Guy: With all the confusion out there on whether athletes should be eating more dietary fats or carbohydrates for enhanced performance, who better to ask than Dr Kieron Rooney; a biochemist from the University of Sydney. Kieron’s wealth of knowledge is incredible and he has a long standing interest in the basic science behind low carbohydrate diets.
1. Do the benefits of a LCHF (low carb high fat) diet only apply to endurance athletes in sports?
Good question! My gut response is that this would be the population it makes the most sense to focus on initially as they are typically the athletes in which performance / fatigue has been traditionally shown to be most influenced by dietary strategies during an event and (possibly prior). But that is most likely an artefact of the duration of non-endurance events – not much time to suck down a ricotta stuffed olive when your 100m event is over in 9 and a bit seconds; and nor do you have the hands free in a power lifting event.
Dr Steve Phinney’s original work in the 80’s set the scene for endurance athletes to be primary participants and lots of the big name stories coming out are endurance athletes as well… It may just be though that the non-endurance athletes are yet to be convinced.
If we unpack this a little more, what are the benefits of LCHF you are referring to?
If we think of an endurance event, then the conventional wisdom is that your ultimate performance will be reliant on a steady supply of carbohydrate during the event. This will primarily be met by glycogen stores, perhaps gluconeogenesis in the liver and then anything else you can consume in goos and drinks and the like during the event to sustain blood glucose levels and “spare” your muscle glycogen stores. This research is quite repeatable and has led to feeding strategies such as carb loading and the like being standard approaches to enhance performance. But this would be in athletes that are “carb adapted” individuals. These are athletes that are most likely consuming large amounts of carbohydrates each day of their lives and as such have an energy system that is dependent on carbohydrate fuels.
My understanding of the LCHF approach is that you play the long game – live LCHF and adapt your system away from this reliance on carbohydrates, then the fuels (and ultimately performance) you are relying on during your event will less likely to be glycogen and carbohydrate intake as you are tapping into the larger fuel reserves of body fat.
A key question then is in ultra-endurance events and the like, where no doubt some food is necessary – what do you eat?
This is a question I look forward to hearing Jeff Volek discuss.
If we go back to your question just briefly. IF we are looking for signs that LCHF may have a place in the development of athletes outside of traditional endurance events, my reading of the LCHF approach is that a state of nutritional ketosis results in a preservation of muscle mass. In their book “Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” There is discussion of studies reporting in LCHF participants in which protein sparing occurs via reduced oxidation of the Branched Chain Amino Acids. This would suggest for athletes preparing for events that are not typically endurance but reliant on muscle power, perhaps the LCHF will have a place – we just need for literature to get there.
2. Do you need to be in ketosis to fully benefit from a LCHF diet?
Great question, of course one needs to be wary of what is identified as a “benefit”. If we are focussing on athlete performance in their endurance event then my reading of the LCHF approach is that yes, it is an all or nothing approach, you can not dip your toes in and out of brief periods of carbohydrate restriction as your body will be in a continual state of switching between differing adaptation states.
If you are not in nutritional ketosis but are doing a “lower” (rather than “low” carb approach (somewhere on the continuum of less than 130g a day but not quite as low as the 50g often reported as the threshold for nutritional ketosis) then you are likely developing a system that is still reliant on carbohydrate fuels, but because you have gone lower carb they are not around, and because you are not in ketosis then the ketones aren’t around to meet the energy demand and so you are in danger of not meeting energy needs in your exercise effort.
If though your focus is on weight loss / maintenance I think there is more scope here for a lower carb approach as some studies would show you can get health improvements coming down to the 100-130g level. Whether or not you would be in “nutritional ketosis” at this level is something I hope Jeff will talk about.
3. How long does it typically take to become fat adapted?
4. In your experience what is the average macro-nutrient profile for ketosis?
I have no experience other than my own. You will need to be careful on this one, I often see people (nutrition professors and the like) mix their macronutrient profiles discussion around absolute amounts and % contributions. Jeff and Steve’s books often state it as no more than 5-10% of your total daily energy intake from carbs (so for someone on 2000 calories that would be a max of 50g).
Protein has to be kept moderate as well and is given as 1.2-1.5g/kg body weight (although they specify “reference weight” which I hope Jeff unpacks a little more) so this would be about 90-110g for a 75kg individual (approximately 20% total energy) but this would be a maximum I believe as there is reference in the LCHF books to avoid “high” protein. You then make up the rest of your energy needs with fats which could end up being anywhere between 70-80% of your energy intake which on 2000 calories a day would be about 150-180g of fat.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
I have a new hero… and her name is Meredith Loring. If you need a big dose of inspiration and want to know what the human body is capable of with the right nutrition, mindset and training, then you really must watch this video!
Meredith, along with her husband Sami Inkinen rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii. The row took them 45 days straight, rowing up to 18 hours a day and yup, they did it with no sugar or gels.
We also cover her own incredible journey from dealing with cervical cancer, then switching to raw food and then the slow transition into a high-fat, low carb’ diet. All this along with achieving some of the most incredible accomplishments in the world of serious adventurous endurance sports.
Full Interview with Meredith Loring: Raw Food & High Fat Diet Fuelled For Inspiring Jaw Dropping Adventures
In this episode we talk about:
Why her dealings with cervical cancer made her look at her nutrition closely
Why she embarked on two of her toughest athletic challenges of her life within 10 days of each other
The highs and lows of rowing 45 days straight from California to Hawaii
How she fuels her diet daily to perform
What her diet and exercise routine looks like whilst 8 months pregnant
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. The one thing we are very proud here at 180 Nutrition is when we look for podcast guests, we search high and low for people that we feel will have something truly to offer with their stories, their journey, their inspiration, their health message, all around nutrition. You know, questions that we want to answer ourselves.
And I have to say today’s awesome guest, which is Meredith Loring, is certainly inspiring and I guarantee that you’re going to get a lot out of this today.
Now, if you’re wondering who Meredith is, we had her partner, Sami Inkinen, on the show last month and as a couple they rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii. The row took them 45 days straight, rowing up to 18 hours a day and yup, they did it with no sugar or gels.
Now, if you’ve heard Sami’s podcast, you’d probably know a little bit about the background. But if you haven’t, you’re in for an amazing treat in today’s podcast.
And not only that, Meredith’s own personal journey is phenomenal. She discusses how she contracted cervical cancer at a young age and how she then looked into nutrition to help combat these things and then come into, you could say, eating a higher-fat, low-carb diet and she’s an exceptional endurance athlete as well. And she’s heavily pregnant at the moment, eight months, ah, eight and a half month I think.
So, we cover all these topics from her perspective today and you know, whether you’re a guy or girl, listening to this, you will take absolutely a lot out this and even as a couple too.
As always, I know I ask, let us know these podcasts inspire you, if you’re enjoying them. What guests you’d like to see come up in the future. Simply leave us a review on iTunes. That would really be appreciated. You know, just by subscribing, helps us get the word out there; we’re determined to do it and I think this message should be heard by as many people as possible.
Drop us an email to: email@example.com., too and let us know your thoughts on the podcast and if they are affecting your life in a positive manner in any way. It would be great to hear from you.
And of course, go back to our website, 180nutrition.com.au, there’s a wealth of resources there too and also, of course, these are shot in video, if you are listening to this through iTunes.
Anyway, let’s go over to Meredith. You’re going to really enjoy this one. Cheers.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: I always get this feeling every time, you know, it’s like just before you go on.
Anyway, hi this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke today, as always. Hi Stuart.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Meredith Loring. Meredith, welcome to the show.
Meredith Loring: Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: I hope I pronounced your surname correctly, as well. I just thought about that then, but I’m thinking I got it right.
Meredith Loring: Yeah. It rhymes with “boring,” as my husband likes to say.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. So, we’ve had your husband, Sami Inkinen, on the show. We’ve had moviemaker Donal O’Neill on the show. We were all talking about Cereal Killers 2.
And we actually just held a screening for the documentary here in Sydney a few weeks back and it was sold out. We had a Q & A and it was just an awesome response.
And the one thing that was evident, especially with the females after the show and everyone was buzzing, was: We want to hear more of Meredith’s side of the story. So, yeah, fantastic; so, thanks for coming on.
Meredith Loring: Who knows what they were saying when I wasn’t there.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.
So, we always start the show to get a little bit about the guest’s background and things like that, so, if you could share a little bit about yourself, because I’m guessing you’re not from Finland, like Sami.
Meredith Loring: Not from Finland. I’m from the East Coast. A pretty normal background, I guess. But I guess what’s revenant, for you guys, is probably fitness and nutrition stuff.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Meredith Loring: And yes, so, I’ve been kind of a competitive athlete my whole life. I was a competitive gymnast until I was in high school and then I started running in my 20s and really latched on to running and trail running in particular and started competing in trail running when I got out to California about four years ago, which is when I met Sami, my husband. And then …
Guy Lawrence: I recently read as well, is it true that you guys went on your first date in a kayak?
Meredith Loring: Weirdly, weirdly enough our first date was in a doubles kayak and I’d just come from New York City, literally the day before, and for me any kind of active date was really weird, because in New York you’d meet for drinks or coffee. So, I was very weirded out by the whole thing and then he wanted to have a captive audience. So, he stuck me in a kayak for a couple of hours.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: So, you’ve always been obviously a competitive, well, it looks like sports and athleticism has been in your blood from day dot. Because we’re going to talk about the row especially a little bit further on as well.
So, I’m guessing now, to see you go ahead and do that; was it a major shock for you to find yourself ending up in a boat or did you…
Meredith Loring: It was shocking, like the sport was shocking, because neither one of us had ever rowed before and actually neither one of us was into rowing at all. So, just the sport choice was fairly shocking, but we try to do kind of big adventurous stuff on a regular basis, nothing quite that adventurous.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s huge, isn’t it?
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Go for it Stu.
Stuart Cooke: You’re interested in, obviously, you come from an endurance sport background, as well. How much of your dietary beliefs have changed over the years from obviously the endurance stuff to the crazy endurance stuff in the boat that we’ve just heard about?
Meredith Loring: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, actually, when I was 24 I had cervical cancer and I started looking at, like, alternative treatments. I didn’t want to go down a chemo route. And so I kind of decided after looking into all of the research way back then, this was like 2004, that our nutrition guidelines were all fucked up, pardon my French and …
Guy Lawrence: That’s the best way of describing it.
Meredith Loring: And so, I had totally cut out sugar and carbs and stuff from my diet and I went on actually a raw food diet pretty strictly for about six or seven years.
Stuart Cooke: Okay.
Meredith Loring: And then when I met Sami I started introducing things like salmon and fish, but I’ve been fairly consistent about my diet since then, just because of my health concerns and then from all of the research that I read. And also, my body responds really well to plants and responds very poorly to sugar.
Guy Lawrence: So, even when you were, because it’s the first thing that springs to my mind, even when you were on a raw food diet so that your carb and sugar intake were quite low? Is that correct?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. I was not eating a lot of fruit. I was eating mostly vegetables and nuts and, like, avocados and things like that. Lots of olive oil, but very few fruits, maybe one piece of fruit a day or two max.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, because I think that’s the one common thing, mistake, I see, Whether it be raw food, vegetarian, vegan; everyone seems to have a hell of a lot of carbs.
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: One of the main things I read, counter to me wanting to go on a raw food eating plan, was all of the tooth decay that happens from most raw foodists because they’re eating so much fruit. So, I was really conscious of that from the beginning because I didn’t want that to happen.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And how did the cancer go? What happened?
Meredith Loring: I’ve been cancer-free and completely healthy. So…
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: I don’t know how much of that is due to my diet, but it certainly made me feel like I was having a hand in treating myself. And also, after I read all of these studies that you can’t go back eating the way you were eating before. It’s so just; it so grosses you out that you can’t go there.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Wow, that’s phenomenal. That’s amazing.
So, when you were doing the endurance events before, was it all about carbs and sugar and gels before you had the cancer?
Meredith Loring: It was, and actually I reintroduced at least gels into my eating after I met Sami, because Sami had been pitching to me for so long, that if I wanted to really compete in trail running and cycling, that I had to be eating gels and carb-loading.
Yeah and I fought him for a really long time, because I knew how it made me feel. And I would call him before a race and be like, “Ah, this is so terrible. I’m never doing this again.” and he’d laugh really hard. But he had read the Lure of Running and read all the nutrition studies out there that pointed towards carb-loading and so he really urged me to do that. But I naturally gravitate towards not doing that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah and I guess with Sami, because he spoke about being almost a Type 2 diabetic …
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: … at one stage, would have had a shock and changed the approach altogether.
Meredith Loring: Yeah and for; I mean, I always knew what worked well for me, but I never try to impose my beliefs on other people. But the truth was, I wasn’t really looking at it from a what’s a typical American or a typical person worldwide facing until we found out Sami was pre-diabetic. And then I was really, I really started to noodle on. Like, okay, if Sami, who spends so much time and energy trying to figure out nutrition and athletic performance, if he can’t figure it out and he’s pre-diabetic, what chance does a normal person have.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: That’s such a good …
Meredith Loring: And it really made me kind of upset. And so we really just decided we’ve got to do something about this because we can’t just keep talking about it without any action.
Guy Lawrence: That’s phenomenal. And look, being involved in the documentary, with Donal as well and getting the message out there, it’s; I don’t know what it’s like in America, but there’s definitely a bit of a movement coming on here in Australia. More and more people are hungry for this knowledge because they’re all pissed off and confused. I mean, in the cinema itself there were so many light bulbs going off within that evening and the Q & A panel, we had; the cinema basically kicked us out at the end, because there was just not enough time. Everyone was hungry for more.
Meredith Loring: That’s exciting.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Well, it is, it’s fantastic. So, I’m taking when you do your endurance now, you know, no gels, no glucose, because there will be people listening to this that are doing that very thing, you know.
Meredith Loring: Yeah. I actually think it depends on what distance you’re doing. If you’re doing something that’s really short and high intensity, you’re definitely going to be burning carbohydrates. And so, that can give you kind of a mental break from fatigue and also give you some kind of a physical boost.
If you’re doing a really long event, I don’t think; you certainly don’t need to be eating the way you’re taught to eat. Like a huge pasta dinner and then eating carbs for all of your training.
What I do is I train practically zero-carb. I mean, I eat carbs from vegetables and stuff, but in my training I try to eat no carbs, if possible. And then in a race environment I’ll have some carbs. You really feel the difference if it’s a shorter event.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, what’s; when you’re talking about the race environment, so, what does your typical kind of pre-race or weekly exercise regime look like? What do you do?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. So, before I was pregnant I was running about 10 miles four times a week and then doing a long run once a week, like 15 or 20 miles.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: And then a four- or five-hour bike ride one day a week and then cross training one day a week. And that’s a lot; that’s a lot of exercise, but I would never have a gel during; like especially the runs. It would never even cross my mind to have a gel. In fact, I wouldn’t have eaten breakfast before an event.
And I’m still working out. Now I have to do mostly cycling, because I’ve broken my foot. But I still, even pregnant, I don’t need to eat breakfast before I do a workout. It’s just not necessary.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, because I know Sami said he did the same thing as well. It was literally …
Meredith Loring: It trains you to be a better fat burner and then once you’re in that mode you’re just not hungry and it feels better to have a more empty stomach, I think, when you’re doing hard workout.
Stuart Cooke: It does. And what about hydration during those prolonged periods of exercise?
Meredith Loring: Water.
Stuart Cooke: Just water, right.
Meredith Loring: Water, maybe some salts, depending on how long it is, I’ll have salt tablets or something or just put salt in my water. When I go for a bike ride I absolutely add salt to my water.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Right. I’m guessing that pre- that kind of way of eating it would have been sports drinks as well as well as the gels as well? Would it gravitate to …
Meredith Loring: No. I was never; I never touched sport drinks.
Stuart Cooke: Okay.
Meredith Loring: They’re just so low-quality and it’s just sugar water. It never made any sense to me.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. No, it’s true; like low-quality, but high promise. You know, they really do promise the Earth with all of their wonderful benefits, but yeah, sugar water.
Meredith Loring: I always thought it was bullshit. I mean, it’s total bullshit.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We hear ya man, we hear ya.
That’s another question that just popped in there; do you train with groups of other people? And do they follow the same philosophy as you or do you see all over the place or what?
Meredith Loring: No, I do train with groups of other people and people are usually fairly shocked to figure out I haven’t had breakfast or that I’m not going to have gels during our runs or our rides. Rides in particular, for some reason the way that Sami and I eat pre-enduring rides, is fairly shocking to people. It’s becoming more accepted here in Northern California now, but up until probably six or seven months ago, people would just fight and argue with us the entire time. Like about us not eating or just think that we’re crazy or have some kind of issue.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, exactly like …
Stuart Cooke: But I guess the results speak for themselves, don’t they, if you’re performing.
Meredith Loring: Yeah, I mean, absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely, I mean, I live on a cycle route, as in there’s always groups of cyclists every morning, flying past my place here, to down at the beach. And the one thing that is evident and I never want to be judgmental of people or anything, but a lot of them are overweight. Like, I see them, and I’m thinking, they must be clocking up to, I don’t know whether they’re doing 20, 30, 40ks in the morning, most mornings. And yet, I don’t know why the penny doesn’t drop. You know…
Meredith Loring: Yeah. For some reason people still don’t understand that exercise isn’t going to make you lose weight. It’s all in what you’re eating.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s massive. We certainly push that word. Definitely.
So, can we talk about the row, Meredith, and one of the things I only found out last week, because thanks to Donal, mentioned that you competed in an Everest Marathon, which is the world’s highest marathon, weeks before you did the row. Is that right?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. I don’t know how smart it was, but I had signed up for it a couple of years ago, because it’s fairly difficult to get into and it was about 10 days before we left for our row. So …
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: … you have to get to the base camp, basically and then you run from base camp, a marathon. And I had to continue, because I had a flight to catch the next morning, so I had to run to the airport. So, I did break a 50-mile run. And I was the first non-Nepali female. So, …
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: I won my category.
Guy Lawrence: That’s insane. What height is Everest base camp?
Meredith Loring: I think it’s like 18,000 feet; something like that.
Guy Lawrence: That’s insane, because I only think about it, because I did trekking in Nepal and …
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: … I know Stu has done some there, but I got to I think 4,100 meters at one stage, because I did the Annapurna and I was just walking. But when I got there I was crawling. I was so exhausted. I was just wiped, I mean, there were runners passing me at the time and I think, “How the hell do you do that?”
Meredith Loring: Yeah, it’s brutal. It’s brutal, and my lungs at the end of that day, my lungs were in such pain and it really felt like I had flipped them inside out. You’re just gasping for air the whole time and the air is so thin up there.
Guy Lawrence: That’s unbelievable. Are you working your way down the whole event?
Meredith Loring: Not the whole event. I mean, it’s a net elevation loss, but there’s a lot of flat and there’s even uphill sections that are like, I don’t know, 10k long or something.
Guy Lawrence: Amazing. And did you do any altitude training before?
Meredith Loring: No, just the hike up there. It took about 10 or 11 days to get up there.
Guy Lawrence: Got it.
Meredith Loring: Which isn’t enough. It takes about two months for your blood volume to increase. And there were other competitors there who had spent two or three months on the mountain, practicing and trying to acclimatize, which is way too much time for me to dedicate.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and just because I’d expect it from anybody listening to this, a 10- or 11-day hike prior to a marathon is pretty massive is some people’s books. Like I’d be looking at it going, “Right! That’s a mission.” And then to do a marathon after that is unbelievable.
Meredith Loring: It was so much fun. I’ve been trying to convince Sami that we should do it in November if we can figure out what to do with the baby.
Stuart Cooke: I guess you were lucky that you had that nice row to recover from your marathon.
Meredith Loring: Yeah. Well, the good news was that I didn’t have to do any running. So, as beat up as I was from running, my upper body became totally beat up after that.
Guy Lawrence: Unbelievable.
Stuart Cooke: Oh my word, that is just craziness.
So, just for all of our listeners that haven’t heard about the row, I wondered if you could just tell us what you did during that time; that crazy period.
Meredith Loring: So, my husband, Sami, and I rowed from Monterey, California to Hawaii over the course of about 45 days. In a rowboat, unsupported. So, we didn’t have anyone picking us up after a shift. We were sleeping in the rowboat. We carried all of our own food. We carried all our water. And we did it to raise awareness about the dangers of sugar.
So, we didn’t have any sugar or processed carbohydrates on board. We only ate real whole food, like macadamia nuts, salmon, dried vegetables, some dried fruit. And we were rowing about 18 hours a day each and then sleeping six hours a day each. So, there was someone constantly on the oars …
Guy Lawrence: Got it.
Meredith Loring: … when the weather was okay.
Guy Lawrence: Wow! What was the total distance between the two?
Meredith Loring: I think we ended up rowing something like 2800 miles.
Guy Lawrence: 2800, there you go. And …
Meredith Loring: Yeah. We went a little bit out of the way. We thought we could go directly, but the weather was really bad when we left California.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: So, we really got pushed off course and had to do a bunch of extra miles, unfortunately.
Guy Lawrence: And I think, if I recall, it ended up being 45 days straight rowing like that, right?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. It was 45 days, which was the record for two-person crossing.
Guy Lawrence: Unbelievable. So, what was your; I’m fascinated, what were your biggest challenges on the boat while you were doing it?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. I think getting into the boat, like mentally getting into the boat when we left, was quite a challenge, because we did not do a lot of preparation in our actual boat. In fact, we had only slept in our boat one time before we left and we were docked in a marina to another boat. So, we really had never been in the open ocean on any boat.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: And so, just coming to terms with the fact, like this is going to be our home; we thought it would take us 60 days, so this is going to be our home for two months potentially. And just being able to be like, “Okay, I’m going to stop thinking about getting off the boat and I’m just going to deal with this, and this is my life for the next two months.” That was pretty difficult.
Guy Lawrence: That’s massive. Did anyone tell you, “You’re crazy. Don’t do it.” or were you just …
Meredith Loring: Everyone. Everyone told us we were crazy. I mean, I don’t think most people believed that we were going to do it, because like I said, we had zero rowing experience and we had never even been in sailboats or anything. So, I think, most everyone just thought we weren’t going to make it. In fact a lot of people were commenting on articles that were posted about us in the newspaper that, you know, “There’s no way they’re going to make it.” And, “What are they thinking even trying.”
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: Which motivated us even more.
Guy Lawrence: I know Stu’s itching to ask a question, but I’ve got to ask one more. How big did some of the waves get out there?
Meredith Loring: The waves were crazy big when we left. There was ridiculous bad weather. They were like 25 or 30 feet tall and they were crashing on the boat. And I’m pretty small, so I was actually getting pushed off my seat, which is why Sami and I were rowing together in the beginning.
We never planned on rowing together. We always planned on having separate shifts. But it was way too dangerous for either one of us to be out there alone, because if one of us got washed off, like, there’s really no hope of getting back on the boat if you don’t catch it right away.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: Were you scared?
Meredith Loring: Yeah, I mean, it was scary.
Guy Lawrence: I’d be terrified. I go on a boat in Sydney Harbor and if it picks up I get nervous, let alone …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: It was scary, but it’s kind of amazing how fast you adapt to what your view of reality is. Like after a couple of days of having this weather, maybe it was more like a week and we knew it wasn’t going to end, we got used to it. It just became the new normal.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s incredible.
Stuart Cooke: So, how; I’m intrigued about the food side of it and you mentioned that you pre-prepared all those other foods, but how did you structure your eating? I mean, I’m guessing that you didn’t sit there, opposite Sami, underneath a kind of beautiful moon and toast the row with you know; how, was it; did you have packages for breakfast, lunch and dinner or was it just grabbing kind of handfuls of stuff as you went?
Meredith Loring: Yeah, we did; we put quite a bit of thought into packaging our food before the row, because you don’t want to be spending time, extra time, on the boat doing anything because over the course of two months, it adds up to be days and potentially longer than that.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: So, we worked with Steve Phinney when we were preparing so that we knew kind of like what our background nutrient profile should be and then what kind of supplements, if any, we should be taking and how much salt we should be taking.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Meredith Loring: And then we packaged kind of daily rations and then we packaged like an add-on. So that if we needed extra calories, we could just grab something else. And then we’d grab that first thing when our rowing shift started, each of us, and then you would just work through that bag all day long.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: And we actually ended up throwing out a lot, because you think about when you’re leaving, “Oh I get to eat 5,000 or 6,000 calories a day. This is going to be awesome, because I can never eat that much.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: But it’s ridiculously hard to eat that much food, real food. It’s a lot of volume.
Guy Lawrence: Right.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, absolutely. And do you still enjoy those same foods today or are you sick to your hind teeth or something?
Meredith Loring: No. The funny thing is, we were eating the same thing before we left, you know, like salmon and nuts. Dried; well, not dried, but fresh vegetables and fruit and I’m eating the same things now, like every day.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Meredith Loring: Because it’s fulfilling and it’s a variety of vegetables, it’s good food.
Stuart Cooke: That’s it and it’s nourishing and I guess if you’re getting that nourishment then your body’s accepting of it.
Meredith Loring: Yeah, that’s kind of an interesting thing. So, when you’re pregnant, everyone’s like, “You’re going to have these weird food cravings and you’re going to be eating all kinds of junk food and stuff like that.” But I’m really convinced that you’re cravings are based on you’re deficient in. Like your body knows you’re deficient in something and so you crave weird things.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Meredith Loring: I don’t get any cravings. Like, I’ll get cravings for raw salmon versus cooked salmon.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Meredith Loring: Or potently some dairy product. But I don’t have cravings for any sweets or anything weird like pickles. My body is very well-nourished.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Absolutely. No tons of ice cream, watching movies late at night.
Guy Lawrence: So, Sami mentioned that he was eating 70 to 75 percent fat on the boat. Was that the same for you?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. If, I mean, when you looked at the volume, if it was like 98 percent vegetables, but then calorie-wise …
Guy Lawrence: Got it.
Meredith Loring: … it was much more fat, because we were adding, just to get the calories, we were adding olive oil and nuts in everything that we’d eat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Meredith Loring: And coconut butter. At the end we did like a week-long stretch, where we were pushing as hard as we could because these hurricanes were coming to the Hawaii.
We knew they were coming, they were kind of; we had like a one-day window to land or something.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: So, we were rowing really hard and all we were eating all day long was coconut butter and cacao nibs. Like, it was ridiculous.
Guy Lawrence: That’s amazing and …
Meredith Loring: And we were totally energized. It was awesome.
Guy Lawrence: Were your ketones measured as well?
Meredith Loring: No, we didn’t, I mean, the boat honestly was so disgusting I would not have wanted to puncture any skin unnecessarily.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Stuie’s just disappeared. He’ll come back in a sec. I don’t know what’s going on over there.
Yeah, that’s amazing, that’s amazing. And the other thing that was evident in the documentary as well, because Dr. Steven Phinney said that when you got off the boat as well, that your results were in some ways even better than Sami’s, in the fact that you didn’t really show much atrophy in muscle or …
Meredith Loring: Yeah. Well, I was definitely aware of the weight. So, Sami and I went into the row pretty differently. I had just run the Everest marathon. I was not at a body weight where it would have been acceptable for me to lose weight across the journey.
Guy Lawrence: Got it.
Meredith Loring: Like, Sami had bulked up in preparation for the row and had been able to keep all of that bulk. But when I went to Everest, kind of all of the mass that I had put on before came off. So, I was very conscious every day. Like, I need to eat; I need to eat a certain amount and I need to do kind of exercises to make sure I’m not losing too much …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. Amazing. And the one last thing while we’re talking about the row as well, that became evident in from the movie screening as well, was how a lot of the couples got inspired that you did something like this …
Oh, he’s back. Hey, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello. I’m back.
Guy Lawrence: … that you did this together. And so, the question that I was going to ask you is, they say travel is a great way to test the relationship. How did you guys get along, generally, on the boat and did you have any tips and tricks to keep it all together?
Meredith Loring: It was really interesting. We thought that in itself, crazy to say, we really thought there was a very good chance that we’ll get divorced during this row. Because in normal life there’s some level of friction between us, especially if we’re in a stressful environment.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: But when we got onto that boat and the weather conditions were really scary and tough, we were just so focused on working towards the same goal and making sure that we were both safe and that we were moving, that there was literally no friction between us entire time. It was shocking. It was so shocking. And in fact, we were working so well together that about the same time, within a 48-hour window, we both had this epiphany that we should have kids, which is completely contrary to anything we’ve ever said. We’ve always been like the “no kids” people.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: So, we were like, “Oh, we should have kids.” And then we started trying on the boat, which I would not recommend to anyone.
Stuart Cooke: Well, maybe it’s a strategy for marriage counseling then. Like, I’m moving forward, just throw in the odd crazy endurance event and everything will be fine.
Meredith Loring: We heard some serious horror stories from other people who had rowed oceans, like it does not always work out that way.
Guy Lawrence: That’s right. It’s not always that romantic.
Meredith Loring: There’s plenty of people who don’t talk to each other once they land.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve got; sorry I keep going off at times and sorry, Stu, and I’ve got one more question regarding the boat and this topic always fascinates me around mindfulness and being present. How did you cope with that? Is it; was it something you just got into rhythm?
And I only raise it, because a good friend of mine who came to the movie screening. He’s a sailor and he sailed from Curacao, which is off the top of South America, back to Australia, and he had one stretch that was 30 days at sea and there was three of them. And he said he found that really challenging, just being on a boat. But he wasn’t exercising and he saw what you guys done and was just blown away from that.
How did you find it?
Meredith Loring: Well, we have done a significant amount of meditation and mindfulness training over the last three years. So, I think mentally we were fairly well prepared for the monotony and the pain and just knowing that it’s going to be ridiculously boring and you can’t get out of that situation. And it was an excellent opportunity to practice that skill.
Because, you know, when you have these, like, nagging pains all the time and then it hurts even more with every stroke you take, you tend to be, “Oh, I wish I wasn’t here. I wish I was home” and thinking about all the things that you can’t have, which really just makes the situation that much worse. And if you can just be like, “Okay, this is my reality. This is what I’m doing. There’s no way to get off.” And the pain becomes more manageable when you do that.
So, we had plenty of opportunities to practice it, but you know what it’s like, constant battle. And then there were times where the boredom wasn’t so bad. Like when we first left, because it was so scary and you always had to be looking out for large waves and grabbing on so that you wouldn’t get knocked off the boat, your mind is constantly focused. But then once the weather calmed down it was really boring. All of our electronics broke during the first week, so we didn’t have music or anything.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, nice.
Meredith Loring: Yeah. We had conversations that you should just never have with your spouse, because there was nothing else to do. Sami and I were rowing for 12 hours together straight everyday. So, yeah, we talked about everything.
Stuart Cooke: A thought popped into my mind as well. How did you sleep on there? I mean, was it, was sleep quality good, given that you were doing so much exercise, but you’re in such crazy environment, I guess with the rolling and everything else. What was your sleep …
Meredith Loring: So, our sleep, I would say relative to other people who have rowed oceans, was amazing. Because almost everyone who has rowed in oceans goes with this sleep pattern, which is two hours rowing, two hours sleeping. And then they do that 24 hours a day.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: But you can’t get any growth hormone and repair your body or even dry your skin out, if you do that, and we were sleeping in six-hour blocks, so we would row 18 hours straight each and then we would each sleep six hours. And then the cabin, of course, was moving around a lot and you have alarms and stuff going off that wake you up. But you are so exhausted that the six hours is just like, it’s a miracle. It is a miracle to have that six hours.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: And so we would wake up being, I think, very refreshed considering what we were doing.
Stuart Cooke: That’s fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: It’s incredible. I’ve just in awe.
Meredith Loring: I think out of all of the things that we did differently, the sleep pattern is going to be what all ocean rowers do going forward.
Guy Lawrence: Got it.
Meredith Loring: Based on our results. Like, we walked off of that boat not having any real injuries, not really being sick, not really having any skin damage. And it’s partially our diet, because we’re not eating all of that total crap freeze-dried food.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Meredith Loring: And then I think a lot of it had to do with the sleep.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and how many hours do you sleep now, like on a normal day? Do you still do six to eight hours? Do you find …
Meredith Loring: No. I need at least eight hours of sleep. And now I try to get even more. It’s tough. Like I’m in the bed for nine hours.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Meredith Loring: And then maybe seven and a half to eight and a half is sleeping for me now.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: I need more, but it’s just hard to sleep now.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Just find what’s right for you. I wanted to touch a little bit on your pregnancy as well, which is fantastic news and you spoke before about your lack of crazy pregnancy cravings, food cravings. But have you tinkered or adjusted the way that you eat in any way?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. I try to be more moderate. Not shut down; if I’m feeling like I want to have cheese or milk, I will eat that stuff now and before I wouldn’t touch dairy with a 10-foot pole.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Meredith Loring: And also, the meat. I would never eat meat, other than fish, before and now if I want to have chicken I’ll eat chicken.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Meredith Loring: But my eating habits are remarkably similar to what they were pre-pregnancy.
Guy Lawrence: Okay.
It’s kind of unbelievable, given what you hear from mainstream media and anecdotal stories from friends. I have a friend who’s as pregnant as I am to the day and I got in her car the other day and she’s a pretty healthy eater and there were cheese doodles and goldfish and sugary cereal and I’m like, “What are you doing?” And she was just like, “Well, I’m craving this stuff all of the time.” In my mind you crave that stuff after you start eating it because it’s full of sugar and it’s addictive.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah …
Meredith Loring: You don’t start eating it, you’re not going to want it.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Just out of curiosity then, how much vegetables do you eat a day, because that’s obviously the main staple. What does your typical day look like in a meal?
Meredith Loring: Well, I have like a; so, I wake up, I work out first thing in the morning. I come home, I’ll eat an apple or something after my workout and then I’m eating salad or sautéed spinach or something like that, massive quantities of it, with olive oil or some protein on it. And I’m eating that two major times a day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Meredith Loring: It’s a lot of volume. If you look at my stomach at the beginning of the day versus the end of the day, I look like I’m two XXmore pounds?XX [:36:46.3] at the end of the day. But that was the case before I got pregnant, so at least I have an excuse now.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: Another question, because even when we spoke before we started recording the broadcast, about your broken foot.
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: How has your exercise regime changed during pregnancy? It sounds like it hasn’t changed that much, because, you know …
Meredith Loring: I’m definitely working out. I’m trying to workout almost as much, like at least doing it cadence-wise as much. And I had been having the same workout program up until three weeks ago when I broke my foot. So, I was still trail running and I was still doing a lot of hiking and cycling and now I’m kind of only doing cycling.
So, I’d do higher intensity cycling during the week indoors and then I go for a long ride on the weekends, like 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hour ride, a group ride, on the weekends, in which I get a lot of really weird looks.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I can only imagine.
Meredith Loring: I think the Spandex bike kit on a pregnant lady, it’s not the best look.
Guy Lawrence: You know, you don’t hear many 8 months, 8 1/2 months people pregnant breaking their foot out running, you know. It’s …
Meredith Loring: Yeah. Well, actually my podiatrist said he sees three or four women every week that are in their last month of pregnancy that have fractured their foot. Because your body is just not used to extra weight. I think I definitely accelerated the process by trail running.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Meredith Loring: But it’s more common than you think.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. Okay. There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Thinking about food again and where baby and toddler and children are concerned, have you gotten any plans where food is concerned? Because historically, baby and toddler food is generally quite highly processed and full of crap, really; what are your thoughts on feeding on feeding your kids?
Meredith Loring: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. Actually in the U.S., 98 percent of food for kids, like toddlers and small children, has added sugar or processed carbohydrates in it. So, it’s nearly everything.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Meredith Loring: It’s, yeah, it’s pretty shocking. For adults it’s 80 percent. And I was really appalled to see that for kids it was even more. It’s disgusting. So, there’s not obviously a lot of good options for, like, convenient packaged stuff out there, So, I mean, I’m going to do what works, but I’m totally dedicated to having a kid that’s eating real whole food.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: And that probably means we have to spend the time to make it, because it isn’t available.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah, there you go.
It’s like, you know, Stu’s got three girls and you’re always up for the challenge of preparing food.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Well, that’s true. Well, we have the twins as well. So, I remember when they were born, it was all about food preparation and we were just, well, my wife was in the kitchen making up these huge like fish lyonnaise, fatty, buttery meals and then freezing them and then bringing them out and that was really the staple. I mean, it was just; the freezer was our savior, because we could just make huge amounts of food and then just come back to it knowing that we’ve cooked it.
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And it’s just; preparation is the key, I think during that period.
Meredith Loring: I think so much of our taste is developed at a very young age.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, definitely.
Meredith Loring: And whose knows what else, genetically speaking, that we’re not going to fool around with it and take chances. And, like, I just don’t want it to be part of our kid’s life. That they’re eating the stuff, like, we know it’s poison; why on earth would we feed it to any children?
Stuart Cooke: That’s actually right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, exactly.
So, Meredith, we always finish up the podcast with a wrap-up question that we ask everyone.
Meredith Loring: Okay.
Guy Lawrence: And that it’s, what’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Meredith Loring: Actually, Sami, gave me a really good piece of advice that was really relevant on our row, but then it; it actually is relevant every day of my life. And that’s not to set goals that aren’t 100 percent within my control.
So, don’t set outcome-based goals, like “I’m going to win a race.” Set goals that are more like, “I’m going to do 10 hours of training,” and, “I’m going to do training at a certain intensity.”
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Meredith Loring: Because you’ll always be disappointed or almost always be disappointed if you’re setting goals that are outside of your own personal power.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You don’t set yourself up …
Meredith Loring: … and during the row it helped, like, we were getting devastated, because we were setting these arbitrary goals about, “Oh, we’re going to row 60 miles each day and that means we’re going to land on July 15th.” and then, you know, we’d have a day where we either went backwards or we didn’t come close to that goal and we’d be so devastated that we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.
So, we were constantly learning that. And I’m, it’s still something I have to remember.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Meredith Loring: I think it’s pretty …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s great advice. Don’t set yourself up for failure essentially, you know.
Meredith Loring: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fantastic.
And if people listening to this and they want to find out more about you, is there anywhere they can go? Would the Fat Chance Row blog be the best place or?
Meredith Loring: Yeah, the Fat Chance Row blog is a pretty good place to find out about our journey and we recently launched a package food company, actually, called: Native Life. And that’s where I do most of my blogging now.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Meredith Loring: It’s grain-free, no sugar added cereal. So …
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, that’s awesome.
Meredith Loring: That’s what I’m focusing my attention on now.
Guy Lawrence: Good on you. We’ll put links to everything on the show notes as well …
Meredith Loring: Yeah, awesome.
Guy Lawrence: People are definitely find out about that.
Look, Meredith, thank you so much for coming on the show. That was, that was awesome. That was really cool and I have no doubt a lot of people are going to get a lot out of that.
Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy eating well. I get extreme pleasure from preparing and eating good food for others and myself, especially when I know it will nourish, make us feel good and provide the energy needed to make the most of this fabulous life.
Even though I was exposed to a wide variety of foods growing up in a very European household, there are simply some foods I would not touch with a barge pole. I have selected five to discuss, leaving out some others you may already know about such as vegetable oils, margarine and commercially prepared salad dressings.
1. Skim/Low Fat Milk
Quite frankly I do not see the point of skim milk. The name suits this liquid perfectly. Skim is to remove, be superficial, skirt over. Enough said really. Skim milk is a food lacking many nutrients. Many people believe that by removing the fat we have a healthier substance which provides the same flavour. Sadly aside from the tasteless aspect and uninviting texture of skim milk, skim milk can actually contribute to weight gain and has minimal health benefits other than a false sense of belief that you are making a better choice for your health goals.
To start with, many skim milks are sweetened to help with palatability. Would you believe that low fat milk can have as much as 13g of sugar per cup?
Furthermore many essential vitamins found in whole milk such as Vitamin D, E and A are fat soluble and need fat to be transported and distributed throughout the body. Low fat milks therefore lack the vehicle our bodies and minds need to absorb and make use of these nutrients.
The healthy “good” fats such as those found in whole milk, are essential for the production of a hormone called Cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is the fella responsible for the feeling of fullness. It makes sense then that low fat or skim milk can often leave you feeling unsatisfied, and inclined to reach for more food shortly after eating to fill the void. Good fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat.
Tip #1 If you drink milk, have unhomogenised full fat milk instead of skimmed.
2. Muesli Bars & Commercially Prepared Muesli
Muesli is often touted as an amazingly healthy and convenient meal and is marketed to the health conscious crowd. It is no surprise that people choose muesli and muesli bars for breakfast in preference to packaged cereals high in sugar or savoury meals such as egg and bacon.
It may shock you to know that most muesli bars and muesli’s readily available in supermarkets and health-food stores contain an alarmingly high amount of sugar, processed carbohydrates and often harmful vegetable oils! These can have detrimental affects on your overall health and weight loss goals.
If the idea of giving up on muesli is far too much to bear, consider making your own simple, yet delicious, sugar and grain free muesli that will not cause a huge blood sugar spike.
An example could be combining seeds (sunflower, pepitas, chia, sesame) with roughly chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, macadamias, , hazelnuts, almonds) and shredded unsweetened coconut. You could mix these with coconut oil, cinnamon powder and vanilla and bake in the oven until lightly toasted. Serve it up with coconut milk, full cream cow or goat milk or homemade almond milk.
Also the 180 protein bars are a great natural alternative to your muesli bars if you are looking for a convenient snack.
Tip #2 If you are going to eat muesli, make your own.
3. Sports Drinks
Commercially prepared sports drinks otherwise known as “energy drinks” are often consumed by people who want to obtain an energy lift, improve their sports performance or those who believe that this is a better alternative to soft drinks.
Unfortunately most sports drinks are far from healthy, in fact most have no real health benefit at all and can negatively effect your health. They are high in sugar and contain many chemicals such as preservatives, dyes and a well known brand contains brominated vegetable oil, a flavour and colour enhancer. Vegetable Oils….need I say more?
If its vitamins, minerals and energy that you are after you are better off consuming real, whole foods, beverages and supplements such as healthy fats, quality, clean protein, antioxidant rich fruit (berries), fibrous vegetables, nuts, seeds, water, herbal teas and yes even a cup of good quality coffee without the sugar and skim milk thanks.
Tip #3 Try making your own sports drink for recovery; a pinch of himalayan rock salt & a squeezed lemon with water.
4. Fruit Juices
Because its fruit it’s a healthy beverage right? This is a BIG misconception. If you thought that fruit juice was a healthy alternative to sugar sweetened drinks, you would be wrong. Fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage. Not to mention a heavy “cocktail” of fruit flavoured chemicals.
To put it in perspective, fruit juice can contain more sugar than a can of coca cola. Up to 12 tsp per glass. Its an ugly thought isn’t it and not a habit we want to get into if optimal health and weight control is your goal.
I would even err on the side of caution with those beverages labelled 100% fruit juice. Whilst they may contain “only” fruit they are without the fibre found when we eat the real thing. In essence you are getting a big dose of fruit sugar (fructose), which messes with your blood sugar levels and leaves you feeling ungrounded, hungry and anxious. Not to mention fruit juice does nothing for your waist line because as we know excessive sugar is converted into fat, compounded also by the fact that fruit juice will leave you feeling hungry and thus more inclined to unnecessarily reach for more food.
Sadly most manufacturers add additional sugar to these already naturally sweet beverages. The danger here aside from the blood sugar spike is that we develop a taste for sweet foods and our cravings and consumption grows. At the end of the day when all we want for ourselves is great health and happiness we need to be aware of the excessive often “hidden” sugars found in our food and beverages.
You are better off eating a piece of fresh fruit as one glass of fruit juice contains much more sugar than the whole fruit and you are loosing much of the fibre which helps to keep the digestive and elimination systems working well. The fibre found in a piece of fruit such as an apple slows down the absorption and protects us from the effects of fruit sugar. Strip away the fibre and cram multiple fruits into a bottle and what you get is a sugary drink which absorbs quickly and leaves you feeling hungry. Do you really need more convincing?
Tip #4 Eat a piece of fruit instead, or make your own 80% veggie juice with 20% fruit.
5. Weight Loss Shakes & Poor Quality Protein Powders
Whilst my first preference would be to eat real, whole food, I do believe that there are many instances that warrant supplementation with a protein based powder. Such as athletic performance, illness, convalescence (recovery from ill health) and dietary deficiencies where consumption of whole food is affected.
There are many commercial protein powders and weight loss shakes on the market containing concerning amounts of heavy metal toxins such as cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic. In addition to this most are artificially sweetened and treated with heat and acid which again affects the quality and renders them useless to your health.
Needless to say that I avoid most commercially prepared powders like the plague. For myself and for patients. Having said that good quality, highly nutritious protein based powders exist you just need to do some simple research (I recommend 180 Natural Protein to my clients).
I would start with establishing where the source of whey is from and how it’s processed.You might also want to consider how many ingredients it contains. Do you recognise any of these? Is it artificially sweetened? Does it contain fibre? An important question if you are using it to replace a meal. We want to make sure the bowels are happy and kept regular.
In a nutshell, I lean toward protein based powders that contain grass fed whey, that is low allergy (e.g without gluten) and one that has had minimal processing. Of course there are many who can not tolerate dairy at all. In this instance I would use non whey based protein powders such as pea protein, using the same questions above for your detective work.
In essence, protein powders can be worthy of shelf space in your cupboards provided you choose good quality, minimally processed varieties like 180nutrition protein powder. Simply avoid the commercially prepared varieties that will do nothing to positively impact your health.
Tip #5 Choose high quality protein powders with ingredients you recognise with minimal processing.
As you can see all of my top five fall into the processed, distant relative to whole food category. Put simply, if you suspect a “health-food” might not be that healthy, keep it simple and opt for food close to its natural form and a minimal ingredient list with items you recognise.
Thats what the body thrives on and deserves so please don’t throw complex stuff into it that it may not know what to do with.
What would your top 5 be? Do you agree? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Lynda is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry.
Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.
If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE
Guy: As far as I’m concerned, Crossfit athlete and 180 Nutrition Ambassador Chad Mackay is one of the finest athletes here in Australia.
Weighing in between 100kg – 105kg come crossfit regionals comp’ time, there isn’t an ounce of him that’s goes to waste! Being able to throw his huge frame around with the finesse of a 70kg gymnast, then produce a 125kg Snatch in the same event defies beliefs.
There’s a great saying – You can’t out train a bad diet - And Chad Mackay will be the first to agree with this. So whether you are looking to lift your training to the next level, shed a few kilos or get more bang for your buck with your own exercise regime, there are great clues here to what one should and shouldn’t be eating to feel awesome and be at your best fighting weight!
You won’t find any sugar, gluten or carb loading grains here! Over to Chad…
When it comes to elite athletic performance, there are those who say we must carb load and eat grains for energy, then there are those who don’t eat grains (especially since the paleo diet became popular) and don’t carb’ load for days before an event. We ask 180 Ambassador and elite CrossFit athlete Chad Mackay if he eats grains, and what carbs he eats?
Watch the full interview above or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
In this weeks episode:-
Internet fame with her famous Ted Talks: Minding my Mitochondria Over 1.3 million views on youtube & counting!
From relying on a wheelchair to being able to bike ride 18 miles! The steps Dr Terry Wahls takes to help overcome her battle with MS (multiple sclerosis) [03:12]
What is mitochondria & why it’s so important [06:10]
What she was eating before MS & how much her diet has changed [07:30]
Why Dr Terry Wahls decided to seek alternative means to conventional medicine [09:10]
Her thoughts on being a vegetarian [16:20]
Why inactivity is deadly [19:15]
This is a must: Dr Wahls’ single piece of advice for optimum health/wellness [28:30]
and much more…
Dr Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine. In addition to being a doctor, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.
By 2003 it had transitioned to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease and began using a wheelchair because of weakness in her back muscles. In her own words she says it was clear: eventually she would become bedridden by her disease.
To cut a very long story short, she ended up redesigning her diet for her condition so that she was getting those important nutrients not from supplements but from the foods she ate & created a new food plan.
The results stunned her physician, her family, and herself: within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour.
If you would like to learn more about Dr Terry Wahls, click here.
Over 1.3 million views on youtube & counting! You can watch the Ted Talks Minding my Mitochondria here.
Guy Lawrence: Brought to you by 180nutrition.com.au. Welcome to the Health Sessions podcast. In each episode, we cut to the chase as we hang out with real people with real results.
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180- Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our special guest today is Dr. Terry Wahls. If you haven’t heard of her, she’s a clinical professor of medicine. In addition to being a doctor, she was actually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.
By 2003, the transition into secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, get my words out, she underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease and began using a wheelchair because, simply, the weakness, and her back muscles had just disintegrated.
And, in her own words, she says it was clear eventually she would become bedridden by her disease. To cut a very long story short, she ended up redesigning her diet for her condition so that she was getting, simply, important nutrients not from supplements but from the very foods she ate and created a new food plan around this.
Over a period of time, the results stunned her physician, her family, and herself, she said. Within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even completed an 18-mile bicycle tour.
And, I just think that the story is fantastic, you know, and whether you have MS or not or chronic disease or you’re, you know, in the best shape of your life, I think the overall message within this conversation is fantastic and it’ll definitely make you think twice about what you have for breakfast tomorrow morning.
As always, you know, if you’ve got any questions just drop us a line to HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com and, yeah, any shares or reviews are greatly appreciated. Until the next time, enjoy the show. Thank you.
Awesome. Awesome. Well, I’ll start with the introduction. This is Guy Lawrence and, of course, we’re joined by Stuart Cooke and our lovely guest today is Dr. Terry Wahls. Thank you so much for joining us.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: I have to say, I was just checking your YouTube TED talks video just now and I didn’t realize, but you have reached over 1.25 million people now with that…
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: …that talk, that’s a lot of people you’ve touched. Did you expect it to go as viral as it has when you did that?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, I wasn’t expecting a million. I was hoping, you know, I’d get a 100,000 or so, yet, when I last looked it was about 1.3 million. So, I’m very pleased.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s amazing. Normally, it’s a double rainbow or something like that that tends to go viral and finally it’s something with a stronger message, so that’s awesome. So, what we’d thought we’d do just to start, Dr. Wahls, was…
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes?
Guy Lawrence: …you know, we want to expose you to an audience over here in Australia, so could you basically share with us your story? Because we think it’s just incredible.
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, I’m a clinical professor of medicine here at the University of Iowa. In 2000, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. That was on the basis of a problem with foot drop and stumbling and abnormal MRI with lesions in my spinal cord, a history of optic neuritis ten years earlier, and oligo bands in the spinal fluid.
I went to the Cleveland Clinic, an international MS center, for a second opinion. They agreed that I had multiple sclerosis. At that time it was called relapsing-remitting, which meant that you have intermittent episodes that are acutely worse.
They advised me to take disease-modifying drugs and so I took a daily injection of Copaxone. Over the next three years, I had just one episode of worsening or one relapse, so I’d be considered a success, but the problem was I was gradually deteriorating and it was becoming difficult to have, to sit up in my office chair, my desk chair, because of back fatigue.
My physicians suggested that I get a XX?XX [0:04:39] inclined wheelchair because of the worsening back fatigue and that I take medication known as Novantrone and they told me that my disease had transitioned to secondary progressive MS.
And so I did that and, at that time, that’s when I realized that I wanted to do my own reading, my own research, to try to figure out what else I could do, and so I began searching pubmed.gov, reading the latest research, and I retaught myself a bunch of brain biology, immunology, and gradually began to add some vitamins and supplements to help my mitochondria, because I decided that mitochondria were key into my progressive brain disorders happen.
And the vitamins and supplements maybe slowed down the steepness of my decline, but they didn’t stop my decline. By the summer of 2007, I could walk short distances, two canes. I could not sit up in a standard chair. I had to be in a recliner or in bed, and that’s when I discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine, which is an organization which is committed to using the latest basic science to treat chronic diseases.
I can hear you. Can you hear me?
Guy Lawrence: Yes, I can. Well, it’s okay. Let’s proceed with the audio like this. I think this will be fine.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: So, I was interested, Dr. Wahls, in, I guess, mitochondria. So, for our audience, I wondered if you could just explain that, please. What is mitochondria?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes. So, mitochondria are, about 1.5 billion years ago, large bacteria swallowed up little bacteria that were capable of creating energy using oxygen, and that increased the efficiency of those bigger bacteria so that they were able to become multicellular which then eventually became animals and then became mammal and then became primate and then us, of course.
All of our cells rely on these little mitochondria to generate energy more efficiently to run the chemistry of those cells. So our brains are critically dependent on mitochondria. All of our other organs, you know, our muscles, hearts, glands are also dependent on the mitochondria.
Guy Lawrence: Right. Got it. So, essentially, like a battery for our cells.
Dr. Terry Wahls: A battery for the cells.
Guy Lawrence: Yep. All right. The next question I have here would be what you’re eating prior to being diagnosed with MS to what you’re eating now, and how much has that varied?
Dr. Terry Wahls: For years, maybe a decade, I’d been a vegetarian. I was eating lots of vegetables, some rice, and legumes. Then I began eating some fish, still a lot of vegetables, a lot of grain and legumes. I did not have a lot of junk food, just not a lot of processed foods. I was eating most of my meals at home.
When I was diagnosed with MS, I continued to be mostly vegetarian, although I did eat some fish. Then in 2002, I began a paleo diet after reading Loren Cordain’s book and began eating meat. I was eating, you know, vegetables, fruit, meat, but I continued my decline.
2003, I hit the wheelchair, you know, and continued to decline. In 2007, I had a long list of nutrients that were critical for my brain and reorganized my dietary choices to maximize the nutrients for my brain.
And when I created that structure, that’s when there was a dramatic improvement in my function and health.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Right. The other thing that fascinated me as well was the fact that many people don’t look to seek alternative means to improve their condition, like, and just accept, I guess, “This is how it is. This is all we can do for you.”
So, my question would be what made you decide to really seek alternative matters to overcoming MS? Especially through the food you ate?
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, the first seven years I took straight conventional medicine, latest drugs from the top researchers in the country, but when I got into my wheelchair in 2004, that’s when I decided that it was clear that I was likely going to become bedridden by my disease, and at that time I began reading the science myself, slowly piecing together the fact that maybe some vitamins and supplements might be helpful, that maybe mitochondria were very important to the disease and no one was yet talking about that in the MS research community.
And then when I discovered functional medicine, that just deepened my understanding of what the latest science was saying about autoimmune types of diseases and XXthat I was launched and on my wayXX [0:10:18]
Guy Lawrence: How many vegetables do you eat a day now? Do you eat to get the quantities in, because you mention a lot of…
Dr. Terry Wahls: So I would say nine to twelve cups of vegetables a day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s a lot, and do you juice any of that?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Wow, that’s a lot, but these are XXaudio breaks upXX [0:10:38] So, I will have smoothies where I put my vegetables and some fruit in this high-powered blender I call a Vitamix. It blends everything, all the fiber is still in the juice, and so I’ll drink that smoothie, you know, 18 to 24 ounces of all of that.
I’ll have huge salads, maybe six cups of salad greens every day, and a lot of non-starchy vegetables with that.
Guy Lawrence: Are there any other dietary considerations to take in, you know, I’m just thinking for anybody listening to this with MS. I mean, because obviously, we’ve got chocolate, coffee, alcohol, all these little crazy things like that.
Dr. Terry Wahls: So I’m going to step back a bit. The structure that I teach is three cups of green leaves, three cups of sulphur-rich vegetables that I get out of the cabbage family, onions, XX?XX [0:11:39] mushrooms, three cups of bright colors, and the easiest way to determine that is the vegetable or plant colored all the way through? Eat protein, high-quality protein, preferably animal protein as much as desired, have some seaweed on a regular basis.
If you’re going to have coffee or tea, a couple of cups are fine. You can have herbal teas as desired. A glass of wine every day would be fine. I would specifically avoid gluten grains, dairy, and eggs.
That also means avoiding beer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, and why seaweed?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Seaweed for the iodine, selenium, and other trace minerals.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. Okay. And the next question I have for you was the diet you prescribe, would that, sort of, help anyone, even if they didn’t have MS but had other chronic diseases? I mean…
Dr. Terry Wahls: You know, in the hundreds of people I’ve seen in my clinics and the hundreds of followers that I have, I see people being helped with traumatic brain injury, psychological problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, and then we see diabetes, heart disease, obesity being helped, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, eczema, allergies, asthma.
So, I’d say, in general, if you have a chronic disease, feeding your mitochondria and feeding your cells will have the effect of reducing your symptoms, improving your function and your quality of life.
Guy Lawrence: Okay, and for anyone that is actually just, you know, is healthy and is happy with their health as well, I’m sure, eating like this would benefit them as well. I’m assuming.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes. I’ve had a couple of athletes contact me and tell me that their athletic performance has improved markedly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, okay. That’s interesting. Yeah. IN your view then, as well, a question I was really was keen to ask, how much of the diet is contributing to chronic disease in the first place do you think? And even with your own condition, from MS, do you think that food is a big player in that?
Dr. Terry Wahls: I think food is a huge player. The chronic diseases that we have are a reflection of how your unique and my unique DNA interacts with my choices around food, the toxins to which I’ve been exposed, my exercise level, and my social/spiritual life, but the vast majority of all of this will be the food choices that we make.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, and why do you think the fact that most people don’t turn to food initially, like, it just baffles me, personally, you know? I think…
Dr. Terry Wahls: We’re addicted. We are very much addicted to white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, that when you take that food in it stimulates the dopamine receptors, you release more dopamine in your brain, it enhances your pleasure.
We are addicted to those XXsphereXX [0:15:15] spikes. It becomes very difficult for them to select vegetables, berries, meats, other foods that are health promoting, and instead we do what rats do. They will starve themselves eating the sugar and white flour and kill themselves from the micronutrient starvation. We are absolutely doing that as well.
Guy Lawrence: You know, if somebody wanted to change their diet, should they just go cold turkey and start cutting out the things you mentioned, you know, the sugar, the grains, the gluten, or should they…
Dr. Terry Wahls: If you go cold turkey, you’re going to be going through withdrawal, and that’s going to feel very uncomfortable. If you wind down the bad food as you wind up the good food, that’s less uncomfortable, and, in general, I counsel people that this is a family decision. You’re going to be much more successful if you negotiate the pace of these changes with the whole family.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Then you mentioned, as well, the fact that you were a vegetarian at one point, as well, and I’m always interested in this topic in particular because I know one of the arguments is about the fact that you don’t get your essential fatty acids from animal sources.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on…what your thoughts are about, you know, fat in the diet.
Dr. Terry Wahls: My brain and your brain is 60 to 70 percent fat, and without cholesterol you have a hard time making healthy cell membranes, you have a hard time making hormones. We need cholesterol. We need to manufacture cholesterol. We need a lot of fats in the omega-3 variety, the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), in order to make the XXmylanXX [0:17:16] structures in the brain.
We need a lot of fat to make all those things happen, and, unfortunately, fat has been so demonized that many, many people are relatively starved for these very essential brain nutrients with negative health consequences.
Guy Lawrence: And what would a vegetarian do then to get those essential fatty acids in?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, they’ll have to take in a tremendous amount of ALA, alpha-Linolenic acid. That’s in flax, walnuts, but the body will have to convert that to DHA, which is what your brain needs. That is a complicated step and we can make about five to seven percent of the vegetarian omega-3 into the form that we use in our brain.
And you could also project that those of us with a chronic brain problem probably have enzymes that are even less efficient than those conversions, and so I think it’s very concerning for people with a brain problem or a heart problem. Are they getting enough of these health-promoting omega-3s?
And particularly the animal form? That’s the form that your brain and your heart need.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely, and what about things like ghee and coconut oil?
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, that, ghee is a butter that has been clarified so the milk proteins are out of it. It’s a saturated fat. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. And both of those fats, I think, can be quite health-promoting. You certainly want to have organic sources for both of those fats.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough, fair enough. The next topic I wanted to cover with you, Dr. Wahls, was exercise. The first question, I guess, does exercise help MS and even people with chronic disease?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Tremendous number of studies that show that strength-training and aerobic-training, either, or, and both, are very helpful for multiple sclerosis, helpful for fibromyalgia, heart disease, depression, basically any chronic health problem.
Our brain expects us to move. In prehistoric times, men would move six to nine miles a day and women two to three. So inactivity is deadly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I think it’s deadly to the mind as well as the body.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, which is so important, you know, especially when you’re suffering with some sort of chronic disease, if it isn’t enough just trying to deal with that as well and then if you’re not moving, I’m sure the mind can, you can manifest all sorts of problems through your thoughts.
Were you exercising before? Before you were diagnosed with MS?
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, before I went to medical school, I was big in tae kwon do. I competed nationally and was very much an athlete. During medical school, I still did tae kwon do. I ran. I did biking, cross-country skiing. When I was diagnosed with MS, I knew that exercise would be critical to maintain function as long as possible, so I worked out every day doing strength and aerobic training.
As I got more and more disabled, I could do less and less. In 2007, I could do about ten minutes of exercise. If I did more than that, I was flat out exhausted for four or five hours, but I exercised every day, and I still exercise every day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and you do resistance-training in amongst that as well?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes. So, right now I’m doing pilates, biking, swimming, and I lift free weights.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. That’s amazing, and did you ever expect to be getting to this point when you, you know, were in a wheelchair?
Dr. Terry Wahls: You know, when I tell the story of how I got my bike down and decided to try for my first bike ride, my family came out, and we had this pow wow, would they helped me bike ride? And they decided that, yes, they would, and my kids, one ran on the right; one ran on the left, and my spouse biked behind me.
And I still get tears in my eyes talking about that because I had fully accepted that I would never have that come back in my life, but instead, you know, I’m biking. I’ve been able to do 18-mile bicycle rides. I’m lifting weights.
You know, I’m still not normal. My gait, in the morning, looks normal, but by the afternoon you can probably tell that it’s not normal. Standing for a lecture, I can do that for an hour. I cannot do that for two hours. I can walk a mile. I can’t walk longer than that. So I still have a ways to go to be normal, but I’m getting my life back, where, if I hadn’t made these interventions, I would be bedridden by now. Absolutely, I would be bedridden.
Guy Lawrence: But not only that, you’ve not only, you know, changed, turned your life around, you know, you’re touching so many people now with your story, which is a credit to what you’re doing, so, I just think that’s awesome. That really is.
Dr. Terry Wahls: I’m very grateful to have my life back.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine. With all this information, what do you think the future holds for medicine itself?
Dr. Terry Wahls: I think if physicians don’t get on board with realizing drugs are not the solution, it’s teaching people that lifestyle is how we create health, that teaching people how to eat a nutrient-dense diet, moving their bodies, meditating, creating spiritual and social harmony in their lives…If physicians won’t get on board, realizing that that is how you treat chronic disease, we will be replaced by another profession that understands that.
And so I’m encouraged that there are more and more young physicians and more medical schools embracing functional medicine, thinking that lifestyle interventions are going to be key, but that is the future. I’m not sure which profession is going to be at the cutting edge of that, however.
Guy Lawrence: yeah, fair enough, and do you think drug companies inhibit this message?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, there’s a lot of money to be made with drugs, procedures, quick fixes. That’s what’s funding the research. It’s very difficult to get research that looks at medicine from a systems standpoint.
I mean, you and I, we are incredibly complicated biochemical systems, and, when we’re chronically ill, multiple parts of that system are screwed up, wrong, not working well, so, if you want to restore health, you try to correct as many systems as possible.
That’s a very messy research design. That’s not what’s being funded by our basic science institutes in any of our countries. So the type of research that I’m doing, which is a much more complex systems approach, it’s very hard to get funding for it. It is outside the mainstream paradigm, but that is the future. We have to do systems biology. We have to do systematic repair of these broken thought systems.
Guy Lawrence: If, for people that are listening to this now, obviously outside of the States and they have MS, where would be, what would be the best thing for them to start, the best place to start for them?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, I’d tell them to go to my website, terrywahls.com, and I have a lot of information there. I have books. I have lectures. I have stuff that you can download and see virtually, so you can still get it even there in Australia. We have newsletters. I have my current book. We’ll have a new book coming out next spring, The Wahls Protocol.
So I’m working very hard at putting this information out to the public. At the same time, I’m doing these scientific studies testing my intervention, showing that it’s safe and effective, and we’re getting ready to launch the next study.
So I try to do things in parallel, create tools for the public, and create the science for my medical colleagues.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. Did you have a video? I notice you had a video series on there as well, so I’m guessing people can, you know, get there and start watching these things and take actions right away.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Absolutely, I think it’s very helpful.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Dr. Terry Wahls: People need to understand the why. Why it makes sense to give up food that you love. Why it makes sense to do the work of exercising in order to stay motivated to sustain these very uncomfortable changes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I think it’s very important, as well, to have some kind of support network behind you when doing this, as well. You know, get support of the family and then make the decision to actually say, “I’m going to do this and not deviate and, sort of, try not to get distracted with many other things.”
Because there’s so much information out there, as well, and it can pull you in all sorts of directions without actually, I guess, it confuses the matter, you know? We tend to have a habit of doing that, human beings, for some reason.
Have you got anything in the pipeline for the future?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, we have the book, The Wahls Protocol. I’m working on that. That will be released March 3rd, so that’s coming up really fairly soon. I will be going to the Ancestral Health Symposium in August, presenting some of our research there. We’ll actually talk about two of our studies there. That will be a lot of fun.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Dr. Terry Wahls: And we are writing up and submitting our research findings, so, again, making good progress there.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, and I’ve got one last question for you, Dr. Wahls, and it’s a question we ask everyone that comes on our podcast, and that would be, if you could offer a single piece of advice for optimum health and wellness, what would that be?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Eat a lot more vegetables. Ditch the junk food.
Guy Lawrence: Eat a lot more vegetables. Ditch the junk food. Absolutely. Absolutely. I actually had a nice big salad for breakfast this morning with a little bit of grass-fed steak on it, so I’m quite proud of myself.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. For sure.
Dr. Terry Wahls: That’s my perfect breakfast as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’ve been doing that a lot recently and I definitely feel good about it. Just to mention your website as well, so the URL is?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Terry. T. E. R. R. Y. Wahls. W. A. H. L. S. dot com. When people go there, do sign up for the newsletter, which goes out every, once or twice a month. We have a lot of videos and there’s a lot of educational material right there.
Guy Lawrence: Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. I’ll put the appropriate links on our website, too, and when we send that out.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Thank you much.
Guy Lawrence: Thank you for your time. Apologies for the technical errors. I have no idea what happened there. it, yeah, that’s the first time that it’s done that for us, so we’ll look into it.
Dr. Terry Wahls: All right. Thank you much.
Guy Lawrence: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Bye, bye.
Guy Lawrence: Bye, bye.
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Welcome to The Health Sessions podcast. Each episode we cut to the chase as we hang out with real people with real results.
Stuart Cooke: I hope Guy hasn’t been boring you, Chad.
Chad Mackay: No. No. No, buddy. He just told me that you must have been perming your hair or something like that.
Stuart Cooke: Mate, you know what I’ve been doing? I’ve been working out on a trigger-point grid.
Chad Mackay: All right!
Stuart Cooke: Are you proud of me? I’m rolling out. That’s what I’m doing. I’m getting back to 100 percent.
Guy Lawrence: He’s getting there. I’m still in shock that he’s got a blue t-shirt on like last time. We interviewed Christine the other week and we ended up; but I got in theme today, see? I’ve got my CrossFit t-shirt on.
Stuart Cooke: All right. OK. That’s really good.
Guy Lawrence: Fair enough. All right, so, we might as well start. Anyone listening to this, I’m Guy Lawrence. We’ve got Stuart Cooke and a very special guest, Mr. Chad Mckay.
Chad, welcome. Thanks for dropping in and joining us, mate.
Chad Mackay: Cheers, guys. Very excited.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, so, what we thought we’d do was, obviously, you don’t need any introduction within CrossFit, you know, but we have a lot of listeners as well; a lot of non-CrossFitters as well. And we were kind of just chatting yesterday about how we can, because, as far as I’m concerned, you’re one of the best athletes in the country.
You know, you’re a coach as well and there’s so much more to get from you than just CrossFit. So, we thought we’d divide it up into two parts. So, we’ll chat a bit more broader first and then we’ll delve into WODs and Fran times and all that kind of stuff afterwards, because people are wondering what the hell we’re on about.
Chad Mackay: Sure. Sounds good.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. So, mate, just to start, then, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself for the people that have no idea what CrossFit is or what you do?
Chad Mackay: Yeah, sure, sure. So, CrossFit’s basically a combination of kind of gymnastics movements, Olympic weightlifting, and strength and conditioning and also kind of hybrid movements using different kind of apparatus: kettle bells; stuff like that. And we put them in workouts and we try and use those different elements to try and pretty much become competent across a whole broad range of exercises and movements.
And yet, it first started off over in the States back in 1996 and it was basically started by a guy called Greg Glassman, and he was a gymnast and then he got a couple of serious injuries and he wanted to start his own kind of athletic performance gym and that’s how, kind of, CrossFit came about. He started training clients and athletes in his own garage back in LA and it’s kind of grown from there.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. I didn’t realize it went that far back: ’96.
Chad Mackay: It’s been around for a few years, and it’s slowly evolved over time and, obviously, sponsors and the like have been involved over the last couple of years and the sport’s just taken off.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, OK. Because, like, we’ve been involved probably, I think Homebush was probably our first real experience of it, which was, I think, three regionals ago.
And we’ve seen that growth unbelievable, you know, just within that time. It’s quite a; it’s a unique thing because when we turned up, like, I knew CrossFitters before that but I’d never been to a regional competition, and it’s really hard to describe for your first experience if you ever see it, you know. We kind of talked about it like being WODstock.
Chad Mackay: Yes!
Guy Lawrence: Or Woodstock, but now it’s WODstock. So, we had all these sort of interesting characters looking around that are absolute fine specimens eating whole chickens and the only thing that was missing was the music festival at the same time, you know?
Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: So, you coach as well, don’t you, outside?
Chad Mackay: I’ve got a couple of gyms over on north shore of Sydney. One’s in Waverton and the other is in Artarmon. And there’s myself and a couple of other business partners.
And we take care of most of the coaching classes there, so, you know, the class is broken up pretty much into, like a general warm-up for the class and every round there will be either one or two coaches on in the class and we’ll have somewhere between five and 15 to 20 people. We’ll get through the general warm-up, some mobility, normally some kind of skill, and then we’ll do a strength component and then a conditioning piece as well. So, that’s what a lot of people mainly know CrossFit and kind of the generalization is we only really do a hard workout and it’s like a circuit-style training, but there’s a lot more involved than just the WOD, so to speak, or the Workout Of the Day.
So, the athletes get a little bit more exposure to a whole bunch of different movements rather than just a conditioning piece in the workout.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. I mean, the one thing I just want to say as well is that, because you’re a competitive athlete, you know. You go into the World Games. That achievement in itself is gynormous. And so, what I’m interested in is, what does your typical day look like, because, A, you’re a professional athlete, even though it’s probably not recognized as a professional sport. You know, you’re doing all this coaching, it’s a full-time gig, like, what’s a typical day for you?
Chad Mackay: A typical day would be, let’s take yesterday, for example. I started work at 6 a.m., so the alarm was set for 18 minutes past 5. And then I’ve got 12 minutes to quickly have a shake, get out the door, get dressed, get to work by 5:45, coach two classes in the morning, and then I’ve got admin work to do until about 11 o’clock.
And then I train from 11 until about 1 o’clock, so a two-hour session. And that session goes pretty much back-to-back, going through a similar structure to our classes, kind of like general warm-ups and skill, some Olympic lifting, and some strength.
And then I had clients from 1:30 until 4:30. And then I coached three classes and then I had another client at 7:30 and then home by about 9 o’clock.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. I’m tired listening to you.
Stuart Cooke: Straight to bed.
I’m interested about your clients, Chad. Tell about their diversity, because I have seen, just within a CrossFit-type gym, youngsters to the elderly as well, which wouldn’t be your typical, kind of, gym junkie.
Chad Mackay: Absolutely. My clients that I train one-on-one range from, I’ve got a Paralympic swimmer that I train; his name’s Matt Levy. So, I train him a couple of times a week. I train Lynne Knapman. She is a master’s competitor who has competed in the last three CrossFit Games in the category of 50 to 55. So, she’s doing really well. And then I’ve got just some athletes that just want to try and improve their general strength; they may be fairly new to CrossFit.
So, there’s just a broad spectrum of, kind of, ages and abilities there. But regardless of who I’m training, everyone just really has the same kind of consensus of: Let’s try and improve and see what our body is capable of doing and you see those small little improvements and I think that’s why people kind of really find that CrossFit and the kind of strength and conditioning that we do at the gym is really beneficial to people’s bodies.
So, it’s not only the people who are training, whether it’s an elite athlete going to the Olympics or the CrossFit Games, but we have the normal Joe Blow off the street who just wants to improve their flexibility, so to speak. They might sit at a desk for eight hours a day and they’ve got really tight upper body; thoracic. So, yeah, just some general, super-general flexibility issues that we can kind of address during classes or whether they come to see one of the coaches for a one-on-one session.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. What are the most common issues you’d see with clients when they first start training? Do they come there for, like, weight loss or muscle gain and then they’re opened up to CrossFit and their mindset will completely change around it, or. . .
Chad Mackay: Oh, there’s a whole; it’s probably more along the lines of: People hear about CrossFit and it’s normally from a friend or they’ve heard about the community and what’s involved in the community at the gym. So, it’s a lot of word-of-mouth. But the general issues that we have coming to the gym is people sit down at a desk all day and they’re in a flexed position where the hip’s closed off, the shoulders are closed off, and they’ve got a really forward head tilt. So, they’re the main issues.
So, we may get a fairly strong person that comes in that can’t overhead squat a broomstick just because their body is holding them back from being able to hold a bar overhead and do a simple movement like an overhead squat.
Guy Lawrence: We got a question here about mobility, so we’ll touch on that first while we are on it.
Chad MacKay: Sure.
Guy Lawrence: The first time I ever, because remember I mentioned I used to work with Lynne, who you know as well, and she was fabulous CrossFitter. And I’ll never forget the day about, it must have been about four years ago where she was overhead squatting in the gym I was working at. And I went down, I started chatting, and it was 60 kilos, I think.
And it was the first time I was exposed to an overhead squat and she’s like, “Yeah, go on. Let’s see you do it.” And I’m there, you know, all ego, throw the bar above my head, and I move about two inches and I couldn’t do it. And that was my first exposure to mobility, and probably CrossFit as well.
And I think mobility is something that’s overlooked by everyone, and only CrossFit seems to embrace it. Like, I remember working in a gym. You know, you traditionally warm up, you might do a bit of a stretch, and then you get into your exercise. But you walk into a CrossFit gym, you’ve got people who almost look like they’re grinding the floor because they’re rolling out in something.
Stuart Cooke: It is a bizarre sight; I’ll give you that.
Guy Lawrence: It’s amazing. And so, could you just tell us a little bit more about, I guess, mobility, the importance of it, and why so many people suffer from it? You know, I think it’s so untouched outside the. . .
Chad Mckay: Absolutely. The main issue is when people sit down, it obviously closes off the front of the hip and over time you will find yourself sitting at a computer, and, like I said before, that forward head-tilt, that decrease in kind of range of movement at the shoulder joint, everything’s pretty much facing forward and there is no real posterior chain, so. . .
Posterior chain is everything pretty much at the back of your body, so glutes, hamstrings, and kind of the rectus. And when you’re setting down on a chair, it just promotes you to sit forward and use everything in the frontal plane and, over time, eight hours sitting in that position, and then people normally go to the gym and they’ll normally train what’s at the front, so: chest, biceps.
So, how CrossFit differs from that, it pretty much tries to tell you to pretty much work everything in that posterior chain. Dead lifting, squatting, and doing things like pull-ups and overhead squats is going to develop that posterior chain, and over time, hopefully, get people into a more of an extended position; a more upright body posture and shape.
Stuart Cooke: Do you think there would be anything that we could do at home, outside of a gym environment, that would just help loosen us up? You know: stand up straight, shoulders back, anything along those kind of lines?
Chad Mackay: Well, there’s some simple things where you can lay flat on the floor and there’s just a basic movement called a glute bridge where it opens the hip up and it gets the butt and the hamstrings nice and strong. And that’s just a simple hip raise up off the floor.
Also, another very simple exercise is just stretching out in front of the sides of the neck and also possibly laying on the floor again and just pulling the chin down to the floor to kind of lengthen out the back of the neck. Just some really simple things to kind of loosen up and not let the body get in this position. So, yeah. The glute bridge, the side of the neck stretch, and then the kind of back-of-the-neck stretch on the floor.
Guy Lawrence: Do you mobilize every day, Chad?
Chad Mackay: Pretty much every day.
Stuart Cooke: Every minute, I think, Guy. Not every day.
Guy Lawrence: I still keep coming back to the fact that you can snatch 130 kilos. Mobility must have, you know, played a big part in being able to do that.
Chad Mackay: Man, absolutely. If I go to the movies with my girlfriend, I’ll take a small little golf ball and put that golf ball on the ground and I’ll just get some release on the bottom of my feet. So, I’ll spend 45 minutes on each foot and it does make a big difference. It’s like going for a massage. I had a massage this morning and my body feels like it’s already improved a little bit and I can feel the difference already. So, if I can get 45 minutes on each foot while I’m going to the movies, buddy, that’s perfect.
Stuart Cooke: That’s a top tip.
I’ve got a question about your diet. You know, you do a huge amount throughout your day. What does your typical daily look like? What are you eating and how much do you eat?
Chad Mackay: Well, in the off season I’ll tend to eat a little bit more. During the season, I try and weigh and measure most of my meals. Otherwise, I just feel like I can overeat quite easily. So, I just need to be quite strict on what I do eat and at what times.
A general day would be five meals, and those meals would be spaced about four hours apart. Breakfast will be about a quarter past 5 in the morning where I’ll have a shake, a banana, and a handful of nuts. About an hour before training in the morning I’ll have just a really small snack, kind of pre-workout, and then post-workout I’ll try and have a full meal, whether that will be chicken or lamb. So, some type of flesh. And then a big salad, sweet potato, and that will be kind of drenched in olive oil and avocado. And I’ll have a piece of fruit after I work out.
My meals are basically the same for the rest of the day, so brekkie and post-workout meal and then that post-workout meal is the same for the next three meals throughout the day.
Guy Lawrence: Where do you get your carbs from? So, mainly sweet potato and fruit and veggies?
Chad Mackay: Sweet potato and fruit and veggies.
Guy Lawrence: Do you eat any grains?
Chad Mackay: No grains at all.
Guy Lawrence: Good man.
Chad Mackay: No grains at all.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, because I only raise it as well because there’s a common myth that you need, traditionally, if you’re a high-end athlete that grains are one of the main sources of energy.
Stuart Cooke: Hmm. When did you eliminate your grains, Chad? And, I guess, why?
Chad Mackay: I personally eliminated grains, it would have been around about five years ago. I looked into, when I first started CrossFit, I looked into a diet called the Zone Diet and that’s basically portion control and how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat we should have at every meal. But with the Zone Diet, that’s structured a little bit differently where, if you want to have a Big Mac for a meal, you just need to take the top of the bun off and eat kind of the bottom layer of the bun and the ingredients through the middle and that will keep your blood sugars at a certain level so you don’t have a spike in insulin.
And that didn’t really sit well with me, so I decided to stick with the kind of favorable carbohydrates and the kind of clean meats and veggies. So I stuck to that, pretty much religiously, for about three months, and I went from being 116 kilos and I dropped down to about 105 kilos in three months.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Chad Mackay: The initial two weeks I lost probably three or four kilos in that initial two weeks and then I slowly tapered off after that. And then I kind of got introduced to the Paleo Diet, which is basically anything that had a face, you can eat, and anything that falls off a tree or grew in the ground you can have; it’s also known as the caveman diet. So, the last couple of years I’ve been doing that.
Guy Lawrence: When you first made your adjustments and, you know, you dropped down 10 kilos, did you performance and strength remain the same?
Chad Mackay: Well, as I transitioned between kind of bodybuilding style and kind of CrossFit movements, so I couldn’t really gauge the feeling of performance or strength. I think my strength actually dropped back a little bit initially, just because I was having that transition to a new sport.
But definitely energy levels and also a feeling of kind of being sustained throughout the day. I used to have quite large meals, so “quite large meals” would be four or five sandwiches for lunch, a liter of milk. Also, bread, rice, and pasta at pretty much every meal. And unless I felt like I was full I didn’t really feel sustained or didn’t feel like I had much energy.
So, my stomach definitely isn’t as bloated anymore and that’s probably one of the biggest things that I found is that I didn’t have that bloated feeling.
Guy Lawrence: Do you have dairy in your diet, or much, or little, or?
Chad Mackay: A little bit of dairy; not too much. Like, at the moment, I’ve cut most of the dairy out. I might have a little bit of milk in a coffee in the mornings. But when I’m trying to drop back in weight for the season, I’ll try and cut out milk. But in the off season I will add a little bit of milk occasionally.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough.
And; go ahead, Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. So, just getting back to your season and your training, how do you turn into the fine line between optimum training and overtraining?
Chad Mackay: For me? Hard question for me. Because I’ve been doing it for a few years now, I just need to listen to my body. There’s a couple of young guys that train at the gym and are kind of coming through the sport in their early 20s and. . .
Stuart Cooke: Gung-ho.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely. I think if I was in my early 20s I would probably just be going 100 percent and just going flat-out every session, trying to have the thinking that, you know, more is more. For me, at the moment, I need to listen to my body. I’m a little bit older than most of the guys. If I’m feeling tired and a little bit lethargic, I’ll make sure my nutrition and sleep is spot-on. And if I’m feeling good one day, I might train for a couple of hours and do kind of two or three conditioning pieces in a day.
But at the moment I just need to listen to the little needles and just take it nice and easy when I need to. So, overtraining for me doesn’t really come into play. I’m pretty smart when it comes to that type of thing.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, fair enough.
Guy Lawrence: Talking about your training, I saw that little Facebook post the other day and I just glanced at it and there was something about you walking around like a Michelin Man. What was that about?
Chad Mackay: I’ve heard whispers that at the CrossFit Games there’s going to be a weighted vest run, and it could be a longer-style run. We got some new, weighted vests. They weigh 20 pounds each. So, I put all three vests on. I did a 400-meter sprint, came back into the gym, took one vest off, did another 400 sprint, took the other vest off, so I was left with a 20-pound vest on, ran 400. And I went through that three times. So then I would come back in, load the three weights back on, and then away I would go. So, by the end I was more like a power walker; a little shuffle. So. . .
Guy Lawrence: Carrying 60 pounds on you! Fair enough. Good one.
What I thought we’d do as well, because obviously we put out the Facebook questions as well, and your response was enormous, by the way. I don’t know if you’ve checked them all out. And there’s some funny ones in there, too. So, we thought we’d go through some anyway.
So, we got a question from Paul Hilton. “If you hadn’t found CrossFit, what do you think you would be doing now?”
Chad Mackay: I still think I would be training in a gym, doing some kind of strength and conditioning in the gym. Be surfing a little bit more. I grew up, kind of, surfing, and whatever sport that I did play or that I was involved in I’d pretty much engross myself in that sport and try and get as good as I can. So, whether it be training in the gym, trying to push myself in the weights room, or whether I was down at the beach surfing or running the soft sand down at Bondi, I’d kind of always be looking at the clock or. . .
Guy Lawrence: That competitive nature.
Chad Mackay: It’s always been there. I think it’s one of those things that’s in the blood and evolves over time. So, whatever it would be, I would just be trying to do it the best that I can.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Harrison Matra wants to know what you think of the CrossFit drug-testing model. Should it be more frequently tested in local comps to hopefully find athletes who are cycling throughout the year?
Guy Lawrence: That’s assuming if they are, I guess.
Stuart Cooke: If they are, of course.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, sure, sure. Look, I think that, regarding the local comps, those local comps are more about people wanting to have fun and get involved in the community. Those local comps are my favorite days, just to go there and see the people that have been doing CrossFit for six months and they go to a local comp.
I remember my first local comp, and it was just the most fun I’ve ever had. Driving home, the buzz that I had, you guys have experienced the same thing, you know. And if we start to get too serious about things and drug-testing people to go in those local comps, I think that’s a little bit over the top. But when it comes to the open regionals and the CrossFit games, I think if you’re going to go into the open, you should be held responsible for, obviously, if you’ve taken any performance-enhancing drugs, because it is a worldwide contest, I think that things need to be looked at a little bit more seriously there. But regarding those local comps, just get out there and have a bit of fun.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough, mate. Yeah, we remember our first local comp very well, up in Hornsby. And it was almost like, it was bizarre, because it was almost like when we first arrived it was like a scene from Fight Club or something, because we were in this underground car park and there was no one above and as soon as you go down it was just hundreds of people screaming, you know.
Yeah, the camaraderie and the buzz from it is amazing. Like, it was a lot of fun.
Chad Mackay: I had the hill sprint; I had the hill sprint in that comp.
Stuart Cooke: Yes. I remember I did.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it was a 600-meter run up the hill and back and there was a 10-minute time clock and whatever time you had left was burpees. I remember just thinking, “You’re kidding me.”
Chad Mackay: How many burpees did you get out?
Guy Lawrence: I got out 98, I think.
Stuart Cooke: I got 115 and that was my first exposure to burpees.
Guy Lawrence: I’m ashamed.
Stuart Cooke: Thanks for taking me back there, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, no worries, man. No worries.
All right. Next question. Katrina Stewart says, “I loved watching you come out of the water last year. Do you train in the water much at all? If so, how often does your program look like?”
So, I’m assuming she’s talking about the Pendalay, is it?
Chad Mackay: The Pendleton, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Pendleton, sorry, yeah.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, I’ve been in and out of the water since I was 5 or 6 years old, whether it be surfing down the beach with my dad and then I had a couple of buddies that were competitive swimmers, so I would jump in on the occasional swim session with those guys and get a little bit more advice on, kind of, technical help and stuff like that.
Buy, yeah, growing up in the surf really helped with that and just being confident in the water. And kind of always competing in school events. You know, I always had a bit of help and technique advice from their coaches.
And then I worked in a leisure center up on the Central Coast as a pool lifeguard, so I’ve always kind of been around the water. And regarding how much I do it in training, because I know I can swim quite well, I kind of focus my energy on other things; more weak areas. So, I might jump in the water once a fortnight, just to do a few laps and I’ll normally go down to Bronte and swim in the ocean bars down there.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s beautiful down there, isn’t it?
Just for those that are listening, can you explain what the Pendleton was? Because you crushed it like the swim. You were out and gone.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, it was; we had to firstly start off with a 700-meter soft sand run and then there was an 800-meter ocean swim. And the transition onto a bike and there was an 8-kilometer trail bike ride and then an 11-kilometer trail run. So, the trail run, for me it was more like a power walk up the hills and then sprint down the hills. And it was a two-hour event.
Stuart Cooke: I think that shook a few people up, didn’t it, as a first event? Because historically I think, you know, everyone’s thinking of heavy lifts and gym movements. But to throw in something completely out of the ordinary, almost triathlon-style, really shook the boat a little bit.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely. The event after the triathlon was an obstacle course; an army-style obstacle course. There were guys that were kind of left on the balance beams or any kind of apparatus that were cramping up, just because they either hadn’t eaten food or didn’t supplement properly throughout the event. And they were suffering pretty bad from cramps, so, yeah, it absolutely shook a lot of the athletes up. And the soreness that was going to develop from that two-hour event was felt for the rest of the Games for the next three days. So, it was good one to kick us up.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. You never know. Shake it up, I guess, is the way to go. It’s the true test.
Thinking about those, the very nature of training in the games, I’ve got a question from Matt Gray, who asks that, “When you’re exhausted, where does your mind go when you need to dig real deep to find that extra strength and keep pushing through the pain?”
Chad Mackay: There’s a few different things that I think about. I’ve normally got a game plan to a workout and I’ll try to stick to that game plan. And then if things start to really hurt, I’ll just take my mind back to other times that I’ve hurt much worse. There was a time in the Games in 2010 where there was a rope climb at the end and I was struggling pretty bad. It was the last event. We have probably three or four minutes to climb a rope and then move back across and jump over a wall. And it was just kind of as many rounds as you could do that in the last piece. And I climbed the rope once, came down, got back down about halfway, and my grip just went and I slid pretty much from the top of the rope to the bottom and tore every single finger pad on my hand off on both hands.
Every time I start to hurt, I take myself back to there. It was 45 degrees and I had no skin left on the pads of my fingers. I always think back to that and just tell myself nothing can kind of compare to that.
And the other thing I think about a lot is I think about my family when it starts to hurt, and rather than kind of doing it for myself and trying to block out the pain, I think about them and that’s a big motivator for me as well. Just to think about family and how much support they give me and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. So, my mind wanders to my family when I start to hurt as well.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, man. A question that just occurred: When you’re out there, do you think it’s the mindset things that differentiate a lot of the outcome? Because, like, when we looked at the open, just for the regionals, and even the regionals it was so tightly contested, it’s incredible, you know? And do you think that’s a factor about that point; being able to overcome that?
Chad Mackay: Yeah, absolutely. Like, there’s the 10 domains of fitness in CrossFit, so you need to be competent across all those 10 domains. But I think there’s definitely an element where the mental aspect of the sport is where it’s really at as well, and if you see an athlete lose it out on the floor, and they kind of lose that focus, it’s pretty hard for them to get that back. So, definitely that mental component is what kind of develops over time as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Fair enough. Wow. All right.
Well, next question. We’ve got Doug Evans. We touched on it a little bit earlier, I think: pre-workout and post-workout meals. What do they consist of? Would they be crucial meals?
So I guess; do you just generally eat the same or do you eat something specific before and after?
Chad Mackay: Normally something specific before, pre-workout will be normally banana. And I’ll probably have about a third of a banana before; exactly an hour beforehand. And then I’ll have about probably 40 grams of weighed protein, so that’ll be chicken or lamb or beef.
And then, post-workout will be a shake, a 180 shake, and then a piece of fruit as well and a whole meal. So, that’ll be straightaway. I’ll normally still be breathing pretty heavy to get that meal in.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, OK. Fair enough. That’s a good point, actually.
Stuart Cooke: So, another question from Lach Mac, again, on food: “When the mood hits you, what, if anything, is your go-to cheat meal?”
Chad Mackay: I think the last time I would have had a cheat meal would have been after the Games last year. And I’ll normally go for pizza or ice cream for me. Normally, when I’m at home I’m quite good. I won’t have a cheat meal every week or every month. It’ll be pretty much after the CrossFit Games I’ll go out and let my hair down.
Last year, we finished off in Vegas and they’ve got these incredible buffets in Vegas and, yeah, I went to town.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I think they’d be in trouble if you went to town on a buffet. It’s like I’ve seen on The Simpsons.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, they didn’t make any money off me, that’s for sure.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: How did you feel? Like, we eat pretty clean. If I eat something that’s cheap meal it knocks me for six. I mean, it’s not the easier thing, even though it sounds great, you know?
Chad Mackay: I get a; after the Games, we have a fair bit of time to relax, so I had friends send over some ice cream and the ice cream was just waiting for us in the room when we got there. And so we polished off maybe a tub of ice cream that night, or that evening. And then the next morning up I woke up and it’s like you’ve got a sugar hangover, and, you know, you’re a little bit cloudy in the morning and it takes a bit of time to get going. But, yeah. . .
It’s not something I look forward to anymore, definitely. I much more look forward to, like, it sounds quite boring, but like a chicken salad. A chicken salad for dinner every night is perfect rather than a big bowl of ice cream.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fair enough. I mean, they say 70 to 80 percent of performance is nutrition, and if you want to perform at the top, you’ve got to fuel yourself the right way. Otherwise, forget about it.
Stuart Cooke: Unless, of course, you’re in an ice cream eating competition. That would be a little different.
Chad Mackay: You’d do that, Stewie, right?
Stuart Cooke: I’d give it a go. I’d give it my best shot.
Guy Lawrence: All right. We’ve got Dean Glendall-Jones. “What is your favorite thing to do on a rest day?”
Chad Mackay: A rest day; I kind of don’t really take rest days. If I’m on a rest day, I like to go to yoga, go surfing, spend time with friends and family. Do some mobility roll-out. Still trying to improve on a rest day. Even if it’s something light, I know there will be some kind of improvement there. So, on a rest day, it’s mainly spent by still doing active. . .
Guy Lawrence: An active rest day.
Chad Mackay: Absolutely. Yeah. An active rest day, for sure.
Guy Lawrence: Does that go right through the whole year, pretty much, or would you, after the games you stop for a month or do you just keep chipping away or?
Chad Mackay: I think I took about a week off after the Games last year, and that was just total rest. And I’ll probably do that again.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, right. Amazing.
Stuart Cooke: So, we’ve got a couple of short questions left. This one has been getting quite a lot of press: Jared Smith is very interest in how big your calves are in centimetres.
Chad Mackay: So, Jared’s a good buddy of mine, so he calls me “Calves,” actually, so he’ll send me a text or an email and it will be, “Hey, Calves, how are you doing?” So, he’s a character. He’s a really good athlete as well. Jared, I’m not too sure how big my calves are. They’re definitely bigger than your biceps, buddy.
Guy Lawrence: And do you know who Gary Cousins is?
Chad Mackay: I know Gary Cousins.
Guy Lawrence: He said: Do you have a man-crush on him?
Chad Mackay: He’s a serial pest, Gary Cousins. He’s a lovely bloke. His son trains at our gym, and he’s actually in the team that’s gonna go over and represent Active at the games this year. So, Dean’s a really good athlete and he’s keeping goals in training at the moment. But Gary’s a really good guy.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. The Active support at the regionals was hilarious. Like, it was awesome to see everyone in orange jumpsuits, pretty much.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that’s right. The orange men in the crowd.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, that was great to see. And I think the CrossFit headquarters was calling us the “Orange Army,” which was pretty cool.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just remember walking in one day and they have the rowing competition that was going on outside for the fastest 500 meters and all I saw was this guy completely head-to-toe in orange. Even his face was covered, and he was just going for it.
Chad Mackay: Yeah, it’s great to have the support, you know? For all the gyms, even CrossFit Bay. They were getting behind; all the Active guys were out on the floor as well, which was fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, awesome. Awesome.
Well, that’s pretty much all the questions we sort of wanted to cover, you know. Just to wrap it up, I know you’re a busy guy. You run a couple of CrossFit gyms on the North Shore of Sydney, so if people are interested in coming to check out your CrossFit gym and what you guys are about, where’s the best place to go?
Chad Mackay: Just jump onto the website and you can; just jump onto email@example.com. And get in touch with Patty and see how you can get started at the gym. We’ve also got a free trial class on every Saturday at our Waverton location. So, jump online, check that out, and we’ll hopefully see you around down there shortly.
Guy Lawrence: We can put the appropriate links up, anyway, on the blog.
Awesome. Chad, thank you for your time.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you, Chad. As always, fantastic, again. And for anybody out there that’s at the cinema, keep an eye on the guy wearing the Whites vest rolling a couple of golf balls. And say hi.
Chad Mackay: Awesome to see you. Thanks, guys. See you,
With Smart DNA testing you can discover your genetic road map that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
In this episode of The Health Sessions I chat with molecular geneticist Margie Smith of Smart DNA (smart being an understatement!). Sounds technical I know, but Margie simplifies it into an easy to understand way of how we can look at our gene expression for a more personalised approach to better health.
Ah the supplement industry, full of hype and claims to attract your attention. Weight gain protein supplements, fat blockers, creatine… the list goes on and on. From my experience though, what actually increases daily performance (whether it be athletic performance or just day to day stuff) is clean living.
I also find self-experimentation a great way to see if supplements actually work. Without undergoing rigorous blood tests etc, most of the time it’s hard to tell whether the pill you pop or supplement you take is actually doing you any favours.
But if there’s one supplement I take without fail, which I truly notice after a few days if I run out and haven’t taken it… it’s fish oil. And here’s why I think it’s liquid gold.
The importance of fatty acids
It never used to occur to me how important essential fatty acids really are. Yes, you’d often here ‘eat your good fats’, but what exactly did that mean? Add extra olive oil on your salad? The more I’ve delved in to understanding fatty acids and increased my daily amount, the more I’ve been consistent and the better I have felt in general.
We’ve all heard of the omega fats. There’s omega 3, 6 and 9. But our western diet is overloaded with omega-6, when it’s actually omega-3′s we need the most of. If you eat a typical western diet there’s a good chance you could be deficient. There are now links with deficiency in essential omega-3 fatty acids to many modern diseases, weight problems, affective disorder and learning disabilities.
What is omega-3 fatty acid?
As simply as I can put it, omega-3 fatty acid is made up of ALA, EPA and DHA (If you want to know what they stand for, click here). We need all three of them. DHA for example, makes up the highest percentage of the fatty acids in the human brain, facilitating visual and cognitive function. Fall short on this stuff and so will your attention span.
There is actually a whole conversion process of ALA to EPA & DHA, within animals and the human body. But I won’t go into it as this will start to read like a science paper, not a blog.
You may be reading this thinking ‘I eat plenty of fish and meat, or drink flaxseed oil’, but here are a few things to consider. When a grass eating animal is fed grains, it changes it’s own fatty makeup to more omega-6 instead of omega-3. I’ve also read that farmed raised fish are devoid of significant omega-3 due to the feed… it certainly makes you wonder.
So what about flaxseed?
Yes, flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3. We even have it in our 180 protein supplement. But I feel plant-based sources of omega-3 like flaxseed and hemp oil won’t cut it alone. Why? From what I’ve researched, these plant based oils are mainly a source of ALA. There is minimal EPA and DHA, all three are ‘essential’ to the body. So if you are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and you are supplementing it through plant-based oils, you are not getting the complete profile.
And for vegetarians and vegans? I’d be researching this topic very thoroughly as it’s vitally important.
Make no mistake, omega-3′s are essential to the body. They are vital for normal electrical functioning, cardiovascular system, your immune system, joints, all anti-inflammatory processes, function of the human brain and nervous system. See the importance?
And from an athletic performance? Fish oil should be the first supplement you take after your workout, along with your food or protein supplement or whatever it is you do. I’ll take about 3000mg after my workout usually to aid inflammation and speed recovery. I usually work out in the evening, and along with this I’ll take 2000mg in the morning when I get up.
Which fish oil should I take?
I always try to get practitioner only fish oil as I have more faith in the quality of the oil.
Krill oil is another exceptional fish oil where you will get more bang for your buck. But expect to pay more for this. I’m also a fan of the brand Metagenics, but again this stuff is pricey. So I guess it depends on where your priorities lie.
I also take cod liver oil along with fish oil. I buy this in liquid form which you can get infused with lemon. It’s palatable like this and a must for me. The plain raw stuff makes me gag. I put it in my smoothie once and I thought I was drinking a sardine shake! But I take it in the infused lemon liquid form as this is more potent and drinkable. I will take a dessert spoonful every morning.
Why do I take both? I look at cod liver oil more as a vitamin A and vitamin D supplement, as they are rich in both. Also the fatty acids are there but the make up is a little different to fish/krill oil. So I like to cover both bases.
Take the fish oil test
Have you tried the fish oil test? This is a great tip! When you open a new bottle, literally take a capsule and chew it up.
It should taste fairly bland. If it tastes a little bit acidic, rancid or nasty, it’s probably been oxidized. If this is the case, don’t use it—return it or throw it away
And the dosage?
I guess that will depend on whether you are deficient or you are maintaining. I split the dosage between each end of the day. I take 2000mg (2 x 1000mg capsules) in the morning with breakfast, and 3000mg after exercise in the evening. Along with this I will take a dessert spoon of cod liver oil in the morning as well.
Current research shows in the area of human longevity and life extension recommends up to 3000mg of fish oil a day for maintenance. When related to more serious cases like mood disorders or bipolar disorders, depression or ADHD etc, up to 10,000mg a day can be needed!
On a side note: I truly enjoy writing these posts, hence our frequent blog posts. At the end of the day though, these are just my thoughts and feelings around a topic I’m passionate about. I encourage everyone to do their own research and check out the facts for themselves.
If you did enjoy the post and got something from it or have something to share on the topic, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. If you feel others would benefit from this then it would be great if you could share it using one of the icons below (Facebook etc). Cheers, Guy…
There are several reasons people decide to stop consuming meat, and turn to a vegetarian diet. They might do it because they feel guilty eating other animals or simply to feel better about themselves.
Recently, there has been an increase in the popularity of vegetarianism. According to the 2005 Harris Poll, 5 to 11 percent of the United States population identified themselves as being vegetarian. The popularity of the vegetarian diet has extended into the sports world and is now popular among different types of athletes. Some athletes are turning to a vegetarian diet because they believe it can increase their performance.
Planning a vegetarian diet
Those choosing vegetarian diets know they still have to allow their bodies to have the necessary amounts of protein, and this can take planning. Protein helps build muscles, which is crucial to the body and especially important for athletes. This leaves some wondering if a vegetarian diet can in fact work for athletes.
Anyone who follows vegetarian diet also has to take extra steps to avoid other possible deficiencies that might occur with the lack of a meat-oriented diet such as zinc, iron and B12, which can negatively effect strength and performance.
With these concerns, poses the question, can a vegetarian diet influence a athletes perform as well as their meat-eating opponents?
The answer to this question is relatively obvious, as people do not realize how many athletes consider themselves vegetarians.
Lane Trembley, business major and black belt in Karate, has been a vegetarian for seven years and credits his diet for his athletic ability.
“I turned to vegetarianism because my trainer said it could help improve my performance,” said Trembley.
Trembley says he started feeling better a few months after turning to vegetarianism.
“When I eliminated meat from my diet, I started performing better and I noticed an increase in endurance,” he said.
Many athletes have actually been vegetarians at the peaks of their careers, disproving those who think a vegetarian-based diet negatively effects an athletes performance.