Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Mitochondrial Health

The Science of Exercise, Mitochondrial Health & Longevity -with biochemist Kieron | The Proof EP222

In Episode 222, I’m joined by Drew Harrisberg and Kieron Rooney, PhD to discuss how the biochemistry of exercise can impact your health.

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Evidence continuously shows us that the multitude of factors contributing to health and longevity are incredibly complex. Today, Kieran Rooney, PhD sits down with Drew Harrisberg and me to break down the biochemistry behind exercise, exploring both the theory and practical applications of improving your fitness.

If you’ve been listening to *The Proof* for a while now, you will be very familiar with Drew Harrisberg. Drew is an exercise physiologist, sports scientist, diabetes educator, and my good friend. He always opens up meaningful conversations on the show, bringing both curiosity and educated insight. Associate Professor Kieran Rooney is a biochemist and lecturer with decades of multi-disciplinary research behind him. As a researcher in metabolic biochemistry, he brings fascinating knowledge to the table for this conversation.

We cover a wide range of topics in this episode. In the first half, Kieron Rooney introduces a more technical, theory-based background that informs the technical applications in the second half. We discuss mitochondria efficiency, metabolic flexibility, and fat adaptation. Dr Rooney also offers training advice, and his thoughts on a ketogenic diet.

Specifically, we cover:

0:00 Intro
7:00 Rodent Studies on Sucrose
24:30 Biochemistry of Exercise
39:30 Creatine Supplementation for Athletes
44:53 Do you need meat for creatine?
46:57 How Our Bodies Produce ATP
1:01:00 Defining Mitochondria
1:05:59 Increasing Efficiency
1:08:33 Omega 6s: Essential or Problematic?
1:17:32 Metabolic Flexibility
1:18:08 Make more Mitochondria
1:29:26 Mitochondria & Longevity
1:35:14 Lactate Levels
1:46:53 Best Training Advice
1:56:43 HIIT vs Endurance
2:13:10 Can Keto Work Long-Term?
2:45:15 Outro

This conversation is absolutely worth the listen. You’ll gain both practical and theoretical knowledge, with a more comprehensive understanding of the biochemistry of exercise. It was great to have Drew and Kieron on the show for this discussion.

*Connect with Drew Harrisberg:*
• Instagram:
• Website:

*Connect with Kieron Rooney, PhD:*
• Twitter:
• Learn more about him and his work:

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Enjoy, friends.


*More about Kieron Rooney, PhD*

Kieron joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney in 2003 as a lecturer of the Biochemistry of Exercise and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2012 and then Associate Professor in 2019.

During this time Kieron has been responsible for the design and implementation of curriculum in units of study focussed on metabolic biochemistry and exercise physiology to both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Kieron’s research portfolio has included both human and small animal studies investigating the role of diet and physical activity on parameters of fuel storage and utilisation as they pertain to dysregulated metabolic states.

Kieron is currently the Head of the Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science (2020 – present); Co-Lead for the Charles Perkins centre Bias in Research node (2020 – present); and Co-Lead of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sport and Physical Activity Research and TeAching Network (SPARTAN; 2021 – present).

*Additional resources:*

• Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners [PMID: 26892521]

• Ketogenic low-CHO, high-fat diet: the future of elite endurance sport?


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21 thoughts on “The Science of Exercise, Mitochondrial Health & Longevity -with biochemist Kieron | The Proof EP222
  1. Only five minutes in but just wanted to say thank you for another episode, theyโ€™re all greatly appreciated. Iโ€™ve been looking forward to this one, canโ€™t wait to hear what you all have to say!

  2. Benjamin Franklin's favorite exercise was leaping which was smart because it really gets the lymphatic system pumping. He was known for being very fit as a young man but then he became overweight later when he was a diplomat in France and ate the rich food given to him at political dinners. He was vegetarian as a young man because plant foods were less expensive and he wanted to spend his money on books instead. A few years back as part of a contest, I proposed a memorial statue of Ben in Philadelphia that would show him at the peak of fitness when he was living there. Since the actor who plays Ben for the tourists looks like the older version of Ben, the statue would help to restore his image as a promoter of exercise and fitness. He is also in the swimming hall of fame.

  3. Ohhhhh this โ˜๏ธ is DENSE and MAGNIFICENT! Will definitely be listening 2-3 more times, thank you Simon, Drew, and Keiron!๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿค—๐ŸŒฑ

  4. Would be great if you could get someone on to speak more on zone 2 and polarised training for health and longevity. Today's guest clearly didn't know much about training protocols

  5. I'd love to see a show with Patrick McKeown about proper breathing for (1) athletic performance and (2) daily health for EVERYONE. He's the author of The Oxygen Advantage; The Breathing Cure, and many other books about healthy breathing. Dedicated, knowledgeable, interesting, and just a great guy. Very accessible, answers readers' emails when he can.

  6. This show was good but seems mostly focused on competitive and high-end athletes. I'm in my mid 60s, and 12+ years as a 100% organic whole-food plants-only diet. A few years ago I started using exercise bands and calisthenics for strength training, plus I do HIIT a few times a week, and daily walking. I would love a show like today's that focuses on how the average person can best utilize these kinds of protocols to optimize their benefits (what level of fitness is best health without risk of injury?). btw, no one seems to ever talk about the benefits of exercise bands. They have changed my health and my life. Absolutely amazing! I have the kind that have a coil inside the band so they won't snap you if they were to break. So, no risk in using them. Thanks for your shows. Great guests. Great information and always research based. Great job!

  7. Is moving the only way to put stress to create mitochondria, or could you put hermetic stress by training your cardiovascular system to operate with less oxygen (like in Wim Hoff breathing)?

  8. Another great episode, as usual! Thanks, Simon. I've had so many thought during it that I'd like to share that I'm not even sure how to post it here, lol.

    I guess a major one would be that you summarizing things at the end, or post recording you sparing a few minutes to say where you land on all of that would be nice. In this case specifically, it would be nice specially in the points where there's interface with nutrition and health, an area you know a lot and it didn't seem to me it was a specialty of him. I do understand if you need more time to recap and deepen studies, though

  9. Hey Simon any chance you could discuss eating only wild meat instead of store bought meat? I recently switched to a diet where I only eat wild meat and if I don't have wild meat then i don't eat meat at all. Love your show and thanks for all the great info. Cheers from Alberta Canada.

  10. One of the best podcasts I've ever listened to. Thanks for making my drive to/from work so educational and fascinating! I felt like I was eavesdropping on you all. It was super informative, while at the same time, entertainingly conversational. Kudos.

  11. Amazing episode! So much incredible information and exquisitely explained by Rooney. About the polyunsaturated omega 6, and their relation with pro inflammatoryยดs events, i was wondering: their capacity to oxidize when exposed to high temperatures, and release free radicals. That is why when cooking better to use coconut oil, (or ghee if not vegan), and avoid sunflower, corn, canola, soy…(and add to that, those oils are already "oxidize" among the process of production). But what about the omega 6 found in nuts and some seeds? Supposing that you keep them away from the light, heat (to prevent oxidation)…when you consume them, are they prone to pro inflammatory mechanisms within the cells? Or as long as you keep the omega6/3 ratio within the normal range, there should be no risk? Thanks again!

  12. Can omega-6s increase oxidized LDL?

    I was able to get my oxidized LDL from 76 down to 47 ng/mL by getting rid of saturated fat.

    I substituted saturated fats with MUFAs and PUFAs from macadamia nuts and walnuts, so I was eating a lot more omega-6s from the walnuts.

    My oxidized LDL is still above 40 and Peter Attia says it should be under 40.

    I am a carrier of one copy of the APOE4 allele so I do not know if that plays a role.

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