Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
This week we have the fantastic paleo and primal expert Mark Sisson. He is a best selling author and runs the hugely successful blog ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’.
His experience and knowledge is exceptional, as he shares with us (in the above short video) how he defines what it takes to live a happy, healthy and active life whilst getting the most out of each day.
In the full interview below we dig deep into the world of Mark Sisson; from endurance athlete to the primal lifestyle, his exercise routines, his simple philosophies he applies to make the most out of each day and much more. And most of all how you can apply them into your life.
If you are loving the podcast’s or/& they are inspiring your health journey, we’d love to hear from you! Simply drop us an email or leave a review on our iTunes :)
Full Interview with paleo expert Mark Sisson
In this episode we talk about:
Mark’s journey from an elite carb-loading athlete to living the paleo way
What exactly the primal blueprint is
How to define what it takes to achieve amazing health
Why exercise for weight loss is not a great weight loss strategy
What a typical week of exercise looks like for Mark Sisson
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our fantastic guest today is paleo and primal legend Mark Sisson, a former marathon runner and triathlete in his early days, came on to make his mission to empower 10 million people in the primal lifestyle, pretty much worldwide.
He started his blog in 2006 and he’s now going on, I think, reaching over 150,000 people come to his website a day. Yes.
And he’s also the author of a very best-selling book, The Primal Blueprint.
Now, I’ve been following Mark for awhile, many years, including on my own health journey, and it was fantastic get him on the podcast today. He’s an all-around top guy, very humble, very down-to-earth, and a lot of fun, too. And it was just great to be able to pick his brain on so much. For, you know, I think 45 minutes for the show.
It’s all well and good to have knowledge, but, you know, experience is priceless, I think, and Mark’s certainly got a lot of that. You know, as he said on the show, he’s 61 years old, you know, he looks half his age, he’ll put most people half his age to shame, you know. Just in fantastic condition and a fantastic representative of what good healthy living is. But also not taking it all too seriously, to a degree, and having fun along the way.
Anyway, this was a stellar podcast and I have no doubt you will get a lot out of it today. As always, you know, if you’re enjoying our shows on iTunes, please leave us a review. Hit the five stars. Subscribe. They all add up and they all make a difference in helping us get the word out there with these podcasts that we do, because we know we’re reaching a lot of your guys now.
Also, we are on social media: Facebook, Instagram. Get involved. It’s all under 180Nutrition. And, of course, come back to our website. If you’ve got no idea where to start, these podcasts are a great place, but also we’ve got a free ebook we give away and that’s a great place to start, too. And that’s on 180Nutrition.com.au.
And, yeah, enjoy the show. If you’re enjoying it, also drop us an email. It’s great to hear from you. And we get a lot of emails coming in every week now, and keep them coming because we love to hear from you.
Anyway, enough of me rambling. Let’s get on to the show and over to Mark Sisson. Enjoy.
OK, hi, I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Mark Sisson. Mark, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on.
Mark Sisson: Thanks for having me! It’s great to be here.
Guy Lawrence: It’s great. Over here in Australia at the moment there’s a bit of a buzz going on because you’re coming over next month. Is this the first time you’ve been to Australia, or have you been here before?
Mark Sisson: No, I’ve been there. I’ve been to Sydney a couple of times. I’ve been to Perth twice. So, I feel like I’ve been on both ends of the continent. Now I need to do something in the center at some point.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s excellent. And Manly, it’s a beautiful place, and I’m sure we will talk a bit more about that through the show as well. But where I was interested to kick off, Mark, is that you’ve affected so many people’s lives through their own health journey over the years, including mine as well, and myself and Stu were chatting and we are intrigued to hear a little bit more about your journey. You know, from back to your endurance athlete days to the transition to primal and everything. How did it all sort of happen and come about?
Mark Sisson: Well, it was a long process. And it was an evolution, for sure. I started out as an endurance athlete and was a fairly decent marathon runner in the ’70s and then became a triathlete in the early part of the ’80s, doing Ironman events and such.
And I wanted to do all the right things. I researched heavily into what it would take to be as fast as I could get, and to be as healthy as I could stay, and how best to fuel my body, and, you know, the conventional wisdom of the day was: train hard and long and eat lots of carbohydrates. Cross your fingers and hope that you get faster and win some races.
And I did get faster and I did win some races, but my health suffered tremendously, and over the years; I had to retire quite early from competition because of injuries because of inflammation and –itises and some other; some lingering sinus infections and a whole host of maladies. And I thought, “This isn’t right. I’m trying to be healthy and I’m trying to do the right things. I work hard. I’m following all the best advice. Why am I not healthy?”
And I just sort of dedicated the rest of my life to looking at ways that I could be as strong, fit, lean, happy, healthy as possible with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline, calorie counting, and portion control.
And that really led me to discovering that fats were not the enemy. I increased the amount of fat in my diet. I discovered that I could get fit on much less training if I just trained smarter and not harder. I discovered eventually that if I gave up grains, my inflammation went away. And so the osteoarthritis that had pretty much taken me out of the elite marathon division; that went away.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I had in my gut that had really run my life for almost forty years, that went away. And it was really quite a revelation that, wow, by just changing a few things in the diet and by altering how much exercise I did and maybe getting a little bit more sun exposure to make some more vitamin D, I didn’t get sick as often, and all these things started to come into place, and it really created the template for what I now call the Primal Blueprint, which is my strategy for living an awesome life.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, before we get into the Primal Blueprint, I’m interesting in asking how does Mark Sisson define good health? Because I think we’re all in different stages on our health journey. And some people have just succumbed to the idea, “Well, I’m getting older, I’m not gonna be as fit and as strong, I’m gonna get more sick.” What’s good health mean to you?
Mark Sisson: Well, I think out of the blocks, the most important part of life is to be content, to be fulfilled, to be happy, to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and excitement for what the day’s going to bring.
And in order to get to that point, I think you have to be in a position where you’re not in chronic pain, where you have enough energy that gets you through the day while you’re not moody or depressed. So all of the sort of things that comprise what I would call health in general go far beyond not being sick. They actually would comprise, again, like: How do I live an awesome life? How can I take what I have, whether it’s given to me by my familial genes or whether I’ve brought it on myself through inappropriate lifestyle choices over the past few decades, how can I today extract the most possible out of my life that gives me peace and contentment and enjoyment and fulfillment.
And, you know, it always comes back to: It starts with taking care of what you eat. How you eat is sort of how it manifests in your body composition. So, if you’re overweight you’re not gonna enjoy life as much as if you’ve arrived in an ideal body composition. If you’re in pain from inflammation and you can correct that through how you eat, then you won’t spend much of your waking day, you know, lost in that tunnel vision that has you focused on the pain and not all the wonderful things in life that are happening around you. Does that make sense?
Stuart Cooke: That makes perfect sense. Absolutely. I think that everybody is entitled to experience good health, and we’ve got so many mixed messages at the moment and we’re confused about so many areas, whether it be food or lifestyle choices, that I think we just…
Mark Sisson: Yeah. People want to do the right thing. They’re just confused and frustrated because over the years what they’ve been told was the right thing, in many cases by their governmental agencies or by their physicians’ boards or whatever, you know, haven’t necessarily reflected the truth.
And I’ve sort of made it my mission to identify some of these choices that people can make that are more likely to create a positive outcome if they engage in these activities. So, it may be something as simple as: “Well, I was told my whole life to avoid fat and to base my diet on complex carbohydrates.” Well, if that’s working for you, there’s a good reason, because now there’s a lot of research that suggests fat is not the enemy, that healthy fats are actually beneficial and good, and that you might be better-served by cutting out some of the sources or carbohydrate in your diet, because maybe that’s what’s causing you to gain weight or to become inflammation or to have; or to become inflamed, or to have pain throughout your body or skin issues or whatever.
And as we know, there’s; I sort of represent, I guess, the epitome of a healthy 61-year-old guy. You know, I’ve got my little issues that I’m always trying to deal with. Everybody’s issue is like really important to them, right?
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right.
Mark Sisson: So, yeah. So, we’ve all got our little Achilles issues, you know.
Stuart Cooke: I love that. And I’m always of the opinion that if you want something to change then, you have to change something. Otherwise, you’re probably going to experience the same result moving forward.
Mark Sisson: And that’s the beauty of what we do in the paleo and primal movement is we overlay a template which suggests that there are some obvious changes that you can make to your lifestyle and to your diet. But at some point, it’s incumbent upon you to learn enough about your own particular set of circumstances that you can start to experiment with, and we call it “tinkering at the margin.”
Am I somebody who can handle maybe a little bit more carbohydrate than the other person? Am I somebody who can’t exercise too much or I’ll tear up my muscle tissue? I am somebody who needs nine hours of sleep instead of seven and a half. And the are all sort of the; these are the fine-tuning points that I think are really critical for people to, when you’re being mindful about your life and mindful about your health, then they start to pay attention: “What happens if I stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep?” “What happens if I overeat?” “What happens if I exercise too hard or I’m training for a marathon and I overdid it?”
And just being aware is like key point number one. And then, like you see, then, from there, you can make the changes in order to derive the change that you’re thinking.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. And we call that, or we refer to that as the “sweet spot.” Everybody’s got to find their sweet spot; find out what works for them. And, yeah, and turn the dial. If it doesn’t quite work, then experiment with the N equals 1, see what works for you, keep going, keep going. And when you find your sweet spot, then you’ve kind of got a blueprint for the rest of your life. Or at least for then.
Mark Sisson: And that’s another part of this that I think is really so awesome is that so many people who encounter a paleo friend who’s had some results or somebody who’s gone primal and has lost weight or gotten off the meds and they start to see what is possible, they quickly realize that this is a sustainable lifestyle. That this isn’t just something you do for 30 days because you have to grind it out and you have to sacrifice and struggle to get it done. This is so easy when you incorporate some of these simple changes in your life. You get pretty quickly: Wow! I can do this for the rest of my life.
And that’s so freeing and so empowering to have that sense.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Absolutely. Working towards long-lasting health as opposed to a 30-day quick fix diet which is, again, gonna yo-yo you up and down on your health and weight.
Guy Lawrence: And like you said, as well, I think it all comes back down to initial awareness, because so many people are unconsciously doing the wrong things and they’re not even aware that it’s affecting them so greatly.
And just even being able to put that on their map. You know, we spoke to a couple of friends yesterday, Mark, and said you were coming on the show today and they were trying to understand, I guess, if you were to do an elevator pitch to what the primal philosophies were, because they said, “Well, what does it mean to be primal?”
How would you sum that up to anyone listening to this?
Mark Sisson: You know, I sum it up differently every time, because it always, depending on the context, what I do with the Primal Blueprint is I allow people to affect their own health by decisions they make in their lives.
And by that I mean, at a deeper level, we each have this genetic recipe within us; this DNA recipe that wants us to be strong and lean and fit and happy and healthy. We were born with this recipe that builds that type of a body.
But a recipe, these genes, depend on inputs, from food, from exercise, from sleep, from all these things that turn the genes on or off. You want to turn on the genes that build muscle or do you want to turn on the genes that store fat? It’s all within your power. You can choose the inputs that flip those switches.
So, the Primal Blueprint is really about uncovering these hidden genetic switches that we all have in a way that manifests the body and the feeling and the presence that we all want to have in life; that we all sort of not just dreamed of but sort of subconsciously know is our birthright. And so the Primal Blueprint really is about it’s an empowering lifestyle that allows you to access the best possible health with the least amount of sacrifice and discipline.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point as well. The least amount of sacrifice.
Stuart Cooke: Who would not want that? Absolutely.
Mark Sisson: That must have been a long elevator ride, right? That was probably 40 floors.
Stuart Cooke: You’re on the top floor right now.
So, we’re very excited, then, that you’re bringing those philosophies and we’ve got a heap of other speakers as well coming over to the Primal Symposium very shortly in Manly. For everyone out there that isn’t too sure about what this is all about, what can we expect over the course of the weekend?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, the Thr1ve.me event is, it’s about three days of fun, and three days of getting back to understanding what enjoying life is really about, from all aspects. So, we are gonna talk about how to dial in the diet. And everyone who shows up, I suspect will have some experience, or not, with paleo eating or with the Primal Blueprint or that way, or low-carb.
We’re gonna tweak it. We’re gonna help you dial it in. We’re gonna talk about some of the strategies that you can use in your own experiment. We’re going to have some of the best speakers in the world, and presenters, with regard to body movement. So, we’ve got people who are gonna show you how to do Olympic lifts, if that’s something you want to do, in soft of a CrossFit genre.
On the other hand, we have people who are experts in body weight exercises. So, if all you ever want to do is go out in your back yard and do squats and lunges and dips and do it in a way that’s going to generate 80 percent of all that’s possible for you physically, we’ll have people there doing that.
We have the world’s preeminent expert on play, Darryl Edwards. Darryl’s been at eight of my events.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, we know Darryl.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. And Darryl is; he’s crazy in the funnest way possible. He basically embodies what it means to go through life with a sense of play in everything you do. And it doesn’t just mean, you know, dancing around and jumping around and acting crazy or playing games. It’s how to get that playful mindset in your work experience. Or, you know, family setting, where maybe there’s a little bit more play that would be required. Or, not required but be very helpful in bringing everybody together.
We have cooking demonstrations. So, people who are really interested in how to prepare the best possible paleo or primal meals will learn how to cook. It’s really all aspects of a primal lifestyle that we’re going to cover so that when you leave, at the end of the weekend, you’ll go: “Wow. No I really; I’m excited about what I can do with my own life to get to the next level.” Whatever that is. You may be just starting. You could get to the next level. You may already be well advanced in your paleo and primal living. But there’s always the next rung. There’s always something that’s the next level of excitement and anticipation, and that’s really what I want for everybody who attends.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, Absolutely. It’s going to be fantastic. I mean, we will be there; we’re looking forward to it.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, I can’t wait to get there after that description. I’m going now. Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: So, like, with Josh from Thr1ve, he’s doing awesome things over there, especially creating awareness as well through his cafeterias and the food and everything he presents. And how did you guys connect… This is a two-fold question: How did you guys connect, and, secondly, are you seeing the same things in America with that change as well?
Mark Sisson: Well, how we connected was, he came to one of my events. So, I had an event in Tulum, Mexico a year and half ago, and it was very much like the Thr1ve event will be in Manly. He brought some of his company’s employees; it was to not just understand a little bit more about this primal lifestyle but it was probably a team-building exercise as well.
They had the best time. They had such a good time he came to me and said: How can I; I want to do something like this in Manly.” So, he had such a good time at our event he said I want to do this in Australia.
So, that’s how we met.
Now, when you ask, is there something like this in the U.S., what do you mean?
Guy Lawrence: In terms of awareness and accessibility to foods with the cafes and the change coming.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, I’m finding that Australia is ahead of the curve on a per capita basis, by far, than the U.S. I mean, I would say that Australia on a per capita basis probably has more awareness of the paleo ancestral lifestyle than any other country that I’ve encountered.
That’s very excited. So, you have a number of restaurants that are opening that are offering up this type of fare that isn’t just food that fits the primal or paleo parameters, but it tastes great, so anybody can eat there. You know? That’s the irony here is that you walk into these restaurants and go… I don’t want to walk into a restaurant just because it’s a health food place, you know. I want good food. I mean, I make a point of saying every bite of food I put in my mouth, I want to enjoy.
So, if you tell me it’s healthy but it doesn’t taste very good, I don’t want it. I’ve got no reason to eat it. This is about extracting all of the joy out of life that you can, and part of that for me means I want to enjoy every bite of food that I eat. And when I’ve had enough, I want to be willing to push it away and say, “You know what? That was awesome. I don’t need another bite. I don’t need to fill myself up. There will be more food around the corner.”
That’s sort of what some of your restaurants in Australia are starting to do. We’re starting to do it in the U.S. as well. And I’m actually launching a restaurant franchise concept in about six months in the U.S. as well.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Having said that, you know, we’re looking to expand the paleo world in the U.S. and it’s; we’re doing a good job but I do think we need to do a better job. I think, you know, we’ve got such great science behind what we’re doing. And the people who are in are all in.
So, we’ve got a culture thing where, you know, giving up the cinnamon buns and giving up the pizza, all that stuff, is kind of a tough ask for a lot of people.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. We are blessed here, especially in Sydney, you know. I can think of a couple of handfuls of places constantly where I can go and eat paleo very accessible.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking out loud as well, you mentioned that your restaurant chain, I was thinking for your logo it could be a great big curvature kind of M, you know, golden kind of shape. I could work.
Guy Lawrence: For “Mark,” yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Change the color.
Mark Sisson: It could work.
I don’t have the legal budget to do that.
Stuart Cooke: OK. Just a thought.
I’d love to just get a little bit more specific now around health. I’ve got a few questions that I know everybody would be keen to hear your answer from.
If I wanted to make some simple changes right now, like today, that could have dramatic effect on my health, coming from, let’s say I’m following a standard Australian or American diet, what do you think I could do right now?
Mark Sisson: Well, the first thing you can do, and I think everybody knows this intuitively, is get rid of the sugar in your diet. So, that means getting rid of all of the sugary drinks. You know: the sodas, the soft drinks, the sweetened teas, even the juices, because a lot of those contain a tremendous amount of sugar. Certainly the desserts: the pies, the cakes, the cookies, biscuits, all of the really; it’s really obvious stuff to a lot of people. They know what to omit.
So, that’s the first thing. And a lot can be accomplished with that. I mean, you can really be well on your way to whatever weight loss program that you’re embarking on, regardless of whether it’s paleo or primal or vegetarian or vegan. If you got rid of the sugary stuff, you’d be way ahead of the game.
The next thing would be to get rid of the industrial seed oils. So, you get rid of processed foods that contain soybean oil, corn oil, canola. You know, things like that that are very; they are very highly inflammatory so a lot of people are probably carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of water that they’ve retained because their entire body is inflamed as a result of their diet.
That’s point number two. And then following that I’d get rid of the processed carbohydrates. So, a lot of the grain-based flours, particularly gluten. I mean, I just think; I’m of the opinion that gluten benefits no one. There are some people who can maybe get away with a little wheat once in awhile. But it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. It just means it’s not killing them immediately.
And then there are a lot of people on the spectrum who are egregiously harmed by wheat and by other forms of grain. And I was one.
And you mentioned earlier, people are sometimes insensitive to what it is that’s causing problems with them, and they don’t get that the sodas that they’re drinking are causing inflammation, or actually helping to lead them into a Type 2 diabetic situation.
I was of the opinion for the longest time that whole grains were healthy, and I, even as I got into my research, started evolving my own diet, I kept grains in for a long time. I was doing research on how phytate bind with minerals and prevent the intake of minerals and how lectins have problems with the lining of the gut and how gluten was bad for people with celiac.
But, you know, I did all this research and yet I was continuing to eat grains in my diet. And my wife one day said, why don’t you just do a 30-day experiment and give up the grains? And that’s what changed my life. That’s really; that’s when the arthritis went away, that’s when the irritable bowel syndrome disappeared, that’s when the upper respiratory tract infections went away. That’s when so many of these minor issues that I thought; and, Stuart, you mentioned earlier that, you know, well, we assume that because we’re getting older, these must be normal and natural. Well, I assumed that, you know, I was already in my mid- to late-40s. I said, “Well, that’s probably a normal part of getting old.” And I assume that I was going to have to live with that. And all that stuff kind of disappeared when I gave up the grains. And I thought, wow, if I’m defending my right to eat grains so aggressively, in the face of what I know, imagine how many people out there are assuming that grains are benign and harmless and aren’t affecting them who might be tremendously benefitted by giving up grains.
So, sort of, what I say to everybody is, look, if that’s still a part of your diet and you still have some issues, why would you not want to do a 30-day experiment? Just cut out the grains for 30 days, there’s plenty of other foods you can eat. I mean, I don’t lack for choices on my list of foods to eat. But cut out the grains and notice what happens. Notice if your arthritis clears up or your pains go away or you lose some weight more effortlessly. Or your skin clears up.
There are a lot of things that are potentially being affected by this high-grain diet that so many people have.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Sugar. Processed vegetable oils. And, again, those processed carbohydrates as well.
Like you said, try it. See how you feel after 30 days. Do a self-experiment.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. People say, “Well, what can I eat?” And I go, well, you can eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken. You know: duck, goose, turkey. You can eat ostrich. You can eat croc. You can eat… And then you can eat all the vegetables, all the fruit, nuts, lots of healthy fats, butter. You know: bacon. It’s a pretty inviting way to eat food.
Stuart Cooke: You could always try and eat real food.
The thing I like about that is that when you do start to eliminate a lot of the processed foods, you almost reconnect yourself to the kitchen and to the ritual of cooking, and I think that is something that we are slowly losing through generations as we are kind of subject to so many of these convenience foods.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. I mean, it’s; we have a section on my website, on Mark’s Daily Apple, on every Saturday is a recipe. I have published three of my own cookbooks and three other cookbooks by other authors because these are so; these cookbooks are so popular. And figuring out how we can find ways to prepare real food in ways that are tasty and exciting, you know, it’s fun. I mean, it really is. It actually reconnects people with the kitchen.
Guy Lawrence: You know, you hear more and more of these stories as well, because you triggered them up when you were still training and reluctant to get off the grains. We had Sami Inkinen, the triathlete who rowed from San Fran to Hawaii, on our podcast last week.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, rowed meaning r-o-w-e-d. Not r-o-d-e, but yeah.
Guy: Yeah, that’s right. Sorry, it’s my Welsh accent, eh?
But, you know, he was saying he was close to becoming a Type 2 diabetic and he thought he was in the prime of his life. And the moment he cut out the grains and the sugars and increased his fats and trained his body that way, amazing.
Mark Sisson: Oh, and Sami’s; he’s just an incredible all-around guy. I’ve known him for a bunch of years. We’ve become good friends. And I watched him train for this event that he did with his wife, rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii.
But in the process he thought, oh, I haven’t done a triathlon for awhile, I’ll jump in the Wildflower Triathlon, which is a half Ironman distance, just as part of my training. And he won it outright. And he won it on a low-carb, high-fat, almost ketogenic training strategy.
And he’s a great example of somebody who’s taken the information, because he comes from a sort of a techie background as well, he’s very into the details and very into the minutia. And so he’s embraced this way of living and now, not just for himself and his wife, but for other people. He’s got basically a foundation that’s trying to help fight Type 2 diabetes.
And we’re all trying to kind of just allow the rest of the world to see what; how easy this is and let them in on our secret. Because it really is. It feels sometimes like it is a secret, like: “How come you guys don’t know this? We’re having so much fun here! We’re enjoying life so much doing this, and all you miserable guys out there just slogging along.” And I feel bad. I’m very empathetic. But that’s kind of how I feel sometimes. Like, we have this great secret. How come more people aren’t receptive?
Guy Lawrence: That’s so true. Yeah. Because when we question ourselves, “Are we in this bubble? Do not people…”
Stuart Cooke: We liken it; we’ve raised this before, but we liken it to the film The Matrix where Neo takes this pill and all of a sudden he’s in this completely different world and he realizes that everybody else are cooped up in this little bubble, and that’s not the real world at all. It’s insane.
But, yeah, spreading the word, it’s so important. And especially loving what Sami had done from his podcast and the amount of fat that he was consuming and being so amazingly healthy and coming out of that row with such a low level of inflammation as well, it really does kind of give an upper cut to this low-fat dogma that we’ve been plagued with for so many years.
Guy Lawrence: Well, while we’re on that kind of topic, then, which kind of leads into the next question, Stu, I’m gonna pinch it. But regarding exercise for weight loss. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that, Mark, from your point of view. Because obviously it’s one…
Mark Sisson: Sure. So, the major sort of overriding principle, if there is one, of the Primal Blueprint, is that humans are born to be really good at burning fat. We evolved in two and half million years of human evolution to be able to go long periods of time without eating, because that was just sort of what the environment offered up to us was sometimes nothing. So, this ability to store fat effectively, and then to be able to access and burn it as fuel effective, when there was no other food around.
This is a skill that we all have in our DNA. It’s hard-wired in our DNA. We are born with this ability to be good at burning fat. But very quickly in our lives, we sort of override that with access to cheap carbohydrates at every single meal. So, the body goes, “Well, I don’t need to store fat or I don’t need to burn fat if I’ve got this carbohydrate; this ongoing carbohydrate blood sugar drip coming in from every couple of hours all day long from food.”
So, the body starts to take the excess calories, store those as fat, finds out that it never really has to burn the fat because there’s always gonna be new sources of carbohydrate coming in. Glucose is toxic in large quantities, so the body is trying to get rid of the glucose by burning it. And if it can’t burn it, then it will store it as fat. Fat is a site where a lot of glucose winds up in a lot of people.
So, where was I going with that? What was the question again?
Guy Lawrence: Weight loss and exercise.
Stuart Cooke: Exercise purely for weight loss.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. So, the basic principle then, to be able to burn stored body fat, leads to the first paradigm, which is that you don’t even need to exercise to burn off your stored body fat. Because if you are able to be good at accessing this stored body fat, then your body’s gonna take whatever calories it needs to get from 9 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, it’ll take it from your belly or your thighs or your hips. And it doesn’t require that it come from a plate of food.
And that’s a beautiful skill to develop: this ability to be able to burn off stored body fat 24 hours a day.
Now, if you get into that space and then you’ll trend toward your ideal body composition. You’ll always trend toward burning off the extra unused, unwanted body fat and coming down to that body that you need.
So, that, almost in and of itself, obviates the need to have to go out and burn 800 calories on the treadmill every single day. And what it means is that exercise is actually not a very good way to lose weight. It’s actually a terrible way to lose weight, when you think about it, because a lot of times when people are doing a lot of work on the treadmill and they’re burning; or, on the road, or riding a bike, or on the elliptical, or whatever it is they’re doing, and they’re counting calories, if they haven’t become good at burning fat yet, all they’re doing is burning sugar. They’re burning stored glycogen in their muscles.
Now, what happens as a result of that is they get home from the workout and the brain goes, “Wait. We just ran out of glycogen. The first thing we have to do is refill all of glycogen storage. Especially if this fool’s gonna try it again tomorrow.”
So, the body gets into this terrible spiral where you work hard, you sweat a lot, you burn a lot of calories, but your appetite goes up because you haven’t become good at burning fat. And so you overeat. You tend to slightly overcompensate and for a lot of people that means that, you know, you’re four or five years into an exercise program and you still have the same 25 pounds to lose.
It’s very depressing to watch people, and it’s very common, very depressing, to watch people at the gym every day. And you know they’re working hard and they’re trying to do the work. But they haven’t got; they haven’t handled the first order of business, which is to convert your fuel partitioning away from being sugar-dependent into becoming what we call a “fat-burning beast.” Become good at burning fat, 24 hours a day.
So, you’re burning fat. So, if you skip a meal, no problem, nothing happens to your blood sugar, your energy levels stay even, your body just derives that energy from the fat stored in your body. And it doesn’t mean you get hungry. All these wonderful things start to happen as you become good at burning fat. You become less dependent on blood sugar to run the brain. Because when you become fat-adapted, you become keto-adapted, and the brain runs really well on ketones. And ketones are a natural byproduct of burning fat.
So, all of these wonderful things happen: the appetite self-regulates. Now you don’t get ravenous and overeat at a meal because you were so hungry you didn’t know when to stop. Now your appetite says, “You know what? This is great. This is just enough food. I’ll push the plate away. I’m done. I’ll save it for later.”
And that’s; so, it all come back to this sort of primary skill in the Primal Blueprint which is being good at burning fat.
Guy Lawrence: Do you know what? I adopted that way of life, Mark, about nine years ago and prior to that I wasn’t even aware of how much the food was affecting my mood, my day, the way, when I exercised, my recovery. Everything. And it transformed my life. And people really need to get that, you know. It’s huge.
And we raise the question as well, not to deter anyone from exercise, because I exercise every day; I love it. But it makes me feel great and I do it for many other reasons. But weight loss is not; doesn’t enter my brain at all.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, so, good point. So, you know, I have an exercise plan, and I say you should find ways to move around a lot at a low level of activity. But the movement is more for your muscles, your pliability of the muscles, for your insulin sensitivity, which is coming as a result of moving the muscles. And you don’t need to count calories. Because, again, we’re not looking at exercise as a means of sweating off fat or burning away fat. We’re looking at exercise as a way of maintaining strength and flexibility and conditioning and so if you could find ways to move around, walking becomes one of the best exercises you can do. If you can get to the gym twice a week and do a high-intensity, full-body routine where you are working your arms and upper back and core and your legs. Twice a week is all you need, because once you’ve become good at accessing stored body fat and you realize you don’t need to burn off calories, then you realize also that you don’t need to do that much work to stay strong and flexible and well-balanced and all of the things that we’re looking for.
So, I’m a big fan of exercise and I do love to exercise, still, but I also try to find ways to play. So, for me, like, my biggest exercise day is Sundays when I play Ultimate Frisbee with my buddies; my mates down the road. We; there’s two hours of sprinting. And it’s the hardest workout I do all week. But at no point during the game do I look at my watch and go, “Oh, my God, when’s it gonna be over?” If I ever look at my watch it’s like, “Oh, crap, we only have 20 minutes left.” You know? It’s so much fun.
That’s how I see exercise and play coming together in a way that, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: What would your weekly exercise routine look like on a typical week if you’re at home?
Mark Sisson: So, Sundays, two hours of Ultimate. Mondays I might do an easy stationary bike ride, just mostly because the sprinting on the Ultimate is tough on my 61-year-old joints. So I’ll do maybe an easy bike ride then.
Tuesdays I might do a full-body routine. So, it’s gonna be pushups, pull-ups, dips, squats, lunges, things like that. So, I might do that Tuesday and Friday or Tuesday and Saturday.
Wednesday I might go for a paddle. I do a stand-up paddle for an hour and a half. And that’s a nice, fun aerobic activity that builds tremendous core and, same thing, the whole time I’m doing it, I’m usually with a friend or two, and we’re chatting away and we’re aiming for a point three or four miles out, but we’re still having fun and chasing dolphins and doing all this stuff and never thinking, “When’s it gonna be over?” You just think, “Wow! This is so cool. We’re out in the ocean, it’s the middle of the day, we’re getting vitamin D, we’re hanging out with the dolphins or the whales, it’s spectacular. And it’s, oh, by the way, it’s a killer workout.
It just leaves; I’ve got abs at my age that I wished I’d had when I was in my teens, because the paddling is such a good core exercise.
Guy Lawrence: I love being in the ocean as well. We live by the ocean ourselves here in Sydney and it’s just magical.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Yeah.
And then I might do a hike one day. I might get on the bike and do intervals. Or, I have… Do you know what a VersaClimber is?
Stuart Cooke: No.
Mark Sisson: A VersaClimber is a rail with handles; it’s got handles, you know, feet and arm holds you can climb. So I might do an intense interval workout on that. I’ve got one in my garage. And I can be on that thing warmed up, do an amazing interval workout to where I am, as you would say, truly knackered, and then cool down and be off in 22 minutes, because it’s just so effective a piece of equipment.
So, you know, I don’t… The old days of going out for a five-hour bike ride and all that stuff and just struggling, those don’t appeal to me anymore. So, the most I’ll do is maybe an hour and a half paddle, or something like that, or an hour and a half hike. Otherwise, it’s short, it’s sweet, and sometimes intense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Well, you’ve just made me feel very lazy. I’m going to have to do something.
So what about vices? Do you have any vices? You know, that you’ll sneak a piece of pie here and there?
Mark Sisson: Well, you know, I don’t completely shun desserts. My thing on desserts is: All I need is a bite or two to get a sense of what it is. So, the idea of having giant piece of cheesecake or, we were at a, my daughter had a birthday the other night, we were in a restaurant, and they brought out some baklava. And I had to have a bite of that, even though it contained sugar and a little bit of wheat. But, you know, one bite was all I needed and it was like, OK, this is spectacular. But the alternative to that would have been to spend just three more minutes devouring the entire thing and then being left with and achy gut, a racing heart, sweating, and I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep.
And so it’s really knowing what you can get away with. I mean, that’s sort of the; I hate to put it in those terms but some people can get away with a lot. There are some people who are allergic to peanuts, can’t get away with one tiny piece of peanut. So, you know, there’s… And with regard to the desserts, I just; I don’t like feeling of excess sugar in my system. I clean myself out so much that it just doesn’t feel good. And it’s certainly not worth the three minutes of gustatory pleasure sorting it out over the next five hours.
You know, I used to drink two glasses of wine a night for a long time. And I’m on record with the primal movement as saying, “You know, wine’s not bad.” Of the alcoholic choices, wine is probably the least offensive.
But recently I sort of gave up drinking two glasses of wine a night. I might have one glass a week now. Because I think it serves me well. I probably sleep better as a result of not doing that. So, I’ve given that up.
You know, otherwise, you know, no real “vices.” I mean, not to speak of.
Stuart Cooke: That’s great. And like you said, even with the wine, it’s pulling back to your sweet spot and turning the dial and just finding out what works for you.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Because we’re all so radically different.
Guy Lawrence: Do you find; how do you keep things primal when you’re traveling, Mark? Like, do you find that easy? Difficult?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, I do. I do find it easy. I think you do the best you can, for one. That’s all you can do. But my life doesn’t revolve around grass-fed beef and wild line-caught salmon. I’ll eat a nice steak in a restaurant if it’s been grain-fed. It is what it is. You know, I’m not; it still, in my world, better than a bowl of spaghetti with some kind of sugary; or a sauce made with canola oil or something like that.
So, it’s just a matter of degree. And it’s a matter of the context in which you find yourself.
So, there’s not a restaurant in the world that I can’t go into and find something delicious to eat, even if I have to ask the waiter to go back and have a few words with the chef.
But, you know, that’s… and when I travel, I don’t exercise that much if I can’t get near a gym, or if I don’t have a chance to exercise. Because I know, I have trust, that my body is not going to fall apart because I missed a workout. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that, wow, I probably worked out way too much, even as recently as five years ago. And sometimes I go into the gym now and I might do 50 pushups, 10 pull-ups, 40 pushups, 10 pull-ups, 30 pushups, eight pull-ups, and go, “I’m done.” I don’t need to; I’m as pumped as I’m gonna get and anything more than this is just gonna be killing time and talking to other people in the gym.
The reality is it doesn’t take that much work, once you’ve achieved a level of fitness, it doesn’t take that much work to maintain it. And that’s really part of the beauty of the human body. The body doesn’t want to make that many changes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, maintenance, isn’t it? I think, like, in terms of traveling, it’s just making the most of what you’ve got with the environment where you are and once you’re tuned into it, like you said, it becomes straight-forward.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. And especially where food is concerned, because we do live in this world now where we’ve got so many convenient choices when on the road, and I think just a little bit of understanding about the foods that serve us and the foods that don’t. But like you said, you can eat anywhere, and you generally get a good-quality protein and some veggies in most places.
Mark Sisson: You’re good to go! That’s all you need. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s it.
Mark Sisson: You know, what I find about traveling, probably the one thing that concerns me the most when I travel is sleep. And that’s, you know, so when I come to Oz I’m gonna be, you know, very diligent about how I orchestrate my sleep cycles during the transition, starting with leaving the LAX airport at 10:30 at night, how I spend the next 16 hours.
But also when I get to the hotel. I’ll look at the quality of the curtains and how much I can black them out at night, or how much light comes in from behind the curtains. I’ll look at the noise outside the window and whether or not there are going to be garbage trucks at 4 a.m. underneath my window.
I will literally look at the air-conditioning system, not for how cold it makes a room, but the kind of noise that it makes as a gray noise. And if it’s; I’ve been known to do this. If it’s too much, I’ll put a towel over the vent and I’ll put shoes on it and I’ll temper the whole thing because I want to orchestrate my sleep to approximate, as much as I can, what I’m used to at home.
And so sometimes for me that becomes; the biggest challenge is to sleep.
Stuart Cooke: Well, that’s it. If sleep falls down then everything falls down. Any particular supplements that you would take with you to help sleep at all?
Mark Sisson: You know, I do take melatonin. I take melatonin to adjust to wherever I’m going to be. So, whenever I travel, whenever I arrive at a new country, particularly. In the U.S., three time zones is nothing. I adapt to that immediately. But, you know, six or eight or nine time zones, a lot of times what I’ll do is I will arrive, I’ll maybe go for a long walk or do some kind of a bike ride or some workout, just to get my blood pumping and to get adapted to the air or whatever. I’ll do whatever it takes to stay up until it’s bedtime in the new time zone. So, I won’t take a nap. The worst thing you can do when you travel across time zones is take a nap. Because the body thinks, “Oh, this must be nighttime.”
But as it’s time to, if I’ve stayed up; and it could be 8:30 or a quarter to 9. You know, just enough time to be able to start to adapt immediately to the new time zone, I’ll pop a melatonin. Probably 6 milligrams of melatonin the first night. And I’ll do that maybe an hour before the time I plan on hitting the pillow. And so the melatonin helps to reset the internal clock.
Again, having black-out curtains and having the room be the right configuration to be able to sleep helps.
And I find that sometimes by the next day, I’m adapted, adjusted to the new time zone.
Stuart Cooke: And with everything that you’ve got going on as well, I mean, surely you’d have a busy mind. You’ve got so much on your plate. How do you switch that off at nighttime?
Mark Sisson: When you find out, Stuart, you let me know. Find a good way to do that.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve asked everybody.
Mark Sisson: That’s another tough one. That’s a really rough one, because I do have a difficult time.
Now, most recently, for the last month and a half, I’m fortunate enough to have a pool and a Jacuzzi outside my living room. And a fire pit. So, my wife and I, we stop watching TV around 9:30, a quarter to 10, I keep my pool around 52 degrees; it’s very cold in Fahrenheit, and so I’ll go dip in the pool, spend as much time as I can in that cold, cold, cold water, and then get in the Jacuzzi and hang out for 15 minutes while the fire pit is casting a yellow-orange glow. And then we go right to bed.
And that’s been almost like a drug for me. It’s crazy how effective that is in turning off the noise, the monkey chatter, and being tired, but in a good way. Not beat-up tired but just feeling like when you hit the pillow: “Wow. That hormetic shock of the cold, cold, cold, being in there for a long time, and then bringing the body temperature up with the Jacuzzi.
And, you know, people say, well, I can’t afford that. Well, you can afford a cold shower. And there’s some ways you can play around with that if you want to do that. You can change the light bulbs in your reading lamps to get a yellow light.
But I found the combination of the cold therapy and the yellow light coming from a fire, from a fireplace, has such a calming effect on me that the monkey noise, the monkey chatter, has diminished substantially and I go to sleep just like that.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Yeah. I actually find the orange glasses as well that block out the blue like from any devices that we may have work in an unusually calming way as well, which is, again, just another tactic that works for me and you’ve just got to find that sweet spot. But sleep, absolutely. I love talking about sleep. I really do.
Mark Sisson: It’s like this thing that no one dares to talk about if they’re anyway involved in production, productivity, and athletics or whatever. It’s “Oh, I get by on four hours or four and a half or five hours.” Oh, man. I was like, I rejoice in the amount of sleep I get and I’m proud of it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I’m working on getting more every day. That’s for sure.
So, we’ve just got one question we always ask our guests and I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times.
Guy Lawrence: Two questions.
Stuart Cooke: What have you eaten today?
Mark Sisson: So, today… I usually don’t eat until about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. So, I get up, I have a cup of coffee when I get up, so I have a big cup of rich dark coffee with a little dollop of heavy cream in it. And don’t tell anybody, but a teaspoon of sugar. Actual sugar.
Guy Lawrence: All right.
Mark Sisson: We won’t tell anybody. No, but, I mean, it’s really about the dose. It’s the only sugar I have all day and that’s when it is and it makes the coffee a very pleasant, pleasurable experience.
Today, for lunch, I had a giant salad. We call it a “big-ass salad” here in the U.S. That’s my term. So that was 10 or 15 different types of vegetables with a dressing based in olive oil, but also avocado, a whole avocado in the salad. And then tuna was my protein of choice.
I did have two bites of something before that. I had a; I’m involved in a bar manufacturing startup company called Exo. They’re making bars out of cricket protein powder. Have you heard of it?
Stuart Cooke: I have, yeah.
Mark Sisson: So, I’m on their board and I’m an investor in the company and they sent me their new flavor, which is I said they needed to be higher protein and higher fat. It is off-the-charts good. I can’t wait for this to be on the market. It’s a great tasting bar and it’s really exciting.
Stuart Cooke: Is it crunchy?
Mark Sisson: So, the thing about cricket protein powder is it’s been so ground up, finely ground up, you could not tell the difference between a jar of cricket protein powder and a jar of whey protein isolate. You can’t visually tell. The mouth feels no different. So, the only crunch in there are the nuts. So, it’s fantastic.
So, anyway, I had the salad. I’m meeting some friends in town tonight at a new franchise restaurant in town. I guarantee you I’ll have a steak and some grilled vegetables on the side. And that will be it. I might have a handful of berries this afternoon as a snack. And that’s pretty much an average day for me.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And, mate, the last question we always ask everyone, and this could be non-nutritional related, anything. It’s: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Mark Sisson: Well, the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is to invest in yourself. And for a lot of people, that means education, it means, in my case, where I’m going with this is: Your job is to take care of your health. That’s your number one job. Where you go to work for eight hours a day is a secondary job. That’s almost a part-time job. Your full-time job is taking care of your health. And the more you can learn, the more you can invest today, in yourself, whether it’s education; it could be investing in a business that you’re building, because that’s what I did. I invested back in my own business to grow the brand of primal.
And, for a lot of people, it can be simply investing in your health. Like, the more money I spend on good food to feed my body and nourish my body, the less chance there is that when I’m in my 60s or 70s or 80s I’ll be sick and then having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours of agony combatting something that I could have easily not gotten because I paid attention and I invested in myself at an early age.
Stuart Cooke: That’s good advice. Absolutely. Get stuck in. No one should be more invested than you, I think. Not your health care providers…
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Mark Sisson: Yeah. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: We need to know what works for us.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, mate. You know, for anyone who hasn’t heard of you, Mark, which I struggle to find, but if that’s the case where can they get more of Mark Sisson? Mark’s Daily Apple is the best place to?
Mark Sisson: Yeah, MarksDailyApple.com is the blog. And everything I’ve ever said I’ve said there. I’ll say it in different ways and different venues, but it’s really the place to start.
PrimalBlueprint.com is my commerce site where you can buy my books. You can also buy them on Amazon, of course. But my books and some of the supplements that we make that are very tuned into the primal lifestyle.
And, yeah, those two sites, Mark’s Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint, are the main go-tos.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. We’ll link to them under the show notes and everything. And, Mark, thanks for coming on the show. That was awesome. We really appreciate it.
Mark Sisson: It’s my pleasure. Great hanging out with you guys.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant. Brilliant. And cannot wait to see you in a couple of weeks when you’re over here.
Mark Sisson: Yeah, likewise. That’ll be fun. It’s coming up very soon, too.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it is.
Guy Lawrence: Very soon. Three weeks. It’ll be awesome.
Good on you, Mark. Thank you very much.
Did you enjoy the interview with Professor Tim Noakes? Would love to hear you thoughts in the Facebook comments section below… Guy
Professor Tim Noakes: The transcript
I’ll quickly do the introduction. I’m Guy Lawrence. This is Stuart Cooke. And our special guest today is Professor Tim Noakes. And, Tim, honestly, thank you for joining us. It’s awesome to have you.
My pleasure. Thanks, Guy and Stuart.
It’s funny. We actually mentioned to a couple of friends of ours that we’d be interviewing you today, and there was a lot of excitement. We; a very good friend of ours actually studied his medical degree in South Africa and he said that you taught him in one of the semesters there, back in 1984, ’85, I think it was. So, he was very impressed that we were speaking to you today and said to say hello.
Great. I hope I knew something.
And also, another friend of ours, a really good friend of yours, Stu, is it Gavin, is it?
Gavin, yeah, he’s a crazy bush runner, and he was very excited when he found out that we were going to be talking to you. So, we’ve got a few questions a little later on that he’s scripted for us and he’d love to know, so we’ll get to those in 10 minutes or so.
Yeah, so the first thing, anyway, Tim, for anyone that doesn’t know who you are, would you mind just telling us a little bit about yourself for the people that would be listening to this?
Sure. Well, I’m pretty advanced in age now. I’m 64 years old, so I’ve been in medicine since 1969, I started my medical training. And during my medical training I became much more interested in sports medicine and health promotion and disease prevention.
And I realized, also, I was really interested in science rather more than the practice of medicine.
So, after doing my internship in the hospital, I went immediately into research and I’ve been there ever since. I first did my Ph.D. in medicine and I graduated in 1981 and then immediately started teaching sports science at the University of Capetown. So, it was the first sports science degree in South Africa.
And it has kind of evolved into sports medicine and a few other things, and I have built up the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, which is a research organization and a teaching organization. And we started that in about ’95, so it’s gone about 15 or 16 years now.
And my interests, as you know, are: how does the body function as a totality. Because when I started in the sciences, we were taught that when you’re exercising, muscles get tired and then you stop. And we now know it’s much more complex. And so we developed the theory of the central governor model, which is that the brain regulates exercise and performance to make sure that you get to the finish of an event safely.
So, that’s been my one contribution. The other contribution, which brought me into conflict with PepsiCo and Gatorade, was how much you should drink during exercise.
And the big one that I want to finish up on is: what we should be eating, and is it healthful for our bodies.
Yeah, that a massive topic, isn’t it?
So, we noticed that a few years ago, your views on diet, particular carbohydrates, changed dramatically. And I wondered if you could just elaborate on that a little bit, please.
Sure. Well, I reached that age of 61 and, in fact, it happened the night I finished writing Waterlogged, which is the story about Gatorade and the sports industry and so on and how that income impacts over-drink.
So, at the time I was incredibly sensitive about how industry manipulates science and scientists for its own needs and good. And so anyway, I went out and ran the next morning and I had a terrible run and I thought, “Well, Tim Noakes, you’ve got to do something about your running. It’s awful. You’ve got to do something about it.”
So, fortunately, I came home, I went to my emails, and there in my in box was an advert for a book called The New Atkins for the New You. And I said, of course, Atkins has been XXunintelligibleXX and so on. And it said: “Lose 6 kilograms in six weeks without anger.” And I said: That’s rubbish. You can’t lose that without hunger. You’ve got to go and train hard and it’s a sacrifice and so on.
So, anyway, then I noticed it was written by some friends of mine, Jeff Volek and Steve Phinney, who are two really good scientists. So I said, “Well, they wouldn’t say this if it was nonsense.”
So I went and read the book. I read it, and by lunchtime I decided: That’s it. No more carbohydrates.
And I suddenly just lost buckets of weight. And my running came back. I mean, it was astonishing. Now, you must understand I was running really slowly but I dropped 40 minutes in my half-marathon and 20 minutes off my 10K time. So, I went from running seven minutes a K to XXaudio problemXX.
And, you know, that’s astonishing. Because I thought that I was old, and that’s why I had to run at seven minutes a K and suddenly I could run at 5 minutes a K. And it was absolutely astonishing.
So, my every health parameter has dramatically improved. I mean, you know, my blood pressure, from the day one of medical school, was 140/90 or higher. It’s now 120/70 at its highest.
And all I’ve done is changed my diet. So I’m now back to the weight I was as a youngster. And my running is not as fast as it was, but for a 64-year-old, I think I’m doing pretty well.
So, then I studied eating and I just saw that is bogus: the idea that we must cut fat from the diet is based on complete bogus nonsense. And, again, it was industry and commerce that drove us to start eating lots of carbohydrates and sugar and so on.
And so, again, I just started to see exactly the same thing that had happened in the sports drink industry has happened with the industry that promotes carbohydrates.
And, fortunately or unfortunately, my father was diabetic. I’m profoundly carbohydrate intolerant. And if you’re carbohydrate intolerant, you just must not eat carbohydrates. So, I’m the type of person who’s gonna benefit hugely from this advice.
And a final point I’d make is that we’re not that, you know? We are not told that if you’re carbohydrate intolerant, you shouldn’t be eating carbohydrates
Yeah, that’s interesting. Funny enough, Tim, we had DNA testing done about two months ago and it came up that I was susceptible to diabetes and I was carbohydrate intolerant and if I ate carbs, I would become a diabetic, basically.
And it just sort of reinforced what I was naturally doing anyway.
That’s amazing. And you know, I have debated this with the experts in South Africa and they tell me that condition of carbohydrate intolerance or insulin resistance does not exist. That’s what they honestly told me.
What was the initial reaction like that you had when you first came out and said, you know, we should be eating fat, not carbohydrates?
Well, it took me about five months to knock off the carbs. But, all I did was I wrote an article saying, “I’m dropped the cereals and grains.” I didn’t even talk about fat. And there was a complete outcry from the scientists and dieticians. It was astonishing and it continues to this day.
I mean, I’m absolutely persona non grata. And they will do anything they possibly can to discredit me and discredit these ideas. Instead of saying, “Hold on. Let’s look at the evidence and let’s see what the truth is,” because what I teach in science is that there’s always two sides to arguments and you must present both. But they refused to present the opposite argument.
Why would you think that is?
Well, the story I’m getting back is that the dieticians in South Africa have been told that they may not discuss this theory because it completely undermines; it completely undermines the entire; the teaching in their discipline.
So, rather than address the entire discipline, they’re just gonna ignore it. But the tragedy is; my opinion is that the social media and what we are doing here today is the future. And people will learn what the truth is.
So, people are gonna to listen to this and they’ll say, “Gee, you know, I’m like Tim Noakes. I’m 60. I’m fat. I can’t run. Maybe I should stop eating carbohydrates.” And then a few weeks later, they’re running much better and they’ve lost the weight. They say, “Well, Tim Noakes was right and the dieticians were wrong.”
And then they go and tell another hundred people.
Do you think; so, talking about fat adaption and people consuming carbohydrates, is it a kind of clean-cut case, or are there people that simply can’t fat-adapt; perhaps people that need carbohydrates?
I don’t think there are anyone who can’t fat-adapt. I mean, I just don’t XXthink that’s a conditionXX Except if, there is one condition where you’re metabolically deranged and you haven’t got the enzymes to break down fat. But, I mean, that’s a described metabolic disorder.
But, you know, it took me 61 years to learn that carbohydrate is entirely unessential to humans, because you can live without them. You can live without eating even one gram of carbohydrate. No one ever told me that.
That shocks a lot of people when they hear that for the first time.
It does. And certainly if you’ve read my book, Lore of Running, you get the opposite impression.
So, to answer your question, what I do find is that if you’re carbohydrate-intolerant, you benefit hugely from fat adaptation. I mean, one of the people I helped dropped his 56 kilometer time by three hours.
In one year. He ran 6:57 and the next year ran 3:59. Now, this particular 56K race in Capetown, it’s a difficult race. To break 4 is a really good run because you have to run three hours for the marathon and they you have to run 14 kilometers in which you had better run it four minutes a K as well. Up hills. And he dropped three hours. And he was a good runner, obviously, but that was the effect of carbohydrates on him.
It is insane. And he only lost; he lost 16 kilograms ultimately, but the pictures of him before he did the dietary change, he was; his BMI was actually only 26. He wasn’t grossly overweight at all. He would look normal for an African ultra-marathon runner finishing at the end of the races. And then now he looks like a world-class, well, not world-class, but he looks like a fantastic athlete.
And all the difference was that he had been eating carbohydrates, and he couldn’t tolerate them, and as soon as he cut them, his body responded as it should be.
As I say, which is the healthier one? Is it the one on the carbs or the one eating the fat? Which is gonna kill him tomorrow? Is he healthier?
I say, why is it that 50 percent of the people running ultra-marathons in South Africa, and that’s a lot of people, there’s probably 8,000 ultra-marathon runners, why are they all fat? And the answer is because they are doing lots of exercise but they’re eating the wrong diet.
Once they aren’t, the weight just drops off and they start to run better.
So, your thoughts on running for weight loss while following a conventional diet?
Is not the way forward.
Probably not the way forward. We’ve got lots of friends that run. You know, we’ve got bush runners, road runners, soft sand, treadmill. They do it for very different reasons. Many of them do it to lose weight.
But without these thoughts or knowledge or info on the diet, is it pointless as a tool for weight loss?
Yeah, Stuart, that’s a great question. The answer is, if you’re running to regulate your weight, your diet is wrong. You cannot regulate your weight with running.
To use as an example, this Jeff Simon we were chatting about, when he entered the diet, within about 12 weeks he’d lost his 12 kilograms and he was hardly running. Then he was training really hard and he got up to 100, 120 K’s a week and his weight stayed exactly the same. It didn’t change.
You said “recently,” which I think is a very important point, is that you run to burn carbohydrates, not to burn calories. And the reason it works in some people is you burn off the excess carbohydrate that your body normally can’t burn. But the instant you stop running, your weight jumps up again because you stop burning that excess carbohydrate. And if you can’t burn the excess carbohydrate, it has to be stored as fat. That’s the only that people, again, and I didn’t understand that either.
So, you have to have a carbohydrate balance.
How many grams of carbohydrate would he have been eating a day, just out of curiosity?
I would say probably 300 or 400 grams. And now he’s probably down to about 75 to 100. Something in that range. That’s; he’s not grossly intolerant like I am. I’m down to 25 to 50 grams a day. And my weight remains absolutely stable. It doesn’t matter whether I run 10 K’s a day or rest. My weight is stable.
When you talk about how many carbs that you eat a day, where do you get; where do you source those carbs from?
Mainly from veg. Leafy veg. Those are about the only two veg; those are the only two carbohydrate sources that I now eat. I’m actually diabetic. I do treat myself with Glucophage. So, I have to; that’s why I limit to 25. I mean, glucose in my system, it just causes chaos.
And what I’ve also learned is that if you are on the verge, like myself, and you are diabetic, any carbohydrate messes you up for days. It’s astonishing how long it takes to get back to control if you eat much carbohydrate. But even an extra apple is enough to upset my carbohydrate balance the next day.
And so that’s how on the edge we are, once you reach the stage I’m in.
What would you eat, typically, then before and after a race or, you know, just generally as well?
Fantastic. What I do is I would not eat anything before. I’m just XXunintelligibleXX. I’d have a big meal the night before. I might have some extra protein the night before. Because I can generate glucose from nothing. I mean, if I have a big protein meal, my glucose shoots up. If I run, my glucose shoots up.
So, one of the problems in diabetes, and this is not recognized, but some of us have a liver that can produce so much carbohydrates, so much glucose, it’s utterly impossible for me to get my glucose down running. I mean, I could run for hours without any carbohydrate and I’m sure my glucose would still be up.
Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but my point is, I run marathons; half-marathons and my glucose is high at the finish. Even the fact that I haven’t eaten for 12 hours before the race or during the race.
So, I’ve got this massive capacity to produce glucose from the liver, and I think that that is a very common phenomenon in diabetes. And so XXit controls glucose productionXX in the liver, and so adding extra carbohydrate just floods the system and makes it even worse.
That was certainly a shocker for you people, I think. Running a half-marathon with nothing inside of you on that particular day. Because I know that it’s certainly a big gel community at the moment and people are squeezing gels and goos into their mouth every second. And it’s XXunintelligibleXX I think, isn’t it?
If I could just answer that question. What I discovered is that when we change people to high-fat diets, they take XXaudio problemXX during exercise. And if they do, even if it’s an adventure race and they’re out for eight hours a day or whatever, or exercise for eight hours a day, they just eat what they normally would eat.
So, they eat lunch and then dinner and so on. And they’ll eat the same high-fat, high-carb. . . I’m sorry; high-fat, high-protein foods that they normally eat. And they’ll tell you they’re much less hungry, but the people who are competing with them who are carbohydrate-dependent are looking for carbohydrates every half hour, constantly looking for them. That’s the difference.
Once you adapt to fat, you just use the fat that’s in your body and you don’t need the carbohydrates at all.
So, that would be one of the advantages for any athlete listening to this then, Tim, I’m guessing that the fact you don’t need to keep refueling yourself when you’re running all the time.
Absolutely. And so your choice of foods is so much simpler. We had some experts out here recently and one of them had done the Badwater 140-mile race, which has to be the toughest race in the world, under impossible conditions, and they cross over three mountain ranges.
And he said when they started, they used to take on all sorts of foods, lots of carbohydrates, but they also used to put in protein and fat. And he said after a few years, they suddenly realized that they didn’t eat the carbohydrates. They were eating the other things.
So, on their race, their bodies actually said to them, “Give me the fat and the protein.” And so, with time, they adapted and now they don’t take any carbohydrate with them whatsoever, which I found really interesting. If you listen carefully, your body will tell you what you really need.
But I just have to reemphasize that the carbohydrates are so addictive and they do give you immediate lifts, so a lot of those people will need them for the lift, the artificial lift that they give them. Not for the metabolic effects, but for the brain effects that they XXare given toXX.
Just that facet. So, during the period of adaptation, how long do you think that, you know, those cravings would generally last?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I found it took me about six weeks. My running suddenly improved after six weeks, just dramatically. Within a period of a week, I suddenly started running much better.
But the cravings for sugar took about 14 months. And so I would finish those runs and I would still take a little bit of sugar in my drinks and I would still add sugar to tea and coffee. But all that was much reduced. It took a long time. So, now I find water as refreshing as any drink I’ve ever had. And, in fact, the water tastes sweet to me now. But that took two or three years.
So, if you’re an athlete and you’re fat-adapted and let’s say you went on a load of carbohydrates and knocked yourself out of ketosis. Does it take a long time to get back into being fat-adapted? Are we talking hours, days, weeks?
Well, that I can’t say I did personally, but reading what Jeff Volek had said, he said you’re out for about three days. That you’re not quite as good as you were for the previous few, so it takes about three days to get back.
And I mean, I think that’s the point in biology. It doesn’t matter what you do to the body. If you add a lot of salt to the body, it takes you about three days to get back into balance. So, I would think the same applies for most things.
It’s not acute. We don’t adapt acutely. It takes times for the system to get back, because the system is so incredibly complex that it needs time to get everything back into good shape again.
Yeah, fair enough. What, Tim, what’s your thoughts on short bouts of intense exercise and being low-carb? Because it’s obviously; you’re using a different system there, I’m assuming. Because I do CrossFit and long-distance running you’re constantly at one pace, but something like CrossFit is very dynamic, heavy weights, and some things last 10 minutes.
Yeah. You know, I’m not the expert on that yet and I haven’t really tried it myself. I haven’t started doing interval training again, properly. I do feel a bit sluggish when I try to do intervals, and I think that’s what people generally tell you.
And it’s really interesting, because it’s difficult to understand why you should be sluggish simply because you haven’t got lots of carbohydrates in you. Because, in fact, diabetics store carbohydrates poorly anyway. And so adding lots of carbohydrate doesn’t necessarily make insulin-resistant people fill up their muscles with carbohydrates.
So, if you’re intolerant like myself, and most of us who are on this diet, you shouldn’t have been able to store carbohydrate very well anyway when you’re eating a high-carbohydrate diet. And it doesn’t completely make sense to me why we struggle a bit when we do high-intensity training. And maybe it’s because we need to do more of it. I don’t know, but the clinical trials that they’ve done, in XXgymnasts?XX, for example, they show no effect that XXgymnasts?XX are just as strong in a high-fat diet as they are on a high-carbohydrate diet.
However, you know, most people will tell you that they can’t exercise as well. But let me give you one example. I had one guy who was a world-class athlete and he chose to drop from 400 grams a day down to 25 and he said it was a disaster. He didn’t even want to get up in the morning, he felt so terrible.
He then went up to a hundred grams and he said on a hundred grams a day, he’s training better and he’s performing better than he ever did at 400 grams. And so that’s my point. There’s the cut-off value.
And I do not believe that any human being needs more than 200 grams a day. So, even if you’re an Iron Man triathlete, training hard every day, that 200 grams will be enough to provide you all the energy you need during the exercise bouts. Because that will cover it. You know, you can burn lots of fat.
We have done some preliminary experiments on people who have fat-adapted and normally adapted. And what we find is that the fat-adapted still burn quite a lot of carbohydrate during exercise, but what they do is they just don’t burn carbohydrate during the races. They burn fat. Whereas the carbohydrate-adapted person burns carbohydrate all day because he’s got to get back into carbohydrate balance.
So, I would guess that 60, 70 percent of that huge carbohydrate load that people are eating is actually what they’re gonna burn during the rest of the day. Which they don’t need to, because you can burn fat during the rest of the day. And that’s the, sort of, balance that you need to get to, that maybe 200 grams will give you all the carbohydrates you need to train maximally if you’re doing speed work. And then the rest of the day you spend burning fat.
But burning 400 grams or eating 400 or 500 grams a day, you’re just gonna burn most of that during the rest of the day when you don’t need it.
Yeah. Of course.
You see so many people doing that.
Exactly. And, I mean, I wouldn’t have known that until it became so obvious when you’re doing XXunintelligibleXX and that’s what you see.
So, people who are eating lots of carbohydrates are actually fueling; they’re burning the carbohydrates when they’re not exercising. So, that’s important.
And outside of, you know, weight loss and performance, what other benefits have you experienced on a high-fat diet?
My health has just improved dramatically. I mean, I just don’t get ill anymore. That’s what’s remarkable.
I used to get repeated bronchitis, which was quite severe and I needed mediation, steroids, to treat it. I haven’t had an attack like that for three years. And I’ve just; I had a whole bunch of other symptoms but that was the one that used to really worry me.
Because every three months or so, I’d get a rhinitis; a runny nose. And it would go straight into my lungs and I’d get this allergic response, which I always thought was the infection, and then I realized that’s actually an allergic response. And now what I know is it’s simply related to cereals and grains in my diet.
I also had the irritable bowel syndrome. That disappeared. I had dyspepsia. That disappeared. I used to get headaches once a week. I haven’t taken a medication for headache for three years. I used to take it once a week.
So I know it’s the gliadin in the wheat that is the problem causing repeated headaches.
So, I’m just two different people. I mean, I now have got so much energy and it’s just been amazing. I feel like I’m back to 25 or 30.
Whereas before, I was a tired 60-year-old who almost stopped running. I was tiring.
I’ll tell you, I haven’t eaten grains for a couple of years, and every time I’ll have a grain, on the odd occasion, I always feel terrible after it. And the best thing I ever did was get rid of the grains for myself, personally. You know? It’s amazing.
That’s probably the most important adaptation is getting rid of the cereals and grains. And which is, I said, because, you know we’re all told that they are the cornerstone for our health. And it’s just not the case at all.
Yeah, absolutely. That magical food pyramid that has lied to us for so many years.
I’m going to steal one of your questions and throw a little bit of a curve ball your way as well, Tim. So, on endurance exercise, particularly running, and life expectancy. And I’m raising that because of cortisol issues, which, for our audience, is the stress hormone.
What are your thoughts on that?
You know, I think there is some evidence accumulating that for some individuals keeping up high-intensity running, running marathons all your life, probably isn’t such a good idea.
The problem is, they haven’t controls for nutrition. That’s an issue that we haven’t looked at. So, if you’re carbohydrate-intolerant, and you’re eating a high-carbohydrate diet and you’re exercising, I can see that that’s gonna be a problem.
My own view is that I’ve stopped running marathons many years ago, but I would have continued if I’d been on this diet. Because I stopped running because I became so slow. And I now know I became slow because of my carbohydrate intolerance and eating lots of carbohydrates. And that if I’d eaten a high-fat diet all my life, I believe I would have continued running marathons for much longer and not had those consequences.
So, I think that there is evidence for some people for doing lots of vigorous exercise is not good. But I would not like to generalize that to the general public.
We’ve known for years that the Tour de France scientists, generally the winners have a very short life expectancy. But there were drugs involved and many other things that we couldn’t be certain that it’s just the exercise.
But you’ve just got to be cautious, and the one thing you don’t want is atrial fibrillation. And clearly that’s linked to vigorous exercise and it’s hit one of the guys who brought me into running, and one’s an early winner of the Comrades marathon, that’s the 90 kilometer race in South Africa, has got atrial fibrillation. And, you know, that was so clearly related to all his running.
So, one just has to be cautious. And I think if you’ve got signs that things are not good, if you start to pick up abnormal heart rhythms, I think it’s time to look very cautiously and consider, A, are you doing too much, and, B, is it your diet? Is that a factor?
Yeah. Absolutely. And I guess it’s another scenario where one size certainly doesn’t fit all. We’re all so very, very different.
And I’m getting messages back from other guys now, in their 60s, older than me, in their 70s, changing to this diet and suddenly finding their performance going up again, and being able to run much better.
So, again, the question is, is it the exercise or is it the nutrition? And Jeff Volek is doing some wonderful stuff looking at inflammation markers in people who run marathons and ultra-marathons, and if they’re eating a high-carbohydrate diet.
So, the argument is that the combination of lots of marathon-running and high carbohydrates produce inflammatory response. And that, repeated every few months for years, naturally you’re likely to cause problems.
So, I think we have to look at our running and make sure you’re just not getting inflamed all the time and try to do things that will stop the inflammation.
That’s good advice.
It sounds like the diet, again, is very suspicious there.
It think it’s controllable, and look at dietary very carefully.
OK. Another question while we’re on running, then. And we wanted to raise this because we got the famous City2Surf coming up. And, are you aware of that race, Tim?
Yes, I do. And you know why I know? Because John Sutton, famous Australian physiologist, that’s sports medicine doctor, was one of the first doctors to be involved in that race and he described all the cases of heatstroke that occurred.
And I remember him writing one article saying something like, you know, heatstroke in a 10K or 12K fun run shouldn’t be happening.
And I think he got it all wrong, because he was all, “Oh, you’ve got to drink lots of fluids.” And so on. And I don’t agree with that. I think heatstroke is a multifactorial disease and you’ve got to have individual susceptibility for it to start.
And then you’ve got to have a couple of other things wrong with you on the day. But you’d probably have an infection; a latent infection. And maybe other things that happen on the day. Maybe taking medications or drugs which are factors.
And when you put them all together, then you get the scenario. But the reality is that you’ve probably got 50,000 runners in the race and yet you only have one or two guys get into real trouble. But why didn’t all 50,000, if it was the environment? It’s not the environment. It’s something else that’s involved.
So, if somebody was listening to this a week before they were doing the City2Surf run and they’ve eaten a lot of carbs and drinking a lot of Gatorade ready to get ready for the race and they hear this a week before, and they go, “Oh, my God. Should I change everything?” What should they do?
They absolutely shouldn’t change now. But I think what you need to know is that every time you put carbohydrates; refined carbohydrates like those sports drinks into your mouth, you get a huge insulin response and we think that that repeated insulin response, the high glucose, is damaging to the health in the long-term.
Some people are OK because they’re hugely carbohydrate-tolerant. But if you’re intolerant, every time you take a sports drink, you’re actually damaging your health.
So you have to appreciate that. So, we have this paradox in South Africa that our big races are funded by the soft drink industry and if we had a race in Capetown which had 10,000 runners running 56 kilometers and they managed to consume three tons of sugar during the race. I’m not saying that consumed it, but there were three tons of sugar available on the race for those runners.
Now that’s, when you start to think about that, you realize: Here you are running, trying to get healthy, but you’re killing yourself by taking all of that sugar during the race.
Would you add anything to your drink when you’re running; would you anything? Salt or anything like that?
No. You certainly don’t need salt, because your body will provide all the salt you need. So, you definitely need water. And if you’re fat-adapted, you just need fat and protein.
And I would try milk, you know. Or coconut oil. I’ve used both in half-marathons and it’s the most wonderful drink. You have to come to Northern Europe to be fully adapted to milk. Otherwise, you’ve probably got a milk intolerance.
So, many XXSouth Africans?XX come from Europe, as I do, and so we’re tolerant for milk.
But the point being that once you’re fat-adapted, you just really don’t need much carbohydrate, if any, during exercise.
I have a question now from my good friend Gavin, who is a bush runner. And he’s interested from a beginner’s perspective. He wants to know what would be the most effective training method to get him up to a level of fitness in the fastest time period without injury, where they’re able to keep up with other club runners and not feel left behind. If you have any tips.
Yeah. Well, I can only tell you what I did. I was a rower when I started running and what we used to do, we used to race two miles. That was epic. So, if we raced two miles. That was where most people come from, I think. If you’re fit for another sport, you can probably race a mile or two and go flat-out and you’re OK. But once you have to run 5Ks or 10Ks, it’s a real problem.
And I was taken by some real experts and they XXaudio problemsXX controversy. Because you have to learn the pacing strategies. That’s the key. And that’s it is. And after three months, I had the pacing strategies worked out. And then we would start running half an hour, hour, hour and a half, two hours.
So, I think that if you take people who are physically active and healthy and then go through about three months of regular running before you can start properly running 10, 15, 20 kilometers.
So, my focus has always been; so, that’s the one scenario. If you’ve got well-trained, if you’ve got physically fit people, they still need to run half an hour a day, five days a week, and it’s gonna take them three months to get going.
If you’ve got people who are completely sedentary and not physically strong, I started walking and in Lore of Running I describe a walking program where we would get them to walk for the first three months, because otherwise they’re going to get injuries, bone injuries, particularly stress fractures.
So, I think that’s the key. If you have been physically active before, like in Australian Rules or rugby or whatever. Football. That’s fine. But it still takes you time to learn how to pace yourself.
The thing that I learned was, just go slowly.
You’ve got it. It’s certainly not an instant thing.
And add your speed work in. Go for distance first. That’s the key.
And even today, I still make the error of trying to run short distances too fast and not doing the long-distance work. It’s the long-distance work that really makes you a runner.
Just another thought that popped into my mind as well. When training for longer events, would it just be running that you do? Just get out there and run on the road? Or would you hit the gym and start working other muscles?
Yes, I think so. I think you need; it depends. The longer your races, the more your whole body needs to be in good shape. So, I’m impressed by CrossFit. And this not an advert, but I was watching last night the CrossFit World Championships and I was utterly astonished at the women; what they can do. Ten or 15 years ago, we would have said that’s utterly impossible for a man to do, let along a woman.
So, I think, yes, there is good evidence that if you’ve got stronger legs from biometric training and so on, you will run better. So, there is a strength component to running. XXaudio problemXX and they are incredibly XXaudio problemXX. That’s a point that we don’t make.
For a highly-trained athlete to run fast, the 10K; a fast 10K, his foot is never on the ground. That’s what defines a great runner. They’re always in the air; their haven’t broken ground. And the answer is that his foot is on the ground for such a short time, then it explodes and throws; catapults his body forward two or three meters.
Now, OK, he’s only 56 kilograms, but still, the time being that his foot is on the ground is so short that he has an enormous amount of power. So, power is a key component, and it’s something that we forget.
And I certainly know of people who have trained for ultra-marathons by doing lots of weight training in the gym on their legs, and they’ve done relatively little running. So, if you can get your mind ’round it, you don’t have to do as much running.
But I actually agree. In generally, I think that weight training like CrossFit, that’s the best way to try and XXaudio problemXX. OK, maybe there’s more emphasis on weight training in CrossFit than in running, but I think that for many people, all weight training is gonna be beneficial.
Yeah. That’s really a good way of looking at it. I never thought of it like that.
And, Tim, there’s a question I’ve got, I’ve been itching to ask you for ages, and I’m quite aware of time so I’m going to jump to it to make sure we fit it in. And that simply is regarding the ocean swimming. Because me and Stu are big fans. We generally get in there a couple of times a week. And at the moment, the water temp, what was it today? 16.1?
Just over 16, yeah.
Really? Well, this is cold. You’ve talked about training. Is it Lewis?
Yeah. And he swam one mile in, I think, our reference says 1.8 degrees.
Tim Noakes: That’s right. It was actually about 2 to 3. He did the mile swim. He usually swam a kilometer, but he did swim a kilometer in minus 1.8 degrees centigrade.
Now, just to make it clear, there’s no wetsuit. This is just him in his Speedos, right?
How did he do that?
Well, what he discovered was that, provided he was out of the water within 25 minutes he was fine. So, he could cope. And what he did was, as all humans do, is they cool their legs and their arms, they become incredibly cold, so after the long swim at Deception Island, where he swam a mile at 3 degrees centigrade, his muscle temperature was 32 degrees compared to a normal of 37, 38.
And it was 32 an hour and a half later, after he had been in a hot shower for an hour and a half. His muscles were still as cold as they were when he came out.
His core body temperature had risen to 37, so he was normal, his brain was normal again, but his legs were still messed up.
So, what he did was he stored all the cold in his legs. But he reached the absolute limit of his tolerance after 30 minutes. But when he swam it in 20 minutes at minus 1.8, he didn’t drop his core temperature below 36, so he was relatively fine.
So, again, if you just store the cold in your body and you’re fine for 20 minutes, but by 30 minutes you’re absolutely at the limit, and I think that anyone swimming at a temperature below 5 degrees centigrade, they’ve got half an hour before they freeze and drown.
And I think that’s what that work added, which is we now know the limits. And he could get to the mark, because he’s a fast swimmer, and he didn’t slow down much. He slowed down substantially, but not really too seriously.
The danger was is that if your body cools down and your brain is still warm enough. . . Sorry; if your brain cools down too quickly, you lose consciousness and you drown. And I know that had he swam for another five minutes in there at the temperature, he would have gone unconscious.
So, he was close. It was 35 minutes and he was gone.
Wow. That’s amazing. That’s just freaks me out. Because we get in the water, I’m contemplating how cold it is now, you know. . .
Yeah, but you’re both so lean, and you can only swim at about 26, 27. That’s the temperature at which you’ll be able to swim any length of time. But once it drops below 27, and of course the colder it is the worse it is.
I had the privilege recently of meeting a Capetown guy who, in Australian water, was lost at sea for 28 hours. You probably remember the story.
Yes, I do.
The Coast Guard got him or whatever. And he came in here and he spoke to me and said, “I should be dead.” And he gave me the whole story about the 28 hours. I asked what was the water temperature and he said it was 27. I said, “That’s what saved you.” If it had been 25, he wouldn’t have made it.
It’s absolutely critical, the water temperature. And he wasn’t as lean as you guys, so he also had just a little bit of extra fat. But at your weights, you’re in real trouble when the temperature goes below 20 degrees.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s why I’ve just ordered a nice, new wetsuit. I’ll be fine over the winter.
That’s definitely what you need.
So, look, I’m just very aware of the time and one last question, Tim, before we wrap ’er up. And I know it’s a topic you’ve covered well. But, how much does the mind determine the outcome of an event?
Yeah. That’s a great question. I was watching the British Open the other day and Tony Jacklin, who won the Open and one of the major American opens, he said it’s 90 percent psychological and 10 percent mental.
And I think it’s true, you know, when you get to that level, the skill is exactly the same for the top hundred players, and it’s only the ones who control their minds one the day that win.
In running, it’s both a hundred percent physical and it’s a hundred percent mental. In other words, that you have to have the physical capacity. I couldn’t run a four-minute mile ever, because I don’t have the physical capacity. But within my range of performances, then it becomes very mental; it becomes very important. And it becomes the hundred percent.
So, I think at Olympic level, we recognize biologically that it’s pretty much the same and one guy wins the race by six centimetres. That’s purely mental, and I honestly, honestly believe that the person who comes second actively chooses to come second.
It’s obviously at a subconscious level. But then you have to make the choice, because it’s simple. The person who finishes 6 centimetres behind the winner didn’t die. So, he could have run faster. So, why didn’t he run faster? And it’s not biological.
Because the controls that stop you running faster are all, they’re not conscious, they’re subsconscious control. But they’re open to conscious control, in my view. Or conscious modification.
I just; that’s my belief. So the mental is absolutely important. But at a simple level, if I go into a marathon and I’m not sure that I’ll finish, what happens, as you all know, that you’re two-thirds of the race through, and XXaudio problemXX and you say, “Oh, I’ve got 12 kilometers to go,” and your brain says, “Well, you’re not gonna make it.”
And if it says that to you, you’ve got to be able to say, “Absolute nonsense. This is going to be easy.”
And I think that those are the decisions you make before the start of the race. If you have any doubt in your mind, it’s not going to do it.
No, that’s right.
I was only saying to Guy the other day, and, you know, a little similar, when we train CrossFit, if we have, for instance, have to do 20 pull-ups on the bar, in my mind I’ll be going for 30.
And I’ll always get the 20.
I’ll always go for 10 and usually get my 10 and then stop and then do another 10.
The mind is terribly, terribly important.
And, certainly, I work quite a lot with teams; young teams of athletes. And there’s no question that the belief systems of teams, if you can improve their belief system, that team will outperform itself and do much better than it should.
Conversely, you can take a good team without self-belief and they don’t do well.
So, I have absolute belief now that what you think is what will happen. What you really believe will be the outcome. And that’s the difference between the winners and the guys that come second.
Yeah. One hundred percent.
Well, Tim, if you could offer one single piece of advice for optimum health or wellness, for anyone listening to this, what would it be?
Well, I think you know what it’s gonna be. It’s look to your diet.
I did it. I thought I was doing what doing what I meant to do, but I ate the wrong diet. And only when I got my diet right did I get the energy back again to be able to run again and train properly and look forward to my running. And now my health is infinitesimally better and I just love each day.
And when my diet was wrong, it was the opposite. I was hanging in. It’s terribly sad. So, find the best diet for you and we all know what that diet is.
Tim, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate you coming on and joining us for 45 minutes. It’s been awesome. I’ve learned a lot.
Thanks, Guy, and thanks, Stuart. It’s been a great privilege to be with both of you guys.
Ever wondered if we can live without carbohydrates? It certainly gets a lot of stick in the press…
In this episode of The Health Sessions I catch up with Shane Richards of Holistic Foundations who chats to us about life without carbs. Shane runs a thriving community/gym with a fantastic approach around health & well-being. Shane is one of the most passionate guys I know and it is a pleasure to have him on the podcast.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disorder with a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be related to diet.
Poor eating habits such as skipping meals, low intake of fibre and fluid, excessive fatty food intake, sensitivity to milk and other dairy products (see lactose intolerance) and excessive caffeine and alcohol need to be addressed as a first step in helping relieve symptoms in IBS.
General advice for an IBS diet
The most common dietary treatment for IBS has been, and still is, a high fibre diet. While this is still a positive recommendation for many patients, especially those who suffer from constipation, some patients will not benefit from an increase in dietary fibre, and in some the symptoms may even worsen. As with any change in diet the increase in fibre should be gradual, involve a variety of fibres and an adequate fluid intake of at least 1.5 litres per day. The major sources of fluid should be water, but dilute tea or juices may be suitable in some patients. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, and carbonated soft drinks can aggravate symptoms and should be limited, especially in the initial stages of dietary modification.
IBS symptoms tend to be increased following large meals, particularly if the meal is high in fat, and if the meal is eaten quickly. It can be helpful to spread the food over 3 meals and 3 snacks per day. Avoid
eating quickly and try to relax after a meal. Regular light exercise can also help reduce symptoms.
If excessive wind is a problem then exclusion of the ‘windy vegetables’ including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and legumes including baked beans may be helpful. These may be reintroduced once the symptoms have settled. Carbonated soft drinks can also exacerbate symptoms. Like food, fluid should be spread across the day.
Some individuals with IBS may find a trial of lactose exclusion helpful. Lactose is found principally in dairy products such as milk and ice creams (see lactose free diet). Remember that these foods supply important nutrients, and reduced consumption can affect calcium intakes.
Recent studies have highlighted the possible role of food sensitivities in some IBS sufferers (1,2). This can involve the exclusion of obvious trigger foods. In complex cases an elimination diet may be necessary. This involves the exclusion of a wide range of food, followed by ‘challenges’ to identify the problem foods. Elimination diets are for short-term use only as they are nutritionally unbalanced. They should be supervised by a dietitian who has experience in this field. The RPAH guide ‘Friendly Food’ is a general guide to the elimination diet and associated recipes.
Sensible eating for IBS sufferers
Keep a food, fluid and symptoms diary to help observe the role of diet and other factors such as stress in symptoms. Check your diet against the general guidelines for a healthy diet (see other sections of this website). Maintain a high fibre diet, provided this is tolerated. Start with the basics of 3 low fat, high fibre meals and 2 -3 snacks per day. Maintain an adequate fluid intake, avoiding excessive intake of fizzy drinks and caffeine. Eat slowly and make meal times as relaxing as possible. If you are excluding foods, eliminate one food at a time, and record the results. Once symptoms have settled reintroduce the foods to maintain variety. Consider consulting a dietitian for individual advice regarding your diet and any modifications.
If your body is having a hard time getting things moving, so to speak, it may be time for you to get moving.A new study suggests that regular physical activity may alleviate irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome, which is characterized by intermittent constipation and/or diarrhea, affects as many as 20 percent of the adult population, or one in five Americans.
In the study, there were 102 patients with IBS. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to a physical activity group and were told to increase their exercise. The other group was told to maintain their lifestyle. Those that remained inactive experienced more severe IBS symptoms than those in the physical activity group.
So increasing your physical activity may improve IBS, but this is hardly unexpected. The health benefits of regular exercise are tremendous, ranging from lowering blood pressure, maintaining a healthy body weight and preventing heart disease and diabetes. It’s even good for your brain, so it’s not too surprising to learn that regular exercise is good for your bowels, too.