How Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan pushed the Keto Diet into the Mainstream
How is that a nutritional program initially designed as a treatment for epilepsy almost a century ago is today one of the fastest-growing dietary trends in the world? Back in the 1920s, the Ketogenic diet was found to help avoid seizures. The founder, Dr. Russel Wilder of the Mayo Clinic, also discovered that the strict avoidance of carbohydrates helped to slow the growth of his brain tumor. Fast forward 98 years or so, and thousands of people (most of whom don’t suffer from epilepsy) have used the Keto Diet to lose weight, improve their energy levels, and achieve overall better health. Below, we look at some of the recent events to see how Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan helped push the Keto Diet into the mainstream.
The Role of Publicity and Viral Online Content
Brands and businesses have long understood the importance of celebrity endorsements. One recent study by Marketwatch found that one celebrity endorsement of a specific brand can move stock prices and increase sales by 4% on average. In today’s hyper-digitalized world, however, viral content takes over the Internet in a matter of minutes and can influence millions of people overnight. Social media influencers, podcasters, and even regular bloggers can share their content and ideas with large audiences. Whereas large corporate brands used to be the only ones with the economic clout to hire and benefit from celebrity endorsements, today smaller brands with an aggressive and intelligent social media marketing campaign can also carve out niches in the market for startup brands in industries that used to be dominated by large corporate brands.
The increased access to information that the Internet provides, however, has impacted much more than business publicity strategies. A recent study by Pew Research finds that social media is now outpacing print newspapers as a primary news source for Americans. Similarly, almost three out of every four Americans search the Internet for health-related information. While there is a risk associated with self-diagnosing potentially dangerous health issues that should be attended by a health professional, this greater accessibility to health-related knowledge has also played a decisive role in allowing people to more proactively make researched health and wellness decisions over their lives and lifestyles.
The Internet made it much easier for individuals to question the almost universally accepted USDA food pyramid and to adopt alternative dietary and nutrition choices. While Dr. Atkins had been writing books about the benefits of low carb diets since the 1970s, the recent explosion in popularity of the Keto Diet is primarily due to the wide availability of information online. In fact, Google Trends found that the Keto Diet was the number one diet-related search of 2018.
The Role of Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan
There is no shortage of celebrities who have sounded off about their experiences with the Keto Diet. However, people interested in low carb lifestyles who adopt the rigorous discipline of the Keto diet tend to do so as a result of more in-depth research. A Kim Kardashian tweet probably is not enough to get people to change their nutrition choices completely. The Keto Diet moved into the mainstream due to famous podcasters, Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan.
Ferriss is a Princeton-educated podcaster and author who has sold millions of copies of his trilogy of books titled “The 4-Hour Workweek,” “The 4-Hour Body,” and “The 4-Hour Chef.” His podcast has recorded over 400 million downloads, and he has at least one million monthly followers on his social media channels. In November of 2015, Ferris invited Dom D´Agostino, a researcher and professor with a diverse background in neuroscience, molecular pharmacology, nutrition, and physiology, onto his podcast. The episode, titled “Dom D’Agostino on Fasting, Ketosis, and the End of Cancer” was listened to and downloaded by millions of people and was the catalyst that helped to push the Keto Diet into the mainstream. In the episode, D´Agostino discussed the beneficial aspects of ketosis and also mentioned how his research focused on how high ketone levels can slow the growth of some cancer cells. He also offered a wealth of online resources for people seeking to learn about a ketogenic diet.
Due to the popularity of the podcast and his interest in the Keto Diet, Ferriss continued to popularize the diet. In a subsequent episode, he interviewed Dr. Peter Attia, a scientist and researcher who focuses on the science of longevity and the role of the Keto Diet.
A couple of years after the Ferriss podcast with D´Agostino, comedian Joe Rogan further increased the popularity of the Keto Diet by also featuring D´Agostino on his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” This show, which initially aired in late 2017, has well over a million views on YouTube and was the stimulus for the upsurge in acceptance of the Keto Diet. In the episode, D´Agostino and Rogan spent close to three hours discussing the origins of the Keto Diet, the scientific evidence associated with the benefits of ketosis, studies on fat burning while on the Keto Diet, among other subjects. Shortly after airing this episode, a flood of Keto cookbooks, informational websites, and Keto-related social media groups flooded the Internet which pushed Keto into new levels of popularity.
The role that Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan played in promoting and disseminating information related to the Keto Diet is a testament to how accessibility to internet information can advantageously affect the health and wellbeing of millions of people.