A lot of the Silicon Valley elite are doing extreme experiments on their bodies in hopes of prolonging their lives and improving their health. The latest fad among this set is sticking to a so-called 'ketogenic' diet that's exceptionally high in fat and low in carbs and is considered an experimental treatment for diabetes. Think Atkins, but way more extreme.
Ambar Bhattacharyya, a managing director with Maverick Ventures, initially embarked on a low-carb, high-fat "ketogenic" diet during the due diligence process for a startup called
He lost about 7 pounds in the first
Bhattacharyya said that two other investors at the office tried it, meaning about a third of the office was on ketogenic diets.
"If you only try it for a month, you aren't reaping the benefits," says Sarah Hallberg,
Venrock partner Bryan Roberts gave nutritional ketosis a shot after investing in
Likewise, Vishal Vasishth, a managing director at Obvious Ventures, took
Other investors became curious about the diet after meeting
Inkinen was previously a co-founder of online real-estate company Trulia. His journey into health care began when he learned he was at high risk of type 2 diabetes, despite being an endurance athlete.
Inkinen, who once rowed from Monterey to Hawaii with his wife for a wedding anniversary, said he was able to get his blood sugar levels under control after working with scientific experts who had spent their careers researching the role of ketogenic diets in treating diabetes.
"In the past, I was eating a carb-rich diet and I can't tell you how many times I would literally fall asleep with my head on the keyboard at
He built up a team of scientists and physicians to build out an "online diabetes-reversal clinic," which later became
Despite being a proponent of the approach, Inkinen wouldn't recommend it to everyone. "Outside of
Some VCs who have tried the diet described a slew of positive effects, including weight loss and sustained energy throughout the day. Others said it caused headaches, at least in the initial weeks, and mood swings.
Another side-effect of
Dan Scholnick, an investor with Trinity Ventures, became aware of ketosis through his investment in Bulletproof Coffee. Both times he tried it, his breakfast included Bulletproof's coffee, butter, and "Brain Octane Oil" concoction. Scholnick said it would sustain him until lunch.
For Scholnick, ketosis is a more extreme version of a broader trend, in which those in his network are waking up to the dangers of sugar consumption. "Almost every investor I know in Silicon Valley is on some form of low-carb diet," he said.
Correction: Sami Inkinen is the founder of real estate company Trulia.