The Real Skinny on Fat Documentary - Part 1


Below begins our series, an interview transcript of LifeSense™ Products and Sciadonics, Inc. Co-founder, Alvin Berger, PhD, expanding on his scientific background and his personal stake in ketosis-- as well as his passion for sciadonic acid.

Lipidologist Dr. Alvin Berger’s credentials include a Doctorate in Human Nutrition with a specialty in fat metabolism as well as a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Cell Signaling of Lipids. He is an author and editor of several works including Understanding Lipid Metabolism with Microarrays and Other Omic Approaches (with Matthew A. Roberts). An adjunct professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at University of Minnesota as well as a frequent speaker and featured guest on topics such as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s), Dr. Berger has traveled and researched around the globe, searching for science-based answers about fats as related to the human body.

Watch the End of Three Fitness video, “Keto, MCTs and Crushing Your Fat Fears with Dr. Alvin Berger.”

Listen to a Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast with Dr. Berger and learn why not all MCT’s are created equal.

Read Dr. Berger’s interview transcript from “Does Fat Make You Fat?” with New York Times best-selling author, and founder of The Art of Living,  Kathy Smith, (who was named a “Fitness Titan” by Forbes)!

Catch the podcast from Brian Williamson of Ketovangelist, “Dr. Berger studies MCT and Keto.”

Why are academic credentials important to you? We’re so glad you asked! Dr. Berger, who prefers the less formal, Alvin, has spent over thirty years in science, many of which are specifically related to ketogenic fats. As the parent of a [then] young son diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, Alvin used his deep knowledge of nutrition (especially as it relates to a ketogenic diet) and unusual conifer type(s) of fatty acid to gift his son with a less insulin-dependent life. While this may not be the case for you or your diabetic loved one, it speaks to the power of deliberate human nutrition, in this case ketogenesis! More recently, Alvin’s work has led him to co-founding another company. Read part one in the series for a little background.

Introduction by Montel Williams.


Montel Williams: You know, it's one thing to talk about it, but again, when you can validate this kind of information with science, and that's what Dr. Alvin Berger has done right, when it comes to oil? He's researched this.

Interviewer: He spent his entire career researching oil and he's going to teach us about an oil that I bet no one has ever heard of before.

Montel Williams: Wow, take a look at this.

Interviewer: I am so excited that you're here today. Thank you so very much. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your name?

Alvin Berger: My name is Alvin Berger. I've been in nutrition research for the last 30 years. Educationally, I have a Bachelors and then a Masters in Aquaculture and Fish Nutrition. I've a PhD in Human Nutrition, specializing in fat metabolism, and then I did a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Georgetown University in Molecular Cell Signaling of Lipids. Then I went on to work for a number of both large and small companies, such as Nestlé and Cargill over a long career, and I'm also an Adjunct Professor at two universities.

Interviewer: That's remarkable. You became fascinated with fat and did all of this research. What was it that really led you into this particular area?

Alvin Berger: Well the areas that I focus right now are on the ketogenic fats and also the unusual conifer type of fatty acids, Delta-5™ Sciadonic acid.

Interviewer: Okay, so let me ask you two questions there. So you focus on the ketogenic fats, why is that?

Alvin Berger: The ketogenic fats were of particular interest because I, unfortunately, have a child with Type 1 Diabetes, no family history, and he was being advised by the typical regulatory authorities, like the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to consume these high carb diets. The idea is, if you're already dealing with a disease, why stress yourself emotionally by having to limit your carbohydrate intake. He was consuming these very high carb diets, and then he was having these constant ups and downs with his blood sugar. So you take a high carb diet and you take insulin, but maybe you over shoot it, so then you're low, and then you eat carbs to try to bring it back. So you're doing this kind of yo-yo-ing all day long and that seemed crazy to me. So I got interested in the ketogenic fats, originally, to help my son because those fats are converted preferentially to ketone bodies. We're talking about the chain length of C8 and C10, in particular here. So they get converted to ketone bodies, the ketone bodies get taken up by the tissues, muscles and brain, but it doesn't require insulin. For a diabetic it's valuable to have an energy source that doesn't require insulin.

"For a diabetic it's valuable to have an energy source that doesn't require insulin."

Dr. Alvin Berger, speaking about his son’s Type 1 Diabetes.

Interviewer: How old was he when you decided to take him out of the high carb diet and put in him into a ketogenic?

Alvin Berger: He was diagnosed at age six and he was on the high carb, SAD [Standard American Diet] diet for about six months and that's when we said, "This just ... doesn't make any sense." Then he went on a ketogenic type of diet and he had been getting insulin per the doctor’s orders, but now he needed less and less insulin. Then, eventually he needed no insulin. But when we started this, the idea was not to take him off insulin, it was just to give him a healthier diet. But there was no point in giving him insulin anymore, it would only make his blood sugar low. Then for a full year he was on a ketogenic diet with no insulin at all.

Interviewer: And when was that? At what age?

Alvin Berger: This is around age seven.

Interviewer: Wow.

Alvin Berger: Then for another full year he was on a low carb diet, he started increasing his carbs and he was taking just Lantus, which is the long-acting insulin, but not taking insulin with meals. Over the years, it's very challenging with children, as you know, to keep them on any kind of dietary regimen, and there's peer pressure to stay up with their friends who are having these high carb diets, and so he's drifted back towards a higher carb diet. But we still have certain rules in our house. There's no Cokes..I've run up against a brick wall trying to talk to the JDRF and ADA about low carb diets. So I've learned to position it a little differently to families. I don't really talk about diabetes, I just talk about the fact that there's only 4% at best, of children, that meet the dietary guidelines that we set for them, in terms of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats and so on and so on, so that's kind of my story, that's how I try to get kids to eat better.

Interviewer: He was diagnosed at six years old, how old is he now?

Alvin Berger: Now he's 14.

Interviewer: That is remarkable, and he's probably at the stage where he's getting the most peer pressure, but I'm sure, over time, he will revert to fully what he benefited from early on.

Alvin Berger: Yes, as parents you can only hope that the educational efforts you've made at the younger age now, will makes sense when he's, say, 18, 22. Then he will start to realize eating these high carb diets does not make sense, and we hope that he'll revert and transform back to a low carb diet. Ironically, during his period of learning to eat low carb, the whole family around him has become low carb. I eat a lot less carb than he does, as does my wife.

Interviewer: Do you do the ketogenic diet in your life?

Alvin Berger: We do ketogenic diets, but we don't believe in extreme rigor when it comes to food. We're strong believers in the hedonistic value of food. And as someone like myself coming out of competitive gymnastics background with five hours a day in a gym, I feel like I've had enough regimentation for several lifetimes, so I'm a big believer in trying to eat well, but then when I want to have that piece of chocolate or whatever the case is, glass of wine, that there's never any guilt about it, it has to feel very pleasurable. In order to enjoy something you can't be having guilt feelings.

"We do ketogenic diets, but we don't believe in extreme rigor when it comes to food. We're strong believers in the hedonistic value of food."

Alvin Berger, PhD, on his family’s approach to diet.

Interviewer: I completely agree with that.

Alvin Berger: Yeah.

Interviewer: And do you find that most of the time you're burning fat for your fuel versus glucose?

Alvin Berger: I would say that for sure because the carbs that I do take are the low glycemic variety, so they're not really able to spare the fat oxidation and because I'm on a high fat diet, I'm constantly burning fat, and I actually really respect the Eskimo kind of diets.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alvin Berger: I often joke to people I'm probably the closest thing you'll get to meeting an Eskimo. It's not really true, because I don't have access to seal meat.

Interviewer: Right.

Alvin Berger: And walrus meat and so on, but I do try hard and I'm a believer in there's no limit on how much Omega 3 you can take. They've tried to set limits and they can't ever reach an endpoint because they can't ever find any negative, anything negative to show, so I eat sardines in the morning and it is not uncommon that I will eat sardines at lunch and then salmon in the evening and on top of that another two to four grams of fish oil is not uncommon for me.

Interviewer: So I was in Dutch Harbor in Alaska recently and I was meeting with some of the Eskimos, the Inuits, the locals, and they were speaking exactly in the same way that you just were. Getting the most fatty, blubbery food that they could. If it was from the seals and then that would be what would give them their energy. So rather than having a cup of coffee, they would literally be eating fatty, blubbery food, meats, in order to [boost] their energy. With the sardines and the salmon, and that whole mindset, it does make a lot of sense.

Alvin Berger: Yeah, I've transformed in my personal life to eating more fat. I remember the days that when I would have, say sardines, and avoid the oil that was with the sardines, and now it's like, bring it on. Olive oil with the fish oil, just fine.

"… there's no limit on how much Omega 3 you can take."

Dr. Alvin Berger, PhD

Interviewer: When you talk about those earlier days, when you would avoid the fat and the research that you were doing. What helped you to transform that mindset and what do you believe now that's different than what you were believing at that time?

Alvin Berger: You know, I'm classically trained and academically there was always the teaching that fat led to hardening of the arteries, and was bad for your health. Although I was always passionate about the good aspects of fat, we were trained and we would teach others to limit the amount of the fat. The transformation has really been to eat, what I call it “high healthy fat” (HHF) diets. So it's not really telling people to go out and eat whatever you want in terms of fats. It's just saying, use some common sense. You don't have to worry about how much olive oil you have, fish oil, go at it. Things like the coconut oil, I mean, people I think overdo it. I mean, for me, a couple tablespoons is more than enough coconut oil. Just common sense and like I said, I'm very interested in the hedonistic values of eating, so I would like that everyone could sit down and not count and measure everything, and just kind of enjoy the fats. They have a nice taste. Add it plentifully to your salad.

What might your take-away be from Part 1 of Alvin Berger’s interview?

Here are some suggestions.

  1. Unlike some companies that have hopped on the ketogenic and keto diet bandwagon, LifeSense™ Product™ KetoMCT™ Oil is a life-long mission of love and learning.
  2. KetoMCT™ Oil is science-based from concept to delivery.
  3. A scientist can apply discipline to life…and still enjoy life! Remember the “hedonistic value of food!”

Part 2 >