Episode 115: Ken and Dawn answer listener questions about ketogenic diets, Viagra, methylene blue, fasting, Mars and more

// Nov 24, 2020

It’s that time again for another Ask Me Anything episode. And we must say, listeners sent us a wealth of excellent questions for this round of Ask Me Anything.

In today’s podcast, Ken and Dawn answer questions that range from blood-flow restriction to swimming induced pulmonary edema to intermittent fasting to methylene blue to low-carb diets, and much, much more.

If you have questions you want to send to Ken and Dawn for an Ask Me Anything episode, email your question to STEM-Talk Producer Randy Hammer at

Show notes: 

[00:02:24] In light of Ken’s former experience in wrestling, a listener asks about wrestlers who perform neck bridges to strengthen their neck.  The listener wonders if Ken thinks neck exercises are important and, if so, what does he does in that regard. In his response, Ken mentions a neck-strengthening device, Iron Neck.

[00:06:12] A listener asks Ken and Dawn about their morning routines and what scientific journals they read and if they could each give a few book recommendations.

[00:08:16] A listener asks Dawn, in light of her accepting a position at the University of North Carolina, if she will continue working with IHMC and  co-hosting STEM-Talk.

[00:09:13] A listener asks if and how Dawn sees crossover between the research on humans in extreme environments that she did at IHMC, and the clinically oriented work she is doing now.

[00:10:37] A listener mentions that they have recently started using blood-flow restriction training in their workouts thanks to STEM-Talk and have enjoyed the experience. The listener goes on to mention, however, that they are noticing they feel light headed when going for a run after a blood-flow restriction resistance workout. The listener asks Ken if he has any knowledge of this phenomenon, or other side effects of blood flow restriction exercise.

[00:12:56] A listener mentions that they have just finished reading Denise Minger’s “Death by Food Pyramid” which explains that no nutrition-oriented classes are required for a Harvard medical degree, which is also true of about 70% of medical schools in the nation. The listener goes on to mention, from their own experience, that people are often told to consult their doctor when thinking about the potential benefits of new diets. Doctors and even nutritionists, however, generally prescribe the Mediterranean diet and do not seem to know much about low-carb diets. The listener asks Ken who one should consult when wanting to start a ketogenic diet. In his response, Ken mentions several resources, including the websites Virta Health and Diet Doctor; and the books “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” as well as “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.”

[00:15:22] A listener, who is a triathlete, asks Dawn for advice about performance in extreme environments, particularly in regards to swimming induced pulmonary edema. They also go on to ask about Dawn’s thoughts on Sildenafil, also known as Viagra. In her response, Dawn mentions a paper by Dr. Richard Moon of Duke University, “Swimming-Induced Pulmonary Edema: Pathophysiology and Risk Reduction with Sildenafil.”

[00:20:08] A listener asks Ken a question about an article they read about a study out of the University of Glasgow that was published in Nature Scientific Reports. The listener highlights a quote from the press release announcing the publication of the article: “There is no magic diet, or magic food, for weight control. Instead, people have to find the best way to eat fewer calories. Low-carb diets have had a lot of hype from media and celebrities, but they are no better than high-carb diets. Their evidence is generally poor, and our earlier research found low-carb diets are associated with some vitamin deficiencies, with more diabetes, not less. We can’t stop people cutting carbohydrate, and it may suit some people at least in the short-term, but there should be a health warning.” The listener goes on to ask Ken if it is indeed true that contrary to the article, there is, in fact, a growing body of evidence in support of low carb diets.

[00:22:55] A listener writes to Ken saying that they have read a lot about the 5:2 Diet, and the neuroprotective and longevity benefits it has in mice. They go on to ask Ken if there are any studies showing similar benefits in humans. Ken mentions that there are indeed studies in the works on intermittent fasting. He also recommends that for those listeners who are interested in intermittent fasting to check out three STEM-Talk episodes: Mark Mattson, episode 7; Steve Anton, episode 68; and Satchin Panda, episode 79.

[00:26:22] Ken follows up with the previous question, mentioning that several listeners have asked about a recent study published in JAMA titled: “Effects of Time Restricted Eating on Weight Loss and Other Metabolic Parameters in Women and Men with Overweight and Obesity.”

[00:28:52] A listener mentions that they have a friend who was just diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and who was prescribed a “Mediterranean Diet” by their doctor. The listener goes on to mention that they encouraged their friend to listen to Episode 43 of STEM-Talk with Jeff Volek, as well as to check out VIRTA Health. The listener asks Ken to give an update on how Jeff is doing, and if there is a possibility of a second interview with him on STEM-Talk.

[00:31:59] A listener asks about erythropoietin, or EPO, which has been shown to promote the formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow, and has been used as a performance enhancer drug by athletes as well as an “anti-aging” drug by older people. Ken gives his take on this drug and its applications. He also shares his thoughts on anti-aging, a term he isn’t fond of.

[00:35:57] Ken is asked a follow-up question about his knowledge about intermittent hypoxic training.

[00:37:40] A listener asks about Ken’s experience with methylene blue, which was the topic our two-part interview with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, episode 106 and episode 107. Ken mentions that he will include links to two methylene blue products, one from Mitolab, the other from Troscriptions TX.

[00:40:54] A listener shares their experience on the ketogenic diet and says they found that they are a “hyper responder” to ketosis,  which in part means that their cholesterol numbers spike. The listener, who has since shifted to a low-carb diet but not ketogenic diet, asks Ken for thoughts on hyper-responders which might mitigate negative cholesterol numbers or if cycling on and off ketosis might work. In his answer on the research and science behind hyper responders, Ken mentions a study by Jeff Volex and his colleagues – “Paradox of hypercholesterolaemia in highly trained, keto-adapted athletes” – which reported an increased incidence of greatly elevated cholesterol in keto-adapted ultra-endurance athletes. Ken also mentions another study that just came out: “Saturated Fats and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-Based Recommendations.”

[00:52:26] A listener mentions that the trajectory between Earth and Mars will next be the closest in 2033. They ask Ken, with his connections to NASA, if he thinks that a mission to Mars in 2033 is likely, and what are the potential commercial benefits of going to Mars.

[01:00:48] Dawn congratulates Ken on his recent recognition as a “Florida Living Legend.”After congratulating him on this achievement, she asks him to explain a little bit about this award.


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Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio