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‘In my research I noticed that International tobacco company Philip Morris, in the early nineties, when the heat came on they started to buy up food companies. They are a brilliantly sinister company.
They identified that sugar is very much the same as nicotine; get them young get them hooked & you’ve got them for life.’ – Donal O’Neil, producer of the Cereal Killers Movie
The Full Interview
We chat to Donal O’Neill, the man behind the awesome documentary Cereal Killers. If you haven’t seen it then make it a must!
CLICK HERE for Audio Version
In this episode we talk about:-
- The inspiration behind the movie
- Why professor Tim Noakes is awesome!
- The Australian cricketers and their low carb high fat diet
- What sports benefit most from LCHF diet
- How to increase testosterone & sex drive with men in their 40′s
- And much more…
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Cereal Killers Movie Info
- Watch the Movie Here
- Follow On Facebook Here
Interview with Donal O’Neill Transcript
Stuart Cooke: Donal, how are you?
Donal O’Neill: I’m good. Good to see you.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, thank you so much. You can hear me, Guy?
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Everything’s clear. Everything’s good. So fingers crossed, no technical issues and we’ll be awake.
Stuart Cooke: So, I feel like I’m going to, I feel like I’m about to speak to a movie star.
Donal O’Neill: So do I.
Stuart Cooke: All right. Yeah, you must be talking about Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Well, so let’s start.
Stuart Cooke: Okay, fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence, and welcome to Episode 20 of the podcasts. I just checked, and we’ve got Mr. Stuart Cooke, as always, and our special guest today is Mr. Donal O’Neill, the man behind the movie Cereal Killers. Donal, thanks for joining us, mate.
Donal O’Neill: Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: I just want to clarify some numbers, well, just if people hadn’t heard of your movie Cereal Killers, we aren’t talking about Hannibal Lecter or anything, are we? We’re actually talking about more the breakfast cereal, you know, because…
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, we’re talking much more; much more dangerous than Hannibal Lecter.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Exactly, I have no doubt in it. I have no doubt, and look, just to get the ball rolling, you know, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and, before we get stuck into the movie, what led you to actually making it, as well. Just give us a little bit of a background.
Donal O’Neill: Sure. Well, I probably, probably the first thing my mum would say is that I was an inquisitive little bugger as a kid, so, I’m now 42 years old. Several years ago my dad had a heart attack. I come from a family of lean, very athletic men, who don’t really put on weight and have never abused themselves, but we get sick. We get heart disease and diabetes, and, when I discovered that, I guess, I rolled up a lot of the energy I had and a lot of the passion that I developed over the years as an athlete and everything else I’ve ever done, and I just set out on a journey to discover what the hell happened, and, once I started that journey, it kind of snowballed.
And, as I said, I’ve always been a very inquisitive person, it kind of turned to anger, the more information that I unearthed, the more determined I got to get the story out. That’s just the nature of me. You know, back in Ireland, I’m probably known for establishing what would be the equivalent in Australia of the AFLPA. So I set up the players union for Gaelic football, so I do like to confront and challenge convention.
If I see something that I believe in, I’ll push for it. I didn’t intend to push this hard, but here we are, and, obviously, the movie’s been released in December, and it’s gone great. We had a tremendous reception in Australia and that continues. Australia is topping our charts for online screenings at the moment.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: Because the movie is no, I mean, it’s no small project, mate, you know, it’s a big, bug task to put that together. When did you start? Like, when did you set out to make it?
Donal O’Neill: Well, like said to some people just yesterday, it’s probably taken about three years. I can do the next one in about three months, but I can tell you, I had XXfrogsXX [0:03:28] along the way, guys. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, which was actually an enormous help. I got, I ran into many roadblocks.
Probably the smoothest process, once the story and the screening, sorry, the filming, I knew exactly what I wanted to capture, but once you move into post-production in a movie, that’s where the magic and the madness happens, and we ran into some problems there.
But the delays that we encountered, you know, to an outsider it might look like this whole thing was planned and the timing was beautiful, but I just started. I just kept going, and then I just decided to put it out there, and “let’s stop,” but, you know, it was very, very fortuitous in many ways, because we had stopped filming when Dr. Peter Brukner contacted us and really got behind the movie and right then introduced us to Shane Watson, Dave Warner, and Usman Khawaja who will be well-known to your Australian listeners.
And, you know, at that point you’ve got an editor and director saying, “Oh, you can’t really cut them in. The movie’s done,” and I’m like, “Well, I don’t know anything about movies, so I’m telling you these guys are going in the movie, one way or the other.”
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Donal O’Neill: So, I just kept breaking rules, I guess, ignoring the laws of filmmaking and eventually we got there, but it was, it was great fun. It was a great journey and something tells me it’s probably on the start.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. I think so. Have you been, have the Carbivores contacted you? Have you been hit by any kind of negativity from the other train of thought? You know? The Bread Munchers?
Donal O’Neill: It’s kind of bizarre. The first, kind of, negative slant that I’ve seen actually came from Ireland just yesterday, but we’re great at that. I mean, we love it. We love a kind of good/bad news story, let’s be honest. When it’s raining outside, you don’t want too much good news, you know.
Stuart Cooke: Is that right?
Donal O’Neill: It’s been absolutely incredible. People have been very, very generous with their commentary, and I, honestly, I had no idea how it was going to be received. When we went to Melbourne for the premiere there, it was very interesting. We had a couple of hundred people and to watch it with a crowd, to see how they reacted to various parts of the movie was very interesting for me, because at this stage I’ve seen it 200 times and I’ve been through editing. It’s a big thing.
Guy Lawrence: Could you, just for anyone listening to this that hasn’t seen the movie, could you just sum it up in a nutshell, what it’s about essentially?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, well, what I did was I went on a journey to see if I could affectively hack my genes using food as the instrument and, like I mentioned earlier, coming from a family with a history of heart disease and diabetes, I wanted to see if there was an intervention I could create for myself that would help me drop dead healthy, and I researched that for, sort of, two years and the conclusion I came to was that a very high fat diet, naturally occurring fats, of course, was probably a pretty good starting point.
So, I teamed up with Prof. Tim Noakes and kept trying for 28 days I had a diet consisting of 70 percent fat. I ate about 25 eggs a week, a kilo macadamia nuts, two kilos of beef, and full-fat everything. No wheat or sugar.
And I did that under full medical supervision, so I got my blood panels done before and after, during, etc., etc. We just sat back to see what would happen and along the way we discussed the issue of, let’s say, conventional wisdom as it relates to things like cholesterol and diabetes and fat and carbohydrates, you know, Tim Noakes, Dr. John Briffa, Peter Brukner and others and that’s pretty good.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and I have to say, mate, you, you know, you did a stellar job. We were both discussing the movie and I think you simplified the message fantastically, as well, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s not a person that would not benefit watching this movie. I think it’s a must, you know, and people are not just putting that connection together at all about the damage and effects of sugars and carbohydrates in their diet, you know. It’s just, it’s incredible. It just amazes me that that’s not there.
Donal O’Neill: It’s interesting for me. I was back in Australia for the premiere. I haven’t been down in seven years and you could just see people getting bigger, and you can see the damage, I mean, it’s like everywhere.
I mean, Ireland, the U.K., it’s just the enemy. I think we’re about to XXpepXX [0:08:10] England for the first time in anything by becoming more obese and unhealthy than them, but, which, you know, it’s very, very sad to see, but I’ve worked with the big food companies. We’ve tried to engage some of them, like Kellogg’s, for the movie, and they wouldn’t even return our calls. They know what they’re doing.
I mean, don’t make any mistake about that, and I know they know what they’re doing, and they certainly know. I mean, the general public doesn’t really know, but when you have, you know, X billion dollars in advertising media telling you one thing, it’s very, very difficult for XXmatchesXX [0:08:43] to break through against that, and particularly when you have an XXundergrowingXX [0:08:51] war that’s absolutely ongoing, and some of the trends and some of the tactics that I saw.
I mean, they would shock you, but I could’ve made ten documentaries, but the trick for me was to try to write The Sun newspaper as opposed to The Times because there’s all the medical information is there, I just tried to make something as an average guy and try to make it accessible to, you know, the man on the street.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Well, it definitely worked. It’s so watchable and so beautifully laid out that it just made perfect sense. I’ve watched it twice, and I shall watch it again. It’s awesome.
Donal O’Neill: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: What, Tim Noakes, like, he’s a hero of ours. We think Tim’s awesome. When did you first get in touch with Tim? Did you, is it, as it, you went down the rabbit hole looking into the whole high-fat diet and came across Tim?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, when you just put things out there. I’ve been doing my research. I’ve been sort of mentioning to some people that, you know, I’d written a book, and I thought, “This isn’t enough.”
I’m going to, I didn’t publish it, I said, “I’m going to take this further, and I started to tell some people I was planning to make a movie. And people say, “Well, why did you make and kept thinking this was all planned and, again, it wasn’t. This was fortuitous.
I mean, I actually thought that if I’m going to film this, I don’t think anybody wants to see dreary wet Ireland XXon a health show?XX[0:10:13] I’m a marketing person, and I thought, “If I’m going to film this, I might as well do it somewhere beautiful, because I’m going to be doing it for a month, and that’ll just make it easier to watch.”
So that was the level of, I guess, stupidity I was operating at. It was that simple, and I’d come to Cape Town for something else and, you know, coming from a sports background myself, it just stunned me that there was a sports scientist in this country who was, like, a household name. I was going to dinner parties and people were arguing over Tim Noakes and du, du, du, du, du, and I thought, “I suppose I’d better contact Tim Noakes.”
I emailed him out of the blue, I mean, he hadn’t broken out yet in a big way on that whole issue. He had just kind of raised his head above the pulpit, and he invited me in and his generosity with his resources, his knowledge, his time, with everything, was just incredible, and as soon as he opened the door, you know, I just grabbed the director and camera man and I put them on a plane and I said, “We’re going to do this now,” and the director was like, “Well, we need preproduction,” and I said, “Well, there is no preproduction. We start in about two weeks’ time.”
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Guy Lawrence: XXBest way. Best way.XX [0:11:25]
Donal O’Neill: I don’t know what I’m doing type thing, but, yeah, the director Yolanda Barker is a young Irish lady, and she did a phenomenal job, and Raja Nundlall, the D. P. is, he does a lot of work with Ireland as an actual broadcaster so, to be honest, they carried me through it. I just sort of said, “Roll the cameras and off we go.”
The rest was in large part due to the like of Tim Noakes and John Briffa.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. It was great to see the Aussie cricketers, as well, as, you know, sporting professionals, you know, trying and benefitting from this approach, as well. What do you think about other sports? Do you think this will follow on?
Donal O’Neill: We were just discussing this yesterday, in fac. I believe one sport that will benefit enormously is golf.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Donal O’Neill: Because, as you well know, one of the things that, I think, really the first thing that anybody notices if they move to a high-fat, low-carb diet and they consume real food is a stabilization in energy levels, and I think it’s possibly too late for my own golfing career, but I can see a sport, like golf, where the guys are out there for five, five-and-a-half hours plodding along. It’s got to be a significant benefit for their concentration, because one slip can cost you a hell of a lot.
I think that’s one sport that could benefit enormously. OI mean, obviously, the endurance sports are already benefitting and, you know, guys like Timmy Olson that I’ve been in touch with, the ultra-endurance athlete in the U.S., their stories are just staggering, and I go back to cricket…
Guy Lawrence: Cricket, yeah, yeah, yeah…
Guy Lawrence: The other thing I wanted to clarify, as well, that was mentioned, Peter Brukner, he’s the Australian cricket team nutritionist, that’s right, yeah?
Donal O’Neill: He’s the team doctor.
Guy Lawrence: Team doctor, okay, so he’s been advising the cricketers on the high-fat diet, essentially.
Donal O’Neill: Well, it’s interesting. Peter was with Liverpool Football Club prior to the Australian cricketers, but he’d only really adopted this mantra himself around the time that he was leaving Liverpool, but, you know, he’s got a big presence in football, so, you know, he’s going to have an impact on what he’s achieving with the cricketers. It’s going to start to filter, right?
And, like I mentioned, when we’ve got the L.A. Lakers stateside and guys like Timmy Olson and then Peter Brukner advising athletes in Australia and the U.K. It’s going to happen. I have no doubt.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. So where to from here? You’re essentially going to the States to promote the movie; to the L.A. Lakers, do you have anything else in the pipeline coming up or are you just going to keep like you’ve been doing and just see what happens as you go?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, kind of making it up as we go along, but it’s been; I think someone’s writing the story over my shoulder, because the reason we’re going to the U.S. is pretty interesting. We’d obviously put the movie up on Kickstarter mid last year and off the back of that one particular person who had missed the Kickstarter XXget?XX [0:14:40] was a gentleman called Sami Inkinen. Sami is an incredible individual. He is a world Iron Man age group champion. He’s about 38, 39. He’s also a spectacularly successful software entrepreneur and he’s based out of San Francisco.
So he contacted me out of the blue and just said, “I’m going to help.” I guess, you know, this guy won Ironman on a diet of fat, so he knows, and he’s now in a position where he’s using his resources and his expertise to start to preach this message.
He’s somebody that’s going to, you know, probably emerge as a pretty big player in this whole XXaction?XX [0:15:21] in my opinion, because it’s great having all the medics and all of that, opinion is very, very valuable, but what we must understand, we have to take the fight to the food companies on their turf. I mean, when Coca Cola issued a press release about their anti-obesity campaign and that goes worldwide in 50 countries simultaneously, and you have, you know, people responding to that. Coke still controlled the pitch.
So, the real food movement needs people who understand the mechanics of business and commerce, or how to raise awareness, sustain it, and how to get a message out that’s consistent and tight. That hasn’t happened yet. That’s what I see happening next. It’s starting to emerge, but it really requires a collaborative effort, and you need somebody with all the resources and all the ability to lead something like that, and Sami is such a guy. I cannot wait to spend some time with him in California and see what he’s got planned, but there’s definitely more to come.
Stuart Cooke: That’s exciting. Very exciting. I was just wanting to shift over to diet and exercise, just at the moment, and I was intrigued by your change in nature and take on the exercise you do in the movie. Was that eight minutes per week?
Donal O’Neill: It was, yes.
Stuart Cooke: Are you still doing eight minutes per week, or have you changed, you changed what you’re doing since then?
Donal O’Neill: No, I probably do a bit more, but what I do, that was eight minutes of, let’s say, cardio work. I trained with very, very high intensity for very, very short periods of time like that and then, probably 90 percent of my time is spent on mobility, so I studied pilates and yoga and lot of this stuff, and obviously I was an athlete and a conditioning coach, so I’m a big believer in movement, but the, like, I’ll turn 43 this year, so, what I noticed when I got to about 37, I certainly noticed that, “Oh, if I don’t change something, I’m probably going to start to dip here,” but my body feels much better than it did five years ago, and that’s, I think, down to diet, number one, and number two, I’m just training much smarter.
You know, for a guy in particular, the stuff that gets left off the table, because most diet books are written for women, are things like testosterone, you know, like a high-carbohydrate diet would dip your testosterone as would endurance training, so everything I do I do to solicit a metabolic response from my body, so I’m always looking to, sort of, hack the hormones as opposed to you’re looking at exactly what’s on the plate or how long am I exercising for.
I did a lot of that research along the way, too, but I’ve been in sports for 30, 35 years, and that’s my natural playground, but even in my days as an international athlete six sprints would have been a complete session, so I’ve come full-circle. Obviously, I wouldn’t be capable of doing the level of training I did back then, either, but I just like to train smart, move smart, and eat smart.
Guy Lawrence: Do you lift weights at all, Donal?
Donal O’Neill: I do lift some weights, but I do a lot of body work and I actually train on the mountain here in Cape Town, so a lot of proprioception work. I train, literally, in the trees. We’ve got a guy here XXaudio distortedXX [0:18:58] so, you know, we’re up on fallen trees sort of eight feet above the ground and we’ve got a big log on our shoulders and I work with the pilates and yoga experts here.
So we’ve been creating our own, well, what we’re calling the Strong Man Plan, which we’ll release the end of this year, so I’ve pulled everything together because I’ve probably put about over a hundred guys through it now, and the results you see are fantastic, particularly for guys when they get past 40. The stuff you used to do doesn’t work, and the worst thing you can do is jogging, because you’re going to drop your testosterone further. You’re going to really not do much good at all. I have a very big interest in getting guys strong and healthy through middle-age, and that’s kind of what my focus is now.
Stuart Cooke: When did you say this program is going to be rolled out over here?
Donal O’Neill: We’re going to roll it out, it’s probably three or four months away. I’ll let you know, but it’s just pulling in all the research I conducted for the movie and, you know, pointing it directly at men, because I think there’s a serious gap for blokes over 40, and I’m just fed up looking at mates of mine putting on their old rugby or football shorts and starting to go out jogging and, you know, eating their Special K breakfast. I mean, it’s a road to nowhere.
Things like sex drive, you know, you start eating a high-fat diet your testosterone is going to get pumped. You start to train without creating too much cortisol in the body, and if you train smart, you know, and you engage the glutes and the big muscle groups with compound movements, you get another shot of testosterone there, so I call them your man markers, so, everything that makes you a bloke can be buffered by smart diet food and movement.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting though, that most people, like you say, hit the streets to start running, you know, and, you know…
Stuart Cooke: Just conventional device, right? That’s it. I’ve got to run and I’ve got to limit my calories. That’s the only way I’m going to get slim.
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, I mean, but if you go to the start of any 10 k race, you’ll see fit guys with little pot bellies, you know. It’s a, that’s just how it is, and that’s the body’s hormonal response, you know, it’s not good for the body’s muscular gears, let’s say. It’s like going through the gears of a car. You know, if you’re jogging, the hormonal response in the body is whatever. You know, you get to sprinting and lifting, you’re into fourth gear and that’s when you get the testosterone and the lipolytic hormones releasing into the system. The rewards are tremendous, but, again, slightly counterintuitive, because you can’t do that stuff for a long time.
And one of the other things that frustrates me is that people are advising guys to go out there and sprint, because sprinting is a pretty tough regimen. We’ve created sequences of exercises that are safe and can be done and are very, very affective, because injury is the other thing you’ve got to avoid, which then goes back to the high fat and the lower inflammation in the body.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, especially if you’re, like you say, on a high-carb diet and you go high inflammation. You’re going to pull a hammy in seconds.
Stuart Cooke: But also those that are lean, because I’m naturally very lean. Impossible to put on weight, but that doesn’t mean for one second I’m healthy inside, and so that’s also a great message to push as well.
Donal O’Neill: Well, I mean, that’s exactly where I was starting. That’s the story of my family, the men in my family, so people perceive, you know, okay, generally speaking, it may be correct, but generality doesn’t work. I mean, health is like politics. It’s related to the individual and that’s why people vote best in their political beliefs and how they impact them, and they tend to eat on the same basis what’s really a zero foundation.
Guy Lawrence: How many calories a day were you eating in the movie?
Donal O’Neill: I was up near 4,000 a day, probably about 37, 38. I was stuffing myself. I mean, I was not hungry, I was doing it for the team, as they say, but I’m probably two kilos heavier than when we’ve stopped filming and I eat probably 20, 25 percent less. The more I was eating, it was just stripping me.
Back to the question about sports, I mean, I was a high-jumper and, you know, any sport that has a strong reliance on weight, I mean, if I was jumping, obviously, to be lifting off with two kilos less…On a similar, actually, an improved strength profile would be a phenomenal asset. So, that’s, you know, they’re obviously niche sports, but some of the track and field events, you might see some serious benefits for those athletes.
We’re working with some of the cage fighters here in South Africa at the moment, the mixed martial artists. One of the guys here, he’s stripping 12 kilos coming into a bout. So, that weakens the system, and they know it does. If they can find a way to walk around a train even, you know, two, three, four kilos less than they normally would be, that’s two, three, four kilos less than they’ve got to cut, and that can be beneficial.
We’ve also done some work with the lead Gaelic footballers who are now in a position where they can maintain their championship playing weight with no effort, so they can train and bulk and strengthen up, but they’re not carrying any additional weight to slow them.
Guy Lawrence: Do you think more endurance athletes will jump on board with this?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah. I think there’s a story there. I mean, we connected with the 2008 Olympic triathlon champion and he ate like that. If you sit with Tim Noakes, he’ll tell you about Paula Newby-Fraser who was the greatest triathlete of all time, arguably, South African, nine-time, I think, nine-time Hawaii Iron Man winner, and you know, she ate like this. That’s going back 20 years.
Guy Lawrence: I remember you saying that, yeah.
Donal O’Neill: It’s been there and it’s been used as a tactic, and it just, of course, elite athletes who think they’re on to something they’re not necessarily going to tell you. [AUDIO COMPLETELY DISTORTS] [0:25:42] Athletes identify what their, no pun intended, their sweet spot is for carb intake, because I think for a lot of sports, that will be a requirement to cycle carbs and to time them effectively. That’s what we’re going to see. They’re going to run with the clean foods. They’ll enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits and whatnot, the cardiovascular benefits.
Noakes is saying, and he’s apologizing to athletes he advised who he believes have gone on and developed diabetes in particular because of the very high-carb sugar content diets that they have been on. I think it’s a fascinating area, and it’s, you know, the research that Tim’s doing in South Africa at the moment, is, I believe the first major study into high-fat for ultra-endurance athletes, so that’s pretty impressive.
Guy Lawrence: Is that right?
Stuart Cooke: Wow. What about the other end of the scale? Children? What would your advice be to, you know, parents who’ve got their own tribe and are currently feeding them the conventional way?
Donal O’Neill: You know, I mean, the results speak for themselves. You know, I can speak about Ireland and I’ve looked at the stats in Australia, and they’re just shocking. It doesn’t work and, you know, for kids, the first thing you’ve got to do is try and limit the sugar intake, because one of the things that I noticed in my research was, you know, Phillip Morris when the heat came on big tobacco in the early ’90s, they started to buy out food companies, the FMCG companies that kicked out crap back then.
And they identified, I mean they’re a brilliantly sinister company, they identified that the sugar trap is very much the same as nicotine. Get them young. Get them hooked on for life. Cereal companies know that. You know, you get on the cereal bandwagon and off you go. You’re on it for life typically.
So, the message for parents has to be the same as it is for adults. Let them eat what you eat, and I think any smart parent has always known that. If the parents aren’t eating correctly in the first instance, then you’re off to a bad start.
I’ve seen kids, I mean, you can see it happening. I’ve seen kids three, four years of age who have never had sugar. I mean parents are just feeding them real food. And you’ve got fantastic little kids running around, I mean, just apparently healthy. Absolutely sparkling with health. My own mate down in Australia…traveled to Australia after college. He stayed there. He’s got two young boys now, and I’ve watched what he’s done with them. You know, it’s eggs for breakfast and real food and Greek yogurt. Farmers Union has the best Greek yogurt I can find in Australia. It’s superb stuff.
The produce in Australia is amazing. I mean, you can do this. I always like to look at, you know, people like to say, “Oh, it’s expensive,” but, you know, eggs aren’t really expensive anywhere. Meat is actually, compared to everything else, it’s actually a pretty good value in Australia. Lamb is cheap.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely, and, you know, medical bills are more expensive than a box of eggs you know, if you want to go down that route. It’s just crazy thought.
Donal O’Neill: Yeah. Exactly. We’re looking at some project, maybe try and do something specifically for children, movie-related, which would be fantastic, because, whatever, adults can make up their own mind, but you know children are absolutely driven. Exposure to sports stars is hugely important which is why I absolutely wanted to roll the cameras again and get Watson, Warner, and Khawaja in there.
We’re talking to the guys doing screenings down in India where diabetes is just an explosion, but the only thing bigger than that in India is cricket, so a guy like Watson stands up and tells children to eat something, you know they’re going to listen. He might just break though, and you’ll certainly break through with an elite athlete sooner than you will with a medical message to parents.
You know, that’s all good stuff, but the power of celebrity is going to pay an important role in this. I think Damon Gameau’s movie that’s coming out later this year called That Sugar Movie is going to be a phenomenal addition to the debate. He was at the screening in Melbourne, and I can’t wait to see what he’s doing with his movie. It’s going to be superb.
Stuart Cooke: It certainly will be.
Guy Lawrence: You just need the right people endorsing the right things, don’t you, at the end of the day, which sadly happens to be happening?
Donal O’Neill: Yeah, yeah. You know, we interviewed the chairman of the British Egg Council, not in the final cut of the movie, but I think their entire budget for the year to represent the industry is one million pounds. You couldn’t buy a couple of ads on Channel 4.
Stuart Cooke: No.
Donal O’Neill: He made the point that it’s just impossible, so what do you do? You’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to look for endorsements from celebrities and people who have access to the media that can get the message out. Otherwise, the bombardment of those billions of dollars that are telling you one thing are pretty hard to counter.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, massively. Massively. Absolutely.
I had another question for you, Donal. Ketosis. You’re permanently in ketosis now? Or you, um, don’t measure?
Donal O’Neill: No, I’m not. I don’t measure it. You know, there are guys who know a hundred times more about this stuff than me. I mean, we’ve got Robert Lustig and Steve Phinney hosting our screenings in San Francisco now next week, and then Mark Sisson is hosting us in L.A.
But, I operate on feel. I mean, I got to the point where I just know what my body wants.
Yesterday, for example, I was about to take down a large pig. I just needed bacon in my life. I just give my body what it wants, when it wants it. So, you know, I eat a very low-carb diet, a lot of fat, but am I in ketosis constantly? No. I’m not.
I’ll have an odd beer, and, you know, some carbs now and then. But I know when I need them and I just listen to my body.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: What do you say to those people that insist on counting calories without, you know, the whole lecture? I mean, is there any light that you could guide them to that might just, kind of, start the process?
Donal O’Neill: Well, you know, one of the more ridiculous reasons for making the movie for me as well is just so I wouldn’t have to get into the debate. I feel like walking around with a DVD in the market and just giving them to people, because I was getting jumped at dinner before. It was just bizarre.
So, people get very, very protective about their diet. It is like a religious belief or a political belief but they don’t know what they’re talking about. I mean, I they haven’t done the research.
You know, I was somebody who carb-loaded and did everything, you know, I thought was right for a long, long time. And I had to come in with an open mind to research and the movie. I didn’t know that what I would find was what I would find. But, you know, if you don’t have an open mind to these things, then you’re probably somebody who isn’t gonna give it a chance.
And, to be honest, I never raise the issue with anybody. If somebody wants to talk about it, that’s fine. But I’m not like some evangelist running around looking over people’s shoulders at the dinner plate.
I’d rather just slip a DVD into their pocket and leave them to it, because people have to find their own way.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, of course.
Donal O’Neill: Ultimately, we’re all on our own.
Stuart Cooke: Yep. If I decided to undertake this diet tomorrow, would you recommend that I undergo any testing at all, as you did?
Donal O’Neill: I think it’s; tests are useful for a number of reasons. I mean, first and foremost, psychologically. Because then you feel like you’re committed to something. And when you start; even if you start to write down what you eat, you start to eat healthier. That’s been proven time and again.
So, you take very small steps to make quite a big difference, but what; if you can get the right tests, yes. And you need you HDL, your LDL, and absolutely your triglycerides, your HbA1c is another very important mark. If you can get those, absolutely. But obviously something like HbA1c is a three-month marker. So, you need to give it some time before you revisit that one.
But you would see results within, probably, four to six weeks.
And; you would see them first around your waist. I dropped a buddy of mine off to the airport last night and he’s a businessman in London and every suit he owns he’s had to have it taken in several inches. He just can’t believe it. And this guy was an elite rower who continued to thrash himself in the gym. And just had bit of a, what you would call a “wheat belly.” But it’s gone. And, you know, he was stunned by it.
And, I think, counting of calories; some people like to do that. There’s a lot of tech out there that helps you do it. If that’s your thing, by all means, go on; do it. But, you know, my recommended caloric intake was about 2,800 calories. I had more, almost a thousand calories a day in excess, through the course of filming, lost weight; gained muscle. Go figure.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. You can’t argue with that.
Guy Lawrence: I think testing, as well, helps for people. Because some people are so fearful of fat. You see it all the time, you know. And just to have something behind them so they can embrace it for a month and see what happens. You know? You can’t about it half-assed, as well, and still eat your bread and just increase your fat a bit.
Donal O’Neill: Yeah. Yeah. Some people do that, but, you know; if you’re gonna take one foodstuff out of your diet and get an immediate result, it probably is bread, because it’s something that people tend to overeat. Certainly, in Ireland.
So, I’ve watched guys just take out bread drop enormous amount of weight because they ate half a loaf a day. So, where you’re starting from will determine where you’re gonna get to, I suppose, with specific types of, let’s say, “dietary edits.”
But, you know, I really enjoy working with guys who have been sportsmen, and who are now longer in shape, because someone who has been there. . . When the body clicks and it gets it, you’ve got them, I mean, and they just stick with it because once you start to feel good, I mean, the body remembers that feeling. There’s no going back.
My old brother is 47 and he’s back to his elite football-playing weight. And, you know, he’s a guy who he’ll have a drink once a day. I mean, he’s like that. He doesn’t really deprive himself. But, you know, he just kind of stopped eating bread and just made a few tweaks, and, bang, there he goes.
So, you know, everybody’s different. You can just; once you find your own sweet spot, just run with it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. And; well, what would you. . . If somebody stopped you on the stress who had statins and was asking you questions, what would you say to them? What would your piece of advice be, if he’s on statin drugs; cholesterol drugs?
Donal O’Neill: I mean, the statin thing is; it’s pretty unbelievable to me, what big pharma has done there. And one of the key pieces of research I unearthed was the fact that the pharmaceutical companies have spent in excess of 10 billion U.S. dollars to try to find a drug that would safely raise HDL cholesterol. They haven’t succeeded, but I wanted them to succeed, because I wanted to see what their ad agency was gonna do. “OK, guys, we know we have been lowering your cholesterol for years; we’ve got a great idea: We’re gonna raise it.”
So, yeah. They didn’t achieve that, but. . . That would have been very, very exciting. So, I mean, you’ve got the conventional cardiologists and experts who say, “Yeah, statins could save your life.” And there’s absolutely an anti-inflammatory aspect to statins that provides benefit in the immediate aftermath of a cardiac event. But do they prevent it? Based on the research I’ve seen and, you know, now you’ve got cardiologists like Dr. Aseem Malhotra and Paul Davis and the rest who are steadfast against them as a preventative, too.
I think, you know, the thought leaders in the cardiac world are in a much better position to assess that than me. But I believe them and they’re saying statins are not the way forward.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve got. . .
Guy Lawrence: Oh, go one, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I was just wondering how we could help spread the message. What could we do?
Donal O’Neill: Well, I mean, I think you’re doing a great job already. The work you’re doing is tremendous. I mean, it’s great to have guys like yourself who are clearly very savvy in the Internet environment, because we’re a David to an enormous Goliath and I the real foods message needs coordination and collaboration. And, you know, these types of podcasts and recordings and everything else you’re doing is enormously beneficial.
Obviously, we went with Yekra to distribute the movie because it enabled hosts like yourselves to present the movie for screening directly from your website and your Facebook page and whatnot.
So, we’ve been trying to get some viralality into the marketing of the movie, because our advertising budget is about zero. So, it’s, you know, not the cleverest thing in the world to launch a movie without a budget, but here we are.
But, you know, even if we had a couple of million dollars, it probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference because you’re operating against such a vast war chest on the other side that to break through is very, very tough. So, I think it’s just a question of continuing to tell the truth and to present the facts and get what success you can.
Guy Lawrence: I think the power of social media can be phenomenal, to, you know. And by getting bits of information out like this, and getting them out there, and people talking. You know, it certainly does make a difference to some people, that’s for sure.
Donal O’Neill: It definitely helps. Later today, I’m on with Ireland’s biggest commercial radio station, so that’s; but this is as important as that, it’s because this type of engagement that alerted mainstream media, because I told them all we were coming and they just completely ignored me.
So, you know, you’ve got to bite your lip and march on and try and make some noise and just wait for the pickup. So, thanks for supporting us.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, man. I think it’s awesome. I absolutely loved it.
We always end on a wrap-up question. And this can be non-nutrition related. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Donal O’Neill: “Don’t do it.”
When I hear that, that is just music to my ears. And I’m out of the blocks. And that’s probably the most consistent piece of advice I got when I started this project. So, that might sound negative but that’s when you know you’re either crazy or your might be onto something, when people are steadfast against what you’re doing, for no other reason than they can’t get their head around it.
But it’s starting to become a really good idea.
Stuart Cooke: It’s working for you. I’d keep at it.
Guy Lawrence: Just keep doing it. Keep doing it.
And for us Aussies, mate, how can we get more of Donal O’Neill? Where is the best place to go?
Donal O’Neill: Obviously, we’re on Facebook: CerealKillersMovie. We’ve got the website at CerealKillersMovie.com. And everything will kind of flow from those channels.
We put up a blog to support the movie called Let Fat By Thy Medicine. We have some articles up there. But we’re gonna just keep pushing the Internet presence and using some of the expertise I’ve picked up along the way in my days with the online gambling industry. So, yeah, it’s gonna be very much pumping the online channels. And I think we get the movie onto Netflix; iTunes, in due course and then we’re looking towards television.
But we are; we’re gonna try to pitch a TV show into Australia this year. So, we’ll see how that goes. But I just want to keep the projects coming and keep the message coming, because one movie isn’t gonna approve to much. It’s the start.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, look, this movie needed to be made and you did an awesome job and we really appreciate your time for coming on the show. And we will be pushing this message constantly as well, man, and continuing to get it out there.
Donal O’Neill: Much, much appreciated, and thanks for having me.
Stuart Cooke: No problem. Thanks for joining us.
Guy Lawrence: No worries. Thank you, Donal.
Donal O’Neill: Cheers, guys.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you, mate.