Podcast – with Ben Azadi and The Keto Kamp Podcast


This is a discussion of my new book, Nature Wants Us to Be Fat.  It describes how there is a specific biologic switch that animals use to become fat.  It is usually triggered by fructose, either from our diet or from making fructose in the body, and it involves uric acid. Here we talk about the types of foods that trigger the switch and what to do about it.

Listen to the podcast here.

Podcast details by Ben Azadi

Welcome to the Keto Kamp Podcast Episode 00 with Dr. Richard Johnson

 Today, I am blessed to have here with me Dr. Richard Johnson. He is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and is a clinician, educator, and researcher. He is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and kidney disease and is the founding editor of Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology, one of the main textbooks on kidney disease.

For more than 20 years, he has led research on the cause of obesity and diabetes, with a special interest in the role of sugar (especially fructose) and uric acid. His research has been highly cited, published in top medical journals, and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. He is the author of The Sugar Fix and The Fat Switch. Dr. Johnson lives in Colorado with his wife, kids, and two rambunctious puppies.

In this episode, Dr. Johnson talks about the inspiration behind his uric acid research. He speaks about the correlation between uric acid, fructose, sugar, and inflammation. Plus, he explains why your body would be producing excess uric acid. Later, we discuss why the keto lifestyle is so powerful and the reason burning calories isn’t the purpose behind exercise. Tune in as we dive into the benefits of the ketogenic lifestyle and Dr. Johnson’s latest book, Nature Wants Us To Be Fat.

[01:00] About Dr. Johnson and The Inspiration Behind His Research

  • Johnson started studying high blood pressure because it’s such a problem in our country.
  • High blood pressure has something to do with the kidneys and salt.
  • A substance called uric acid seems to be important in what causes high blood pressure.
  • As he studied uric acid, he started to realize it was more than just high blood pressure and gout.
  • Uric acid is actually involved in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
  • Eventually, he found that fructose led to an increase in uric acid.

 [04:20] What Is The Connection Between High Uric Acid and Inflammation?

  • Our body is made up of protein, carbohydrates, fat, bone, etc.
  • Uric acid is considered a waste product.
  • When we eat meats, drink beer, and eat sugar, these foods can generate uric acid.
  • Uric acid is what is excreted from the body.
  • If uric acid is built up, it can lead to inflammation and gout.
  • 9 million people in the United States suffer from gout.
  • A lot of people have low-grade inflammation in their blood. This inflammation can accelerate diseases like atherosclerosis and heart disease.

[09:10] Why Is Your Body Producing Excess Uric Acid?

  • If your uric acid is very high, it increases your risk for mortality.
  • Plus, uric acid is being linked to cancer.
  • Uric acid is involved in the process to make fat.
  • When you eat enough fructose, it triggers uric acid.
  • The body switches from making a lot of ATP to storing the energy in fat.
  • Uric acid is actually important in survival.
  • Humans are very sensitive to fructose. Fructose is in table sugar and high fructose table sugar.

[24:20] Why The Keto Lifestyle Is So Powerful

  • Our bodies can make fructose. Potatoes and rice do not contain fructose, but they contain what we call high glycemic carbs, it triggers this response in your body to make fructose.
  • You will start making fructose in response to these carbs.
  • That’s why carbs are driving obesity dramatically.
  • The keto diet is powerful because it blocks these two major food groups: fructose and high glycemic carbs.

[29:30] The Benefits You Get From Exercise  

  • When you exercise, you do things that help the mitochondria regenerate.
  • If the mitochondria regenerate, they can go back to normal.
  • When the function of the mitochondria improves, your energy improves.
  • You can diet all you want, but if your mitochondria are bad, you will also go back to your original weight.
  • When you’re young and gain weight, you can lose it much easier.

[38:55] One of the Many Benefits of A Ketogenic Lifestyle

  • When you eat sugar, you have to absorb the sugar.
  • The ability to absorb sugar varies from person to person.
  • If you’re eating sugar every day, you’re going to absorb the sugar very fast.
  • When you put an animal on a high sugar diet, it will learn how to absorb it fast and absorb it very efficiently.
  • If you don’t eat sugar, those transport systems to transport the sugar into the body get turned off.

[43:35] The Importance of Oxygen For Creating Energy

  • When you make ATP in the mitochondria, you use oxygen.
  • One of the main reasons we need oxygen is for our mitochondria to make the energy we need.
  • If we don’t have enough oxygen, we can’t make energy very well.
  • Our body likes to use glucose as fuel.
  • Insulin resistance reduces the amount of glucose that gets into our muscles, liver, and fat.
  • Much of the brain does not require insulin to move glucose in.


 Resources from this episode: