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Are Energy Drinks Bad? Even If Sugar-Free? with Darin Olien

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the final episode in a series with Darin Olien, the host of the new Netflix show Down to Earth, he and the Amens tackle some of the most talked-about current issues in brain health and wellness. Some of the topics covered are the health factor of energy drinks, whether or not carbs are bad for you, the optimal times of day you should be eating, and where to get started on a new wellness journey.

For more info on Darin’s new book “SuperLife: 5 Simple Fixes That Will Make Your Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome”, visit https://www.amazon.com/SuperLife-Simple-Healthy-Eternally-Awesome/dp/0062297198

For more on Darin’s new Netflix series “Down to Earth with Zac Efron”, visit https://www.netflix.com/title/80230601

Read Full Transcript

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Darin Olien, and we’ve been talking about his book, Superlife, Down to Earth, his Netflix show with Zac Efron, so fun, so interesting, on a journey to help you be well and be able to live your mission and your purpose. There’s just no way to do that unless you take care of your brain and your body. In this episode, some of our Instagram followers submitted questions that we’re going to get Darin to help us with.

Darin, welcome back. Thanks for being with us.

Darin Olien:

Hey, thank you. It’s awesome to be here.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So the first question is, “I’m ready to get fit.” This is from Sarah. “Where do I start?”

Darin Olien:

I would just say going for walks, getting outside is just extremely important, if you have the ability, moving your body, and also just not stacking it up as making it such a big deal because people, I think, overwhelm themselves right away, like “I got to start this big program. I got to sign up for this thing. It’s going to be a financial commitment.” And all of that could be true. I mean, there’s nothing more powerful than just walking and going outside and moving your body, taking in the sun and taking in the light and taking in the air. So I would just say don’t overwhelm yourself, get going, and then reach out, reach out to your network. “Hey, what’s working for you. What’s working for you. What do you like? You guys want to join together on this thing?” Try to create a little bit of a community because obviously when you have other people that are doing the same things, then you have the ability to have responsibility for what you’re doing.

So I would say that, and then there’s several opportunities for apps right now and YouTube videos to have a lot of… I created an app called 121 Tribe, where I have a bunch of functional stuff on and recipes and everything else, and we give three days free on that. So I recognize that it’s overwhelming for some people, but at the same time, don’t make it overwhelming. And move your body as much as you can.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I love that. One thing, if I could add to that, people will often write into me and say, “But I can’t because of X, Y, and Z.” And whatever the X, Y, and Z is, I always use two examples. Natalie, who’s our social media director, and I believe you’ve been in contact with Natalie. She’s just a warrior. I love that girl. She broke her neck when she was 16 and she’s a quadriplegic. Her workout will make people’s heads spin. So here’s a girl in a wheelchair and she was told she’d never walk, and now she walks with a walker, but she swims and she, I mean, her workouts are intense. My other friend, Jacob, who has cerebral palsy, who is wheelchair bound, but has the best attitude I’ve ever seen in life, got his black belt in Kenpo.

So whenever you think you can’t do it, I just want you to think about all the people who can’t do it who do it anyways. And it doesn’t mean you can do that thing. Find something to do. If it’s flapping your arms, just do something. Right? It’s find something to move your body.

Darin Olien:

Exactly.

Daniel Amen, MD:

All right. The next question from Caleb. “Should I stay away from carbs. Carbs just cause that fat gain.” Right. Wrong. You had mentioned in an earlier episode about carbs and they may not be the enemy. So I’d love your take on it. We talk about smart carbs versus dumb carbs. Carbs that increase inflammation, which are generally very-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Processed.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… high processed, high-glycemic, pro-inflammatory carbs. But broccoli has carbs and spinach has carbs and bell peppers-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Blueberries.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… have carbs. So when people go after and demonize carbs, what’s generally your response?

Darin Olien:

I love carbs, and it’s that whole food kind of principle. Listen, and you also have to understand that where people are at right now. There might be sensitivities. They might’ve already damaged their insulin. They might be prebiotic diabetic. They may be diabetic. So you have to be sensitive to where they’re starting for sure, but carbs definitely are not the enemy in their whole food form. But when we start taking things out of their normal state, we start taking sugars out of their fiber, antioxidant-rich matrix that they are naturally in, then that starts to become a problem.

For me, I eat literally a bowl of fruit that is got three bananas and dates and blueberries and apples and peaches and plums. I literally just ate that before I got on here. There’s a great book actually called Mastering Diabetes. It gets into heavy science behind they’re starting to show that, not only starting to show, showing that this high-saturated fat can start thwarting and affecting this insulin sensitivity and actually not being the carbs directly as we thought it was.

Every food has protein, fats, carbohydrates, every single food. It’s not food creating this kind of, again, this demonizing approach to this carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It’s looking at the whole matrix, and if you stay with that common sense and not reduce it down and have chips as your carbohydrates and have all of this other processed stuff, which can definitely cause problems, and go back to whole food eating, it virtually can reverse many of the problems that people have created when they’re not eating those kinds of things.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So, 50%. It’s this shocking statistic, but it comes from the Journal of the American Medical Association. 50% of Americans are either diabetic or prediabetic. So 14% of us are diabetic, 36% are prediabetic, and both of us have people we love that were just ravaged with diabetes. Diabetes actually skyrocketed right before the obesity epidemic, and it was correlated with the toxic load in our body. So if you poison an organ, like you poison the pancreas, you’re much more likely to be diabetic. But at the same time, managing your blood sugar, at least for us, we think about low-glycemic foods is probably a smarter way to go because your blood sugar won’t vacillate as much as the pancake sugar load that you get.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I think we underestimate exercise in this too sometimes. I’m pre-diabetic by nature, but my blood sugar now is perfect. But I work out every day and that’s one of the best things you can do to increase insulin sensitivity besides your diet. I mean, with everything we’re talking about, that Darin’s talking about, critical. But exercise is also critical and moving your body, and it increases for… The more muscle you have on your body, the more insulin sensitive you are. It really helps reverse that tide, so doing those together is very powerful.

Daniel Amen, MD:

All right. From Linda. “Are energy drinks still bad if they are sugar-free?”

Darin Olien:

Oh, that’s a loaded question. Well, there’s so much to look at with that, I mean, energy drink. There’s some energy drinks starting to be more holistic that are popping up too, so it’s hard to… But if you’re thinking about the Monster energy drinks and Red Bulls and all of this stuff, yeah. I mean, sugar-based stimulants, high caffeine, those are a really horrible way of trying to get energy. Again, your systems are compromised, so you’re already behind the eight ball in terms of being able to produce energy. But the trick is that we are low in energy, so we seek energy. So we think that these things are a way out of our kind of depression of energy, when in fact we have to kind of go back to nurturing our bottom line.

High amounts of caffeine are a big problem over a long period of time and adds a debt of stress that is extremely difficult and also inhibits the body’s ability to repair. I worked with leading stem cell doctors in the world, and over 100 milligrams of caffeine every day starts killing the top stem cells in the body called totipotent stem cells. So, sugar is poison, that isolated sugar is poison, and on top of it, high amounts of caffeine is just a prescription for disaster.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, and then if you-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And so are artificial sweeteners because when she said [crosstalk [00:11:10] sugar-free-

Darin Olien:

Oh, yeah, yeah, of course.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Sucralose and aspartame-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Really bad.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Are not good for you. All right. One more. “When should I eat? Do I need breakfast? And what do I eat after a workout?” And this is from [Kaylee [00:11:29].

Darin Olien:

These are great questions. I mean, I think this one is, I tend to lean towards the centenarian. I tend to lean towards that data, and I also tend to lean towards the data of Ayurveda, which is kind of a 20,000 years of use. And that is aside from I think fasting and intermittent fasting can be great. But leaving that aside for the moment, I think that eat when you’re hungry coming out of sleeping. I definitely think being sensible around that. Whole food, fruits and stuff and balanced whole foods is great during that time, and then eating a majority of your calories before noon and maybe having a lunch, and then kind of dropping your calories because there’s kind of this heat of digestion that’s very powerful in the morning, and as it goes up to about noon, and at about [2:00], it starts dropping off.

The problem I think that I see is a lot of people flip that whole thing and don’t eat much or drink their coffee. And then at the end of the day, they’re so ravaged with hunger, they slam all these calories in right before they’re going to go to bed. I think that, number one, you don’t sleep well that way, and number two, it’s just goes against kind of this metabolic curve that seems to be prevalent in the circadian rhythm of the metabolism.

Daniel Amen, MD:

You ate before bed, you also have a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke because-

Darin Olien:

There you go.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… you are a non-dipper. I love that term, non-dipper. For healthy people, if they stop eating at least three hours before bed, their blood pressure drops, and when your blood pressure goes down, you’re at less risk for a heart attack and stroke. But if you eat close to bedtime, that’s stressful for the body. The body has to manage all of that. Your blood pressure does not dip before bed or when you’re sleeping, putting you at risk for big trouble. So you don’t want to be a non-dipper.

What about the workout, post-workout? Do you have a thought on that?

Darin Olien:

I like to stress myself out sometimes, and I’ll fast afterwards a few hours. But for the most part, I like to eat something after a workout because typically I will fast a bit from the night before. Like I said, I probably am done eating by about [5:00] at night usually, and then I won’t eat anything till after my workout for the first time, and that’s about [9:30]. I love to eat and replenish with some great food after a workout, and I love, again, I love the fruit side of things and letting the body uptake all that glycogen that I just annihilated out of my system from the workout.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Awesome. Well, we are so grateful to meet you and look forward to spending time together after the world becomes a little more normal. Darin Olien, his book is Superlife. You can see him on Netflix in his new show, Down to Earth with Zac Efron-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s really fun.

Daniel Amen, MD:

It’s fun, and we’re grateful that you’re bringing this information to the world. I mean, we need to be serious about our health if we want to keep. Tana often says, “We can keep you alive for a long time-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I was an ICU nurse.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… on ventilators-

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

I know how we can keep you alive, but you’re not living.

Daniel Amen, MD:

… but you’re not living.” And we want you to stay alive for a long time with a quality of life.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Health span.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So what did you learn? Write it down. Post it on any of your social media sites, go to Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. Tag Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. We’d be grateful. Or go to brainwarrior’swaypodcast.com, leave us a comment question or review.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Darin, how can people find you? What’s the easiest way for them to follow you, find you? Why don’t you let them know?

Darin Olien:

Yeah. Darinolien.com has basically everything up there that I’m doing. Darin Olien on Instagram, Twitter, all of that stuff.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Perfect. Excellent. Well, thank you so much.

Darin Olien:

Thanks [crosstalk [00:16:13].

Daniel Amen, MD:

All right, everybody, we’ll be back.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.

If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10% discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.