a month or two months, and then eventually like, well, the rest of the world doesn’t do this, so it must be wrong.
Ben Grynol: And then you go back to the thing, like you go with friends or something and everybody orders, nachos or fries and drinks, and you’re having this at like 11:30 PM. You have a couple of drinks and you have some fries or something. Yeah. And then you go to bed. Yeah. What is going on.
Josh Clemente: I mean, I just remember back, I don’t go out.
Josh Clemente: As often as I used to I’m COVID not withstanding, I would, I used to go out a lot, you know, when I was in LA and we would be at the bar until it closed having some drinks until 2:00 AM, and then there’s a food truck outside and we’d have like I don’t know some massive grilled cheese with a Mac and cheese inside it and bacon and a salad of tater tots.
Josh Clemente: It’s just like an unbelief, a meal that I don’t know if I could like choke down now, but I’d be having this at 2:30 in the morning and then I’d take Uber home and get into bed and wake up, you know, for work sometimes the next day. And like, yeah, I did it probably because I just kind of ignored all of the negative sensations associate.
Josh Clemente: But I can only really imagine, like if I had had this data earlier, how quickly I would have changed my behavior, because I liked that you touched on while everyone else was doing this. So it must be fine. Like that is the approach I was taking. It’s just kind of following the lead of other people that were in my friend group.
Josh Clemente: Oh, we’re all gonna do this. This is what people do our age. And that happens like, so prolifically in our society it’s just that, like, we don’t have any historical context for how our society functions. Big Macs have not existed for all of human history and actually like for the most part, fasting daily cardio and essentially a low carbohydrate diet or mandated by our conditions for most of human evolution, but we don’t have that perspective. Like our perspective is that, you know, you go to the movie and you get the giant bucket of popcorn and the soda and the candy, because that’s what everyone at the movie is doing.
Josh Clemente: And we don’t want to question those behaviors because it seems like turning everyone into a bad guy or something like that. You sound like the, you know, chicken little, when you’re saying, Hey, maybe we shouldn’t do this, but you know, the evidence is finally arriving. You know, I, I think we’re finally going to get to the point where many of these self destructive behaviors just won’t be defensible because it will be very clear, like what happened was cigarettes and lung cancer.
Josh Clemente: Like we’ll be able to connect the dots when we have a rich enough data stream.
Ben Grynol: Like Seth Godin’s notorious for saying people like us do things like this. Like that’s sort of this mantra and yeah, we, we just subscribed to all these social norms that were like, well, I guess that’s just what you do. You go to the bar and you’re like, well, you don’t drink beer at the bar.
Ben Grynol: That’s sort of something you do at home. Like you’re barbecuing, you drink beer, we’re drinking, rum and Coke. That’s what you do is you drink some like soda and alcohol. Like you have three or four of those at the bar, and then you go and you have the food truck and that’s what you do. And then you wake up the next morning.
Ben Grynol: And you feel terrible, but you’re like, well, that’s cause I drank and you’re like, that is a very significant factor in it. But all the other things that you did, including being like sleep deprived and eating french fries and the grilled cheese with bacon, like that is very much a reason that you feel terrible.
Josh Clemente: Exactly. It’s really interesting. I like to think about the, um, just the hijacking of the metabolic system that has happened over the past call it 200 years, but just our ability to shunt in more fast acting carbohydrates than a prehistoric person would have come across in probably their lifetime in a single meal or a single day.
Josh Clemente: It’s pretty wild. And sometimes I have seen the argument that there is no, again, this is the calorie is a calorie argument, but just that there is nothing inherently wrong with any one. Macronutrient it’s about portion control and such. I think it’s obviously not that way. I think there are clearly good foods and bad foods.
Josh Clemente: And actually I heard this put really nicely once, and I’m trying to remember who this quote came from, but basically it was like, food is mostly water. And if the food you’re eating is not primarily water, it’s not food. And basically that, that helps to identify what is processed food and what is not, is that processed food always has the water removed from it in order to make it shelf stable. But anyway, like thinking about how quickly we went from scarcity at all times, and every calorie was life-saving calorie to where we are now, where we are literally drowning in calories. Our bodies did not develop an advisory system for this. Like we don’t have sensory feedback for the quality of our nutrition because every calorie was lifesaving.
Josh Clemente: And that fact, I think. Entirely missed today. It’s just, we don’t have that machinery, that warning light about what we’re eating, because until very recently we were going to die if we didn’t eat everything, we came across.
Ben Grynol: I guess you haven’t seen those cave paintings, then the new ones with the food pyramid on it, with the big Macs all over.
Josh Clemente: Yeah, that’s right. I totally missed that.
Ben Grynol: And so like, how did you end up getting in touch with them?
Josh Clemente: Need to get this right by the way, then we might have to edit here. I’m looking for the specific date. When I first got in touch with Jhon,
Ben Grynol: We’re not editing this.
Josh Clemente: We are going to edit this.