Episode 148 – Max Lugavere


Alright, what’s up everyone? It’s me, Drew Manning, back on the Podcast of the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Where I bring the lessons I learned from going from Fit2Fat2Fit, gaining 75 pounds in six months and then losing it in six months, which has become a pretty recognizable brand now days. What I did is, I took the lessons from that experience and apply it to how to coach people now online, on my platform on social media and even here on the Podcast. I try to bring on experts to talk, not just about the physical side of transformation, because I think that’s overdone in the fitness industry, but also the mental and emotional side of transformation. I think that’s really how we make an impact and change, is by helping people truly embrace a lifestyle change by helping them overcome their mental and emotional challenges with some of the physical tools that we need, as well, to become optimal. So, that’s what we do here on the Podcast. I am really excited about today’s guest. His name is Max Lugavere. You might have heard about him. He is a New York Times best selling author of “Genius Foods”. His book is a New York Times best seller, obviously and it’s a great book about foods to help your brain. Actually, we get into a story about how he was a filmmaker first, a health and science journalist and that’s where he got his start. He worked on some TV shows such as Vice, Fast Company, CNN, The Daily Beast. He’s been featured on NBC Nightly News, the Dr. Oz show, the Rachael Ray show, The Doctors and in the Wall Street Journal. He’s got an interesting background. We talk about his journey and we talk a little bit about his mom, how she suffered from dementia and how he was on this quest to find a way to help her. All the doctors didn’t really have any advice or anything that was helping her. So basically, he kind of took it on himself to do some research and use the connections he had to find a way to help her. He discovered that nutrition was one of the biggest things when it comes to helping people with dementia. So, he kind of bio hacked his way into this space in a way and has found the things that work best for our brains. I think you guys will really find this interview with Max Lugavere very entertaining and very intriguing. I love when people have a ‘why’ behind their story, right? So, he’s not just, ‘Hey, I wanted to get into this space to make money’, he had a personal story with his mom, trying to make an impact and help people. I love that. Now, let’s go hang out with Max.

Drew: Max, how are you doing today? Welcome, to the show.

Max: Thanks for having me, Drew. This is amazing.

Drew: Super excited to have you on, man. I’ve heard nothing but good things about you. Super excited to dive into your book and everything you have been up to. You have such a unique story. I want to start off with your media career, because I think that’s what most people know you from. Let’s start there and then how you transitioned into Genius Foods and that whole story.

Max: Totally. I feel like we have a lot of overlap in terms of our trajectories in this world. I began when I graduated college. I was given an incredible opportunity to become a presenter and producer of content for a TV network that former US Vice President Al Gore had co-founded. It was called Current TV. It was a youth driven network. All the people that worked there were in their 20’s and 30’s, but at the same time, the network had a very strong social impact component to it. It really was about journalism and telling stories that were being under told at the time. They hired me actually, because I was a filmmaker in college and I made a film as an undergraduate that they felt really painted me as, ultimately, the kind of one man band story teller that they were seeking to empower. So, they plucked me out of school to basically anchor the network and it was an incredible six years. I got to learn with some of the best journalists and storytellers, Peabody Award winning journalists. The network won an Emmy and numerous awards. So, that was really what I got to do for six years. In fact, the president of programming for Current TV is known in the industry for picking unconventional talents that really are able to rise above the top. He is known for getting Anderson Cooper his first job. He gave Lisa Ling her first job. So, that was sort of like my pedigree. That was like my entree into Hollywood. After about six years of doing that, I left and really changed it up and transitioned that incredible job into a career. At that exact moment in my personal life, I started spending more and more time in New York City. I noticed, along with my younger brother, that my mom was beginning to show the earliest symptoms of dementia. She began complaining of memory problems, brain fog. We also noticed at the same time, a change to her gait, meaning like the way she walked. I had no prior family history of any kind of neurodegenerative disease. My mom certainly wasn’t old, she was 58 at the time, very youthful. So, I couldn’t chalk up what I was seeing to aging. It really left me at a loss. It was a very confusing time. Ultimately, I decided to go with my mom around the country to doctors appointments. When we couldn’t get a clear diagnosis in one hospital, we went to another. Ultimately it led to us visiting the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. It was there that for the first time, my mom was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. I can tell this story now and sort of be at peace with it, but that was one of the most difficult weeks of my life. It was then that I, for the first time in my life, had a panic attack, in coming to terms with the fact that my mom had this condition that I knew close to nothing about. It was there, that I basically, became unable to think about anything else but how my mom’s diet and lifestyle would have predisposed her to developing this condition. I became obsessed with learning everything I possibly could about how diet and lifestyle affect brain health and brain function and mediate our risks for some of humanity’s most feared diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Drew: What were some of your fears at the time going through that? You said it was the scariest time of your life, what were some of your fears about what would happen based off this diagnosis?

Max: I didn’t know how rapidly this would progress. Clearly there was something awry with my mom’s brain function, but I didn’t …. what I knew about Alzheimer’s disease was that it was a disease that affected old people and really carried them to their graves. So, when my mom was prescribed drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, I was terrified that my mom was going to die young and that she was going to forget who I was. These are all the questions that were circling my head. It was my ignorance and the fear and the helplessness, the sort of bleakness that I experienced in those doctor offices with my mom. When you go to those doctor offices for answers, I received anything but. It just felt like my world was closing in on me. For better or worse, my mom never learned how to use a computer. So, my mom didn’t know how to use the internet or anything like that. She wasn’t privy to this information. I was in that hotel in Ohio at the time, I was manically googling and reading anything I could find on both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It really affected me in that moment worse than it affected her. Ignorance was bliss for her. For me, I was reading phrases like, the drugs have no disease modifying ability. Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable condition. Parkinson’s disease is an incurable condition. Most patients with Parkinson’s disease end up passing because they lose the ability to swallow, so they end up choking. I was like, is that going to happen to my mom? It’s really horrific and my mom, even in Ohio, wasn’t able to get a clear diagnosis because she had symptoms of both conditions. So for me, it was like as soon as the emotional turmoil subsided for me, it became a very strong call to action, to learn whatever I could about the science and mechanisms underlying these conditions. Even in those early months, I didn’t have any professional aspiration. I certainly really just wanted the information. But at a certain point, I stumbled upon the shocking insight that these conditions often begin in the brain decades before the first symptom. For me, that became a very clear importance to begin sharing the information I was learning.

Drew: Yeah. What was some of the talk that the doctors shared with you? You said that there weren’t any answers really. What were the doctors saying? Was there any hope from this or what where the doctors telling you at the time?

Max: No. I coined my experience, ‘diagnose and adios’, because often times …. I mean, given the current healthcare climate, you are lucky if you get fifteen minutes with your attending physician. Usually what they do is order a battery of tests, cognitive and physical tests. They scribble a few lines on a prescription pad and they send you on your way. It’s really up to you, the family member, to learn about the condition. I was highly motivated. I had a background in journalism, so I knew immediately where to go for information. I dug right in to PubMed, which is where I would go whenever I wanted any kind of health information. I went to the primary literature and began there reading the introductions and discussions and conclusions of all the research papers. I went to university websites to look at the press releases for research. I started watching TED Talks, reading books, occasionally articles. I literally night and day, it’s what I ate, breathed …. just the science and connecting those dots. Ultimately, I had the revelation I had something, given my media background, that few other people had and that is media credentials, a calling card as a journalist.

Drew: Yeah.

Max: It was almost like my super power that I used to reach out to researchers and scientists around the globe. So, after doing my initial research, I kind of had enough of an understanding where I was able to communicate with these scientists and clinicians in a way that …. my knowledge and my understanding really advanced exponentially at that point. I had this framework and I started having these conversations. That’s why a couple of years ago, it gave me the tools to really set out on a book writing process.

Drew: So, what kind of things were you finding in the research that gave you this hope to do what you do today and writing a book about it? What were you finding in research that you weren’t hearing from the doctors?

Max: The link between brain health and metabolic health was one of the first insights that I stumbled upon. Today, if you have Type 2 Diabetes, your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease increases anywhere from two to four fold. These are doctors that are really only able to connect when you can zoom out. The problem is modern medicine takes a reductionist approach. Meaning that these specialists really are trained only to focus on their areas of treatment. For example, a neurologist today …. first of all, we know nutrition is under taught in medical school, right? Meanwhile, nutrition is so important when it comes to preventing Type 2 Diabetes and even treating Type 2 Diabetes. But it’s generally under taught in medical school and then you take a profession or a specialty, like neurology, where 90% of what we know about the most common neurological neurodegenerative diseases has been discovered only in the past 15 years. They know next to nothing about nutrition, particularly the link between nutrition and brain disease. I began looking at what helps foster metabolic health in the body, knowing that Type 2 Diabetes is driven, in many regards, by diet and lifestyle. I started looking there. I also discovered that at that time, a subset of clinicians and scientists were beginning to consider Alzheimer’s disease as a form of diabetes of the brain. To the degree that it’s now being called Type 3 Diabetes. When I began this research, about five years ago, it was really mentioned in only about a handful of papers, but it’s really gained widespread adoption over the past couple of years. In part, because the prevailing wisdom over the past couple of decades is that Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of plaque in the brain. That really hasn’t led to any answers in terms of a therapeutic treatment. Meanwhile interventions that improve the metabolic health of the body, seem to improve cognitive function and certainly help minimize your risk of developing the conditions. I started looking at what are the kinds of foods and what’s the type of diet we need to eat to really foster metabolic health in the body. I became interested in low carb dieting and really looking for foods that are nutrient dense and provide the brain the building blocks and raw materials it needs to perform optimally and help fend off against conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Drew: I guess that’s what we will get into with your book Genius Foods, is what are those specific foods? How did all of this research start helping out your mom specifically? Because that was the ‘why’ behind all of this. Did you start implementing these things by yourself to help your mom? Relate it to your mom’s story too.

Max: Yeah, totally. I think initially I became very adamant about changing my moms diet. I was sort of like a nutrition nazi in the house.

Drew: *laughing*

Max: I tried really hard to put my mom on …. because my mom was already symptomatic, so I tried really hard to put my mom on a sort of ketogenic diet. But to be totally honest, that didn’t go very well in terms of her adherence to it. I think I was able to keep her on it for about a week. The problem is …. and my mom doesn’t necessarily have Alzheimer’s disease, she has another form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, being the most common form of it, is the most studied form of dementia. When people develop Alzheimer’s disease, there is a shift in food preference where they begin to crave starchy and sweeter foods. It’s theorized this is meant as a way of supplying cheap energy to the brain which becomes basically unable to create sugar. It’s all throughout the condition essentially, and particularly in it’s later stages. Keeping my mom on a low carb diet was really difficult because my mom actually began to crave and still has a sweet tooth. In tandem with that, I started to realize that the way to lead loved ones to dietary change is to really teach, but to teach gently. I started to notice that I would get angry whenever I would be at my moms house and I would notice an open bag of potato chips or a box of cookies. I didn’t want that to affect …. certainly not my mom’s quality of life, but also my relationship with my mom. The last thing that I would ever want for my mom to feel around her condition and her impulses is shame. I realized that I had to teach more gently. So, today I think my mom has learned a bit about my dietary recommendations. I think she is eating more greens and things like that, certainly I’ve gotten rid of all the unhealthy fats in her kitchen. She pretty much eats what she wants and I wish I could say I’ve reversed the condition, but I haven’t. But I also became very passionate about prevention. That’s really where my passion lies. Today I think people can be a little bit careless about the hope that they instill, especially in the wellness world. Even with some highly credentialed best selling author types that I think you are probably familiar with, I think people tend to …. I’ve heard the word reversal thrown around when it comes to these conditions. I have seen no quality evidence to say we can reverse any of these conditions, especially knowing they begin in the brain decades before the first symptom. To me it’s become very clear that this is a condition we really need to prevent, if we are going to make a dent in the rates of incidence. I think that’s also where my power lies, because I’m not wearing a lab coat. I’m not this 60 year old guy. I want to reach young people and to dispel those myths that these conditions are old people’s conditions and what not. For me, it’s about prevention.


Drew: I agree with that 100% and I can totally relate. Sometimes we can have all the knowledge in the world and we want to take care of those ones we love so much, right? When we are like, ‘Oh, it’s so easy if you just fix this. Then it will all be changed. It will all be good.’ I wish everyone could see it that way, but sometimes you have to let people live their life. The more you try and force it, the more resistance you sometimes get. And like you said, you don’t want your mom to feel that shame in her later years of life. I think that’s an interesting balance, even with someone like you, Max, that has to deal with that. That’s very relatable to your average person that maybe is trying to care for their mom or dad and are like, ‘Hey, let’s make some healthier choices’, or maybe a spouse or someone like that. I think that’s really interesting. Also, getting back to the whole prevention thing, you reaching younger kids. I think that’s very smart, because I think that’s where we are going to make the biggest change in the long run is to start teaching our generation and the generation before us, making these changes beforehand, rather than waiting until symptoms happen. Then it’s like, ok well I better change now. It’s almost too late.


Max: Exactly. Exactly. It’s sort of like …. there is an amazing saying, ‘When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Today.’ Right? To me, the same thing can be said about prevention and making dietary change. Granted these conditions often …. especially the conditions that seem to be burdening modern society, these non-communicable, chronic diseases, they don’t start overnight. The earlier we can begin to really clean up our diets and improve our lifestyles, the better off we are going to be. But, even if you haven’t yet made that change and you feel like you are on the wrong path, you are always one meal away from getting right back on that path and changing your diet. One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Vanilla Sky is, ‘Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.’ I put that quote in my book actually, because I think it’s so powerful and it’s so true when it comes to our health. It’s really never too late to make at least some impact on your health, but it’s always better to start earlier.


Drew: Yeah, I agree with that 100%. Let’s dive right in to Genius Foods. Let’s start off by talking about what are the worst foods, and I think it might be obvious for some people, but let’s talk about the worst foods that can cause damage to your brain. I think the majority of society is uneducated on this and they don’t see that correlation between the foods you eat affecting your brain. We just think it has nothing to do with diet, but let’s talk about that.


Max: Yeah, definitely. I began looking at the foods that I grew up with. I grew up consuming foods like margarine, Snackwell cookies, low fat cholesterol free cookies, egg whites, things like that. I grew up in New York City and so we had access to developing food. Unfortunately, some families these days live in what are called ‘food deserts’ where they have to do their supermarket shopping at gas stations essentially. But that wasn’t me. I grew up in New York City. I had access to healthy food. The foods that my family thought to be healthy back in the 80’s and 90’s were low fat, fat free, hyper processed foods. My favorite way to top bread was with margarine that came in those yellow tubs. I didn’t have my first egg until I was about 12 or 13 years old because my family, we always considered egg yolks to be unhealthy because of the cholesterol contained in the yolks. By the stove we always had a tub of corn oil, which I remember distinctly my mom and grandma frying chicken cutlets in. When it comes to the worst foods for brain health, it’s really these exact kinds of food. The corn oil, the soybean oil, the grain and seed oils that we have been told the past few decades that are good for us. These oils are highly processed. They have to go through an assembly line of processing in order to make it to market. Many of these steps in the production process damage the oil to pretty astonishing degrees. For example, all vegetable oils undergo a process called deodorization which creates trans fats. We now know that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption and yet all of these grain and seed oils that line our supermarket shelves, even at Whole Foods for example, contain up to 5% trans fats. These fats damage our cardiovascular health. They drive inflammation and we now know they impair memory, even in young and healthy people. They are related to an increased risk in all caused mortality. Whereas the latest research shows that not even saturated fat, the kind of fat that we have been told for decades is really the boogey man hiding in our butter, doesn’t even have any relationship with an increased risk in all caused mortality. These grain and seed oils really are among the worst offenders in the modern food supply. They are really squeezed into every crevice in the supermarket these days. One of the reasons why they are so processed is so they become tasteless and odorless and manufacturers love this. They are not only cheap, but they are able to use them in a broad range of processed packaged foods. Like canola oil, for example, you’ll find it in everything from salad dressings to granola bars. How is it that the same oil could be used in both of those kinds of foods which have such dramatically different flavors. Well, because they are so refined and so processed so as not to have any flavor. I also talk about the dangers of eating processed refined carbohydrates, because they keep a hormone in our bodies called insulin chronically elevated. 40% of Alzheimer’s cases might be owed to chronically elevated insulin alone. I talk about the mechanisms underlying this estimate in Genius Foods, but really it’s about getting back to a diet that is lower in starch and sugar and higher in nutrient dense whole foods, fibrous vegetables and nutrient dense animal products. I don’t advocate for a vegan diet. I don’t think from the perspective of brain health that’s ideal. I advocate for the consumption of grass fed meat, pastured eggs, things like that. I’m a big fan of vegetables. I think people in nutrition think in terms of black or white. Especially now, we are seeing this trend of the carnivorous diet sprouting up. I’m a huge fan of vegetables. I think there’s zero research on carnivorous diets in humans and yet the latest and most robust analysis study I’ve seen of observational studies, points towards fiber as being beneficial in health and longevity. For me it’s all about including dark, leafy greens, vegetables, cruciferous veggies, things like that and properly raised meat products.

Drew: So, would you consider it ketogenic or do you not want to put a label on it and just basically those types of vegetables and those types of meats?

Max: I definitely take a food focused approach. So, when you are eating my diet inevitably you are going to be in what I advocate for, which is intermittent ketosis. One of your previous Podcasts, I feel like, was on cyclical ketogenic diets, right?

Drew: Yeah.

Max: I advocate for intermittent ketosis. I don’t think that chronic ketosis is any wiser from an evolutionary standpoint, than being chronically out of ketosis. I think it’s when you’re metabolically flexible and you are eating a naturally healthy, lower carbohydrate, more nutrient dense diet and you are exercising a lot, you are naturally going to oscillate, like a fan, in between and in and out of ketosis. I think from a metabolic perspective and certainly from an evolutionary perspective, to me that makes the most sense. Why I think ketosis is so important when it comes to the brain is, we now know that ketones are sort of like an anti aging fuel source for the brain. They could be considered that because they generate fewer free radicals in their conversion to ATP and glucose. But they also act in the brain like a signaling molecule, increasing production of endogenous antioxidants like glutathione and also turning on special miracle growth proteins like BDNF. In many ways it could almost be said that when your brain is using fat for fuel, it’s not aging. That’s why I think it’s so important.

Drew: Yeah, and I agree with that. I am a big fan of the ketogenic diet, but I agree with you as far as from an evolutionary perspective and being metabolically flexible, like you mentioned. I think for most people, it makes sense to intermittent, do an intermittent ketosis. Yeah, I like that. It’s very smart and it seems like to make the most sense these days. I don’t know if you go into this in the book, I actually haven’t read it, do you go into specific superfoods of like, these top three foods are the best for your brain? Do you go into specifics of which ones are better?

Max: Absolutely, yes. So, I’ve co-opted the term, ‘superfood’, which is something that really was created by marketers. It’s not really a scientific term, but it’s powerful, right?

Drew: *laughing* Yeah, right.

Max: So, I’ve co-opted the term ‘superfood’ and that’s actually why my book is called ‘Genius Foods’, because my book is all about highlighting the foods that people should eat more of that have a robust body of evidence of saying these foods can improve your brain. So, just to go through a few of them, avocados are certainly a genius food. They contain an abundance of healthy fats and fat protecting antioxidants, which are really good for brain health because your brain is constructed of fat. So, fat protecting, fat soluble antioxidants are of particular relevance to your brain, which is constructed largely of fat, in particularly, a very damage prone kind of fat called polyunsaturated fat. Avocados are incredible. I talk about low sugar fruits, like blueberries and strawberries and other kinds of berries. Berries are what I would consider genius foods, but especially blueberries. There is a pretty strong body of evidence on anthocyanins and how they can actually accumulate in the brain’s memory center where they help fend off against oxidative stress and the insults of aging. They can reduce cognitive aging by about 2 1/2 years, studies show when you consume about a serving or more a week. I talk about eggs, as I mentioned. When an embryo is developing, one of the first structures to assemble is the nervous system, which includes the brain. So, an egg yolk is literally nature’s multivitamin, containing all the ingredients required to grow a healthy brain. Fatty fish, I was just interviewing for my Podcast, The Genius Life, Dr. William Sears, who is an expert on astaxanthin, which is one of the compounds in wild salmon that I am a huge fan of. It can protect the skin, eyes and brain. It can boost neuroplasticity, reduce inflammation, things like that. So, wild salmon is a genius food, along with other fatty fish, like mackerel, sardines, things like that. I basically, I like the foods that I think people should just buy on the loop.

Drew: *laughing* Yeah, make it easy.

Max: Yeah, I make it easy. I give you the shopping list.

Drew: Ok, and what about supplementation? Are you a big fan of nootropics or smart drugs, fish oil or krill oil or other supplements that you think are good for the brain?

Max: I’m a fan of krill oil because of the unique format of DHA fat found in krill oil, which is in its phospholipid form, I guess the membrane equivalent of DHA. When DHA is integrated into your brain cells, it basically constitutes the phospholipid bio-layer, which is what a neuronal membrane is essentially made of. It’s these phospholipids that allow receptors for neurotransmitters to bob up to the surface and sort of act like the ears to the neurons. When you are consuming krill oil, you are getting DHA already in that phospholipid format, as opposed to fish oil. Fish oil basically has DHA and EPA in the triglyceride form, which is most commonly the format that you are going to get these fatty acids in when you eat things like fish. But the unique format in krill oil, I think there is not as much evidence for. But I think it’s probably a beneficial thing. The science has really yet to be born out, but in terms of sort of hedging my bets, I will take it occasionally. I’m a big believer in vitamin D supplementation. For people that are traveling on the road that just want to sort of bolster up their diet, I am a fan of supplements. My first foray into fitness and nutrition was actually through my fascination for supplementation. I would say that I am pretty much for them, supplementing wisely.

Drew: Yeah. Gotcha. But what about specifics as far as nootropics or these smart drugs for your brain? Have you looked into those at all? Are you a fan of those? If so, which ones?

Max: Not really. I feel like most of the time, it’s just like a ton of caffeine in them. I think for most people that are going to spend their hard earned money on those kinds of supplements, there is often low hanging fruit in the diets and their lifestyles that they are not exploiting that are going to provide a far greater cognitive impact with a lot more bang for the buck. Cleaning up the diet, eating the genius food, exercising a little bit more, being more active, getting rid of stress. Those are going to help both acutely and in the long term far more than any of these cognitive boosting supplements. When it comes to food based supplements and specific micronutrients, I’m definitely a fan. But I think in terms of those nootropic supplements, no. I wouldn’t recommend any of them.

Drew: Ok. What does a typical day of food look like for you, if you follow the genius food program? Can you give us like a whole day?

Max: Yeah. When I wake up in the morning, usually I won’t eat for 2-3 hours after I wake up. I will usually drink a cup of black coffee or water. If I am doing a particularly low carb version of my diet, I will throw some mineral salt into my water to replace some of those electrolytes. We all tend to wake up a little bit dehydrated. When your insulin is low, and particularly when you are on a low carb diet, your kidneys spill sodium. I like to replace that with some salt, some pink salt or real salt, actually Redmond Salt is based in Utah.

Drew: Yeah. I just met with them yesterday. *laughing*

Max: Oh, that’s so cool!

Drew: Small world. Yeah, they are a good company.

Max: Yeah, so no affiliation with them, but I really enjoy their salt. So, I will sprinkle that in my water and drink some black coffee. An hour or two or three after I wake up, I will have my first meal. I like to have what I call a huge, fatty salad every single day. It’s one of the rules that I set forth in genius foods. Rush University research has shown that people who consume a large bowl of dark leafy greens every single day, have brains that look up to 11 years younger on scans. So, every day I am trying to have a big salad in whatever form that takes.

Drew: *laughing*

Max: So, usually that’s what I will break my fast with. Some of the most valuable micronutrients in these greens are fat soluble, so I always try to make it a fatty salad by putting lots of extra virgin olive oil on it and then some protein. Protein is the most satiating micronutrient. I also love to lift weights, so I’m trying to get a certain protein intake that facilitates gaining lean mass. Chicken, grass fed steak, fish, an egg, something like that. Usually I won’t eat again until dinner, especially if I am out and about. If I am in the house, I will end up snacking on things like dark chocolate, nuts, maybe an avocado, things like that. Over the course of the day, maybe I will hit the sauna, do some cryo. I’m a big fan of cold plunges. Cold plunges are amazing, so both in New York and L.A., I’ve got my places where they have like these cold pools basically. They get pretty cold. So, I try to, along with my physical exercise, I try to get some thermal exercise in. Whether it’s cryo or sauna, always doing that, at least once a day. For dinner, I will have either a grass fed burger patty or grass fed steak, or some wild salmon, chicken drumsticks. I am a big fan of chicken legs, they have a lot of collagen, which I think is really important. We have got a biological imperative to not be wasteful, so I try to eat as many varied parts of the animal as I can. And I will roast up some more vegetables. Right now I’m kind of obsessed with cauliflower. Some days I will go for the brussels sprouts, but for me it’s all about getting both high quality protein and all the macronutrients of those foods usually come with and tons and tons of vegetables.

Drew: So, you’re not too strict about tracking or testing blood ketones or those types of things?

Max: No.

Drew: Ok.

Max: I tend to think chasing that keto high score is kind of a waste of time. For me, subjectively, I don’t usually feel hungry. I eat when I want to. Sometimes when I feel hunger pains, I can tell usually for me it correlates with me not having slept well the night before or maybe having eaten a few too many carbs the previous day. But no, I’m not really into the whole …. I think it’s just more valuable as a skill to learn to tap into your own body and gain a subjective sense of how your engine is revving, you know?

Drew: Yeah. I do. To finish up, one of my favorite quotes is from Tony Robbins. “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” Max, for you, what are the things in life that bring you the most fulfillment?

Max: Man! I think like, lately it’s been getting to connect with awesome people like yourself.

Drew: Thank you.

Max: That’s been really cool for me, especially after I launched my own Podcast. I love getting notes from people all over the world saying that Genius Foods is helping them. People report to me that they are sleeping better. They are waking up without alarm clocks at the appropriate time. They are losing weight. Their brain fog is lifting and they are feeling happier, less anxious, all because of my book. To me, that’s really the most gratifying thing because initially this was all …. obviously motivated by my mom. It’s something that continues to be painful and I love my mom to death. But to me, the fact that my work is now able to reach and impact so many people for the better, to me is a way of it …. all of this and what my mom is going through, having it not be in vain.

Drew: Yeah.

Max: So to me, that’s the most gratifying thing, you know? I mean, it’s a $16-$18 dollar investment that anybody can make. I just love seeing it get out there.

Drew: Yeah. I love that, man. Thanks so much. What’s your favorite book that you have read recently that has made the biggest impact for you? We will just do one book. *laughing*

Max: Oh, man! Well, actually it’s not going to be the kind of book that you expect.

Drew: Ok.

Max: Because I am currently reading it, it’s called ‘The Disaster Artist’ and it was recently made into a movie.

Drew: Ok, yeah. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve seen it out there. Yeah.

Max: It’s basically, you probably expected like a health or science answer, for the practical person, right?

Drew: Sure! *laughing*

Max: It’s basically about making it in an industry, Hollywood, that has the odds continually stacked against you and just following your vision and not giving into fear. I relate to that a lot, you know? So, I think it’s a book that people should read, no matter what industry you are in. The Disaster Artist, it’s great and also see the movie. It recently became a movie and it’s one of my favorite movies of the last couple of years.

Drew: Cool. I will have to check out the movie. I didn’t know there was a book about it too. *laughing*

Max: The movie was made off the book. The book came out first. It’s really good.

Drew: Cool. Ok, so last question for you, where do you go from here? Do you love the health and wellness space? Do you see yourself going back to the media world or Hollywood? Where do you see yourself going from here now that you’ve written Genius Foods?

Max: I think the health and wellness world. I love it and everything about it. Now I am able to try out products that people are making. I realized how much I love writing books over the course of writing Genius Foods. I definitely feel like I’ve planted my flag in this space and I intend to stay in it for a long time. But that being said, I love media. I’m looking to kind of expand my Podcast and pursue other opportunities in the media space, but I am always going to have a foot in health and wellness, for sure. I love it too much. I also feel that people really need a guiding voice and I’m one of many. But I really enjoy it. So, I aim to stay in it for a long time.

Drew: Cool. Thanks, Max. Where can people connect with you on social media? First of all, your Instagram is super entertaining. So, anyone who’s listening or watching, go follow Max on Instagram, super good content. So, where can people find you on social media, your website and your book?

Max: Thanks, Drew. Instagram @MaxLugavere, also you can join my newsletter at MaxLugavere.com. You can go to GeniusFoodsBook.com to download a free sample chapter of my book. I’m pretty out there, come say hi.

Drew: Cool. Thanks again, Max. I really appreciate what you do, man. Much respect to you and looking forward to connecting with you, hopefully in person one day.

Max: Thanks, Drew.

Drew: Thanks for coming on, man.

Max: Anytime.


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