The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #43 - Daniel Tal
Daniel Tal Mor is a seasoned entrepreneur, co-founder, and CEO of Lumen, a company developing consumer nutrition management platform, based on a small device that measures metabolism in a single breath and provides personalized food, lifestyle, and health recommendations.
Lumen was founded in 2014, and the company spent 4 years on research and development to create a product that accurately determines the source of the body's metabolic fuel. In 2016, beta trials for the Lumen device began, and in 2018, Lumen was officially launched on Indiegogo, where Lumen sold 10,000 devices during the pre-sale campaign alone.
Before Lumen, Daniel co-founded Wibiya, a platform that offered publishers tools for integrating, managing and tracking applications on their websites. In 2011 the company was acquired by Conduit where he held the positions of Vice President for almost three years. Before founding Wibiya Daniel co-founded another company called Joongel, a consumer online search engine.
Daniel lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with his spouse and 3 children.
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2:25 - IF Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group For A Weekly Episode GIVEAWAY, And To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!
3:15 - Get $50 Off A Lumen Device At MelanieAvalon.com/Lumen With The Code melanieavalon
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3:45 - BIOPTIMIZERS: A company whose mission is to fix your digestion! Get A FREE Bottle Of Their Anti-Viral Probiotic P3OM At www.p3om.com/melaniefree
7:25 - The History Of Lumen
10:45 - Measuring Respiratory Quotient
12:20 - How Does Lumen Measure Carb Or Fat Burning?
16:30 - Inventing A New Breath System
19:40 - How To Use The Lumen App
23:15 - The Role Of Carbon Dioxide In Carbs Vs. Fat
26:10 - Calibrating The Lumen Device
27:50 - Changing Your Diet With Lumen
29:30: BEAUTYCOUNTER: Non-Toxic Beauty Products Tested For Heavy Metals, Which Support Skin Health And Look Amazing! Shop At Beautycounter.Com/MelanieAvalon For Something Magical! For Exclusive Offers And Discounts, And More On The Science Of Skincare, Get On Melanie's Private Beauty Counter Email List At MelanieAvalon.Com/CleanBeauty!
32:30 - Low Carb Vs Low Fat: The Need For Diet Flexibility
36:20 - Is Low Carb The Answer For Everything?
36:55 - Do Some People React Differently To Carbs Vs Fats?
38:40 - Factors Affecting Fat Burning (Fasting, Jet Lag, Etc.)
39:35 - Burning Fat While Eating Carbs
41:15 - How Fast Do CO2 Levels Change?
42:15 - The Health Benefits Of High CO2?
45:00 - How To Use Lumen
48:30 - The Problem With Too Much Fasting Or Keto
50:20 - DRY FARM WINES: Low Sugar, Low Alcohol, Toxin-Free, Mold- Free, Pesticide-Free , Hang-Over Free Natural Wine! Use The Link DryFarmWines.Com/Melanieavalon To Get A Bottle For A Penny!
51:55 - The Problems With Measuring Ketones
56:50 - The Role Of De Novo Lipogenesis
58:30 - Updating The App For Fasting
1:00:15 - The Numbered Data In Lumen
1:02:20 - Melanie's Lumen Trend
1:07:30 - Get $50 Off A Lumen Device At MelanieAvalon.com/Lumen With The Code MelanieAvalon
Melanie Avalon: Hi, friends. Welcome back to the show. I am very excited about the interview that I’m about to have. I’ve been excited ever since I received the product developed by this wonderful human being. I am here with Daniel Tal. He is the founder of a company called “Lumen,” and what they are doing is really, really revolutionary if you are, at all, interested in analyzing whether or not you’re burning fat, whether or not you’re burning carbs, how that applies to your health and your diet. It’s really, really another level of “biohacking” and when you hear this, you might think that has something to do with measuring blood sugar or measuring ketones, but it’s actually none of that, so I am really excited. Daniel, thank you so much for being here.
Daniel Tal: Thank you for having me, Melanie, very happy to be here.
Melanie Avalon: I’m really, really excited. We were just talking before this. I did receive your Lumen product, which we’ll be talking about at length and I am obsessed. I didn’t really know what to expect when I first got it, but I was pretty familiar with the idea. For listeners, Lumen is basically a device that measures levels of oxygen and CO2 ratios in your breath to evaluate if you are burning carbs or burning fat, and we’re going to go into the science of that a little bit.
I would always read in clinical studies when they would say that they were measuring whether or not the participants were burning carbs or burning fat, and I never really knew how they did that. Now, I sort of do and now, the science is accessible to the everyday-human-being, so thank you so much for that.
Daniel Tal: We’ve been brewing this and building this for six years, and we always ask ourselves, “Okay. Once we get it, will people like love it, connect to this? Will they actually care?” Anytime I hear someone enthusiastic about this, it’s hard for me to believe that, yes, it really talks to people, and I’m still excited by getting those feedbacks and so I really appreciate it.
Melanie Avalon: No. I mean, that our mutual connection, the agency that connected us, I’ve been emailing him like so many times. I’m like, “This is the coolest thing ever.” It’s really, really incredible, and we’ve all talked about it. But to start things off, would you like to tell, Daniel, listeners, a little bit about your personal history and what led you to where you are today with founding Lumen?
Daniel Tal: Sure. I’m actually not the interesting part in this company anyway. My background is entrepreneurship. I’ve been doing this for the past 16 years, and I’m fortunate to find partners that… basically, everything I did, all the companies we build, this is number three for us. All of them, we’ve done together.
But what’s interesting in Lumen is that actually this concept was incubated in my house. My spouse, Michal, and her twin sister, Meirav, they’re both the science, the nutrition, the kind of genius behind the concept in a sense and I kind of tagged along into that journey. We started in 2014, with a lot of concerns how it will be to work with my spouse and her twin sister. It’s risky and getting in my partners as well. I’m bringing them in; my partners from previous startups. Actually, they are the science, and they are the brains, and they brought the concept to live. We’re just here to make it a product, make that science accessible to people, and to make sure that it’s well-designed, and people really get it, and behavioral changes happening around it.
Maybe a bit more about me: Startups. It’s all about startups, and software startups and making users engaged around websites. My background before Lumen was never about anything medical or anything in terms of the nutrition. It was all about software. After selling my previous company, Wibiya, which was a successful one, I started looking into my own body and my own health in a sense.
Then, I was 20 pounds overweight, and I felt sluggish, and I didn’t feel well. In the same time, my spouse, Michal, she was an Ironman competitor, phenomenal with that, and starting nutrition, and coming from deep understanding of science. Her background is PhD in cardiology research and that was a conflict for me. Living and breathing with a phenomenal spouse that is very into her workouts and everything; and me, my startup life kind of took their toll in a sense and I decided to start taking things seriously, and start to look into my own body and started learning about that, and I had a phenomenal tutor, and at a certain point in time, we decided to basically join forces and jump into this together. It’s nice a story. Later on, I’ll share about the evening that it came about.
Melanie Avalon: No. I love that story. I love how you’re talking about the potential risks of going into business with family, but I think that that definitely shows it.
I mean, it sounds like it was meant to be. You had all the pieces in place that the brains… with Michal with science and then your software background, which for listeners, the Lumen device pairs with an app, and it has incredible software behind it to make it really practical for the user, and the implications of the findings when using it, so I love that story. It sounds like, so far, it’s going well.
Daniel Tal: It’s not an easy ride, journey to build a metric that people are not very much familiar with. The metric is called “RER” (respiratory exchange rate) or “RQ” (respiratory quotient. This is what we’re basically measuring and looking into, and that measurement… although there is a lot of clinical research around that and it is used in clinics, but it’s not something that really drives nutrition decisions for people on a daily basis. If you ask doctors, yes, they studied about that and they are familiar with the concept of analyzing the gas in our breath, the CO2 and the O2, and from that, extracting whether our bodies’ using carbs or fat; but it’s something they studied about. They never really practiced not… most of them never really worked around that metric or used it for a medical application even.
It’s an uphill battle to kind of say, “Hey, if we can get that metric to be accessible to people, they will actually care. They will take that device. They will breathe every morning. They will see what’s happening in their body, and they will take active decisions around their nutrition on a daily basis,” that hypothesis was something that we set off to build this company with in 2014, and along the way, we kind of proved it; but to see that now in its scale, it’s really mind-blowing for us. Yes, it’s a tough journey, but I think it’s worth it.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah, exactly. I, as well, when I was exposed to your company, was pretty surprised that it hadn’t been made more accessible yet because, like you said, it’s this other metric of measuring carb or fat burning that just “real life” with normal people, we just don’t do. I mean, people so often just think measuring blood sugar, measuring ketones like I said.
To give a listeners a little bit of an idea of what this device is actually doing and how it’s telling if you’re measuring carbs versus fat, how is that involved? I know it has to do with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in our food, and then how it’s broken down from fats versus carbs and the amount of carbon dioxide that is released, or I believe you know much better than me. Would you like to explain, for listeners, exactly how that’s going down?
Daniel Tal: I’ll explain how it’s done in the gold standard. The gold standard method is called “indirect calorimetry.” It was invented in the ‘60s, and it’s basically analyzing gas in our breath ‑ the CO2, the O2, and the flow. Basically by analyzing the gasses and by understanding that there is a ratio between the CO2 that you eliminate and the O2 that you consume, then that ratio will tell us if our body is now producing energy from carbs or from fats.
We all know we’re burning calories, but the interesting questions is: Where’s that energy coming from? What is fueling that? What is fueling that in a healthy [0:08:39 but in] is basically either carbs from our meals, or from our glycogen stores in our body, or it could be fats from our stores, or also from ingesting it in the meal.
The gold standard will measure those with very expensive sensors in a process that you sit down connected to a mask, and you need to breathe in and out for about 30 minutes, and a physician would look at your data and tell you what’s happening.
Obviously, this is as far from consumers as possible because the sensors are expensive because no one will take 30 minutes to take decisions around his nutrition every day, and so we had a lot of challenges to get the devices, the capturing mechanism to work, but also to find a method that is way much shorter than 30 minutes of continuous breathing.
It wasn’t an overnight success. We started off with looking at the gold standard and trying to kind of shorten the time that it will take us to extract the measurement and adding machine learning layers on top of that. Even though we had some success, it was extremely challenging.
Also, in terms of sensors. O2 sensors and CO2 sensors that you would imagine those are the most common gasses on the planet, those sensors are very scarce. It’s hard to find sensors that are as accurate, as responsive, and cheap enough for consumers to actually buy a device that has them in it.
For a lot of times, we looked for sensors and eventually we realized that we need to develop our own and what we have done is found a partner, probably the biggest CO2 sensing manufacturer in the world, and with him, we stepped into a project of about two-and-a-half years of building a new sensor that measures CO2 as accurately as a medical grade sensor; but instead of a thousand-dollar sensor cost, it will cost much, much lower. It will be something that we can actually put in a device, and sell to consumer, and even have some margin on top of that.
That was a huge project. It took a lot of time to build. It took a lot of testing. The company that built this sensor is based in the US, and we are based in Israel, in Tel Aviv. You can imagine it’s a challenge jumping on calls three times a week with the West Coast and Israel in different time zones, but it was an effort worthwhile and eventually, we managed to get a CO2 sensor that is as good as the clinical sensor in a fraction of a prize.
Second challenge was to get down the breathing from 30 minutes to a single breath, or to a process of two to three breaths. This is where Michael and Meirav… that’s where they basically shined.
What we identified is that if you don’t breathe normally, if you inhale through the device and we measure the amount of air that you’re takin in, and you’re holding the breath in your lungs for 10 seconds, what happens is that the CO2 in your lungs basically rises, and elevates, and gets to equilibrium with the CO2 in your blood. The CO2 in your blood is basically a reflection of carb or fat metabolism, that’s what we wanted to know. Carb metabolism will result with more CO2 molecules than fat metabolism. Doing that maneuver time over time and taking a very strict volume of air each time, we can actually know… after a day of calibration, we get a correlating metric to the gold standard just by having a CO2 sensor and a flow sensor, and without the O2 sensor. It comes in a single breath, so it’s much easier to execute; but we do lose some of the flexibility in terms of measuring while working out, so you can only perform a Lumen measurement while sitting down at resting heart rate. That’s some of the limitations that we have against the gold standard, but the value is superior, so I think that’s the gist.
Melanie Avalon: My goodness, okay. I’m getting so excite. You already touched on a lot of things that I had questions about, so wow. I did not know… that’s incredible that you… I mean, I was just saying that making this science accessible to the public, but I was not aware that you actually made this new version of testing that’s not requiring that 30 minutes. Have that not really been done clinically?
Daniel Tal: No.
Melanie Avalon: Wow.
Daniel Tal: That’s the first time, yeah. That’s the first time for this to be invented, so it’s not a startup in a way. It’s an invention and a startup that kind of joined hands, and yes, and we were doing a lot of work to validate and to show that we measure as good as the gold standard and there is a peer-reviewed article coming very soon. There’s a lot of internal research that we show that basically we did and we share openly. Hopefully, very soon, we’ll have a peer-reviewed article that really show and demonstrates the correlation between the gold standards, metabolic cards, and the Lumen device.
Melanie Avalon: That’s fantastic. That was one of my questions if you’re conducting trials on it. Wow, that’s really exciting.
Question: You said that, because for listeners, the way you use the device, which I wanted to tell you, Daniel. This is not the purpose of it at all, but one of the things I actually really liked about having it as part of my routine is it makes me sit down to like this concentrated breathing exercise, and I actually find it very calming and meditative, and then also I’m learning at the same time, but I really liked that aspect. That was one of my questions actually because, listeners, when you get the device and you get the app, it trains you through the breathing process, and you go through this training, and I think it’s actually genius the way that you do it with the breathing and you watch on the screen this little circle that expands, so you know when to stop breathing. It’s really, really brilliant.
One of the questions that I had was when it trains you, it says that it’s important to sit in resting heart rate, not moving… so that was one of my questions, was how important was it to be sitting or what if you do a breathe, and then you get up and move something around?
Melanie Avalon: That’s a good question in multiple levels. Our metabolism and the way we burn fat versus carbs will also change, right? It will change throughout the day. To reach your [0:15:22 luminous nurturing], which is I think the most insightful one, is that when you wake up in the morning, you take a few minutes, and you sit down, and you take a measurement, and you would expect a person who’s healthy basically to wake up on fat burn because assuming that you’ve been fasting for the past six-eight hours, maybe even more, your body should transition in a healthy way to burn fats basically because that’s the time where the body should transition, right? Fasting should get your body to wake up on fat burn.
Eating high carb a few days before, or caloric surplus, or being stressed, or sleep deprivation, all those things… or also alcohol at night, there are a lot of factors and we’re actually learning. As we speak, we’re learning more and more factors that are impacting the reason why you would wake up in the morning burning carbs, that’s the first point in time that you meet the device, in the morning at fasting, and what it does, it tells you if your body is burning fats or if it’s burning carbs. It gives you now the granularity of five levels and what it then gives you is the nutrition plan. It’s basically a nutrition plan for today of all the macronutrients and focusing on carbs because we realized that for people, carbs probably is the chief regulator of metabolism and if they need to be aware of one thing, then keeping carbs intact, that would be probably the most impactful metric.
We give recommendations on many levels. If you just want to follow carb servings recommendation, we have a point system for that. Then if you really want to understand all your macros, we also allow you to do that. From that moment, we give more opportunities during the day to measure and it’s something we’re still building. Some of it, I will share now that is not yet out there, but it’s brewing as we speak. Today, you can measure before and after workouts. Very soon, you’ll be able to measure also and test your fasting routine ‑ maybe I’ll elaborate on that later on. I don’t want to take everything into this thread, but fasting is another opportunity and there are more points in time that we think we can add value to the user by basically teaching him how his body is functioning and what he should do next.
Melanie Avalon: Perfect. We can definitely circle back to the fasting because that was one of my biggest questions that I actually had about it, especially since I and a lot of my listeners practice intermittent-fasting-type patterns.
Before we dive deeper into the metrics and all of those things, because I think a lot of listeners might be wondering, we’re hearing, okay, that it’s telling me that I’m burning fats or I’m burning carbs because of carbon dioxide. Can you just elaborate a little bit more on why, like why the level of carbon dioxide means that you’re burning fat versus carbs?
Daniel Tal: Sure. Basically, it’s simple chemistry. The breakdown of carbs, the exhaust of that process, think about normal burn, okay? If you burn a certain type of fuel and have a certain of eggs [0:18:42 off] if you burn a different type of fuel, you have different gasses as exhaust and carbs are… basically, they produce more CO2 molecules than molecule of fats that is being burned and so if your body is heavily dependent now in real time on carbs, you would expect to see higher levels of CO2 in your blood, but you will not see that in a normal measurement, in a normal breath because what the body does is in order to relieve itself from the CO2, it basically increases the ventilation. Unintentionally, we’re actually breathing a bit faster and we’re breathing more breath per minute.
What Lumen does is by forcing you to hold your breath for 10 seconds; we basically get an elevated level of CO2. What we do is elevate the signal. Even if you will not see those CO2 in a normal breathing pattern of the user, because we force them to hold their breath for 10 seconds, the output of that is indicated. High levels of CO2, meaning that you’re burning carbs and… basically, the lack of CO2 will tell us that molecules of fats are the source of energy.
Melanie Avalon: Let me see if I’m getting this right. When we’re burning carbs, we have a higher level of carbon dioxide. Is it kind of like in a car, like the exhaust fumes, like that has more carbon dioxide, and then if we’re burning fat, there’s going to be less carbon dioxide? But the problem with just measuring, if we just breathe and measured, is that our body compensates. Is it that we breathe in more oxygen?
Daniel Tal: We just breathe more. If you take two people and one of them is now using just fats for fuel, and the other one will be using carbs for fuel, the person who’s using carbs, if you’ll measure how many breath per minute he’s taking, you’ll see that he’s breathing maybe two times more or a bit less than the person who is using fats as fuel.
Melanie Avalon: This is why I’m guessing because you have like the calibration day where you--
Daniel Tal: Exactly.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, because for listeners in the app, it calibrates and it has you do a lot of these breathing techniques after different types of meals in different times, so because I guess you need your own self as the control--
Daniel Tal: Yeah. Your CO2 concentration when you breathe and mine are probably different, but for ourselves, they’re indicative. If I understand that I ask you to measure at morning at fasting and after a workout when you got your body to burn fat, or you can just measure 30 minutes or an hour after a high-carb meal, you will actually give me several points in time that I can expect to understand what is your personalized scale for carbon dioxide; and based on that and this system is feeding itself every measurement that you take, and we take context for those measurements as well, and so over time, we really get a very nice graph or a very nice scale so we can say, “Okay. This is Melanie’s scale, it goes between CO2 of 4.5 to 6%,” and we divide that scale into, let’s say, five levels or maybe even in the future a bit more, we can start showing you what’s happening in your body.
It takes a day for some people to take a bit longer, three days of getting confidence and for the system to get confidence in the scale, but it’s something that we have done thousands and thousands of time and we are already very confident around.
Melanie Avalon: Can the device be properly calibrated if, for example, somebody is currently following like a low-carb, high-fat diet and is not willing to eat some carbs or on the flipside, is doing a high-carb, low-fat diet and is not willing to go low-carb? Can they still calibrate it or will it not really be calibrated until they have done both sides of the macronutrient spectrum?
Daniel Tal: It’s a good question. At the moment, we started very strict with you need to follow our regimen; but what we intend to do in the future is basically offer you, say, a few steps or a few options to choose from in terms of calibration. If you work out, you can use that to set yourself to calibrate and if you’re following a very specific diet, we can tap into that. Obviously, if someone is not eating carbs at all, is on a very strict keto and fasting, we will not see the body using carbs at and it will be hard for us to gain confidence in the results we’re seeing. It’s actually healthy for you from time-to-time, yes, to get your body to switch to using carbs because they are an efficient and super legitimate fuel for our bodies which is now demonized in many places, but it’s fuel for that is efficient, and it’s the fuel that really drives us to grow muscle in a sense, and it’s something that we should manage, but it’s not something that should be off table at all.
Melanie Avalon: I’m actually so glad that you brought out that topic because I think… I’m just so fascinated by this. I think that there’s this whole dietary war where carbs were the thing for a long time and then low-carb became so popular, and everybody thought they needed to be doing… like the only way you could burn fat is if you’re low carb, and that was the be-all end-all, and I think it’s just so much more complicated than that. I think we’ve gotten this fear even of burning carbs which I don’t know that that’s the best thing. I think the idea of metabolic flexibility like, “Are you able to burn both in a way that suits your body--”
Daniel Tal: For sure, and to be honest, also for us, it was a journey to really understand where… so we build this device and we built the tool, but to make people care; we need to provide them with recommendations, right? It should be actionable because if it’s not, yes, people can try and explore stuff; but it was really important for us to have eventually something actionable for people to do, and to test, and to see that it’s impacting because if we just give you a tool to measure, then only the people who are successful, regardless, will succeed, right, and we want to reach more audience, and we want this to be a guide for a lot of people.
At the beginning, we were kind of in the low-carb theme ourselves because we thought it will help a lot of people; but as we tested on ourselves, and as we started reading more and kind of diving into the science, we realized that, yes, those movements and diet wars, as you rightfully claim, what they do is basically… because of marketing, and because of the need to be simple, and to be very viral in a sense, so a diet would be very simple, have very strict rules, and will be viral by its over simplicity in a sense. It’s either carbs are the enemy or fat is the enemy. What we realized is that, no, they’re both legitimate and you need to understand what works better for you. As you said, what should work better for all of us is having the flexibility, is having the ability, to use carbs when they are available because we ate them and also having a body that’s efficient in using fats because carbs are not available in the morning time, and also in days that you’re fasting, and also in days that you’re low-carbing.
The way we see it… low carb, fasting, even keto are short-term strategies that are good, but they’re short term. No one should expect to really live on keto for long term. In a way, if you interview all the people who are the biggest keto proponents and they brought keto to the world, okay… Peter Attia, and Tim Ferriss, and Dave Asprey, Robb Wolf, these guys are no longer on keto for life. Basically, what they do is they go in-and-out, right, and that is flexibility.
I can elaborate on that much more. I think this is, in a way, where biohacking is… that’s the opportunity in a sense: It to go beyond the diets and beyond the concepts that people come up with, and actually have the tools to really find out what’s good for you, and maybe once we all get into that notion, we can understand what’s connecting people around their diets and it’s probably not as simple as saying low carb or fasting is the right thing, or keto is the right thing, or plant-based is the right thing. It’s probably something a bit more complex because our body is a super complex machine.
Melanie Avalon: I am so, so thrilled to hear this. One of my main questions was you and Lumen’s view of… if, for example, it tells you that you’re burning carbs, does that automatically mean, “Oh, you need to be doing this super low-carb diet”? I was wondering if it was going to be skewed towards low-carb is the solution for everything whereas it sounds like you’re taking much more nuance in the approach that I subscribed to that one’s not bad or the other. One is not right or wrong. It’s really just what is working for you and what can you learn from it. I was actually wondering to that point like some people find that with their personal breath signature, and how they burn carbs, and how they burn fat, is it possible that some people might lose more weight while the device says that they’re more on the fat-burning side whereas some people might lose weight easier when it’s actually on the carb-burning side?
Daniel Tal: Yes and no. There are some things that are absolute. In order to lose weight, the weight you want to lose is basically… what you want to do is burn fat. It’s impossible to burn fat and not get your body to use fats, right? If you will not see that on the device, probably you’re either not calibrated or you’re not using fats at all and so you will probably not lose weight.
But there are points in time, and we’re finding this from feedback from users and from us looking into the science, that your body… and you will wake up, you will do everything right, but your body will be using carbs. Women on their monthly cycle, in a way, there are certain periods of time that their body is craving for carbs and it will be using carbs constantly, and they should be having carbs. Not just okay for them. It’s actually good for them. Those are things that, yes, there are sometimes that you could be doing everything right and your body is burning carbs, and it’s just a signal that you should be sleeping better or it’s the time of the month, and it’s definitely could be something that’s… it’s not that you’re not healthy or anything, but those are changes in your body that you need to adjust according to.
Jet lag is another one. When I fly over to the States… and now, no one is flying; but when I used to fly and I fly a lot, it takes me a few days to get my body back into fat burning because of the time differences. These are things that people will learn as they go and they will learn to understand their own body, and what Lumen is trying to do is to reflect that science, and reflect those potential situation, and offer something actionable to do around that, okay? How we should eat on jet lag? What you should break your fast? Should you do fasting and strive to do the longest fast you can or maybe your body is stressed after, let’s say, 12 or 14 hours and your fasting… that routine is not efficient. There are a lot of things that Lumen can help you light the way in a sense, and get you familiar with what’s working for you and what’s efficient for you.
Melanie Avalon: Some followup questions to that point. Say, for example, that a person is just eating carbs, but they are calorie-restricted. Let’s say on a given day… let’s say they’re like really calorie-restricted and they only eat like 800 calories but constantly, throughout the day, in the form of carbs. In that situation, because they’re just eating carbs, but they’re calorie-restricted, so they’re likely burning fat as well, assumingly, would Lumen show that… I mean, I don’t know what it would show, but would it still show fat burning even though they’re eating carbs?
Daniel Tal: It depends when. Morning time, yes. If they’re very much caloric-restricted, yes. They don’t have carbs in their system. They will wake up using fats from their body because they have more caloric requirements than what they’re taking in, right?
But if they will measure specifically after a meal and they already have sugar, carbs in their blood system, and that sugar is now going into the cells, and their cells are actually using that now in real time to produce energy, they could be seeing a shift towards carb usage, but it’s going to be a momentarily shift, right? They finish ingesting their food, their glycogen stores are filled, and they no longer have available sugar in their blood system, their body should transition back to use fats.
The answer is it depends, but generally speaking, they will be burning much more fat if they are that caloric-deprived.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. You just spoke about the time aspect of it. How fast does the level of carbon dioxide change?
Daniel Tal: It really depends. This is also something that is a bit more complex because what regulates whether your body will be using carbs or not, it’s insulin first. If you’re healthy, and you’re okay, and you’re eating sugar, you would expect… let’s say we are both drinking a glass of orange juice. We would expect our body to shift to using those carbs. If it’s liquid kind, immediately 15 minutes; 30 minutes tops. If it’s food, it really depends on what you ate. If you had some fats with those carbs, it could take a bit longer. The sugar will be released to your bloodstream slower in a sense, so it really depends.
Melanie Avalon: Okay, got you. Do you have thoughts, by the way… this is not really to fat burning per se, but there are camps who actually are proponents of the health benefits of high CO2 levels. For example, they’ll do exercise like bag breathing or even like the Wim Hof breathing method where you are purposely raising CO2 for its beneficial effects. Do you have thoughts on that whole aspect of things?
Daniel Tal: I think CO2 is not bad or good. I think those methods are okay, but they don’t really mess up with your metabolism. The CO2 that we look at is an… we try to isolate it for it to be the expression of your metabolism, but if you do hyperventilation or breathing mechanics, I’m not sure it really ties back and changes your metabolism to some extent. It has probably a very good impact on a lot of things, but I’m not sure how it ties back to be honest.
Melanie Avalon: Understood, that makes sense. Actually speaking of the metabolism, framing it in the sense of, “Are you burning carbs,” or, “Are you burning fat,” does that correlate as well to metabolic rate? For example, if you’re fat burning, is that likely going to correlate to a lower metabolic rate versus if it says you’re burning carbs, likely a higher metabolic rate?
Daniel Tal: You bring up a very good point. There are two concepts to… there are more, but there are two main concepts in metabolism. You can measure the metabolic rate, meaning how many calories your body is burning in 24 hours at rest and that’s your basal metabolism, right? For me, it’s quite slow. For my partner, it’s extremely high. He’s burning much more calories than I am, but it’s something that we can basically improve a bit by building more muscle tissue, working out a bit more; that’s one aspect. It’s completely separate from understanding your metabolic flexibility or your metabolic fuels in use.
Regardless of your metabolic rate, your body should be able to shift between carbs and fats. It’s just a question of how much of that process is happening, that’s the rate. In order to assess your metabolic rate, your basal metabolism, we would need an O2 sensor which we don’t have. We take into account that your basal metabolism, it is what it is and we basically try to train you around what you got. But burning fat… so burning carbs doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a higher or lower metabolic rate. They are completely separate concepts that are measured on the same machine.
Melanie Avalon: Perfect, that’s really, really good to know. If a listener gets a Lumen device, so how can they most practically benefit using this device? Friends, listeners, you get this device, it’s like the coolest thing ever. Practically though, using it in your daily life, what is that going to look like? Why should somebody want to choose a Lumen and measure their carbon dioxide compared to measuring ketosis, or measuring blood sugar, or maybe they should do all of it?
Daniel Tal: It’s a journey, right? People come to this journey of understanding their body from different perspective. They have different goals. Some people want to lose weight. Some people just want to eat healthy. Some people want to build muscle, right?
First, you have your own goal in mind and the thing you kind of want to eat according to.
The second thing is that it really depends on the level of knowledge people have, and Lumen is kind of geared to people who we call them “mindful eaters.” They already experienced some diets. They had success with fasting, or with keto, or with low carbing, or with being vegan. They think before they eat something usually. They think about it. They maybe plan their day in advance.
For these people, Lumen is… actually, what we’re building is a few rituals during the day that, as you said, that you sit down, take a moment, you take a measurement, you see what’s happening in your body in real time and then according to your goals, Lumen will build you a personalized nutrition plan and that nutrition plan is not very specific. We will not tell you, “Today, you eat bread,” or, “Tomorrow, you eat pasta.” We try to give you a frame to think within, so how much carbs you should have today, or if you should focus on fatty protein or lean protein today, or maybe today, you have a high-carb day because Lumen wants to see that transition to using carbs because you’ve been low carbing for too long and we don’t want you to get your body to be stressed around that. We want to allow the enzymes that are in charge of processing carbs and your insulin sensitivity, in a way, to be tested.
There are several rituals in the day that you have opportunities to measure with Lumen. The most important one is waking up and measuring on a fasted state.
Before and after workouts are also very interesting points in time, so you can measure before your workout to see if you have enough energy, available energy, to support that workout. If you come to work out that you’re aiming to improve your fitness or to lift heavier than you usually do, then you actually want to see that you’re burning carbs. You want to be on levels that show you that your body is currently using carbs because you’ll have much better available energy to support that intense workout. After your workout, then you want to see that your body has transitioned to fat burn because that workout made an impact, you can also measure and see that.
The last thing which is not available at the moment, but it’s something we’re cooking, is specifically about fasting. People are trying different fasting tactics and the only thing that can tell them basically if it’s working or not, they can see that on the scale; but it’s their feeling. But what happens is that over-fasting like being over in keto for too long can damage your body ‑ cortisol level will rise and it’s a hormone that signals stress. At that position, you will be storing fats in the abdominal sections of your body and you will no longer be getting the effect that you’re expecting from that fasting period. What we can recommend is when to break the fast, and maybe how to break the fast a bit with fats and prolong the effect, but not get the body to be stressed.
Those are opportunities throughout the day that we think Lumen users can learn something about themselves and kind of keep accountable, right? It’s also important. Sometimes you know what you’re going to get, but seeing that results gives our users a sense of control which is what we identified as kind of the most crucial element in the system. It’s not about weight loss. It’s not even about metabolic flexibility, that’s a long-term play. But on a daily basis, what Lumen really provides is that sense of control over my body and over my metabolism, and a moment in your day to plan ahead and to say, “Okay. I got this and I know what I should be doing today, and I know that what I did yesterday counts whether it’s good, and I worked out, and I stopped eating at 7 PM,” or whether, “I had a pork at night and had pizza, and invited over friends, and I socialized,” it’s also okay. It’s something we should not be stressed around. If you can see that you have a way to navigate out of that condition and get your body back in metabolic shape, then you can win.
Melanie Avalon: Yeah. It is so incredible. I think before this, the main thing people were measuring for fat burning is something you keep talking about, measuring ketones for example. I’m also the host of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, and something we talk about all the time on the air is false signs you can get from measuring ketones, I mean, especially in the breath because it doesn’t necessarily correlate to... especially [0:42:26 breath and urine] doesn’t necessarily correlate to the blood. Then in the blood even, it doesn’t necessarily indicate your efficiency with utilizing the ketones. But it sounds like with this, with measuring carbon dioxide… correct me if I’m wrong, but because it’s more of a ratio, I feel like it doesn’t have that issue of having to take into account… it’s something like, “Oh, am I being efficient with carbon dioxide,” is that correct?
Daniel Tal: It is correct. Think about it. Ketones are the biomarker of fat burn, but they are problematic as you said because there’re several ketone bodies and there are multiple ways to analyze what you’re really using.
Lumen is actually looking at the inverse of fats. It’s looking at… carb burn, in a way, there is only one byproduct which is CO2; so it’s really easy. The way we tell you that your body is using fats efficiently is kind of by understanding that you’re not using carbs, right? Because we don’t see the CO2 in your blood, then our assumption is that you’re using efficiently carbs. We don’t get into this thought process of whether we are identifying the right ketones or are they really correlating to what’s happening in your body.
Melanie Avalon: Exactly or even to that point, you could eat a super high-carb diet, and slather it in MCT oil, and register high ketones, but that’s not going to mean that you’re burning fat.
Daniel Tal: Also, ketones rise very extremely on when you’re really deep into ketosis, right, and the sensors that are sensitive enough to capture acetone are, unfortunately, environmental sensors. They only really sense acetone when the levels are extremely high. You kind of know what you’ve been doing. If you get that signal after four or five days of really being on a keto diet, that’s not very efficient feedback loop in a way because… yes, also for Lumen, it could take a few days for your body to adjust, but what the CO2 sensitivity is, by far, superior to acetone sensitivity in that sense.
Acetone can really support people on severe keto diet, on very strict keto diet, and the moment they will eat cars in a sense, it will be no longer… I am no longer available to support them or what I’m trying to say is that the type of sensor really encourage people to act in a certain manner and acetone, because of the nature of the sensor and its inability to measure very low concentrations, pushes people to extreme keto because the reward they get is their acetone levels are off the roof and so they need to be more, and more, and more strict on their keto diet, and Lumen will not allow our users to keeping keto for more than a couple of days.
We add carbs back and it’s funny. We have two types of audiences: Audience that’s saying, “This low-carb thing is hard for me,” and we have a serious group of users who were saying, “You’re recommending way more carbs than I imagine I can actually take,” and it’s funny to see how we can… we need to kind of balance both groups. It’s a challenge product. It’s a challenge for the product, but it’s something that it’s really interesting to see.
Melanie Avalon: Daniel, you have got to come on The Intermittent Fasting Podcast as well because we get so, so many questions about… like you said, it’s like this whole idea of chasing ketones, and that’s all that it’s about, and it’s all about if you’re only low carb, and it’s just so much more nuance. It’s hard to know. There’s so much information out there. We’re told so many different things, so I really, really applaud you for making this device, and for the approach that you’re taking with the analytics and what information we can actually learn from it. I just find this so incredibly valuable.
Daniel Tal: Thank you so much. To be honest, it’s not that we have all the answers. We’re learning as we go ourselves as well. A lot of things that we never thought would be impactful or things that we will see in the device and we thought, “Well, there are these phenomenals. Probably the devices are wrong,” but I can give an example.
People who are diabetic and obese, what we noticed is that their metabolism is so messed up that even if they eat carbs, their body immediately transforms them into fats in the liver in a process called “lipogenesis” and they will use… even if they eat a cake or they will just eat bread, they will actually transform that into fats and use that as the go-to fuel.
Melanie Avalon: My goodness. I was going to ask you that, but then I didn’t want to ask a really stupid question. I was going to ask: Did some people like eat carbs and then because they weren’t efficient, it actually showed them burning fat?
Daniel Tal: Yeah.
Melanie Avalon: Wow.
Daniel Tal: Publicly saying that we’re not yet because we haven’t researched it enough. Lumen is for people who are healthy, not for pre-diabetic or diabetic. I do see a huge opportunity there, but because we decided that we’re going to start with wellness and with people who are healthy and just… and start with the healthy and then go eventually to people in more serious conditions that really need probably the device more, because of that, this not a claim I can still make with the device.
We publicly say that Lumen is still not there for the people who are pre-diabetic or people who are obese because the system is not geared to identify those conditions or those things and we award them with the right nutrition plan, but this is something we’re cooking and it’s something that I believe in 2021 we’ll be approaching as well.
Melanie Avalon: Wow, that’s incredible. I do have one question because you mentioned how you’re releasing some updates regarding the fasting, that was something I was going to ask you was because as of right now, when I use the device, because I practice a one-meal-a-day-type eating and I tend to eat one meal later in the evening, so I wasn’t quite sure… because it only lets you have dinner like up to a certain 6:30, I think. Are you really seeing anymore updates to make it more compatible?
Daniel Tal: I know it seems like a device company, but most of the team is software. Most of the team is product design, nutrition, content. Even though you have a device in your possession and the device would probably not change, the algorithms, the recommendations, the user interface, the way we recommend fasting or the way you can report back on what you did yesterday, those are changing constantly.
What drives us, by the way, is feedback just from users like you. We send surveys specifically around nutrition or around how easy is it to take the measurement. We interview users on video and allow the team to watch. This is what drives this product onwards.
What you’re saying about fasting, it’s a request we get a lot from many users and so this is something that we’re actually taking care of in the coming month or two. It will change dramatically.
Melanie Avalon: That’s super exciting, yeah. For listeners, that’s one of the incredible things like you just said Daniel. Once you get the device, you have the device and then you’ve got the device; but all of the analyzation and the software, that’s all in your app on your phone and that’s all constantly updated. You don’t have to worry about it becoming obsolete. You can get it now and will continue to be updated.
I was wondering the actual measurements that it takes for the carbon dioxide because it gives you a range, one through five, if you’re burning carbs or fat. This is probably you know, but will users ever be able to have data to the actual levels that it found?
Daniel Tal: Not necessarily no.
Melanie Avalon: That’s what they really want.
Daniel Tal: A lot of people want that. What we want to do is to maybe support higher granularity than five levels, but not necessarily show the exact number and maybe we will show it at some point in time. But what we see is that for most users, the levels that we show, we have levels one to five. One meaning that you’re burning only fats, and five meaning that your body is using only carbs. We’ve been testing user behavior since 2017. It wasn’t always that we had five levels. We had percentage from 0 to 100, and we had seven levels. We practiced and tested users on many of those interfaces and what we realized is that once we give people a clear level, this signals to them a sense of progress and for a lot of people, that image of being a two versus a three or versus a one, that creates… that pours into that metric meaning and it becomes significant to them.
If it was 32 and not 45 or not 22, it’s not the same. You don’t get that sense accomplishment when you are dealing with very small numbers in a sense or percentage. But we’re still learning and we’re still tweaking the interface all the time, and maybe we’ll give more granularity, and maybe that’s, in the future, in high demand. We’ll have a biohacker view to really show you--
Melanie Avalon: Like a premium?
Daniel Tal: Not necessarily a premium, but a view that allows you to see your data and its real figure.
Melanie Avalon: Okay. Now, I’m going into like brainstorm mode. I’m like, “Oh, you could do this. You could do…” but no. It’s incredible. For curious listeners, so I’ve had the device probably about a month now. I found a very definitive trend in myself because I’ve been doing a lower-carb diet, and what I’ll find is that I’ll be in the like usually like twos or threes, and then when I’m on the low-carb diet for a bit too long, it actually starts creeping up. I start getting like threes, fours, and then I’ve done the cycle twice now. I’ll do a carb up and it goes back to five, but then it drops back down again to like two again, and then it kind of like starts over, and I feel like it’s sort of what we spoke about. I mean, I don’t know, but it seems like it’s probably a cortisol going to low-carb to long starts promoting gluconeogenesis and higher blood sugar, and then doing that carb up. It kind of resets things.
Daniel Tal: Right, and you have been using it for how long so far?
Melanie Avalon: Probably about a month now. Probably longer than a month actually. Maybe a month-and-a-half.
Daniel Tal: Okay, and have you gotten your flexibility score so far? This is me curious.
Melanie Avalon: It says I need… so it hasn’t been a month yet. I need one more week of morning measurements. I really thought it had been a month.
Daniel Tal: It could be maybe one week wasn’t counted for because it didn’t have maybe enough measurements. Maybe it was just the first week or so, but yes.
After four weeks, what you’ll see is that you get a score between 1 and 21 and that score should be basically your metabolic health, that’s your metabolic flexibility.
After analyzing enough data, we can actually say, “This is you. This is your metabolic health.” Twenty-one, let’s say, would be top athletes. All the trainers that we work with who are using the device are in that ballpark between 19 and 21. Let’s say 7 to 14 is healthy, and 1 to 6 is people who are inflexible. Once you get that score, the system, starts to feed you also based on that score and you get another goal in your journey. It’s no longer just weight loss or improving fitness.
Actually, now, Lumen is also feeding you in order to improve your flexibility. The interesting thing we found is that once people improve their flexibility, they can actually get away with a lot more carbs in their menu. Even if they’re eating more carbs, their body knows to use them properly in a sense and not turn into fats, and so that’s your carb immunity to some extent.
People who are flexible can get away with a bit more alcohol at night, or they can eat a bit more pizza, or go out a bit more and let go of a bit more. If they do that in their flexibility and that’s for four weeks, you’ll see a score; but every week, that score will update based on your behavior this week and so that becomes kind of a compass for people to understand where they are in their health. Are they improving themselves by working out and by measuring low measurements in the mornings, or should they take extra care because they’re starting to slip away.
Melanie Avalon: I 100% believe that. I mean, I personally just looking at my own history, I feel like I was the most metabolically flexible when I was doing actually really high-carb diet, but with intermittent fasting. It was like carbs at night, fasting during the day, and I just felt… just intuitively, I know that’s end of one, but I felt I could handle carbs, I could handle fasting really well. Yeah, it was really nice.
Daniel Tal: It’s also the behavioral aspect, right? If that’s something that is comfortable for you, then the pursuit of like absolute healthy probably becomes irrelevant, right? We all want to be as healthy as we can, but it’s also what we can practice and what we can keep for the long term, right? Finding that balance is I think the silver lining, that’s just where we all want to be. It’s probably not in the same place. We will not be at the same place as others, right, because we have… some people have families and they’re cooking for more people, and some people have different habits ‑ they’re cooking at home, some people don’t ‑ and so that, I think, is the Lumen of the… the goal, eventually, is to help people find their own rhythm, their own what works for them, and basically push them towards flexible metabolism.
Melanie Avalon: Well, thank you so much. I mean, you have truly like knocked it out of the park. It’s incredible. Now, I’m just looking through some of the charts that it draws up from all your data and it’s really, really fascinating. Listeners, this is hands down one of the coolest things I have like ever found in my life and I mean that. Thank you so much.
You do have an amazing offer for our listeners. You can actually get $25 off a Lumen device, that will be @Lumen.com, and it’s using the discount code: Biohacking25. I will put all of that information in the show notes.
Before we go, is there anything else that we didn’t touch on, Daniel, that you feel is important to address or throw out there?
Daniel Tal: No. There are a lot, but it was extremely fun. Maybe I’ll meet you at The Intermittent Fasting Podcast as well and we can continue that conversation. I really enjoyed it.
Melanie Avalon: My co-host, Gin, she’s going to be so excited just as I’m really excited.
The last question I actually ask every guest… and it’s an easy one, but I ask every single guest on this podcast and it’s just because I have come to realize how important mindset is surrounding everything, which you kind of really just spoke to with the approach with your device. What is something that you’re grateful for?
Daniel Tal: Wow. I’m grateful for the people who surround me and believing this. You start off by being a couple of crazy people, and you really feel like that, and gradually, the people you work with become your first believers and it allows you to say, “Okay. If I can convince those people, and they actually come and work with me on this, and they’re breathing every morning and they love it, then maybe we can get more people on board,” so I’m grateful for my team.
Melanie Avalon: I love that. Well, thank you so much. Thank you for your time.
Daniel Tal: Thank you, Melanie. It was a pleasure.
Melanie Avalon: This was absolutely wonderful and I will talk to you again in the future.
Daniel Tal: Okay. Perfect.
Melanie Avalon: Bye.
Daniel Tal: Bye. Have a good day.
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