When master dietary supplement formulator, biohacktivist and keto authority Shawn Wells, RD, confronted his own mental wellness challenges, it led him on a path to find science-based solutions.
Wells has a decade of experience as a chief clinical dietitian in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and is also a certified sports nutritionist (CISSN). Currently, he is CEO of the supplement consultancy Zone Halo Research and serves on the editorial board for the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN). Previously, Wells was director of research and development (R&D) for Dymatize Nutrition and chief scientific officer for BioTrust Nutrition. His book The Energy Formula debuted earlier this year.
Wells sat down with Insider’s content director Steve Myers at SupplySide West 2021 in Las Vegas to talk about mental wellness, especially for men. This Q&A was adapted from the conversation.
Insider: What challenges do men face in trying to deal with mental health and wellness?
Shawn Wells: The way [men’s] brains work versus how females’ brains work, [women] tend to be more communicative, higher emotional intelligence. I think it is more a question of conditioning in our culture, about the roles we are supposed to play and how we are supposed to communicate: Men aren’t supposed to talk about these things. I felt that growing up, and it certainly was true in my father’s generation. He was a military veteran, he had a ton of stress at work, and I remember he’d come home and never talk about it. This wouldn’t be something he’d talk about with friends. There wouldn’t be going to a doctor; that’s considered weak.
That was a different generation. It is starting to change, as these discussions are happening on social media and things like in my book—I’m being vulnerable about having suicidal thoughts, about depression and anxiety, about imposter syndrome. Dealing with all these things, I had disordered eating, I had anorexia, I was morbidly obese. All of these things I was holding in, and it wasn’t until I got very vulnerable and started working with a specialist, working with plant medicine, working with supplements, telling my story and having that feedback from other people that I was like, wow, there is something to getting this off my chest. And instead of suppressing your truth, being aligned with your authentic truth so that you can talk about it, be clear on it and move past it.
Insider: When you made this decision to be open about your struggles, to get it off your chest, was it received in the way you thought it would be?
Wells: So much better. The first time I talked about all of this in a presentation was at Keto Con, a keto convention where I was speaking on the science of keto, the supplements that would help you with keto, MCTs [medium-chain triglycerides], talking about these pathways and all this biochemist and dietitian stuff I usually talk about. I started building in my story about…
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