Unless you’ve had your head under a rock recently, you probably know that Saturated Fat has been getting a lot of good press.
If you want to learn why eating saturated fat is good for you, the best foods for exercise and why The Heart Foundation is not the way forward, then this episode is for you.
Full Interview: Fat, Calories, Exercise & The Heart Foundation
This is the full interview with Professor Grant Schofield. Professor of Public Health (Auckland University of Technology) and director of the university’s Human Potential Centre (HPC) located at the Millennium Campus in Auckland, New Zealand.
- Clearing up the confusion regarding saturated fat [003:05]
- The South Pacific Islands study. Why one got sick & one remained healthy[006:25]
- Why the Australian Heart Foundation have got it wrong [010:30]
- What fats should we be really eat [016:17]
- What we should really be eating for sport & exercise [023:10]
- and much more…
Follow Grant Schofield on his:
You can view all Health Session episodes here.
Buck Up: The Real Bloke’s Guide to Getting Healthy and Living Longer by Wayne Shelford & Grant Schofield
Did you enjoy the interview with Professor Grant Schofield? Do you eat saturated fat? Do you exercise with a fat adapted diet? Would love to hear your thoughts in the Facebook comments section below… Guy
Grant Schofield Transcripit
Welcome to the 180 Nutrition Health Sessions podcast. In each episode, we cut to the chase as we hang out with real people with real results.
Stuart Cooke: You’re not missing much, mate.
Grant Schofield: It’s kind of like a football with a bum underneath.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That describes my face quite well. OK.
Guy Lawrence: All right. Let’s start. I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m with Stuart Cooke, of course. And out special guest today is no other than Grant Schofield. Grant thanks for joining us, mate. We really appreciate it.
Grant Schofield: Likewise.
Guy Lawrence: I don’t know if you knew, but you’re actually our first New Zealander to come on the podcast show as well.
Grant Schofield: I’m honored.
Guy Lawrence: It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing.
Grant Schofield: You should be saying “kia ora,” Guy. Kia ora.
Guy Lawrence: I was looking at your blog just now, Grant, and on the About You section as well, and I figured there was a lot for me to remember there, so I thought the best person to explain a little bit about yourself would be you. If you could just tell the audience a little bit about yourself and why we’re excited to have you on the show.
Grant Schofield: Well, I find myself, now, talking about nutrition, but I never had any intention of getting into the field of nutrition, or, as a matter of fact, to keep your eye on what foods. But I originally trained, actually, as a psychologist. I’m pretty much XXleaguedXX well with psychologists, and that’s sort of a compilation of marginal intelligence and XXunknownXX that will generate XXunknownXX I read two-thirds of the XXunknownXX combination.
But I ended up in public health in the end, around obesity and especially exercise, and a lot of my recent work I’ve based it around; I’ve really spent my whole career around the conventional wisdom of it’s energy-in, energy-out. And if I can just get these moving more, it would be great.
Now, exercise and moving is good for people. But, as a solution to weight, it fundamentally misunderstands the metabolics of it all. And so, more recently, I think I’ve made some mistakes. I’m quoting Albert Einstein, if I understand this early Albert Einstein quote, which was: “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” And I think in obesity, research and chronic disease research especially, the nutrition side, we are kind of simplified to the point of doing half. And we need to rethink that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fair enough. And it’s amazing, because, like, especially with saturated fat is now the hot topic in the news at the moment. The ABC Catalyst have just screened two shows about it, along with statin as well, and obviously there’s a lot of people out there that are a bit confused, a bit miffed, as well, with the whole message and what to do.
I mean, is that something you’ve always believed, like saturated fat isn’t healthful, or is that something you’ve been led…
Grant Schofield: Well, no, I looked at it in my early days as a professional triathlete, I would say I wasn’t an especially good professional triathlete. I went into being a professor and ended up better.
But part of what, for me, made me as fast as I could was I could never understand why I was; I was about 87 kilos, which for the professional athlete is hopeless. And I was training up to 30 hours a week and I just couldn’t keep my weight down. I was eating exactly; I had a dietician, I was eating exactly what I was told to, a sort of high-carbohydrate, mainly heart-healthy diet. Keep away from the fat, especially the saturated fat. I was telling people that myself.
And, I’d start to go, and I think most people in the nutrition that exists outside of the ivory towers now understands that it’s true, and there seems to be a parallel universe going on in nutrition where the public and most of the people in practice have figured it out, and the powers that be are in some sort of denial about what’s going on. So, saturated fat, I think, completely vilified.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Because the one thing I want to especially raise as well, because, you know, with yourself being a professor and your background of knowledge as well, it must be hard for even just the average person to think any differently, because that’s what we’ve been taught our whole lives, you know.
And the message out there is so confusing at the moment. And, you know, it’s the same for myself. Until I lived and breathed it and actually started investigating deeper and deeper, then you don’t; you know, what would be your message to someone that is sitting on the fence about this.
Grant Schofield: That you just, I think if you’re sitting on the fence and you’re trying to decide about this same thing, there’s plenty of resources out there and this “n equals 1.” We hear a lot about this n equals 1. It’s self-experimentation. But that’s exactly how I got into this. That’s how I’ve managed to coax everyone I know into this way of doing things is just try it for a few weeks and see what happens. And if it doesn’t turn out, well, that’s short-term. You’re not gonna keel over. You can re-evaluate after that and when people do that, of course they see that the science was wrong. It had to be. Because you do the opposite of what everyone recommends and the exact opposite of what they said happens happens, so it’s sort of “Opposite Day,” really.
Guy Lawrence: It’s still; it’s incredible that it’s come to this. Like, it blows me away.
Stuart Cooke: It is crazy. I had also read a little bit about a study in the South Pacific as well. I was reading about that. I wondered if you could elaborate on that for us?
Grant Schofield: That’s just, we’d been doing this diabetes prevention work in the South Pacific islands and, you know, there’s a lot of South Pacific island countries, and there’s quite a lot of them. And if you wanted to; the Pacific, the South Pacific islands have probably suffered some of the worst obesity and chronic disease of anywhere around the world, but it’s not uniform across those islands. And I think it’s interesting.
You go to the best of them, which would be something like Southern Vanuatu, and these are islands; I mean, what actually happened in the end is an air force pilot called John Frum from the States turned up in World War II and started one of these cargo cults around the islands, sort of the beginning of a religion, and it’s interesting. They noticed that he did no actual work or anything that was XXunknownXX. He marched around and raised American flags and eventually got upon a funny box and stuff arrived and, “Hey, that sounds good.”
But he had one religious message which I think actually pans out to be a good one, which was something like: “Look, white guys are gonna turn up here. Don’t trust them.” And so what you’ve seen in these islands is really XXall-outXX development. So, there’s still a traditional subsistence living, and, really, a complete absence of chronic disease. So, there’s big, strong, healthy men and women and vibrant kids.
And the thing is, you look at the food supply and, you know, it’s eating whole plants and animals, but it’s very high in saturated fat from the coconut products. So, it’s probably about 60 percent of calories by saturated fat, with no chronic disease.
If you go to the other end, the worst of the Pacific are these countries like XXKiribatiXX and Tuvalu, which are all quite small coral atolls that; XXKiribatiXX, the main island is Tarawa, it’s only a metre by sea level, except for the large piles of rubbish which sort of go beyond that. And irregardless of this, the kids are all malnourished. And so, on a calories-in, calories-out, we think Mum and Dad must be eating all the food. Which isn’t the case. The kids aren’t getting the fat and protein. They’re malnourished. The adults are metabolically disregulated and diabetic.
We tested the; I was just showing the diabetes team how to test for fasting blood glucose, and 10 out of 10 had a fasting blood glucose above 10 millimoles, which is; five is acceptable. That’s the prevention team is completely uncontrolled diabetes, and it’s running about 70 percent in the population.
And you try and, you walk around there with your XXmanual guideXX, “Look, if you could just move a bit more,” that’s not relevant. “And just eat a bit less and cut down your saturated fat,” you know. It’s so ridiculous that you wouldn’t even; it would come out of your mouth when you see the food supply, which is instant noodles, rice, sugar, and flour.
So, it becomes very obvious that there’s a metabolic problem with these simple carbohydrates. We’ve done XXit with thisXX, so.
Guy Lawrence: That’s amazing. And that’s what the Heart Foundation, they’ve got the tick of approval on half the products that you just mentioned.
Grant Schofield: That’s right. It really becomes obvious at that point that, at least in that situation, that’s not the problem. Fat’s not the problem, at least.
Stuart Cooke: It’s interesting. I’m just going to mix a few of these questions around a little bit, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Knock yourself out, man.
Stuart Cooke: So, over here, you know, obviously, the Australian Heart Foundation recommends a low fat, high-carb diet. And how similar is it over in NZed?
Grant Schofield: Yeah, well, I just think it’s; what actually happened this week was sort of a perfect storm, really, of the British Medical Journal paper on saturated fat, the ABC shoes in Australia attracting a lot of attention in New Zealand, and we had a two-page feature article on low-carb, high-fat in the national newspaper, all within two days of each other. So it was a perfect storm as far as I was concerned.
It did a few things. First of all, it attracted a media release from some of the big, old professors of nutrition here undersigned by the head of virtually every health agency in the country about the dangers that this posed, and, sort of, meant to calm the masses.
It was all sort of ridiculous. But also, the Heart Foundation was about to release its new food XXpictures that weekXX, so they’ve put a hold on that until the masses control themselves.
But I think I have moved to more of a Mediterranean-style diet. I started to move away from the whole grains. And I think sometimes the reasons you go to the heart foundations and diabetes and feel like you’re not moving, there’s a lot of forces there that push them around. There’s food and food companies. There’s government. There’s scientists from all walks.
They are moving. They haven’t got to the saturated fat thing. So, you know, I think rather than turning into a fight, you know, when you become enemies it’s hard to have a productive and fruitful conversation.
So, we’re trying. … So, I’m happy now. Just keep moving.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, I hear the Swedish government recently turned their laws around with saturated fat. Have you heard anything about that?
Grant Schofield: Yeah, well, that’s; they did quite a big review because there’s; Sweden is relatively progressive. They’ve also had a longer history of that complaint around the delivery of low-carb, high-fat medicine, which was upheld, thankfully. So, I think they have probably moved ahead.
Look, I think the evidence says that eating a diet that’s low of dietary carbohydrates and higher in fat, as long it’s not all processed food, it’s likely to be highly healthy. XXThere’s random controls. It’s fine on all of them; carrying the metabolic ??? went wellXX.
People then seemed to object to the idea that there’s not long-term health data when we’ve had people on these diets for 50 years. It’s true we haven’t done those studies, but, equally, there’s; we are talking about the sort of foods that humans have eaten for 99 percent of the time they’ve been on the planet.
And, you know, humans, contrary to popular belief, didn’t die at age 30. The XXnormal age of death was probably somewhere near the 70sXX. So, on the basis of pure scientific common sense, I’ve begun with this approach to start with.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you only have to look at the overweight statistics, you know, here in Australia, and the same with chronic disease as well. It’s not getting better.
Stuart Cooke: Something’s going wrong.
Grant Schofield: I guess the other approach, way of approaching it, is to go, well, in public health we talk about these health inequalities, that different things affect people differentially, and we get really concerned about that. But we don’t make the healthy get healthier and the sick get sicker. And why take on that as well, you know, a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, whole-food diet can work for some people. There’s evidence of that. But I think it works for the most insulin-sensitive of us, the people least prone to chronic disease.
And, for the people who are least insulin-sensitive, most easily metabolically disregulated. And they tend to also be our poorest in this country XX??? PacificXX people. It may do harm. And that’s another thing to consider.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. Do you think the Heart Foundation will ever change their minds about this? You know, will they accept it or…
Grant Schofield: You know, and I think people come in and say, “Hey, you were right. Let’s change their minds.” I think they move more slowly than that. I think; people can ask me about government guidelines and Heart Foundation guidelines. Look, if this changed overnight, would it change the world? I don’t think it would. I think what will change the world is the fact that the world has changed electronically, that things like this, these podcast and the intelligent blogger and the open access of science, I think that the people will change this through pure experimentation and common sense.
I already see that the movement for low-carbohydrate and healthy, whole-food eating will come from the people, not from the government or the Heart Foundation. So, that will take time as well. But the world’s different.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good point. I’d like to clear up a bit of confusion as well around the topic of fats, because with this message getting out there, I know some people who think they’ll be able to look at potato chips and go, “Oh, there’s fat content in it; it’s quite high,” then it’s gonna be OK to eat that? You know?
And I see this, you know, and I’m, like, “Jesus.”
Grant Schofield: It has consequences.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. So, I’d love if you could just sort of, you know, what fats should people be eating, what fats should people be avoiding, how can they simplify it?
Grant Schofield: Well, I think there’s two levels of that. The first is that you’ve made a good point: that you eat a diet low in fat, or high in fat and low in dietary carbohydrates, that’s fine, and I think as long as the fats are fats that have come from foods that have existed naturally on the planet: animal saturated fats, those in plants, avocados, nuts, seeds, those sorts of things.
As soon as you start to muck with them and turn them into these industry seed-type oils, these Omega-6 and transfats, then I’d just be avoiding those altogether. In our house, we have butter, we have coconut oil, and we have olive oil. That’s what we have as added fats. And then it’s the XXcuringXX of some sort of plant or animal. That’s what I’d go with.
I guess the second point that you’ve made, which is probably more important, is if you combine fat with processed carbohydrates, then you’re on the standard industrial food diet and, as we, know, that’s got a really nasty ending.
And so they have been including high-protein, high this, high that, but I really think you can classify diets into three categories in terms of macronutrients. A low-fat diet, which, by definition will be high-carbohydrate, even if you over-consume protein, that will be turned into glucose anyway through the liver. At the other end, you’ve got a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. And in the middle you’ve got the standard industrial diet, which is high in both. So, that’s the choice. So, I think we should be going for the one lowest in carbohydrates.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It’s interesting. I guess I hope that when people realize that they need to make the shift to a diet higher in fats, then they don’t presume that all of the bottles of sunflower oils on the shelves with the Healthy Heart Foundation tick is the go-to fat. Because they’ve got beautiful pictures of, you know, smiling people and healthy hearts on there.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, I mean, it’s sort of; forget the glycemic index, the GI factor, and go for the HI, the Human Interference factor. If you can tell it was alive very recently, eat it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, no, it’s a good point. Do you think this dietary approach is recommended for everybody, or perhaps more specific to those seeking weight loss?
Grant Schofield: Ah, well, I mean, it can be effective for weight loss, but I think, you know, weight loss is usually a symptom of metabolic dysfunction. If you’re insulin-resistant, if you’re lethargic, if you’re low on energy, getting afternoon crashes, I think this is a fantastic way to go.
I mean, frankly, I don’t have a weight problem but one of the main reasons I keep on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is the cumulative and energy benefits, and I think anyone who does this sort of thing will attest to that. You’re not falling off a glucose cliff every three hours, so you’ve just got this constant energy, you can miss meals, you can have a flexibility in choosing your eating, and all of sudden you can deal with this much better.
XXI hear all that stuff about ????; it’s just not ???XX Metabolics drive behind it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s huge. Because once you’re metabolically changing, you’re fat-adapted. Because I eat a high-fat diet. If I eat carbs, it knocks me out. It’s as simple as that. I don’t feel great. I mean, I have some, but I’ve very conscious of what ones I eat, but my appetite is; my energy, mood, appetite is just fantastic.
And the other thing that I notice as well is that I don’t crave the other foods, the sweet stuff and everything else, you know, Once I adapted to this way of eating, I kind of look through them foods, you know? And it’s almost like I want people to just eat like this for a couple of weeks just to understand that feeling, you know? Because some people, if they’ve been on sugar all their lives, they’re not even gonna know what it feels like.
Grant Schofield: Well, I’d like to get the academics who criticize us or the practitioners who criticize us, just to try this as an approach. For goodness sake, just try things and example the physiology on yourself. Like, it’s not; it’s like being in the personal training business and telling people how to do pushups. Or, say, “Go do pushups,” and you’ve never done one. I mean, it would be laughable. You’d be laughed at XXat the gym? Like a chump?XX
Stuart Cooke: Guy mentioned fat-adapted. How far do we need to go to actually reap the benefits of a high-fat diet? Do we need to go as far as ketosis?
Grant Schofield: You know, that’s something I think we still need to do more research on. I don’t know the answer to that. I’ve experimented with myself and others that are getting into their fat-adapted state by doing it on a gradual basis and just gradually reducing their carbohydrates. The trouble with that method is, you can end up in a bit of a gray zone of actually not fully adapting. And your brain’s still dependent mostly on glucose, but you haven’t got it quite good enough, and it can be a nasty little state to be in. But I, my personal opinion, there’s not much science on this, is that if you’re going to get fat-adapted, get very strict and drop your carbohydrates right down to the ketosis, 50 grams a day, top level, for a few weeks, get fully fat-adapted, and just see how you feel while introducing carbs again after that.
My view is that you really need to force that real XXfrustation?XX of substrate, especially ketones and b-hydroxybutyrate, to run the brain and other organs, modern humans don’t do that. So that can be difficult. But that’s my view. I don’t know what you guys’ view on it is.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I guess it’s a tricky one. And everybody, you know, we’re all built in a very different way, you know, metabolically as well. Some people are more attuned to just straight into ketosis, whereas others, you know, can take much longer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Like, I’m 25 kilos heavier than Stu, right? And he eats twice as much food as me, easily. And, you know, his metabolism doesn’t turn off at all, ever. It’s incredible.
Stuart Cooke: Actually, I’ve got to eat now, Guy.
Yeah, no, it’s good.
I just thought we’d move into exercise now. And I know Guy’s got a question for you about…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I’m keen on this because, again, with exercise, you know, I think a lot of people can get confused with what they should be eating, especially around intensive exercise and endurance exercise. And I know you yourself have worked with a triathlete and an Iron Man. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the science, a little bit, behind all that.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, I think it’s very interesting. I mean, I’ve of course spent an entire career telling my people to supplement with carbohydrates and use those as they exercise all the time. We’ve done some work on a group of triathletes, mainly, actually.
I’ll just give you a case study as a nice example of the one elite Iron Man competitor that we’ve worked with. So, he was, first of all, he was 85 or so kilos. He was a bit shorter than me. And that was a limiting factor in his Iron Man performance. So, we put him on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for 12 weeks leading into Iron Man New Zealand last year.
First of all, he ripped down to 78 with no problems, 78 kilos, and was in the best shape of his life. But I think much more interestingly was how his fuel utilization changed across some different power outputs.
So, we were, probably, the easiest way to describe the way we measured his performance using breath-by-breath gas analysis, is we were calling this the metabolic efficiency point. What power could you produce when you were using 50 per cent of your fuel as carbs and 50 per cent of the fuel as fat, you know, just from your body. And we think that mix is about what you need to complete an Iron Man triathlon at the best possible speed. And you can go slower for an Iron Man and use more fat, or you can go faster but you won’t get there because you haven’t got enough carbohydrate on board or you XXunknownXX. So, about 50’s probably about right.
So, when we brought him into the 12-week phase, he was already pretty fit and he was a high-ish carbohydrate diet. He was at 50 per cent fat, 50 per cent carbohydrate utilization. He could push 130 watts, which will get you on the Iron Man very, very slowly. And, after 12 weeks, he switched that metabolic efficiency point to 330 watts, which will get you around, in this case, first place in the age group race that he was in.
Guy Lawrence: That’s over double.
Grant Schofield: What’s that?
Guy Lawrence: That’s over double.
Grant Schofield: More than double. Triple.
Guy Lawrence: Almost triple, yeah.
Grant Schofield: So, his maximal output hasn’t changed, but the point where he could, which he could sustain for a long time, using a lot of fat, had massively increased. So, that sort of change in fuel utilization is massive.
Now, unfortunately, what happened in that race, because everybody goes, “How did he do in the end?” well, he was first off the bike. He didn’t actually complete the race, not because he ran out of fuel, but he hit a XXnoise interferenceXX I’d been telling him XXnoise interferenceXX phase. I’m telling him, look, as you’re ditching the carbs, you must et more salt, especially if you’re feeling lightheaded, your kidney will be XXdealing sodium or potassiumXX. And what he needed was a couple of teaspoons a day.
And I hadn’t realized this, but in the month leading up to the race, I mean, he’s getting cramps every time he didn’t a flip-turn on the XXpoleXX. So, he really had a sodium problem that we never got on top of. He subsequently got on top of it and is doing very well.
But, you know, that’s just, I think, a good example. He got his weight down. Didn’t restrict his food intake. Trained and felt good. Felt he recovered better in the sense that he’s producing much less glycolysis, XXto offset the burdenXX carbs does to your body. And was a happy camper, really.
Stuart Cooke: What would he be eating during the event?
Grant Schofield: Well, that’s XXanother thingXX. We don’t give him “no carbs” during the event. These XXcreteXX cycle that burns carbohydrates reasonably fast, so we probably have the amount of carbohydrate. He had a gel an hour. He probably was doing two or three when he was carb-dependent, which acted XXas a kickstop, quite a lot of salty cashewsXX. And, yeah, that was better. So, you know…
And, you know, bacon and eggs for breakfast. Didn’t do anything else.
Guy Lawrence: And he wouldn’t have been carb-loading before the race.
Grant Schofield: No, no, no.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: So, what about the weekend warriors out there?
Grant Schofield: XXIt’s man-hours as well andXX I think a lot about that and do quite a lot of reading and thinking and research in that area. And I really think that you need to consider the difference between high performance and the health costs of that, and why you’re doing the event. So, my view is if you stop to think about easy movement and training that was mostly fueled by fat-burning, and then a middle zone that’s mostly fueled by; that’s hard-ish training that’s mostly fueled by carbohydrate, and then a very, very hard zone, which you could maintain sort of a XXminuteXX of, then I’ve really spend most of my time in that middle cardio zone. And I really agree with the Mark Sisson approach, which is it’s a chronic cardio type thing.
But the science is really, like, you’ve been in glycogen. You’re glycating tissues and creating glycating end products, you’re creating oxygen stress, XXunknownXX oxygen spaces. That has an immune cost and an inflammatory cost and an XXunknown systemsXX cost. And I don’t think that’s worth it. I don’t think you need to do that. The trouble with XXexcluding all that stuff inXX training, it’s actually quite good for your overall speed. So, you don’t get those threshold-type workouts. So, I would spend most of my time in an easier training zone burning fat. You get 99 per cent of the aerobic benefits, and the final 1 per cent you need to be really fast without any of the oxygen stress. And then I’ve spent a little bit of time with this very hard, sort of, sprinting. And, for me, I might do, say, 10 times one minute on the track running, one-minute rest. The rest of it 20-minute workouts.
Guy Lawrence: So, if you were a test subject who was not influenced by any beliefs or anything, and he said he wanted the ultimate optimum health exercise program. So, you know, I’m assuming most people exercise to feel good in their health, right? And then you’ve got the high-end athletes, of course, that are wanting achievement. What would the typical week look like? What would you include?
Grant Schofield: Well, I think it should be a mix of easy and hard exercise, but I also think that the demands of that exercise should change quite a lot. And that sort of falls under the theory of hormesis, which means that we should suffer stress and then that the stress should be mild enough that we can adapt to it, but not too mild. And I think when you start to just do something like one sport, like running and swimming or cycling or, you know, you don’t; then you get into a stage where you’re not providing stress to a whole lot of the body but providing too much stress to another part. So, you know, that’s the opposite; that promotes fragility and not resilience.
So, you know, my week now is I’ll start, return from work, I would; I’d walk the dog, I might run the dog, I might sprint the dog. He always beats me but it’s always fun.
Stuart Cooke: Just change your food. Change his food. It will be fine.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, exactly. I might run up some steps. I might go to the gym. You know? I’ll never be there more than 20 minutes and then my whole body sort of exercises. I might do that on a tree down at the beach. Whatever. XXI’m a terrible thinkerXX. But I’ll even, I’ve sort of copied one of those Australian guys. I’ve been watching this sort of XXzooXX stuff where, you know, it’s a very short exercise. Are you familiar with that?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, good natural movement; that kind of stuff.
Grant Schofield: Yeah. I mean, we’ll be on the XX??XX, transition into a sprinting back-and-forth and people are sort of looking at you like you’re crazy, but who cares?
Stuart Cooke: Now, that’s right. What are your thoughts on CrossFit? How does that fall into the lifestyle?
Grant Schofield: I’ve done CrossFit. I quite like it. I don’t think it’s particularly safe, at least the ones I’ve been to. I mean, you tend to go so hard that it’s very hard to keep a form that isn’t gonna do some damage. Or at least that’s what I’ve found, because I’m like, “I’m gonna beat that guy.” And if you’re a little less competitive maybe. It doesn’t really work for me, at least.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I think it all comes down to the trainers in the actual gym themselves, if they’re onto it, it’s a pretty safe place to be. But if they’re not, then, yeah, absolutely.
Grant Schofield: XXI’ve only been to one spot.XX
Guy Lawrence: OK. I’d love to touch on as well, calorie counting. Because you mentioned it earlier. Especially with exercise as well, and weight loss. Everyone seems obsessed with counting calories. What are your thoughts on that? I’d love to hear a professor’s thoughts on counting calories.
Grant Schofield: Well, I mean, at one level, you can’t defeat the law of thermodynamics, that if more energy goes in than out, or vice-versa, then something will happen to that system.
But the behavioural aspects of that are hormonally regulated, and the partitioning of those calories are hormonally regulated. So, really, it becomes stupid to be thinking about the calories.
My view is sort of three-fold. One is that under metabolically well-regulated conditions, humans will self-regulate both energy in and energy out. When they become metabolically disregulated, through any of the mechanisms that make you insulin-resistant, be it high sugar, high trans Omega-6 fats, a lack of sleep, too much stress, too much exercise, too little of exercise, smoking, XXpollution?XX, whatever it is, then all bets are off. You won’t behaviourally control your nutritional calories.
Stuart Cooke: I heard a great analogy of the kitchen sink, when the, you know, the tubes and the pipes are clean, you can fill up; you just keep the tap running and it will just flow. But the moment the pipes become blocked, that’s when you start to get issues.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, that’s what Jonathan Baylor and those guys are saying, XXeating stuff differentlyXX, and I really like that. I think it’s dead right.
And the compelling thing is also this study last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Ebbeling and Ludwig and Co. And it’s just massively convincing. When they get a whole bunch of people to lose weight using the same strategy, once they’ve lost, basically, between 10 and 15 percent of their body weight, they randomize them to different types of isocaloric diets.
And this was a hugely expensive, massive study. It’s a metabolic XXwork?XX study. People come and stay there. They get measured very carefully in terms of their energy expenditure and they eat exactly what they’re supposed to and you just notice that on different diets, even with the same amount of calories, energy in and energy out aren’t the same. So, when you feed people a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, they down-regulate their energy out. When you feed them a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, then they up-regulate their energy up. So, the difference is really 300 calories, which is XX????XX
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s interesting, because last year I did a little self-experiment when we were with family at holiday, and I ate around 6,000 calories at day for two weeks. Yeah. It was a real affair of it. I struggled to move for about an hour after each meal. And, just to see what would happen. And at the end of the holiday, I’d lost a kilo and a half.
Grant Schofield: So, you were eating a high-fat, carbohydrate-restricted diet?
Stuart Cooke: I was eating pretty clean. Lots and lots of meat and veggies. You know, carbs were few and far between. But, boy, I was piling it in. And it just didn’t work for me. I thought I’d beat the system, but it beat me.
Probably, people go online and Google Sam Feltham, the UK, he says 5,000 calories high-fat and 5,000 calories high-carb.
Grant Schofield: I can imagine the outcome.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s not pleasant on the high-carb.
Grant Schofield: No, absolutely not. But it’s good to do these things. I would imagine, because we’re talking about the fact that everyone’s different, and, you know, we metabolise things in a different way, I wonder what would happen if you did that, Guy, and put yourself on a…
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve done a high-fat, high-calorie diet. And I continue to; my weight remained stable the whole time. I did it for four weeks. Going back a couple of years ago now, but I was drinking gallons of coconut cream, coconut fats, eggs, and absolutely cranking it up. But the one thing I did was keep my carb intake under a hundred grams a day. And I was cycling probably 20Ks a day at the time and lifting weights, because I was working as a personal trainer in the city. And my strength continued to increase and my body fat remained stable.
Grant Schofield: It really refutes the whole notion, doesn’t it, of calories-in, calories-out.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. I, personally, I think if somebody wants to count something, count the carbs, not the calories. And actually make the food count that goes in your mouth. You know, eat nutrient-dense food, not deprive yourself of it.
Grant Schofield: In a lot of criticisms, people say to me, “You’re talking about a diet, asking people to stick to it.” It’s not very hard. I mean, you can eat as much as you want. The food’s really yummy. And I’m not seeing the downside to this.
Stuart Cooke: No. That’s right. There is no downside.
Guy Lawrence: If we decided to undertake this change tomorrow, for our own health, and, I guess, general awareness, what kind of testing would you recommend that we underwent, thinking along the lines of things like glucose and cholesterol, et cetera?
Grant Schofield: Yeah, I mean, the things you can get from your local doctor, your lipid profile and HbA1c for glucose are all interesting. I mean, the problem is, of course, the typical general practitioner looks at him and goes, “Oh, no, your total cholesterol has gone up,” which it probably will. And so people need to go over the research about that, and I think, you know, as long as the HDL and triglyceride XXratio??XX holds up, triglycerides will probably go down. And the HbA1c, which is this long-term measure of your control of glucose in the blood will almost certainly go down.
I think those are good indicators. Blood XXglucose?XX as well is, of course, interesting. I would much rather do more complex tests, and I think the two that are most interesting to people that we haven’t got sorted yet, but I’d love to see more widely available, is there’s a way of; I mean, you can measure blood glucose through a finger prick. I’d love to be able to measure serum insulin using the same technique. Because I think it’s a really dynamic insulin response that matters. And it’s fabulous to track that.
And the second thing which we have available, and it just costs a lot of money, but I can’t see why someone can’t invent a portable unit that can plug into your iPhone or something is this breath-by-breath gas analysis. Because it really XXproxies?XX; insulin controls your ability to burn fat or carbohydrate as a fuel. When insulin’s raised, you won’t burn fat. You’ll only store it. When insulin is reduced, you’ll burn fat as your primary food source.
And it’s very easy to measure that through the expired contents of your breath. It would be fabulous if it was available. And that’s what we’re trying to do more with.
Stuart Cooke: That’s interesting. Yeah. I would certainly welcome that. It sounds like something for the future, for sure.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s hard for people to get their mindset anywhere else, especially when, if they go to doctors and they get the conventional wisdom, like the whole system sort of funnels you in a certain direction and it’s very hard to step outside of that.
Grant Schofield: I look at my mother’s totals, she’s on a low-carb, high-fat diet, of course, at age 70, and her total cholesterol is too high and doctors told her to do the following: “Look, eat more whole grains for the next month, and if that doesn’t improve, we’ll put you on a lipid-lowering medication.”
Stuart Cooke: Oh, crikey.
Grant Schofield: We moved her in the end. It’s ridiculous.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, well, that’s right. I wonder if he asked her how she felt. “How do you feel?” “Well, I feel great!” Wonderful.
Grant Schofield: It was beyond… But, you know, the other thing sort of in that same thing as the Heart Foundation thing, I think it’s especially so in the U.S., but it certainly applies in Australia and New Zealand as well, is these guidelines that these guys are put under. “This is what you do for this.” You know, it’s literally malpractice not to prescribe a statin medication for high cholesterol. So, you do feel for these guys.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, no, absolutely. They’re just following the circuit, I think.
Guy Lawrence: I’m just going to ask what you eat every day. What is your typical daily diet?
Grant Schofield: So, what I had this morning, I just whipped up a sort of four-egg omelet fried in coconut oil made with whipping cream and I had some cheese on top. I would have actually preferred to put some more vegetables in there, but there weren’t any around this morning.
Last night for dinner we had pork ribs with a bit of a salad with XXoil in itXX. I was sort of picking through all the bones from the kids and stuff, because they only eat all the meat off the ribs so I sort of go through all the leftovers.
I was actually still a little bit hungry, so I ended up with some berries. Berries are pretty nutrient-dense, with some whipped cream and a bit of some almonds.
Guy Lawrence: Very nice.
Grant Schofield: And lunch I had sort of one of those high-fat salads, you know, put as many bits of vegetables as I could find lying around and then just added some cheese and nuts and meat.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Grant Schofield: It’s nice. I’m not hungry. I feel full of energy and I’m at a stable weight.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Lots of nutrients.
Guy Lawrence: Real food.
Grant Schofield: I just want to say, you can ask anyone who actually finds this controversial who’s watching it, especially in the science community, just kind of try this. See how you feel and make your own mind up. Don’t criticize people and go, “Well, I’m not sure about the long-term randomized control trials.” I mean, the basic physiology supports this way of eating and people feel great and operate well. So, you know, their well-being is better.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fortunately for us, because we do what we do, we get to speak to many people like yourself, Grant, and, you know, there are so many great people out there speaking and living and breathing and doing this, you know. And it’s, like you say, just try it for a little period of time and see how you feel.
Grant Schofield: And if they feel like rubbish, they can document that and if they want, they can go back and everyone’s happy.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. You mentioned berries. What would; I love asking this question: What are your thoughts on fruit?
Grant Schofield: I mean, I’ll eat fruit in smallish quantities. If you try and do a low-ish, a fairly low carbohydrate diet, it’s hard to have that much fruit and not take your carbs that high. But if you want to have grapes, go for it, I mean. I think it’s probably a good way to supplement, especially in some more intense exercise before or after that session.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s when I generally do it. After training. Yeah, David Gillespie, we had him on the show a few weeks back, and he said treat it as nature’s dessert. And I thought that was…
Grant Schofield: Yeah, that’s probably it. He’s got a good point there. It’s fine. The other thing about fruit, of course, I mean, you know, just think about the history of humans. There have been fruit lying around to gather. It’s not essential for human survival, but it’s nice and it’s there and it’s; go for it.
Guy Lawrence: And I guess prior, you know, it was always seasonal, so you’d get what the season provided, but now, of course, we’ve got every season under the sun on offer.
Grant Schofield: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a very good point is probably one that I’ve been thinking more and more about scientifically and experimenting with is, and people do this sort of a week where they might have a pattern that actually changes quite a bit, so there will be generally quite low-carbohydrate and might have some periods of fasting. You know, go through some periods of actually eating a meal or two quite high in carbohydrate.
And I think there might be some merit in that in the sense that there’s two conditions there, which I think are both essential to human health. One’s the anabolic, which is rebuilding and growing cells. You know, that’s an inflammatory state and temporarily, that’s good. So, you do need that anabolic state, and I think insulin through dietary carbohydrates can provide that.
Equally, you also want that catabolic state where there isn’t any food, and the human cells don’t divide and they start to scavenge and repair and we get this production of the XXtrehalose???XX and these sorts of enzymes that start to clean up XXthe DNA endsXX and that sort of thing. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about, not so much a low-carb, high-fat way of eating the whole time, but perhaps cycling more in and out of what is more of a human condition. And, I mean, you don’t have to go by week or anything, but I think there might be some merit in that.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. No, that’s right. Almost like a periodic system reboot.
Grant Schofield: Yeah. And I think the dangers, if you’re going low-carb all the time, that you start to down, I think there’s some evidence that you start to down-regulate some things, especially lectin, and it’s probably worth a bit of a reboot.
Guy Lawrence: That’s interesting. I’ve never thought about that.
Grant Schofield: XXThere’s not been a lot of science on thatXX, by the way. And probably won’t be for a long time because no one wants to fund this sort of stuff, but that’s another story.
Stuart Cooke: Of course.
Guy Lawrence: Any special requirements for children? I mean, many people think, “Well, children need their carbs because they’re so active.”
Grant Schofield: Right. I mean, my kids are, I’ve got three boys, they’re on a low-carb, high-fat diet, but they don’t know they are. They grew up with that and seem to be functioning all right. But the thing is, they’re not metabolically disregulated. They are fine. They eat carbs and they get dealt with. They come and go. And that’s fine. Then they have the occasional junk food party or something and I’m comfortable with that.
What I’m not comfortable with is, I saw a boy yesterday in a practice-type situation, and he’s 11, obese, and he is metabolically disregulated. He’s highly insulin-resistant. And he’s saying to me, “Well, I eat the same amount as my mates. I do the same XXliving regime?XX, and they’re skinny and I’m not.” And so he can’t deal with the dietary carbs in the same way and we have to rethink that.
And that’s an interesting thing. He’s been to a bunch of specialists who have sent him away, told him to eat less and move more. When nothing’s happened, they’ve told him that he must be stealing food and he must be too lazy. And he can’t help but get to tears. It’s disgusting.
And, to put that in context, these kids get bullied. I asked this young man, I said, “Look. Do you think about your weight?” And he’s, like, “Oh, I do.” “Much?” “Yeah, quite a bit. About 99.9 percent of the time.” And, you know, a tear comes to you. This 11-year-old boy. So, some kids will need to do something about their carbs. But the metabolically healthy ones, there’s more flexibility.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Yeah. Just get away with it, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Very good. All right. I was just looking at the time. We’ve got a wrap-up question, Grant, that we ask everyone every time we’re on the air and it doesn’t have to be nutrition-related at all. But what’s the best single piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Grant Schofield: Well, it’s no so much advice as an insight. Look, I just clearly remember a day in my life where something clicked for me and I don’t know if people have had the same experience when they’re students at school, but I remember the teacher going, “Ah, yes, he’s very bright” (not referring to me, of course) “but he just doesn’t try.” And I remember that point going, that fundamentally misses the point, because achieving in life is nothing to do with being bright or smart. It’s to do with knowing how to try. And the myth that you don’t know how to try means that you’re stupid by definition.
So, I just remember the teacher saying that and me thinking, “That just doesn’t make any sense.” So, you know, my advice to, I had to speak to a high school XXclass?XX the other day, and what I’d like to see in my kids, it may not turn out this way, is that; I don’t know what the world’s gonna look like, I don’t know what job you’re gonna do, but whatever you do, you’d better be good at it. The only way to be good at it is to follow what you’re passionate about, work to your strengths, and know how to try.
If you don’t know how to try, good luck. It’s not gonna turn out well. But if you can, it will all work out.
Stuart Cooke: Just try. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Give it a go. Absolutely.
And us Aussies, if we want to know anymore about you, where’s the best place to go, Grant?
Grant Schofield: OK, so, my best place is my blog, which is ProfGrant.com.
Guy Lawrence: I’ll share that link anyway. I’ll get it out on the blog as well. And, yeah, I was checking it out today. There’s some cool stuff. How long have you been blogging for?
Grant Schofield: I’ve only been blogging for about six months. I just sort of thought I should; I was talking a lot and not putting it anywhere. I found it a thoroughly fulfilling experience, the interaction with people and the ability to actually get your thoughts down coherently. It’s a great deal of fun.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Grant Schofield: And of course it gets hundreds of thousands of hits, which also surprises me.
Stuart Cooke: You’ll have to sell a range of t-shirts.
Grant Schofield: “All you’ve got to do is try.”
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, Grant. Well, look, we really appreciate your time today, and I’m sure a lot of people will get a lot out of this. That was fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: That was really cool.
Grant Schofield: Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I love talking about it.
Guy Lawrence: No worries. You’re welcome, mate. Thank you.