Why China and Russia have had no real effect on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

Whether you follow Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or not, you’ve likely seen the headlines report on China’s recent crack down on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and public cryptocurrencies markets.[1] Russia recently held a high profile conference with Ethereum creator Vitalik Bucherin, which was thought to be a huge boon.[2] But then Russia began to disavow cryptos, in  favor of their own national cryoto.[3] Many people reduced their holdings after this news broke and shouted dooms day epithets to anyone who will listen. This was followed by a handful of influential financial magnets (e.g. CEO Jamie Dimon, and others) publically denouncing bitcoin. The markets crashed by over 25% in a matter of days.

Now with the summary of recent events out of the way, I want to address at least part of the story: the part where China and Russia’s actions don’t really matter for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Distributed means there is no central source of control

It is virtually impossible for any single authority (e.g. China or Russia) to exert full control over Bitcoin. Ignoring some theoretical problems which are technical in nature, as long as the Bitcoin network is secured by miner nodes all around the world, it remains distributed and highly resistant to singular attempts to control it. Even using access control techniques to restrict access to the Internet can be easily circumvented using VPNs, cellular networks, and internet protocols like Tor.

Ultimately, the real question in my mind is whether or not cryptocurrencies have become popular enough that people will continue to want them despite what their government does. If the demand remains strong, then cryptocurrencies will survive in these countries. And so far, it seems like that is the case. One key aspect of cryptos is that you can do peer-2-peer transactions, without any banks or central institutions involved. This is very similar to dealing in cash! Imagine if the government attempted to block you from trading $10 in cash with someone else? Basically impossible!

Loss of mineing farms is another’s gain

China made a big impact in the past several years by steadily increasing their mining share of the Bitcoin network, ranging from having 30% to as much as 70%[4] of the Bitcoin network hashing power. China has not cracked down on mining yet, but if they did, it would only open the doors for others to jump in. Russia, for example, has already begun courting miners who are seeking asylum from hostile governments.[5]

Mining would perhaps be less of a vacuum phenominon if Bitcoin was still a completely nascent technology. But now that the cryptocurrency is making headlines in newspapers and news shows around the world, people are paying attention. Stories of how lucrative mining can be are everywhere. The problem for individuals and small time mining operators is competition. But if that competition drops, say by 50% or more, it would most certainly create a vacuum effect, being filled quickly by opportunists.

Several countries have very favorable outlooks on cryptos

We see several examples of countries, with a money system in shambles, increasing Bitcoin and other cryptos at exponential rates. Venezula is a prime example. Basically, because their national currency has lost their people’s trust, people are turning to alternative means of value transfer. In these countries, a single Bitcoin can trade for 20-40% or more versus the more open global market. Before you get excited and think you see an arbitrage opportunity, just know that I’ve looked into it a couple of times, and unfortunately there are almost always barriers to entering these nascent markets.

Other countries like Japan, South Korea, and the United States appear to be open to having cryptos around, but they want to regulate it a bit more. Whether it’s for tax purposes, or money laundry prevention, the point is that several big player countries see a future with Bitcoin and other cryptos in it.

ICOs do need to be regulated

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have emerged as a new and novel way for startups to “crowdsource” their funding. In essence, they work by creating “smart contracts” along with “tokens” on cryptocurrency networks that support these features, such as Ethereum. A smart contract is basically just a small software application that runs in a secure and reliable manner on a blockchain. These “tokens” are simply arbitrary units of value. Tokens are typically sold by ICOs in exchange for a promise of service (e.g. the token can be used to pay for the new service once it launches) or for speculation that the startup will succeed, and others will want the token in the future, thus increasing the price.

The problem is that without any regulation, these startups can basically form at the drop of a hat, and ICOs can be about as valuable as dirt. Of course, this is true if you invest in any startup, be it on a publically traded exchange, Kickstarter, or another way. You run a very high risk of losing your investment. But in most of these cases, you have someone you can rely on (like the Securities and Exchange Commission) to weed out the frauds and scammers. ICOs often do not have this.

Summary

This post focused on the (lack of) effect countries have on the future of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While the markets might react sharply to negative news, these swings are emotional and temporary. If nothing else, I look at these dips as opportunities to buy into cryptos while they are lower. Year-over-year, month-over-month, cryptocurrencies have gained in value. This makes the long term prospects too good to pass up!

What are Medium Chain Triglycerides and why you need them

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT for short) are a type of fat that is readily broken down by the human body into ketones. Ketones are the metabolic component responsible for your energy when in a state of ketosis. MCT belongs to the group of fats known as saturated fatty acids. In this blog post, I introduce MCTs and why you need them while running a ketogenic diet. If you’re not familiar with what the ketogenic diet is, check out my post here about my own achievements with the diet, along with my entire keto category index for all my related blog posts.

Caproic acid acsv
Molecular structure of Caproic Acid, one of the different MCTs.

You might have been told that saturated fats are bad. You might have heard they are linked to all sorts of diseases like heart disease. But not all saturated fats are equal, and Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are innocent here. They make up about 60% of the oil in coconuts, attributing in part to what makes coconut oil a super food on the keto diet. Because MCTs breakdown much easier into ketones, our bodies can use them to enter ketosis much faster.

Boosting Fat Consumption

Most people whom I coach through the on-ramp to the ketogenic diet struggle with the high amounts of fat they must now consume. A lot of the struggle is from the mental shift away from the “low fat” myth that we’ve been told for decades. But even after you convince yourself that it’s worth a shot, you may find that it’s still very difficult to get 70% or more of your calories from fat sources.

In order to get MCTs (and thus fat) into more of your meals, I recommend using an MTC Oil supplement. You can find them in liquid and powder forms. I prefer the powder form because it is lighter and easier to carry around. It mixes easily with water, and the flavor of the powder is similar to powdered creamer that you might use in your coffee. The product linked below is what I personally use, and I really enjoy it! It’s easy to drop a serving or two into my (low carb) protein shake or use it as an ingredient in other recipes. One serving of this product gives you 7 extra grams of fat from MCTs!

Disclaimer: clicking on the links above awards me a very small advertising credit to my Amazon Associates account. I am not paid by Amazon or any other company for my opinions or to directly promote products. The opinions expressed on this site are my own. Buying a product using ad links on my site goes towards helping me pay for website maintenance costs and the fuel (coffee!) that powers my blog writings.

Stomach Sensitivity

Some people might find that taking too much MCT oil at once can cause stomach pains. These are not harmful! It just means you’re using more than your body can process at once. Consume less MCT oil until you find the sweet spot where you body can handle it all without the discomfort.

In time, you can gradually increase the amount you use. I’ve personally noticed that my own ability to process MCT oil has improved the longer I use it.

Summary

Medium Chain Triglycerides are an important and powerful tool in the keto dieter’s nutritional arsenal. Whether you’re struggling to add more fat to your keto diet or not, you can benefit from making sure you get more MCT. You can find it in several natural food sources, like coconuts, but I prefer the ease and convenience of using it in a powdered supplement form.